If tonight’s episode seems familiar, it’s only because the topic is so shopworn. The topic of the pretended 1947 Roswell, New Mexico UFO crash is so frequently discussed on Ancient Aliens that I could not begin to list all of the episodes that touch on it, though I will note that back in Season 4 the show pretended that the Roswell aliens were actually time travelers who teleported to New Mexico. This episode is more of the same, but it attempts to offer a slightly different take on the familiar by expanding the narrative to encompass other alleged UFO crashes. As most of you know, I am not terribly interested in modern UFO reports, so the lack of ancient astronauts rendered this a rather dull exercise in ufology.
The show opens with a discussion of the so-called “Roswell Incident,” including the conspiracy theorists’ preferred version of events. While an official government report later concluded that the incident involved the crash of a secret spy balloon, covered up with a false story about a crashed weather balloon, the show prefers the modern conspiracy theory that an alien spacecraft crashed. There is no reason to re-litigate this story, so instead I’ll note that the show recycles material originally shot for Giorgio Tsoukalos’ failed 2014 series In Search of Aliens, specifically the episode on the “Roswell Rock.” In it, the mayor of Roswell, NM accuses the federal government of covering up an alien encounter, though he has a vested interest in promoting the story and the tourism dollars that make up a large portion of the city’s economy. The remainder of the segment is composed of second- or third-hand accounts of the “mysteries” of Roswell, all of which have been explained by skeptics many times over.
The second segment starts to look at derivative stories that sprang up to capitalize on the Roswell myth. The first is the claim that in 1941 a flying disc crashed in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with three aliens on board. The story only emerged in the 1980s, right around the time of the first round of Roswell hype, and somehow all of the witnesses forgot to mention it until 1984. The program then notes that claims of crashed disks have also been made for a number of other locations in the western United States in 1940s. David Childress notes that this coincides with World War II and the stat of the Cold War, and he says that this is because the ETs were concerned about American nuclear prowess. He seems to miss the more logical explanation that U.S. and Soviet technology tests—and paranoia over the same—could better explain the sudden rise in military wreckage retrieval, where such events have any basis in fact.
This leads to a discussion of Area 51, the rumored home of the Roswell wreckage, though the narrator duly notes that the U.S. government denies having any alien spacecraft at the base. Wild claims about said alien spacecraft are then rehearsed, but this is nothing we haven’t heard many times before, only here there are no details, just vague assertions, rendering this less interesting than other, better UFO-themed shows.
Hillary Clinton, a fan of UFO mysteries, continued her apparently intentional targeting of Ancient Aliens viewers with another ad buy this week during the break after this segment.
There isn’t much to say about this segment. It’s based on the idea that humans are too limited to invent new things, so any cool technology must have been reverse engineered from alien spacecraft, specifically the Roswell spaceship (though we just heard there were earlier disks recovered—were they not good enough?). This claim contradicts earlier episodes which alleged that space aliens send psychic blueprints to human geniuses, or that geniuses have access to the Akashic Record’s universal knowledge. Here, the dummies at IBM and other companies had to wait for UFO technology in order to “flourish.” Giorgio Tsoukalos mistakes the postwar economic and technological boom, created by the war and its aftermath, for alien doings. We’ve covered this before, not long ago, when the show made almost the exact same claims in the same words, but back in S11E05 the aliens were giving us the technology to make sure we kept to their schedule. So which is it? Both and neither! The show finishes the segment by alleging that the U.S. and the Soviet Union fabricated the Cold War in order to hide their exploitation of aliens. That’s an insult to all the people who died in the proxy wars fought on behalf of the two superpowers, and a callously, breathtakingly cynical bit of self-serving ignorance.
The fourth segment covers material very similar to stories discussed last week in the episode dedicated to “Russia’s Secret Files,” along with some other Russian UFO material that seem to be outtakes from last week’s episode on Russian ufology. While last week a 1986 incident was described as “Russia’s Roswell,” this week a supposed UFO crash in the 1940s is described with the same moniker, but with no evidence. While back in S11E05 the show alleged that the Soviet Union’s technological development was due to aliens providing visions of high tech plans, now the show claims that the Soviets reverse-engineered alien spacecraft after attracting them with crop circles in order to shoot them down.
Internet rumors about military installations around the world are then repeated, with no evidence offered to support any of the claims for hidden collections of UFOs.
David Childress and Linda Moulton Howe try to reconcile the opposites. Howe alleges that the aliens purposely scuttle their UFOs to “put certain technologies in human hands.” Kamikaze UFOs! Surely it would be easier to just park one rather than suicide-bomb remote farms.
The narrator returns again to the disgusting claim that the Cold War was a hoax created by America and the Soviet Union to exploit alien technology, and it’s clear that the writers of the show think they are being clever by using it to reverse the skeptical argument that many “UFO” sightings are actually sightings of military and spy agency technologies. But this rhetorical effort cheapens the sacrifices of all those who died in service to their country during what the show alleges was purposeful collusion to fake the Cold War.
By the time Richard Dolan is rhapsodizing about “UFO lore,” it’s clear that the show has left facts far behind. Here, an old crazy claim by Bob Lazar that UFOs fly on element 115 (then a science-fiction concept unlikely to ever to become real) is taken for prophecy when scientists actually produced small amounts of ununpentium in 2013, though the element does not seem to be rocket fuel since it has a half-life of 220 milliseconds. The show, however, ignores this and instead describes the element as having “similarities to plutonium,” which was used in rockets. (UFOs apparently still run on 1960s-style rockets, just as God, Magrest M. Agrest, and Zecharia Sitchin intended.) William Henry chimes in that the aliens are “giving” us crashed UFOs so we can create advanced technologies. Surely there are easier ways to deliver technology—email scientists some schematics, for example—but I guess the super-beam that pumped ideas into the heads of “visionaries” isn’t good enough for stupid ol’ us, who need physical models to understand the aliens’ sophisticated genius.
Our final segment takes us to Arizona in 2014 to listen to an old man named Boyd Bushman make wild claims about crashed alien saucers and harvesting alien technology in what is described as a deathbed confession. He shows pictures of what seemed to be plastic alien dolls, which he had come to believe were real. Most dismissed the Bushman video as a hoax or manipulation of a dying man by ufologists. The show closed by repeating its claims about reverse engineering alien technology and aliens as the reason we have things like computers and smartphones and satellites, since all humans are as dumb as the producers of Ancient Aliens—well, they do manage to figure out how to get paid for being dumb, so there’s that.
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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