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This weekend, Fox News commentator and UFO aficionado Tucker Carlson posted previews for the new season of his Fox Nation streaming service documentary series Tucker Carlson Originals. This season’s episodes designed to appear to the prejudices and preferences of old white conservative men whose last new idea occurred to them in 1979 include one on why trans people regret changing their gender, one on the crisis of UFOs attacking and mutilating our cattle, and the one that received the most ridicule: “The End of Men,” a documentary alleging that male testosterone levels have declined steadily for decades, and men will cease to be masculine in our lifetimes unless conservatism restores their virility.
Fox Nation host Lara Logan told a right-wing podcast this week that the Rothschild banking family paid Charles Darwin to develop the theory of evolution as part of an international conspiracy of world domination involving the British government. Speaking on the And We Know podcast, the onetime international correspondent for CBS News, who left the network in 2018 to promote conservative conspiracy theories, first for Sinclair Broadcasting and then for Fox News’ streaming service, implied that that the Jews controlled not just international banking but also 10 Downing Street and used evolution as a tool to break Christian resistance to their global control.
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.
I gave an interview to Salon about vaccine conspiracies, UFOs, and the deep history behind modern conspiracy culture. Be sure to check it out on Salon's website.
After a 15-month investigation, a New Jersey man has been charged with one count of criminal mischief in the vandalism attack on America's Stonehenge that left the New Hampshire colonial cold cellars wrongly believed to be an ancient Old World monument defaced with QAnon slogans. Mark Russo, 50, is currently is in jail in New Jersey waiting for extradition to New Hampshire to face trial.
A couple of weeks ago, Huang Heqing, a professor in the department of art and archaeology at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China made ridiculous claims about ancient history at a conference. Huang, who teaches art history, holds a doctoral degree from the University of Paris but nonetheless is convinced that all the achievements of ancient Western cultures were fabricated in the nineteenth century.
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.
Before we begin, be sure to read this recent academic essay exploring the History Channel as a vector for conspiracy theories and masculinity panic. I’m cited in it, and, well, we all know that this mix of conspiracy culture, toxic masculinity, etc. feeds directly in to the conspiracy culture we are seeing all around us, notably among the Capitol Hill insurrectionists, whose demographics are a close mirror of the History Channel’s own target audience.
Major news outlets are finally starting to notice that Jake Angeli (Jacob Chansley), the horned QAnon "shaman" who infiltrated the Capitol last Wednesday, is kind of weird. News reports said that Angeli claimed that Pres. Trump had invited him to attack the Capitol, and a judge ruled that Angeli was entitled to special organic food in jail because QAnon shamanism is his religion, and organic food is his sacred diet. Also, there were the rants about QAnon conspiracies of every stripe. So far, mainstream media haven't reported on his since-deleted YouTube videos claiming to be a government psychic space warrior battling Lovecraftian abominations from another dimension.
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?
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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