After Watching Me on AHC's "Codes & Conspiracies," Here's Some More to Explore about Ancient Astronauts
Tonight at 10 PM ET (9 PM CT / 10 PM PT) I will appear on the American Heroes Channel documentary series Codes & Conspiracies to discuss the ancient astronaut theory as part of an episode devoted to discussing the life and times of Erich von Däniken. The documentary will explore von Däniken’s popularity and some of the sources he drew upon in creating Chariots of the Gods, including Louis Pauwels’s and Jacques Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians (1960), and through it the extraterrestrial mythology of H. P. Lovecraft. I have it on good authority from the writer and director of the episode, James Goldin, that I appear throughout the hour and my views are well-represented.
If you’re fortunate enough to be watching the international version of Codes & Conspiracies broadcast outside the United States, you’ll see an additional three minutes that include my discussion of how the mythology of angels has been secularized in the ancient astronaut theory.
I’ll post my thoughts about the episode tomorrow, after I’ve had a chance to see it along with all of you. However, I’d like to use this post to welcome new readers who may be visiting my site for the first time after seeing the episode. If you are wondering who I am, be sure to check out my biography page. If you’re coming here after watching the show, may I suggest following up with my Dark Lore 7 article on the “Secret History of Ancient Astronauts”? This piece offers an overview of the ancient astronaut theory and the deep origins of the idea not seen on the TV show.
If you enjoyed that, please be sure to check out my books The Cult of Aliens Gods (Prometheus, 2005) and Faking History (JasonColavito.com Books, 2013), which have much more on the ancient astronaut theory and its connection to science fiction and other extreme clams about history, such as Atlantis, Afrocentrism, and creationism.
Click a cover to learn more about these books, and I have many more to choose from in my Books section:
Since the Codes & Conspiracies episode focuses largely on Erich von Däniken, I thought I’d share a few of my best pieces on the man and his work. A great starting point is my Erich von Däniken page, which offers a brief biographical overview and links to some of my coverage. You can also read Erich von Däniken’s 1976 letter to then-president Gerald Ford in which he tries to advise the president to use UFO beliefs to win reelection and in which he presses his case that socialism is the enemy of civilization.
Be sure to also check out my piece on von Däniken and his shocking use of racist language to describe African people as a flawed prototype later corrected by the aliens when they made white people.
Because Chariots of the Gods achieved its greatest popularity in the United States as a result of the 1973 NBC documentary about Chariots of the Gods hosted by Rod Serling (which wrongly described von Däniken, a Swiss hotelier and trained chef, as “German” and a “professor”), please enjoy a history of how Rod Serling came to host the show.
My two posts on the alleged golden alien library von Däniken claimed to find in Ecuador are a good introduction to some of the lies and fraud perpetuated in the name of ancient astronauts. A recurring theme in my work is uncovering the shoddy research, repetition, and outright plagiarism that forms so much of what passes for ancient astronaut “research.” I have a section devoted to Ancient Alien Fraud you can check out.
It is well known that Erich von Däniken was accused of plagiarism when similarities were noted between Chariots of the Gods and nearly identical themes and even phrasing in the works of Robert Charroux, a French writer of ancient astronaut and ancient mysteries pseudo-history books. The story was reported in Der Spiegel in 1969, and it’s rather interesting to see how von Däniken addressed accusations of plagiarism: Von Däniken claimed that he could not have plagiarized Charroux because Charroux was plagiarizing Pauwels and Bergier! He told his German publisher at the time: “I often had the impression while reading Charroux that he had cribbed from Pauwels and Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians” (my trans.). Nevertheless, his publisher was concerned enough about the similarities that “we have placed the Charroux titles in the bibliography of the new edition of Däniken’s book.”
Here we see that the author admitted that he wasn’t just citing Pauwels and Bergier for credibility but because he was familiar with their work. So, when von Däniken has told interviewers that he is not familiar with H. P. Lovecraft, he may only be half right, since Pauwels and Bergier discuss Lovecraft in Morning of the Magicians. Von Däniken may not have known who Lovecraft was, but he felt his influence, at least secondhand.
I’d like to invite new readers (and regular readers, too!) to take a look around my website. There’s a lot of great information here. And if you like what you see, feel free to buy a book or make a donation using the PayPal button in the right hand column to help me continue to produce high quality content like the kind you see here and heard on Codes & Conspiracies.
Again, welcome to new readers, and I hope you stick around! There’s a lot more to come!
3/2/2015 03:12:35 pm
Thank you for finally debunking that silly book on TV. When I read 'Chariots of the Gods' in 1970, it just sounded like total BS with no scientific evidence, and always assuming that ancient engineers were so intellectually inferior that they could never solve problems or invent anything. Best line of the show:
3/2/2015 03:15:47 pm
congrats.....well done for the time provided. fascinating how van Danikan seemed to back up on some of his earlier beliefs......in a squirmy sort of way. why wasn't his plagerism of morning of the magician brought up?
3/7/2015 12:43:50 pm
Von Daniken didn't just rip off Morning of the Magicians but also ripped off the book One Hundred Thousand Years of Man's Unknown History by Robert Charroux.
3/2/2015 04:55:37 pm
Jason, do you think that a 3D printer is one half of a Star Trek transporter system? :P
3/3/2015 09:20:17 am
I work with 3D scanning and printing. Every single person over the age of 30 who sees it, that is their first reaction (to the replicators, not the transporters), as fairly inaccurate as it is. That said, printers are rapidly becoming more complex. They're increasingly able to build objects with multiple parts. And of course down the road is the promise of complex biotissue printing for creating organs and other complex biological structures (research prototypes of same exist now though they are quite primitive). People of this age treat the printers as kind of magical and way too futuristic. When I show them what we're doing with our outdated scanner in the lab, they treat it like some sort of future tech they can't possibly afford, when in reality I've seen more expensive 2D cameras on projects, and you can do rougher 3D work with photogrammetry captured by an existing camera for more or less free.
3/3/2015 10:30:35 am
I guess I'm weird. Whodda thought :)
3/2/2015 06:14:53 pm
I missed the first airing, but just finished the second. It was a rather refreshing bit of TV, really. Good on the American Heroes Channel for taking the time to lend some airtime to deconstructing Von Daniken.
3/3/2015 04:23:15 am
lol. I'm still waiting for the flux capacitor I ordered on Amazon to arrive. It's gonna make archaeology so much easier, as long as I can retrofit my Jeep Liberty for time travel.
3/3/2015 07:59:04 am
Assuming this is the real Ken Feder, let me just clarify I don't mean it as a slight and I'm glad you found the comparison humorous. A good show needs a blend of personalities to keep the pacing interesting and of the four main commentators the two of you were easily the most adept at providing the histories (of both EVD and the "theory") involved and effective counterpoints to EVD's babbling car ride interview.
3/3/2015 05:56:55 am
Am I the only one who finds Michio Kaku really annoying? :(
3/3/2015 12:13:19 pm
No, and I don't find him incredibly creative nor imaginative either. I remember he once hosted a show involving demonstrations of how science fiction technology could be possible. Who were his critics for whom these demonstrations took place? Were they engineers? Physicists, perhaps? No... they were sci-fi geeks, straight out of a comic book convention.
3/3/2015 12:23:37 pm
When people with legitimate scientific credentials become popularizers, it's always a warning sign. Some of them just aren't very good. Those that are good (even if not great) are usually more interested in easy popularity, book sales, and/or grinding some ideological axe.
3/3/2015 01:41:30 pm
I have a hard time with the idea that popularization is bad.
3/3/2015 02:26:55 pm
I wasn't talking about popularization. I was talking about popularizers.
3/3/2015 04:43:29 pm
I definitely like written-Kaku better than media-Kaku. "Hyperspace" was an excellent introduction to quantum mechanics and the quest for a unified theory, and I even enjoyed "Physics of the Impossible" for what it was; fun, if not particularly revelatory.
3/4/2015 02:27:58 am
"... and I even enjoyed "Physics of the Impossible" for what it was; fun, if not particularly revelatory."
3/4/2015 03:15:57 am
"He tends to lend his name and credibility to far too many programs and spends too much time leaning on the popular science fiction angle"
3/3/2015 01:06:28 am
Great Job! It was refreshing to see a reasoned presentation on all of this hokum on television. It was also great to see everything that you have been talking about on this site being reflected. You came across as professional, reasoned and (importantly) likable.
3/3/2015 04:38:52 am
Best hour of television I've seen in a long time. All the guests did a fantastic job and I'm honestly surprised at the depth of research done for this episode. My inner Ebert gives this two thumbs up!
3/4/2015 03:43:59 am
I find the whole field of 'Theocosmology' and Big Bang speculations without data evidence annoying.
3/4/2015 03:46:31 am
That was a reply to EP's
3/4/2015 04:11:03 am
So... Was it a "yes"? :)
3/4/2015 10:28:01 am
It was a 'Yes' for all the shows on Theocosmology I've seen him on. In this show what he said was appropriate and not annoying. But our host Jason is the one who brought up the points.
3/4/2015 10:36:23 am
Fair enough. I agree with your broader statement as well.
3/4/2015 08:33:40 am
That stinks that they cut out those 3 min! US commercials are just interminable.
3/4/2015 09:11:30 am
I've never seen it... Must be from a recent episode. I'm couple behind.
3/4/2015 10:59:43 am
Yes! Kroll is on point wrt this phenomenon. I thought it must be a parody of Wolter, as well.
3/4/2015 08:37:32 am
Another bit from the parody:
11/5/2015 11:08:51 am
I saw panel w/Von Danikan & could tell he was embarrassed by whole thing. However, I'm not willing to throw baby out with the bath water. We all learn while here so let's move forward....
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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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