Sanctified Gullibility is Still Gullibility

It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than this.

Jason Colavito has a short write up on how Christian apologists are using a prop — a giant human skeleton that isn’t a skeleton at all — from von Daniken’s ancient astronaut theme park for the gullible.

Since when is defending one’s faith with a lie a good idea?

Pretty pathetic. It leads people to follow several bogus thought trajectories:

1. That belief in a creator needs to be defended via the idea of giants (it doesn’t, and that “approach” is absurd).

2. That belief in a creator is synonymous with young earth creationism and rigid biblical literalism (it isn’t).

3. That those who defend the young earth view of creationism will basically stoop to any level to do so (many would not; that is, they aren’t ethically challenged).

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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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Ancient Astro-Nuttiness, Al-Maqrizi, and Giorgio Tsoukalos’ Pseudo-Research

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.

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Jason Colavito Blogging Through Erich von Daniken’s Latest Testament to Ancient Astronaut Nonsense

Someone should give Jason a medal.

He’s actually six chapters into his review. You can read the series here:

Reviewing EVD’s “Twilight of the Gods” (Pt. 1)

Reviewing EVD’s “Twilight of the Gods” (Pt. 2)

Reviewing EVD’s “Twilight of the Gods” (Pt. 3)

Reviewing EVD’s “Twilight of the Gods” (Pt. 4)

Reviewing EVD’s “Twilight of the Gods” (Pt. 5)

Reviewing EVD’s “Twilight of the Gods” (Pt. 6)

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Soviet Gullibility and Ancient Astronaut Research

Another succinct and interesting post by Jason Colavito on that nemesis of clear thinking, the ancient astronaut theory. It’s about Soviet interest in the theory. Some Russians are just as gullible as those in the good old USA.

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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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Contrived Truth is Still Truth: The Mind and Story of Erich von Daniken

Check out this fascinating post over at Forgetomori, complete with videos of von Daniken noting that he made up his ancient astronaut stuff, but still considers it true.  It’s illustrative of why this bunk transcends sophistry.

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Ancient Aliens: Keeping the Fantasy Channel Afloat One Inane Episode at a Time

Fans of critical thinking are bound to enjoy this post over at the Bad Archaeology blog entitled, “I remember why I’ve never wanted satellite television.” It’s a “review” of the Fantasy Channel’s Ancient Aliens show. As funny as parts of it are, I especially liked the tag line of the blog on which I found the link (Archaeoblog):  Ancient Aliens: Watching It So You Don’t Have To.

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Stone Masonry and Engineering at Machu Picchu: No Aliens Needed

Stone Masonry and Machu Picchu

I recently received and email challenging me to produce a coherent explanation of the architecture and stonework of Machu Picchu and other megalithic sites. The questioner wanted to know how anyone else other than aliens could have produced these sites. My initial response was simply to tell him the basics-that these civilizations had left us truly discernible clues as to how the work was done. That was kind of lazy of me (hey, I was on the road).  Now that I’m back, I’ve decided the topic would make a good re-entry into PaleoBabble for me and readers.

Sorry, it isn’t aliens. I’m also sorry that I don’t have anything sexier than studies by geologists, anthropologists, and engineers to offer. Data is boring, I know.  Oh, well.  At any rate, it’s worth noting that many people like my emailer have basically not read anything in the scientific literature about these sites. Instead, they come armed with books by Zecharia Sitchin, or Erich von Daniken, or the latest HBO special propping up the ancient alien hypothesis.  There viewers and readers are told how impossible it is to get stones lined up adjacently to each other so closely that a playing card can’t go between them.  Or that the stones came from quarries hundreds of miles away. Both of these ideas are inaccurate and, frankly, disparaging to the Inca.

Here are a few articles on the Inca that deal with Machu Picchu and other sites. I trust they will be interesting and informative.

Jean Pierre Protzen, “Who Taught the Inca Stonemasons Their Skills? A Comparison of Tiahuanaco and Inca Cut-Stone Masonry,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 146-167.

Jean Pierre Protzen, “Inca Quarrying and Stone Cutting,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 44, No. 2 (May, 1985), pp. 161-182

Susan A. Niles, “Niched Walls in Inca Design,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 46, No. 3 (Sep., 1987), pp. 277-285

One note of warning on these articles. They are not light reading. This is real scholarship, not the fluff produced by Sitchin, von Daniken, etc.

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