The U.S. broadcaster ABC formed a joint partnership with Univision to launch a new news network, which will be called Fusion, and which will target English-speaking Hispanics. If the ABC News-Univision story on ancient astronauts that ran on the ABC News website yesterday is any indication, the Disney-owned network and the Spanish-language broadcaster seem to think that their shared audience isn’t interested in truth. The news organization blatantly declared ancient aliens real—and coming for your gold!
The article by Arturo Conde bears the headline “Aliens Love Gold as Much as Humans Do,” and it is awful in ways that should make professional journalists cringe. It’s basically an amateurish Ancient Aliens fan’s blog post masquerading as a news feature. The article’s odd grammar suggests that it was hastily translated from an original Spanish version, though its author (a professional journalist, no less!) says he is bilingual. But that’s not the worst of it. To cite but one obvious example, Conde quotes Derrick Pitts of the Franklin Institute not by talking to him but by transcribing an edited and manipulated interview with him presented on Ancient Aliens in S03E04, “Aliens and the Temples of Gold.” He thus misrepresents Pitts as providing scientific support for the claim that aliens use gold to insulate their atmosphere, whereas Pitts was actually speaking for how we as humans use gold (or could use gold) in space exploration.
Get a load of Conde’s next claim, presented with no source and no opposing view:
One of the most famous alien visitations is supposed to have occurred in Cusco, Peru. The sun temple Qurikancha had a giant golden disc that some alien experts believe was a symbol of a gold-plated UFO that had landed in front of the Inca emperor Atahualpa, legendary for having direct contact with the “sky gods.”
Holy crap. That’s a very distorted version of claims made in Ancient Aliens S03E04, apparently the only episode Conde watched (all the alien claims in his article are from this episode):
Narrator: Ancient astronaut theorists believe a golden sun idol called the Punchao that once resided in Coricancha may provide evidence that extraterrestrials had contact with the Inca.
I think we all know that Tsoukalos simply attributed to “legend” whatever pops into his head. I have been unable to find much warrant for what he said.
Atahualpa was the last Inca emperor before the Spanish conquest, deposed by Pizarro. At the temple of Coricancha (Quirkancha) at Cuzco, the Inca emperors had a large gold disc called the Punchao, symbolizing the sun on the summer solstice. There is some dispute over whether this idol was actually an oval-shaped disc, as Garcilaso de la Vega claimed, or whether, as others said, it was an image of a child with rays emerging from his head. The confusion comes from the fact that it was described as being the size of a small child. At any rate, there were other sun-discs in the temple. As for the sky gods, an earlier emperor, Inca Pachacuti, had seen a vision of the sun god in a dream (something also reported by Garcilaso in a slightly different form), which might be the warrant for this story. Atahualpa, like all Inca emperors, viewed the sun god as his true father and that he was therefore also the sun god himself. Conde has simply removed all subtly from the Ancient Aliens discussion (now there’s a first!) and made the gold disc into a model UFO (Tsoukalos at least does not define what the disc was) and presented it to ABC News readers as fact! Conde failed even to understand the simplistic fables created by Giorgio Tsoukalos!
But since this sloppy piece of fact-free opinion-mongering does pass under the ABC News banner, it must at least pretend that alien intervention could be fiction. Notice the way Conde has absorbed the Ancient Aliens theme of the religious yearning manifesting as alien fantasy:
Whether real or imagined, aliens challenge our beliefs and notions of what it means to be human. And while we are sometimes afraid of things that we don't understand, World UFO Day gives people an ideal to strive for, celebrate that we too are potential aliens. Someday we will venture beyond the limits of our solar system. And like Superman, the most famous alien in our culture, we hope to become symbols of our science and technology, and our compassion and morality.
ABC News and Univision should apologize for this drivel. Just because a story is targeted at Latino readers doesn’t give it license to lie, and filing it in the “Entertainment” section of the website does not give it permission to present falsehoods as facts. Instead, if you speak Spanish, check out my interview with an Argentine blog about ancient astronauts, published just today. I guarantee it is more informative than ABC News.
But, thanks ABC; because of you, ancient astronaut theorists will forever be able to say that their idea is a legitimate theory reported as fact by ABC News.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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