TV Documentaries Plan to Explore More Conspiracy Claims about Smithsonian, Megalithic Yard
Before we get into today’s topic, I wanted to share the official press release announcing the release of Cthulhu in World Mythology. According to the press release, in addition to the eBook now available, a PDF version will be on sale next week, with the print version set to go on sale later in March. I’m really looking forward to seeing it put together as a print book.
Now on to today’s television news.
This morning a British TV producer working for an American cable channel (not one of the A+E Networks’ channels) contacted me to ask if I would be willing to talk with him about the Smithsonian’s conspiracy to cover up the existence of Bible relics and giants in America in preparation for an upcoming episode of a series about world mysteries. This is how terrible ideas spread like a cancer: producers for the cable channel (which, as per my policy, I won’t name until after I’ve spoken with them) saw the Smithsonian conspiracy idea on fringe websites and fringe programs like America Unearthed and decided to reproduce the same idea on their own world mysteries TV series. This repetition, in turn, creates the propagandistic effect that there is something to the claim as seemingly independent sources appear to confirm the idea.
I’ll know more about it after I’ve spoken with the producer, but I promise you this: I will do everything I can to nip this in the bud. As I discussed some time ago, the Smithsonian conspiracy claim emerged only in 1993, from the pen of David Hatcher Childress, based primarily on a few pieces of flawed “evidence”:
I plan to explain to the producer how Childress created the Smithsonian conspiracy idea from flawed data points, and if they choose to go ahead with claiming one exists anyway (Without evidence of any giants of relics), I will happily tell you who these people are who are intentionally telling lies for cash.
This brings me to another depressing television topic. I received (secondhand) a press release from the H2 network promoting this Saturday’s launch of their new ancient history conspiracy series The Universe: Ancient Mysteries Solved, a “miniseries” spinoff of the popular Universe science series that proposes to travel the world to explain how ancient peoples from one end of the earth to the other used the imaginary “megalithic yard” to plan their cities and their monuments. Here’s the official description:
How were ancient builders, including those at Stonehenge, able to create structures around the world with one consistent unit of measurement – the “megalithic yard” – despite being oceans apart? This miniseries uses experts and CGI to reveal the answer and demonstrate how our past is connected to the history of the universe.
I quit. I can’t take it. Unless the series concludes that this megalithic yard is a fraud, it can’t help but serve to promote paranormal and fringe ideas given how closely tied the “megalithic yard” is to outrageous hypotheses built on little to no evidence.
I need not remind regular readers that the megalithic yard is an imaginary unit of measurement invented by Alexander Thom, a British engineer, along with his son Archie, to explain what he believed (wrongly) to be a standardized unit of measurement at Neolithic sites in Britain. When archaeologists attempted to confirm Thom’s findings with more careful measurement of ancient sites, they were unable to find Thom’s allegedly consistent unit of 82.96656 cm at work amidst the irregular stones, many of which had shifted or been moved out of position over the centuries. The real reason behind the supposed existence of the measurement, of course, is because 83 cm is roughly the length of three human feet (average of 26.3 cm with a standard deviation of 1.2 cm, yielding a “yard” of 79 cm). Any system of measurement derived from the human body will yield similar results.
However, Christopher Knight and Alan Butler refused to accept the findings of archaeology and have instead created an elaborate, global, and immortal conspiracy stretching from the Neolithic stone monuments to the corridors of power in modern Washington, D.C. through which the megalithic yard became the standard unit of measurement for an eternal goddess-worshiping cult of Freemasons (who also built the moon by time traveling to the distant past).
I don’t really want to add another show to my review list, and I can’t imagine how I could spend every episode repeating the fact that there is no archaeological evidence that a megalithic yard actually exists—or that it’s even possible to measure the position of an irregularly-shaped standing stone to the ten-thousandth of a millimeter.
Is the whole H2 network devoted to nothing but conspiracy theories about ancient history from the same small group of fringe thinkers—Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Alan Butler, David Childress, and those who blindly repeat their ideas?
2/27/2014 03:28:15 am
Congrats on the book.
2/28/2014 12:42:15 am
"megalithic yard is an imaginary unit of measurement "
2/27/2014 03:34:51 am
Speaking of adding shows to your review list, will you be reviewing Hangar 1 which debuts Friday night?
2/27/2014 12:36:51 pm
I don't know. I might check it out, but it seems like just another UFO Hunters / UFO Files iteration.
2/27/2014 05:49:48 pm
I made a longer comment about it on the Red Planet thread, but the short form is that it's the same old BS. It's all about some guy from MUFON explaining through narrative and recreations how Duh Gubbmint is hiding the truth about UFOs from us. You can check it out if you're into that kind of thing, but remember that it's an hour of your life you'll kiss goodbye.
2/27/2014 03:36:33 am
I guess people like fantasies to come true. Don't quit, Jason, which may seem strange coming from me. I say this because there is a niche for you, along with a social need for veracity in dealing with our past--not to mention our present times and our future.
7/3/2019 10:04:02 am
SIR GUNN SINCLAIR:
2/27/2014 03:40:16 am
At least Cosmos starts in 10 days! We need a history centered version of that show.
2/28/2014 01:12:28 am
I am interested in the new COSMOS also. I am a big fan of the original Sagan Series and have owned it on almost every video format since it was first released.
2/27/2014 03:47:01 am
I think it's really a factor of economics. Fake history is cheaper, and better yet, can be fine tuned (none of those pesky facts getting in the way) to match the zeitgeist. Racial tensions high? No problem: here's a a few tons of Ancient White God rubbish to stoke that particular flame.
2/27/2014 04:21:36 am
Nooooooo.... don't quit Jason! You are a beacon of light, and rational thinking, in the dark dingy tunnel of fringe history woo speakers. Your voice and value-added research is very much needed for poking holes in the latest fad of historical conspiracy theories.
2/27/2014 04:24:39 am
Even if they're going to end up with an America Unearthed kind of show, it could be worthwhile to record your interview with them in full and after they represent everything out of context, you can demonstrate on your blog here how these sorts of documentaries go about misrepresenting information.
2/27/2014 04:50:35 am
I've almost finished with Cthulhu in World Mythology (I decided to go with the ebook instead of waiting for the print release). Not to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet, but I found your incorporation of axial precession to be particularly clever.
2/27/2014 12:35:50 pm
Glad you liked that! It would give Graham Hancock conniptions, but it's entirely in keeping with Lovecraft's love of astronomy. I think he'd like it.
2/27/2014 06:52:18 am
Many congratulations on the book releases, and thanks for the heads-up on the new series. Another show to add to the ignore list.
2/27/2014 12:38:20 pm
I'm not seriously planning to quit. It was just a bit of dramatic effect to say that I flabbergasted by the sheer volume of this lunacy. No one person could possibly *watch* all of it, let alone review it.
2/27/2014 12:59:39 pm
Congrats on the release of Cthulhu in World Mythology. I am going to wait and order it when it's available in print.
2/27/2014 07:20:15 am
Clearly they're trying to overwhelm you with numbers. I've seen adverts for shows like "Castles & Conspiracies" or "Codes & Conspiracies" or "Are We Alone?" or "Close Encounters"... all the same junk being rehashed again and again. I even saw a new "channel", the "American Heroes Channel"....because...what?? Apparently being an American Hero means you want to know about all the codes & conspiracies choking up American history.
2/27/2014 01:17:49 pm
The American Heroes Channel is just the Military Channel with a new name.
2/27/2014 07:44:58 am
I can only think of one single reason to debunk a show like America Unearthed.Scott Wolter is a geologist,& his credencials provide some credibility to the abominable nature of the program.
2/27/2014 10:01:11 am
"I quit. I can’t take it." I actually laughed out loud when I got that far! It's like a tidal wave and Jason is capitulating under the weight of the deluge! Hang in there Jason! At AU is over for awhile.
2/27/2014 12:25:55 pm
I guess I am suprised that a unit of measurement would be the topic of a show. Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed at least want to tell you a controversial lie, but a unit of measurement as a topic itself seems sort of bland. JMO
2/27/2014 12:39:08 pm
I imagine there must be more to it, but it's what the press release emphasized. I guess we'll find out on Saturday.
An Over-Educated Grunt
2/27/2014 01:52:45 pm
In their defense, the great cathedrals of Europe were built with site-specific but fairly well-defined units. There might be thermal expansion or contraction in a measuring rod, but that wouldn't vary too much year-round. The idea that Stonehenge, or any other megalithic site, was built with a similar measuring rod technique in any single building campaign isn't that far-fetched, but the idea that all such sites are linked by a common length of measure is.
2/27/2014 01:26:16 pm
I recently heard a talking head on a news channel refer to The History
2/27/2014 05:57:04 pm
I like to call it the Hysterical Channel.
neat NPR "Fresh Air" interview!
2/27/2014 02:13:23 pm
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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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