Two topics for today: First, some bizarre news, and then more depressing crap about UFOs and ancient astronauts.
Deadline reported yesterday that the History channel has teamed up with producers of major horror movies to create a new drama series about the “lost years” of Jesus, in which the young adult Savior will battle the forces of darkness in a horror-themed exploration of exorcism. The producers involved are Eli Roth of the Hostel franchise and Eric Newman of The Thing, who both teamed up to produce The Last Exorcism. They will be working with Scott Kosar, who wrote the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, and The Crazies. Kosar reportedly came up with the idea for horror-exorcist Jesus.
The New Testament narratives of the life of Jesus contain no explicit discussion of his activities between the ages of 12 and 30, leading to medieval speculation that Jesus traveled to Britain (expanded in modern times to include a Druid education) and to modern speculation that he studied in India, speculation founded on a forgery (the hoaxed “Life of St. Issa” written by Nicholas Notovitch in 1887) and the fictional Akashic Records, allegedly “channeled” by Theosophists from the spirit world.
Kosar based his screenplay on the idea that Jesus would have performed exorcisms in his youth that parallel the many exorcisms listed in the three synoptic Gospels.
I can’t imagine how this project could turn out well, but at least it’s being marketed as fiction.
Now the depressing material on ancient astronauts.
The Huffington Post is one of the most popular destinations on the web, with 74 million unique visitors over the past thirty days, according to Quantcast. That means that its site is seen by nearly 74 times as many people as Ancient Aliens on H2. Therefore, it is disturbing to see the site, which has frequently been criticized for its antiscientific and New Age content, running an article offering a false dichotomy about the ancient astronaut theory and time travel. Studies have repeatedly found that many readers are unable to distinguish between news coverage, journalistic opinion columns, and non-journalist guest opinion columns, and the similar design of news and opinion pages on the Huffington Post makes it still easier to confuse them.
Mystery-mongering internet radio personality Rob Szarek of LiveParanormal.com and a four other fringe science and fringe history online properties posted a blog on HuffPo last night asking whether ancient aliens are in fact really human time travelers from the future. HuffPo does not pay contributors for blog content, and the piece was very obviously written to promote Szarek’s internet radio station, which features programs by a Syfy Fact or Faked host, a pet psychic, a cryptozoologist, and others who profit from declaring mainstream science and history to be a conspiracy to suppress the truth.
Szarek begins by describing the “growing” popularity of the ancient astronaut theory, thanks to Ancient Aliens, and he summarizes the main ancient astronaut arguments: namely, that ancient art is too weird for modern people to understand without appeal to aliens, that buildings with heavy rocks require spaceships to build, and that human DNA is ennobled by sexual contact with extraterrestrial beings. His summary sounds like it says something, but he carefully attributes every statement to an unnamed “some” who think it, absolving himself from having said anything at all.
He continues the trend by “bringing up” the Roswell UFO crash to help make a half-formed case for time travel from the future. Instead of making any assertions, Szarek asks a series of questions, to which he offers no answers, and then uses the questions as the basis for concluding that we should trust George W. Hoover, a deceased Navy commander, that the Roswell spacecraft (which Szarek never bothered to assert actually existed) was in fact a time machine from the future. Szarek leaves out the fact that this claim was made in 2010, while Hoover died in 1998. The claim comes indirectly from Hoover’s son, who shares his name, recalling an alleged conversation he had with his father sometime in the 1960s.
Father and son were immediately confused, and UFO conspiracy theorists announced that the deceased Hoover had “come forward” with tales of time-traveling aliens, claims that the younger Hoover did not actually make. The younger Hoover stated in his first set of claims that his father was “convinced” that the Roswell object was not a balloon, but that he refused to tell his son what it really was. Somehow this turned into time traveling aliens thanks to ufologist and former UFO Hunters star William J. Birnes, who—despite fruitlessly searching for evidence of Roswell for decades—declared that he too had heard this from the elder George Hoover before his death in 1998 and simply decided not to report it for more than a decade because they were “private” and “off the record” conversations about material Hoover Sr. failed to share with his own son. All this, of course, occurred while Birnes was actively telling his viewers and UFO Magazine readers what, if we take this story literally, he knew to be lies about the “truth” behind Roswell.
Szarek fails even the most basic elements of journalism and deceives his readers into thinking that the story attributed to the elder Hoover is well-grounded and independently confirmed. Instead, he takes Birnes’s opportunistic claims as reason to leap to an evidence-free conclusion, which he immediately softens by retreating to the old standby of fringe theorists: it “could” be true, but doesn’t have to be!
Hoover’s story mirrors other stories from some ufologists and many UFO abductees that aliens may have been, and still may be, humans of the future who have found the technology to overcome the limitations of light speed and time travel paradoxes that keep present day humans from breaching the boundaries of time. Their often-humanoid appearance may suggest a link between the way we look today, and what we might look like thousands of years from now. Ancient aliens may, in fact, be future humans. It's a mind-bending idea, but not an entirely impossible one.
I don’t really understand how Szarek moved from ancient astronauts to modern UFO abductions without ever making a connection between the two. Why, for example, did the aliens need “helmets,” as he claims, to breathe in the Bronze Age but somehow can walk around without them in modern times? Why did the aliens fly around in complex, ornate “chariots” in Vedic times but now have sleek, saucer- or triangle-shaped space cruisers? Are the Roswell time travelers the same as the Puma Punku and pyramid builders?
His argument makes no coherent sense unless you already believe that there is a single extraterrestrial (or extra-temporal) phenomenon occurring across time and space, and that ancient people communicated regularly with them but modern governments decided, sometime around the founding of America by Freemasons, to suppress this knowledge in an attempt to preserve religious orthodoxy—the same orthodoxy that somehow emerged and thrived despite the continued and active presence of the same ancient aliens that now threaten it.
But The Huffington Post delivered millions of eyeballs to a blog post promoting Ancient Aliens and other paranormal programs. This is how ideas leak from the fringe into the mainstream, drip by drip, one page view at a time.
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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