During the last new episode of Ancient Aliens on September 4, I noted that Flonase, a product of GlaxoSmithKline, apparently paid extra to be a “proud” featured sponsor of the show. It was the first time I had seen a “proud” featured sponsor on the series, so I thought I would ask GSK why they chose to endorse the ancient astronaut theory. I contacted GSK’s press department, and I asked them if they were aware of the positions advocated by the show and its stars, from their anti-science views to their seeming advocacy of Satan worship. GSK officials determined that I did not qualify as a journalist in their eyes, and therefore they referred my inquiry to their customer care team, which did not seem to understand that I am not a GSK customer. Anyway, this is how they explained (or rather, failed to explain) their ad placement:
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare regarding our advertisement during the History Channel television show, Ancient Aliens. Consumer reaction to any facet of our business is very important to us and we appreciate your candid comments. We continually review the approach to our advertisement placement and place a high value on consumer opinion and reaction to our placement. Your feedback will be considered as we plan future advertising placement.
The Customer Care Team Lead then asked me to continue purchasing their products.
It will be interesting to see whether they continue advertising on the program. What does it say about GSK if they are happy to endorse anti-scientific claptrap while supposedly standing for scientific research in pursuit of new medicines?
If you’re interested in Graham Hancock’s new book, Magicians of the Gods, he published a lengthy précis in the Daily Mail. It doesn’t offer anything that isn’t in the book itself, but the summary lets you read in his own words why he believes the earth will be hit by a comet within 20 years. My review of the book itself, and thus the claims in the article, is here.
Also, the staff of The Rundown Live, a program I appeared on earlier this year, tried to do research to find newspaper accounts of giants and stumbled on the Missouri lost city hoax of 1885. They were very proud of themselves for finding the article, but because they did not research beyond the initial reports they missed the fact that it is a known and admitted hoax.
Finally, here’s one I must have missed earlier this year. A meme is circulating again after apparently making the rounds of fringe websites back in the spring. I saw it in my Facebook feed today. It claims that the engraved ostrich egg seen below depicts the Giza Pyramids 500 to 1,800 years before Egyptology says they were constructed. Conspiracy theorists argue that the egg, apparently unearthed in 1907 and now housed in the new Nubian Museum at Aswan, Egypt, does not depict geometric figures and an ostrich, as scholar claim, but rather a map of the Nile Valley and the three Giza Pyramids, represented as the three triangles in the upper left corner.
The egg is said to date from 4,400 to 3,000 BCE, while the Great Pyramid was constructed around 2,500 BCE. As best I can determine, the egg was found by Cecil Mallaby Firth and reported in The Archæological Survey of Nubia: 1907-1908 (1910), to no great acclaim. According to the oldest versions of the modern meme I can find (here, but apparently machine translated), the claim that the three triangles are the Giza pyramids comes from J. J. Benítez, a Spanish journalist and ufologist who made the claim on his America Unearthed-style Spanish TV series Planeta Encantado.
In the predynastic period, ostrich eggs were used as burial offerings and were frequently inscribed with animal, plant, and geometric figures, just like predynastic pottery. A predynastic pottery jar from 3000 BCE shows a similar arrangement of birds and triangular figures, likely representing mountains.
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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