Yesterday was H. P. Lovecraft’s birthday, and in honor of that, I thought I’d take today to discuss the “monsters” part of my tagline (“Aliens, Atlantis, Monsters, and More!”) and think a little bit about horror. In my book Knowing Fear (2008), I described the way the horror genre had historically reflected societal concerns over science and knowledge. But in the wake of the Twilight franchise, a resurrection of the Gothic mode of pseudo-horror has largely dispensed with epistemology as a concern in favor of dressing up romance in the borrowed trappings of horror. The purpose isn’t to scare or to touch the sublime, but rather to explore gender issues.
The Disinformation Company, a publisher of conspiracy theories, has recently released a new edition of its Disinformation Guide to Ancient Aliens, Lost Civilizations, Astonishing Archaeology, and Hidden History. The first edition was published in 2005 and was unread by me, coming as it did just after I had finished writing The Cult of Alien Gods and four years before the rise of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. The book collects a series of essays by luminaries in the field of alternative history, including Michael Cremo, John Anthony West, Erich von Däniken, Robert Schoch, and many more.
Last week the Los Angeles Times had an interesting article on new scientific research that claims to have demonstrated that climate changed caused the widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean around 1200 BCE. According to research done by David Kaniewski et al. on pollen samples recovered from Cyprus, a massive drought hit at just the time when the Bronze Age cultures are known to have collapsed.
[Note: This post has been updated to correct the name of the Answers in Genesis blogger and to add information about Adrienne Mayor's additional fossil evidence.]
A while back I wrote about the criticisms seminarian Ben Stanhope leveled against Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis website, specifically regarding dragons in the Bible. Stanhope had cited the work of Adrienne Mayor on the fossil origins of mythological creatures as the most likely source for Classical reports of mythic monsters, like dragons, that Ham takes as proof that dinosaurs survived until recently. As it turns out, Ham was none too pleased with Stanhope’s critique, and one of his colleagues, Georgia Purdom, fired back on his Answers in Genesis blog, attacking Mayor for insufficient Christianity:
I certainly hope that no one here reads all of the comments on every blog post I’ve put up over the past three years, but all of them get sent to me and I’ve noticed some trends. Over the past two weeks, for some reason my blog has been inundated with creationists who are exceedingly upset about my posts, particularly about Ancient Aliens. This come as something of a surprise to me since I rarely write much about evolution or cosmology. I am not a biologist or a physicist and can’t really do justice to the finer points of the science. Except for when the ancient astronaut theorists propose alien genetic engineering, it isn’t even relevant to most of what I discuss here, and at any rate I would have thought creationists would oppose ancient astronauts since the ancient astronaut nonsense blatantly contradicts biblical fundamentalism.
Mark Twain once said in his “Advice to Youth”:
Think what tedious years of study, thought, practice, experience, went to the equipment of that peerless old master who was able to impose upon the whole world the lofty and sounding maxim that “Truth is mighty and will prevail”—the most majestic compound fracture of fact which any of woman born has yet achieved. For the history of our race, and each individual’s experience, are sewn thick with evidences that a truth is not hard to kill, and that a lie well told is immortal.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to examine an “ancient text” for evidence of UFOs, and the recent internet buzz about a medieval Chinese UFO sighting provides a good opportunity. The trouble is that the text in question is written in Chinese, a language I don’t speak, and is rarely translated into English or discussed except by ancient astronaut theorists and ufologists.
It’s like the universe is conspiring to make my case for me. I realize that sounds far too much like something that one of the ancient astronaut theorists at the Contact in the Desert meeting, which ended yesterday, would have said. But how else to explain the convenient way David Wilcock, who believes he is the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce, managed to reinforce the case I’ve made over the past few days about the anti-government, anti-science, anti-intellectual themes behind alternative history?
A+E Networks promoted Paul Cabana to a new position as vice president in charge of programming at the H2 network, according to a press release issued yesterday. A+E Networks said that the promotion was due to the phenomenal success of the H2 network on the back of conspiracy-oriented series, including America Unearthed, Ancient Aliens, and America’s Book of Secrets. (Disclosure: two of those shows attacked me by name, and A+E tried to sue me over the other one.) Here’s what the press release had to say:
Last Thursday (August 8), Scott Wolter appeared on the Rev. Tim Shaw’s Black Cat Lounge podcast to promote his new book, which he apparently will sell to anyone except me. The book is for sale on Wolter’s website and on Amazon.com, but Amazon informed me that they could not provide a copy to me. Apparently, it’s still not out after several months of delay. Tim Shaw is a spiritualist minister who cites Cremo and Thompson’s Forbidden Archaeology, a Hindu creationist text, as his entry point into archaeological mysteries. The two discussed Wolter’s greatest hits, and Wolter offered a truly stunning new claim about Native Americans that we will get to momentarily.
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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