Immanuel Velikovsky Resources

Immanuel Velikovsky’s name is, for many, synonymous with paleobabble. I can think of a few other candidates I’d move ahead of him for such an honor, but Velikovsky indeed belongs to the “modern classical period” of wacky stuff related to study of the ancient world. You can read his Wikipedia page if you’re unfamiliar with him.

I recently came across this link: “Top Ten Reasons Why Velikovsky is Wrong About Worlds in Collision.” The essay at the link is long, dense, and technical. It’s also got terrible formatting (as in no formatting) so it’s hard on the eyes. I link to it because of the pedigree of its author, Leroy Ellenberger, who describes himself as follows:

This Top Ten list is based on 30 years exposure to Velikovsky’s ideas which includes 8 years as an insider at the Velikovsky journal Kronos (1978 – 1986), confidant to Velikovsky (4/78 – 11/79), invited “Devil’s Advocate” at Aeon (’88 – ’91), and 13 years as a turncoat/critic interacting with Velikovsky’s defenders and/or successors at conferences, in private, and in Usenet (’94 -’96) & list-serve forums.

 

In other words, he knows Velikovsky’s material really, really well. So all the haters can just email him to defend Velikovsky. And good luck with that.

There’s also a new book on Velikovsky’s ideas (with others): The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. I just bought it so I’ll be reading it at some point this year.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ancient Aliens Debunked: Some Impressions on the Documentary

I just finished watching the whole (free) three-hour Ancient Aliens Debunked movie on YouTube. Took me quite a while, as it’s hard to find three hours of free time. But it was worth the here-and-there effort. I’m not going to write a full review, just share impressions.

I’ll start with some mild criticisms. There were a few points where I would have aid things differently, or added a different perspective, that would have taken a different trajectory than the director (Chris White). One was the nephilim segment toward the end. While filming there were things I added that got edited out. But so what? It wasn’t not my film (and any film I’d make would be unwatchable). There was also one place where Giorgio Tsoukalos has ”Moses” being shown the “roundness of earth” by God in an effort to (I guess – it’s hard to tell what Giorgio is thinking sometimes) say Moses went to space or something. This “verse” is not in any translation I can find, and I’ve done software searches through dozens of them. Giorgio (like his mentor Zecharia Sitchin) gave no actual verse reference. Moses was never vaulted above the earth in the Bible. Basically, he made this up. Christ should have called him out on that, but didn’t. Lastly, Chris should have credited Jason Colavito more prominently. Jason has done a lot of work in this area, and it’s all good stuff.

All in all, though, this is a terrific video. Chris did a lot of research for this and was able to make it digestible to the average viewer. He also (unlike the Ancient Aliens crowd) makes his sources accessible and gives actual citations of ancient texts.

I’d only seen a few pieces of Ancient Aliens on TV. I don’t watch much TV as it is, and spending any of my valuable time on that would be a true waste of time. Having seen a good number of scenes now via the Ancient Aliens Debunked documentary, I know that decision was the right one. This documentary demonstrates that the Ancient Aliens material is not only pseudo-scholarship, but borders on the simply stupid. The researchers presented on the show (I speak here of the people presented as authorities: David Hatcher Childress, Jason Martell, Erich von Daniken, etc.1) are some of the poorest thinkers I’ve ever heard. It’s disturbing that so many people can be persuaded by “researchers” who can’t apply simple rules of coherent thought or logic to what they do. The claims are absurd, and their defense is inept. Katy Perry thinks Ancient Aliens is “thought-provoking,” so here’s a suggestion: cast her as a researcher in future episodes. None of the present ones are any smarter. She’d at least be easier on the eyes.

Those who had a hand in making the series are even more blameworthy for the deceptive nature of the material. I lost count of the times when Tsoukalos would talk about “ancient texts” with visuals of some odd artifact or wall painting appearing, creating the impression that those artifacts SAY what the narrator is claiming, as though they were inscribed with the words. This is sheer dishonesty that goes beyond ineptitude. The textbook example is the Anunnaki material. The images of winged creatures and reptoid artifacts used to talk about the Anunnaki have nothing to do with them. They either come with no text at all (like those from the Ubaid period in Sumer) or texts near the images (the “winged men”) are well known and contain no content at all about the Anunnaki (and originated centuries after Sumerian culture had died out). The show repeatedly deceives the viewer in these ways. It’s about milking the audience for cash in DVD purchases.

I’ve often said that NONE of the ancient astronaut “evidence” is persuasive to anyone in the relevant fields. It is only persuasive to amateurs, people who don’t know the material. Chris White has demonstrated how the Ancient Aliens’ series claims are easily overturned and shown to be the nonsense they are with a little bit of serious research.

 

  1. I’m excluding people presented as curious inquirers brought into the show for variety and interest. Curiosity and asking questions are virtues. It’s just too bad people often base their beliefs on material that is demonstrably wrong because they depend on “researchers” instead of real scholarship.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

PaleoBabble in My Local Newspaper

facade_ipad_140x185The Bellingham Herald, the local newspaper in my neck of the woods, ran an article on me today (you have to love the rocket behind me in the picture). The interview with Michelle Nolan was a lot of fun. It was fascinating — she’s a veritable walking encyclopedia on the history of comic books and science fiction. We tried to focus on several of the ideas in The Facade. I actually got several good trajectories for the sequel, The Portent, from the interview.

I hope readers will check it out!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

KV64 Blog Shuts Down

[Addendum 1/26/2013: Kate Phizackerley of the KV64 blog would like readers to know that she is uncertain as to the identity or political affiliation of those who have hacked her site. She writes:  "There seem to be suggestions that Andrea and I know the affiliation of those who hacked us . . . We don’t and by policy I haven’t speculated. Part of the reason for my reticence is that some, although not all, of the hackers have been polite to us. In particular, at no point did the hackers claim association with any religion." This blog has been one of those who have speculated on this. Since Kate elsewhere noted that The hackers see her site and other Egypt-related sites as “representing a form of political threat,” and since the recent political events involve militant elements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, I don't think the math unclear. I know of no other groups among those engaged in the political struggle in Egypt who would have a problem with free speech in principle. I should also add that the issue in my view isn't religious affiliation per se. Egypt was predominantly Muslim before the upheaval and KV-64 and other blogs operated just fine, so that isn't the problem. The problem is militancy and opposition to democracy. But Kate is certainly correct that she has not offered any such opinion. - MSH]

The KV64 blog (focus on Egyptology) produced so capably by Kate Phizackerley has shut down. I’ll certainly miss it. Kate writes:

Following on from the problems at Egyptological I have taken the reluctant decision to close this blog as well for the foreseeable future.  Many thanks for your support over the years.

As her words indicate, Kate was also one of the forces behind the online journal Egyptological, which was recently discontinued due to hacking efforts on the part of radicalized Islamic elements in Egypt. Apparently the KV64 blog was also incompatible with those elements. Another loss for free speech in Egypt.

Why the Piri Reis Map is Neither an Enigma Nor Evidence for Ancient Aliens

This recent post on the Bad Archaeology blog provides a much-needed antidote against the Piri Reis paleobabble contagion. As author Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews notes at the outset:

Maps of the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries are a favourite source of information for fringe writers, who use them to make a wide variety of claims. To Erich von Däniken, for instance, they are evidence for a survey of the Earth from space, carried out by extraterrestrials, while for Graham Hancock, they are evidence for an ancient sea-faring civilisation, lost beneath the sea after the melting of glacial ice at the end of the Pleistocene.

Anyone who’s put any time into the Piri Reis issue knows the above is on target. What you may not have known is that the Piri Reis discussion is based in part on selective use of evidence. I highly recommend the essay, as it covers the alleged anomalies (e.g., knowledge of Antarctica before it became ice-covered) and the Charles Hapgood trajectories that are so frequently used to defend the paleobabbling perspective of Piri Reis.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

PaleoBabble Blog Not Quite 100 Percent

Several readers (and I’ve checked myself) have informed me that, while the blog is back and the links work again, the comments are not working. Posting a comment appears to go fine with no glitches, but they never appear in my dashboard for approval.

I’ve contacted the tech people at my host again, so stay tuned. Just a heads up.

Bart Ehrman Smacks Down Jesus Mythicism

New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, well known to non-specialist readers as a critic of evangelical views of Jesus (Ehrman is an atheist1) recently published a book entitled Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. Ehrman’s answer is that he did. His book therefore provides a succinct overview of the evidence for a historical Jesus. It also serves as a succinct critique to the “Jesus Mythicists” (think Freke and Gandy here2), folks who, in the spirit of the Zeitgeist movie (is that a tautology?), deny Jesus ever existed. Needless to say, they aren’t happy that a scholar of Ehrman’s stature would dare affirm the historicity of Jesus, even if (perhaps “especially since”) he has no faith in what the New Testament writers say theologically about Jesus’ divinity or Savior status. The same can be said for the way Jesus Mythicists have turned apoplectic over the Jesus Family Tomb controversy (if it is the tomb of Jesus, they’re wrong — he existed).

Ehrman’s book was recently reviewed by a scholar named Richard Carrier. Carrier’s review is exceptionally nasty and, frankly, not befitting intelligent discourse. (One would have thought the review was by Don Rickles — dating myself there, I know — or Bill Maher). At any rate, Ehrman has responded at length to Carrier. I recommend his response (and it is indeed very long) to PaleoBabble readers. It’s clear and unpretentious.

(Hat tip to Tim for this item).

 

  1. This is my estimation. Ehrman actually isn’t clear on whether he’s atheist or agnostic — but he’ll answer that if you pay him. I’m not paying for the answer. I’m not sure what bit of sophistry would allow one to deny the existence of God and yet not be an atheist. Even if one opts for some sort of “consciousness” position as God, that is a naturalistic view and results in a non-personal non-deity. That isn’t “God” in the understanding of anyone who’d ask the question. But I’m guessing since I’m not forking over any money for clarity.
  2. The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

PaleoBabble is Back Online!

Well, it took a lot of investigative work and effort, but my host service — Bluehost.com — finally found the source of the problem. Their customer service is the # 1 reason I’m with them. Yet again they went the extra mile, spending several hours on the problem offline.

I’m also thankful to all those who offered assistance via email and Twitter.  It’s nice to know people are out there who have an appetite for paleobabble!