Before we begin today: For the record, the Travel Channel’s rerun of America Unearthed this week returned 421,000 viewers, consistent with the last few airings, and beat out the original series Lost Gold that aired immediately after by 4,000 viewers. Project Blue Book fell to 1.39 million viewers against the State of the Union address, while Curse of Oak Island shed viewers against the same competition, clocking 3.12 million viewers. And now, for something slightly different.
I’m not entirely sure why anyone cares what onetime baseball star Jose Canseco thinks, but there was a minor flap last week when Canseco espoused his belief that the U.S. government is in contact with “flexible” space aliens who are teaching humanity to time travel. Perhaps interesting for us in keeping with the discussion from the past few days, Canseco believes that such travel occurs mentally, with consciousness traveling independently of the body.
Aside from the bizarre math—where exactly did that 42,651 pounds of pressure figure come from?—Canseco’s ideas are standard-issue Ancient Aliens fodder, and it’s probably the case that he and the show get their ideas from the same source: the fever swamps of the internet.
But at this point in our culture, it’s no longer surprising that celebrities have embraced the most delusional ancient astronaut and ufology speculation. Canseco joins a list of dozens of celebrities who have pledged allegiance to pseudoscience.
Instead, I am more interested in a piece Tawny Jarvi published last week reacting to the story. Most of the article is given over to explaining point by point why Canseco’s understanding of physics is bonkers. But Jarvi also explained that at Christmas she discovered that her father had become obsessed with Ancient Aliens.
While gorging myself on cheese I suddenly hear “..the aliens did it. You can’t deny it!” coming from the other room. […] I tried to shrug it off. I’m a timid and conflict averse person with roughly zero backbone, but something inside me broke. I got up turned the corner and shouted “I DENY IT WAS ALIENS!” like that’s a normal thing to fucking do on Christmas.
What makes this interesting is that Jarvi portrays this as a new development in her family life, not having been aware of her father having unusual beliefs about space aliens prior to this incident. As she depicts it, exposure to Ancient Aliens created this problem. I’d guess that her father was probably open to fringe ideas long before, but it’s interesting that she seems to imply that Ancient Aliens is radicalizing its viewers by hardening their convictions and providing aid and succor.
Basically, we’re all doomed.
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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