However, there are some signs not everything is great in Ancient Aliens land. Ratings have been soft this year. Only 661,000 viewers tuned in last week, and just 668,000 the week before—that’s down 25 percent from last year and more than a million from the show’s heyday. Reruns airing before or after the show have pulled ahead in the all-important 18–49 demographic. Rival Discovery’s timeslot competitor Gold Rush has pulled much of the Ancient Aliens audience away, and this might well be the reason that History moved Ancient Aliens from 9 PM to 8 PM starting this week, taking it out of competition with Discovery’s offering and its overlapping viewer demographic.
We open in Oxford, where a cuneiform tablet describes the long reigns of mythical Sumerian kings. The show then lists the long reigns of other cultures’ mythical kings and patriarchs, suggesting that these are not simply mythological but accurate reports of prehistoric lifespans. William Henry relates this to the myth of the Watchers (but of course) and whether such supernatural beings were actually extraterrestrials with long lifespans. All of this is exactly the same as the show’s usual spiel on the subject, going back to the first season. The show claims that Genesis 1:26 (“Let us make man in our image”) is not a use of the royal “we” in the original Hebrew but instead proves that multiple extraterrestrials genetically engineered humans to look like them. Again, this is all material they’ve gone over many times before, without evidence then or now. Former Pentagon UAP Task Force member Travis Taylor shows up to say that space aliens could “stretch their longevity” for “centuries” as they cruised the stars. Your government “experts” at work, people. But, the show asks, why aren’t these immortal aliens here right now?
The second segment is about Noah’s Flood, Atlantis, and other global flood myths, an event that physically could not have happened. The show insists that it did happen, repeating claims from prior episodes about the Flood being an extraterrestrial act of genocide. The show has Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadock and the Rev. Michael J. S. Carter endorse the Book of Enoch’s theology, which centers the Nephilim in global history, attributing the need for a Flood to their wickedness, a historiography and theology in opposition to Genesis 6, and rejected by the largest Christian denominations, for example. Carter compares the Watchers to Star Trek, claiming they violated the Prime Directive. By contrast, Henry claims the Watchers “protected” humanity and—heretic!—attributes Noah’s survival to the Watchers. Tzadock claims that the Zohar tells him that the angels, whom he implies are the Watchers, ascended to the stars to observe us.
The third segment focuses on Easter Island and alleges the soil’s rapamycin, a compound discovered to aid in preventing organ rejection, but suggested to be an anti-aging drug, attracted aliens to the island so they could extend their lives. Stories of foods consumed by immortals, such as soma and ambrosia, follow, with ancient astronaut theorists alleging that the elixirs used “gene-splicing” to extend extraterrestrial lives. The show suggests that the aliens edited their own genetic codes to extend their lives indefinitely, but it does not explain how drinking a spliced DNA cocktail achieves this goal. The “immortal” jellyfish is then profiled with a suggestion that humans could reverse their own aging as well with the help of technology.
The fourth segment starts with Clifford Stone’s claim that the military recovered crashed flying saucers and their alien occupants, whom he called “biological robots.” The show claims that aliens might have been cyborgs, using machine parts to stay alive forever. Andrew Collins claims that the Comte de St. Germain, who seemed not to age, was a biological robot. He was basically a con man who made ridiculous claims, including a five-hundred-year lifespan, and after his death people claimed to see him for decades, much like people claimed James Dean and Elvis Presley lived on after their deaths. Contrary to the show’s claim that he was an immortal robot, the count died in February 1784, with his death witnessed and recorded. He was an old man at the time, not a man still 40 into his dotage. And if you don’t believe that, you have no right to claim the fantastical stories are true since they come from less official and reputable records.
The fifth segment is about brain chips that can be used for controlling technology such as prosthetic limbs. This has nothing to do with aliens except that the talking heads, like Henry, think this would make aliens seem like gods. But would it? Sufficiently advanced tech would be invisible, blending into bodies, so what would ancient people have seen? William Henry claims that technology allowed aliens to become beings of pure energy that could pop in and out of bodies. Taylor tries to explain the avatars of Vishnu, and the show then implies that Hindu gods are space aliens that take over different biomechanical bodies. This leads to a discussion of whether aliens upload their consciousness into clones, but it does not deal with the problem of these copied consciousnesses not being a true transfer of the self but, at best, a digital approximation and/or duplicate of the still-extant original. You are not going for a ride to another world in a robot body any more than mailing a Xerox copy of a document locked in your filing cabinet sends the original away.
Michio Kaku says that in a century or two we will have ships to reach the stars and will then use laser beams to digitally transfer our consciousness to the moon or Mars. “You,” he says, will be on Mars, downloaded into a robot avatar. No, “you” won’t. A Xerox copy might be, but “you” will still be in your brain, unless we start committing massive mass murder campaigns to preserve the illusion that copies are the real thing. He says aliens are already using avatars from the “digitized souls” of aliens to visit Earth. The show excitedly speculates that aliens planned for us to digitize our souls to visit them in space.
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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