Ancient Aliens S06E13 “Aliens in America” covers familiar territory for everyone who reads this blog regularly. I have previously discussed the Smithsonian conspiracy covered in this episode in a separate blog post as well as the background material to my review of the episode of America Unearthed that covered the same imaginary conspiracy. What must viewers of H2 think when multiple shows tell them that the Smithsonian is engaged in a conspiracy to suppress the truth?
“Is there more to America’s past than is found in our history books?” asks the narrator, echoing Scott Wolter’s infamous “The history we’ve all been taught is wrong,” and I sincerely wonder if Ancient Aliens is purposely trying to pick a fight with America Unearthed. This is the second time the show has “borrowed” claims and language from America Unearthed. Could Ancient Aliens be jealous of its higher-rated competitor?
We open with a UFO sighting from Stephenville, Texas from 2008, a UFO sighting covered on the premiere episode of NatGeo’s Chasing UFOs some years ago, and UFO Hunters on History before that. The US Air Force reported that they were conducting training flights at the time, and the Center for Skeptical Inquiry determined that viewers saw military-grade flares. Since this UFO isn’t old, I don’t see what it has to do with ancient astronauts.
“Could aliens have a special interest in America?” the narrator asks, sounding like Scott Wolter’s demented twin. But this is really David Childress’s hour since he is actually Scott Wolter’s spiritual twin, babbling on about America being “an unusual continent full of magic and mystery.” So that’s our theme: American Exceptionalism, Alien Edition.
So we look at another America Unearthed favorite, the Serpent Mound of Ohio, as well as medicine wheels, kivas, and so on. The show asserts that “Star Beings” visited these sights to deliver civilization to the benighted humans, and we get a special guest: Zuni elder Clifford Mahooty! He, too, was on America Unearthed where that show left out his ancient astronaut beliefs in order to make him seem more credible as an expert on hidden Grand Canyon cities. We’ll get to that later in this show, too.
“There’s definitely evidence that aliens visited North America in the distant past,” Giorgio Tsoukalos said, stretching the definition of “evidence” to include rock cravings of stylized humans and geometric shapes. Mahooty takes Tsoukalos to a petroglyph site and tells him about “legends” that Star People visited the area. Tsoukalos asserts that these beings descended from the sky on fiery shields, but he doesn’t have anything to offer other than the suggestion that petroglyphs are whatever his imagination can conceive. A triangle surrounded by dots becomes for him a triangular alien spaceship (as per 1980s ufological speculation, originating in sightings of the B2 stealth bomber) flying through the stars. Tsoukalos tries to make the case for American exceptionalism by asserting that Native Americans have myths that are just as good as European myths, which would be admirable except that for him all myths are evidence that stupid humans could only tell stories about their direct experiences.
In discussing the Hockomock Swamp in Massachusetts we listen to tales about “UFO” sightings at the Bridgewater Triangle, but even the show can do nothing more than claim that folklore and stories talking about Native shamanic interactions with spirit beings should be read literally. Jumping to European colonists, they start to twist facts to fit this narrative. From an eighteenth century edition of The Gentleman’s Magazine they claim to have record of a UFO sighting in Bridgewater in 1760 involving a large “sphere of fire,” but they show the January 1762 edition of the magazine, which doesn’t have this account. It appears much later, in December 1762 (contained in the same bound annual volume—hence the mix-up), in an epitome of the most recent Philosophical Transactions. There, the account has it that the supposed “ball of fire” (which Tsoukalos mistakenly calls a “sphere”) was, and I quote, “about five inches in diameter,” and the Transactions reported that it was “a meteor.” Undoubtedly it was, whatever its real size. The talking heads mix up all the details as they summarize the Gentleman’s Magazine account poorly, so I will give the piece as actually written since none of them can get it straight:
No. III. An account of a meteor and whirlwind in New England. The meteor was seen on the 10th of May, 1760, about ten o’clock in the morning, at Roxbury, a town joining to Boston: It was a ball of fire, about five inches diameter, drawing a train of light after it; it was of a white brightness, and cast a shade in strong sunshine. We are told it was seen in the South-East, but that it moved parallel to the horizon from the North-East to the South-West. It seems strange that the quarter from which it moved should not be the same as that where it was seen. Such, however, is the relation, as published by the committee. This meteor is said to have produced a noise, which filled a circle of eighty miles diameter, of which Bridgewater was nearly the centre; Roxbury was near the circumference of this circle; for it was not seen near the centre, because there it passed too near the Sun to be visible: At Bridgewater, we are told, the noise was heard about half an hour after nine, and at Roxbury about 5 minutes after ten; yet, after the course of this meteor was a diameter of the circle of which Bridgewater was the centre, it seems strange that the noise it produced should be heard half an hour sooner, under the middle of the line it described, than under the beginning of it; for as Roxburg (sic) is north of Bridgewater, and the course of the meteor was from the North-East it must have passed over Roxburg, before it passed over Bridgewater.
I have no idea what was meant by the sound issue, but then neither do the talking heads. Possibly the reports were recorded incorrectly somewhere or otherwise confused.
After the commercial, we travel to Nevada, to Winnemucca Lake, where last year archaeologists found petroglyphs that the show bizarrely asserts were radiocarbon dated—impossible since stone can’t be carbon dated. It was the carbonate that formed atop the stones that was dated. Interestingly, no one is suppressing the fact that these petroglyphs date from 8000 BCE to 12,000 BCE and are the oldest known in the Americas: This was widely reported in the media. David Wilcock thinks that the rock art is proof of a “civilization” that predates Mesopotamia, oblivious to the fact the humans have been making rock art since the Stone Age and don’t need cities and agriculture to do so. Many, many cultures had rock art before Mesopotamia. Childress thinks that geometric shapes in the rock art look like aliens, and Wilcock thinks that “spirals” are “unusual” shapes that indicate an awareness of spiral-shaped galaxies, as though spirals aren’t found in nature, or in the altered states of consciousness associated with shamanism.
What the hell did the narrator mean that these petroglyphs “predate even the earliest known Native American tribes”? Modern tribes are only a few centuries old, but the Paleoindians have evidence of their activities in America back to 12,000 BCE or earlier.
This, naturally, leads us to the search for other “lost” civilizations, specifically in the Grand Canyon. The show blatantly asserts that the 1909 Grand Canyon hoax was a factual occurrence in which G. E. Kinkaid discovered an underground city full of mummies. Childress tells the story as though it were fact, and the idiots talking about the cave don’t even get the details of the article correct—Childress doesn’t recognize the article as following the discredited theory that India was the origin of all civilization and thus takes the comparisons to Egypt and Tibet in the article is evidence of Egyptian and Buddhist incursions in America! The show further blurs fact and fiction by using an unrelated vintage photo of a man at the Grand Canyon without informing viewers that this is not the fictional G. E. Kinkaid but rather a stock image, suggesting factual confirmation for a story that simply does not exist.
The show then confuses the order of events given in the hoax article (available in my Library) to create a false narrative. The original article discussed Kinkaid and “Smithsonian” archaeologist “S. A. Jordan,” but here the narrator makes Kinkaid report the story to the Arizona Gazette and only then contact the Smithsonian, who send Jordan. This is not how the hoax gave the story, and this massaging of events plays into a conspiracy mindset. There were in fact two articles, but only one mentioned the Grand Canyon: The first Gazette article of March 12 merely said Kinkaid, by himself, made a few archaeological discoveries while navigating the Colorado River and would return the next year to explore further; the second, a month later (April 9), offered contradictory details—now there was an elaborate expedition backed by the Smithsonian that had been working the whole time. The two cannot be reconciled easily; if I had to guess, a slight traveler’s tale served as inspiration for the more elaborate hoax.
Childress asserts that the cave’s treasures were sent to Washington, D.C. and then disappeared—but this isn’t a detail found in the 1909 article or any other documentary source. The only place this occurs is in Raiders of the Lost Ark, whose ending Childress used to illustrate the Arizona cave story in his original 1993 report on the incident, and which he seems to have now confused for a conspiracy that he himself invented in 1993. Childress is the origin point for Smithsonian conspiracies, writing about them for World Explorer magazine, as I have documented.
Childress claims the caves were sealed with metal gates and doors, despite having no documentary evidence of this; indeed, the show asserts that after the 1909 article not a single scrap of information was ever reported. So how does he know this? “Allegations.” Childress scoffs that the Smithsonian refuses to confirm the story and has let both the archaeologist and the cave vanish into history, never doubting either actually existed. The narrator asserts that America government is suppressing the truth, and cites the existence of two Arizona Gazette articles a month apart (March 12 and April 9) as proof this was no hoax. On the contrary; the existence of the earlier article is the very warrant and basis for the later hoax. Whether it was mere setup, a test run, or the silly tale of a hoaxer with a long game, there remains not a shred of evidence that G. E. Kinkaid ever existed.
Oh, the thrill of rewriting the history books! Various talking heads salivate over the possibility, but they struggle to find a connection between the cave and aliens. That’s why they have to try to bring in Hopi myths of how the gods brought them to the Grand Canyon—we’ve heard this story on Ancient Aliens before—and Mahooty reappears even though he isn’t a Hopi. From vaguely sourced modern stories, the show links the Hopi’s ancient myth of having arisen from underground at the dawn of time to Kinkaid’s imaginary cave. The hoax was almost certainly inspired by such stories in the first place since the 1909 hoaxer made the same connection: “among the Hopi Indians the tradition is told that their ancestors once lived in an underworld in the Grand Canyon.” Ancient Aliens mistakes the source material for confirmation of the hoax.
After the break we talk about cattle mutilation, which is just gross. The “injuries” to the dead cows are a well-known, completely natural consequence of decay, and I have no interest in watching dead animals. Sorry. I skipped ahead. Here’s the only interesting thing, an excerpt from the court journals of James I for February 10, 1606, in a letter from Sir Edward Hoby to Sir Thomas Edmondes:
We have been here very much troubled with an accident fallen out, and yet by no means can be discovered, about the City of London and some of the shires adjoining. Whole slaughters of sheep have been made, in some places to number 100, in others less, where nothing is taken from the sheep but their tallow and some inward parts, the whole carcasses and fleece remaining still behind. Of this sundry conjectures, but most agree that it tendeth towards some fireworks.
The show presents this in a different, massaged form from a 1946 edited volume rather than older versions. It seems to refer to the suggestion that fireworks, then a popular entertainment used regularly and on a massive scale, were killing the sheep, either through the explosions themselves or, more likely, the concussion caused by the explosions set off in pastures.
Even the narrator wonders why sophisticated aliens would want to mess with cow and sheep guts. The explanation has something to do with monitoring cows for trans-species viruses, though you’d think a blood test would work better than genital and anus theft.
Following this are more modern events, including a shutdown of intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles at an Air Force base supposedly caused UFOs. Not ancient. Don’t care. Jason Martell claims UFOs “have taken an interest in our nuclear facilities,” and we hear that aliens are upset about atom bombs and whether humans will destroy the planet. To relate this back to our theme, Ancient Aliens finds a 1949 FATE magazine article called “Tribal Memories of Flying Saucers” by an alleged Native American named Oge-Make. I’m not even going to dignify this with a debunking on the merits: Oge-Make, the supposedly Navajo author, is a fraud: She was actually the science fiction author and popular science writer L. Taylor Hansen, who purposely rewrote native myths to support the UFO movement, the existence of Atlantis, and (I am not making this up) the idea that white people gave civilization to Native Americans in the distant past. Hansen’s pseudonym is well-known; how Tsoukalos and Ancient Aliens could have missed it, I cannot imagine except through wilful ignorance or fraud.
As we bring this turkey in for a landing, we review the War of 1812 as the British burn Washington, D.C. The weather changed fast, and thunderstorms and a tornado helped end the British assault by putting out the fires and driving the British back. “And Washington, D.C. was saved!” Childress says. His account is very close to one published by the U.S. Air Force, but to make it seem miraculous he leaves out the devastating destruction the tornado caused to the rest of the city. With no evidence whatsoever, the show asks if the storm was caused by aliens to “protect the fragile American experiment.”
Aliens apparently watch Sean Hannity and like freedom of religion and democracy, according to the show. And the talking heads all agree that the United States was “prophesied to exist” (in the words of Childress) and is under the beneficent protection of the alien gods who shine their glory upon America, beacon of light and the greatest most wonderful country in not just history but in all of the universe. Remember: These are the same aliens who fifteen minutes earlier were turning off America’s military defenses because they didn’t like nuclear weapons and thought we were going to kill ourselves.
So, to recap: Aliens are powerful enough to change history to ensure America can be the best country ever, but are unable or unwilling to step in to stop nuclear weaponry despite their utter disapproval of humanity’s destructive tendencies. Oh, and something, something, Egyptians in the Grand Canyon… aliens.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.