When you scrape the bottom of the barrel as Ancient Aliens has been doing for so long, eventually you break through to what lies beneath. If you’ve ever turned over a barrel left outdoors for a long time, you know what is underneath: bugs. In this very special episode of Ancient Aliens, S06E18 “Aliens and Insects,” we turn over the barrel and root around in the dirt to ask what aliens want with insects—but pointedly not arachnids. Nope. They’re not aliens. Not at all. You’d think the fact that having an exoskeleton would make it virtually impossible for a human-sized bug-man to exist might give ancient astronaut theorists pause, but no. In fact, they ignore the exoskeleton issue for pretty much the whole run time and focus instead on superficial characteristics like the wraparound eyes of Grey aliens that resemble those of some insects.
We open in Egypt to watch a dung beetle roll dung. It is a metaphor for Ancient Aliens, as the show continues to roll dung uphill. The dung beetle uses the light of the Milky Way to navigate, Then we look at some statues the Egyptians made of beetles and hear from Gene Kritsy, the co-author of Insect Mythology, who explains that the Egyptians likened the movement of the sun across the sky to a dung-beetle rolling its dung ball. Graham Phillips, fringe theorist, then claims that the bug was seen as a spaceship rather than a metaphor, and you can see where this was going. Giorgio Tsoukalos says that the Egyptians were too “proud” to carve fake things on their walls; therefore, aliens had bug heads, like on the Outer Limits.
The narrator wonders why the Egyptians made King Tut a scarab out of green glass produced by a “comet strike,” blithely unaware that this green glass was once David Childress’s evidence for prehistoric nuclear war! You can’t have it both ways, but the show tries. Mike Bara thinks that scarabs were mechanical devices for trans-dimensional travel, and William Henry thinks that aliens taught the Egyptians to believe in an afterlife when they met with a bug-headed alien.
Bara suggests that mummification shares “incredible” similarities to the cocoons of moths and butterflies, and David Wilcock agrees. But here both are obviously wrong since the purpose of a mummy was to preserve the corpse, while a cocoon exists to destroy the larva in preparation for its reconstitution as an adult. While the show recognizes that the Egyptians saw scarabs as immortal because they didn’t know that the new beetle that emerged from the dung ball was the result of eggs hatching within rather than a resurrected original beetle, it somehow refuses to see this as symbolic even after explaining how it happened. Instead, David Childress tells us that extraterrestrials underwent metamorphosis and/or emerged from spaceship cocoons.
After the break, we look at the Issus, a plant-hopping insect whose exoskeleton has a geared structure. Despite the fact that the show likens them to manmade objects, specifically cars and watches, Popular Mechanics made quite plain that “they look nothing like what you’d find in a car or in a fancy watch.” In fact, scientists suggest that this completely new kind of gear might have applications for future human technology. Additionally, while the show takes its cue from an article in Smithsonian magazine claiming this to be the only known natural gear, that isn’t the case; some reptiles have cogwheel gears, as do other insects, though for different purposes. All of the material I just referred to can be found here.
This leads in a discussion of ants, which the show calls the most populous of all earth’s creatures. I guess bacteria don’t count as creatures.
The show then asks how it is that ants and humans both have social structures. Could ants and humans be “more closely related” than we think? To answer that they go to “ancient Greece” to read the Iliad and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a work that is Roman, not Greek. Hilariously, they show a French translation of the Metamorphoses listed as “D’Ovide” (of Ovid) and mistakenly take this for the title, calling the work “the Ovid.” Now here is where things get tricky. Ovid discussed an etiological myth back-forming the name of the nation of Myrmidon from the word murmedon, or ant’s nest. The relevant text is found in Book Seven:
To Jove, restorer of my race decay’d,
The trouble is that the Greeks didn’t consider the Myrmidons to be ant-people (Homer knows nothing of this), at least not before the Roman Ovid recorded a late version of the story back-forming their name (as the Greeks and Romans did, often spuriously, with virtually every place name). Nevertheless, Mike Bara declares that Zeus (Jupiter) crossbred humans and ants to produce the Myrmidons.
The Hopi believed that there were godlike ant people who lived below ground, but the show wants us to believe that despite the subterranean nature of these creatures we should nevertheless assign them to the sky because “large buggy eyes” are associated with Grey aliens who come from the sky. The show asks if the Greeks fought alongside Grey aliens or Grey-human hybrids, and I again remind you that neither Homer nor Ovid nor Hesiod found anything unusual about the appearance of the Myrmidons, least of all bug eyes. And what of the exoskeletons? Why should insect people need armor?
The narrator wants to know what the San (!Kung) bushmen worshiped the praying mantis and believed that a praying mantis created human kind. Could it be a Grey alien? One might want to try proving Grey aliens exist first, since they only seem to show up after Betty and Barney Hill reported encountering them in a hypnosis session just days after similar aliens appeared on The Outer Limits, particularly in the episodes “The Bellaro Shield” and “The Children of Spider County.” The Outer Limits purposely used insects as the model for their aliens, so the process becomes quite circular. Naturally, the show ignores these complications and plows directly in to a discussion of alien abduction, drawn from hypnotically-recovered memories. The show makes much of a praying-mantis-like alien that abducted a teenager named Linda Porter in 1963 because that was before the Hills reported their abduction, but they bury in the narration the fact that the abduction was only reported three decades later, under hypnosis, and therefore is almost certainly contaminated with the hypnotists’ ideas, New Age beliefs, and science fiction.
The show speculates on the alien hierarchy, suggesting that praying mantises rule over Greys, and Linda Moulton Howe tells us that the aliens want to investigate souls and the afterlife—because this is all wacked-out religion. The aliens are like angels, and they’re all really concerned about making sure our souls move on to the next life in bliss. Moulton Howe then recapitulates that ancient astronaut catechism, that aliens manipulated our DNA, created humans, and will care for our souls in the kingdom to come.
After the next break, the show asks whether the plague of locusts in Exodus was the result of aliens controlling the insects as mini-drones. The show next describes the locusts from Revelation 9:1-12:
1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
Mike Bara, however, takes this prophecy of the future as something that happened in the past, and Jason Martell and William Henry seem to follow suit. Both refer to them in the past tense and talk of them as though they actually attacked people in the past as advanced alien robotic mini-drones targeting humans. It seems the producers are unfamiliar with Revelation when they miss the fact (or seem to; my DVD froze up here and I missed about 10 seconds) that the passage begins by describing a star falling from heaven—obviously a UFO! Surely, this would have been good evidence in favor of their idea, had they taken the time to pay attention to their own material. Instead, the show tells us about the way the government and industry are modeling robots on insects, as though this proves that the author of Revelation was pestered by clouds of these robots. Again: The show confuses Revelation for events that occurred in the past; it was a prophecy of the future.
The show has run out of ideas at this point, so it concludes by telling us that Area 51 houses a crashed flying saucer and a living alien named J-Rod who worked with the government from 1953. This is all part of a conspiracy theory created in the last decade by Bruce Burgess and Dan Crain (a.k.a. Dan Burisch). The latter claims to be a PhD, but records show he was a parole officer in Las Vegas during the years he said he was in New York earning his doctorate, according to reports published in the Skeptical Inquirer. Childress tells us that J-Rod was really a future insectoid human, not an alien. My DVD dropped some audio near the end and cut off the last 30 seconds, but I did not feel compelled to seek out the full discussion of whether there are genes that humans and insects swap between each other. The show never did seem to decide whether the aliens were insects or just looked like insects, and this made the discussion somewhat confusing.
It’s rather strange to me that the show, particularly Childress, seems to be pushing toward a circular view of history where the future bleeds into the past, and what will happen has already happened in a closed loop. I’m not sure what kind of philosophy this is, reflecting I suppose the ancient concept of the eternal return and cyclical time, like the wheel of time found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Hopi mythology, and elsewhere. Cynically, it lets them claim the future as part of the past and prophecy as events that have already occurred. Philosophically, it turns the ancient astronaut theory into a mystery school of sorts, where we do not die but are destined to live again, where all that was will be once more, and all that is to come has already happened. This is, I imagine, a comforting philosophy for uncertain times, placing the events of today into a safe pattern where the outcome is assured. All will be well because it once was in the past and therefore must be again.
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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