This Friday, Ancient Aliens presents a two-hour special in which The UnXplained host William Shatner meets with the various talking heads from Ancient Aliens and interviews them about space aliens, science, and futurism. The crossover between Ancient Aliens and sister program The UnXplained is made possible by the two shows’ shared production company. The special runs more than two hours, and it continues well past how late I can stay up as the father of an energetic three-year-old. As a result, I won’t review it until sometime Saturday, when I have had a chance to watch it.
Sen. Lindsey Graham warned this week that calling the so-called QAnon Shaman, Jake Angeli (a.k.a. Jacob Chansley), to testify in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial would be a circus, while last night CNN aired footage from tonight’s QAnon conspiracy special of anchor Anderson Cooper interviewing a former QAnon believer about the extreme delusions that he accepted as true while in the mouth of madness. Just as Angeli posted YouTube videos detailing his belief that he was a psychic space warrior working for a secret U.S. military program to destroy alien spaceships from another dimension, his fellow QAnon believers have some pretty strange—but very familiar—ideas.
In the wake of the Capitol insurrection and renewed interest in QAnon and its web of conspiracy theories, Q-believers have been trading images of a map of "hidden history" that, not coincidentally, maps exactly onto the fake history deployed by Ancient Aliens, Scott Wolter, and the History Channel, Science Channel, and Travel Channel band of speculators. To the best of my knowledge, the map was first developed in 2018 by fashion designer Dylan Louis Monroe, a Q-curious artist who displayed it at both the History Channel's AlienCon and a special 2018 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to conspiracies theories as art. The Met called it a way to "oppose political corruption, bureaucracy, and media manipulation." You know, by accusing all of history of being a Jewish-Catholic Satanic conspiracy. As you do. Seriously, how could the Met not have considered the consequences?
It should surprise no one that yesterday’s siege of the United States Capitol by a pro-Trump right-wing mob included close connections to right-wing conspiracy theories, and not just the putative election fraud claim Pres. Donald Trump used to incite the violence at a rally yesterday afternoon. Many of the thugs who invaded the Capitol sported QAnon clothing, and at least one brandished a flag printed with a “Trump—JFK Jr.” slogan, a reference to a QAnon conspiracy theory imagining that the late son of John F. Kennedy is both secretly alive and about to become Trump’s second vice president. On Fox News Channel, Tucker Carlson spun a conspiracy theory that Antifa agitators had infiltrated the mob, while actual journalists identified several of its members as known white nationalist and right-wing extremists.
For years now, I have ended each trip around the sun with a summary of the preceding twelve months in fringe history, space aliens, and the weird. Most years, these summaries run into the thousands of words because so much happened. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic and the American presidential election severely curtailed the number of extreme claims made about ancient history, as conspiracy theorists turned their attention toward disease and politics. Last year, I said I was ready for a long, difficult year to end, and now those look like the good old days. This year I published a new book and wrote two more, and I look forward to what I hope will be big things next year when publishers get a look at my newest manuscript. In the meantime, we can look back in sadness and anger.
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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