Ancient Aliens has never been subtle, but in a week where tornadoes have killed dozens, having a bunch of ignorant know-nothings argue that aliens cause natural disasters, including the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011 and the Haitian earthquake of 2010, is just disgusting.
Episode S04E04 “Aliens and Mega-Disasters” argues that aliens “may” have had a hand in volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural cataclysms, including the asteroid strike that killed off the dinosaurs “on purpose.” How the aliens would know that the mammals that 65 million years later would give rise to humans would not also die, I can only imagine. Why the aliens waited 65 million years to create humans, I also could not possibly fathom.
Now, here I have to confess that geology is not my area, so I have a bit less to say this time around. Of course, geology isn’t the ancient astronaut theorists’ area either. No type of science is their area. As we shall see, by the end of this episode these theorists have once again misinterpreted and fabricated facts to create false “proof” that the aliens warned the Chinese about a meteoric impact in 3116 BCE. But more on that anon…
We begin across the East China Sea in Japan. According to David (“I’m not an ancient astronaut theorist”) Childress, sightings of strange sky lights in Japan on tsunami day (“UFOs”) prove that aliens are behind it all:
Of course, the fact that “earthquake lights” are a well-known result of the geological forces that create earthquakes is briefly discussed only to be rejected by “ancient astronaut theorists” because they do not understand geology. Obviously UFOs are a more logical explanation.
Now, here is where the “ancient” aliens come in. Earthquakes, you see, also happened in ancient times, and ancient Greeks believed Poseidon caused earthquakes; since gods are aliens, aliens cause earthquakes. Q.E.D. According to Childress, Poseidon, the alien, was apparently upset about the Christianization of Crete so he destroyed all the pagans in Crete with an earthquake and tsunami in 365 CE, letting Christians take over the world. No, this does not make sense, but David Childress rarely makes any sense.
According to Childress, Poseidon’s trident is an alien weapon: “You have to wonder if this trident wasn’t some kind of high-tech, extraterrestrial device.” No, I don’t. In fact, the earliest images of Poseidon depict him holding a lotus-bud, which was later stylized into a trident. So, unless you believe in flower power, this isn’t particularly compelling alien evidence.
Michael Cremo, the Hindu creationist (and now apparently ancient astronaut theorist), then finds it fascinating that the US Navy named elements of the nuclear submarine program after Poseidon and tridents, thus “proving” that the US government is in a conspiracy with aliens who pretended to be Greek gods. This leads to an irrelevant discussion of whether the US government is “weaponizing” weather; there is nothing alien about this, so I will skip it.
The ancient flood myths of Mesopotamia and the Bible are then discussed, though the Epic of Gilgamesh is wrongly attributed to Sumer (it’s Akkadian/Babylonian; compiled from originally unrelated Sumerian poems). What’s the point of bothering to critique theories that aliens weaponized the weather to create the ancient Flood since there is not a shred of geological evidence that this flood ever happened, pace Graham Hancock, whose ghostly visage rises up to claim relevance in an age where ancient astronauts have superseded his 1990s-era lost civilization theory. Giorgio Tsoukalos pops up to claim there were two groups of aliens, good and bad, who alternately protected some humans and destroyed the rest (as per Gilgamesh), but, you know, whatever: no flood, no reason to invent an explanation for a flood.
Then suddenly we move on to claims that a volcano in Indonesia inspired Buddhist stupas, which Tsoukalos and Philip Coppens claim (well, ask leading questions that sound like claims) are depictions of UFOs. Volcano gods, you see, are actually aliens who live in volcanoes. (Isn’t that Scientology?) Tsoukalos claims extraterrestrials “descended from the sky in nuts and bolts spaceships” to go into volcanoes. I’m not sure how even an alien spaceship could withstand the heat inside active volcanoes. According to Childress, they are “bases” for extraterrestrials, who would erupt the volcano to keep people away from their volcano villain lairs.
Tsoukalos notes that ancient people worshiped nature, which even he realizes makes it sound like the aliens aren’t necessary to explain volcano gods. This is why he then adds: “However, there was a fine line between worshiping nature and worshiping something else—and that something else was extraterrestrials.” But why? If you concede nature worship, the alien explanation becomes redundant and unnecessary.
Childress is shocked that climate change has led to desertification of the Sahara. Cave art there depicts shamans wearing animal masks, which Childress and Tsoukalos insist on seeing as astronauts wearing space suits. “The look exactly like extraterrestrials,” said Childress. Oh, really? Have you seen any to compare? Please share.
Childress then goes back to the debunked well of the Dogon to discuss Robert Temple’s fraudulent 1976 Sirius Mystery. The tribal legends cited are problematic at best (the Sirius lore does not exist; it was the invention of deluded French anthropologists), and contra Ancient Aliens, the “spaceship” the Dogon’s gods used to descend from space was not a UFO. Dogon legends clearly describe it as an ark, and it is well-known that Christian and Islamic contamination from the Noah’s ark story contributed to this legend. So, in short, this whole segment on the Dogon contains lies and distortions debunked more than 20 years ago (by Walter van Beek, in 1991), as I reported in Cult of Aliens Gods, and they just keep on rolling with it as though newer research never happened.
Guess what: The almost certainly fake PhD Sean-David Morton is back again, now claiming that wooly mammoths were “flash-frozen” by a comet (a debunked claim from Immanuel Velikovsky). Tsoukalos then claims that by assuming an ancient Hongshan carving of a comet at Chifeng was created before the comet struck (116 years before, to be exact), we can “prove” that the aliens warned the ancients about it. If I assume ancient astronaut theorists are actually plants, I can then “prove” that they perform photosynthesis. (The “comet” in question, “Proto-Encke,” is typically believed to have had remnants of its tail strike around 3150 BCE; the artificially exact 3113-3116 date has been arbitrarily created by alternative theorists to harmonize with the start of the Mayan calendar in 3114 BCE. Other estimates put collisions with its tail in 2000 BCE or any number of other dates. Encke orbits the sun every three years.)
But I can’t really see what the reason is for suggesting that the carving is older than the comet collision it supposedly depicts. I watched the segment several times, and I can’t make heads or tails of it. Here are the facts the show presents:
The final few minutes break down into a series of frenzied, weird claims that the aliens want to punish us for our…wait for it…“arrogance and ignorance,” in the words of Erich von Däniken. Fat chance! Ancient Aliens is still on, isn’t it?
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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