Did you happen to see yesterday’s and today’s cable TV listings? It was nearly wall to wall aliens and conspiracies, perhaps worse than I have ever seen it. H2 had the requisite Ancient Aliens episodes, of course. On the American Heroes Channel there was an hour giving Stanton Friedman free reign to proclaim the Roswell incident a genuine UFO crash, followed by Codes and Conspiracies, and then two more conspiracy shows, one asking whether Franklin Roosevelt really had polio. Over on the Science Channel, we have several hours of extraterrestrial shows tonight, including one on alien mummies, capped off last night with a new episode of The Unexplained Files, perhaps their most unbalanced and irresponsible yet.
I can’t offer a formal review of the episode because I don’t have the expertise to evaluate modern UFO claims. I can, though, make a few observations about the poor quality of the show. Unlike most episodes, which feature two different topics, this episode had only one: Are extraterrestrials planning terrorist attacks on the world’s nuclear bases? To investigate this paranoid claim, Unexplained Files turns to a familiar figure, Nick Pope, the former British Defence official who is here described as the head of Britain’s “official X-files”—a claim all the more ridiculous given how Unexplained Files virtually rips off The X-Files’s theme music, not to mention name, graphic design, and aesthetic.
Anyway, Pope starts off by offering a rather dumb claim. He correlates UFO sightings to their proximity to U.S. Air Force Bases, but doesn’t consider the obvious conclusion that such sightings occur due to Air Force activities, such as test flights, as has long been known. Instead, he claims that space aliens have a deep interest in our nuclear weapons.
To illustrate this, Pope and Unexplained Files cover three cases that are extremely familiar even to me—and I don’t have much interest in modern UFO sightings. The three cases are:
In all three cases neither Pope nor Unexplained Files provided any physical or even documentary evidence in favor of their claims, only hearsay from various supposed witnesses decades after the fact. But having failed to make a case, the show does manage to be reprehensible in two aspects.
First, it never explains to readers that Pope has a potential conflict of interest arising from his financial interest in the Rendlesham story, which makes up the majority of the hour. He is not a disinterested observer or an objective researcher but the author of several books on the subject, including a new one oh so coincidentally just released this summer, as part of his bid to become the world’s leading (and thus highest paid) Rendlesham UFO expert. This documentary was all but an informercial for Pope’s new book, Encounter in Rendlesham Forest—the one that the Fortean Times accused of “mislead[ing] his readers” and purposeful omission of skeptical arguments. You know, like on this show, which includes exactly one skeptical (albeit unusual) argument (that the incident was an Air Force effort aimed at retrieving an Apollo space capsule) only to waive it aside with a fact-free dismissal from Pope.
But here’s the kicker: The narrator repeatedly ties the UFO incidents to abject fear. Words like “terrifying” seep into the narration, as the gravelly voice over offers one “even more frightening reason” after the other to believe in an evidence-free conspiracy. The show asserts a U.S. government conspiracy “to hide the truth,” but offers no opposing view—or even any evidence in favor of this claim, only an assertion without grounding that whatever the government says is a “lie.”
The producers at British production company Raw-TV (with whom I spoke when they wanted me to, essentially, lie about the Smithsonian conspiring to hide Bible giants) should be ashamed of themselves for such fear-mongering. When you contrast their program with the news stories this week about growing public panic that ISIS (ISIL/Islamic State) is planning a terrorist attack against America, as well as continuing upset over perceived invasions across America’s southern border, it becomes irresistible to see the rise of fear-mongering conspiracy programs like this and like the Ancient Aliens obsession with genetic hybridization as a reflection of the post-9/11 world in which traumatized Americans are paralyzed by an overwhelming fear of invasion. The message, distorted through science fiction conventions, is essentially identical to that of nativist political pundits: terrifying foreign forces are trying to attack us, destroy our way of life, and breed us out of existence unless we stop them. Neither your government, nor your land, nor even your families, bodies, or genes are safe. In the meantime, be afraid and send money.
But enough of this. I’ve gone one other nutty idea to share. As you may be aware, America Unearthed is coming back next month and one of the episodes will explore Judaculla Rock, a petroglyph-covered stone in North Carolina often attributed to the Cherokee but possibly dating back as far as the Middle Woodland Period (500 CE). Anyway, North Carolina author David Webb published a book about the rock last year, unbeknownst to me, in which he claims to have decoded the petroglyphs, in defiance of all scholarly attempts to do so. He translated the characters and discovered… well, you’ll see:
…Judaculla Rock tells of a time when giants and little people lived together in harmony and the children of the forest were taught their ways. The ancient language of the stone is a language of the Ginn [sic] (angels who were created 2000 years before Adam). The Ginn language was a language of Mother Nature and was kept hidden in the forest. This book uncovers a creation story where angels communicated with mankind and opens up the possibility of seeing the rich cultural history located in the Tuckaseegee that touches all other histories of the ancient archaeologies.
It’s interesting that Webb conflates the Djinn with angels (they are very different in Islamic lore), and that he ties Abrahamic angelology to Cherokee mythology.
So, the rock was carved in the language of the angels and records secrets of creation, including the deeds of the giants. Where have we heard that before? Oh, right: It’s the damned Watchers and their Nephilim-giant offspring again. The parallel to the version of their story given in the Book of Jubilees is uncanny. In Jubilees 8:3, Kainam finds just such a rock: “And he found a writing which former (generations) had carved on the rock, and he read what was thereon, and he transcribed it and sinned owing to it; for it contained the teaching of the Watchers in accordance with which they used to observe the omens of the sun and moon and stars in all the signs of heaven.” It is the same as the Pillars of Wisdom from Josephus (Antiquities 1:68-74) and all the others versions of the same, when the Sons of God came unto the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-4). I would never accuse Webb of knowing this, but it’s interesting that he makes his angels into Djinn since the most infamous of the Watchers, Azazel, is said in the Qu’ran (18:50) to be a Djinn rather than an angel, assuming that we accept the hadith that the Djinn Iblis (Satan) mentioned in this verse was born under the name Azazel.
"Are extraterrestrials planning terrorist attacks on the world’s nuclear bases?"
9/10/2014 02:08:49 pm
Actually, Gunn, I find the whole "Aliens are targeting nuclear weapons" idea greatly entertaining.
9/10/2014 02:34:28 pm
Sadly, "malfunction" was and remains the best explanation whenever something goes wrong with Russian technology. Followed by "operator was intoxicated and/or incompetent".
Only Me says: "Let's think on this. Beings with the technology to traverse hundreds or thousands of light years of space are concerned with the presence of nuclear weapons?"
9/11/2014 06:32:59 am
Gunn, will the Millenium Wind Turbine help "our experience become better again"?
9/11/2014 08:13:35 am
No, Gunn, the beings *you're* talking about are different from the ones *I'm* talking about. I'm referring to extraterrestrials with advanced technology, which was the subject of the episode discussed in the article above.
Only Me lamely says: "I'm referring to extraterrestrials with advanced technology, which was the subject of the episode discussed in the article above."
9/11/2014 03:17:54 pm
Can we talk about the Millenium Wind Turbine? Please?
9/11/2014 05:27:15 pm
First, Gunn, you can stop pretending you know anything about me. You can also drop the attitude; you expressed an opinion and I expressed mine. Your interpretation, and that is all it is, is no better than my own. Call it lame all you want, I offered an opinion based on the episode and article...that nuts and bolts UFOs have visited military bases to play Red Light, Green Light with our nuclear arsenal.
9/12/2014 12:04:44 pm
There sometimes is something rather physical and direct
9/10/2014 05:45:00 am
Jason, any idea whether either "little people" or "children of the forest" distinct from basic normal humans?
9/10/2014 06:19:18 am
I believe that the poorly written book description meant to imply that the rock, not the book, is historically significant. I have no idea about the other groups. It sounds like the "little people" are dwarves or fairies of some kind, while the children of the forest are probably the Cherokee.
9/10/2014 06:27:41 am
OK, so basically The Chronicles of Narnia, got it.
9/10/2014 06:51:35 am
Poorly written? Are you kidding me? You're not looking forward to reading about the "histories of the ancient archaeologies"?
9/10/2014 07:22:27 am
The Little People are a common theme in native lore. The Cherokee variant are the Yunwi Tsunsdi':
The Other J.
9/11/2014 12:08:37 am
"Poorly written? Are you kidding me? You're not looking forward to reading about the 'histories of the ancient archaeologies'?"
Duke of URL
9/10/2014 06:27:10 am
"The Ginn language was a language of Mother Nature and was kept hidden in the forest."
9/10/2014 07:02:28 am
The language of the Ginn was hidden in the forest? The Djinn are beings of smokeless fire; it seems dangerous. I don't think Smokey would approve.
9/10/2014 07:08:39 am
Given that we're talking about a self-published book sold out of an anarchist hippie coop cafe, I'm pretty sure the only bear whose approval they seek is Tokey :)
9/10/2014 01:07:22 pm
It's been kinda fun over the last few years watching the few nuts-n-bolts UFO believers left coalesce around the idea that aliens are deeply, deeply, concerned about nuclear weapons. It's an old idea, first broached in books written in the 1950s. For example, in Is Another World Watching? author Gerald Heard developed the idea pretty far, claiming that the first underwater nuclear test had the capability of tipping Earth over, which might have detrimental effects on Mars, where the aliens lived. Also atomic bombs cause sunspots, and our Sun might explode at any time, so the aliens wanted us to stop detonating them. It was silly stuff, but the current version of "Aliens are after our nukes" has even less of a rationale for why the aliens would care.
9/10/2014 01:23:21 pm
Also, atomic bombs are what Xenu used to explode all them Thetans
9/10/2014 02:05:50 pm
I listened to Stanton Friedman on The Paracast recently. He sounded nearly obsessed with the space/atomic age of the 1940s-1960s, before it all started to come unraveled. Jason has talked about the idea of viewing the Victorians as supermen. This wasn't that far off.
9/10/2014 02:32:29 pm
I think as we move farther away from the Space Age, it's becoming more mythical. It doesn't hurt that it was also the childhood (or immediately preceding their childhood) for a lot of the researchers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and therefore almost automatically the Golden Age when everything was wonderful.
The Other J.
9/11/2014 12:01:42 am
Is The Paracast still mostly insufferable self-promotion? Haven't tuned in for years.
9/11/2014 01:26:43 am
Jason: For Friedman, it isn't his childhood so much (though there is that, see below) as his professional life. Friedman was involved in that industry, famously in his retelling in working on an atomic rocket engine. The interview was on August 3 if you are interested. You get the feeling he felt betrayed by not continuing in the industry, and of science and technology not following up on the engineer dreams of the atomic and space age, that we didn't build Project Orion atomic spacecruisers. His hate for SETI, which is more on display in this interview than I've ever heard it and I've heard him speak (Friedman was quite affable and curious when we had an accidental dinner once after the Roswell UFO festival, which is why I found the interview disappointingly harsh), also takes on a shade of envy, of the sort of space science along with probes and such that got greater attention after interest in the Cold War driven manned space missions waned. I actually think there are major critiques of SETI, but not that its silly because UFOs.
9/11/2014 01:38:11 am
Other J: Depends on what you mean.
9/11/2014 01:41:59 am
And I should note, I once liked O'Brien's first book, The Mysterious Valley. I didn't believe much in it, but I thought O'Brien was being honest. I thought it was a good story if you took it just that way. And as someone teaching and wanting to write about paranormal culture, the reflexive nature of the book was useful.
The Other J.
9/11/2014 02:24:15 am
Re: The Paracast -- Awesome answer
9/11/2014 02:56:23 am
No, the project isn't close to this at all. At one time, I was considering something on paranormal and conspiracy culture, with a heavy emphasis on ufology. But while I still follow it to some degree, I think the things I would be best working on are elsewhere (somewhat related to the broad topic, but much more in my professional wheelhouse of archaeology and psuedoarchaeology). I largely listen to these shows now for personal interest, with occasional useful material popping up.
The Other J.
9/11/2014 09:58:28 am
You were responsible for getting Binnall in touch with Sharon Hill? Thanks for doing that.
9/11/2014 11:58:41 am
No, then I haven't listened to Out There, I think.
9/11/2014 12:01:03 pm
To be honest, I suspected that Tim would contact Sharon. It wasn't my intention exactly (I was less certain she would post about the show), but I thought he might, and I encouraged her to do the interview because Tim is a good podcaster.
The Other J.
9/11/2014 08:32:58 pm
I know Tim's had her on twice since last year, so it looks like it could become a regular thing. I don't listen when he has Jim Marrs or Stanton Friedman on, but if he continues to balance out such shows with people like Hill, that's a good sign. It's the only case I know of where the skeptical believer and a knowledgeable skeptic are having constructive dialog, and Tim has a chance to make that model grow.
9/12/2014 08:03:59 am
I don't really like irreverent in this sort of context, as I actually want to learn something. That's been my issue with Discordianism when encountering it in the past, being treated to it being one big clever in-joke of Fnord. And I get why that is, fine, but that doesn't interest me.
9/12/2014 08:13:39 am
It's interesting that you mention not listening to Friedman on Binnall of America. I would agree. The downside to Tim's approach is also the upside: he lets the guest speak. For a guest interested in a conversation, that's great. For a guest that's completely new to me, that's great.
9/12/2014 12:18:08 pm
"I listened to Stanton Friedman on The Paracast recently. He sounded nearly obsessed with the space/atomic age of the 1940s-1960s, before it all started to come unraveled. Jason has talked about the idea of viewing the Victorians as supermen. This wasn't that far off." (spookyparadigm)
9/10/2014 03:39:42 pm
Mars Sector 6:
9/10/2014 08:41:46 pm
This is just like that other fruitcake, Billy Meier...the guy who's been in "contact" with beings from the Pleiades since 1975.
9/11/2014 06:59:48 am
Fun Fact: One of the reasons the Pleiades keeps coming up as the home of the ETs is that it was briefly associated with the center of the cosmos by 19th century astronomers, thus making way into Mormon apologetics and some of the "channeled" religious texts.
9/10/2014 07:27:09 pm
9/11/2014 02:32:21 am
I don't get the apollo capsule theory. The last apollo was launched in 75 (the Soyez/Apollo mission) and the program was over. There were many boilerplate apollo capsules used for water landing testing but honestly why five years after the program ended in the UK for gosh sakes. Makes no sense.
FDR had polio!
9/11/2014 10:11:32 am
FDR had polio. I'm backing up the statement with
9/11/2014 05:31:14 pm
Off-topic comment, Dickey.
YES and NO
9/12/2014 11:47:23 am
JASON SAID THIS UP ABOVE...
FDR had polio!
9/12/2014 11:54:21 am
9/12/2014 05:17:19 pm
The actual article is "Unexplained Files Tells Us to Fear Nuclear-Obsessed UFOs". THAT is what the article discusses, not one line included in a paragraph highlighting the amount of conspiracy programing within certain time blocks.
9/12/2014 05:40:25 pm
. , you know there are avenues for getting one's writing self-published, right? Why impose it on those who clearly don't want to touch it with a 10ft pole?
the human mind
9/14/2014 07:02:05 am
I'm half wishing Jason had briefly reviewed the show he avoided.
my take on Ufology
9/14/2014 07:11:38 am
There have been UFO reports that place them near our
9/14/2014 07:41:25 am
The Foo Fighters in 1942 may not have been ball lightning.
9/12/2014 05:43:42 pm
The notion has always entertained me that extraterrestrials would waste their time checking out the obsolete technology we use. Same goes for most abduction and animal mutilation stories. They have no way to gain info than physical abductions and surgical procedures? They couldn't give the cows or people MRIs? And rather than dispose of the carcasses they leave the animals sliced up to be found and return the people with the chance they'll remember to tell their stories?
9/12/2014 06:19:26 pm
Obviously, 1950s-1970s technology was "magical" to our ancient ancestors. The whole AAT story about aliens in prehistoric times sounds like a rip-off of Thundarr the Barbarian's version of Earth: "A world of savagery, super-science and sorcery." But the magic disappeared once time marched into the millennium.
9/12/2014 06:22:00 pm
I think we should all watch Krogoth of Barbaria and smoke a peace pipe to set aside the animosity and negaitve energy, man:
9/20/2014 06:46:01 am
Jason wrote: “I can’t offer a formal review of the episode [Are Aliens Attacking our Nuclear Arsenal?] because I don’t have the expertise to evaluate modern UFO claims.” Nevertheless, he quickly followed-up by calling the show “poor” and “dumb”.
9/20/2014 06:53:15 am
9/20/2014 08:56:45 am
Robert, you have misunderstood a bit what I was going for. When I said I was familiar with the stories, I meant that I was familiar with them from their use on TV shows like these, not with the stories themselves. In fact, I have found very little factual information about the Malmstrom incident, for example, not written by UFO believers. UFO shows give highly condensed, highly inaccurate accounts.
9/20/2014 07:53:46 pm
Jason, it's not always clear whether they are talking about the nearby town or the military base. If they were talking to people at the base, they would not be allowed to talk to just anyone, so four people is (more than) a reasonable number. Byelokoroviche is the name of the base. There are a few villages around, but none closer than a couple miles away. In poor visibility conditions, it is not impossible that *something* would have appeared to the base personnel but not to local residents.
9/20/2014 09:47:29 am
9/20/2014 08:01:04 pm
Do you believe that it's aliens? Do you think it's a serious possibility that it's aliens?
9/21/2014 06:26:45 am
Please read all of the documents and affidavits on my website's document page. Once you have done so, and can demonstrate to my satisfaction that you have done so, then we can discuss this subject.
9/21/2014 06:38:51 am
I'm not going to let you dictate what I should read before asking you a simple yes/no question. If you aren't willing to answer it, then you are obviously not worth taking seriously.
9/21/2014 06:22:39 am
EP wrote: "There are a few villages around, but none closer than a couple miles away. In poor visibility conditions, it is not impossible that *something* would have appeared to the base personnel but not to local residents."
9/21/2014 06:37:51 am
Could you link to Knapp's documents themselves? Nothing you linked seems to mention any of these other locations, some of which are really far away.
9/21/2014 06:43:56 am
I will ask George if I may post the six pages of translated material that he gave me last December. I know that he is writing a book on the case so he may decline my request. But I will ask.
EP wrote: "I'm not going to let you dictate what I should read before asking you a simple yes/no question. If you aren't willing to answer it, then you are obviously not worth taking seriously."
9/21/2014 07:03:42 am
If "lazy" is the only explanation you can think of, then you have no business researching anything. (How about "busy with other things", or "not interested enough in the topic", or "read it all before"?)
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