A little while back, I wrote about the so-called “Exposure at Vienna,” when in 1884 Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria developed a scheme to expose the American medium Harry Bastian as a fraud. I wrote about that because I had learned of the upcoming release of Greg King and Penny Wilson’s new book Twilight of Empire, about Rudolf’s suicide. On a whim, I wrote to St. Martin’s Press, the publisher of the book, and they kindly provided me with an advance copy, which I am now reading. My initial glance at the book was a bit disappointing in that the authors summarized Rudolf’s entire life in a few pages before moving on to the denouement, and they seem, from what I have read in the first half of the book, to have painted him as a mostly unmitigated villain. The truth is that his life was closer to a supervillain’s origin story, a brilliant potential undone by tragic flaws and the indifference of the world around him, until the final, mad, murderous end. Imagine blue skies gradually filling with storm clouds.
Chapman University Survey Finds Majority of Americans Now Believe in Ancient Advanced Civilization, While a Third Believe in Ancient Astronauts
Something bad is going on in America, and I’m not entirely sure whom to blame. For the past few years Chapman University has conducted a Halloween-themed study of paranormal and superstitious beliefs tied to Americans’ worst fears. Included in the survey questions were items related to subjects of interest to us: ancient astronauts, lost advanced civilizations, etc. The latest survey was released this week, and for the first time a clear majority of American now professes to believe in a lost Ice Age civilization similar to Atlantis. Across the board, fringe history beliefs reached new heights. People write to me all the time to ask why I bother to talk about “crazy” topics like aliens and Atlantis. I am flabbergasted to report now that it is because more Americans now believe in Atlantis than do not.
Andrew Collins Teases New Book Tracing Göbekli Tepe and Giza Pyramids to Denisovan Culture 45,000 Years Ago
After two days of writing long blog posts that required a great deal of energy, I need to step back and take a little bit of a rest. What better way than to take a look at the newly released promotional materials for fringe historian and sometime Ancient Aliens pundit Andrew Collins’s newest book, The Cygnus Key: The Denisovan Legacy, Göbekli Tepe, and the Birth of Egypt, due out next May from Bear & Company. As you can guess from the title, Collins has a bizarre and highly speculative revisionist history of civilization, tracing it back to the as yet poorly understood subspecies or species represented by bones from Denisova Cave in Siberia. The Denisovans, at present, are known only from a few bones from four individuals, and they lived around 100,000 to 45,000 years ago.
Last week the Travel Channel launched Expedition Unknown: The Hunt for Extraterrestrials, and in the second episode, “Ancient Visitors,” which aired last night, host Josh Gates got down to ancient astronautics and went in search of evidence of prehistoric alien contact on Easter Island, a popular location with the Ancient Aliens crowd. He also delved into to the panspermia hypothesis, another popular recent fixture of Ancient Aliens. As with the previous outing, there wasn’t much content, but it is probably worth noting the influence of History’s flagship show in that Gates refers to ancient astronauts as “ancient aliens,” the trademarked term popularized by his cable rival. The real news, however, occurred in the after show, when Gates and the production crew seemed to express their own belief in the ancient astronaut theory and their conviction that the past is essentially unknowable.
Not Quite a "UFO IPO": Tom DeLonge Is Seeking Your Investment in "To the Stars" to Give Himself a $700,000 or More Payday
Later today musician and ufologist Tom DeLonge will be making a “major” announcement tied to his ongoing self-promotional quest for UFO disclosure. The announcement is tied to his new faux-academy for fringe science studies, called To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, which I’d abbreviate as TSA, but which is officially initialed TTS AAS, with “the” inexplicably included while “of” and “and” are not. I want to note that, like other fringe ventures, this one is also begging for cash, but that unlike most it is a remarkably corporate enterprise. In generally glowing fringe media coverage of the company’s launch, no one has followed the money to see where the cash is going. This speaks both to the laziness of journalists—who focus on celebrity and “access” over facts—and to the tacit agreement of fringe types to protect their gravy train at all costs.
L. A. Marzulli is asking for money to pay the costs of his weekly radio show because YouTube won’t let him sell commercials in the recordings he posts to their site. This is because his videos are about Islamic terrorism, mass shootings, and other topics explicitly prohibited from commercial sponsorship under YouTube’s very clear terms of service. However, Marzulli has spun YouTube’s longstanding ban on monetizing videos about current events, violence, and terror as an attack on conservatism. He implied a link between YouTube and “Antifa” (anti-fascists) and claimed that they were engaged in a war on conservatism. Oh, and he asked for cash money: “We are now looking for sponsors for Acceleration Radio or those of you who would consider donating on a monthly basis to help with the production costs. We have already had one sponsor—the makers of an amazing cleaner, JINGOS—offer to help.” Jingos is a brand of pet urine cleaning products. Insert your own joke here, and be sure to avoid Jingos. Any company that would sponsor hate radio to sell cleaning spray doesn’t deserve patronage. I do not begrudge a radio show looking for patronage or sponsorship; everyone needs to pay the bills. I do, however, dispute the idea that it is a conspiracy when he does not get the money he thinks he deserves.
Weekend Roundup: Marzulli's Vegas Shooter Freakout, Mathematician's Attempt to Google Noah's Flood into Existence, and More!
Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli has always been creepy with his weird combination of Christian extremism and recycled rightwing talking points, but he is slipping farther and farther into the realm of utterly, irredeemably paranoid. In his latest radio broadcast, he was unable to handle the fact that the Las Vegas mass shooter, Stephen Paddock, who killed more than 50 people last weekend, was a wealthy old white male. Because he didn’t fit Marzulli’s preconceptions about what a violent person should be (brown or black, Muslim, etc.), he proposed that Paddock was the victim of CIA mind control experiments, or else that there was a vast conspiracy fomented by the media to frame him. Marzulli turned the subject to himself and added that he is himself a former drug user who consumed copious amounts of LSD and other mind-altering substances, and he claims that the drugs he did before the age of 30 opened him to “the lower astral” where demons live. He then turned his radio show into a lengthy diatribe about the way the U.S. government is feeding drugs to mass shooters in order to take control of them and use them to shoot up America. He added that Islamic State has a “zombie drug” that removes free will, and he speculates that any conservative can fall victim to mind control from liberals, spy agencies, or Muslims.
Remember how MUFON’s John Ventre got caught up in a racism scandal after he made disparaging comments about the “F-ing Blacks” on Facebook back in May and alleged that “everything” in the world was created by white Europeans and Americans? The UFO community reacted in horror for about a week, and now the racist ufologist is back representing ufology in the media and hawking a new conspiracy theory. Ventre is the host of the String Theory of the Unexplained radio show on the Live Paranormal radio network, and an undated video of him describing a conspiracy to murder ufologists is making the rounds after Britain’s Metro tabloid mined it for a quick clickbait article. It appears to have been filmed sometime before his racism scandal, given that he uses his MUFON title, and he has since been removed from that position; however, Metro said that the video was released this week. The YouTube posting date does not necessarily correlate to the date when the video was shot, or when the radio show aired.
Last night, the Travel Channel debuted its new alien-themed series Expedition Unknown: Hunt for Extraterrestrials, in which host Josh Gates does his usual schtick but with more of a typical cable alien show theme. Travel Channel is surely counting on high ratings from their effort to attract the Ancient Aliens audience since they’ve chosen to pair this limited series with an hour-long After the Hunt talk show to double the length of each episode and are offering alien-themed episodes of their other shows, such as Mysteries at the Museum. There are limits, however, to my patience, and I don’t have the time or the inclination to sit through the after-show, especially when the main hour is a dull and derivative affair that offers very little beyond a blandly pleasant restatement of what anyone with a mild interest in space exploration already knows, and some standard cable-TV ufology. It was televisual wallpaper.
Was the Golden Fleece Really Sea-Silk? Plus: "Ancient Origins" Writer Endorses Modern Hoax as Pre-Flood Hermetic Secrets
Quality standards have never been high among fringe historians, but you’d think that someone calling himself a journalist might have had at least a little bit of research skill. Armando Mei (whom we have met before) is an Italian investigative journalist who fell down the rabbit hole and fully embraced the Graham Hancock model of history. In fact, he became one of Semir Osmanagich’s coauthors in writing about the Bosnian mountains mistaken for ancient pyramids. Anyway, Mei’s big idea is that alchemy was invented in ancient Egypt and encoded in the Great Pyramid around 36,000 years ago. You will immediately recognize this as the Arab-Islamic medieval pyramid myth, and he does nothing to confirm it except to accept it at face value.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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