I don’t usually delve into the world of government conspiracies because it is, for the most part, beyond my remit. However, I make exceptions for government conspiracies involving ancient history. That’s why I was interested to see that Nick Redfern, a fixture on Ancient Aliens and its ilk, has a new book out that claims that the military and intelligence services of the US government investigated various alternative history claims including Noah’s Ark, ancient nuclear warfare, and UFO levitation technology used to build the Pyramids. I have not yet read Redfern’s Pyramids and the Pentagon, but I have looked at some of the claims he and his press agent have been making about it.
In an interview, Redfern describes using the Freedom of Information Act to reveal shocking documents, but as far as I can tell many of these have been released since an Insight magazine FOIA request in 2002. Regarding Noah’s Ark, for example, the CIA FOIA material is in the public domain and carefully archived in the CIA’s FOIA reading room. Declassified documents clearly state that the CIA has repeatedly been asked in the 1970s and 1980s whether satellite imagery confirmed the existence of Noah’s Ark, and the agency repeatedly replied that it did not. Despite this, the CIA reported that alternative authors began to claim that CIA images did in fact depict the Ark. At the request of Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Director of Central Intelligence conducted a full search of CIA imagery to find the Ark and turned up nothing.
In 1992 CBS-TV and Sun International Pictures used the same debunked claims of CIA Ark imagery that had been circulating since the 1970s to request the agency release the images for a program on Noah’s Ark because, they said, their earlier program on “Ancient Secrets of the Bible” was second in the May 15 ratings.
Two 1994 memos also state that there is no evidence for Noah’s Ark in any classified image. And a 1995 letter clearly states that there is no research program into Noah’s Ark and had never been, as confirmed again in a conversation with the staff of Sen. Richard Lugar that same year.
By this time, the very fact that others had requested information from the CIA about Ark imagery had become evidence in and of itself that such photos of the Ark existed!
So, that’s what the CIA FOIA material actually says. The lesson? If the CIA weren't so obsessed with secrecy and had just released the documents before FOIA forced them to do so, we wouldn't have this conspiracy theory to kick around.
I'm open to whether Redfern has uncovered other CIA documents, but if so, they are not listed in the CIA's FOIA archive and there is no public record of their release.
Similarly, Redfern’s claims that Robert Oppenheimer could have been privy to secret information about prehistoric nuclear warfare evaporate in the light of facts. First, no claim of prehistoric nuclear warfare exists prior to the Soviet invention of it in 1959 in a speculative article about Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, the theory could not have existed when Oppenheimer supposedly researched it in the 1940s. Second, the claims for such warfare in ancient India—Redfern’s specific claim—are clearly fabricated from rewritten and falsified Vedic texts, as I have shown.
Oppenheimer’s alleged knowledge of prehistoric nuclear war stems ultimately from this paragraph from a November 8, 1948 Time magazine article recounting the first atomic blast in 1944:
Oppenheimer would recount various forms of this sentiment throughout his life.
From this we can trace ever broadening claims for Oppenheimer’s research down to Redfern, who told an interviewer that: “I point out that this [ancient nuclear warfare] is an issue that none other than Robert Oppenheimer was fascinated with, and who may have secretly suspected that our civilization was not the first to develop atomic power.” But Oppenheimer was actually fascinated with Hinduism, not prehistoric nuclear warfare, and took moral not scientific lessons from the Vedic scriptures, according to his biographers. Moreover, Oppenheimer did not relate the first atomic blast only to the Gita; he also compared it to Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, evidence that Oppenheimer was making a moral not a scientific comparison.
Additionally, any government investigation into UFO levitation technology used to build the Pyramids of Egypt must surely have been ineffective since the same US government funded a study that also proved that the pyramids were built with a primitive form of concrete.
Let me take the minimalist position: The US government investigates all sorts of nonsense. The CIA is on record as having investigated remote viewing and whether staring at goats can cause them to die. The government does many stupid things, and any documentation that they explored the ancient astronaut theory or any other pseudoscience is not proof that the theory is true, only that our government is made up of people, some of whom can’t tell fact from fiction—just like some authors.
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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