I’m struggling a bit to come up with new things to say about Ancient Aliens because, unlike the show itself, I have a basic respect for my audience and don’t think that recycling old content over and over again is an appropriate method of filling time. Tonight’s episode of Ancient Aliens, S11E05 “The Visionaries,” is extremely similar to earlier episodes that alleged alien contact with geniuses, including S05E05 “The Einstein Factor,” S08E06 “The Tesla Experiment,” S09E04 “The Genius Factor,” and various segments from their episodes on NASA that touched on Robert Oppenheimer and their episodes on Leonardo da Vinci and others. It’s so tiresome to see the same material recycled.
We open with the moon landing in July 1969 in order to discuss the IBM computer that helped to put a man on the moon, a computer that is so laughably outdated that an iPhone is one million times more powerful. Ancient Aliens isn’t too keen on the concept of exponential development, so “ancient astronaut theorists” suggests that aliens have to be behind the voodoo of touch screen computing. The show alleges Steve Jobs received information from aliens, but they covered this twice before—in “The Genius Factor” and in S05E07 “Prophets and Prophecy.” In “The Genius Factor” the show attributed Jobs’s promotion of the iPhone to Theosophy’s Akashic Record, which they alleged was the inspiration for the iCloud. Here they instead connect Jobs to New Age mysticism, specifically of the Indian yoga variety. David Childress asserts that Jobs’s guru, Neem Karoli Baba, was actually a space alien, without even a token bit of evidence for it other than the guru’s claim to have descended from heaven. The guru actually died before Jobs ever met him.
The second segment is another Ancient Aliens evergreen topic, recycling material from “The Genius Factor” and “The Einstein Factor” about century Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who allegedly saw advanced mathematical proofs in his dreams. As in the previous versions, the show takes literally Ramanujan’s claim to have received his math skills from what they call “an otherworldly being” but which he identified as his family’s patron goddess. David Wilcock, in a repeat performance from “Genius,” again declares his belief that aliens are involved in developing math and technology, while David Childress says that Hindu gods are aliens.
Credit where it is due, I wasn’t able to find reference to Alan Turing in previous episodes of Ancient Aliens, so that’s something! The show describes Turing’s mathematical genius and his autistic type of literal-mindedness. However, the Ancient Aliens crew instead speculate that his autistic tendencies were actually the result of an extraterrestrial manifesting through him, since we all know that no human is capable of original thought, ancient astronaut theorists being proof of concept. The program reviews Turing’s efforts to crack the Nazi Enigma machine in order to break German codes during World War II, but with less insight than even the dramatic and superficial version given in The Imitation Game. Rather than consider Turing’s life story—he was persecuted for being gay—we instead move on to John von Neumann, a Hungarian-American mathematician who once met Turing and went on to work on the Manhattan Project and to help develop the digital computer. David Wilcock alleges that their meeting was orchestrated by aliens in 1935 “in order to ensure that the computer was brought out on schedule, at the right time.” Consider what that means: Aliens will forge “connections” in individuals’ lives to develop technology but either don’t care about or purposely induce “connections” that lead to murder, war, and mass death. So, aliens: You couldn’t do anything about Hitler or Stalin, but you were happy to book travel plans for Alan Turing?
Segment 4 covers the invention of rocketry and its origins in early twentieth century Russia. The show focuses in on Nikolai Fyodorov and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, whose cosmism they claim as a precursor to the ancient astronaut theory. Cosmism was a philosophical school that suggested humans came from the stars and should return there, or so the show says; Fyodorov actually argued that the dust of dead humans has long since blown into space and justifies our travel to other worlds. Tsiolkovsky’s writings influenced Werner von Braun, who then becomes the focus of the remainder of the segment, repeating material from S04E05 “The NASA Connection” and S10E02 “NASA’s Secret Agenda,” which alleged von Braun was in contact with aliens.
At this point, the show goes full Blavatsky and claims that science fiction programs like Lost in Space and Star Trek were visionary fantasies that presaged actual technological development. Giorgio Tsoukalos tells us that “science fiction is part of Disclosure,” preparing humanity for upcoming technological change. Blavatsky, in 1888, had argued that science fiction writers unintentionally downloaded their ideas from the Ascended Masters and the Akashic Record (thus allowing her to adopt Bulwer-Lytton’s fake “vril” as a real substance), and here ancient astronaut theorists follow her in attributing science fiction to aliens. Here is Blavatsky: “Our best modern novelists, who are neither Theosophists nor Spiritualists, begin to have, nevertheless, very psychological and suggestively Occult dreams […] [T]he clever novelist seems to repeat the history of all the now degraded and down-fallen races of humanity.” Nick Redfern more or less paraphrases Blavatsky in claiming “profound” science fiction is real reports of the future given to us by aliens, seemingly without realizing he is repeating Blavatsky, and Tsoukalos rhapsodizes that “science fiction can serve as a direct path to science, which was inspired by fantasy.” None of the ancient astronaut theorists believe in imagination, for to do so would undermine the very credibility of the ancient astronaut theory. Tsoukalos says he doesn’t want his consciousness uploaded into a computer, and he doesn’t seem to have given a moment’s thought to the profound question of whether a copy of one’s brain in a computer is “really” the person being copied. But we covered that in S11E03, so there is no reason to repeat it again here.
As our show grinds to a closes, we recap the various advances made by the visionaries covered in the first five segments, and the show restates the central question of whether aliens are parceling out technology to us and why. Georgy Noory says that it’s a social experiment by aliens, and Childress revisits the midcentury idea that aliens don’t want us to destroy the Earth with our nuclear weapons. (Then why give them to us, aliens?) Tsoukalos says that aliens let all technological advances occur so we can “return to the stars.” Really? Even teledildonics? Why did the aliens invent that? No, wait… Don’t answer that. I’m afraid Ancient Aliens probably has an answer.
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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