In 1969, Time magazine published an early review of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods just prior to its U.S. release. The hardcover version of the text that the magazine reviewed was somewhat different than the familiar paperback version that followed, with, apparently, a single illustration—Lord Pacal’s coffin lid. The credulous Time reviewer, who saw unwarranted merit in von Däniken’s speculations, included a bit of fascinating information that contradicts one of von Däniken’s later claims about his ancient astronaut theory.
Compare that to von Däniken’s assertion in his 1974 Playboy interview:
If the Time report is correct, and there is no reason to doubt it since it is well known that screenwriter Wilhelm Roggersdorf heavily altered the original Chariots manuscript on behalf of von Däniken's original publisher, Econ, it seems that ol’ von Däniken has been “modifying” his views in response to market pressures since the very beginning.
This isn’t unique to him, of course. Sir James George Frazer wrote The Golden Bough essentially to prove that Christ was just another dying-and-rising ancient vegetation god and Christianity just another mystery religion. But he and his wife excised all important references to Christ and the Crucifixion that would call the truth of Christianity into question from the 1922 one-volume popular edition of the 12-volume work to avoid offending religious sensibilities. All that remained were some wishy-washy statements about the "coincidences" that were "too close and too numerous to be accidental," without seriously questioning whether Christ was the literal son of God. Frazer, like von Däniken, also claimed that he had made no changes to his views despite the clear (and published) evidence to the contrary.
It’s unusual to see this happen and then have the author lie about it and immediately adopt a completely contradictory position to hock more books. But it happens. Ask J. G. Frazer.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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