Today is release day for Graham Hancock's new book Magicians of the Gods (2015), the sequel to his 1995 bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods. Thomas Dunne, his U.S. publisher, provided me with an advance copy. There is no embargo on reviewing the book, so I have posted my review today, timed to the U.K. release. The American release isn't until November. Because the review is very long, I've made a separate page for it, and you can read my full review here. Enjoy!
Last night on the debut of his Late Show, Stephen Colbert announced that viewers were witnessing television history: “You are witnessing history, and like most history, it’s not on the History Channel,” he said. Nor is it in books or on the internet, if today’s roundup of weird ideas can be believed. Let’s start today with a press release announcing that the lost treasure of the Knights Templar has been found—in Chicago.
Last week a man named John Steadman published his first book, on H. P. Lovecraft & the Black Magickal Tradition. (Forgive me for spelling the word in a way that doesn’t offend my spell checker; I’m not a huge fan of the twee “magick” spelling, no matter how much Lovecraft would have approved of the intentionally archaic form.) Steadman says that he is a practicing magician who works with various covens, as well as a professor of English in Michigan. He works at Lansing Community College, where he teaches writing. The biography provided by his publisher says he teaches at Olivet College as well, but he is not listed on their faculty page.
It’s Labor Day here in the United States, so in honor of the holiday, I’m… well, taking the day off isn’t quite right. I’m going to be working on other projects, so today’s blog post is shorter than usual.
Scott Wolter Fights Back on Controversial Documentary Series, Accuses UNESCO of Hating Successful Explorers
It took a few days, but our friend Scott Wolter has decided to weigh in on my conclusion that his new show, Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar, is the same documentary series condemned by the UN’s culture arm, UNESCO, as unprofessional sensationalism masquerading as research. I was right! The series, which plans to claim that pirate ships found on Madagascar are associated with evidence of a Templar presence, is indeed the same show, and Wolter is very upset about the UN criticizing it. He discussed the issue on his blog Friday night:
Back in season 2, Ancient Aliens devoted an hour to “Underwater Worlds,” and now in season 8 it’s time to back beneath the waves for S08E07 “Creatures of the Deep.” Yes, we are hunting for prehistoric monsters and cryptids again. It won’t be as memorable as Giorgio Tsoukalos’s assertion in S04E10 “Aliens and Dinosaurs” that “I think it is possible that the coelacanth survived due to a direct guarantee by extraterrestrials.” But then again what is? In place of peace treaties with prehistoric fish, this time we get plankton. Space plankton.
I get a lot of strange mail, often from people who have formed a strong attachment to a particular fringe figure they follow on TV (what communication theorists call a parasympathetic relationship) and have become quite defensive of that person. Today was the first time I’ve ever gotten an angry letter from someone incensed that I applied literary analysis to the work of a long-dead fringe theorist. A fellow named Bob Newton, who goes by the sobriquet “the Rogue Researcher,” wrote me a vulgar and somewhat threatening email promising to investigate me and “strip that façade down around your pompous ass” because I had suggested in 2013 that James Churchward, who died in 1936, had borrowed themes and leitmotifs from Helena Blavatsky in the creation of his lost continent of Mu on the model of Blavatsky’s Atlantis and Lemuria.
Christian Apologist Attacks "Ancient Aliens" for Believing in Unearthly Entities Based on Ancient Texts
The History Channel gets attacked for a lot of reasons, from its promotion of fake history to its emphasis on extremist perspectives to recent claims by UNESCO that one of its productions actively damaged archaeological research in Madagascar. Yesterday, it also came under fire from Christian talk radio for subverting the Christian worldview. The criticism came on Lutheran Public Radio’s Issues, Etc. program, a show more likely to discuss Biblical interpretation, porn addiction, and current events than space aliens. On the other hand, the same show has a penchant for Hitler and trying to link Nazis to secularism and “Darwinism,” so I guess space aliens fit right in to their areas of concern.
So the good news is that I’ve finished reading Graham Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods, and I’m about two thirds of the way through writing a review of it. My plan is to post the review on September 10, when the book is released in Great Britain. I’m also amazed that I have finished translating the first book of the Akhbār al-zamān, and that was a major undertaking! Between Book 1 and the parts of Book 2 I’ve already translated, I figure I’m somewhere between 55% and 67% of the way through the text. I am surprised by what I’ve learned so far, and it’s certainly changed the way I view medieval pyramid lore.
As most of you are aware, yesterday Scott Wolter announced on Twitter that his new series is called Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar and will be burned off in back-to-back Saturday episodes on the History Channel beginning September 12 at 9 PM ET. The History Channel is silent about the series and what it will cover, offering no description and no publicity, but Shaw Media in Canada, which runs the History Channel north of the border, provided a synopsis under the working title Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar back in June. The title has apparently been changed since its announcement in June, perhaps to make it seem less fringy and more he-man adventure, and maybe also because there was already a book and a three-film movie series with the same title.
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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