Jason Colavito has an informative post on the “big-business-factual-data-be-damned” approach of Ancient Aliens. The early section of his post notes connections between ancient astronaut theory and pop-culture, specifically with respect to Marvel comics.
The connections between ancient astronaut worldview and the sort of science fiction of comic books are deep. The comic book worlds pre-date the work of Sitchin and von Daniken. As Jason notes, there are secure roots in the writings of Lovecraft and others, but the more “vulgar” genre of the comic book also plays a significant role in where ancient astronaut theory really gets its “data”.
I recommend to readers two works in this regard. The first is a popular work of non-fiction. The second is a scholarly work (Univ of Chicago Press). Both are fascinating. The second, naturally, is dense and a harder read.
Jason Colavito just posted a review of the Ancient Aliens episode “Alien Operations.” As usual, the review is informed and insightful, while the episode was disturbingly dumb –another ode to incoherence. My favorite paragraph:
Tsoukalos adopts Thomas Aquinas’s argument from first cause to argue that human medical knowledge could not have developed spontaneously because every surgeon alive today learns from previous surgeons who learned from previous surgeons; therefore, invention is impossible and only aliens could have been the first cause. The idea of gradual evolution is for him inconceivable; a discipline must exist as an unchanging, complete whole or it cannot exist at all. This is the cultural version of the creationist staple about what good half an eye is. How then does he explain the fact that treatments exist today that did not exist ten years ago, like, say the 3D printing that the show discussed only minutes earlier?
Here’s a link to a short post from the Bible Places blog that contains links to Carbon-14 analysis of the wood from the recent Noah’s ark “discovery” (read: fraud). It’s nice that someone bothers to do scientific research and pursue problems (the hoaxers do not) and report all the data (the hoaxers do not report everything in their upcoming “documentary”). Granted, the source for this critique comes from a site that itself many readers (and me) will question in regard to some of its own presuppositions, but this is the sort of research and analytical critique that needs to happen (note that the author of the critique does have a PhD in geology). This sentence in the post says it all:
In short, the burden of proof is on those who claim that they have discovered Noah’s Ark. Their unwillingness to report their data so that it can be analyzed by scholars suggests that they are perpetuating a fraud.
“Suggest” is far too nice.
I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the annual scholarly conferences in religion and biblical studies. I hope to catch a session or two that are about the recent Noah’s ark “research” (one is a session by Randall Price, and then there’s another on recent advances in satellite technology). If I get to those on the schedule, hopefully I’ll have something to share.
This may be just more journalistic paleobabble. But just as likely, it is a “new” naturalistic explanation of the biblical plagues that will have the same problems and limitations of similar earlier efforts. What’s interesting (to me anyway) is that if it’s a better proposal, it argues for the late chronology.