Society for American Archaeology asks Netflix to reclassify Ancient Apocalypse as "science fiction"

Originally published at: Society for American Archaeology asks Netflix to reclassify Ancient Apocalypse as "science fiction" | Boing Boing


Hey, don’t besmirch the good name of sci-fi like that!


Good for them. Respectable science has to stand up to this influx of pseudoscientific nonsense that is hiding behind a moniker of entertainment and miseducating millions of people. This sort of thing is deeply damaging to society, even if the horrible racist undertones weren’t there.

Shame on Netflix for producing this schlock. It sucks that our real scientists now have to be PR experts to get paid attention to in this attention-based economy.

When people aren’t taught the difference between real science (how we know what’s actually true about the world) and nonsense like this, then they become unable to think critically in other areas as well. Political lies, alternative medicine, conspiracy theories, etc, all fly under the radar because people aren’t taught to see the difference. The result is a gradual slide into chaos.

Our modern civilization depends on a modicum of science literacy among the populace to survive.


How about Misinfotainment?


Surreal humour, perhaps?


I like that :+1:


Dear Brother will be most pleased!

and DB is no PR guy. more a dour curmudgeon that won’t give a minute of his valuable time to even deign to refute this absolute bullshit. he and i talked at length about this very program and what damage it does to actual archaeological research.
he is looking forward to stepping down in the Near East Antiquities department and his position with the museum next year. i guess after this last dig season in Iraq, he is finally done. he will focus on his YouTube channel and podcasts on the subjects of antiques and antiquities (and maybe come down here to dive on Spanish shipwrecks! that would be cool).

get with it Netflix! call it what it is: trash.


This is unfortunately a big problem right now with the scientific community. We talk a lot about it in organized skepticism and rationalism. Real scientists and academics refuse to dignify this stuff with a comment or they don’t believe that anyone really believes it. Scientists are not science communicators, generally, and most are unaware of how deep science illiteracy goes in the general population. They don’t understand that ignoring this stuff actually makes it fester and grow, and that, sadly, refuting this stuff needs to be part of their job now.

Most people who haven’t studied skepticism and conspiracy thinking think that responding with correct information is sufficient. They believe if you give people the facts, they will accept them and change their world view. That is the opposite of what happens, and we need to be teaching this to people so they understand how to push back on pseudoscience and keep it from dominating our discourse,


“ninety percent of everything is crap”. — Theodore Sturgeon, noted SF author.

Maybe Ancient Apocalypses is pulpy science fiction. Let’s hope that it doesn’t displace good SF from Netflix’s production schedule. (3 Body Problem, et al)


One of the many problems I had with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (even if they used “interdimensional beings” as a stand-in for white people).


Shame on Netflix for not doing this. When I started working at my current job, I discovered that Graham Hancock’s books were listed under the “Anthropology” section and quickly, quietly recategorized them into “Metaphysics” with the rest of the ancient astronaut woo-woo revisionist history garbage. It’s an easy mistake for people to make if they don’t know who he is and what he does- and that’s exactly what he wants, for people to mistake him for an actual expert and not a racist, lying kook.


I think the majority of scientists are very aware of how pervasive scientific illiteracy is, teaching undergraduates will demonstrate that to you. The “don’t wrestle with a pig” adage is an adage because it can be exceedingly hard to change someone’s mind. I think Fauci is an effective communicator. He and his family require security details.

Graduate programs ideally should have more on combating scientific literacy, most programs don’t have a lot of training on how to teach, let alone how to talk to the public.

The pandemic and the climate emergency have brought me (and many of us) into countless internet arguments, pain of death and the demise of civilization are insufficient to convince people. Every scientific and medical organization out there has issued strong statements regarding climate change, it hasn’t changed enough minds.

I agree it’s a real problem, and the majority of scientists are watching civilization decline with a feeling of helplessness, but just them speaking up is insufficient to change the world.


Learning to think logically is hard, admitting there are huge problems is hard and scary, changing your worldview to allow for a de-centering of you and your beliefs takes effort and will. Very few people are interested in making the effort. Why get into stuff that will make you feel bad about past choices when you can just ignore it, and complain about what’s happening all around you? If you need ancient alien ancestors to help you feel good about yourself, nobody telling you they are a myth will change your mind.


We’ve seen how spreading misinformation is dangerous AF with stuff like:
Climate change denial
Covidiocy (1M dead Americans)
“The Big Lie” of right wing election fraud
Various pretenses for treating people as less than human
Using myths to promote genocide. ….

If people want to engage in such willful idiocy, they need the most socially acceptable version of a smack upside the head available under the circumstances. Being polite won’t do.


People who are working 60 hours a week just barely making ends meet simply don’t have the time for that kind of thing.

The issue isn’t the people who aren’t critical thinkers. The problem is the people spreading bullshit as part of an agenda (usually an agenda to make a buck).


That’s the problem with “the marketplace of ideas”. This junk gets picked apart again and again, but the cranks and grifters keep coming back, and someone like Netflix gives them a stage and a bullhorn.


How much you work has nothing to do with your attitude towards science and reality. The worst conspiracy nuts are solidly middle-class, as evidenced by their posting pictures of themselves with very expensive firearms.
You can be broke and acknowledge that climate is real, that white supremacy and fascism are bad and that people having different sex lives than you do isn’t a problem. Plenty of people who reject those things have college degrees and well paying jobs.
Exhaustion and poverty do make everything harder, but they don’t mean you have end up an ignorant bigot.


That’s a good term, we should use it for this and Fox “News”


I was referring specifically to the illiteracy of science with regard to critical thinking and how to deal with the absence of it. Our experience in the organized skepticism community in working with academics and scientists has shown this very clearly.

Because they and their communities are critical thinkers and used to adjusting their opinions to account for new evidence, they tend to assume most people are pretty good at it. This is why they always respond to pseudoscience with corrected information and assume that will solve the problem. It does not, and in fact can make the problem worse (there is a backlash effect) if not done right.

Furthermore, our experience has shown scientists and academics who are not accustomed to communicating with the lay public generally vastly underestimate how much people believe in conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, astrology, alien abductions, and all the rest. They see all the TV shows and assume that it’s harmless fun and nobody really believes that stuff, right? Surely the flat earthers aren’t serious because any school child can disprove that position, right? If they do believe us that people really do believe that stuff, then they reply by showing them ships dropping over the horizon or whatever, confident that will solve the problem. These people somehow got to adulthood without learning these basic facts and that’s why they believe these silly things. The academics don’t tend to understand the conspiracy mindset and how it combines with motivated ideological reasoning to intentionally reject all facts.

This is all very different from “undergrads don’t know enough science” or “the general public doesn’t know how chemistry works”. The critical thinking angle on this issue is what’s important. The former issues are gaps of information. The latter problem is a gap in how people process information and form their opinions from it. 15 years of organized skepticism and working with academics in science communication has shown us that they do not understand this latter problem.


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