"Contact in the Desert" Happened Again; Plus: Another Celebrity Pledges Allegiance to "Ancient Aliens"
This week on Twitter former television personality Scott Wolter announced that he had recorded interviews for an upcoming Science Channel documentary, but he could not say whether the network planned to use them. If they do make it to air, he would appear on the network sometime in the fall, just about two years after his last television series came to an ignominious end.
Meanwhile, I completely forgot that the annual Contact in the Desert conference was held last weekend in Joshua Tree, California, a change from the past four years, when it was held in July. According to OC Weekly, about 3,000 people attended. However, unlike previous years, the conference didn’t seem to make much news. The cast of Ancient Aliens attended, of course, and the OC Weekly said that Giorgio Tsoukalos set up a booth where he sold t-shirts with pictures of himself on them alongside copies of his Ancient Astronaut Society newsletter, Legendary Times.
The Press-Enterprise carried a photograph of Tsoukalos’s booth, and it gives the lie to any claim that he has any remaining interest in being taken seriously. Between the cartoon pictures of himself and the memes of himself and even pictures of aliens dressed as himself, Tsoukalos has thoroughly embraced his caricature as a cartoon character. On the plus side, the price list appearing in another photo suggests that Tsoukalos isn’t trying to gouge his fans, charging standard market prices for his goods.
The Press-Enterprise was less respectful of Contact in the Desert’s fig leaf of independence from the show Ancient Aliens. They openly described the conference as a gathering of fans of Ancient Aliens, and while it was not formally endorsed by the show’s production company, the description wasn’t wrong, though perhaps incomplete. The conference featured many cast members and talking heads from Ancient Aliens, but also some who have not been part of the show, at least not yet. Among them was Peter Levenda, a late addition to the program who spoke about his recent Sekret Machines book, coauthored with Tom DeLonge.
All of this wouldn’t be so grating if it weren’t for the fact that the audience for Ancient Aliens takes the show so much more seriously than the entertainers, carnival barkers, and wannabe celebrities who make up the ancient astronaut traveling circus. Consider, for example, the latest entry in the ungodly list of celebrities who have embraced Ancient Aliens. The newest celebrity to come out as an ancient astronaut theorist is Jaime Camil of the CW’s Jane the Virgin. He told WBEZ radio in Chicago this week that he wants everyone to watch and embrace the show:
Please watch Ancient Aliens. Oh my dear god, it’s so good! It’s about the theory that we have been visited by aliens. Many times. And how ancient, ancient aliens -- I’m sorry, you asked me, so I’m going for it! It’s a very interesting show that I am completely addicted to.
Is there something about being a celebrity that makes a person open to embracing the most bizarre ideas? Dozens of celebrities have embraced Ancient Aliens, including Katy Perry, Megan Fox, Rob Lowe, and more. And the embrace of odd ideas isn’t limited to just celebrities in the performing arts, where one might attribute it to the prevalence of New Age ideas. Football player Aaron Rogers is an Ancient Aliens super-fan, and the professional basketball has spawned a number of prominent flat-earth believers.
What I find amazing is that celebrities can endorse Ancient Aliens without consequence (except, perhaps, a bit of teasing) even though the ancient astronaut theory lacks evidence and is either racist or misanthropic depending on how generously you read it. But if a celebrity endorses actual science, like, say, environmentalism, he or she becomes an object of ridicule and/or hate, shouted down by the right-wing noise machine and screamed at for being “political.” But being a conspiracy theorist who thinks the U.S. government working with space aliens who are actively trying to destroy humanity to benefit the Democratic Party (as David Wilcock maintains)? Oh, that is just fine. It’s fun.
Wim Van der Straeten
5/26/2017 10:34:12 am
I've read somewhere that Katy Perry even wanted to meet Giorgio Tsoukalos. It's actually funny that somebody like Tsoukalos, who is not a musician or actor, or even a scientist, managed to become famous by appearing in a show like "Ancient Aliens". I think that says a lot about the age that we live in. Nowadays anybody, even if they don't have any special qualifications, can become famous (Andy Warhol was right after all).
5/26/2017 11:05:01 am
You mean like Trump?
5/26/2017 04:27:11 pm
Stow it, Meatball. Trump's been famous for decades, for good reason. If that's your best, you're challenged, but hey the world needs ditch diggers too.
5/26/2017 10:41:27 am
"Is there something about being a celebrity that makes a person open to embracing the most bizarre ideas?"
5/26/2017 10:44:15 am
I would actually have made a point about the connection between liberalism and New Age beliefs, except that some of the celebrities who have embraced Ancient Aliens aren't. Rob Lowe, for example, believes every crazy paranormal claim but says he is a libertarian.
5/26/2017 11:35:07 am
There's an irony for you. Liberals embracing ideas that originally were put forward by racist, colonial minded conservatives.
5/26/2017 03:04:07 pm
As much as I like Rob Lowe, I wonder if he actually knows what "libertarian" means.
5/26/2017 12:03:11 pm
5/26/2017 01:56:45 pm
Actually Tony, I was hoping Wolter would be the one set up and not realize it. Kinda like those poor folks on Penn & Teller's BS show on Showtime, who come in thinking they're being interviewed in a positive light.
5/26/2017 01:00:09 pm
Sorry, but political thinking of ANY slant will only take you so bizarre. It requires religious thinking to embrace the truly extreme stuff. (And by that, I don't mean "Christian thinking." I mean RELIGIOUS, of any flavor.) And it's the conservatives that have mixed in an unhealthy dose of religion with their politics, not the liberals.
5/26/2017 01:30:36 pm
5/26/2017 02:02:22 pm
I'll tell you a story V. Way back around 500 BC, the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus was found playing dice with children on the street. Considering his aristocratic roots, people were amazed he would be doing this and inquired as to why he would play dice with children. Beats playing politics with you, he replied.
5/26/2017 05:41:19 pm
It is my thought that as the fringe religion founded in 1830 loses its credibility, the void is filled by new age fringe belief systems, typified by AA. Both are gnostic in character. To test this hypothesis, one would have to examine the geographic distribution of Ancient Aliens fans.
5/26/2017 01:18:11 pm
It's not celebrity, it's the arts. Coming from an arts background myself, if you have no interest or ability in science, much of it can be misunderstood, ignored or forgotten. Worse still, if you are in countries like mine where university focusses solely on the 'major', you are never exposed to science outside of primary or high school. If you consider that critical thinking is not taught at all, then you can come out of university with a lot of credulousness and little to no decent exposure to science.
5/26/2017 01:36:56 pm
@Flip You make some good points
5/27/2017 10:20:11 am
It doesn't have to be a science course that inspires critical thinking. A logic course or two will do just fine in this regard.
5/26/2017 02:22:37 pm
If only being funny or compassionate was as easy, which you so ably demonstrated.
5/27/2017 10:21:57 am
5/26/2017 11:50:49 am
Unfortunately, the endorsing of Ancient Aliens by celebrities probably only strengthens the notion in the minds of the fans that the concept, the show, and the people who appear on it are all legit.
Wim Van der Straeten
5/26/2017 11:59:22 am
I'm not so sure if Tsoukalos thinks the ancient aliens theory is fake. Maybe he actually believes in it.
5/26/2017 01:16:29 pm
,,Wolter,, it takes a certain kind of fool to buy into your own con game.
5/26/2017 02:05:44 pm
I'm still pitching my sitcom idea:
5/26/2017 02:28:46 pm
I like watching Wolter make an ass of himself on tv. He should always have a series. He rarely disappoints.
5/26/2017 04:19:46 pm
Absolutely, a geologist having a chunk of lead presented to the president of Madagascar and telling him it is solid silver and pirate treasure rivals anything Monty Python could come up with.
5/26/2017 05:01:32 pm
That series was 6 straight hours of pure Wolter gold.
5/26/2017 06:36:19 pm
I'm not going to lie, it is enjoyable watching Wolter act like a putz. Whenever my brother and I get together at the family home in NJ we do watch just for the entertainment value.
5/27/2017 10:26:56 am
Don't forget the lost Templar fort Wolter discovered deep in the jungle... with the manicured lawn.
5/26/2017 12:05:52 pm
I wish I had known that "Contact in the Deseret" was again going to happen. I could have shown up with my pet donkey, Von Daniken. I could then set up a booth right next to Giorgio Tsoukalos. If I could get them to pose together, which would probably be easy, Giorgio Tsoukalos seems to be willing to do anything for money. I could then sell the pictures with the caption "Two jack-asses in the desert".
5/26/2017 01:21:07 pm
Bring a Clydesdale, tell em it's a giant donkey !
5/26/2017 02:32:54 pm
LOL at typo (?) "Deseret" People will believe the damndest things if they are not taught critical thinking. Now, on to watch my favorite comedy show.
5/26/2017 03:04:57 pm
The list of celebrities fawning over AA seems fairly short considering how many celebrities there actually are. They get interviewed more often than most other professions and so it might seem they are more gullible. I think you could safely pick any career path and find a handful of AA believers.
5/26/2017 06:31:22 pm
Crainey, you're not kidding! The right is the center of the universe in this country right now for conspiracy theories, denying of reality, and "alternate facts"!
5/27/2017 07:51:25 pm
So the winning side, because of winning, is therefore less rational? You realize that makes no sense, right? I was against Hillary because she has a penchant for murdering our allies in the Arab world. I think that's pretty rational. "We came, we saw, he died CACKLE!!!"
5/29/2017 08:32:46 am
Why would he kill Arab leaders? They're his business partners, especially the ones from the country responsible for the 9/11 attacks. But no, no Arabs as of yet.. just Israeli intel operatives by clumsily spilling classified intelligence information to the Russians because he felt the need to brag about himself... as usual.
5/29/2017 09:35:17 am
And the Saudis were not business partners of Roosevelt ... Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama????
5/29/2017 08:41:13 pm
No, I don't drink. But judging by your posts, I don't think the same can be said for you. Unless you're just always an asshole when you are your normal sober self. I'm open to both interpretations.
5/29/2017 10:06:28 pm
"I'm a fountain of knowledge and I don't take kindly to personal attacks..."
5/30/2017 07:43:52 am
Saudia Arabia was responsible for 911 in the same sense that Libya was responsible for the Manchester bombing.
5/26/2017 04:15:20 pm
I think this year's event not making much news is due to the waning power of fringe shows. According to Jason's own reporting, Ancient Aliens has a consistent viewership of around one million, but only 3,000 people attended the event.
5/26/2017 06:32:50 pm
"the waning power of fringe shows"
5/26/2017 05:26:33 pm
5/31/2017 04:05:07 am
I'm pretty sure he was alluding to his new! evidence! that Templars hid out in our backyard, Jason. He must have been in NY meeting with Science Channel. He's been cagey so as not to sound disappointed if it falls through.
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