With this episode of Ancient Aliens, the series returns to H2 from its sojourn on the History channel proper, and, despite History’s decision to renumber the last five episodes of season five as the first of season six, this episode was supposed to mark the first of the new batch recently assembled. It is, according to H2, the “season premiere,” which is rather confusing since the History episodes were also a “new” season. Nevertheless, the ghost of Philip Coppens is still prominently featured, nearly a year after his death. Oh, well; this episode opens by asserting that scientists don’t conduct research into medicine but rather merely pretend to conduct research while doling out dollops of alien medical knowledge but then never follows up on the claim.
Ancient Aliens S06E06 “Alien Operations” opens with scenes of various modern medical miracles, including heart surgery, bionics, and 3D printing of body parts. We then hear how ancient doctors were thought to be blessed with gifts from healing gods, and Philip Coppens and the narrator therefore connect this idea to aliens because aliens are of course masquerading as gods.
As with most episodes, we travel to Egypt, this time to look at Ankh-Ma-Hor’s sixth dynasty tomb with Robert Bauval. Ankh was a physician, and the inscriptions on his tomb show him performing massage (“reflexology” Bauval says) and simple incisions on the human body to repair wounds. Bauval is baffled how anyone could think of such amazing feats without outside help, and the narrator suggests that such knowledge came from Thoth, the god of medicine, who “might have been something or someone who actually existed.” David Wilcock tells us that Thoth used “energetic medicine” derived from high electric technology—based on nothing whatsoever. No evidence of this “energy” is presented.
Giorgio Tsoukalos claims that Thoth “descended from the sky,” which is at this point is simply a refrain he uses for any god, regardless of whether there is any textual support. I suppose this might be slightly warranted in that Thoth was sometimes said to ride in the solar ship alongside the sun god Ra. That said, Thoth is a moon god, so there is that.
Next we hear about Indian accounts of “advanced” medicine, though the Ayurveda system of medicine praised by the show contains claims that either cannot be shown true or are demonstrably false according to modern scientific tests, so I wouldn’t go as far as the show in promoting this as “knowledge” from the sky. The traditional practice uses toxic herbs as well as poisonous heavy metals. Are the aliens trying to kill us?
William Henry, Philip Coppens, and Giorgio Tsoukalos repeat the refrain that humans learned healing from gods and gods are aliens so aliens are responsible for healing. But even the show can’t care about this long enough for a whole two sentences, so the narrator takes us elsewhere to look at skulls that show evidence of trepanation. This is the removal of part of the skull to relieve pressure on the brain. The show however elides the fact that trepanation is not actual brain surgery by placing a description of trepanation beside scenes of modern brain surgery. Trepanation does not involve contact with the brain itself. It deals only with the skull. This is utter dishonesty and uses the methods of television to suggest a conclusion that the words spoken cannot prove. William Henry tells us that trepanation proves an “extraordinary amount of scientific information” about the brain, which is not true, and Wilcock tells us that the aliens used brain scans to guide trepanation. Trial and error apparently plays no role; if ancient doctors drilled into the wrong place or too deep and struck important brain material, the patient was crippled or died and they didn’t do that again.
Oh, well, on to the Ica Stones! Philip Coppens tells us that the Ica Stones are real, as does David Childress and William Henry, even though we possess the confessions of the hoaxers who churned them out in the middle twentieth century. The show presents the stones as real, including their depictions of modern hear transplant surgeries using twentieth century art styles. Not even a hint that the stones are a hoax passes the narrator’s lips.
At the halfway point we move on to the question of whether ancient Irish gods gave out bionic limbs. Diancecht, the healing god, gave an Irish king an arm made of silver. This, the show says, is a bionic limb. Except, of course, that the king—Nuada—is very clearly a reflection of Nodens, the great god, and the king is a mythic degradation of the original deity. The silver hand is a poetic reflection of the earlier hunting god’s “magic hand” which, as the Catcher, he used to catch prey. Both names—Nodens and Nuada—derive from a word meaning “to acquire, to catch.” So does this make Nuada the alien himself? Or do we not allow literary dependence? Besides, silver corrodes, and who would want to polish his arm every day?
Next we discuss Asclepius, the god of healing, whom Zeus struck dead for raising the dead and exceeding the bounds of what mortal doctors were allowed to do. Wilcock says that Asclepius was using extraterrestrial knowledge and technology to do this, but there is no hint of technology in the surviving Greek texts. Apollodorus says that Asclepius used the blood of the Gorgon Medusa to raise the dead (3.10.3)—and remember Ancient Aliens already told us she was an alien hybrid genetic experiment!
As we move toward the last quarter of the show, Tsoukalos claims that the Catholic Church feared the healing power of the aliens and thus suppressed alien knowledge by launching the Inquisition to kill anyone who knew threatening truths about alien healing. William Henry asserts that the Church condemned eyeglasses because they suggested “the human body is improvable,” but I can’t find proof of that. Catholic leaders are on record from shortly after the invention of glasses in the 1300s as praising them as among the most “useful devices in the world.” In 1352, a cardinal named Hugo de St. Cher commissioned a painting depicting himself wearing glasses. The myth seems to come from the tombstone of the alleged inventor of eyeglasses, Salvino degli Armati, whose grave in Florence states that he invented glasses and “may God forgive him for his sins.” The two statements were not meant to be connected.
Henry, Jason Martell, and Erich von Däniken all condemn the Catholic Church for “attacking” science in order to “erase” the connection between humanity and aliens. The show seems to have a very broad view of the Church’s reach, since it next praises acupuncture because it “actually survived the Inquisition,” as though imperial China were subject to Rome. The show asserts that the so-called Iceman found in the Alps in 1991 and dating back to 3300 BCE has tattoos of Chinese acupuncture points on him; this is less true than it sounds. Nine of fifteen sets of tattoos on his body are in similar positions to nine Chinese acupuncture points. That means six were not, and given that there are dozens upon dozens of acupuncture points, those that do match may well be a coincidence since every body part has some connection to an acupuncture point.
The aliens didn’t do much good in delivering us acupuncture since studies have repeatedly found it has little to no benefit. Philip Coppens declares it a “science” and claims that it came directly from extraterrestrial beings. Tsoukalos simply asserts, again, that gods came from the sky to deliver medical knowledge and has not yet mentioned a single text showing any healing god descended from the sky to do this.
Bringing the episode in for landing, the show suggests that evidence of alien involvement in medicine may not be found in either myths or ancient texts but instead in our alien DNA. This, the narrator grandly and utterly wrongly states will solve the “mystery” of human evolution and why humans “unlike any other living species can think, reason, and have the power of speech.” Only one of those three things is unique to humans (speech), and many scholars believe it was shared with other human species, such as Neanderthals. The show asserts that understanding DNA will help us explain how humans create art and music and why we can contemplate our own existence. The pallid visage of Graham Hancock emerges from the shadows to suggest that a “radical change” caused what the narrator describes as an instantaneous shift from “primitive beasts to sentient humans.” This is creationism by other means; Tsoukalos describes the “artificial” change of human DNA through which “all of sudden” human ancestors became Homo sapiens sapiens. This breathtakingly audacious adoption of intelligent design rejects everything we know about the gradual accumulation of knowledge over time and collapses the distinct advances of human development (bipedalism, stone tools, language, art, etc.) into a single creation event where the divine “genetic engineering” occurred.
Tsoukalos adopts Thomas Aquinas’s argument from first cause to argue that human medical knowledge could not have developed spontaneously because every surgeon alive today learns from previous surgeons who learned from previous surgeons; therefore, invention is impossible and only aliens could have been the first cause. The idea of gradual evolution is for him inconceivable; a discipline must exist as an unchanging, complete whole or it cannot exist at all. This is the cultural version of the creationist staple about what good half an eye is. How then does he explain the fact that treatments exist today that did not exist ten years ago, like, say the 3D printing that the show discussed only minutes earlier?
The show’s narrator sums up the episode by asserting that our understanding of DNA (funny how that is allowed to have evolved spontaneously over the past century) will eventually give us immortality, raise the dead, and reunite us with our alien ancestors. So, essentially, the producers have decided that ancient astronauts are a form of intelligent design who will prove the existence of the supernatural and thus of God. It’s the pseudo-scientific version of the old claim that we must want the Devil to exist so we can know there is a God.
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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