In Plain Sight: An Investigation into UFOs and Impossible Science
Ross Coulthart | HarperCollins | July 2021 (Australia) / Oct. 2021 (U.S.) | 281 pages | ISBN: B08VYR4DZ6 | $17.99
Until this summer, Ross Coulthart was best known as a correspondent for Australia’s 60 Minutes and the winner of several prestigious journalism awards for his reporting on issues such as human trafficking and organized crime. He left Channel Nine and 60 Minutes following a round of cost-cutting a few years ago, claiming that journalism was full of “type A” personalities who were “barking mad.” And for reasons he never made entirely clear, like so many men of a certain age—what Australia refers to as those receiving superannuation and we call the AARP crowd—he suddenly developed a passionate desire to return to an adolescent interest in the paranormal. The result: what Coulthart claims is a two-year “investigation” into UFOs, a subject that he says first caught his attention as a teenager in the late 1970s, though he claims to have disbelieved at the time. And like many products of a late-in-life conversion, the result, In Plain Sight: An Investigation into UFOs and Impossible Science is less a serious analysis and more of a book report on the last works of the leaders of the faith. It also serves as an application for Coulthart to join Leslie Kean and George Knapp on the lucrative UFO speakers’ circuit, a “serious” journalist with paranormal conclusions.
I gave an interview to Salon about vaccine conspiracies, UFOs, and the deep history behind modern conspiracy culture. Be sure to check it out on Salon's website.
Last week, viewers fled Hunting Atlantis, with the show's ratings falling even as its lead in, Expedition Unknown, gained viewers. Last Wednesday's episode drew just 605,000 live plus same-day viewers, down 45,000 from the week before. The demo collapse was worse. Only 90,000 adults 18-49 watched. By contrast, Expedition Unknown rose significantly, to nearly a million viewers. It's clear: Viewers aren't into Atlantis.
Another discontented viewer of cable pseudo-documentaries was none other than Erich von Däniken, the Chariots of the Gods author who is feeling a little ignored these days, as his protégé Giorgio Tsoukalos reported:
Since losing his Travel Channel TV series, former America Unearthed host has been on a downward slide into the depths of conspiracy culture in search of revelation and relevance. Because he no longer has a media platform, I haven’t been covering his antics as much as in the past, but because he is a former three-time cable TV show host and likely to return to TV in some capacity in the future as the demand for filler content grows among streaming services, it’s worth noting some of the extremes Wolter embraced in his latest podcast interview.
It has long been obvious that Harvard’s Avi Loeb wants to be a UFO guru. Not only has he parlayed his minority opinion on the artificial nature of the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua into a book deal, but he has inserted himself into the media frenzy over UFOs and publishes regular dispatches in Scientific American speculating in his amateurish way on the morals and ethics of humans and aliens. In recent weeks, he publicly volunteered to lead a government inquiry into the nature of flying saucers and took a slot headlining the Contact in the Desert paranormal conference. His UFO interests have now reached their logical peak with the launch of his newest initiative, the Galileo Project, a UFO investigation conducted through the auspices of Harvard’s and the Smithsonian’s Center for Astrophysics.
Note: This piece first ran in my Substack newsletter earlier this week.
Over the past few months, Extraterrestrial author Avi Loeb has tied himself more and more to the UFO community as he builds his brand as the astronomer most willing to entertain the possibility that aliens are visiting Earth. He appeared on the TMZ UFO special to speculate about military UFO videos as evidence of alien contact. He is headlining the Contact in the Desert conference of ancient astronaut, UFO, and paranormal charlatans, and he said in a podcast last month that he is in talks with wealth patrons about heading a team to investigate UFOs.
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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