Last year, researchers associated with the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis claimed that an exploding comet destroyed the Hopewell culture of ancient Ohio. At the time, I pointed out many of the reasons their claim did not pass the sniff test, notably because Hopewell culture persisted more than two centuries after the supposed impact. Now, a new paper in Nature confirms that the original claim is almost absurdly flawed:
Tankersley et al. claim a cosmic airburst over modern-day Cincinnati, Ohio in the 3rd or fourth century CE catalyzed the decline of Hopewell culture. This claim is extraordinary in the face of hundreds of archaeological investigations in the Middle Ohio River Valley (MORV) that have heretofore provided no evidence of a widespread cataclysm or “social decline” in need of explanation. Tankersley et al. misrepresent primary sources, conflate discrete archaeological contexts, improperly use chronological analyses, insufficiently describe methods, and inaccurately characterize the source of supposed extraterrestrial materials to support an incorrect conclusion. While charcoal and burned soils are found on virtually all excavated Middle Woodland archaeological sites in the region, these have prosaic explanations. Many of the burned “habitation surfaces” mentioned are actually prepared surfaces for ceremonial fires, not the result of a synchronous regional catastrophe. Radiocarbon dated samples from one context are mistakenly attributed to distinct and unrelated contexts. The chronological analysis does not support the notion of a single event spanning 15,000 km2. The composition of their supposed extraterrestrial materials is inconsistent with an origin in comet or asteroid events. In sum, there is no evidence to support the conclusion that a comet exploded over modern-day Cincinnati in the third or fourth century CE.
The whole paper is a great read and a decisive rebuke to the expansive but fantastical types of claims Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis researchers have proposed.
The U.S. House of Representatives has published the CV that David Grusch submitted prior to his testimony before a House subcommittee last week. It reveals a startling and undisclosed potential conflict of interest between Grusch’s public statements and his private business interests. In the CV, we learn that in May of this year, Grusch started a new job as the chief operating officer for the Sol Foundation, an organization founded by Garry Nolan, the UFO-investigating Stanford professor who is afraid of open windows because of a childhood alien abduction attempt. The Sol Foundation is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, the aerospace industry hub where Space Command was supposed to move until Pres. Biden canceled the plans this week, alongside Radiance Technologies, the defense contractor Secret of Skinwalker Ranch star Travis Taylor (who thinks he’s infected with a disembodied alien parasite) and former UAPTF head Jay Stratton (the werewolf-haunted Skinwalker portal believer) quietly work for. It supposedly produces advisory and public work for the U.S. government. Chris Mellon is listed as one of the company’s directors. This certainly isn’t suspicious at all.
Since David Grusch stepped out of the backrooms of the UFO media circuit to become a public UFO celebrity, the phrase “ontological shock” has become his defenders’ go-to explanation across social media for why skeptics refuse to accept without evidence Grusch’s recycled assertions that the United States possesses multiple crashed alien spaceships and their dead occupants. “Ontological shock” is a phrase used in philosophy to refer to being forced to question one’s worldview. Historically, the phrase has been rarely used outside of theology, and even there, a search of databases finds it is not widely deployed. However, alien abduction researcher John Mack adopted the term to refer to abductees’ feelings about encountering space aliens, and he deployed the term in a 1994 Washington Post article about alien abductions, Reptilians, and Greys. A search of historical newspaper databases did not turn up any other reference to the phrase in relation to aliens. Similarly, a Google Books search finds the phrase used in connection with UFOs primarily in quoting John Mack.
This week the House of Representatives held a hearing in which they heard David Grusch repeat his claims that he heard from unnamed individuals that the United States has retrieved and studied crashed flying saucers and knows where the ships are stored. Representatives seemed to accept the claims with little pushback, even as the hearing turned into a gathering of dubious ufologists, paranormal researchers, and UFO media figures, working together to promote sensational and dubious claims. Jeremy Corbell, who attended the hearing as a guest of Grusch, claimed in an interview afterward that he had been given access to the secret locations where allegedly highly classified technology was kept--despite not being a government employee or having a security clearance. The fix is in. Congress and ufologists are working together to legitimize old hoaxes from the 1940s about crashed saucers.
I discussed some of the historical background for Congress's foray into dubious UFO lore today for CNN. Read it here.
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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