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Ancient Aliens Exploits a Difficulty in History

Justin Stark

Posted on January 8, 2020 10:19

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Since 2010, Ancient Aliens has stood out as one of the weirder shows on television. The show is often though of as a ridiculous fantasy, pseudohistorical work of pure entertainment. I'm here to tell those critics they're wrong.

I’m sure most of us have seen an episode or two of Ancient Aliens. A show that probably got a lot of us thinking maybe these guys are onto something, at least in the earlier seasons. As the show goes into its fifteenth season, I’ve finally uncovered the secret to the show's lasting success. Yes, its elevation to meme status and now repetitive nature have helped the show stay alive, but the true secret to its longevity lies in the nature of ancient history.

For those who have seen Ancient Aliens, you’ve probably noticed they don’t move to new topics often. The formula seems to be to stick to the major mysteries such as the Pyramids of Giza, Nazca Lines, Moai Statues, and medieval art. This is where the problem begins. Much of ancient history is lost. Archeologists and historians have come a long way in putting together pieces of the past, and we’re lucky that some documents have survived thousands of years, but there are still many aspects that remain a mystery to modern peoples. This is where things get easy for ancient alien theorists.

Part of the historians’ job is to put together a narrative consisting of historiographical facts. For a World War II historian, the standards for building that narrative are different. They have many documents, books, memoirs, and living participants. Their problem becomes one of which way to build a unique narrative with an ocean of evidence while keeping their perspective backed by fact-based evidence. Seeing as history is a group-regulated discipline, there is an expected level of responsibility and rigorousness shown in the form or footnotes that enable others to verify their claims. However, on Ancient Aliens, their primary sources are limited to significantly less than that of a more modern historian.

It’s up to the historians to fill in the gaps and construct a narrative around an artifact that has no given reason why it was built. As for Ancient Aliens, the answer revolves around extraterrestrials, and no one can prove their claims as false. Those on the show are indeed experts and have done a significant amount of research to tie multiple aspects of history into a science-fiction narrative, we must give them credit for creativity. To their luck, any aspect of ancient history could be attributed to aliens and that is why the show remains interesting, and more importantly to the History Channel, could likely do another fifteen seasons.

The truth is, I don’t think what they’re doing is unhistorical. Just like all ancient historians, they’re working with what they have. There is no clear truth and like all history, some things will always remain ambiguous, and even things we think we know is fact can change with new findings. The answers given on the program are a stretch, especially as the show has started to give alternative explanations to previously covered topics. I’ll keep tuning in occasionally, not because I believe, but because I can appreciate what they do.

Justin Stark

Posted on January 8, 2020 10:19

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Source: Cele|bitchy

Truly, one of my favorite little facts about Megan Fox is that she is unapologetically crazy when it comes to alien conspiracies...

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