Do you remember how Graham Hancock moved away from defending his Fingerprints of the Gods advanced prehistoric super-civilization? First with Underworld (2005) he proposed instead a slightly advanced coastal Stone Age civilization, and later with Supernatural (2009) and his lectures on hallucinogenic drugs, he suggested that the advanced civilization of the “gods” may never have existed in this dimension but was instead a drug-induced trip to another world. Well, as it happens, apparently too few people are willing to pay good money to listen to an old man go on about how much he likes taking drugs, so he’s going back to an older well.
In August, Hancock will be appearing at Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Joshua Tree, Calif.—a place described as an institute for “mentalphysics” (sic)—along with dozens of other ancient astronaut and lost civilization speculators for a weekend of lectures on the ancient astronaut theory and “the need to know.” Billed as “Contact in the Desert,” the event is hosted by Coast to Coast A.M.’s George Noory and will feature most of the Ancient Aliens crew. (Seriously…just look at how many ancient astronaut speculators there are, all getting paid handsomely!)
The event costs $250 per person, with special discussions (billed as “workshops”) with ancient astronaut theorists running an additional $24.95 to $49.95 per workshop. Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos, of course, charges the very highest rate for what the conference describes as “dynamic, fast-paced powerpoint (sic) presentations.” Actually, the PowerPoint is free with admission; the workshop follows and intends to ask why mainstream science “excludes” aliens from “daily discussions” while asking whether humans are “really” the “pinnacle of creation.”
Hancock has no trouble throwing his lot in with ancient astronaut believers, even though he tends to shy away from the idea in print (except for 1998’s Mars Mystery). Hancock’s lecture will present some research into “Magicians of the Gods,” the working title of his new book, a sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods (the other sequels—from Mystery of the Sphinx to Heaven’s Mirror apparently aren’t famous enough to count), in which he returns to the idea that there was a “lost civilization of master builders and geometers who were technologically advanced and spiritually powerful but ultimately fell out of harmony with the universe and were destroyed in a global cataclysm at the end of the last Ice Age.”
Try unpacking all of that New Age mumbo-jumbo for a moment: Now Hancock claims to be able to deduce the spiritual natures of the lost civilization’s people as well as their attempts to live in “harmony with the universe”—whatever that means. It does not take a genius to see that Hancock in inadvertently creating an allegory for the current state of our world, with the Ice Age standing in for climate change and “harmony” standing for the modern decline of faith. Thus, the “lost civilization” becomes Atlantis and Hancock the new Plato.
But don’t take my word for it. Hancock isn’t subtle, so he actually tells us as much himself:
Armed with nuclear weapons, puffed up with arrogance and pride in our achievements, spiritually bankrupt, indifferent to the harm we are doing to our sacred mother earth, as deeply out of harmony with the universe as our forgotten ancestors ever were, and blind to the portents in the skies, we stand in real danger of becoming the next Atlantis…
Hancock then tells us that an ancient form of consciousness is reawakening to save us all.
Some guy named David Wilcock, whom Graham Hancock apparently praised to the hilt despite his alien leanings, will further claim that the aliens left us a prophecy of a coming Golden Age—the new consciousness Hancock described—and he will attempt to retroactively rehabilitate the Maya Apocalypse of December 21, 2012 by claiming that this event, the culmination of the Precession of the Equinoxes (it isn’t really, not any more than any other day in 26,000 is—precession has no start or end date), marks the beginning of a new age just now taking shape. Rejoice! Michael Cremo, once a Hindu creationist, has jumped on the UFO bandwagon and now supports ancient astronauts as part of a holistic approach to creationism; he, too, feels that ancient super-consciousness is ready to reemerge and will discuss this in his lecture.
Not so Jim Marrs, who will be summarizing his most recent book, whose title I still refuse to promote on grounds that HarperCollins would not send me a copy to review. Marrs’s lecture is exactly what you’d expect the theme of an ancient alien lecture by a cranky old man to be. I am not making this up: “Who Are They And What Do They Want?” Also: Get off my lawn!
Nevertheless, Marrs, Wilcock, Cremo, and Hancock both share a similar theme, a concern for humanity and “the human condition,” as Marrs describes it. This is, in fact, the unstated theme of the entire conference, as each lecturer—some unknowingly—wrestles with the philosophical questions of faith and doubt, of epistemology, of cosmology, and of good and evil. A panel discussion at the conference will also explore the aliens’ message to humanity through the words of alleged alien abductees, who returned with spiritual messages from the angels…I mean aliens.
But the most impressive feat has to be the panel on unifying ancient astronautics with UFO studies. Get a load of this description:
Much like the 65-year debate between relativity and quantum mechanics, UFOs and ancient civilizations have never had an easy time getting along. UFO scholars and top insiders tend to avoid any discussion of ancient civilizations. Similarly, experts on Atlantis, lost civilizations and ancient astronauts often shy away from UFO phenomena, fearing ridicule and a loss of credibility -- and never the twain shall meet.
Oh really? Is that why Ancient Aliens is so silly? Too many UFOs? And has this conference heard of Jacques Vallée, who has devoted his entire ufological career to fabricating evidence for ancient aliens to help explain modern UFO abduction reports?
As for me, I am saddened that there is a big enough base of believers to support multiple expensive conferences in the traveling ancient astronaut road show. Two months later in Minneapolis the Paradigm Symposium—which, to be fair, has a broader appeal that just ancient aliens; it also covers lost civilizations, spirituality, and Scott Wolter—will run the whole thing over again, with even more alternative writers, this time with the financial support of the History Channel, Prometheus Entertainment, Committee Films, Inner Traditions Books, and other corporate sponsors. Now we know why Zecharia Sitchin’s aliens were so obsessed with mining for gold: It was authorial projection.
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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