Janet Wolter and Alan Butler Make False Claims about Templars, Pyramids, Gothic Architecture, and More in Podcast Interview
Sorry, but I have nothing for you today. It’s a slow week. It’s also unseasonably hot, and I just don’t have the energy to forage for something to write about today. I will note briefly that last week’s episode of Forbidden History drew just 370,000 live plus same day viewers for the Science Channel, which sounds awful until you realize that on the same night, HBO’s heavily publicized Mark Ruffalo vehicle I know This Much Is True had 314,000 viewers and the same network’s Run had 211,000 viewers. The even more heavily hyped Penny Dreadful: City of Angels on Showtime had only 369,000 viewers. (The numbers rise when factoring in streaming views and DVR replays later in the week.) Yes, more people watch Forbidden History live than high-profile premium cable dramas. And yet the HBO shows get acres of press coverage, and almost literally no one but me discussed the propaganda passing as “history.”
I rarely have any idea what a Netflix series is going to be before I watch it, and that’s doubly true for the international series, which rarely arrive with marketing. Not long ago, I watched a show called White Lines, a British-Spanish co-production set on the resort island of Ibiza. I knew nothing about the show other than its Spanish origin and that it was a mystery of some kind. I kind of wish I hadn’t watched it. The series tells the story of a mentally fragile woman who travels to Ibiza to unravel the mystery of her beloved brother’s disappearance 22 years earlier after his body turns up in the present day. The investigation borders on the preposterous, and by the time I got the scene where our unbalanced heroine is having mind-blowing sex with a murderer in the rain on top of the muddy grave they just dug for the men he murdered, I wondered what I was watching. That was before the nauseating incest subplot came to an utterly bonkers conclusion.
On the Narratively website, California college student and journalist Reed Ryley Grable provided a poignant and thought account of his father’s gradual slide into Q-Anon conspiracy madness. Grable describes his father’s growing paranoia and social isolation, and he talks eloquently about how his father’s strident conspiracy theory advocacy has alienated him from his family and his friends. While I am not particularly interested in Q-Anon conspiracies, I was neither shocked nor surprised to read Grable’s account of how Ancient Aliens served as a gateway drug leading his father from a nebulous interest in the mysterious and the bizarre to a raving world of online conspiracies.
A few days ago, Scientific American ran a lengthy interview with Leslie Kean, the journalist and one-time government lobbyist for UFO disclosure. Kean wrote a credulous book about UFOs several years ago but is today best known for a series of New York Times stories in which she outlined the Pentagon’s UFO research program and followed the work of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, a company she had previously discussed in worshipful terms in the Huffington Post. Kean presents herself as an objective journalist investigating extremes, though it is obvious to anyone who has listened to her interviews that she is no neutral observer. Her most recent interview offers more confirmation that many of the interpretations she offers are not fully connected to a dispassionate analysis of facts.
The other day, when I reviewed Forbidden History’s episode on Noah’s Ark, I found something really interesting by accident while researching the show’s stupid claims. I ended up discovering a medieval legend of the Giza pyramids I had never seen before! So, something good came out of this bad show, albeit in a roundabout way.
If you can believe it, this is my 3,000th blog post. What better way to mark this milestone than with an episode of a cable TV pseudohistory show featuring ancient astronauts, lost civilizations, Nephilim, the occult, and glowing descriptions of Nazis? It’s everything we have criticized and debunked over the past ten years in capsule form.
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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