Yesterday was a depressing day in the field of ancient astronautics. UFOTV released a new video in which they acknowledge that the 2012 Maya prophecy of doom failed and instead propose a new timeline for the return of the aliens, based on “Vatican revelations” about an “infrared planet” (?) hurtling toward the earth. The general point is: Forget that we were wrong about 2012 and start fearing the upcoming disaster. But let’s move on from this miserable bit of exploitation.
Yahoo! Answers is not a reputable source of information by any stretch, but it does provide a snapshot into what people think about a range of topics, including fringe history. Would it surprise you to learn that someone posted an insanely racist white supremacist explanation for ancient history yesterday? A participant named Andrew, who self-identifies as an extreme conservative and an anti-feminist, argued that ancient astronaut theorists are right in claiming that ancient people in non-European lands were more advanced than their descendants, but he disagreed that aliens were the cause of prehistoric greatness.
India, Persia, Egypt, Mesopatamia (sic) and Babylon, Carthage, Phoenicia, etc all once had inhabitants who were a special kind of people, a people who built wonders and still amaze us today, BUT they brought in slaves from sub-Sahara Africa and now their mixed race descendents (sic) are the Arab and otherwise brown people of today in those regions of once great civilization. Basically, for you dumb liberals to understand, the theory goes that the "Indo-European/Caucasion" (sic) people inhabited a larger area than just Europe until other nonwhite tribes invaded and/or became enslaved.
And readers wonder why I make reference to the racist underpinnings and conclusions of fringe history theories. Whites are “a special kind of people [who] still amaze us today”?! Any one particular claim may not contribute much on its own, but taken together they paint a portrait that helps support these kinds of world view.
This is the upshot of imaginary claims for far-flung white dominance of prehistory. We see this claim in so many forms: the original Americans were white until savage dark-skinned people killed them all; Lost Tribes of Israel were (a) really white British people and (b) the true force behind history; the inhabitants of Atlantis were white and delivered civilization to the world’s non-white people; the rulers of Mu were white people who reigned over and enslaved the brown and black people of the world; Teutonic people were the original humans who ruled the world from Thule and would again when Hitler conquered the world—the repetition is mind-numbing.
On the lighter side, Rebecca Watson has an article at Popular Science discussing Ancient Aliens talking head Brien Foerster’s YouTube video claim that the sarcophagi of the Apis bulls at the Serapeum of Saqqara are too large, too heavy, and too precise to have served as sarcophagi for mere bulls. He cites their “exactly-ish” 90 degree angles as proof of advanced engineering, whatever that is supposed to mean. Watson’s article outlines the various claims made for these boxes by other fringe writers, particularly claims that they were carved by or for ancient aliens or were carved by or for the Nephilim-giants before the Flood. She left out my favorite: Erich von Däniken’s claim that the sarcophagi were meant to contain multi-headed genetically-altered hybrid animals! (He got that from a bad translation of material on the discovery of an ancient but fake bull mummy made up of spare parts from more than one bull.)
Viewing Foerster’s video, which is little more than a travelogue, led me to another video posted last year in which David Childress rambles on at great length about archaeological cover-ups. Since tomorrow’s episode of Ancient Aliens features the 1909 Grand Canyon cave hoax, I found it interesting to hear Childress give at great length his interpretation of the events discussed in the Arizona Gazette in April of that year.
(Disclosure: Childress once blasted me by name in the Chicago Reader for calling him an ancient astronaut theorist, a moniker he would not formally adopt until joining Ancient Aliens.)
I don’t believe I’ve ever spent much time listening to Childress’s ramblings, mainly because I find his presentations to be excruciating. But this was interesting, not because he said anything true but because of the insight it provided into his thought patterns. Childress described the fact that the characters in the 1909 newspaper hoax, G. E. Kinkaid and S. A. Jordan, cannot be traced in the historical record. There are no academic records, or government files, or employment records, or even obituaries or property transfer notices—nothing. What does he conclude from this? Does he recognize the story for the hoax it is? Of course not! Instead, Childress expresses astonishment that two explorers “vanished” and insinuates that the Smithsonian and the United States government made them disappear to protect the “truth”—all while conveniently forgetting to burn the Arizona Gazette. He asserts that the 1909 newspaper article is a more reliable source for the prehistory of Arizona than “mainstream archaeologists.”
1/30/2014 04:42:02 am
None of these conspiracy theorists and fringe writers are "racists"
1/30/2014 05:00:16 am
I didn't say a single thing about the fringe writers themselves being racists, only that racists make use of these repeated claims of ancient white overlords. The racism is a consequence of their claims, not the driving force behind them.
1/30/2014 06:05:32 am
It's not racism from "them" if the consequences of their claims are unintended, right? So, you are correct, Wolter is not a racist. But there is a consequence to what these people are claiming, nevertheless, and that's negative. Also, obviously, some of these fellows are more tarnished than others.
1/30/2014 06:43:35 am
Yes it is racist and yes they ARE racist.More of this will be exposed.Deal with it,racist apologist.
1/30/2014 07:08:30 am
While I appreciate your passion, as per my new comments policy of 1/24/14, let's avoid calling one another names and focus instead on facts.
terry the censor
1/30/2014 05:56:43 pm
> None of these conspiracy theorists and fringe writers are "racists"
1/30/2014 04:45:15 am
The reason I can't listen to Childress is that I find his speech pattern excruciatingly annoying. That slow nasally drawl is painful. Plus he says dumb things.
1/30/2014 06:52:01 am
I always hated his stupid voice.Especially when i hear him repeat "massive blocks","giants",and "red haired giants"
1/30/2014 01:59:39 pm
It doesn't bother me at all. He just wants us to know that drugs're bad, mm'kay?
7/16/2016 12:21:42 am
Some koind of device"
1/30/2014 06:42:40 am
Funny how people who are so attached to group or ethnic identify always believe history has shortchanged them or at least their historical dominance has been "covered up"...not unlike the diversity class today..same thing...
1/30/2014 08:10:54 am
Try not to be too harsh with him, Titus. 300 was based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, so unless you're part of the masses that get their "history" from Hollywood, you'll necessarily be disappointed with the inaccuracy.
1/30/2014 09:59:47 am
Sorry, I meant the person who wrote the screenplay not the graphic novel. But point taken. History itself is so interesting you don't need to jazz it up...maybe a little for a two hour movie but most movies based on real events are pretty loosely based. Watch the movie battle of the bulge, totally inaccurate as was chariots of fire.
The Other J.
1/30/2014 01:02:17 pm
To be fair, Zack Snyder took liberties with Frank Miller's original bonkers material... which is saying something.
1/31/2014 05:19:15 am
You have to remember that the perspective of the story of 300 is that of a guy on a field trying to rally the troops. So Xerxes becomes 10 feet tall and his army looks like something out of WoW. Historical accuracy was the last thing on the narrator's mind.
The Other J.
1/31/2014 07:36:59 am
Does that excuse the ninjas? I'll give the narrator historical inaccuracy because he's overwhelmed, but making that one faction of fighters like ninjas is 1,000 years too early and just a little too a-historical.
1/30/2014 10:14:46 am
Of course it will be on the History Channel soon. They always do movie-tie in documentaries and they are always horrible in terms of historical accuracy.
1/30/2014 10:30:48 am
Forgive me.. the book I am thinking of is not Janissaries.
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/30/2014 11:09:32 am
Harry Turtledove. The Videssos Cycle.
7/16/2016 12:23:33 am
1/30/2014 10:23:06 am
I could be wrong but the racist you mention, Jason, could be getting his view of history from the whole Neo-Nazi movement with its roots in National Socialist pseudo-history as opposed to any other distortions of history.
1/30/2014 10:30:37 am
I obviously can't read his mind, but I would say it's a distinct possibility. What I found interesting is that he was interpreting the same half-understood "mysteries" through a white supremacist lens that ancient alien believers attribute to aliens. All these claims originate in the same nineteenth century fringe history milieu, and though they took divergent paths they remain kissing cousins.
1/30/2014 10:33:15 am
Agreed. I was speculating on which paternal strain...
1/31/2014 05:26:36 am
They all seem to have the same "brown people could never do that" mentality.
1/30/2014 02:59:24 pm
While researching the Solutrean Hypothesis on the Internet I ran across a number of white supremacist sites that are completely obsessed with the idea. While I don't believe the Solutrean Hypothesis was meant to be racist it has certainly been appropriated by people who are.
1/31/2014 04:32:00 am
Yes I've known this since I first read up on it.I first ran into it by white supremacist I'm not kidding.Found out nobody in academia takes it seriously.Jason is not making it up.The SPLC even made an article about a white supremacist named Kyle Bristow’s who wrote a white power fiction book "White Apocalypse" with the solutrean hypothesis as its main theme.
1/31/2014 05:14:40 am
You beat me to it, A.D.! The post I'm writing for today is about "White Apocalypse"!
1/30/2014 04:06:19 pm
Thanks for sharing that crazy Yahoo comment, Jason. It was equally depressing, disturbing and revealing in its ignorance and racism. I agree it exemplified the racist undertones in many fringe history theories--although I'm actually starting to believe at this point you could quote the Grand Wizard of the Klan discussing ancient alien supremacy theories and someone would still say it's not racist.
1/30/2014 04:29:32 pm
Just thought I'd share that I'm watching a show on H2 called "Who Really Discovered America?" from 2010. Scott Wolter was on, analyzing round stones with holes in their centers, found off the coast of California, I believe. They are supposedly ship anchors used by the Chinese, and he said he can't think of a natural cause, due to the numbers. He supposed they could be man-made. What I found particularly interesting, he was introduced as a "geologist and forensic petrographer". I guess "forensic geologist" was sexier and more inclusive.
1/30/2014 04:57:55 pm
Yes, I just watched that show again as well--and also noted with interest Wolter's title change...
1/30/2014 05:04:23 pm
If I remember correctly, he wasn't able to distinguish whether the anchor stones were ancient (or medieval) or from the 1800's, when Chinese ships apparently visited the West Coast. So the finding of these stones and what they might possibly mean was interesting, but inconclusive.
1/30/2014 05:33:52 pm
True. And he was also in other segments looking at the Bat Creek Stone (and another with an alleged ancient Hebrew inscription) and one dealing with "Old Troublemaker". He stated it was impossible to be a 19th century hoax. I'm neutral about it, but I don't rule anything as impossible, as it pertains to history.
Funny, the last time I visited that mysterious relic, I entered the building and said, "One ticket to see that old Trouble Maker!" Then I got my senior discount and entered a zone of puzzlement for a few hours...again.
1/30/2014 08:59:42 pm
Thanks for suggesting to watch "Who Really Discovered America",the fascinating junkyard program.
1/31/2014 02:51:41 am
I actually watched it last night, I guess I missed it when it originally came out and was rerun a billion times. I fell asleep at one point and woke when I heard something about copper mining great lakes and said "what?" Besides the vikings in NF, there is no evidence of any of the theories..maybe the Polynisians made it from Easter Island to Chili..but they never colonized..end of story...the Solutrians seem to be such a long shot theory...at least the episode did have an expert on sailing time and ship engineering...they needed to do a little more on celestial navigation...funny now these shows like AA and AE put me to sleep so easily...that narrators voice on AA and the show last night is perfect for vegging out and relaxing...ha ha
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/31/2014 02:04:26 am
I think my favorite part of this was Vatican revelations of an infrared planet. It just gives me this mental image of Pope Francis prank-calling fringe news outlets, telling them he's Father Guido Sarducci, and that an invisible space meatball is coming to hit Earth. I don't know if his sense of humor extends that far, but he's made personal calls before, and I'd be really surprised if the first Jesuit pope couldn't think of a dozen reasons this was a silly idea.
1/31/2014 04:52:44 am
Funny you would say "first Jesuit pope." I remember reading conspiracy literature saying that, ultimately, the Jesuits were behind past, present and future control of things. I wonder if there are any grains of truth to this strange notion...not so much for today, but as peculiar thinking in the past at some time?
The Other J.
1/31/2014 08:09:33 am
Okay, then the church must have organized the Sioux raid that took Hennepin to Minnesota -- which presupposes that Europeans were already in cahoots with the native tribes. And Louis XIV must have been aware of Hennepin's Eurocentric proclivities and decided to send him to New France over 100 years AFTER French fur traders had already been established in the area. And the other three clergy who were sent to New France as missionaries along with Hennepin must have also been in on the Eurocentric conspiracy, since they're part of the church. The conspiracy runs so deep that those other three missionaries are just forgotten. Is that how it would work?
1/31/2014 10:50:56 am
I would venture to guess that some of Hennepin's explorations and announcements weren't very popular, especially the ones claiming a journey down the ole Miss. Evidently, the time-line wouldn't have allowed him to make such a journey, which called into question his reliability as a man of cloth.
1/31/2014 05:00:35 am
The infrared planet X story is quite old and based off of a 1983 observation from the Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS). The scientists were initially uncertain what they were looking at and said it could be "almost anything, from a tenth planet in our solar system to distant galaxies". It turned out it was from distant galaxies, but the Washington Post reported that the scientists found a "Jupiter-sized object a few billion kilometers out from the Sun", which the fringe theorists concluded must be planet X. When the Post retracted the article the alternative theorists cried cover-up. You can read about it at Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy web site (http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/science.html). You can read a copy of the original Post article here (http://planet-x.150m.com/washpost.html).
1/31/2014 10:56:12 am
1/31/2014 04:46:28 pm
Wow, it's not enough that Duh Gubbmint and the military is disappearing people these days, now we've got to worry about the Smithsonian doing the same thing? It's getting so you can't even step outside your house these days without some kind of MIB getting down your neck.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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