Part 1 of My Interview on the Exposing PseudoAstronomy Podcast

A few weeks ago astronomer Stuart Robbins interviewed me for his informative Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast. Here is Part 1 of that interview. I’ll let you all know when Part 2 appears. The topic was the bogus use of ancient texts by Zecharia Sitchin and others to support their pseudo-astronomy.

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Zecharia Sitchin’s Planet X PaleoBabble

Astronomer Stuart Robbins has made a considerable effort in his PseudoAstronomy podcast to tell the truth about how real astronomy does not jive with the astronomical quackery of Zecharia Sitchin. I was recently interviewed by Stuart for his podcast (those episodes have not been posted yet), but as  a prelude to those, I thought I’d post links to his series on Sitchin’s astronomical claims and their refutation. I’d posted some of Stuart’s work over at UFO Religions, but posting the episode series in which mine will be a part seems like a good lead-up to when my interviews go online in early January.

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Review of Ancient Aliens’ Craptastic Anunnaki Episode

Jason Colavito has courageously reviewed the latest ode to asininity from the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens series. I strongly encourage readers to check it out. It’s an informative and fun read. It’s a cornucopia of  My favorite portion:

William Henry, who believes telephone booths are secret symbols for trans-dimensional portals, lies about Sumerian texts regarding the Anunnaki, claiming without evidence that they were described as humanoids who could “phase in” to human form, which cannot be found in any ancient text.

It’s really hard to beat William Henry for incoherence. When all others simply ignore data – like the fact that none of this Anunnaki alien nonsense can be found in the cuneiform texts – Henry is bound to take it to the next level: that of utter absurdity.1

  1. William Henry brings back some good memories. Way back in 2001 after my first appearance on Coast to Coast AM, Henry was the guy who accused me of making money off Zecharia Sitchin’s work. I responded by posting my tax returns on the internet, asking William – and Mr. Sitchin – to do the same. I did that for three years in a row – just looked on my computer – I still have the web page. I was a struggling graduate student. I’m guessing they were doing better duping the masses. Anyway, neither of them took the challenge.

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Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses: Database and Bibliography Project

For all those interested in ancient Mesopotamian religion, I recommend the Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses Project website. It’s being produced by one of my alma maters, the University of Pennsylvania.

The project describes itself as a “website [that] offers information about the fifty most important gods and goddesses and provides starting points for further research.”

Here’s the link to the Anunna/Anunnaki page. Nicely done with bibliography links. (Sorry, Sitchin didn’t make the cut – this is real primary text research, not fantasy land).

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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.

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Addendum to the Anunnaki Search on my Sitchin Is Wrong Website

I just wanted to give readers a heads-up on this. Some readers of my Zecharia Sitchin website have been unable to re-create the search for all occurrences of the Anunnaki in Sumerian texts via the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. (For those to whom that website is unknown, I have a video showing people how to run that search and see the results). Today I added a work-around for anyone who has trouble to the page that contains that video (with screen shots).

I invite all ancient astronaut enthusiasts and Sitchin worshippers to run that search. Find out for yourself why Sitchin is wrong (don’t take my word for it). If you lack the courage to do that, you should stop talking about how open-minded you are.

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Recent Online Dissertation on the Sumerian Deity Enki

Today I came across this published (2010) doctoral dissertation on the god Enki by Peeter Espak. it is entitled, “The God Enki in Sumerian Royal Ideology and Mythology.” I decided to blog the link in the name of offering something useful to all those who want to read actual scholarship on Sumerian mythology and religion, as opposed to the ancient astronaut tripe. We try to be useful in multiple ways here.

Though a dissertation, the work is quite readable (don’t let the transliterated Sumerian and Akkadian distract you; just skip all that and read the prose). I ran a quick search on “Annuna” (the Anunnaki gods) and read through the 30 occurrences and relevant discussion. Some good material, as the Anunnaki are discussed in various scenes in relation to the larger subject matter. (The longer term “Anunnaki” also occurs once). Sorry, no spaceships, extraterrestrials, or fiery rocket journeys to or from Nibiru. (I’m still getting over the shock). The dissertation rebuts certain conclusions (some shared by Samuel Noah Kramer) about the frictional relationship between Ea and Enki (another blow to ancient astronaut theory’s “retelling” of the Sumerian epics).

At any rate, for those interested, enjoy this fine resource.

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Ancient Aliens Debunked: The Official Trailer

I’m guessing all PaleoBabble readers know about the Ancient Aliens series put out by the Fantasy Channel (still though of by many as the History Channel). I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be interviewed later this summer for the documentary film response, Ancient Aliens Debunked. If you visit the link you can sign up for email notification when the documentary is released. It will be FREE and viewable online. The trailer is below. The film is being produced by Chris White. Since the documentary will be free, all of the expense incurred by Chris is his own. This has been true of his online and YouTube ministry since its inception. Please visit his site to donate and help support this project!

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Doctoral Degree for Ancient Astronaut Theorists

I saw two items today that have convinced me that the PaleoBabble blog needs to begin awarding the PhD in Non Sequitur Thinking for ancient astronaut theorists.

The first is this wonderful post from the Skeptophilia blog. Please read it. It is an uncannily accurate accounting of how ancient astronaut conspiracy theorists think (and it’s entertaining).  I loved it since I’ve lived it (too many times). I hereby infer, with all the authority invested in me by virtue of the possession of a sound mind, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Non Sequitur Thinking on the student referred to in Gordon Bennet’s Skeptophilia post. May he wear the mantle well. My thanks to professor Bennet for recommending his student for the degree.

The second item comes from my comments page. Karku asked my thoughts on one Maximillen de Lafayette, whom the commenter is apparently having trouble tracking down in terms of credential verification (what a surprise). Basically, de Lafayette seems to want to be the heir apparent to Zecharia Sitchin’s gold train, and so claims expertise in about everything pertaining to the ancient world, along with authoring hundreds of books and thousands of other items worth reading (!). After yawning and chuckling, here was my short response:

1. It matters not how many publications one has if one is writing only for the uninformed. Rather, when one subjects one’s views to experts in the relevant fields (i.e., subjects one’s work to peer review) and they determine that such writings pass muster, THEN and only then should we care.

2. If Mr. de Lafayette lacks real credentials from real universities, then he is a liar when it comes to his credibility for saying anything about any ancient language. I don’t know if he’s lying. I’m giving you a chance to defend him.

3. Who cares if he “takes Sitchin further” when Sitchin’s material is bogus?  Taking ideas that do not exist in ancient Mesopotamian records is like taking the anatomical study of unicorns “further.”  Caring about his work would therefore be a waste of time.

My guess, of course, is that Lafayette knows even less about ancient languages than Sitchin did, which wasn’t much, as I have noted elsewhere. But maybe he studied something somewhere and can prove it. All this before we even get to the non sequitur nature of his work.

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Mike on Coast to Coast AM Thursday Night

Many readers are familiar with Coast to Coast AM, the most-listened to late night talk show in the world. I’ll be on the evening of Feb 2. I’ve been on Coast over twenty times, and it’s always fun and unpredictable. The topics tend to be fairly wide-ranging when I’m on, but no doubt things like ancient astronauts and other PaleoBabble fodder will come up for discussion. One new item I am offering listeners is English translations to the only three scholarly articles on the Anunnaki that I know of. They are all in German, and over the past two years I have had them translated into English. Hopefully Coast listeners will want to actually engage the original sources in regard to the Anunnaki, which are a favorite candidate for ancient astronaut mythology.

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