Most days I work on my blog post in the evening to post in the morning. This gives me the chance to get writing done while my son is sleeping, but it also gives me a little cushion of time in the morning in case there is something of pressing importance that I need to add. But it also means that from time to time I simply run out of time to write, and yesterday was one of those days. My car refused to start, despite being practically new and impeccably maintained, and I spent most of the day at the dealership trying to get it fixed. The good news is that the car will be fine, but the bad news is that I lost too many hours to make up comfortably. So, I will deal with last night’s von Däniken-inspired Expedition Unknown tomorrow when I have had time to review it.
Today I have only a brief topic to offer: a video making the rounds of the internet and the tabloid media claiming to show ancient Mexican artwork depicting Grey space aliens. The UFO Mania YouTube channel uploaded a brief video depicting objects alleged to be 7,000 years old, and the British tabloid media immediately published a series of stories recapping the video and comparing the objects to those promoted by ancient astronaut theorist, and piss poor researcher, Klaus Dona.
Take a look at one of these objects:
At first glance, it is clear that the sculpture is more like 7 months or 7 years old rather than 7,000. From the level of preservation to the hard, modern lines and the general level of amateurishness that is uncharacteristic of Mesoamerican art, it immediately appears that the object, and the rest in the presentation, are modern fakes. Now, granted, some Olmec figurines are just as crude, but they generally lack the weird stiffness of these pieces. Art tends to reflect the cultural aesthetics of the artist, even when trying to imitate historical styles, and here a modern influence seems to dominate.
I showed you here the most impressive of the pieces; the others are worse, and more modern looking. Many are familiar from previous news stories and the online ancient alien circuit. Some have been around the internet for years. More than a few appeared last year on AHC’s UFOs: The Lost Evidence, taken in turn from questionable and outright fake materials promoted by Nassim Haramein in 2012.
I’m more interested in the amplification system that takes random crap from the internet and turns it into an international sensation. In this case, some locals in Mexico created fake alien art, and photos started circulating on UFO websites. The UFO Mania YouTube channel, which exists entirely to generate revenue through cheap recycling of online content into monetized YouTube videos, ties the pictures to some computer-generated narration. One British tabloid, desperate for clickbait content, writes up the video as an article, and other tabloids then rewrite the original story for their own publications. In turn, the fake legitimacy that “newspaper” coverage (even if only as online clickbait) gives the story spawns thousands of people to share the story across social media, resulting in greater message amplification than the original hoax would ever have otherwise received.
This is the new reality we live in, where every story, no matter how stupid, can receive amplification through spiraling upward from fringe media to ever more mainstream outlets until finally it escapes reality altogether into the viral world of social media, where the very fact of massive online sharing makes into a serious subject of interest.
Newsweek even felt compelled to write an article debunking a tabloid story that in previous years wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow among mainstream publications! Weirdly, few seemed to notice that they were attacking long-debunked recycling of years-old claims.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.