Later tonight, Ancient Aliens will explore the profound question of whether aliens invented tattoos. In the meantime, we might as well pile on Ashley Cowie some more since he published yet another crappy article this week trying to spin mystery out of discovery in the belief that ancient history needs to be sexed up with fakery and myths to attract the attention of the public. Today’s subject is Atlantis, which Cowie understands at about the Wikipedia level of research, citing as sources Atlantipedia and an article in National Geographic. It makes me wonder why I bother researching primary sources when, apparently, one can get paid to surf the web and summarize the results like a high school book report.
Last month, Ancient Aliens hit record low ratings for original broadcasts, spending most of the month drawing a live plus same day audience of fewer than 800,000 viewers. At the time, I suggested that part of the decline could be attributed to the show airing its new episodes opposite postseason baseball games and the World Series. However, I noted at the time that sports couldn’t be responsible for the entirety of the decline since the show almost always airs opposite some sort of sports event. Now, the ratings are in for the November 1 broadcast, and they indicate that the show’s audience has indeed entered a period of substantial decline.
Most readers are aware that I don’t have a terribly high opinion of Ashley Cowie’s work. He is, after all, a guy who made all manner of bizarre claims about secret maps and codes in Rosslyn Chapel. This week, he published a half-assed, pseudo-conspiratorial article in Ancient Origins claiming, with more than a little absurdity, that the pretender to the Napoleonic imperial throne and a minor descendant of the Habsburg emperors married in some sort of mystical attempt to revive the power of the Bonapartist dynasty. Many European tabloids have noted the historical echoes between the union of Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte, 32, and Countess Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg, 31, and Napoleon I’s politically motivated marriage to the Archduchess Marie Louise. But to badly paraphrase what Marx once said of another Napoleon, Ashley Cowie has repeated history and made it a farce.
Since I spent yesterday celebrating Halloween with my son, my next post will be later tonight when I review the new episode of Ancient Aliens.
In honor of Halloween, I present the text of a misogynistic 1643 pamphlet about the murder of a witch in Newbury, England. This particular case involves a group of men freaking out that a woman was surfing (!) and killing her for it. The original spelling and punctuation is given here, as reprinted in Walter Money's First and Second Battles of Newbury etc., second ed. (1884).
I had planned to write something long today, but yesterday I had quite a surprise when I proudly informed my publisher that I had completed the rough draft of Legends of the Pyramids a month early and they replied that they expected me to have all of the artwork for the book (the book I was not supposed to have finished writing until December) submitted to them this Friday, along with the captions and the page numbers (again, for the book I was not supposed to have yet finished) on which they should appear. So, today I am illustrating an entire book in 48 hours and scrambling to meet an arbitrary deadline for a book I apparently was supposed to have written backward to match the pictures, since I can see no other way to start with the pictures and end with a manuscript.
This has been a strange autumn for unusual claims about the past. Typically, by this time of year, there are a stack of new books primed for the holiday gift market and a wave of new fall cable shows are jockeying for what’s left of November sweeps. This year, though, it’s been unusually quiet. Inner Traditions, one of the largest purveyors of pseudohistory books, hasn’t made any ancient history titles available for review. The only books they’ve given me access to are New Age crap like The Wonder of Unicorns and Awakening the Ancient Power of Snake (yes, singular). All of the energy (so to speak) in cable TV has shifted from aliens and Atlantis toward ghosts and demons. Even the usually reliable To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, which will be releasing a new book soon, is taking a step back from its ufology. On Twitter this weekend Tom DeLonge walked back the company’s UFO investigation yet another step toward the conventional:
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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