The current issue of the Skeptical Inquirer (35.6, Nov.-Dec. 2011) features the second part of a three-part series by Bradley T. Lepper, Kenneth L. Feder, Terry A. Barnhart, and Deborah A. Bolnick on the fabrication of American prehistory in the 2010 documentary The Lost Civilizations of North America. Lepper et al. were justifiably upset that they were duped by producers into contributing to its pseudo-historical agenda, which argues that prehistoric North America was traversed by visitors from nearly every ancient European and Levantine population.
However, prior to the article series, I had never heard of the documentary, and as far as I can tell, outside the Mormon community (whose Book of Mormon already claims ancient Jewish visitors to North America) the documentary has mostly been ignored. Google News turns up exactly one match for the direct-to-DVD release (Amazon sales rank: 108,000 and change), and I can't prove that the match is an actual article since the link goes to the Dunn County News' homepage. Most of the matches for the DVD on the Google Blogs search page turn up one of the Skeptical Inquirer article authors' statements denouncing the DVD production. I am given to understand that Glenn Beck mentioned the DVD on his Fox News program at some point (Beck is a Mormon), but if this made an impact on audiences, it did not register online.
Now I am all for criticizing pseudo-history and exposing it wherever it emerges, but I think that a three part series (including one cover story) about a DVD that apparently no one has ever watched is a bit extreme given that Ancient Aliens is piped directly into more than two million viewers' homes weekly. A three part series destroying the History Channel's lies and obfuscations would be a much better use of space and one much more relevant to the mass audiences skeptics should, theoretically, be trying to reach.
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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