Today I’d like to direct your attention to this book review by Will Banyan of Jim Marrs’s Our Occulted History (2013) at Conspiracy Archive. I have only read about half the book myself, it being too terrible to put up with since it lacks any of the delusional goofiness of better fringe books. The review offers an excellent and extremely thorough evaluation of Marrs’s slipshod scholarship, poorly-reasoned arguments, and dearth of factual evidence in support of his claims that the ancient astronaut theory is true and that the New World Order is covering up our alien heritage. Thankfully, a full year after publication it appears that his book was a commercial failure (or at least not enough of a success to have garnered much popular attention), but a good debunking is always in order.
I have sad news to report this morning. Last night my grandfather died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 97, or at least as unexpectedly as one can at that age. I find it difficult to eulogize my grandfather since, like so many men of his generation, he tended toward silence and stoicism.
We can add another name to the growing list of famous and semi-famous people who have publicly declared their allegiance to Ancient Aliens. Today’s contestant is George Groves, a British boxer and amateur standup comedian, told the Telegraph yesterday that he’s a huge fan of Ancient Aliens and a believer in ancient astronauts:
I am a big fan of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. I have been known to watch that just before I go to bed sometimes. I’m a believer in alien intelligence and that programme has taught me so much over the years. It’s very thought-provoking. Paddy [Fitzpatrick, his trainer] also watches it, and we’ve had many discussions on the subject.
It’s rather surprising that I need to report this, but I’ve received an unusual number of emails from people who have supposedly heard the cache of Viking-era Norse artifacts had been discovered in Michigan. The report first surfaced on World News Daily Report in an article that quickly traveled across the internet, including on Stormfront.org. After describing the artifacts as a mixture of Northern European items, the report claims, in the original spelling and punctuation:
Today I have two short topics to discuss: first, a Welsh art project on the search for Welsh Indians in American, and second, a new book that argues that white people are genetically adapted for wealth, dominance, and success because of prehistoric events.
I was momentarily excited to see that someone had read and cited my Jason and the Argonauts book in what seemed at first glance to be a thoughtful article examining whether the Jason myth influenced the Book of Jonah. But then I noticed that the writer didn’t capitalize the words “Jews” or “Jewish,” and he had a rather Germanic name, Karl Radl, a name shared by a Nazi SS officer. I looked up the modern Radl, and of course he’s an anti-Semitic writer who is trying to expose the “truth” about Judaism and Zionism. Lucky me.
That put a bit of a damper on my plan to talk about last night’s episode of Showtime’s horror series Penny Dreadful, which was a dreary, boring affair that retold the story of Frankenstein with only a few stabs at reinvention, notably the Creature’s tutelage at the Grand Guignol (of Britannia, of course; the original being in Paris). The only detail I appreciated in the entire episode was one that bothered me last week. I initially wondered why the (presumed) Creature took the name Proteus since it was not the obvious choice from Shakespeare for Frankenstein’s Monster; the reveal of an original monster and his name fixed the problem: The first Creature bore the name Caliban. Why, might you ask, did I want the Creature to carry that name? If you’ve read my anthology A Hideous Bit of Morbidity, you’ll have seen that in March 1818 Sir Walter Scott compared Frankenstein’s Monster to Shakespeare’s wild Caliban from the Tempest in a review of Mary Shelley’s newly-released novel in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Later critics have carried forward this comparison, which is still made today.
Since it’s Memorial Day weekend, readership is going to be lower than normal, so I thought that this might be a good time to share some unusual ancient texts that have contributed to fringe history claims. Yesterday, I discussed the mystery of Mt. Baris, the place where Nicolaus of Damascus claimed that Noah’s Ark came to rest, and I outlined the scholarly case for identifying this peak with Mt. Judi, the traditional landing site of Noah’s Ark (and Atrahasis’ or Xisuthrus’ Ark before that) from roughly 1000 BCE to the Middle Ages among Babylonians, Jews, and (later) Western Christians, and down to the present among Muslims.
A blogger at the Daily Kos wrote last night of how an episode of Ancient Aliens changed his or her view of ancient astronauts. After not having believed in any supernatural or extraterrestrial claims, and after having found Ancient Aliens ridiculous, the blogger was so overwhelmed by the otherworldliness of Puma Punku during an Ancient Aliens episode that something changed: “Now I don’t know if aliens made it but saying aliens made it sounds at least as credible as the archeological explanations. There are perfectly round holes straight through a few feet of rock and they say it was done by bouncing stones on it. There is just no way that could be.” Point of fact: The holes were drilled, not made by bouncing. The blogger seems to be confusing the drilling of holes with the use of pounding stones for carving and polishing blocks.
You knew it was bound to happen. Ancient Aliens has officially entered into the halls of power. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on astrobiology and to discuss questions related to extraterrestrial life. The Committee heard testimony from Dr. Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, and Dr. Dan Werthimer, the director of SETI research at the University of California Berkeley. The two men discussed the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and fielded questions from the assembled representatives that ranged from thoughtful to ignorant.
This post has been updated to reflect new information from NASA.
An apparent lack of reading comprehension by sensationalist media outlets led to shocking claims that NASA endorsed the ancient astronaut theory in a new book. Media outlets, including the British edition of the Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze covered the story yesterday, all rewriting material that first appeared on Gizmodo hours earlier. As The Blaze wrongly put it, the book “details the hunt for such evidence [of alien contact] by the space agency and other organizations and even suggests that unusual patterns cut into rock actually ‘might have been made by aliens.’”
Just hours after the story broke online, NASA removed Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication from its website along with the accompanying press release, claiming that the eBook was mistakenly published a month too early. I obtained a copy of the book from Archive.org in order to examine the claims.
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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