Billionaire aerospace and Budget Suites magnate Robert Bigelow announced his belief that Earth currently is home to space aliens who have infiltrated our planet, and he claimed to have spent more money than any other private individual investigating UFOs. When CBS’s Lara Logan asked him if he was worried about being labeled crazy, he replied “It’s not gonna make a difference. It’s not gonna change the reality of what I know.” Oddly, despite all of the resources he had devoted to finding space aliens here on Earth and in space, he somehow had no proof. [Update: According to Skeptical Inquirer, Bigelow has been funding MUFON UFO research, and he told Coast to Coast years ago that he hoped to imitate UFO propulsion systems in his own spacecraft.]
As regular readers know, I have a special interest in the medieval pyramid myths that arose in Arab-Islamic Egypt because these stories are foundational for all later pyramid mysticism, from the occult mysteries of Giza to the claim that a lost civilization was responsible for their construction. The stories, told in three major variants, attribute the construction of the monuments of Giza variously to Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary king Surid (possibly a fictionalized version of Khufu), or the fictitious giant Shaddad ibn ‘Ad, the builder of Iram of the Pillars. In most versions, one of these men erected the pyramids to preserve scientific knowledge from the coming of Noah’s Flood, having seen the Flood coming thanks to prophetic dreams and astrological signs.
Last year I investigated the secret origins of the so-called “Curse of the Pharaohs.” It is always disheartening to see a mystery one has solved turned into a zany romp on Ancient Aliens, but because this particular mystery is so close to my heart, tying in with projects to which I have devoted countless hours, I can’t help but feel particularly upset by the stupid, stupid, stupid bastardization of a very complicated story into the ridiculous claim that aliens were responsible for the curse.
"Contact in the Desert" Happened Again; Plus: Another Celebrity Pledges Allegiance to "Ancient Aliens"
This week on Twitter former television personality Scott Wolter announced that he had recorded interviews for an upcoming Science Channel documentary, but he could not say whether the network planned to use them. If they do make it to air, he would appear on the network sometime in the fall, just about two years after his last television series came to an ignominious end.
A couple of weeks ago, Ancient Aliens brought up the unusual but not entirely interesting case of Dorothy Kilgallen, a gossip columnist and sometime reporter who published an article on the UP (now UPI) newswire on May 22, 1955 in which she claimed that a British source had confessed to her that UFOs were real alien spacecraft. The article began this way:
Last week, Graham Hancock and Michael Shermer debated the existence of a lost Ice Age civilization on the Joe Rogan Experience, and as I noted at the time, it did not make either man look good. Shermer was at times unprepared and often uninspiring, while Hancock was emotional instead of logical and far too quick to anger over every moment of disagreement. Similar anger issues emerged when Hancock attacked skeptic Marc Defant, the author of a harsh forthcoming review of Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods in Skeptic magazine, one that was available online in draft form from January until last week. (The Google cache copy is here.) Well, Hancock seems to have recognized that getting angry isn’t a good look for him, and on Facebook he has tried for some damage control with a pseudo-apology in which he pretends to feel sorry that his tone was unpleasant while, in reality, throwing himself a pity party:
Las Vegas-based journalist George Knapp, who specializes in UFO coverage, interviewed ex-Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge about UFO disclosure, and in fluffing DeLonge with fawning praise, Knapp revealed that DeLonge has once again reframed his claims about the upcoming UFO disclosure announcement he promised months ago and has yet to deliver. That announcement, postponed first to June and now to “later this summer,” has also subtly changed in content as well. Once upon a time, DeLonge was promising a major UFO revelation that would change the nature of disclosure. Now he tells Knapp that he concedes that there will never be formal government disclosure of UFO information (“There will never be congressional hearings on this. I understand and accept that…”). Instead, his major announcement is actually going to be … wait for it … “some sort of announcement about his business plans.” Talk about lowering expectations!
The Mutual UFO Network found itself in a PR nightmare after its Pennsylvania director, John Ventre, went on a racist tirade on Facebook. Ventre, who appeared as the face of MUFON on H2’s Hangar 1: The UFO Files and was a featured speaker on an “Ancient Mysteries” cruise, denounced so-called anti-white bias and expressed his belief that “everything this world is was created by Europeans and Americans. F’ing blacks didn’t even have a calendar, a wheel or a numbering system until the Brits showed up.” He then asked readers to research the racial inferiority of Blacks in terms of IQ and violent tendencies. MUFON’s executive director acknowledged the situation with a weasel-like statement that minimized Ventre’s role in the organization, calling him a mere “volunteer,” and asking whether the “haters hating” are in fact worse than Ventre expressing white supremacist views. The fact of the matter is that white supremacy is so deeply enmeshed in ancient astronaut and other conspiracy theory claims that it is wholly unsurprising that in a moment of unintentional honesty a MUFON official would express it openly.
This is as good a transition as any to the subtler racism of Ancient Aliens, where the original claim that black and brown peoples couldn’t build their ancient wonders has been mitigated with claims that white people without alien hybridization couldn’t either. The current episode, “The Alien Architects,” attributes various ancient wonders to space aliens and continues the long and sad history of trying to deny that ancient people, predominantly (but today not exclusively) brown ones, were capable of producing the architectural feats associated with them.
As most of you know, former television personality Scott F. Wolter will be delivering a lecture at the Masonic Lodge her in Albany. Unfortunately, due to preexisting commitments this evening, I won’t be able to attend. More’s the pity, but the thought of paying to sit through the same material I’ve read on the internet and watched on TV doesn’t strike me as a lot of fun either.
Ray Grasse Proposes a Framework for Exploring the Fortean, But It's Pretty Much Zeitgeist Theory Applied to Fringe Believers
When I was in college, one of the pieces of anthropological literature that I had to read was an article called “Baseball Magic” by George Gmelch. The article, a revised version of a 1992 journal article, described the way that baseball players engaged in particular rituals in order to secure favorable game outcomes, under the folk magical theory that performing the same actions before a game—whether eating the same meal or wearing the same clothes or even repeating specific gestures—would produce the same positive outcome. The key is that there is no “empirical correlation” between the ritual and perceived result. The meaning, if any, is entirely in the head of the person performing it.
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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