For those of you who missed it, America Unearthed star Scott Wolter replied to my blog post discussing his now-rescinded claim to have received an honorary master’s degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1987. According to Wolter, the degree was in fact unofficial and consisted of a cup of coffee with whipped topping presented to him by his undergraduate professors.
…I was invited by the UMD Geology Department to give a lecture at the college about my research. Afterword, six of my former professors asked me technical questions which I answered to their satisfaction. Afterward, they had an informal reception in the Professor’s [sic] lounge where they gave me an honorary degree with a whipped cream-topped coffee as my “certificate.” Was it officially recognized by the University? No. They gave it to me as I have always presented it to be, a sympathy degree.
Wolter removed the unofficial degree from his resume after the Minnesota state geological licensing agency recently raised questions about the credential, which had appeared on his resume since 1987. I encourage all of you to read Wolter’s explanation of how the frothy concoction ended up on his resume in the comments section of my earlier blog post.
Wolter’s honorary master’s degree joins Sean-David Morton’s purchased Ph.D. “equivalent” degree, Robert Temple’s “professorship” unrecognized by the university where he “taught,” and David Childress’s two decades claiming to be a professional archaeologist on the long list alternative writers’ doubtful credentials. (Wolter differs from the others in that he does hold a geologist’s license from the state of Minnesota and has an undergraduate degree in the field.)
On the other end of the spectrum, actress Meghan Fox claims no expertise whatsoever in ancient history, but she raised eyebrows again this past week when she reiterated her believe in ancient aliens in a controversial interview with Esquire magazine.
She would much rather be an archeologist exploring the ancient ruins of Israel and Egypt. “I feel like there's stuff literally buried there and buried where the Maya were,” she says. Ancient aliens who gave rise to ancient civilizations on earth. “I would like to uncover the secrets of the universe. In my fantasy.”
Fox went on to tell the magazine that
“I like believing. I believe in all of these Irish myths, like leprechauns. Not the pot of gold, not the Lucky Charms leprechauns. But maybe was there something in the traditional sense? I believe that this stuff came from somewhere other than people's imaginations....”
Fox explained that Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, the Bell Witch, ancient aliens, and other alternative beliefs are forms of entertainment that “distract me from my reality.”
In her interview, Fox echoed two of the most common assertions of Giorgio Tsoukalos and the Ancient Aliens crew: First, that human beings lack the imaginative power to invent ideas beyond reality (and this from someone who works in movies), and second that humanity is “disappointing” (her word) and requires aliens and the supernatural to experience transcendence.
Now, if Ancient Aliens featured Megan Fox and fellow believer Katy Perry traveling the world to giggle at pyramids, then maybe it wouldn’t have been exiled to H2. But as it were, it is extremely sad to see that for Megan Fox, facts and reality are just another belief system, and the ideas that fill her mind are only those that feel good, regardless of their truth.
This is yet another reason why Ancient Aliens, America Unearthed, and the rest of this pseudoscience is so dangerous. It reduces epistemology to emotion and teaches that how we feel about history is more important than what we know (or can know) about history.
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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