Beam Me Up: The Year in Review 2021
Writing my annual year in review article used to be amusing, if not actually fun, because there was at least some entertainment value in seeing the wild claims and fantastical speculations that passed for history and science. But each year has been a little darker than the one before, and the job is less an exercise in tut-tutting foolishness than it is a depressing reminder that wealthy and powerful people are pushing conspiracies whose real-life consequences are no longer hypothetical but manifest every day in ways large and small, from the halls of Congress to hospital ICUs.
In a recent podcast interview, former television personality Scott Wolter made a bizarre assertion about prehistoric space aliens, a part of his ongoing conversion to full ancient astronaut theorist. Wolter discussed the documents he has asserted to be medieval records from the Knights Templar for the past several years, and in “new” Templar documents conveniently mirroring his own conversion to ancient alien enthusiast, he claims to have discovered evidence that space aliens intervened in human history.
I have a new piece out in The New Republic about the National Defense Authorization Act and its new UFO office.
Six months after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, delivered a report to Congress that failed to explain more than 140 reports of unidentified flying objects—mostly because no one in government tried all that hard to explain them—Congress is set to approve legislation to create a new office within the Pentagon tasked with investigating military UFO sightings. The new office will gather reports of sightings, analyze them, and deliver reports to Congress on the subject at intervals. At least that’s the aspect of this decision on which the legislators who pushed for the new office want the public to focus. Underneath the surface, Congress is about to require the Pentagon to get weird. Very weird. Like, imaginary crashed-saucer wreckage weird.
Read the full story in The New Republic.
It was a big week for Mormon news. The owner of Skinwalker Ranch, Brandon Fugal, discussed how his Mormon faith in infinite populated worlds helps to shape his investigation of Skinwalker Ranch, which culminated in his assertion that the ranch is inhabited by a noncorporeal “precognitive” intelligence that adapts its supernatural manifestations to the subconscious “intentions” of each visitor. “It can anticipate and even be aware of your thoughts and consciousness and react according to your intention that you bring to the property,” Fugal told Salt Lake Magazine. That sounds a lot like people are seeing what they want to see and are experiencing their own expectations reflected back at them through the mirror of their own minds. In other words, there is no interdimensional intelligence, just people scaring themselves with their own fantasies.
Sometime in the next few days, the Senate will pass the version of the National Defense Authorization Act which passed the House this week. Section 1638 of the new legislation will require the establishment of a program to research UFOs, including some bizarre provisions taken straight from the fever swamps of cable TV UFO shows. The legislation, a slightly watered-down version of an amendment Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand proposed this fall, represents a triumph for ex-government UFO research advocates and infotainers Chris Mellon and Luis Elizondo, whose lobbying efforts and UFO wish list were incorporated almost completely, and sometimes nearly verbatim, into the law.
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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