Last week’s season premiere of Ancient Aliens opened a bit soft, with only 1.175 million viewers. It’s a little better than last year, when the show dipped below a million viewers for new episodes for the first time, but it’s still far below the show’s peak five or six years ago when around 2 million watched. However, the program has had a remarkable consistency over the past twelve seasons, rarely deviating more than 10% from week to week, an astonishing achievement for a show this late in its run.
This week’s episode, “Forged by the Gods,” examines alien artifacts on Earth. You might remember that years ago, the ancient astronaut theorists claimed that only Puma Punku was physical evidence of alien artifacts on Earth, but now, in need of ratings, they need to find something to sustain interest.
The Australian edition of National Geographic carries a rather grandiose claim that an Aboriginal tribe in Australia accurately preserved the memory of the eruption of a local volcano for 230 generations spanning 7,000 years. This article is one of dozens that appeared in Australian and British media in the last few days after the University of Glasgow issued a press release on the subject last Friday. It would be wonderful if this were true, but the article left me feeling uneasy, not least because the story in question was first recorded in 1970, some 6,900+ years after the fact, and long after most members of the Gugu Badhun would have been familiar enough with volcanism that Western education could conceivably have influenced any story told at that time. Indeed, by 1970, the Gugu Badhun language was dying, and a linguist studying them at the time found no fluent speakers of the language and only a dozen or so partial speakers.
Yesterday I discussed a strange claim that the Nephilim were actually the woolly mammoths of the Ice Age. Today I’d like to take a look at a slightly different claim that tried to tie the Nephilim to the Ice Age. Our piece today comes from The Presbyterian Quarterly in 1895, and it concerns what was then the controversial discovery of Neanderthals. Religious types had some difficulty trying to understand where the Neanderthal would fall in the biblical framework, and they feared that it would provide too much support for the idea of evolution.
I want to call your attention today to a rather slick piece of propaganda coming out of the Nephilim research community. Apparently, there is an upcoming documentary from The Fourth Watch, a Biblical radio show hosted by Justen Faull, and to judge by the deleted scene posted to YouTube last week, it’s a slick production. From the professional graphics to the competent sound mixing and lighting, this is a clear step above the usual iPhone-to-DVD production values of many fringe productions. It even puts L. A. Marzulli’s Watchers series to shame just in terms of technical competence. But the content!
After Pres. Donald Trump called the rules of U.S. Congress “archaic” this week and said that they are a “bad thing for the country,” his chief of staff said that the Administration has “looked at” ways to limit or repeal the First Amendment. Fortunately, presidents can’t amend the Constitution, but it’s clear that Trump doesn’t know anything about history or the law. In an interview on Sirius XM radio yesterday, Trump praised Andrew Jackson, a slave-owning former president who oversaw the Trail of Tears and thought Native Americans killed off a lost white race, claiming that Jackson would have prevented the Civil War had he been in office when it broke out. Trump wrongly stated that Jackson was angered by the war when it broke out (he died 16 years before it started) and claimed that few investigate why the war erupted. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question,” Trump said. “But why was there the Civil War. Why would that one not have been worked out?” Trump’s startling historical ignorance—not to mention failure to grapple with 150 years of scholarly research into the war’s origins—is matched only by his implication that the president he most likens to himself, Jackson, could have “worked out” a deal to compromise on whether black people should be considered full human beings. We already knew that Trump gets his news from Fox News, but apparently he gets his history from the History Channel—paranoia, conspiracy, and racist dog-whistles.
Speaking of which…
Welcome to the twelfth (!) season of Ancient Aliens, which at this point is less a TV show and more of a thought experiment in how a TV production crew of cockroaches might survive a nuclear holocaust that destroyed all facts, evidence, and reason. There isn’t much to say about this episode, “The Alien Hunters,” by way of preface, as it is as much as possible just more of the same. This episode hews away from the show’s title adjective in favor of its recent devolution into freshman dorm room bullshitting about anything vaguely related to space aliens.
This week the Trump Administration opened a new office called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) so Americans could report victimization at the hands of what Immigration and Customs Enforcement called “criminal aliens.” The office, and its 1-855-48-VOICE hotline for reporting “alien” crime, are widely seen as part of a propaganda effort aimed at depicting immigrants as violent and dangerous. (VOICE officially targets “illegal aliens,” but Homeland Security secretary John F. Kelly said that the perpetrators were “often” in the U.S. illegally, leaving room for legal immigrants, students, and tourists to be included, too.) Anyway, the internet was unhappy with the rather transparent attempt to create a climate of fear (real crime rates among immigrants, legal and illegal, are lower than for the general population, according to the FBI), so many did the most logical thing and took the government literally. They started calling in reports of UFO sightings, space alien abduction, cattle mutilations, etc. After all, they’re “aliens,” too. ICE was not amused.
You probably saw the news that broke yesterday that a new paper in the journal Nature claims that an unknown human species occupied the Americas around 130,000 years ago and butchered a mastodon found in California with large rocks. The study used uranium-thorium dating to date the bones, which were originally discovered 25 years ago, and the team conducting the study used experimental techniques involving rocks and elephant bones to attempt to prove that the damage to the mastodon’s bones had been caused by intention butchering with stone tools.
A new article released in preprint and set for publication in the journal Earth and Planetary Astrophysics is garnering attention from the British press for suggesting that the ancient astronaut theory might be true. However, “Prior Indigenous Technological Species” by Jason T. Wright is more sound and fury than a real and significant contribution to the ancient astronaut literature. At heart, it’s simply an elaborate game of “what if,” played without consequence since no actual evidence is provided. It’s admittedly a few shades more rigorous than Erich von Däniken’s speculative nonsense, but at heart it’s little more than speculation masquerading as science.
Late last week, popular news and entertainment site BuzzFeed went in search of ancient aliens as part of their regular BuzzFeed Unsolved feature. Their investigation into the ancient astronaut theory did not go well as the hosts presented a half-assed BuzzFeed view of ancient astronauts, which one of the two hosts agreed was “absolute nonsense.” The other host just laughed. I guess they are going for a believer/skeptic or Mulder/Scully vibe. In fact, the biggest mystery that remained unsolved at the end of the video was how two ignorant Millennials came to believe that low-information bullshitting was a sufficient basis for an “investigation,” and that goes for both the believer and the skeptic, neither of whom acquitted himself well.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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