In Aeon magazine, English professor Emily Ogden from the University of Virginia has a disturbing piece in which she argues that “debunking” is not a quest for truth but rather a scene in the grand drama of defending modernity against the alternative ways of knowing that populate our postmodern world. According to her published CV, this is the only subject to which she has devoted significant attention over the nine years since she earned her PhD in English, and, to be frank, her argument is a load of postmodern bunk with a small kernel of correct observation that goes too far toward demonstrating why those outside the academy are suspicious of its sophistry. You might expect me to disagree with the thesis that “debunkers” are biased performance artists, but instead I am going to disagree with the limited view she takes of epistemology as psychodrama.
Even I would not have guessed that swapping out To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science’s show Unidentified for William Shatner’s The UnXplained would produce such dramatic results—for Ancient Aliens. The UnXplained has run even with or outpaced Unidentified, and in its latest outing it brought in 1.127 million viewers in live plus same day viewing, according to Nielsen figures. But the effect on Ancient Aliens, one of the History Channel’s tentpole series, has been devastating. Yet again this week, Ancient Aliens viewership came in well below one million viewers, racking up the show’s consistently lowest ratings for new episodes since it returned to the History Channel from H2 several years ago. (It previously hit a similar low during a special one-off showing on a Monday, when viewers weren’t aware it would be on.) This past week, just 865,000 people watched in live plus same day viewing.
Originally, I planned to spend today’s blog post discussing Tom DeLonge’s recent interview in the British music magazine NME, in which he claimed to have secret knowledge that he has adjudged too dangerous for public consumption: “Believe it or not, we have very long conversations about what we’re going to talk about publicly, not because we don’t have the facts – but because people aren’t ready for the facts,” he said. This seems transparently false. If an aging rock star whose sum total of knowledge of UFOs, ancient history, and the occult is derived, by his own admission, from reading old paperback ufology books has experienced “the facts” and emerged unscathed, surely we mere mortals can hear whatever it is DeLonge thinks he knows (but probably doesn’t). I also thought it worth mentioning that Luis Elizondo, who two Pentagon spokespeople have denied served as the head of the Pentagon’s UFO tracking program, declined to provide evidence that he did head it when asked. “I don’t want to make anyone look foolish,” he said. Sure, that’s the reason.
Friday Roundup: "Hunting Hitler" Star Blames Shootings on Feminization; Plus: Jimmy Church Comes Out Against To the Stars
The Los Angeles Review of Books has a lengthy and very positive review of D. W. Pasulka’s American Cosmic, the recent volume from the Oxford University Press in which the author investigates UFO culture and compares it to religious practice and belief. The review, by Samuel Loncar, a scholar of religion who describes himself as “healing the divide” between mind and matter, is overly credulous (he falls into the fallacy, for example, of thinking that government interest in a subject equates to its scientific importance and reality) but he makes a few interesting points that are worth discussing
Martin Sweatman Claims Göbekli Tepe Was a "University" Teaching Civilization to Africa, Europe, and Asia
Look who’s back… again. Martin Sweatman wrote an academic journal article back in 2017 alleging that the ancient temple site of Göbekli Tepe contained carvings recording the impact of a comet at the end of the Younger Dryas and that its iconography is derived from the zodiac, a set of constellations first seen in the historical record 10,000 years later in Babylon. In December Sweatman expanded his claims into a full-length book, PreHistory Decoded, which he is promoting this month on Graham Hancock’s website. Despite the passing of the years, the quality of the evidence for Sweatman’s position has yet to grow more convincing since it remains founded on speculative (pseudo-)astronomy and the books of Andrew Collins and Graham Hancock, whom he praises by name as “closer to the truth” than actual scholars.
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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