I had a very busy day yesterday and ran out of time for writing, but I wanted to share with you a bit of an interview that voiceover artist Robert Clotworthy did with Monsters & Critics recently. Clothworthy is the narrator of Ancient Aliens and The Curse of Oak Island and has spent a decade complicit in the spread of pseudoscience and conspiracy theories across the country and around the world. In the interview, Clotworthy was asked whether he believes the ancient astronaut theories he shares with the world on Ancient Aliens or whether he is a skeptic of his own show’s claims. So, is he a skeptic?
If you are a subscriber to Science magazine, you may have seen Lizzie Wade’s article “Believe in Atlantis? These Archaeologists Want to Win You Back to Science,” which ran online on Tuesday and will appear in the print version of the journal. The article features a number of archaeologists that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with and (I hope) fans of, as well as a few comments from me, too. In lieu of a blog post today, I urge to you give Wade’s article a read. In it, she discusses the continued popularity of pseudoarchaeology and its dominance in popular culture. It covers the racism of pseudoarchaeology and its connections to nineteenth century colonialism and imperialism.
On Sunday, Expedition Unknown broadcasted a live special in which host Josh Gates presided over the opening of an Egyptian sarcophagus containing the mortal remains of a priest of the god Thoth. Gates took to Twitter to share his excitement, declaring the dead man to be “a stunner.” I get the idea of being excited by digging up a mummy, but it makes me uncomfortable to turn a corpse into entertainment.
At the American Association of Physical Anthropology Conference in Cleveland last week, a team of researchers presented evidence that humans in Papua New Guinea may have interbred with a population of Denisovans as recently as 15,000 years ago, citing genetic evidence that genomes they tested contained evidence of two separate infusions of Denisovan DNA. The first came around 50,000 years ago. The second occurred sometime after, and the researchers suspect it occurred around 15,000 years ago. The scientists, led by Murray Cox of the Massey University in New Zealand, also said that the Denisovans living on the mainland in southeast Asia were as genetically different from the better-known Siberian Denisovans as they were from Neanderthals.
On Wednesday, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee sent the Lucas Brothers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to examine why the Alt-Right is obsessed with Greco-Roman statues. The brothers and their team of experts concluded that the white marble of the statues has falsely created a culture of white supremacy around the sculptures which the Alt-Right is exploiting for political gain. This is stupid, and as much as I like Samantha Bee and her show, this segment was flawed, predicated on the facile conflation of the color white with the social construction of Whiteness.
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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