For Easter, Richard Carrier Discusses the Evidence for Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East
The Easter weekend brings some dark news from the world of ufology. The History channel put out a press release yesterday announcing the imminent return of Ancient Aliens, which will launch its thirteenth season (and ninth calendar year) on April 27 with a two-hour season premiere. According to History, to fill the time, the upcoming season will strip mine recent news reports, including the recent revelation of the Pentagon’s UFO tracking efforts at the behest of former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the recent claims that voids discovered in Egypt’s Great Pyramid are secret chambers. The series will also claim that statues in the Marquesas Islands and on Sardinia are extraterrestrial because their stylized art resembles supposed “alien features.” History claims that the show reached 47 million viewers in 2017, though this number includes some creative math that counts the same 1.2 million actual same-day viewers multiple times if they watch episodes on different days and at different times.
Last week, Garry Nolan, the team geneticist for Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Science, published results of a DNA test conducted on the so-called “Atacama Humanoid,” a mummified twentieth century stillbirth from the Atacama region of Chile. Ufologists like Steven Greer had promoted the tiny corpse as a potential extraterrestrial for the past fifteen years, but the new study found that the body was fully human, though suffering from genetic diseases. Now the New York Times reports that the Chilean government has condemned Nolan’s study as unethical and is investigating whether the body was illegally exhumed and exported in violation of grave robbing and heritage laws. Nolan denied knowing that the body had been stolen, though it’s sort of hard to imagine how else a human corpse of recent vintage ends up on the UFO sideshow circuit. Few people will their bodies—much less their kids’ bodies—to ufology. That said, the Chilean government only started to care about the corpse when it was proved human; for the fifteen years UFO believer declared it alien, the government took no action. The lesson is pretty clear: Pretend bodies belong to space aliens, and you can do what you want with them. There might just be a market for black market “alien” kidneys, too…
Last week TruTV launched a six-part animated series from the team behind the debunking series Adam Ruins Everything called Reanimated History in which self-described “ruiner” Adam Conover takes a whirlwind tour through historical myths in order to expose the false facts that pass for history. The first episode focused on the American Revolution, and this week’s second episode was devoted to the history of Native Americans before Columbus and during the early colonial era. Overall, the series is cute, and generally a good rejoinder to the rosy stories we tell ourselves about the past, but it’s equally clear that the people behind the series are much less comfortable with history than they are with their regular beat of debunking bad science and pop culture.
Ufologist Robbie Graham wrote the book Silver Screen Saucers, a book about UFOs in the movies, and regular readers will remember that he holds a bizarre conspiracy theory that musician Tom DeLonge is a disinformation agent acting at the behest of the Deep State as part of a vast mind-control experiment. Anyway, Graham has a new article at Mysterious Universe where he attempts to argue that Vox magazine was wrong to attribute the way modern American culture imagines space aliens to their depiction in science fiction. He believes that the influence goes the other way around.
Christian Ministry Takes Out National Ad to Claim Demons Impersonate Aliens to Deceive Christians Into Worshiping on the Wrong Day of the Week
Last Christmas, I bought my son some gifts online, and unbeknownst to me, the retailer used the purchase to sign me up for free trial subscriptions to about half a dozen useless magazines, which began showing up unbidden six weeks later, much to my surprise. It took many phone calls to track down where the magazines came from and to make sure I wasn’t being charged for them. The bottom line is that I have an unwanted weekly subscription to People magazine. I was shocked to discover an advertisement in the back of the current week’s edition making use of the ancient astronaut theory to promote an evangelical Christian limited liability corporation registered in Wyoming.
Earlier this week, I briefly discussed a book I have been working on for the past few years, which will tell the story of the mound builder myth and how it affected the growth and development of the United States. As I described in my earlier blog post, so far no agent or publisher has expressed interested in the book. In lieu of a blog post today, I would like to share the first few pages of the book so you can get a sense of my approach to the topic. The book opens with a brief preface providing a factual overview of the history of mound building in North America, after which our story begins. The pages below are, of course, a draft, and they will likely undergo further revision, fact-checking, and correction should the book ever proceed to publication.
Scientific Analysis Concludes "Atacama Humanoid" Is Stillborn Child Suffering from Unique Genetic Conditions
The journal Genome Research published an article yesterday which concluded that the so-called Atacama skeleton, a six-inch fetal skeleton from Chile’s Atacama region resembling a “Grey” space alien, is in fact fully human but suffered from disease. The skeleton’s cone-shaped skull gave rise to claims that it was a representative of the extraterrestrial species responsible for South America’s elongated skulls, and it featured prominently on the internet and on cable television as “evidence” for an extraterrestrial presence on Earth ever since the remains were unearthed in 2003. Its most famous appearance was in the 2013 documentary Sirius, a mystery-mongering UFO film by Steven Greer.
Malta to Host Debut of New Atlantis Documentary; Plus: Harry Reid Gives Depressing Interview about His UFO Beliefs
I fell behind on work yesterday, and unfortunately ran out of time for a lengthy blog post. So I will give a couple of quick news notes. The first is about a documentary scheduled debut on Saturday in the island nation of Malta. The high-profile (for Malta, anyway) offering traces the fringe claims of Maltese artist Francis Xavier Alosio and was produced by Sprout Media’s Ed Hamilton. The 45-minute film claims that the temples of ancient Malta are far older than the Neolithic and are in fact the work of Atlanteans from 9,600 years ago or more.
Yesterday I reviewed Andrew Lawler’s new book The Secret Token, and to be entirely honest, it was a bit of a depressing experience. That’s because the book’s first half is set up much like a book I’ve been working on writing for several years now, though on a different topic. My book is a narrative history of the “white” mound builder myth, starting with the Spanish explorations and proceeding down to the famous Bureau of Ethnology report that closed the subject as a legitimate scientific question. The structure and approach are remarkably close, though, in my obviously biased opinion, I feel that I have done a much better job mining my subject for the kind of rich, novelistic detail that helps to bring the past to life. I wrote it basically as a nonfiction novel. My cast of characters is also richer and more compelling, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Constantine Rafinesque, all of whom left elaborate paper trails that help to tell a fascinating story in an engaging way.
THE SECRET TOKEN:
MYTH, OBSESSION, AND THE SEARCH FOR THE LOST COLONY OF ROANOKE
Andrew Lawler | June 2018 | Doubleday | 448 pages | ISBN 9780385542012 | $29.95 USD, $39.95 CA
A recurring theme in fringe history is anger at the scholarly establishment, which tends to manifest as the conviction that academics have something to hide about history. But the roots of that rage are more frequently found in the difference between what the public wants to know about history—stories of triumph and tragedy, grand historical narratives, and the actions of sainted heroes and ancestors—and what academics want to study about history—the holy trinity of race, class, and gender; the minutiae of daily life; and anything that calls grand narratives into question. Neither approach is prima facie wrong, but the difference produces an uncomfortable tension between what popularizers want to write about and what scholars think they should be writing about.
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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