When last we left so-called “real-life Indiana Jones” Graham Phillips in his quest for King Arthur, he had devoted the first four chapters of The Lost Tomb of King Arthur to narrowing down his main idea, that the Arthurian romances emerged from a Welsh oral tradition of real life events that took place in western Wales around 500 CE. As his argument progresses, his claims begin to become more fantastic.
Although I’m not particularly interested in modern UFOs, I am interested in the crazy-quilt of conspiracy culture that surrounds them. That’s why it was disheartening to see that Micah Hanks published an article yesterday in which he and ufologist Stanton Friedman commiserated about how they are the only true skeptics, while those who do not agree that there is evidence of flying saucers are “debunkers” whose minds are closed. The thrust of the article, however, was a rant about Wikipedia, which Hanks complained is wrong to reject evidence from unreliable sources. He and Friedman suggest that hoaxes and disinformation are worthy of inclusion because they might contain “a grain of truth” which true skeptics like them can discern. This strikes me as essentially arguing that historical fiction like Ivanhoe should be used as source for medieval history because Sir Walter Scott was just so good at doing research.
Congressman Implies Archaeology Not in the "National Interest"; Plus: James Tabor Defends Talpiot Tomb
I don’t usually bring up political issues, especially not at the granular level of government appropriations, but a piece by anthropology professor Rosemary Joyce at Berkeley is important enough to call attention to. Joyce reports that Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) implied that archaeological research is not in the national interest. The conservative representative issued a press release about HR 3293, a bill that would require the National Science Foundation to justify all of its funding requests by demonstrating how they meet the national interest. In that press release, Smith provided five examples of grants he considered non-essential to America’s national interest. Three of these five were archaeology projects, even though archaeology represents less than 0.12% of NSF research funding. All three archaeology projects, not coincidentally, had implications for how humans adapt to climate change, according to Joyce.
One of the recurring themes in fringe history is the way that ideas echo down the generations, repeating over time. In an article this morning, Nick Redfern illustrated the way fringe beliefs transfer from one generation to the next, with an assist from the media. Redfern describes how, when he was 13 in 1978, he and his father went to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which prompted the elder Redfern to describe an alleged UFO incident he experienced in 1952. The younger Redfern attributed to this combination of a powerful movie and a personal story his own interest in UFOs and his subsequent career in writing about aliens and monsters.
Australian Reality Show Celebrity Contestant Supports Ancient Alien Theory, Says Aliens Engineered Humans
I’ve always like Australia. It seems like a nice place, giant spiders notwithstanding, and it’s on the list of places I’d love to visit someday. I’ve watched Australian TV since at least when the Australian-produced Beyond 2000 (later Beyond Tomorrow) and the Crocodile Hunter used to air in the U.S., and I also liked the Chaser’s War on Everything a decade ago. I’m a big fan of Danger Five. In fact, while doing my work I live streamed the Nine Network’s Today show online most afternoons for the last ten years, until they switched to a new streaming video provider and geo-blocked me last week. (You’re dead to me now, Nine Network.) It’s a relatively fun, pleasant news show, and certainly better than the crap that cable news airs in the afternoon. And I like seeing how other parts of the world perceive events without the filter of America-centric media. But beyond my being pissed off at Nine, I saw that former Australian cricketer Shane Warne came out as an ancient astronaut theorist on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, a popular Ten Network Australian reality show based on the UK series, itself modeled on Survivor.
I have two gems from literature to share with you. The first is this picture, which ought to greatly excite ancient astronaut theorists. To look at it with modern eyes, it appears to show a man gazing at a flying saucer, in a piece of art produced six decades before the saucer era began. Unfortunately for ancient astronaut theorists, the “UFO” in this late nineteenth century illustration is actually the flying island of Laputa from Gulliver’s Travels. I’ve seen several versions of the picture, but this one looks the most like a UFO at first glance.
Benton Rooks Lauds Graham Hancock, Complains that Academics Believe in Linear Evolution of Civilization
The Disinformation Company, or as it styles itself, disinformation®, is a purveyor of conspiracy theories. If we are being generous, we might say that they explore alternative points of view, and if we are not being generous, it might be fairer to say that they make money off of hoaxes and lies, mixed with paranoia and New Age spirituality. They also have a business relationship with Graham Hancock, for whom they are the U.S. publisher of his book Supernatural. You wouldn’t know that from reading Benton Rooks’s review of Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods for Disinformation this week, nor would you learn that Rooks and Hancock worked together in creating the genre of “ethnodelic storytelling” to describe shamanic-influenced literature. In short, the review isn’t exactly what it pretends to be.
I know that there has been a push to make Christianity cool for Millennials, and I suppose I have to give Alfonzo Rachel credit for looking and sounding very different than his essentially fundamentalist message. He’s an African American political conservative and a biblical literalist, and he’s upset at the idea that anyone could pretend to be Christian and yet find the Flood or the story of Jonah in the fish to be allegorical. “Please stop. You either believe the Bible or you don’t.” However, I was a bit shocked and disturbed to see Rachel promoting the Nephilim as “superheroes” from the Bible, and implicitly equating them with Jesus, whom he identifies as a “real-life superhero.”
Late yesterday afternoon a producer for Vice Media contacted me to ask if I could pop by their Brooklyn studios this morning to shoot an interview for a “light and fun” piece they’re doing for the new Viceland TV channel, the one that’s replacing H2, on the popularity of the Ancient Aliens TV series. This was all kinds of wrong, not least because Vice thought I could drop everything and just pop on over to Brooklyn, all the way from upstate! The producer apologized for the short notice, but blamed deadlines for the need to find “a skeptic” fast.
A story making the rounds on the internet alleges that an Ohio teenager said that her out of wedlock pregnancy occurred because one of the Nephilim came to her in July and impregnated her with Jesus Christ’s baby. “He told me that he was a Nephilim, like those described in the Bible,” the girl allegedly said. “He told me that he had a message from Jesus, He said that I was going to be pregnant, and that I would give birth to a son, Jesus’ son.” If the news report were true, it would be worth trying to disentangle the confused Nephilim theology, which appears to be derived more from the recent Freeform Shadowhunters TV series than esoteric religion. However, the story is a hoax, from the “satire” site World News Daily Report that social media and some international news outlets mistook for a real news report.
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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