Friday Grab Bag: Project News, Another H2 Guest Claims Producers Misled Him, and More
I received a draft copy of the cover design for my new book, tentatively titled Ancient Astronauts and Alternative Histories: A Sourcebook. The design looks pretty good and has a bit of an Atlantis theme with water and a Doric column. Since it isn’t final, I can’t share it yet, but it looks like the book will have a nice design.
McFarland also forwarded me a copy of a review of my Jason and the Argonauts through the Ages that ran in the August edition of the Library Journal. Prof. Thomas L. Cooksey of Armstrong Atlantic State University had kind words to say about my book:
Colavito (The Cult of Alien Gods), an independent scholar […] is both thorough and engaging. VERDICT: The general reader will find this book entertaining and informative and the specialist will discover a rich compendium of materials.
While I appreciate Cooksey’s very positive review, one tiny thing annoyed me. Cooksey faulted me for using sources “drawn from translations or secondhand,” which is a bit confounding. Presumably he’d have preferred I present all the cited texts in the original Sumerian, Babylonian, Hittite, Linear B, Greek, Latin, Old French, French, German, Georgian, etc. While some translations were taken from secondary sources, I chose to use translations because I assumed that most readers will be reading in English. I provided references to the primary source originals in the end notes, and wherever I could read the original language, I consulted the original and noted any places where translation issue affected understanding (as in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter). I even provided original translations where no English translations were available, as with some of the fragments of Pherecydes. Crediting the translator of a line doesn’t mean I never read the original text… I can’t win!
The producer for the American Heroes Channel’s Codes and Conspiracies told me yesterday that they’re sending a camera crew to interview me next week for what they say will be a documentary looking at the origins of the ancient astronaut theory in Theosophy, Forteana, and post-war UFO culture. Apparently the idea is that AHC offers skeptical, or at least neutral, appraisals of mysteries on shows like this one and Myth Hunters, since it would likely be hard to appeal to a heavily military audience by promoting anti-government conspiracies. This is in contradistinction to its sister stations like the Science Channel, whose Unexplained Files promotes mysteries while pretending to be neutral, and Destination America, whose programs like Unsealed: Alien Files just out and out endorse fringe claims. No one can accuse their corporate parent Discovery Communications of not trying to serve every audience. They now have channels that criticize their other channels’ claims in a closed loop! Of course, AHC also reruns old Discovery mystery-mongering shows, so its hands aren’t entirely clean.
I’ll let you know how it goes if this interview actually comes to pass; I haven’t received any paperwork yet, so I haven’t had a chance to review the terms. The episode will likely air sometime this winter during Codes and Conspiracies’ second season.
The most interesting part of the entire thing is that the producer used to work on Ancient Aliens and the episode writer is also a former scribe for Ancient Aliens. They had a bit of a change of heart after seeing how the show distorts and fabricates.
Speaking of which… Giorgio Tsoukalos’s In Search of Aliens finishes out its season tonight with a search for the Cyclops on the island of Malta. This seems like a good time to note that the H2 series has followed its progenitor (Ancient Aliens) and its model (America Unearthed) in garnering accusations that it has misled the so-called experts who appear on the program. According to The Portugal News Online, Peter Daughtrey, a Portuguese resident and a guest who discussed his claims about Atlantis on the first episode of In Search of Aliens, is the latest interviewee to claim that the H2 network misled him.
The Atlantis episode of In Search of Aliens has not aired in Portugal, and Daughtrey, the author of a fringe book claiming Atlantis was located near Silves in Portugal, only learned about how the program depicted him and his ideas when he received reports from friends living in America.
According to the report, which seems to have been inexpertly translated from Portuguese or else written by a non-native English speaker, Daughtrey admits that the production crew did not inform him that the program would deal with space aliens. He thought it was a serious inquiry into Atlantis until he received reports from America about what ended up on the screen. According to the report:
He was initially approached by the film’s producer earlier this year and asked if he was prepared to be interviewed for a documentary about Atlantis. They had been alerted by one of the many complimentary reviews about the book and a visit to its website. After reading the book, followed by a lengthy phone discussion with Peter, they became very enthusiastic and a nine man film crew flew over from Hollywood at the end of May.
Daughtrey also expressed his dismay that many of his strongest arguments for Atlantis in Portugal were “left on the cutting room floor” in favor of speculation about space aliens.
But don’t feel too bad for Daughtrey, who is after all a fringe author of poor-quality claims. He isn’t as innocent as he sounds. In the footage of him that actually aired on In Search of Aliens, Daughtrey is heard discussing with Tsoukalos claims that the “gods” created humanity as a slave race, a Sitchinite talking point that Tsoukalos related to space aliens. The men also speculated whether entwined serpents represented DNA double helixes. I’m also pretty sure that they have the internet in Portugal, and Daughtrey could have looked up Tsoukalos at any point to learn who he is and what he believes.
9/5/2014 04:40:19 am
So if Daughtrey thinks ancient aliens are beyond the pale, who did he think the "gods" were who engineered humanity as a slave race? Was he speaking figuratively and didn't realize Tsoukalos was speaking literally, or does he believe in some other earthly species that lived in Atlantis?
9/5/2014 09:04:54 am
I'm curious now what his "best" arguments were, considering what did make it to air. Also, I guess Daughtrey missed Tsoukalos' PowerPoint...
9/5/2014 09:26:01 am
Congrats Jason on the review from Professor Cooksey! Being referred to as an "independent scholar" and having the book described as "rich compendium of materials" are fantastic compliments! You did win AFAIC. A good review can't be all positives, otherwise it comes off as slanted. So if the only thing he could nit pick was how you used translations, I think that's a good thing! It sounds like a big reach, and like he was hard pressed to find something he could fault in some way to produce a balanced review. And if that's the only thing an accomplished academic of his standing to come up, well then you obviously succeeded in meeting high standards for your intended audience.
9/5/2014 09:34:46 am
I think you're mistaken about academic reviews in general, even though there certainly are people who insist on including negatives so that either the book or they do not come across as biased (sometime leading them to make uncalled-for criticisms, as agruably it is the case with this review)
9/5/2014 01:03:52 pm
"The design looks pretty good and has a bit of an Atlantis theme with water and a Doric column."
are you kidding?
9/6/2014 09:55:34 am
only Corinthian is much later!
9/5/2014 01:12:01 pm
9/6/2014 10:01:21 am
For an "independent scholar" Jason gets quite a few positive reviews from academics. This particular one is far from a unique occurrence.
9/8/2014 01:47:21 am
Daughtrey was rather badly herring gutted in that H2 interview.
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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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