I have no blog post for you today because, for the second time this year, my boiler failed. This time it began leaking water and apparently has a crack inside that would cost more to repair than replacing the boiler. I spent the entire day yesterday dealing with the boiler failure, which is the second one I have now gone through in five years, across two different houses. When you add that to the broken toilets, dead washing machine, faulty door knobs, and myriad other problems, it makes for a very long and expensive half year of living in this house.
Ancient Aliens received a bump in the ratings after moving from Friday to Saturday for its fifteenth season, but the surge in Saturday ratings was short lived. The show has seen its viewership continue to decline, though not yet to the historic lows it reached at the end of its Friday run. This week, the show fell to 928,000 viewers, down from last week and down markedly from its season premiere. That’s still a cut above the 750,000-800,000 watching in its last few Friday episodes, but the trend line isn’t positive, despite the History Channel making Ancient Aliens the de facto face of its network across its multiple platforms, including its lucrative line of fan conferences, such as Alien Con and History Con.
The Conscious Life Expo is one of the leading gatherings New Agers in the United States. Earlier this month, 12,000 people came to listen to lectures on Reiki, tarot, astral projection and all manner of alternative spiritualities. It also draws a roster of cable TV conspiracy theorists, YouTube speculators, and professional New Age believers. Wandering the halls of the Los Angeles Airport Hilton, you will find members of the Ancient Aliens cast, Gaia TV personalities, etc. The Conscious Life Expo this year made quite clear that the UFO movement and its ancient astronaut appendage is inexorably intwined with a desperate search for God in a world where traditional religion has lost much of its power.
Science Channel Flat-Earther Killed Making TV Show; Plus: Erich von Däniken Gets Another Ancient Text Very Wrong
Over the weekend, pseudoscience television claimed a life. The death of Michael “Mad Mike” Hughes while filming for the Science Channel was not the first death in unscripted TV, but his Wile E. Coyote escapades in a failed effort to prove the Earth flat marked a particularly ridiculous low for the Science Channel and its parent company, Discovery Communications. The Science Channel was shooting a pseudo-documentary series called Homemade Astronauts in which Hughes attempted to launch a homemade rocket 5,000 feet into the air in the hope of using it as a model for a bigger rocket that would let him see the edge of the flat Earth. Just like Wile E. Coyote in the Looney Tunes, his rocket exploded, but since he was not a cartoon character, he died as he lived, utterly irresponsible. The Science Channel and its outgoing chief executive offered their condolences but accepted no responsibility for enabling ad encouraging this staggering act of utter stupidity, which they filmed. In fact, the Science Channel absolved itself on Twitter, claiming it was merely there to “chronicle his journey.”
Weekend Roundup: Ex-Ancient Aliens Researcher Spills Very Few Beans; Plus: Matt Sibson Recycles More Pyramid Claims
Let’s start today with the Archaeological Fantasies podcast interview with Annelise Baer, an archaeologist and former staffer for Ancient Aliens, whom readers with long memories will remember for writing a 2014 blog post proudly discussing how she sold her integrity to Ancient Aliens for the “fun” of going off the “deep end” in making the anti-scientific show. (Baer blocked me on Twitter in 2014 for publicizing her blog post.) In the new interview, Baer laughs about how she hated Ancient Aliens until they offered to pay her, saying she took the job because she was unemployed. I can’t say I find her current interview reassuring since she continues to take no responsibility for the ethical and moral issues created by the show, or the deep impact its lies and fraud have on audiences.
This week, creationist Ken Ham threw a fit over a 2019 documentary, We Believe in Dinosaurs, which aired this month on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series. He accused the documentary of being biased against creationism because it depicted, accurately, the appearance of dinosaurs in Ham’s “Ark Encounter” recreation of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky. “It turned out to be an agenda-driven propaganda piece focusing on dinosaurs and the Ark Encounter, where dinosaurs represent only a tiny fraction of the exhibits at the Ark,” Ham wrote. That’s a bit like complaining that histories of Germany always mention that Hitler fellow even though he was only in power for 12 years.
With the launch of my new book, The Mound Builder Myth, yesterday, I have much to do and too little time to do it. I had rather little time for writing thanks to book launch work, but I wanted to give notice of the disturbing situation unfolding in New Zealand, where believers in a lost race of giants are coming under fire for the very real damage that their efforts to excavate what they believe to be giants’ bones may be doing.
I am happy to announce the publication today of my new book, The Mound Builder Myth: Fake History and the Hunt for a “Lost White Race.” This book has been a long time in coming. I started writing it in the winter of 2011/2012, and it has been a slow road to publication, but one I think is worth the wait. Clocking in at 400 pages, The Mound Builder Myth is the best book I have ever written, and you know that it must be good because both Graham Hancock and Ken Feder have read it in manuscript and had great things to say about it. You can order the book directly from the publisher or from your favorite retailer.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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