Since losing his Travel Channel TV series, former America Unearthed host has been on a downward slide into the depths of conspiracy culture in search of revelation and relevance. Because he no longer has a media platform, I haven’t been covering his antics as much as in the past, but because he is a former three-time cable TV show host and likely to return to TV in some capacity in the future as the demand for filler content grows among streaming services, it’s worth noting some of the extremes Wolter embraced in his latest podcast interview.
It has long been obvious that Harvard’s Avi Loeb wants to be a UFO guru. Not only has he parlayed his minority opinion on the artificial nature of the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua into a book deal, but he has inserted himself into the media frenzy over UFOs and publishes regular dispatches in Scientific American speculating in his amateurish way on the morals and ethics of humans and aliens. In recent weeks, he publicly volunteered to lead a government inquiry into the nature of flying saucers and took a slot headlining the Contact in the Desert paranormal conference. His UFO interests have now reached their logical peak with the launch of his newest initiative, the Galileo Project, a UFO investigation conducted through the auspices of Harvard’s and the Smithsonian’s Center for Astrophysics.
Note: This piece first ran in my Substack newsletter earlier this week.
Over the past few months, Extraterrestrial author Avi Loeb has tied himself more and more to the UFO community as he builds his brand as the astronomer most willing to entertain the possibility that aliens are visiting Earth. He appeared on the TMZ UFO special to speculate about military UFO videos as evidence of alien contact. He is headlining the Contact in the Desert conference of ancient astronaut, UFO, and paranormal charlatans, and he said in a podcast last month that he is in talks with wealth patrons about heading a team to investigate UFOs.
Diana Pasulka is consistently infuriating. The American Cosmic author is persistently half-right in her analysis of UFOs as a quasi-religious movement, correctly understanding how UFO belief systems parallel those of decentralized religious traditions but faltering time and again in showing too much faith in the truth claims this New Age religion passes off as science. A case in point is this week’s essay in Religion Dispatches in which Pasulka alleges that the recent government UFO report has transformed UFO belief through the validating holy baptism of government approval.
It's not unusual for the BBC to report on the eccentric pseudohistorical theories that British speculators propose. It is, however, unusual for them to layer so much pseudohistory into an ostensibly neutral news report.
Our story today concerns carpet-fitter Steven Tasker, 66, who thinks that he has uncovered the secret machine, mentioned in the Bible, that enabled the Egyptians to build the pyramids and the people of ancient Britain to build Stonehenge. It's an elaborate version of rollers and rockers that have been stacked atop each other. It's implausible--for example, he thinks that Egyptian jars used for eye makeup were the rollers--but he has convinced himself that it is the chariot of God described in the book of Ezekiel, with the wings of the cherubim and the calf's feet resembling his conception of the platforms and rockers used to rock heavy rocks across the landscape.
But I was dumbfounded by the illustration Tasker provided and the BBC ran uncritically:
The long-awaited UFO report from the Pentagon and the Director of National Intelligence required by Congress dropped on Friday. Most of us anticipated that it would have little concrete to say, but it was especially surprising that it seemed to represent very little effort on the part of the UAP Task Force, which seems to have conducted no original research and engaged no outside experts to evaluate the 143 unexplained sightings (mostly by sensor) it listed. Instead, the report served largely as a call for a permanent UFO investigation within the Pentagon, with the requisite need for funding, contractors, and consultants. How fortuitous that the new think tank Skyfort, on whose advisory board UFO advocate Lue Elizondo sits, is ready to answer the call. The Pentagon began the process of formalizing UFO research, and budgeting for it, in an order on Friday.
I sat down with science writer and skeptical investigator Mick West on his podcast to discuss UFOs, the small group of believers driving the UFO flap, and the paranormal-UFO connection. You can watch our conversation below.
This week, the New York Times published a piece exposing the close connection between Tucker Carlson and the media elite, for whom he often serves a source, in an unspoken exchange that results in soft-pedaling coverage of Carlson’s conspiracy theories and extremist rhetoric. I spoke with Chauncey DeVega of Salon.com about Carlson’s fascination with UFOs and the close connection between radical UFO conspiracy theories and right-wing extremism. You can read my interview here.
Apparently, the only thing that onetime America Unearthed host Scott Wolter hates more than me criticizing his work is me ignoring him. I’ve been too busy working on serious, important things to care about the former TV star’s frequent radio rants, so Wolter went on The Family with Tom Barnard to spend 15 minutes badmouthing me. Lest anyone be confused, at one point he slipped and said my name instead of “the blogger.” Odd, though, that he calls me “the blogger” since my publication history, in national magazines, university press books, academic journals, etc., far outstrips his self-published books and freebie Blogspot blog.
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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