A New Sort of Maximalist: Alien Astronauts

This is absolutely absurd and its a shame I have to waste my time to write this.  But as with all ridiculous conspiracy crap that exists out there, those dilettantes who actually believe in alien astronauts that came to earth and helped mankind are actually getting media attention through the History Channel. I don’t know why; these people are completely delusional.

First, they don’t seem to care (or they simply cannot fathom) the difference between modern history and ancient history.  That is, they haven’t yet figured out that ancient literature is exaggerated, often filled with fictitious tales that were outright fabricated using earlier literature, and often grounded in political and religious idealism.  So when one reads about ancient military victories, one shouldn’t automatically assume that the Greeks actually had a super weapon, or were literally handed gifts from the gods to win.  The same goes for the Romans, the Egyptians, the Israelites, and so forth.

Second, these dilettantes can’t seem to fathom that the ancient mythic mind was not at all concerned with ‘fact’ vs. ‘fiction’.  Those who were able to write the sorts of literature that have survived today (literature, mind you, not personal letters–ancient histories count as literature) cared little whether they were recounting things as they happened.  They didn’t care whether or not Apollo was there with his bow, mowing down Greeks outside the walls of Troy.  To them, it happened and it didn’t happen.  This might be a difficult concept for modern people who have a completely different, rational mindset then those authors from antiquity.

Finally, these alien astronaut ‘experts’ are reading all sorts of things into the text and are fabricating all sorts of nonsense based totally on pseudo-archaeology.  This sounds like something BAR would publish, if we replace “ancient astronaut” with “Biblical Israel”.   Indeed, these alien astronaut supporters are sounding more and more like maximalists.  And frankly, I’m not sure what is worse….

For a full analysis of the Ancient Alien show, I suggest everyone get acquainted with two links:

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12 Responses

  1. Thanks for the article and the Bad Archaeology link.

    I need to add a second page to my blog just for links. And invent the 25 hour day to read all the good stuff.

  2. Certainly it is possible that alien species have visited the earth.

  3. Evan, maybe, but there is no evidence. And it certainly is not evidenced in ancient literature. Absolutely not. And these ‘experts’ are not at all correct in their analyses. I have my doubts about alien visitors. But I have even more about so-called ancient astronauts. That’s just silly.

  4. What makes this worse is that this crap was debunked on TV decades ago, and it killed van Daniken’s credibility. PBS NOVA/BBC Horizon did a special from 1978, “The Case of the Alien Astronauts”, that systematically proved the numerous claims to be widely wrong and had big names like Carl Sagan on the program. Unfortunately, the video is not available, and I even tried contacting PBS but they say they don’t own the distributing rights anymore. If someone can, they need to either get this old NOVA special out or make a new one. There’s obviously an audience as there was for the 1970s one. If we could only be so lucky.

    As for the question of who is worse: biblical or alien maximalists, at least the biblical scholars are educated and not proven charlatans.

  5. I’ve thought since I was a child it was a far out idea. Its a bit of a modern rationalisation for religious mythology. There is a vauge plausibility to it. I think most open minded people except the possibility that their are aliens out there, and given enough time one could send a probe to this world.

    The problem is, as you say, there is no evidence this took place. The evidence cited by Von Daniken and others is their interpretation of artifacts, some wildly off mark, such as the made up translations Z. Stetchin uses. Their are other interpretations of this data that do not need their to be aliens who defy logic in there schemes with earth. I mean do our religions seem like they are inspired by advanced technological aliens?

    I have read some bad articles on religion by serious scholars. I haven’t seen a lot of BAR articles that sink to that standard. Perhapes I haven’t read enough BAR, but I havent seen a lot of articles supporting Exodus decoded types of claims, much less actual appeals to magic power, and I used to hunt down articles supporting those ideas pretty vigorusly.

    On the attitude of ancients toward their myths, I get the impression from Classical sources, that at least the Greeks tended to view these acts as factual, am I wrong, or did they not struggle with whether the old myths were allegory, fables, or legendary histories? I think the literal interpretation seems oldest. Though what you say does seem to be right about very basic societies, they don’t have a well defined sense of myth and reality or past and future. Are you thinking about the prehistoric past, or are you viewing the various annuals of kings and kings list as mythic material?

    Great picture by the way, and totally not made up. What do you think his real job is?

  6. On the attitude of ancients toward their myths, I get the impression from Classical sources, that at least the Greeks tended to view these acts as factual, am I wrong, or did they not struggle with whether the old myths were allegory, fables, or legendary histories?

    Did Plato think his renditions of Socrates were factual while he was fabricating his words? Did Xenophon think his history of Socrates’ trial was factual while he crafted scenes and utilized rhetoric and motifs? And this is of a person we know lived historically; what makes you think that the Romans who read Virgil’s Aeneid were any less liberal with their understanding of his epic history which not just imitated Homer, but “swallowed him whole” as Thomas Brodie would say. Did Thucydides believe he was writing facts when he fabricated 30% of the speeches or made up particular land features of certain battles? And what of Homer and his off-the-mark geographical details. Was he writing what he believed to be fact or for some other reason?

    The point here is that you’re still thinking of this in terms of black and white or, rather, ‘fact’ vs. ‘history’ or ‘history’ vs. ‘myth’ when, rather conversely, the lines are not just blurry, they blend. The ancients didn’t see things in black and white (for the most part, obviously there are a few who did–like Lucretius) but many saw things as both factual (through tradition) and fictional (recognizing the imitation). Many modern theologians have a similar mindset (see Jim West’s excellent article on Bible and Interpretation, his very brief introduction to Minimalism), where they recognize that the Old Testament authors, or the Classical authors, didn’t care at all for getting things accurate–they only cared about the tradition, the value, of the narratives which were much more important to people, particularly the elite (the best ancient evidence of this is Sophocles’ Antigone).

    Great picture by the way, and totally not made up. What do you think his real job is?

    I don’t know, but I wouldn’t venture to say it’s being a hair stylist.

  7. Well of course the writer of one of these invented episodes would know that they were creating this, and this seems to be such a common convention that I would assume at least semi-literate people would understand this. Theophilus wouldn’t necessarily think that he was reading Peter or Paul’s actual words. But what about later readers? Virgil may not have believed his story was true, but do you think he may have thought the Iliad was largely fact? Do you think a lot of Romans would have thought they really did have a connection to the Trojans? I think they did. The same is true for biblical material, the people who determined the genealogies knew no one told them that the tribes were related though such and such an ancestor, but I think later generations thought that they were literary related to other Jews thought these mythic people (and the creators of the genealogies may well have thought that the Genealogies they were altering were literally true). Now It is likely that the ancients tended to see less distinction between fact and fiction. This is a more modern concern, and you can see throw backs to earlier thinking when someone will imagine something could have happened and then make the leap to thinking it did happen, so we will get the pseudo fact that Phoenicians sailed to the new world or something. In the past I don’t see the same sort of checks on pseudo facts as today, so, for instance if someone thought Thomas could have gone to India, that could rapidly become he did go, and here is how I think that happened which becomes, this is how it happened.

  8. Tom, why are you even linking Zeitgeist: The Movie as an analysis of the Ancient Alien Theory? That film doesn’t even mention or hint at it, it gives a naturalistic link to the theory of religion, i.e. nature/star worship.

  9. Please read more closely. This is taken from my Debunking Zeitgeist resource page:

    A few months ago I posted about the lack of credibility concerning the claims of aliens building/guiding construction of the pyramids. The reason it is filed under this page is simple: the same sorts of claims being made by the Zeitgeist mythicists are made by the people who propose the fictional correlation between aliens and the pyramids and other ancient civilizations.

    In other words, they represent a type of conspiracy theory which is similar to those associated with the Zeitgeist movement. Their claims are as ridiculous, where delusion claims are made attached to absolutely ludicrous interpretations of ancient evidence; the conspiracy theory claims on both sides build a case which is mounted on top of these absurdities and then proponents of both shout back at real, credible experts and claim there is a conspiracy to ignore or suppress with information. These theories are directly linked, even if they argue the same way for two completely different subjects,

  10. Hmmm, so it seems that the same type of broad brush strokes they use to try and paint a portrait of similarity between Jesus and Horus or whoever else, you here more or less admit to likewise using to try and paint a portrait of similarity between claims of the Zeitgeist movement and claims of the ancient astronaut crowd. I’m sure there’s some overlap in the membership of both of those views, but it is transparently lazy to try and lump them all together just to try and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

  11. Nothing ‘broad’ about it. Zeitgeist doesn’t use ‘broad strokes’ to paint a ‘portrait of similarity’ they simply get it wrong. The makers fabricate whole data structures that don’t exist to pretend as if they have a similarity between, say, Horus and Jesus. The same way people fabricate information about Buddha and Jesus. They might not be doing it on purpose, they’re just ignorant and get their information from outdated sources who didn’t have the same access to the facts we have today. The Zeitgeist movement and the ‘ancient alien’ movement are of the same ilk because they both do the exact same thing; you don’t have to like it. That doesn’t change the facts:

    1. Both fabricate data to create links between two points (Zeitgeisters do it through the creation of points between figures like Jesus and figures like Horus; Ancient alien proponents do it by creating links between iconography of artifacts and archaeology and iconography of hoaxed pictures of alien craft).
    2. Both are ignorant about actual archaeology (ancient alien proponents claim that pyramids were built by aliens or that aliens helped humans build them; Zeitgeisters fail to recognize the sorts of archaeological evidence they would need to prove their positions and links and often misuse archaeology, like the crucified horse-headed figure).
    3. Both have nonexperts who are leading the movement, who fail to publish anything academically, and make their living duping people into accepting their false claims.
    4. Both have a series of minions who set out to attack or harass anyone who disagrees with the conclusions of the nonexperts leading the movement.
    5. Both movements attack or criticize actual academics and the academy itself for not taking them seriously (for which there are legitimate reasons for dismissing the claims of the cranks in charge).
    6. Both movements claim conspiracy to silence or dismiss the positions of the nonexperts at the head of the movement.

    Just because the ancient alien group believes in a different entity than the Zeitgeisters, this doesn’t change the very real similarities that exist between the two groups; that is to say, they act in an identical manner. Again, you might not like it, but its the way it is.

  12. I suggest everyone get reacquainted with my comment policy. There seems to be confusion.

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