Review of Richard Dewhurst's "Ancient Giants Who Ruled America" and Its "Pre-Indian Caucasian Culture"
I am just a-quiver with excitement. I’ve obtained a copy of Richard J. Dewhurst’s The Ancient Giants Who Ruled America: The Missing Skeletons and the Smithsonian Cover-Up (Inner Traditions, 2014), and am now privy to the “primary sources” documenting a supposed race of oversized “humanoids” who once reigned over our fair continent. You know it’s going to be a quality book because the author opens by giving “giant bro’ love” to the president of the publishing house and assorted other folks, repeating the “giant” pun four times in one paragraph. Plus: the unwieldy title pretty much assures you know what you’re getting into, at least until the search for a lost white race breaks out partway though.
Yes, I am aware that Syfy showed Aliens on the Moon last night, but if you think I’m turning over two hours of primetime to listening to Nick Pope and friends blather on about how blurry photographs might or might not show alien moon bases, you have another thing coming. I watched a few segments of it, enough to know that it has nothing that would pass for proof and was generally a sub-Ancient Aliens batch of insinuation.
On the other hand, I watched the second episode of The Strain, and I’m not sure that this was a better choice. The clichés are strong in this one. I don’t know what the book was like, but this episode seemed constructed out of spare parts and duct tape. How laughable was it that suddenly a 200-page set of documents related to the incident was leaked just hours after the plane landed? I mean, I write fast, but seriously… It’s not possible to have a plausible disinformation campaign with leaked documents (200 perfect bound pages!) and a CEO scandal the very next morning! Russia certainly tried with MH17, but it took them the whole weekend to manufacture a fake story about Ukrainian culpability. And let us not get started on the ridiculous view of federal bureaucracy on the show...
This month’s issue of the Fortean Times (July 2014) took me a while to get to, both because I was busy reading 1177 B.C. and because the features weren’t terribly interesting to me. There was, however, a brief story about a couple in Vancouver who bought a rundown house and found in the garage a full-scale replica of the Ark of the Covenant, wired for electricity with electrodes all over the lid! Apparently someone had read Erich von Däniken’s claims about the religious container’s supposed electric properties and wanted to try it for himself.
Earlier this week the Times of India published a report claiming that cave paintings found in Chhattisgarh State in central India depicted extraterrestrial beings and their flying spacecraft. Now the New Indian Express has piled on with more discussion of the ancient astronaut theory. In an article published in this morning’s edition of the paper, a grammatically-challenged author (not named) summarizes the Times of India report, though with apparently yet another layer of linguistic mangling (after the original’s poor English), and then ties it to “some researchers” who are quite obviously the Ancient Aliens crew. This time, however, this paper is a bit more circumspect about the value of the ancient astronaut theory:
Earlier this year Princeton University Press launched its new line of books called “Turning Points in Ancient History.” These volumes are written by leading scholars for a general audience, with the dual purpose of being both accessibly readable and possessed of scholarly rigor. The first book in the series is 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline of George Washington University. I’ve been eager to read the book since it came out earlier this year, but it took me a while to get around to it. I’m glad I read the book, but I’m not sure that it entirely succeeded in making the case that 1177 BCE (I’ll use the more neutral dating system) was the specific year civilization collapsed. Even the author seems to think it is a bit of an exaggeration.
It’s been some time since I had news about Atlantis, so let’s take a look at some unfortunate ideas about Plato’s sunken continent from this week’s news.
First up we have a letter to the editor from the Recorder of Greenfield, Mass., which demonstrates the degree to which science fiction and fringe history views of Atlantis have superseded anything resembling Plato’s original account. Take a look:
The well-known Times of India newspaper, the largest English-language daily in India, has endorsed the ancient astronaut theory in an article reporting the discovery of cave paintings in the Bastar region of central India. An article by Rashmi Drolia states without qualification that the archaeology department of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh discovered “10,000-year-old rock paintings depicting aliens and UFOs.” According to the article, Indian archaeologist J. R. Bhagat suggested that prehistoric Indians had contact with extraterrestrials.
Editor's note: This post has been corrected after I misidentified the authors of a journal article mentioning me.
Today I have several short topics to share.
Yesterday a public radio producer asked to speak with me about pseudoscience and the Kensington Rune Stone for a planned documentary about the artifact. I’m supposed to talk with her later this week, so that will be interesting, I guess. Of course, you know that any documentary on the subject will inevitably collide with Him Who Must Not Be Named…
The early buzz on The Strain was filled with dramatic adjectives. “Unique” got tossed around several times, though not by every reviewer. After watching the pilot episode, I can’t imagine how anyone could have applied the word unique to anything about The Strain, which is perhaps the most derivative vampire story to come to the small screen in years. In recent years, we’ve had vampire detectives (Angel and Moonlight), vampire lovers (True Blood), vampire teens (The Vampire Diaries), vampire aristocrats (The Originals), vampire slackers (Being Human), vampire capitalists (Dracula), and a bunch of Canadian vampires on the Syfy channel. The Strain, from producers Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan, and Carlton Cuse, wanted to reverse the trend toward human and relatable vampires and return them to their roots in horror.
"Ancient Aliens" Associate Producer: The Show Is Absurd, and We Purposely Push Facts "Off the Deep End"
I finally have a name to blame for all the screw-ups, mistakes, and outright lies that get passed off as fact in the narration on Ancient Aliens. Annelise Baer holds a master’s degree in “Archaeology for Screen Media” from Bristol University and a bachelor’s in classical civilizations and archaeology from Loyola Marymount University. She joined Ancient Aliens earlier this year as a researcher at the tail end of season six and was promoted to associate producer for the upcoming seventh season, where she is now responsible for fact-checking the show and compiling its background research for the narration. She says in her Staff Me Up profile that she is dedicated to “bringing quality programming to the airwaves,” which I guess makes it a good thing that Ancient Aliens airs on cable and thus doesn’t use airwaves.
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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