The Jerusalem Post ran a story this week claiming that the Bible giant Goliath’s skull is located under the land occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre because its biblical name, Golgotha, sort of sounds like “Goliath of Gath.” The Post did not clearly explain to readers that its article was a near-verbatim copy of a 2017 tabloid story from Britain’s Daily Star, itself recycling Evangelical chatter from the early 2000s, nor did the Post disclose that the “author” of their story, “Walla! Tourism,” had apparently produced the piece to draw Christian tourists to Israel.
A few months ago, NBC's Peacock streaming service gave Demi Lovato a UFO series in which the streamer presented Lovato as a goofy, cuddly conspiracy theorist gawking in wonder at lights in the sky. Gaia TV saw the publicity that Lovato gained and appointed them a brand ambassador, and Lovato began telling their 118 million social media followers to watch hand-picked promoting extreme fringe history ideas, including lizard people conspiracies.
Weekend Omnibus: Younger Dryas Volcano, Elon Musk's Ancient Astronaut Tweet, Steve Quayle's Plagiarism, and More!
Yesterday was an extraordinary day for news of interest to my readers. Let’s take a brief survey of just some of the things that happened.
I’ll put the science first. A new study in Science Advances concludes that the global cooling triggered during the Younger Dryas was not the work of a comet or meteor but was instead brought on by volcanic activity. From the press release announcing the study late yesterday:
This week, creationist Ken Ham threw a fit over a 2019 documentary, We Believe in Dinosaurs, which aired this month on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series. He accused the documentary of being biased against creationism because it depicted, accurately, the appearance of dinosaurs in Ham’s “Ark Encounter” recreation of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky. “It turned out to be an agenda-driven propaganda piece focusing on dinosaurs and the Ark Encounter, where dinosaurs represent only a tiny fraction of the exhibits at the Ark,” Ham wrote. That’s a bit like complaining that histories of Germany always mention that Hitler fellow even though he was only in power for 12 years.
With the launch of my new book, The Mound Builder Myth, yesterday, I have much to do and too little time to do it. I had rather little time for writing thanks to book launch work, but I wanted to give notice of the disturbing situation unfolding in New Zealand, where believers in a lost race of giants are coming under fire for the very real damage that their efforts to excavate what they believe to be giants’ bones may be doing.
Today I’d like to direct you to Rebecca Bradley’s excellent blog post dissecting Ancient Aliens talking head Andrew Collins’s fanciful claims about the Densiovans as civilization-bestowing Bible giants. Her analysis is clear and compelling and shows just how badly Collins misrepresents scientific data in order to develop a fake narrative of a prehistoric empire of overgrown wizard-sages. “Every source that Collins referenced in this paper was either misrepresented, misunderstood, or mangled at the outset,” Bradley concludes, and she has the evidence to prove it.
Perhaps more than any year in recent memory, 2019 was the year in which fringe history stopped being fringe and went completely mainstream. This year, we saw pseudohistory and conspiracy theories top the literary bestseller lists, multiply across cable channels like mushrooms on a rotten log, and attract record crowds to traveling carnivals masquerading as pseudohistory “fan” conventions. It perfectly captures the tenor of the times for the post-truth era that the very notions of fact and fiction ceased to have meaning. This was a long, hard year, both for the world and also for me personally. After dealing with family health problems, buying and selling a house (and still not being able to close on selling the old one until early 2020, nearly half a year after the sale), writing two books, and a knot of lawyers for many different developments, I am ready for this unpleasant year to end. Let’s look back in anger:
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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