The show opens with a 2017 experiment in California where a particle accelerator experiment resulted in the creation of a very tiny black hole, though it was electromagnetic rather than gravitational. It’s a bit funny to watch David Childress trying to explain high end physics, having clearly memorized prewritten texts, and more amusing to hear him and Tsoukalos try to suggest that ancient stories they had previously attributed to vortices and star gates and wormholes are now the work of black holes. These black holes somehow become portals that allowed ancient humans to interact with the gods. Real black holes would crush to death any people that fell into them due to their overwhelming gravity, but somehow Moses going up on Mt. Sinai is now his trip through a black hole. I’m a little fuzzy on the way they have conflated wormholes, star gates, and black holes. To the best of my knowledge, these are not the same thing, though there has been some speculative suggestion that black holes could be connected to other universes. However, the intense crushing gravity of the black hole singularity would kill any living thing that tried to pass through.
The second segment discusses the failure of a Japanese satellite in 2016. It broke apart and fell out of orbit due to computer glitches caused by the South Atlantic Anomaly, a magnetosphere area of high electromagnetic radiation. David Childress repeats the narrator’s explanation of the effects of this anomaly almost word for word, presumably because the producers coached Childress and did not bother to check their own work to make sure that the talking heads and the narrator aren’t repeating the same prewritten lines. Anyway, the show suggests that this anomaly could generate black holes or vortexes—they really can’t distinguish at this point. Beyond this, the show asserts that spiral carvings from ancient times are depictions of these vortices. To this end, they discuss the Ingá Stone, a carved rock in Brazil that some feel has astronomical carvings. Although difficult to date, it is likely the work of a people who lived in the area down to the 1700s, The show implies it is much older and more mysterious. Tsoukalos promoted it as “evidence” of ancient astronauts when he toured Latin America promoting Ancient Aliens last summer. The stone has been featured in ancient astronaut literature at least since Ancient Skies, the defunct journal of the original Ancient Astronaut Society, wrote about it in 1977. So popular are the ancient astronaut claims in Brazil that the official tourism website for Brazil alleges that the stone is prehistoric and depicts a rocket.
After this, the show covers Ivan T. Sanderson’s midcentury speculation about a set of equally spaced “vile vortices” centered on the Bermuda Triangle, Easter Island, and other famous locations. This goes back to the older claim of a “world grid” governing ancient locations, a Victorian idea taken over from pyramidology but made famous in the middle twentieth century. There is no special reason to imagine that these vortices are of any particular note, since statistically speaking they are not anomalous in terms of “mysterious” disappearances.
The third segment is about the Bermuda Triangle, a subject that has been debunked so many times that there it is astounding that anyone repeats the old chestnuts as though they were fresh. The case of the abandoned derelict ship the Mary Celeste is trotted out as though it were truly a case of an impossible vanishing, even though the key details that made it a mystery were made up by Arthur Conan Doyle and a few other writers. It’s true that no one knows what became of the crew, but the details that suggested they disappeared in the blink of an eye—breakfast set on the table, the sails all set, etc.—are all fakes. Worse, the show claims that the ship’s crew vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, though the ship was on route from New York to Genoa and was actually abandoned near the Azores, far from the Bermuda Triangle. It was never in the Bermuda Triangle. In 2014, Ancient Aliens attributed the Mary Celeste disappearance, by implication, to a vortex at the bottom of the Sargasso Sea. Consistency is not their strong suit, and they do not remember the so-called facts from their own earlier episodes.
The fourth segment sends David Childress on a flight into the Bermuda Triangle with Bruce Gernon, who claims to have experienced a time anomaly while making the same flight in 1970, traveling (he claims) 100 miles in three minutes. Childress mistakes turbulence for a temporal anomaly, or pretends to, until the pilot informs Childress that it was only turbulence. If any of this seems familiar, well, it is. Gernon was on Ancient Aliens in 2010’s “Mysterious Places” (S02E01) episode and told the same story. This was before I began reviewing the show regularly. Our current segment basically recreates the earlier episode’s segment, but on a plane. The rest of the segment alleges that the population of Easter Island were sucked into one of Sanderson’s “vile vortices,” thus explaining why the island’s society collapsed. Tsoukalos tells us that the Birdman of Easter Island mythology must be an alien god, but this is an odd claim since the Birdman cult only begins around 1500 CE, after the majority of the giant stone heads had been built, and when the island’s civilization was already on its way to collapse. The Birdman cult, far from being the cause of Easter Island’s culture, was a reaction to the beginnings of its decline. And in case you care, in addition to the regular references to the subject on Ancient Aliens, Josh Gates discussed the same topic on his The Hunt for Extraterrestrials edition of Expedition Unknown last year.
The fifth segment deals with late twentieth century missing persons, including a skier who disappeared one night and turned up 14 months later with no memory of what happened. The show has covered claims about missing persons cases being related to alien abduction and temporal vortices in past episodes. They offer nothing new here, and no evidence for supernatural intervention except hearsay and speculation. In other episodes, similar cases were attributed to alien abduction. Here it is portals. None of these are black holes, so the connection to our putative topic escapes me. I am just going to guess that the producers do not really understand what black holes are, or do not care.
The final segment asks whether vortices can be controlled. Conflating any type of vortex with star gates, portal, and black holes, the show alleges that space aliens control black holes and use them to manipulate humanity. Since they have mastered vortex control, the show seems to suggest that any swirling phenomenon, such a hurricane or tornado also falls under their control. The narrator expresses hope that in the future, we too might use black holes to travel through time and space. I’m willing to invest in that proposition, if our ancient astronaut theorists will be the first to jump in.
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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