Nick Redfern: U.S. Government Could Be Working with Ancient Astronaut Theorists on Immortality Elixir
Nick Redfern’s prose is clunky, and he has an infuriating habit of writing articles in a disorganized and roundabout style that serves only to obscure what ought to be clear. Sometimes I think he is simply a bad writer, but more often I think that it is an intentional affectation designed to allow him to hide the thinness of his research and the threadbare nature of the stories he retells. Reading his recent article on an alleged U.S. government immortality research program derived from Mesopotamian technology left an impression that there was more to the story than the facts allow, and I think that was Redfern’s goal.
I should start today with the sad news of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, best known for Star Trek but influential in the world of fringe history as the narrator of In Search Of... and the host of Ancient Mysteries on A&E. He introduced many people over the past four decades to both science fiction and the pseudo-historical fantasies built from sci-fi parts.
Before I get into the main topic for today, I have a brief review of last night’s episode of Expedition Unknown S01E08 “Code to Gold,” which followed almost exactly the Freemason conspiracy treasure hunting format used by many of last season’s episodes of America Unearthed on a rival channel. By contrast, when host Josh Gates heads off to Virginia to look for the fictitious Beale Treasure—a vast hoard of gold supposedly buried in Bedford County around 1819—the show gives a fair airing to a number of different perspectives on the treasure, including what I am certain is the correct solution: that it never existed.
Are you as “excited” as I am for Alan Butler’s and Janet Wolter’s new book America: Nation of the Goddess? Destiny Books, the publisher, has put up a description of the forthcoming title on parent company Inner Traditions’ website, and it’s as chock full of crazy claims as you’d expect. The two authors posit that a “secret cabal” of related families are secretly running the United States on the twin principles of “sacred geometry” and “goddess worship.” It’s almost as though Robert Graves’s White Goddess and Margaret Murray’s Witch-Cult in Western Europe had a ménage à trois with Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
I have a piece of good news to share today. The editor of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of American Folklore and Mythology (ABC-CLIO) has asked me to write the entry for Chariots of the Gods, which will serve as the encyclopedia’s coverage of the ancient astronaut theory. The volume is intended as a reference work for university libraries and is aimed at an undergraduate readership. Unfortunately, due to the publisher’s deadline, I have just over two weeks to complete the 1,500-word discussion of the ancient astronaut theory’s origin and impact on American folklore.
Due to ongoing computer problems, I am once again forced to keep today’s entry brief. Dell has scheduled repair of my computer for today, and I spent a good chunk of this morning watching my computer get disassembled and rebuilt. At least it went a little faster than the last time the motherboard gave out (last June), which turned into a weeklong nightmare of bungling, incompetence, and confusion. During that mess, Dell sent the wrong part and the technician ended up breaking something in the computer while trying to install the motherboard, requiring several follow-ups with more and more new parts. Today, things went smoothly, and (so far) the computer seems to be functioning OK with its new parts.
Today has been an exceptionally busy day. I spent more than an hour this morning in Dell hell after my computer lost power. It seems that the motherboard is going and needs to be replaced. It’s intermittently losing its connection to the AC power and the battery. After being transferred to four different departments (partly through my own fault when they asked if there were anything else wrong with the computer), giving my service tag six (!) times, and discovering that Dell (a) had no record of my warranty and (b) were planning to ship replacement parts to an address I haven’t lived at for five years, the parts are on their way.
Regular readers will remember Kathleen McGowan-Coppens, the widow of ancient astronaut theorist Philip Coppens and regular History Channel commentator who believes that she is a lineal descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. McGowan-Coppens (who also goes by the un-hyphenated name Kathleen McGowan for some purposes) made an official statement on her Facebook page yesterday afternoon claiming that a “delusional” author named Suzanne Olsson has been stalking her since 2006. Olsson accused McGowan-Coppens of plagiarism of her own work, which advocates the nineteenth century hoax that Jesus survived the crucifixion and traveled to India. (Given that Olsson’s work is inspired by Nicolas Notovich’s 1894 hoax, I’m not sure what was “plagiarized”!) Olsson has filed lawsuits against McGowan-Coppens, who claims Olsson files suits in faraway jurisdictions or when she is out of the country in the hope of winning a default judgment. Olsson claims that she won a default judgment against McGowan-Coppens in Los Angeles and is actively asking for help to find the author in order to serve her with papers so she can place a lien on McGowan-Coppens’s property.
I’d like to thank Edward Babinski for drawing my attention to an interesting account of the discovery of a fossilized “giant.” His interest in the story is a little different than mine, but I think you’ll find that both perspectives offer some insight into the zany world of giant hunting.
I guess I should start off with a capsule recap of Expedition Unknown S01E07 “Captain Morgan’s Lost Gold,” but I frankly have nothing interesting to say about it. This hour saw host Josh Gates travel to Panama to retrace the steps of the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan in search of Morgan’s sunken ship, the Satisfaction. The enjoyable hour provided a fun tour of Panama and some interesting glimpses at some of the underwater archaeology being done off the country’s coasts. It, of course, turned up nothing related to Morgan, and the big set-piece shipwreck Gates investigated was that of a sixteenth century Spanish vessel. This is actually something of a bit of news, at least if you rely on Wikipedia, since the initial discovery of the ship in 2011 (the foundation for this episode) suggested that it was Morgan’s vessel. Recent analysis concludes that it was not, a fact not yet reported on Henry Morgan’s Wikipedia page as of this writing.
Good news, everyone! You will be able to watch me on TV on Monday, March 2 at 10 PM ET when the American Heroes Channel debuts the “Ancient Astronauts” episode of Codes and Conspiracies, which will examine the history of the ancient astronaut theory and some of the shady elements of Erich von Däniken’s criminal past. I shot commentary for the show back in September, and unless producers were happy to throw out all the money they spent coming out to Albany to film (and pay) me, I should actually be in this episode.
Here is the episode description:
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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