It’s been a good ten seasons since Ancient Aliens had an original idea, so it goes without saying that we’ve heard much of the material in tonight’s episode before. In this episode, the show is looking to go beyond its typical claim that humans were genetically engineered by aliens to extend the aliens’ plans to animals. We’ve seen elements of this in the past, from the time when Giorgio Tsoukalos alleged that space aliens made a peace treaty with coelacanths to protect them from a dinosaur-killing asteroid to the time that the show claimed that Bigfoot arrived on Earth in a flying saucer. But the real purpose of this episode is to cast doubt on evolutionary theory, a disturbingly common theme that the show has been pushing since its decision to adopt creationist claims and rhetoric.
Uri Geller Plans to Excavate the Ancient "Egyptian" Treasure of Fictitious Princess Scota on a Scottish Island He Owns
A long time ago, before I was born, Uri Geller was famous as a spoon-bender, and it is rather astonishing that “spoon-bender” was ever a profession, even if he was technically supposed to be some kind of telekinetic. His repertoire of tricks was always rather threadbare, and I can remember amazing my New Age classmates in anthropology classes by doing the spoon-bending trick and making objects move with the power of my “mind.” I performed such tricks—based on physics and misdirection—because one of my classmates claimed with a straight face that Buddhism had given him telekinetic powers, and he tried the same prestidigitation but called it a spiritual miracle. He also claimed he could levitate, but only when no one else was around to see.
Afrocentrist Clyde Winters Used My Translation of Manuscript 512 to "Discover" an Ancient Malian City in Brazil
Before we begin today, I want to point my readers to a fiery resignation letter that former Mutual UFO Network official James E. Clarkson published last weekend after discovering that New Age cult leader JZ Knight, who claims to be the mouthpiece for Ramtha of Lemuria, purchased a position as an “Inner Circle” member of MUFON, giving her a position of power and influence in the organization. Clarkson said that he refused to mortgage his integrity to a cult leader who channels an entity from the prehistoric continent of Lemuria. He added that he was disappointed that MUFON continued to deemphasize scientific investigation in favor of money-making entertainment: “It is hard to watch an organization that you once served proudly become an income-generating entertainment company.”
Classicist Claims White Marble Statues Lead to Racism; Plus: Scott Wolter Refines His Templar Claims
Last week Vice News ran a segment about ancient statues and racism in which the HBO program discussed a controversy that arose when Classicist Sarah Bond published an essay in Forbes this past spring, and another in Hyperallergic, describing the fact that Greco-Roman statues were once brightly painted and not stark white as they currently appear now that the paint has rubbed off thanks to the ravages of time.
Joseph Scaliger, Samuel Purchas, and the Renaissance Encounter with the Watchers and the Book of Enoch
In all of the time we have spoken of the Book of Enoch and the Watchers and their ilk, I hadn’t quite gotten around to discussing the reactions to this myth across Europe. As you know, in the East, the story was adapted into Byzantine Christian and Islamic mythology by equating the Watchers with the Sons of Seth and making them human. In the West, scholars had a much more limited version of events, inherited almost entirely from Josephus and Methodius, that knew of the sons of Seth but attributed all of the sin to “excessive fornications” rather than the forbidden knowledge of the Watchers myth. Therefore, when Joseph Justus Scaliger started working on an edition of Jerome’s Latin translation of Eusebius’ Chronicle around 1600, he was in for quite a surprise.
Ancient Aliens has been working hard to find ways to refresh its old formula, and this season the producers have struck upon twin strategies. First, each episode is now framed around a field piece starring one of the show’s most important talking heads, and, second, the show has made its peace with creationists, nationalists, and other unsavory types, gleefully adding their claims to the core ideas of the ancient astronaut theory. We saw this when the show embraced creationist claims about “OOPARTS,” and in “Voices of the Gods” producers embrace the extreme claims of Hindu nationalists, melding together old claims about India from UFO literature with bonkers efforts by the government of Prime Minister Modi to celebrate India’s supposed prehistoric technological past based on dubious readings of Sanskrit texts. The show also leaves aside the vexing problem that so many of these claims originate not among native Indians but rather among white Europeans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who sought to celebrate Aryan heritage by looking for the “oldest” Aryan myths, legends, and sciences among the oldest layers of Indian civilization, a layer then presumed to be a “pure” representation of ancestral Indo-European culture.
Michael Shermer Publishes Journal Article Promoting "Enlightenment Humanism," But Overlooks Basic Philosophy 101 Concepts
This week, Skeptic magazine publisher Michael Shermer promoted an article he published in Theology and Science (full text here) which constitutes a “manifesto” for “Enlightenment humanism.” The article is an extension of Shermer’s ongoing quest to universalize his own preferences and to argue that the traditional (read: midcentury) American values of his childhood are somehow encoded into the fabric of the universe.
Academic Journal Publishes Historical Review of Gigantology, Gets Taken in by Renaissance Era Forgery
The journal Historical Biology has a new article by Marco Romano and Marco Avanzini that should be pretty familiar to anyone who has ever read through my website’s section on “Giants in the Earth.” While the article is generally good, it has some very significant weaknesses that deserve to be pointed out. Here’s the abstract to “The Skeletons of Cyclops and Lestrigons: Misinterpretation of Quaternary Vertebrates as Remains of the Mythological Giants,” which was printed a couple of weeks ago:
Congressman Asks NASA Panel about Ancient Martian Civilization; Plus: Creationists Chide Flat-Earthers for Taking the Wrong Parts of the Bible Literally
In Congress, another depressing scene took place yesterday when Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) stopped a House Science Committee hearing cold by asking a NASA representative if Mars had an ancient alien civilization. Rohrabacher seemed to think that Mars was capable of supporting humanlike life within the past few thousand years (i.e. during the “ancient astronaut” timeframe) and at one point started to speak of “some people” who believed in a lost Martian civilization, but the NASA representative cut him off before he could offer a complete thought allowing us to judge how deep Rohrabacher’s involvement with the ancient astronaut theory really goes.
Over the past few weeks I’ve talked quite a bit about the Alexandrian chronographers Panodorus and Annianus, and I have discussed some of the sources they used in compiling their influential discussion of world history, one that included the Fallen Angels as a key pivot point in antediluvian events. To that end, it’s interesting to note that the two authors seem to differ from their source material a bit. It is widely assumed, for example, that Panodorus relied on the so-called Book of Sothis, a forgery wrongly assigned to the Egyptian priest Manetho, for his Egyptian chronology, not least because this forgery has distinctly Judeo-Christian elements, identifying various pharaohs with their Biblical counterparts and identifying the first king of Egypt as Mizraim, the son of Ham, son of Noah. This is noteworthy primarily because Eusebius, in his Chronicle, makes that same identification, but does not attribute it to Manetho.
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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