In the recent DVD and streaming video version of The Ancient Alien Question, Philip Coppens asserts that Imhotep, the presumed architect of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, confessed to alien intervention. He states:
Nothing in this claim is true.
Paranormal Paparazzi, which debuted on the Travel Channel last night, is perhaps the worst paranormal show I have seen in years. It is very clearly modeled on the sleazy syndicated magazine TMZ, down to the rapid-fire story teases and the gathering of reporters in a newsroom to report to the "boss" (PP’s is both a rip off of TMZ’s red newsroom and also a completely fake cable TV set). An over-the-top narrator reads the stories of the paranormal, apparently to save money on production by centralizing the stupid in the Travel Channel’s offices. No, I take that back. It’s because none of the on-camera personalities is half as articulate as your average local news reporter and could never read copy coherently into a microphone.
The stupidest touch: The show is supposedly shot by roving reporters carrying handheld cameras, but a professional cameraman is filming the reporters shooting poor quality handheld video. This is an unprofessional affectation and unforgiveable.
Yesterday filmmaker Chris White released his new, three-hour documentary Ancient Aliens Debunked, which will be of interest to my readers since it is an exceptionally thorough examination of the specious claims made on the History/H2 series Ancient Aliens in the light of actual facts. The documentary goes through such claims as "impossible" megalithic architecture, "alien" images in art, and "extraterrestrials" in ancient texts and demolishes each with surgical precision. It doesn't hurt that the movie quotes me extensively at various points.
First, a bit of disclosure: Chris White asked me to participate in the documentary back in the spring, but our schedules did not mesh when he was filming. Despite the extensive use of my material in the sections on Arthur Posnansky, ancient atom bombs, and vimana aircraft, I was not involved in the production in any way and have not received any compensation from it. I did not see the film until its release yesterday.
I know this goes against the tenets of skepticism, but I really want to like Graham Hancock’s work. He is an engaging writer who makes the wonder of the past come alive like few other writers on ancient history. His Fingerprints of the Gods is enormous fun to read, and when I was a teenager it had me convinced that there was a lost civilization in the deep past. But the trouble is that Hancock is largely oblivious to fact and has adopted a postmodern, New Age approach to knowledge that imagines that there is no objective truth to be discovered in archaeology, only data points that can be endlessly reconstructed to fashion “alternative” narratives that are somehow equally valid.
What is perhaps surprising is that more than 15 years after Fingerprints of the Gods (and twenty years after his first “alternative” foray, The Sign and the Seal), Hancock is still pushing the same revisionist theories, though mercifully he is now confining them to fiction, where they belong. However, a recent interview in Veritas magazine (September/October 2012) shows that Hancock hasn’t changed his tune, although he is increasingly upset that the “mainstream” refused to accept his “radical” hypotheses, discouraging him from proposing more.
In response to my blog post yesterday requesting donations to help me finance this blog, Answer Man 3000 suggested that I create new identity to publish ancient astronaut trash for profit while simultaneously debunking it under my own name. As it turns out, in an earlier phase of my career I came very close to doing exactly that. Today I’ll tell you the story of how I became a temporary alternative history author.
You’ll notice something new on my blog today. On the right-hand column you’ll see a new PayPal donate button. I didn’t want to do this, but it’s coming down to a question of economics. Let me go over a few numbers with you about the costs and profits of alternative and skeptical inquiry into the human past so you can see why donating is so important.
My Cult of Alien Gods and its supporting materials—including the revised version of my “Secret History of Ancient Astronauts” being published next month in Dark Lore VII—take a materialist view of the Cthulhu Mythos, assuming (correctly, by all rational laws of nature), that the Cthulhu Mythos is the invention of H. P. Lovecraft and has no basis in fact whatsoever beyond the building blocks from Theosophy, the Arabian Nights, and the Encyclopedia Britannica that Lovecraft used to develop it.
But have you ever wondered what would have happened if my Cult of Alien Gods had been written by an "alternative" theorist? Fortunately, we don’t have to wonder. It really happened.
Last night the BBC aired the first part of journalist Andrew Marr’s History of the World, a documentary series chronicling the entire history of humanity, from the rise of anatomically modern humans down to the present day. The first episode focused on prehistory down to the end of Minoan civilization. The program, however, made several questionable assertions about ancient history that take a page from “alternative archaeology” more than history.
A leading alternative archaeologist who has made his name using his scientific credentials to propose radical revisions in the chronology of civilization is set to embrace "paranormal" magic powers as a real phenomenon and "devils" as real, supernatural creatures, according to page proofs for a forthcoming article that I was able to review in advance of the article's October publication.
Because the article has not yet been officially published, I am withholding the name of the alternative archaeologist until publication. You will, however, recognize the name. It will be fascinating to see how this alternative archaeologist can continue to argue that mainstream scholars must accept the alternative archaeologist's alleged scientific evidence on materialist grounds while allowing alternative scholars to embrace magic and demons as playing an active role in world affairs.
I will have a complete report on this important development when the article goes to press next month.
My reader Julianne writes to ask if I have covered the “Spaceship Moon” hypothesis. I have not, so, by special request, today I’ll present a brief overview of this and related theories about artificial satellites in our solar system.
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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