Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ancient Aliens: Million-Dollar Mainstream Misinterpretation

The History Channel, since it's launch in 1995, has been a great source of educational programming; a trusted medium with which people could learn a great deal about the past while watching television.  Many of their documentaries and the like are regarded as factual and historically accurate, with contributions from well reputable and peer reviewed content just like any other legitimate scientific reference.  However this new age of television, consisting mostly of "reality" (a term used very loosely, I might add) shows which offer no educational value and contain next-to-nothing in the factual information department, has poisoned highly-regarded and well respected television channels such as Discovery and History.

In 2009, the History Channel aired a 2 hour special, called Ancient Aliens, on March 8th of that year.  It's purpose was to research ancient texts and art from antiquity and create various hypotheses concerning "ancient astronauts," the term used to describe extraterrestrial visitors that may, or may not, have visited our ancestors in the past.  Civilizations such as the Egyptians, Mayans, Aztecs, and Mesopotamians have been studied in order to find evidence to support ancient astronaut visitation theories.  "Chariots of the Gods?" was written by a man named Erich Von Daniken.  This book was predominantly used as a backbone for the script of the program, and even featured interviews of the offer during the show.  He claimed that many structures, sculptures, and other ancient marvels are not human masterpieces, but rather the work of ancient astronauts, who not only helped build and create such things as the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, The Moai sculptures on Easter Island, and the Nazca Lines in Peru, but also designed them with unknown intent; perhaps to create hidden celestial maps, or protect secrets that we are not supposed to know of, yet. Von Daniken and many others believe all of this to be true, saying that it was (and sometimes still is) impossible for humans to design and build these wonders with the technology they had at the time, and the only way the structures could be physically plausible was due to ancient astronaut involvement in their fruition.  

Although the concept was farfetched, it received decent reviews which determined that, though the program was highly speculative, it was a unique and entertaining take on certain aspects of popular cultures of antiquity.  However, when the show was renewed and new episodes were written and planned to be aired on April 20, 2010, it started to go downhill from there.  The show made 4 seasons so far (and counting), with no end in sight.  With each season renewal, the episodes became more ridiculous, and re-popularized the term pseudohistory.  Masters of satire, Trey Stone and Matt Parker made Ancient Aliens the topic of one of their episodes last year:

Many pseudoscience techniques were used, such as only focusing on evidence that supports their claims, rather than doing what renowned members of the scientific community do and seek to refute hypotheses.  Ancient Aliens also hid behind a false authority figure, the History Channel, which conveniently led people to believe they are actually a reputable source for historical information due to their title and past credibility.  But they lost all of that when they made programs like Ancient Aliens, in my eyes.


  1. Having recently suffered through the pilot episode of Ancient Aliens, I felt compelled to add my two cents here. The show itself is so laughably inaccurate and quick to jump to conclusions that it seems like the whole thing is a long joke at times. While some of the facts are solid (such as the dating of Stonehenge), they tend to use one solid fact as a jumping off point to ten other enormous assumptions. South Park didn't even have to try too hard here, but their parody was still gold.

  2. My friends and I have long, ranting conversations on how terrible this show is and how it is based on no scientific or historical evidence whatsoever. History Channel has completely gone overboard with their new approach of merely attracting viewers with far fetched entertainment instead of presenting actual historical facts. Ancient Aliens, while entertaining, is most definitely a pseudoscience. Also, nice use of the South Park clip haha, one of my favorite episodes!