Yesterday the two most prominent Lovecraft scholars, Robert M. Price and S. T. Joshi, discussed Lovecraft and atheism on Skeptical Inquirer's Point of Inquiry podcast. It's worth a listen, but I must admit that I was somewhat shocked by the intemperate language they used in discussing religion. Granted, the show's audience is skeptics and both are aredent atheists, but their conversation sounded very much like the stereotype of the arrogant atheist caricatured in religious writings. There are, incidentally, many religions other than Christianity and Judaism, yet all of the arguments for atheism are directed toward these faiths. Poor Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, shamans, etc.
It might also have been helpful to non-Lovecraft listeners had they thought to explain who Lovecraft was or what he wrote about. I'm imagining that a lot of skeptics were dumbfounded and trying to figure out what a Cthulhu is.
Last night the History Channel aired yet another installment of Ancient Aliens, making the time devoted to this ludicrous pseudoscience more than equal to the entirety of its American history miniseries, America: The Story of Us. This time we "learned" that the aliens are coming back, that the US government has been suppressing news of their return, and that the UN was founded as a clearinghouse to cover-up alien landings worldwide to prevent the collapse of "religion." Now given that the Catholic Church embraced the idea of aliens more than a century ago, I'm not sure what "religion" is specifically threatened by aliens, but what do I know? I'm still waiting for evidence that they a) exist and b) are here before worrying about their effects on Sunday night bingo in the church basement.
My newest article for eSkeptic was published today. You can read it here, and I'll put it up on this site in a week or two, after its eSkeptic run.
The History Channel continues its impressive run of absolute lies. Last week, its Ancient Aliens series claimed, without proof, that the Egyptians (c. 1500 BCE) built obelisks to send electricity to an alien satellite in outer space to beam down to Easter Island (c. 500 CE) so they could use high technology to carve the giant statues there. The 2,000 year time difference and COMPLETE LACK OF EVIDENCE didn't bother anyone.
This week, the series went even nuttier. This week, David Hatcher Childress--the same fellow who insisted that the obelisks were electricity guns--told viewers that the moon is a hollow Death Star brought by the aliens to this planet as an orbiting space station. The aliens live inside and watch all of us on earth, and...I don't know...make reality TV out of it or something. The mind reels. The show says that the "proof" is that the moon is hollow and "rings like a bell" when spacecraft land on it. Also, life on earth is impossible without the moon, so it has to be from the aliens. But earth life began 1.5 billion years ago, so those aliens have sure been hanging around a long time.
Of course the theorists don't really believe the aliens have been here for a couple billion years. At heart, they're creationists (with aliens instead of God) and most are fairly certain, just like creationists, that life is only a few thousand years old at most.
Maybe the secret is that the History Channel intended these shows to show the public just how ridiculous ancient alien theories really are and turn off viewers by negative example. Of course, that would be giving them far too much credit.
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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