Before we begin today I want to say a brief word about an article that appeared on Ancient Origins this morning. Mark Adams, the author of last year’s Meet Me in Atlantis, published an entirely unobjectionable article on the problems involved in hunting for a lost continent that is almost certainly fictional. The article is designed to promote the paperback release of his Atlantis book. But it is disturbing to see an author of his caliber lending his credibility to a disreputable website dedicated to rewriting news stories, summarizing other people’s work, and spinning conspiracy theories. Ancient Origins has in the past appropriated material from reputable sources under Creative Commons license to bolster their site, but this appears to be a piece specifically for Ancient Origins.
But on to today’s topic.
When news broke that Facebook editors might be selecting trending stories while pretending that an algorithm was behind the selection, Congress sprang into action. The public has a “right to know” whether Facebook was suppressing conservative points of view declared Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) who asked for hearings on the issue. Funny, though, that Thune doesn’t care about the vast amount of fake news, lies, and conspiracy theories that routinely flood the media. Under the First Amendment, it shouldn’t make any difference to Congress how Facebook chooses its stories since it is a private company, and it’s transparently clear that Thune is only interested in promoting ideology.
The opposite seems to be the case in a recent New York Times profile of Hillary Clinton that highlighted the ways that the likely Democratic presidential nominee seems particularly enamored of ufology. Clinton has displayed knowledge of current ufological terms, and she speculated that the number and frequency of UFO sightings precluded fabrication. According to the article, Clinton is vowing to release America’s UFO files, and ufologists have embraced Clinton as the first “E.T. candidate.”
In an interview last year, Clinton claimed to believe that we had been visited by extraterrestrial beings in the past. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether she is referring to post-1947 UFOs or pre-1947 ancient astronaut claims.
Her views on the subject have been shaped by John Podesta, a key advisor and also a bit of crackpot on UFO issues. He wrote the forward to Leslie Kean’s faulty book on UFO sightings, and he also was such a huge X-Files fan that he used it as the theme for his 50th birthday party. In return, the Times said that X-Files creator Chris Carter is supporting Clinton and her plans to open the UFO files.
The Times attempted to trace Hillary Clinton’s UFO and space alien interests back to a 1995 meeting with a member of the Rockefeller clan—shades of the Rockefeller-Illuminati-Reptilian conspiracy—but we needn’t posit that as the origin point. Clinton comes from the generation that came of age during the 1960s and 1970s, when UFOs and ancient astronauts were all the rage in pop culture. The only surprising thing is that she maintained an interest in the unusual across the decades, or could serve in some of the highest offices in the land and still imagine that the U.S. government could keep the existence of space aliens more secret than her State Department cables (leaked in 2010) or her emails.
The Times seemed to imply that alien believers could be a voting bloc for Clinton, citing the 2.5 million messages sent to politicians advocating for disclosure. While I doubt that alien believers would be a viable constituency, it’s a weird inversion from forty years ago, when during the 1976 election ancient astronaut theorist Erich von Däniken told then-president Gerald Ford that alien believers could carry him to victory: “Do you realize the innumerable supporters and believers of ‘flying saucers’. They must, alone in your country, count to a million if not more and no doubt represent an interesting potential of votes which just cannot be neglected in an election year.”
The Ford Administration blew von Däniken off and dismissed aliens as a campaign issue. How bizarre that four decades later we have a candidate who is enacting von Däniken’s prescription, and apparently from sincere interest rather than cynicism.
It’s disturbing to think that one of the two major party candidates for president thinks aliens have visited Earth in the past, and it is depressing to realize that Clinton’s ufology beliefs are up against Donald Trump’s wide-ranging conspiracy theories and embrace of ancient astronaut, ufology, and Reptilian believer Alex Jones. Apparently the it’s the age of pseudoscience and conspiracy, and we have to live in it.
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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