The show opens with the Atacama Desert, about which I care nothing. I am, however, surprised to note that the show made no mention of the most famous “ancient astronaut” of the Atacama, the stillborn fetus Steven Greer has promoted as the “Atacama humanoid.” It is disappointing to see Seth Shostak of SETI appear on Ancient Aliens even after he literally testified to Congress about the damage the show did in terms of disrespecting ancient peoples. He admitted to Congress back then that he had appeared on the show several times, and here he is again! Apparently being an awful piece of anti-science propaganda isn’t enough to keep him off it. Also appearing is Michael Masters, an anthropologist at Montana Tech. It turns out that the show is hiding from us the fact that he’s a kook who thinks UFOs are time travelers from Earth’s future. The show discusses geoglyphs in the Atacama Desert, including the so-called “Atacama Giant,” and they repeat the usual spiel that geoglyphs were meant to signal space aliens. David Childress seems on the border of a manic episode as he rants that Chile is an “alien alley” directing UFO flight paths. We hear a repeat of the classic false claim from the 1960s that geoglyphs serve as an “airport,” though no one explains why flying saucers would need runways.
Nick Pope rhapsodizes weirdly about Chile’s geographic and cultural diversity, including this groaner: “There are modern, first-world cities and also indigenous people.” Then an apparent natural formation of eroded stone blocks at El Enladrillado is alleged to be an artificial UFO spaceport. The Sociedad Geológica de Chile calls it a natural formation created from volcanic activity, but ufologists refuse to believe it on the principle that the broken rocks look like large tiles.
The next segment describes the genocide of the Selk’nam people of southern Chile. Rather than respect the people who have died, the show alleges that having sky gods proves that they were visited by space aliens. Tsoukalos says rituals involving red-painted bodies and cone-shaped headgear represent “elongated skulls” on aliens. David Childress three times calls the Selk’nam and their practices “strange” in what is perhaps the clearest recent example of the show’s colonialist contempt for Native peoples and xenophobic ethnocentrism.
An old UFO report from the Sabado Gigante variety show is then used to make the case again that Chile is a UFO “flight path,” a claim that was popularized in the 2000s when UFO tourism became a lucrative trade in Chile. A large number of evidence-free UFO anecdotes follow, with claims that the aliens are mining the country for precious metals, but what is weird is that everyone pretends that it is amazing the Chilean UFO sightings occur in a roughly straight north-south line, as though the entire country of Chile wasn’t a narrow north-south band of land. Of course everything in Chile takes place on a straight line!
Ancient Aliens criticizes the American government for UFO secrecy but praises Chile for openly investigating UFOs after the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship. A catalog of Chilean government UFO research follows, amounting to some video artifacts and some anecdotes. A very long segment analyzes a 2014 UFO video released in 2017 when Chile claimed it could not identify the object. We hear that it is an advanced spacecraft from another world, though it has been explained as an airplane flying away from the camera. The show alleges that a geoglyph in the Atacama Desert exactly matches the UFO and its contrails, but they don’t even superficially look alike. To call it a stretch would be too generous.
The show ends with more blather about modern UFO sightings and claims from Chilean UFO researchers that space aliens are “waiting for our existential development” before revealing themselves. If Ancient Aliens is anything to judge by, they have a very long wait ahead of them.
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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