Since Ancient Aliens pundit Philip Coppens feels that I have a hateful obsession with him, it would hardly be fair of me to fuel his delusion by continuing to write about him. And yet, I feel compelled to point out Coppens’ hypocrisy when it comes to epistemology and intuiting the motives of the subjects one writes about. With luck—and assuming he has no new nonsense to promote this week—this will be the last I speak of him for a good long time.
On October 3, Coppens responded to my September 30 blog post with hateful invective, specifically taking offense to my implication that he had lied in describing Imhotep, the Egyptian architect, as the recipient of architectural knowledge from, “non-human intelligences.” He wrote that “If you want to pretend they are lies, then please make a case that I deliberately set out to lie.” Insomuch as no one can state for certain what goes on in another’s head, such a standard makes any assertion of a lie philosophically problematic. Therefore, I removed the specific word “lies” to protect Coppens’ sensibilities from such harsh rhetoric.
Which is why it was surprising to see that on September 29, Coppens had himself accused academics of being liars and telling naughty, naughty lies! The conspiracy, he asserted, began during the reign of China’s first emperor:
But, you may say, that was the past, almost four days before Coppens complained about my use of the word lies. Besides, he was talking about a conspiracy from 221 BCE to September 29, 2012. Surely, his statements became “inoperative” by October 3, when he presumably adopted a much more stringent moral code.
Of course. We can’t expect the standards of September 29 to apply on October 3.
This is why I was shocked (shocked!) to see that on October 5, Coppens went a step further, suggesting a continuing academic conspiracy against the “truth,” which he also described in morally unambiguous terms. This time he was discussing the supposed conspiracy to prevent study of the Bosnian pyramids, natural formations some alternative scholars think are pre-Holocene artificial pyramids. He claimed “Western archaeologists and Egyptologists have found themselves sidelined” and therefore frustrated in their attempts to “to control our understanding of history.” Therefore, he accused archaeologists of lashing out in “a vociferous and vile campaign” to suppress research on the Bosnian formations to maintain control over history.
Now, let’s recall that when I said Coppens lied because he said something that was (a) untrue and (b) contrary to the plain reading of the texts he based his claim upon, Coppens replied “Jason Colavito is taking great interest in everything I say. … Why am I so special? … I wish you well with wasting your and everyone else’s time in writing and doing so. I, however, don’t. I am sure that leaves me open for more name calling on your part! Somehow, I feel I stir something in you that you so hate, that I feel that whatever I do, I cannot change that.”
As we now see, Coppens is hardly special. In fact, he considers me, all Egyptologists, and all Western archaeologists to be fair subject for “name calling” and “hate.” In fact, the only person exempted from this is Coppens himself!
So, if I erred in presuming his untruths are lies, this is no more and no less than what Coppens himself wrote four days before and two days after his complaint! I would call this hypocrisy, but that might presume too much about his motives. Instead, let us simply agree to call it “the vociferous and vile campaign ... by an evil genius … to introduce lies into the historical record … to control our understanding of history.”
Surely, he can’t possibly object to that turn of phrase.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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