Weird Roundup: Angels Drive UFOs, Ufologist Runs for School Board, and Graham Hancock Redates the Neolithic
The world is cracking up, and I am left speechless by some of what I’ve learned today.
This morning’s email brought another bizarre email that makes me despair for the future. Written by a Christian pastor who is also a civil rights activist with a regional media profile in the south, the email told me that the pastor is a “practicing ufologist” as well as a “historian” and “scholar.” He wanted me to call him to discuss ancient astronauts and his recent UFO sighting because he wants to join “my colleagues” on Ancient Aliens. His name is Franklyn V. Beckles, Jr. of Augusta, Georgia, and to avoid any potential libel issues, let me note that he publicizes his ufology interests himself in interviews with the press. Yes, I have checked him out, and yes he is a real person who runs a church and a private school, and he is running for the school board in Richmond County, Georgia as part of a campaign to become school superintendent in 2014, according to local reports. And yes, he also has mistaken me for an ancient astronaut theorist.
What’s worse: creationist school board members or ufologist ones? It must make for an interesting time trying to decide who the “designer” is in the intelligent design curriculum.
Beckles is a very direct and disturbing effect of the alternative history movement, which is why I’ve found it important to discuss all of the wacky claims alternative historians come up with. During the Paradigm Symposium on Saturday, speakers apparently made some outrageous claims, according to tweets from PZ Myers, who spoke at the event.
One alternative lecture Myers attended shows the pernicious influence of Scott Wolter and the uncritical acceptance of everything cable TV spews out.
L. A. Marzulli, a “Nephilim” researcher, novelist, and Biblical prophecy explicator, claims that deformed Peruvian skulls—specifically those produced by the widespread practice of head-binding—are proof that the Nephilim-aliens manipulated Peruvian DNA. He also argued that the Roswell event is connected to Mt. Hermon, the Levantine cult site where Enoch claimed that the Watchers (whom he takes for Nephilim) met, because he says Roswell and Mt. Hermon are exactly 180 degrees of longitude apart—exactly opposite on the terrestrial sphere. Roswell is at 104.5 degrees west, while Hebron is located at about 36 degrees east. Clearly, these do not make for 180 degrees of longitude. (Myers wrote that Marzulli identified the site as Mt. Hebron, but I have taken the liberty of assuming that is a transcription error.) Marzulli told the audience that angels drive UFOs and enter earth from a parallel dimension.
Marzulli argued that centaurs, the Minotaur, and fauns were all real, and that David slew Goliath by hitting his pituitary gland. Marzulli further claimed that non-Jews of the Bronze Age were soulless products of the evil Nephilim and deserved to be killed, but that the soulless Nephilim escaped the heroic Jewish genocide by fleeing to South America, where they became the white gods of the Inca. Worse, Marzulli adopted Scott Wolter’s claim that Mystery Hill, New Hampshire (a.k.a. “America’s Stonehenge”) can be connected to Stonehenge in Britain by a straight line—as any two points on the globe can be via the Great Circle—but he also takes over Wolter’s extended claim that the circle leads directly to Mt. Hermon in Israel (Wolter actually gave only a generic “Phoenicia”) in order to make the whole thing a Nephilim-demon-alien conspiracy. Note: This claim about the New Hampshire to Phoenicia highway originates on America Unearthed and therefore proves that the show is cross-pollinating with other alternative types because of its perceived credibility.
Marzulli then rejected evolution, claimed that South American stone structures had piezoelectric properties and teleported people to other dimensions—claims drawn directly from Ancient Aliens, where David Childress and William Henry argued that the Inca had star gates in the form of false doors. Marzulli then connected the entire conspiracy to Nephilim living among us today. He said that the man who gnawed another’s face off last year, allegedly while high on bath salts, was in fact a soulless Nephilim, and that Satan was behind alien implants in UFO abductees.
On his website, Marzulli describes himself as providing “Biblical” answers to modern questions, including “tornadoes, earthquakes, … flooding, riots, and the rise of lawlessness.” These Biblical answers happen to take the form of extra-biblical, non-canonical claims from the Book of Enoch that repurpose New Age ancient astronaut nonsense and reassign it back to the demons that ancient astronaut theorists first appropriated to serve as their aliens. He also asserts that “the current political landscape” (Are we to read that as Barack Obama?) is causing Biblical prophecies to come to fruition, culminating in the “supernatural events” of Revelation.
Have you ever noticed that alternative “researchers” never seem to look at the nuts and bolts of history—say, Varro’s On Agriculture, or Egyptian cosmetics, or Incan animal husbandry? It’s always religion. Gods, demons, monsters. But surely the aliens should have left traces in farming techniques, cosmetics (Enoch says the Watchers taught people how to use makeup), and the everyday necessities of life. These “researchers” don’t care because they aren’t making historical claims but religious ones—trying to create a space for God or gods in a world they fear might otherwise be secular or materialist—hence the attacks on evolution even by ancient astronaut theorists who might conceivably have use for it to explain when came the aliens. That question, though, is irrelevant, since the aliens are merely angels in service of the ineffable Almighty, quite literally collapsing all the various proposed meanings of Elohim into one. Obama is the Antichrist, America is God’s chosen battleground, and the righteous will be raptured up to the great UFO in the sky. Hallelujah!
By contrast, Graham Hancock came off as positively sedate this morning in his new YouTube video with Andrew Collins and others, produced as part of the Origins of Civilization Tour 2013, where he merely decided to radially re-date the entire Neolithic based on the 10,000-year-old Turkish megalithic site of Göbekli Tepe. Here’s what Hancock said:
It’s going to require us to reconsider our whole dating sequence on megalithic sites around the world, and we may find that megalithic sites that have been comfortably for decades—even for a hundred years—attributed to the period of five to six thousand years ago or less may actually be as old as Göbekli Tepe. It’s possible. I’m certainly open to that possibility, and I’m going to be looking into that.
Gone is the vanished super-civilization with its advanced nuclear-laser beam technology from Sign and the Seal (1992). Gone is the vanished world-mapping super-civilization from Fingerprints of the Gods (1995). Gone is even the much-reduced sunken coastal Neolthic-plus-a-little-more civilization from Underworld (2005). Instead, his argument for us being “a species with amnesia” is that the Neolthic might have started a bit earlier, and this flash of insight came not from alternative history studies but from actual scholars working at an actual site, which Hancock then proceeds to misunderstand because he cannot divorce the idea that people would band together to build something from the trappings of what we call civilization (agriculture, cities, occupational specialization, etc.).
I’m sure that by the time his “sequel” to Fingerprints of the Gods (actually the fourth or fifth, depending on how you count Mars Mystery) hit stores, he’ll have found a way to resurrect the lost civilization in newer trappings, but as of today Göbekli Tepe has left him scrambling for answers, all the stranger since the site was discovered ages ago, excavated decades ago, written about a decade ago, and should have been well-known. It’s been all the rage for the past five years because Smithsonian magazine had an article about it in November 2008, which is where all the alternative researchers first learned about something scholars had been working on for a very long time before.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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