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.
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.
- The True Story of Planet X (Episode 13)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 1 (Zecharia Sitchin) (Episode 23)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 2 (Gilbert Eriksen’s Wormwood) (Episode 28)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 3 (The Myth of the Southern Approach) (Episode 43)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 4 (Nancy Lieder) (Episode 51, cross-listed under UFO)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 5 (IRAS Discovery in 1983) (Episode 54)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 6 – Andy Lloyd’s “Dark Star” (Episode 71)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 7 – Mark Hazlewood (Episode 80)
- The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 8 – Zecharia Sitchin Revisited (Episode 95)
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
- 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. ↩
A short time ago I blogged about the work of C. Leroy Ellenberger, at one time a first-tier defender of Immanuel Velikovsky who later came to doubt and then refute that brand of catastrophism, sent me a link I thought I’d share with readers.
Leroy’s link was to a brief address by Abraham Sachs, a well-known 20th century Assyriologist (i.e., a scholar of Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform). The address was a refutation of Velikovsky’s use of cuneiform material to support his catastrophist theories. Here’s an excerpt:
“In searching for mathematical and astronomical texts, I myself have had the opportunity of sifting about 125,000 tablets in this country and the British Isles. As one looks back, with the advantage of hindsight, over the progress of cuneiform studies in the last century, it is evident that in the early decades, two steps forward were accompanied by one step back, in recent decades, the proportion is more like 300 to 1. In 1896, an excellent dictionary of Akkadian contained 790 pages; today, the latest torso of an Akkadian dictionary– with only one-third of the dictionary published in 8 volumes– already runs to more than 2500 pages. I mention all this only to underline the sad fact that anyone who, like Dr. Velikovsky, is not a student of cuneiform, runs the very high risk of finding non-existent facts, false translations, and abandoned theories that have foundered on the rocks of new textual material when he relies, as Dr. Velikovsky does, on books and articles that are 80, 50, 40, and in some cases, even 20 years old. . . . In Worlds in Collision, p. 161, Dr. Velikovsky says that Babylonian astronomy at one time had a four-planet system, with Venus missing. For this, he refers to a book, [quite correctly,] written in 1915. Not being a cuneiformist, Dr. Velikovsky cannot inspect the original text referred to in his 1915 source. I have read the text and I can report that it is quite true that Venus is missing in the text– but so are the other four planets. . . . Wherever one turns in Dr. Velikovsky’s works, one finds a wasteland strewn with uncritically accepted evidence that turns to dust at the slightest probe. . . . [I]it’s advisable to be [a cuneiformist] if you’re going to write about cuneiform texts. . . .”
While the address was directed at Velikovsky, the verbal spanking is also useful for directing attention to the bankrupt scholarship of Zecharia Sitchin, part of whose imaginative ancient astronaut theorizing includes catastrophism elements associated with the alleged astro-physical effects of Nibiru, wrongly identified by Sitchin as a 12th planet. This short speech (less than fifteen minutes) was given at Brown University in 1965, just a few short years before Zecharia Sitchin would pretend to know something about cuneiform tablets. Why is it that Sitchin, presumably an expert in cuneiform, was somehow ignorant of this material when Sachs was not? The answer is simple. Sitchin was no expert in this material. He was contriving a theory.
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.
- 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. ↩
Just a few notes.
I usually post statistics for the year on Jan 1, but I can’t do that (for the blogs anyway) this year, since my last wordpress upgrade destroyed my statistics plug in. I’m trying to get a new one in place (still). Now wordpress tells me I need to upgrade AGAIN to get any new plugin to work. So…
I will be upgrading this blog sometime in the middle of January. That means it may go down again, if recent history holds (the last two upgrades have nearly destroyed the site). I’ll be taking plenty of time to get backups in place before the upgrade. Even if I have to re-install the whole thing, I should be fine. So, be aware of all this.
The above will also allow me to install some new security for the site. My host tells me there have been repeated hacking attempts on this blog. Probably another open-minded fundamentalist Sitchinite.
Statistically, all I can share of relevance for this audience is that my homepage and my Zecharia Sitchin website have continued to rise in traffic. The stats are below. Thanks to all who visit and read!
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Jason Colavito has called Giorgio Tsoukalos’ bluff — precisely what needs to be done to all ancient astronaut BSers. The research they produce is impressive only to non-specialists and those who never check their work. It’s pure paleobabble. Here’s the introductory paragraph of Jason’s post:
Ancient astronaut proponent Giorgio Tsoukalos claims that the fourteenth century Al-Khitat of Al-Maqrizi (1364-1442 CE) contains evidence that ancient astronauts assisted human beings in the construction of Egypt’s pyramids. This book, the most significant collection of medieval Arabian and Coptic pyramid lore ever assembled, has never been translated into English, so I have translated the passages dealing with pyramids to make this text accessible to interested readers. The following contains all of the significant references to the pyramids in the volume, though some minor allusions have been omitted. A fair review of the voluminous legends collected by Al-Maqrizi reveals no extraterrestrials, and no coherent story. In reading this material, I could come to no better conclusion that Al-Maqrizi himself: “There is no agreement on the time of their construction, the names of those who have raised them, or the cause of their erection. Many conflicting and unfounded legends have been told of them.”
Readers can click here to read the translations of these texts.
So it’s put up or shut up time for Giorgio and other purveyors of ancient astronaut paleobabble. Jason deserves thanks from all of us who care that the intellectual heritage of the ancient world isn’t raped and pillaged to put forth modern myths.
In case you haven’t heard of “Planet X,” it’s a notorious piece on Paleobabble that was derived from Zecharia Sitchin’s 12th planet Nibiru nonsense. However, Planet X has since taken on a (fake) life of its own, so that the idea cannot be equated with Sitchin’s ancient astronaut fairy tales. It’s since been married to the Mayan 2012 buffoonery and other conspiracy thinking about astronomy.
I’d encourage all readers to check out the Pseudo-Astronomy podcast for its series (now five parts) on “The Fake Story of Planet X.” Good stuff.
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.
One of the members of the Boston-based rock band, Metaphor for Everything, sent me the link to a new single, accompanied by a note that the song was inspired by my Zecharia Sitchin site. Apparently the site convince one of the band members to leave the ancient astronaut fold. I got a chuckle out of it; some clever lyrics. I also liked the swipe at Harold Camping in it.
And for those ancient astronaut fundies out there who take that material too seriously, the song is a parody of the Sitchin/Nibiru/2012 hysteria — it’s not a suicide anthem.