I found this rare gem recently — and academic journal article (2006) on ancient astronaut beliefs (“paleo-SETI”). It’s unusual that this would get any attention within academia, so I share it with all of you.
From the conclusion (emphasis mine):
We in academia, are indeed challenged to present our findings in better ways and in a more understandable manner, since we cannot leave the terrain to these overtly ‘fantastic’ reconstructions. But one thing is clear: the struggle about the right interpretation of so-called “damned data” cannot be settled merely by rational arguments. People are always in search of the mysterious, the hidden and the conspiracy behind the overt scene. Surely, to play with the fantasy genre61 is often more entertaining and inspiring than a straight report of sober academic facts and theories. . . . To many of our contemporaries, at least, the mysterious conspiracy story about the “Ancient Astronaut Gods” seems to appear more plausible and understandable than traditional religious interpretations of the texts – and much more plausible and understandable than straightforward academic scientific interpretations. The Ancient Astronaut narrations knit together our specific latemodern mode of being-in-the-world with a lay-people’s attempt at a new search for the fundamental truth of the myth: They still “want to believe”, and they find it plausible that a pre-astronautic “truth is somewhere out there”, yet to be discovered by mainstream society. The self-evident technological possibilities of our age (and much more beyond that) are projected back into a remote past, and the result is a shining mirror of us, and of our time. – Paleo-SETI adherents can thus be seen as the latter-days-prophets of a space age past, providing us with a mythic foundation for modern ‘technological man’ in the space age and genetic engineering era. But this new interpretative ‘unity of reality’ is gained with a great loss: The original contexts of the data are fully neglected and neutralized, and all the puzzling great achievements of our human ancestors all over the world are diminished and ‘explained away’ in a new ‘exclusionist’ manner when ubiquitous Ancient Astronaut Gods seem to lurk behind every mysterious or unexplainable corner of history.