I can’t say I devote too much time to keeping up with what the tweens and teens are watching these days, but apparently when it comes to “educational” programming, it has reached History Channel levels of bad. Yesterday, I had planned to be out for the afternoon. I turned on the TV to set the DVR to record something while I was gone, and the TV happened to be tuned to my local CBS affiliate, which was showing a syndicated educational program called Elizabeth Stanton’s Great Big World, in an episode on Armenia that first aired on June 13. Unbeknownst to me, this program has aired for the last five years, hosted by a 20-year-old who started the show when she was 15. The program is produced by American Television International, the brain trust behind Bristol Palin’s failed 2012 reality show.
A depressing new survey published in the United Kingdom finds that almost two-thirds of Britons (64%) claim not to believe that dinosaurs once existed. The survey results do not explain why Britons doubt the reality of dinosaurs, but it added that nearly as many adults believe in ghosts (30%) as dinosaurs (36%). The only good news is that the survey had a small sample size (1,003 adults) and was conducted by e2save, an online mobile retailer, as a promotion for their 4K cameras. They had a vested interest in overestimating controversial statements as part of their campaign to use conspiracy theories in their advertisements for their cameras.
Newspaper Claims Ghost Sex Is a Hot Relationship Trend; Plus: Pulitzer Uses XpLrR to Promote Conservative Politics
Are you or someone you know in a sexual relationship with a space alien or a ghost? According to ghost hunter and ancient astronaut believer Maija Polsley, writing in the New York Daily News, sex with supernatural creatures is all the rage, and celebrities like Elementary star Lucy Liu, singer Kesha, and Paranormal Activity 2 actress Natasha Blasick have extolled the orgasmic virtues of ethereal lovers. “I really enjoyed it,” Blasick said. “Sheer bliss!” Liu raved.
Tonight Ancient Aliens returns after a one-week hiatus with a depressing episode in which they take Talbot Mundy’s fictional group of Nine Unknown Men, equate them with the Greek account of the Egyptian Ennead, and make them into a real galactic council. While we wait for them to transform science fiction into pseudoscience, I wanted to share a bit of Nick Redfern’s latest article for Mysterious Universe, in which he discovered that many of the people involved in Fortean research range from obsessive to mentally ill.
Graham Hancock Says Trees Are Spying on Us; Plus: Masonic Journal Editor Says Wolter Wrong on Peer Review
I wrote a lot yesterday, and I’m feeling a bit lazy today. I have three small items to share.
The first comes to us courtesy of Graham Hancock, who posted a completely bizarre captioned photo to his blog after visiting California. There Hancock saw very old trees, some of which are thousands of years old. “What if they are the antennae of vast cosmic beings who are watching humanity and the earth?” he said in the caption to a photo of one such tree taken by his wife. Is Hancock back on pot again? Some New Age types have been floating the idea that trees serve as antennae to focus earth energy, but Hancock seems to be making them into sentient beings linked to Old Ones from beyond our ken. He even titled his post “The Watchers,” invoking intentionally or not the Fallen Angels and the forbidden wisdom of the antediluvian era.
Ancient Aliens had the week off for the Independence Day holiday, but last week the show managed to crawl back a bit from the previous week’s abysmal ratings. Last Friday, the show just barely crossed the one million viewer mark, hitting 1.09 million viewers. The series’ executive producer, Kevin Burns, also announced that he is taking on a new job: He’s signed on as a writer for the 10-episode Netflix and Legendary Entertainment reboot of Lost in Space. I guess it’s appropriate. On Ancient Aliens he’s already proved himself adept at recycling old science fiction.
Flash-Frozen Mammoths and Their Buttercups: Yet Another Case of Repetition and Recycling of Bad Data
I wasn’t planning on doing more on frozen mammoths after yesterday’s discussion of dining on them, but I found myself increasingly intrigued by the fact that so many fringe history claims for flash-frozen mammoths and eating mammoth steaks trace back to a single 1960 article by Ivan T. Sanderson in the Saturday Evening Post. He was not the first to report the claims (having apparently learned of them from Immanuel Velikovsky, according to secondary sources), but his piece directly or indirectly bequeathed the story to biblical creationists like Donald Patten (who claimed Alaskan restaurants served mammoth in the twentieth century), Charles Hapgood (a close friend of Sanderson’s), David Childress, Graham Hancock, and a host of others. So I went to the library to get a copy to find out exactly what Sanderson said.
One of the claims we see thrown around fringe literature from time to time, especially among the catastrophists, is that mammoths and mastodons were “flash frozen” in some unspeakable apocalypse that kept them carefully preserved and locked in their freshness. Although surviving wooly mammoth corpses don’t appear to be Ziploc-fresh, the story recurs every few years. For example, David Childress uses them as an example of earth-crust displacement in his Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa & Arabia: “Witness woolly mammoths flash-frozen in the Arctic with buttercups in their stomachs. They were apparently flash-frozen in a sliding of the earth’s crust.” Our fringe theorists know the story most directly from Charles Hapgood, who wrote of “edible mammoths steaks” that proved the earth-crust displacement hypothesis. His claim bequeathed our frozen mammoths to fringe history.
I have a few odds and ends to discuss today beginning with the weird story that a libertarian senate candidate in Florida is a follower of the Thelema religion of Aleister Crowley and sacrificed a goat and drank its blood. The 32-year-old lawyer legally changed his name to Augustus Sol Invictus, Latin for “the majestic unconquered sun,” and claims to be a worshipper of the “wild god of the wilderness.” Thelema is a neo-pagan religion based on early twentieth century occult understandings of ancient Egyptian religion. Its founding myth involves Crowley’s alleged communication with a spirit entity in the Great Pyramid, an event ancient astronaut theorists later claimed as an alien visitation.
Thank you all for the well wishes for my cat. He has started on medication, and he had some food, which is a good sign.
I want to call your attention today to an article in the new issue of Smithsonian magazine outlining what archaeologists have learned over the past two years from the discovery of a set of Fourth Dynasty papyri in the ruins of a port at Wadi al-Jarf in 2013. According to the article, the papyri include the diary of Merer, an overseer who helped to transport goods. He describes working for Ankh-haf, the half-brother of Khufu, who was revealed to be the overseer in charge of some of the construction of the Great Pyramid. The journal also describes picking up material from the same town where the limestone for the Pyramid’s outer casing came from. When the diary and other documents were combined with the archaeological remains found at the site—from blocks inscribed with Khufu’s name to boats and copper tools—it quickly became clear that this site, located near the largest source of copper, in the Sinai, was an important supply station for moving the copper needed to carve the Pyramid’s stones. This find, in connection with the large worker’s village that once housed as many as 20,000 workers, offers key insights into how the Egyptians built the pyramids.
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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