Ancient Aliens promo picture courtesy of the History Channel
Ancient Aliens promo picture courtesy of the History Channel

Originally Published on Medium

Discounting actual science and proven methodologies, the History Channel show is one of the leading drivers of anti-intellectualism and the growing anti-science movement throughout modern society. The ancient astronaut theory is speculative at best. For years, many have pointed to the idiocy, fabrications, and lies of Ancient Aliens.

For decades, intellectuals, scientists, and archaeologists alike have all debunked the theory and demonized it for general stupidity.

The problem is, producers at the History Channel know this. But since it sells advertisements on their product, they couldn’t care less. The reality we live in today is based on revenue generation more than telling the truth. I recently wrote about Black Rock, State Street, and Vanguard owning more than 40% of all publicly traded companies and 88% of S&P 500 companies. That comprises every major media outlet. Including the History Channel.

A deeper dive reveals Vanguard owns 7.66% and BlackRock owns 4.36% of the History Channel’s parent company. Why is this important? Because, as I mentioned in my article for Momentum here on Medium, “As they promote content to get us hooked on big media, they’re also promoting the myriad products they have majority stakes in.

In other words, all they care about is ad revenue and inundating the public with product placement to generate profits.

In 2012, Riley Black wrote for the Smithsonian Magazine: “This is a common technique among cranks and self-appointed challengers of science; it is called Gish Gallop after young earth creationist Duane Gish. When giving public presentations about evolution and creationism, Gish rapidly spouted off a series of misinterpretations and falsehoods to bury his opponent under an avalanche of fictions and distortions. If Gish’s opponent tried to dig themselves out, they would never be able to make enough progress to free themselves to take on Gish directly. Ancient Aliens uses the same tactic — the fictions come fast and furious.

I often discuss how misinformation is presented using logical fallacies and circular reasoning to portray opinions as facts. Ben Shapiro, Tucker Carlson, Charlie Kirk, and even Donald Trump rose to prominence using tactics similar to the Gish Gallop. Many pundits like those mentioned here manipulate language to appear smarter, yet they are not. Throughout U.S. history, from the KKK to Trump, dog-whistles have also been used in a similar fashion.

The ancient astronaut theory began rising to prominence with the release of Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken in 1968. His hypothesis has been declared racist (among other things) by academics as von Däniken and other theorists refuse to accept the fact that the great non-white civilizations of the past such as the Maya, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, and other ancient civilizations around the world could not have been intelligent or advanced enough to create monuments, art, or music.

Based on the simple idea that von Däniken couldn’t himself explain that which he deliberately refuses to acknowledge, his argument is that it must have been aliens. Theorists of this rather nonsensical theory speculate at great length (and profit) while throwing out the verifiable science and knowledge of far more educated archaeologists and scientists. Considering where we are in the middle of a pandemic, the logic used by anti-vaxxers sounds eerily familiar to the reasoning used by these so-called theorists.

Flat-earthers and those who believe climate change is a hoax (along with those who believe survivors of mass shootings are crisis actors) all speculate using the same flawed reasoning in a seemingly concerted effort of dumbassery. The oversimplification of complex issues and knowledge is one of the biggest sellers in modern society because people buy it without giving it a second thought. Essentially, the theory is paradoxical. It begins by making the claim they are trying to end with.

Circular reasoning is when someone claims “A” is true because “B” is true therefore “B” must be true because “A” is true. Think, Idiocracy. In the movie, there is a particular scene discussing electrolytes that makes no sense and is quite comical.

Pvt. Joe Bowers: “What are these electrolytes? Do you even know?”

Secretary of State: “They’re… what they use to make Brawndo!”

Pvt. Joe Bowers: “But why do they use them to make Brawndo?”

Secretary of Defense: [raises hand after a pause] “Because Brawndo’s got electrolytes.”

No matter how hard Luke Wilson’s character tries, he doesn’t gain any knowledge about the electrolytes in Brawndo from the morons of the future. People laugh at this scene without ever seeing themselves being represented. Much like George Carlin talking about how stupid Americans are, no one ever thinks he’s talking about them. Yet, he was talking about the vast majority of us.

As was Idiocracy.

If you watch Ancient Aliens, pay attention to the language being used. When it comes to the narrator, everything is a question followed by “ancient astronaut theorists say yes,” leading to the conclusion that their beliefs are held within a small circle of science fiction writers. The only validation they offer is that of their fans who watch the show.

Again, with no actual evidence of anything confirming their beliefs.

In 2017, Barry Vacker wrote a Medium article calling the show “an attack on logic, rationality, and the nature of evidence.” Vacker pulled no punches. “Here we are fifty years after Apollo and thirty years after the Hubble telescope, and the dominant ideologies are still based in cosmic narcissism and human super-specialness — pretending to be the center of the universe or under the delusion that a Creator or Ancient Aliens are looking out for us,” he continued.

In 2018, Kenneth Feder, who has a Ph.D. in anthropology, told the New York Times, “A lot of the ancient alien stuff relies on willful ignorance and temporal chauvinism.” He argued that the ancient astronaut theory is based on the belief that ancient people were incapable of complex feats of engineering. Mr. Feder said, “I’d read that the building of the Mayan temples was a mystery and think, ‘Why don’t you ask Professor Armillas? He knows exactly how it was done.

Let’s also not forget that despite Giorgio Tsoukalos dressing in his khaki wannabe archeologist outfit, he has no academic accreditation in the field. In fact, prior to appearing on the show, he worked as a bodybuilding promoter while publishing a newsletter about aliens called “Legendary Times”. It wasn’t until he and his longtime friend von Däniken came together that the theory became more mainstream. Oddly enough, they’re both Swiss.

If you’re interested in watching von Däniken’s “Chariots of the Gods” debunked by Carl Sagan in a joint PBS and BBC documentary filmed in 1979, watch it here. I remind you that it was Sagan who said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Something Ancient Aliens profoundly lacks.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.
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