Almost twenty years ago, biologist E. O. Wilson published Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, in which he postulated that the various fields of human knowledge can be linked at a deep level and that one day we will unify the sciences and the humanities. But what about false forms of knowledge? Do they have a deep connection, too? Is there such as think as Collusion: The Unity of Anti-Knowledge? If there is, then Ancient Aliens represents collusion at its worst. Tonight’s episode plunges us to new lows when New Age guru Deepak Chopra brings his carnival of crazy claims about quantum consciousness to a program ostensibly, though rarely actually, about space aliens. All of this occurs in service of an episode dedicated to the Akashic Record, a name that should sound familiar since Ancient Aliens has already covered it several times before. The Akashic Record is a modern pious fraud, an alleged ancient Indian concept of a universal record of all past, present, and future knowledge accessible by psychic power.
I discussed Ancient Aliens’ poor understanding of the Akashic Record back in 2013, in reference to the show’s use of it in “The Einstein Factor.” You can read all about it here, but the condensed version is as follows:
The concept has its murky origins in some actual ancient Indian material, but material very different from the modern interpretation. The concept can be traced back, ultimately, to material from the Mahabharata, where Chitragupta, the son of Brahma, takes on a role similar to that of Jesus and Osiris in judging the dead. […] Helena Blavatsky, the fraudulent medium who started the cult of Theosophy, began incorporating Hindu and Vedic concepts into her system of belief, and she proposed several layers of cosmic consciousness that filtered knowledge downward from other realms to the earth. She did not, however, use the term “akashic records.” She discussed instead Akasha as a substance, like the “Astral Light” of Kabala, which is itself synonymous with all of time, all of space, and all of soul, though even she was not entirely consistent in her use of the word in The Secret Doctrine. She states that it is not ether, but it and ether are of one substance, like God and Jesus. At any rate, she doesn’t talk about Akashic Records as such; they are an extrapolation from Akasha.
Later theosophists conflated this Akasha with the plane of ether and created a realm of potential future knowledge, but Edgar Cayce stole the idea wholesale and made it into a sort of cosmic library of Babel.
I’ve long held that Ancient Aliens stopped being about space aliens years ago and is now a sort of propaganda arm for New Age religion, which explains why it is so much more interested in the mystery of consciousness than actual evidence for the existence of space aliens. In the first segment, we hear that the universe is a giant cosmic computer and that our consciousness taps into it the way that computers can tap into invisible wi-fi signals. This starts with a discussion of ancient Indian texts like those I discussed in my previous coverage of the Akashic Record, though I will note that in this version, the show actually acknowledges that the term “Akashic Record” is a modern coinage from Theosophy. The talking heads repeat old claims about new ideas and inventions beaming into human brains from the Akashic Record, but this leaves us with a problem: Theosophists attribute all of this to divine spiritual powers, and the very existence of a supernatural realm beyond the physical obviates the need for aliens to do the recording. Over the years Ancient Aliens has become Theosophy: The Series, and they pay for it in the lack of logical consistency when their putative subject buts up against their real spirituality.
The second segment brings Giorgio Tsoukalos to Dario Nardi’s lab to subject Chopra to brain mapping to study his meditation. Nardi is a UCLA brain researcher and an author. He does real science, but he also applies it to some iffy applications, particularly in terms of personality—the Myes-Brigg test lacks any real basis but shows up in his work. Anyway, Chopra endorses the Akashic Record and says that all knowledge of everything that will ever be is embedded in the universe. We also hear about Ervin László, a Hungarian philosopher of science, who claims that there is an Akashic Field represented by quantum activity whereby information is embedded in the universe, that this information directs evolution, and that our minds are immortal. This leads into a lengthy discussion of quantum entanglement, which David Wilcock bastardizes into a claim that humans receive thought transmissions from the Akashic Record, which is the source of all original ideas and knowledge. We humans are mere radios.
As we roll in to the third segment, a thought occurs to me: If the show admits that the Akashic Record is a modern “discovery” and claims that the Akashic Record is the source of all new knowledge, does that mean that it chose to reveal itself? If so, why only to nut jobs? What kind of perverse sense of humor does this fictitious record have?
Anyway, this segment focuses on a blind Bulgarian prophet named Baba Vanga who allegedly could predict the future. She died in 1996, and her record of prophecy was decidedly mixed, even assuming that all of the prophecies attributed to her are genuine. Many do not seem to have been reported in English before her death, or the events they allegedly describe. Some things she guessed right, such as the 44th president of the United States being Black. Some things were ambiguous enough to be interpreted in many ways, such as when she said America would be attacked by “steel birds,” which could refer to any attack by plane, conventional or otherwise, but is often interpreted as referring to 9/11 even though New York, terrorists, and other key details do not appear in her prophecy. Some things were wildly wrong, such as her World Cup predictions and the date she gave for World War III. Nevertheless, all of this led to a discussion of other prognosticators, like Nostradamus, with allegations that they gained their prophetic information from the Akashic Record, a record that is apparently incomplete and filled with typos, or at least cannot be read well enough to make it useful except in retrospect.
The fourth segment examines the fact that once technology and knowledge reach certain levels, the next step seems to occur to more than one person at the same time, such as the dual discoveries of calculus, evolutionary theory, telephone, radio, etc. Rather than see this as the product of similar minds working from similar foundations, the show suggests that supernatural powers beam the details to susceptible minds, which are not actually possessed of genius but rather are merely receivers for spiritual signals from particularly stingy librarians who make the receivers do all of the hard work of developing an insight into a finished theory or invention. So which theosophical Lord of Venus or resident of the Moon Chain beamed the idea for the ancient astronaut theory into these anti-geniuses’ minds? Apparently the same one that spoke to Nikola Tesla, whose fever dream while sick with the flu is taken as evidence that an otherworldly intelligence gave him the plans for alternating current. This leads to the absurd but disturbing situation where the show actively rejects its previous worship of Tesla as a genius wronged by society and has promoted him instead to saint, crediting him with experiencing a theophany and witnessing “more than anyone should” of the realm of glory beyond physical reality. To that end, Tesla is no longer important as an inventor or even as a person but rather as a conduit for a connection to the divine, an example of the promise of the ancient astronaut theory for uniting believers with the gods.
For those of you keeping track at home, this segment ended around 45 minutes into the hour-long episode, and as of this point space aliens have not been discussed on a show called Ancient Aliens. That will finally change in the next segment.
The fifth segment returns to Baba Vanga and her allegation that alien spacecraft will arrive sometime in the next century of so. She also claims that humans will have colonies built by aliens under the sea, and that we will have a nuclear war with our Martian colonies by the end of the twenty-second century. Making no effort to evaluate the truth of Vanga’s prophecies or the plausibility of her claims, the show instead goes on to talk about Elon Musk’s desire to colonize Mars, attributing it to commands beamed into his head from the Akashic Record. Even though humans have dreamed of visiting Mars for centuries, and of meeting aliens there (don’t let the show see Edison's Conquest of Mars!), the show pretends that this is something new and that the Akashic Record is “pushing” us now to colonize the planet. Lacking anything better to do with their time, the show revisits John Brandenburg’s allegation that Mars displays evidence of an ancient nuclear war, which you will remember from the show’s dedicated Mars episode back in season six.
The final segment reports on claims that the fabric of the universe is made up of computer code, and therefore reality itself is a digital construct. Giorgio Tsoukalos suggests that this means that the universe itself is the same as the Akashic Record and that both are essentially the same as the cloud computing that currently stores your photos and cat videos. The narrator tells us that this means that we lack free will, and Deepak Chopra says that we are a “biological robot” unless and until we gain knowledge of the true nature of the universe. This show isn’t one to get into the deep questions of free will vs. determinism, or hard vs. soft determinism, so essentially it opts for a religious explanation: Everyone else is controlled and deceived, but we few, we happy few, we band of brothers who see the truth behind the lies are the only ones truly free. This is also the plot of The Matrix, but I assume that this is totally a coincidence.
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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