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.

Postscript

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.

2 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.

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