The most famous ancient alien or ancient astronaut authors do not have degrees in any relevant field of study (or at all). They’ve made lucrative careers out of speculation. And the writer of Chariots of the Gods is a criminal. The craziest thing is, this is all from Wikipedia – that’s right, I didn’t have to do any research. So
God Alien only knows what other stuff is out there for anyone who cares to research.
Erich von Daniken wrote the famous book Chariots of the Gods, which I always meant to read but now won’t. Daniken has done the most to popularise the ancient alien theory. He was a hotel manager and has several fraud convictions (he committed theft in Switzerland, fraud and embezzlement in Egypt and then fraud in Switzerland again) and was jailed. His book was published by the time of his trial and it enabled him to leave the hotel business and start his writing/PR career. Giorgio A Tsoukalos, who published Daniken’s articles and manages Daniken’s ancient astronaut research centre, has a degree in sports information and communication – a degree which doesn’t qualify him to speak about ancient astronauts/alien aliens.
Zecharia Sitchin has an economics degreee, and taught himself to read cunieform while doing the nine to five. Unsurprisingly, his translations have been criticised. He also visited some archaeological sites. Sounds like the kind of thing I’d like to do myself, but I won’t be presenting myself as an expert after reading Teach Yourself Hieroglyphs or Ancient Greek for Dummies*.
A book – or a ticket to a lucrative writing career?
David Hatcher Childress, one of the most famous proponents of the theory, is in fact a dropout who left university after one year without getting a degree. And Christopher Dunn didn’t go to university either.
Robert K G Temple, who wrote The Sirius Mystery does have a degree. A shame it’s in Oriental Studies and Sanskrit, and he wrote about the Dogon people (and later published two books on the Egyptians.)
Obviously it’s great that we have successful books by people from different educational backgrounds and classes. I have no problem with them writing these books, and I hope they continue to achieve success; after all, they deserve it for their writing skills and the time they spend writing.
What is wrong is that the prominent writers of other scientific or anthropology fields are PhDs, often well known in the scientific community and sought after by the best universities. They’ve spent years in education, researching and doing the fieldwork. Books by the less academically inclined are usually on topics related to politics and culture or are memoirs. These topics require little research because they are concerned with expressing ideas and in any case much of this kind of information is publically accessible and easily understood.
These ancient aliens theory writers are not qualified to talk about science. They of course have the right to write about it, but ancient alien theory should not be considered scientific. The History Channel also has a responsibility to tell viewers that these people did not study anthropology, history or archaeology at university and hold no qualifications in subjects that would be relevant to understanding about ancient aliens.
The only PhD in the bunch is teaching at an unaccredited Christian institute. The History Channel cannot pass this off as science. Most bloggers have more experience and qualifications to blog about their chosen subjects than the top ancient astronaut theorists have to write books and be interviewed on a History channel. The Ancient Aliens programmes should be taken off the History Channel and sold to Controversial TV or some other channel which deals with exploring ideas.
The ancient alien theory is valuable, because it’s a theory created by us,; a theory shaped by culture and history. Alternative theories are interesting and a diversity of opinion is a good thing. But, as the scientific community says, ancient astronaut theory is at best a pseudoscience or pseudoarchaeology.
But, you know, I’ve learned something today: it’s easy to become rich and famous writing crap you know nothing about and insulting other countries’ history and achievements in the process! I too am European and priveleged, and I want in!
So here is my pitch to the History Channel:
I do an expose on the ancient astronaut authors using Wikipedia and lots of footage of amazing monuments (while the voiceover does nothing to educate the viewer about them or the people who built them.) I interview all of my
friends professional associates and tweeps I talk to on Twitter the sex-positive blogger community and ask them why the authors pulled a fast one on us. We conclude that since we don’t know why, the aliens must be responsible. All this is stretched over eight episodes with all of us chatting about how the aliens took over the authors’ brains.
*Which is a shame, as me and one of my best friends could totally make a great ancient astronaut writing team. Between us we tick the boxes of having visited archaeological sites and being able to recognise a few ancient characters. And we even have a copy of the ancient Book of the Dead we could study!**
**Which I discovered while exploring a chain bookstore.