Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Little Further Down the Tube

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home. ~David Frost

I know, I know. I'm a tiresome old curmudgeon when it comes to the subject of non-fiction television, most recently discoursed here. But, the situation is becoming so ridiculous, I am moved, once again, to raise a voice in pitiful protest.
Discovery plays fast and loose with quotes from scientists (leading them to believe that the subject is not prehistoric sharks still roaming the seas). Cosmos was horrible (thanks loads, Seth McFarland). Various crackpots have been given air time to claim they've found Jesus' tomb, Atlantis (again and again), Noah's ark (Look! That image shows a rectangular rock! It must be the ark!) and the Ark of the Covenant (one of the most pitiful shows ever done because the expert was so sincere).
Virtually every night, we get conspiracies uncovered (watch out for those sneaky Freemasons!), UFO's tracked (they're everywhere, they're everywhere), and ancient “discoveries” proving that pre-Columbus, the vikings set up shop in Wisconsin (probably because they heard the cheese was good). Also in the ancient discoveries (ha, ha) category is the never-ending nonsense of the ancient aliens shows. The pyramids? Aliens built 'em). The Nazca lines? Alien runways. Mythological beings in ancient religions? Obviously, aliens.
Recently, there was an ad for one of these pieces of nonsense claiming that Constantine's vision of a flaming cross was “misunderstood technology”, i.e. it was an airplane because, after all, if you look up in the sky an airplane looks like a cross. Of course, if it looks like a flaming cross, which was Constantine's vision, it might be in a tad of trouble, but what the heck, that's not your problem.
In hoc signo vinces, my ass; someone's just flying the friendly skies.
But it looks like they're really running dry, because they've had to resurrect the Bosnian Pyramids.
This bunch of baloney made news in the generally ignorant mass media (which will believe anything by someone claiming to be a scientist) back in 2006, and was immediately debunked. I've written about the whole fiasco at length; you can see it all here. The so-called archaeologist was a guy named Semir “Sam” Osmanagic, among whose other claims to fame included determining that ancient Mayans were descendants of the survivors of Atlantis, who were themselves descended from – ready for it?-- alien visitors from the Pleiades. As I said in my earlier piece, for those who are astronomy-disabled, the Pleiades is a star cluster which is one heck of a long way from Atlantis.
Ol' Sam even brought in an expert from Egypt to verify that his discovery was an honest-to-gosh-for-real pyramid. Trouble is the “expert” was not from the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He was a mineral expert who decided that the sand between the blocks clearly indicated the use of cement like the ancient Egyptians used. Except that they didn't use a sand-filled cement; they used a gypsum-based goop which also helped slide blocks into place. There was also the problem that the whole area was under a sheet of ice at the time these things were supposedly constructed. You get the idea.
So the Bosnian Pyramids sank into oblivion as the mass media began to realize they had been had. Well, having given people enough time to forget the truth, good old History Channel (or H2, I'm not sure which) has brought them back, and given the direction they're taking these days it wouldn't be surprising to find that the aliens have something to do with them, which, interestingly was not one of the theories that Sam put forth at the time. But, if you're going to sell swamp gas, you might as well go for the premium stuff, I guess. This also may be a repeat of an program they did some years ago, which was seized upon by the pyramids-in-Bosnia crowd as proof positive that they things are real.
What makes this all so galling is that the networks peddling this stuff are supposed to be entertaining people (and sneakily teaching) people real science and history, not this hokey crap that should make an educated person puke. It becomes easier to understand why we've become a nation of anti-vaxer's, climate deniers, and history revisionists. Combine this sort of “educational” programming with home schooling, Bible-based science and history, and a general disregard for actually learning anything of substance and you find the current miserable state of American education easy to understand.
Look, an occasional nutball claiming aliens drop by his backyard on a regular basis is just fine, if you have real scientists pointing out that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. But equal time for real knowledge doesn't seem to be part of the fabric of these programs.
The only satisfaction I can derive is that even the ignorant will tire of these idiotic displays after a while. After all, if you've seen one alien unexplained conspiracy you've seen them all. By that time, they'll have lost all the intelligent viewers, so no one will be left to watch their drivel. These networks will be reduced to 24 hours per day of infomercials.
Which will contain more factual material than all the hokum shows combined.