Due to the nature of its content, the History Channel has earned a number of scornful nicknames. One excellent example is the Hitler Channel, which started up because of what once seemed like a ceaseless torrent of World War Two programming. Another excellent example is the Pseudohistory Channel, which started up because of its noxious mix of cynicism and credulousness, as shown by shows such as Ancient Aliens: Declassified.
In short, Ancient Aliens: Declassified is supposed to be an “enhanced” version of Ancient Aliens in the sense that each episode is packed with more information. However, since said information is the same kind of material that can be found in the original episodes, this is not very useful. After all, adding more garbage to a garbage dump doesn’t change the fact that it is still a garbage dump.
Why Should You Be Skeptical about Ancient Aliens: Declassified?
For those who are unfamiliar with Ancient Aliens, it is a History Channel show that is focused on the pseudo-scientific speculation that there were aliens who visited the Earth in ancient times. Generally speaking, this means claiming that the accomplishments of various ancient cultures should be attributed to alien intervention, with examples including but not limited to the Sphinx, the Pyramids, and the Nazca Lines. Amusingly, when Ancient Aliens ran out of material for its titular topic, it showed no hesitation whatsoever in seeking out even more pseudoscience that could be repurposed to support its premise, with an excellent example being the use of Creationism in an episode that claimed that aliens exterminated dinosaurs to make way for humans.
The “science” presented in support of Ancient Aliens: Declassified‘s speculation isn’t very good to say the least. In fact, one can describe it as a kind of Gish Galloping, which is a debate tactic that seeks to win on pure style rather than the truth of the matter. Essentially, the tactic consists of throwing out so many arguments with no regard for either their accuracy or their persuasiveness in the hopes that the opponent will respond by debunking them one by one, thus causing them to be buried beneath a pile of nonsense because debunking garbage claims takes a great deal more time and effort than making them in the first place.
To get an idea of the kind of arguments made on Ancient Aliens: Declassified, consider the episode that claimed that aliens exterminated dinosaurs to make way for humans, which can be found in Season 4. For starters, the episode can’t even keep its own claim straight, which is why at one point, one of its supposed experts Franklin Ruehl made the claim that the continuing existence of the coelacanth is reason to believe that non-avian dinosaurs could have made it into human times as well. This is promptly forgotten by the episode itself, which soon tosses out a claim that aliens turned dinosaurs into smaller animals such as the coelacanth and then a second claim that the coelacanth became extinct but was revived by the aliens millions and millions of years later.
Naturally, all three of these claims are lacking in substance. The first claim is flawed because the coelacanth fossils are rare, not least because they are so difficult to distinguish from other things. In contrast, the fossils of non-avian dinosaurs share no such problem, meaning that if they had continued to exist past what is believed to be their extinction dates, their fossils should have turned up in the appropriate strata. Meanwhile, the second claim is nonsensical because coelacanths existed more than 360 million years ago, meaning that they actually predated even the earliest dinosaurs by more than 130 million years. As for the third, well, that raises the question of why the aliens would even bother. Never mind the fact that we have evidence showing that modern coelacanths have continued to evolve over time, meaning that modern specimens are not identical to their prehistoric counterparts. In other words, we have pretty good reason to believe that coelacanths have been continuing to evolve and thus continuing to exist for a very, very long time.
Summed up, there is nothing wrong to watching Ancient Aliens: Declassified for fun. The entire reason that the History Channel has become focused on this kind of programming is because it tends to be more fun than real historical documentaries. However, interested individuals should never swallow this kind of content without engaging their sense of skepticism because speaking bluntly, neither Ancient Aliens nor Ancient Aliens: Declassified can be trusted when it comes to the sciences.