I spent part of yesterday meeting with my lawyer again after I received a multi-page letter from the attorney representing the same occasional cable TV figure who has made legal demands against me for the past four years. This time, he is claiming that I am involved in a “civil conspiracy” to defame him. Anyway, it’s a long, involved thing, and that has sadly limited my time for writing today. Therefore, I will share two brief stories that are interesting, but about which there isn’t a lot to say.
First up, former America Unearthed host Scott F. Wolter has introduced merchandise to go with his book Cryptic Code of the Knights Templar as part of the ongoing transformation of pseudohistory into a 360° lifestyle brand. Wolter created challenge coins featuring the graphics created for the cover of the book, including various Masonic symbols and his omnipresent variant of the runic A, which he has termed the Hooked X™. On one level, this is just a silly tie-in product, not too far removed from fellow cable host Josh Gates’s cash-grab Cameo bookings, but on the other hand, it does promote a more dangerous trend of turning pseudohistory ideas into a form of personal identity, where one pledges public loyalty to a pseudohistory brand and its claims. This is the same problem that I have with the Ancient Aliens lifestyle brand, which promotes a bad idea as a personal identity—a “fandom.”
And just for kicks, each coin comes with a “Hooked X™” patch so you can display your Holy Bloodline Templar Conspiracy Oreo Cookie Code pride on your clothing or accessories.
Less funny is the report Ancient Origins recently ran on its 2019 trip to the Tayos Caves in Ecuador, where they once again attempted to hunt down Erich von Däniken’s caves full of alien gold from The Gold of the Gods. Just as Neil Armstrong concluded after investigating the same caves for the same reason, there wasn’t anything to see.
The crew from Ancient Origins, which includes expatriates living in Ecuador, discovered that the supposed “carvings” they found in their previous expedition are (big surprise) natural formations. The ten members of the expedition claimed to have fun and to have shared unique experiences, which the team declined to share with readers, but they discovered no evidence of space aliens or Atlantis as they tramped about the rainforest.
I will give them this: They were at least honest enough to admit that they came away with even less evidence of aliens and Atlantis than they thought they had when they started.
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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