Like many previous episodes, this one opens with accounts of UFOs and strange lights in the sky, this time North Carolina’s Brown Mountain Lights among others. The show plunges directly into their weird thesis with very little buildup or introduction, as though this we an abandoned segment from the middle of an episode that ran long. The long and short of it is that David Childress suggests that lights seen in the sky could be energy from another dimension, but Giorgio Tsoukalos refutes this by claiming that the so-called ghost lights are alien technology. Even for this show, the quasi-scientific basis of the argument is particularly weak, suggesting that other dimensions are no different than the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum invisible to the human eye. That leaves John Brandenburg to suggest that ghosts are beings living in a parallel universe, while Childress suggests that that Brown Mountain Lights are energy balls from another universe. No one bothers to try to prove whether parallel universes or alternate dimension exist, so we are simply asked to take it on faith. This is a little disturbing because their view of parallel dimensions seems closer to the traditional view of an ethereal spirit realm than the scientific speculation about parallel universes or a multiverse.
The second segment discusses poltergeists, and it posits two explanation, first that a poltergeist is a telekinetic release of adolescent energy and the second that it is the invasion of our dimension by beings from another. Poltergeists don’t exist. There is no evidence of any sort of crazy ghost, and where they have been studied, they are typically attributed to kids acting out and faking the haunting for revenge or attention. Some kook named Caroline Cory claims that interdimensional beings and extraterrestrials are both visiting us, so we don’t have to choose between them. The show next alleges that the seven heavens of Judeo-Christian mythology are not the crystalline shells of the seven planets in a geocentric universe, as the ancients explicitly stated, but rather are parallel dimensions. No evidence is given. For some perverse reason, for yet another week the show tries to claim that Islam is a false religion whose believers are deluded by mistaking aliens (or in this case interdimensional beings) for messengers of God. This week they say aliens flew Muhammad around in a spaceship. Last week, they claimed he rode a genetically engineered human-horse hybrid. Jesus, somehow, remains exempt.
The third segment covers Aboriginal Australians’ shamanic practices, including the Dreamtime, leading to a discussion of shamanic practices to access “entities” from other dimensions. Weirdly, after going around the world, the narrator says that shamanic connections to the other world occur “even” among Native Americans. They somehow always get the short and of the stick. Anyway, this leads to a discussion of ayahuasca and the use of hallucinogens to access the spirit world in South American Native cultures. William Henry says that they are really engaging in a psychic communication with beings who masquerade as both the ancestors and space aliens.
But the show never quite explains how the dimensions supposedly work. In this segment, it presupposes that humans on ayahuasca might perceive information from dimensions that are supplemental to our own, but in the previous segments, the other “dimensions” were parallel universes that were wholly separate but might rub against ours in passing. By failing to define terms—and by freely mixing and matching between definitions of “other dimensions”—the show introduces ambiguity meant to mask the essential confusion at the heart of the episode.
Because the show does not distinguish between the material and the spiritual, the conclusions the viewer must draw from their discussion range from the bizarre to the perverse. By reducing all gods, angels, and demons to beings from another dimension, they render the spiritual material. But by suggesting that movement between dimensions can be achieved by the conscious mind through spiritual practices, they also seek to spiritualize the material world. It’s bad theology and bad science, but it speaks to the show’s overarching concern with trying to find quasi-scientific reasons to believe in a sort of half-Christian, half-pagan spirituality.
The fourth segment finally gets to Hal Puthoff. It discusses the Stanford Research Institute and its involvement with the CIA in investigating psychic phenomena, particularly remote viewing, which was Puthoff’s specialty before he became full-time UFO fanatic. He started working with the CIA through SRI in the 1970s, The show doesn’t mention Puthoff but follows his line of reasoning, arguing that remote viewers—who don’t actually have any proven powers—travel through space and time by accessing other dimensions in order to gain information about distant locations.
For no good reason, the show seems to think this connects logically to ECETI Ranch near Mt. Adams in Washington State, where there are “mysterious” lights in the sky. (ECETI is a New Age group trying to connect with ETs.) Nick Pope claims that remote viewing is real (it is not), and so he travels to ECETI to use remote viewing to try to find the source of UFO sightings in the area. The “experiment” they conduct is flawed from the start. Their method is to have remote viewers “feel” things and then draw pictures, which Pope and his team will then interpret in hopes of coming up with an “explanation for what happened.” Even believers must recognize that this invites several layers of potential bias. The show claims to be surprised that both of their remote viewers drew pictures of “rectangular” objects as the International Space Station passes by. Do they really expect me to believe that the remote viewers did not check to see what objects would be in the sky before they arrived?
It also is beyond belief that the two remote viewers wouldn’t know what Ancient Aliens wanted them to see—aliens. When Pope and his team review the remote viewing session the morning after Pope saw a light in the sky he thinks could be a UFO, the men express shock at the accuracy of the viewers. They saw “energy,” a cylindrical object that is alternately identified as a satellite or the International Space Station, though it seems to be just a generic, sci-fi-inspired space object that they could pass off as anything. The viewers also drew an energy ball and an angelic being that closely resembles the Nordic aliens of UFO lore. The viewers saw nothing that someone who had read a UFO book about Washington State ufology couldn’t have fabricated, and the results were decidedly less impressive than the awestruck Pope makes them out to be. Notably, the viewers’ ideas about UFOs are midcentury staples long out of date in the UFO community—pinging and beeping ships, Nordic-style beings, benevolent energy, etc. It’s all very much a dilettante’s sci-fi idea of what Ancient Aliens producers want to hear.
The final segment repeats information from one of their Russia episodes in which Soviet cosmonauts claimed to have seen giant glowing angels. Physicist Michio Kaku shows up to claim that there is a “highway” in space full of alien “souls” traveling at nearly the speed of light. I have no idea what he might have meant before he was edited down into incoherence, but that is just a bizarre claim. What would make him think that souls have an independent existence, let alone that they can travel on a path across the cosmos? And what does any of this have to do with other dimensions? The narrator ends the show by suggesting that nuts and bolts UFOs are “old-fashioned” and have been superseded by aliens who can simply appear on Earth by traveling “not in the spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.” Oh, wait… That’s Lovecraft again. The show does seem to be borrowing more than usual from him this season.
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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