I spent a big chunk of my writing time yesterday at the doctor’s office waiting to be diagnosed with a viral sinus infection, presumably the same one my son picked up at his toddler play group a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, the congestion and coughing had gotten quite bad and I had to try to do something about it. Unfortunately, the doctor said that there is almost nothing that can be done other than the usual treatments for cold-like symptoms. It has made it hard to focus and concentrate, which has made me something less than enthusiastic about writing.
Australia's History Channel Marks Australia Day with "Ancient Aliens" Claims about Space Aliens and Egyptians Colonizing Down Under
Australians celebrate Australia Day each January 26, a public holiday that is the rough equivalent of America’s Fourth of July, except that it celebrates the arrival of British sovereignty rather than the loss of it. But the patriotic celebration is not universally beloved Down Under, and thousands turned out last week to protest what opponents call Invasion Day, due to the observance marking the arrival of British colonists and their takeover of Indigenous Australian territory in what is now New South Wales. Supporters believe that the day is an important tool in fostering and celebrating Australian unity, while opponents see it as, basically, a White Pride party. “There are only two events where we can be guaranteed to see white people wearing [Australian] flag capes—on Australia Day and at neo-Nazi rallies,” wrote Luke Pearson, the founder of Indigenous X, a website raising awareness of Indigenous Australian issues.
Harvard Scientist Speculates about Ancient Astronauts as Surrogates for God, Asks If Their Existence Would Make Humanity More Moral and Responsible
Note: Due to a number of obligations I have this week, my blog posts are going to be briefer than usual several days this week. I hope you don’t mind too much.
Today I wanted to discuss a blog post on the Scientific American website by Abraham (Avi) Loeb, the chair of Harvard University’s astronomy department and a bunch of other impressive titles related to astrophysics. However, despite his extensive career, he is best known to the public for his 2018 claim that the anomalous interstellar object ‘Oumuamua could be a piece of alien technology. He wrote this weekend about the idea—so popular among ancient astronaut theorists—that advanced extraterrestrials would be indistinguishable from God. While he attributes the idea to a variation of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law (first proposed in 1973), regular readers will know that H. P. Lovecraft wrote stories about humans mistaking advanced space aliens for deities in the 1920s, and antecedents of the idea can be found in Theosophy decades before.
This weekend I am taking some time away from blog writing to work on my new books. It turns out that there are only so many hours in the day and not enough of them to do everything at the same time. So, this weekend, enjoy a break from fringe history and instead watch The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah deliver some embarrassing remarks about archaeology in which he berates Scottish archaeologists for not recognizing that a “ancient” stone circle was actually built in the 1990s, accuses archaeologists of simply making up the story of humanity’s past, and confuses archaeology with paleontology, which he also alleges is a conspiracy built on fraud. I know they’re meant as a joke, but the remarks made on Thursday’s episode too nearly reflect the kind of mistrust and ignorance we see out in the “wild.”
I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad one that it’s been such a slow month in the world of fringe history, but it leaves me with rather little to write about from time to time. Today is one of those days when I seem to have run out of material to discuss. (But be sure to check out the recent post from Carl Feagans explaining why a claim that Atlantis had been found in Spain was really the discovery of experimental ponds dug in 2004!) I suppose I could comment on the fact that only 415,000 viewers tuned in to Monday’s Travel Channel rebroadcast of H2’s America Unearthed, or that this number is roughly on par with the rerun of Family Feud airing opposite it on GSN. But all there is to say about it is that the numbers are so small—just 0.13% of the U.S. population—that we might just as well ignore the whole debacle unless and until Travel commissions new episodes.
Latest Infighting at MUFON Accidentally Reveals Web of Connections Between MUFON, Robert Bigelow, the Pentagon, To the Stars, and A+E Networks
Last week, MUFON official Phil Leech posted a letter criticizing many aspects of MUFON’s management, including claims that MUFON officials were corruptly using the organization as a piggy bank for themselves and their relatives, infighting among cliques of officials, and continued support for racist MUFON official John Ventre. But there were a few claims in the letter that were insightful and rather astonishing. These surround Leech’s description of how some MUFON members are profiting handsomely from selling MUFON case studies to the cable TV sausage factory:
West Virginia Archaeologists Blast "Appalachian Magazine" for Reviving Claims about Irish Monks in Ancient America
On Monday, the Council for West Virginia Archaeology posted an open letter that they wrote to the editor of Appalachian Magazine, taking issue with that publication’s December article attributing some Native American petroglyphs in the state to Irish monks. The article, posted on December 21, asked whether Celts preceded Columbus to the Americas. Frankly, as a bit of recycled garbage culled from 1980s press clippings, I would never have taken notice of it were it not for the Council’s letter. Sadly, there are simply too many similar pieces recycling twentieth century pseudohistory to keep track of.
Tuesday Roundup: Fake Scottish Stone Circle Fools Archaeologists and the Science Channel Goes on a New Search for Vikings in America
It was a cold and icy weekend where I live in Albany, NY, with about 15 inches of snow and sleet falling on Sunday, followed by bitter wind chills on Monday, making cleanup difficult. I spent much of the holiday weekend digging the house out, only to have the snowplow come through and bury the driveway under four more feet of heavy ice blocks. Then, a starling fell down the chimney into the basement, and I had to chase a bird around the house until I could convince it to fly out a propped-open door into the cold. As a result, I didn’t have a lot of time for writing today’s blog post, and that turns out to be OK because the world of fringe history seems to have taken a bit of a breather over the holiday weekend. The big names were fairly quiet, give or take a snippy comment or two. I guess it’s just a quiet time of the year.
I find Micah Hanks’s work to be infuriating for a number of reasons, but not least because he tends to write about the exact same things that I wrote about years earlier, but with less detail and insight. His latest piece on the history of ray guns in science fiction and science fact is another example of his light skimming of history. It is maddening that Hanks, who claims to be an explorer of all things Fortean and outré, misses several important connections between sci-fi death rays and the weirder side of history.
Andrew Collins Claims Native Americans Were Ruled by Hybrid Denisovan Giants Who Masterminded Mound Building
Andrew Collins has made something of a career out of rewriting the same book over and over again, with slightly different material keyed to whatever was the most recent archaeological controversy or discovery at the time of writing. It was not too long ago that Collins delivered a book on Göbelki Tepe (my review: Part 1 and Part 2), in which he suggested that the Denisovans, a different species in the genus Homo known from only a few bone fragments, are the mysterious Nephilim of the Bible and the civilizing god-kings who bequeathed the arts and sciences to a benighted line of Homo sapiens. Apparently delighted by this claim, Collins has rewritten the same material into a new book called Denisovan Dawn, coauthored by gigantologist and Edgar Cayce acolyte Greg Little, and due out from publishing dumpster fire Inner Traditions in September. Collins first published his new claims in August on Ancient Origins and is currently promoting a presentation he plans to give on the subject later this spring.
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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