Usually I start an Ancient Aliens review with some sort of tangentially related thought about this week’s episode topic. This week, however, I am going in cold and have only a vague idea what they’re going to be talking about. As Ancient Aliens S07E12 “Alien Messages” opens, the teaser claims that it will cover the ways in which the aliens are speaking to us through symbols, but as David Childress might say, you have to wonder, if the aliens can beam thoughts directly into our brains (S07E09) and insert their consciousness into baked goods (S07E11), why exactly do they need hidden messages encoded in ancient texts and architecture? A better question, though, is this: What happened to the scheduled episode "The Great Flood" and why was it replaced with what is in essence a slapped together clip show? Promos said that the "Great Flood" would air this week, but it did not, and new promos say that its "network premiere" will be next week instead. Does this mean that it will show up first somewhere else?
After the traditional brown title card, we hear how in the 1970s SETI beamed binary code into space as a message for any aliens that might hear us. Seth Shostak of SETI is on to explain this, and he is something of a hypocrite. Shostak appeared before Congress earlier this year to blast Ancient Aliens and yet continues to appear on the program, just as he did before his testimony. For all the damage he thinks it does to history, it does not stop him for lending his credibility to the show. We then see that a 2001 crop circle reflected the binary messages sent in the 1970s. So what? You’d need to establish that aliens made the crop circle before analyzing its message. Hugh Newman, last seen on Search for the Lost Giants, said it was either a “brilliant hoax” or aliens, and Andrew Collins pretends that it’s aliens until he slips in a qualifier at the end to give him an out in case you agree that humans could well have done this.
Next, the fact the Gottfried Leibniz modeled binary code on the I Ching is used as an excuse to discuss Chinese mythology, and the I Ching’s use of a binary system. This is a misunderstood distillation of a Guardian article from earlier this year which explained the Leibniz used male and female binaries for divination as an inspiration for the idea that information could be expressed as a binary. The I Ching was not itself a binary code, nor did it provide useful instructions for creating modern computers.
In the second segment, we look at the recent NASA book on hypothetical extraterrestrial communication, which the show purposely misrepresents as a manual on how to find communication with aliens. The show also fails to recognize that NASA did not write the anthology of academic papers, and that the author of the article they single out, William Edmondson, specifically said that rock art has nothing to do with aliens and is in fact an analogy for communicating with aliens. I wrote about this back in the spring. Here is what Edmondson really said:
Consider again, therefore, the desirability of establishing symbolic/linguistic communication with ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence]. It is helpful to review some parallels from human existence that pose problems for us today. One of these is “rock art,” which consists of patterns or shapes cut into rock many thousands of years ago. Such ancient stone carvings can be found in many countries, and the example in Figure 15.1 is from Doddington Moor, Northumbria, England. We can say little, if anything, about what these patterns signify, why they were cut into rocks, or who created them. For all intents and purposes, they might have been made by aliens. Unless we find a readable exegesis of them produced at the time they were made, we will never be able to say with certainty what the patterns mean.
After this we start recycling material from this year’s In Search of Aliens. We begin by recycling material from S01E04 about the Roswell Rock, a piece of magnetic stone engraved with a crude sandblasted etching of a 1996 crop circle. For more on the rock, please see my review of the episode devoted to it. In short, the rock is easily reproduced with normal human technology. I think it’s weird that Ancient Aliens pretends that material from In Search of Aliens was done independently of that show—they won’t acknowledge that the other show even exists, let alone that they are recycling footage from the show. They recycle the sandblasted replica and Linda Moulton Howe’s interview from the episode, but with Giorgio Tsoukalos edited out as though he weren’t there instigating all of this just off camera.
In the Ancient Aliens version of the story, Howe now claims that the Roswell Rock has a coded “date” on it, and David Wilcock (whose pageboy haircut has become an unflattering shoulder-length ’do) agrees. But neither will state what the “date” is. The narrator unhelpfully tells us that it’s the date when the aliens will return, but, like the Second Coming of Christ, apparently no one knows the day or the hour despite having it written on that rock. Nice of them not to tell us, avoiding panic and all that sort of thing.
In this segment we are discussing the Nazca lines with material recycled from In Search of Aliens S01E09 and S01E10. We start with S01E09’s discussion of the Band of Holes (first seen in an early Ancient Aliens episode called “The Mission”), a Peruvian strip of seemingly endless holes that legend says were meant to represent a giant snake. Ancient Aliens instead compares the band of holes to the standing stones of Carnac in France, a frequent subject of discussion on Ancient Aliens. They were featured in the first episode I ever watched, and I don’t think they ever shot new footage of the stones again. But in a twist, the show claims that the Carnac stones are “eerily similar” to an inverted Band of Holes because they are (very) roughly the same length and width—though not similar in the number of stones or holes. (Carnac is not one set of stones but several, unlike the single, straight Band of Holes.) In an interview when Wilcock had a different haircut (consistency be damned) Wilcock repeats information from Ancient Aliens S06E01 on whether Carnac has Pythagorean geometry. Unfortunately, that claim is still as meaningless now as it was when I wrote about it then.
In this segment we retrace claims from In Search of Aliens S01E10 about whether the New Jerusalem texts (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 20-21) have an alien code involving multiple inscribed circles circles, where the plain meaning of the text refers only to a square. We thus follow that episode’s claims that there is a Nazca glyph that resembles a Buddhist mandala. As I wrote at the time, David Childress and Giorgio Tsoukalos “fail to note that the mandala they show on screen places the circle within a square, while this geoglyph places squares within a circle.” This brings us to the mandala-inspired Indonesian temple of Borobudur, but since that was covered in S05E01, they skip right over most of the arguments made in the past to instead ask whether squares and circles are designed to provide spiritual revelations. So far, though, there isn’t anything that would tie these shapes to aliens; even Tsoukalos can only muster a half-hearted claim that the ancient astronaut theory “excels” and seeking “connections” between ancient cultures—but no aliens are required for that!
This segment opens with Easter Island and its 900 statues. Then we fly over to Machu Picchu in Peru and Mohenjo Daro in India. The last of these the show claims (wrongly) suffered a nuclear explosion. Then Kathleen McGowan Coppens informs us that Ur, Giza, these three sites, Petra, and Persepolis were all built on a single Great Circle ringing the earth. After this we get a review of the Orion Correlation Theory that links the pyramids of Giza to Orion and its corollaries at Teotihuacan and the Hopi cities from earlier episodes. All of these are poor representations of Orion and, pace David Wilcock, none of these aligns perfectly to Orion—or, in the Hopi and Mexican cases—at all. See my review of S05E04, which covered the Teotihuacan connection and other Orion madness—from which this segment is abstracted badly.
As we slap together a few final thoughts, we talk about Francis Crick’s claims of panspermia, but with the coda that ancient astronaut theorists prefer directed panspermia—that DNA was sent to earth to create a particular type of life. We finish up this thought by repeating material from S06E14 about how junk DNA is involved in encoding alien secrets, and from S06E01 on why the number three is the key to unlocking the aliens’ secrets. But so uninterested is the show in doing anything more than pointing toward earlier episodes that David Wilcock doesn’t even explain his thoughts. Merely asserting that he has thoughts is now enough; long ago on this show argument yielded to assertion, and now assertions don’t even have to make sense!
If a viewer hadn’t seen earlier episodes, would any of this be comprehensible in the least? I barely followed their illogic, and I’ve seen all of it before. Ancient Aliens is a block of noise that looks like a TV show, but it’s more like a montage, a highlight reel for the imaginary program the producers think they’re making, run through a Cuisinart and reassembled into a dream-logic parody of television.
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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