Chariots of the Frauds: The Real Erich von Daniken

Kudos are once again in order for Jason Colavito for his review of the Ancient Aliens episode entitled “The Legacy of von Daniken.” As part of his review, Jason summarizes some of the material that can be found in his book The Cult of Alien Gods: H.P. Lovecraft And Extraterrestrial Pop Culture. That book demonstrates that von Daniken is a person of low moral character and little intellectual originality. In a nutshell,  he’s a clever crook. Sound harsh? He has the prison record to prove it. Here’s an excerpt from Jason’s essay:

Erich Anton Paul von Däniken was born in Switzerland in 1935, raised a strict Catholic, and in Catholic school developed an interest in UFOs, like many youths in the early 1950s. He had a criminal record. He was convicted of theft when he was 19, and he left school to become a hotelier. He was convicted of embezzlement after leaving that job. He took another hotel position, and he stole money there, too, by falsifying records in order to obtain tens of thousands in fraudulent loans to finance his interest in space aliens and what the court later called his “playboy lifestyle.” The court psychiatrist declared him a pathological liar. Eventually, he would be convicted of embezzlement and fraud yet again, serving a year in prison.

In 1960, two French authors who were interested in the occult, Nazis, UFOs, and H. P. Lovecraft put out a book called Morning of the Magicians in which they tried to show that Lovecraft’s vision of ancient astronauts could be correlated to the “occult” truths of Theosophy and the UFO movement. Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels put together the entire case for ancient astronauts as we currently know it—from the claims about ancient atom bombs to the claims about “impossibly” precise and heavy stone architecture. Their book inspired several by Robert Charroux, who presented Bergier’s and Pauwel’s discursive, disorganized ideas in a more popular and readable format.

In 1964, von Däniken simply appropriated this material wholesale for a magazine article, and on the strength of the magazine article, he received a book deal for what became Chariots of the Gods … 

I’ve blogged about von Daniken’s history of deceit before. Readers might recall this telling post to which I linked maybe moons ago, where von Daniken is caught on video acknowledging making up his “evidence” and admits to Playboy Magazine that he contrived the material for the literary fabrication that made him rich.1

I have Jason’s book and recommend it to everyone who’s actually interested in the truth behind the intellectually bankrupt thing called the ancient astronaut theory. To whet your appetite, click through and read Jason’s post.


As a side note to Jason’s post, readers will note that he references “America’s Book of Secrets,” a show on the History Channel 2.  I was contacted maybe a year ago – too lazy to look right now – about being on that show. I’m guessing now, in the wake of Jason’s post, that their interest was in regard to ancient astronauts. This isn’t new. I’ve also been contacted in the past about appearing in Ancient Aliens. My response, as it always is, was to send a link to whoever emailed me describing my account of how the History Channel censored my interview in 2003 for a “UFOs in the Bible” show, which was long before Ancient Aliens. That usually gets me dropped from consideration, which is fine with me (read the post and you’ll understand). That “America’s Book of Secrets” would put out another “love fest” (Jason’s words – and he reviewed that episode as well) for ancient astronaut nonsense is yet another testament to prove that the History Channel is not interested in objective programming. They don’t want any sort of critical material included in their “investigation” of ancient aliens. It’s about viewership and money, pure and simple. If peddling deception makes them cash, then that’s what matters.

  1. A full scan of the Playboy article can be found here.

17 thoughts on “Chariots of the Frauds: The Real Erich von Daniken

  1. Pingback: Jason Martell – Alien Lies and the Snake Oil Salesman Routine | Top Secret Writers

  2. I did not believe in any of the things of Van Daniken or others who proposed contact with beings from outer space. But in 1972 I was driving across Wyoming. I stopped to watch 5 animals, probably elk, racing across the plain from my left to my right at dusk. It was gorgeous. The colors were spectacular. I watched them through binoculars for several minutes as the crossed the road and then disappeared beyond hills to my right. As I turned to get back in my car I noticed some movement maybe 200 yards ahead of me on the right. There was a vehicle. And there were two beings of some sort looking like one was working on a flap on the right side. I did not see his front. The other, taller, being was sideways to me. He was completely covered in what I guessed was gray (The sunlight changed everything) He had a large head, maybe from the equipment, and his arms were extremely long compared to mine. The two moved to the other side once the smaller one was finished. I watched. Within a couple minutes the vehicle took off straight up, then disappeared away from me in an instant. I told no one about anything but the elk. as I was not sure what I had witnessed. But later, in reading and hearing about things I think it was some kind of vehicle for beings from another environment. There was no reason for the heavy head gear unless they suspected some difficulty with the air, and the arms were longer than any humans I have seen.

    I don’t particularly believe everything from Von Daniken and I have avoided reading his work. But I am not so certain that there is nothing to his contention that others from somewhere in space have visited. I was in public broadcasting for more than 30 years and met hundreds of people with differing backgrounds so I am not given to leaping at everyone’s beliefs. But I know what I saw and the most obvious answer is that there was some vehicle, not of ours, that held at least two (perhaps more) individuals that did not appear human.

    • I read the Chariots of the Gods way back sometime in the early seventies when I was very young. The book fascinated me because I was already fond of Astronomy then, and the idea of aliens breeding our civilization excited me. later I read a couple of other books by Daniken and my fascination started wearing off slowly because when I analysed I found that the conclusions made by him are too far fetched in light of the evidence presented. Now I think it is simply an enterprise to make money out of peoples imagination. I am not bothered about his past but his books are not convincing and present a fabulously imaginative narrative without any logical proof.

  3. The Bible is God’s word to all the world. He has not mentioned any beings from any world besides our own, therefore we must assume that there are none.
    People waste a lot of time trying to establish useless theories when we simply need to believe what God has said; we are sinful; we need to repent and be free from our sin, turning to Jesus who died to set us free and give us new life in Him.
    A wonderful life awaits all who put their trust in Him.
    Many blessings to you all.

    • The bible also doesn’t mention television the Internet or AIDS yet they exist. The bible was written by simple people in simpler times who wouldn’t have had an understanding of such things as extraterrestrial beings since organize religion would also contend the earth was flat and the sun revolved around it. Have a good day.

      • That organized Christian religion subscribed to the “Flat Earth” theory is a myth. Look it up.

        And the theory that the Earth was the center of the universe was the scientific consensus (that phrase sound familiar?) until the 1600’s. Again, look it up.

        • You take the strongest feature of science – the ability to take new evidence and use it to move to a more accurate theory – as a weakness. It is a strength.

          Further, you use “theory” in the colloquial sense that scientists do not use.

          Finally, you talk about the “scientific consensus” of the 1600s as if science in the 1600s was subject to the same standards of professionalism and peer review as it is today. It was not. Science in the 1600 was not something outside of religion, but rather mostly a concern of people who felt that the study of the universe was a way to know god and his creation better. Which is to say, they had a priori assumptions about the universe, and it took hundreds of years for mainstream Western science to shed the vestiges of its Christian origins.

          None of your comment refutes the value of science or objectivity, and none of it argues in favour of religion – your own or in general.

  4. Religion, the curse of humanity, has caused more pain, more strife and more grief than all the plagues and natural disasters that have befallen humankind.

  5. the author of this article must have been born with a severe personality complex. He mentions that Mr. Von Daniken was arrested when he was 19 years old. I guess anything after that would point to the fact that he is a fraud, especially when you consider he is now 81 years old. That means that the author of this article is basing his fraud allegation on something that happened over 60 years ago. It really doesn’t matter what crimes he has committed in his life. Everyone has the chance to discover their own intellect as they go through life. Obviously the author needs to continue his journey. He mentions nothing about the substance of Mr. Von Daniken’s work. The purpose of this article is simply to smear Mr. Von Daniken personally. I’m sure people see through this ruse. After all Einstein was considered autistic when he was young…..

    • Einstein was 58 when “autism” was first used in its modern sense. This leads me to believe you have no idea what you’re talking about and have an axe to grind yourself.

  6. These people, like Lafayette R. Hubbard, are in it for the money. One can’t claim they are stupid when they’re able to become multi-millionaires by conning millions with their BS – I doubt they themselves even believe their golden goose.

    As the say goes; There’s a sucker born every minute – and I may add: a con artist every decade.

  7. Of all the fraudsters,con artist tricksters etc you bet I will get the last laugh.

  8. VO on April 22 , 2017 at 20 h 30
    Der von Daniken is an exceptional observer about extraterestial matters….
    In fifty years to come,people will confirm his sayings just as Dr Immanuel Velikovsky… observations about aliens is based on the Menderleef Table…It is a known fact that the universe is made up only of the elements found in the periodic table and same elements are to be present in our body…It is therefore evident that life is widespread throughout the universe.

  9. We can put 2 and 2 together and conclude if it is not 4 at least 5 or 6 but one cannot claim it to be hundred and that is Daniken does. It is true that there are some unanswerable phenomena in the world today. But their existence does not mean another alien culture has made it possible and hence the lack of explanation. Similar arguments have been advanced by some of our scholars about the knowledge of nuclear bombs and missiles by Indians during the Mahabharata war that was fought way back in 900 BC. The powerful arrows anointed by chants in the Mahabharata war are described as capable of travelling long distances and can cause tremendous destruction. So they assume they are missiles and nuclear weapons. They say that the Germans have stolen the knowledge of the Nuclear weapons from the Vedas by learning Sanskrit. Clearly such arguments are illogical and absurd but they continue to hold them even now. So ultimately it boils down to what one wants to believe rather than what is the actual happening.

  10. Fascinating babbling indeed..! But can anyone in this forum explain to me (and preferably demonstrate) how to move huge cut stone boluders around with great precision? I have to built an anti-flood embankment in my back garden and…

Comments are closed.