With my lengthy reviews of Ancient Aliens and In Search of Aliens, I’ve been producing 8 article-sized blog posts a week, and that’s getting ridiculous. So instead of another lengthy piece today, you’re getting a short discussion of a weird claim that’s been circulating across the fringe history blogosphere this week. I first encountered it in an article that ran on the Native American Indian Country Today Media Network website last week. The piece claimed that a series of pipes dating back 150,000 years had been found near the city of Delhi (or Delhinga) in the Chinese province of Qinghai in China’s desert west. The article cited the Epoch Times to the effect that tour operators in the vicinity claimed that the pipes, which supposedly lead from a pyramid-shaped mountain to a lake, were the work of extraterrestrials.
Turning to the source, the Epoch Times, is an exercise in futility since the Epoch Times, a multilingual Chinese diaspora paper, is well known for publishing fringe claims, typically recycled from television fringe shows or Chinese ancient astronaut books. A recent article claimed, for example, that America Unearthed had proved the existence of Celtic settlements in Oklahoma, while another piece on July 24 credulously reported on an ancient Chinese UFO sighting using internet claims I challenged last year.
The Epoch Times in turn based its article on still earlier Chinese media reports dating back to a 2002 article from Xinhua, the official state news agency of China, widely considered a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist government. That august agency attributed the claim that the pipes were of alien origin to the credible source of “someone”: “Someone has suggested that the site might have been a launch tower left by ET.”
The Epoch Times, however, dutifully noted that there are alternative explanations for the supposed pipes. They may be the remains of magma tubes, or possibly fossilized tree roots. No images of the pipes were provided (the pipe in the Epoch Times article is a file picture of an actual metal pipe), and there was no indication why extraterrestrials would want a series of pipes of varying non-standardized widths.
Western scholars do not seem to have investigated the alien pipes, though I suppose that could be due to a conspiracy to suppress the truth.
According to declassified CIA documents, such as the one I posted in my U.S. Government Ancient Astronaut and Fringe History Files section a long time ago, Sinologists in the U.S. and even the former Soviet Union have long noted that the Chinese have actively encouraged belief in ancient astronauts as a way of bolstering communist materialism against Western spirituality, and in 2012 the Chinese government even endorsed claims that ancient astronauts visited earth 100 million years ago.
As a Soviet source put it (in CIA translation) back in the 1980s, “The activities of adherents of this new scientific trend in China demonstrate [the] methodology and tasks of the Chinese historical science in general.” In other words, if an extreme claim about aliens comes out of China, don’t believe it. Even the alleged global government conspiracy to suppress the truth about UFOs doesn’t buy it. And when even the Soviets thought a whole country’s ancient astronaut claims were untrustworthy, it’s probably a good bet that they are. Sadly, as the 2012 museum exhibit shows, not much has changed in China since the 1980s.
But why would Native Americans want to align themselves with these weird claims except as an exercise in opposing “mainstream” historiography?
8/3/2014 02:45:49 am
The launch tower hypothesis makes the most sense, because of course aliens capable of crossing the immeasurable gulfs of space would use 1960s technology.
8/3/2014 03:48:45 am
Ah, the Baigong pipes raise their heads again. Skeptoid covered these back in '09
8/3/2014 06:45:26 am
Yeah, these aren't new. I think they got bundled with the Dropa Stones at some point, and labeled "The Chinese Roswell," even getting a TV doc about them in the 2000s.
8/3/2014 04:34:31 am
>>But why would Native Americans want to align themselves with these weird claims except as an exercise in opposing “mainstream” historiography?
8/3/2014 07:06:58 am
"But why would Native Americans want to align themselves with these weird claims except as an exercise in opposing “mainstream” historiography?"
8/3/2014 07:20:08 am
Didn't Vine Deloria also believe that ancient Native Americans hunted dinosaurs, or something?
8/3/2014 07:29:09 am
He was, more or less, a creationist. But one gets the feeling that this had very little to do with serious beliefs, and everything to do with undermining scientific authority of archaeology.
8/3/2014 07:30:44 am
I did indeed know that Vine Deloria was interested in giants. He also promoted many unconventional ideas, including that claim that Native Americans discovered Europe in 60 BCE. I remember having to read some of his work in anthropology classes in college and thinking to myself that the claims were a little... extreme.
8/3/2014 07:32:38 am
I must admit, I have no first-hand experience working with American Indians - I have no grounds to speculate anything more than simple economics. I could certainly see this kind of publication as being born of a general discontent over the past 200 years, but I don't know that. I suppose I was trying to give the various tribes (collectively) the benefit of the doubt in assuming they didn't really *believe* these things.. they just wanted a slice of the pie.
8/3/2014 07:37:23 am
Apparently Deloria was also sympathetic to the ancient astronauts theory, or at least catastrophism...
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
8/3/2014 02:19:06 pm
Charles C. Mann's book 1491 mentions Deloria as an example of the Native American activists who despise archaeology because they think its "main function [is] to make white people feel good about themselves". Their prime example is the "overkill hypothesis", according to which the big Ice Age mammals in North America went extinct because of paleo-Indian overhunting. The hypothesis was brought up in the 1930s and rejected, because other species that weren't likely to have been hunted went extinct at the same time. But in the 1960s, when environmentalism was on the rise and the public started to think that Native Americans had been better stewards of the environment, the overkill hypothesis was suddenly revived.
8/3/2014 04:05:25 pm
I would guess he was somewhere in between.
8/3/2014 04:33:28 pm
You don't really get to use trolling as an excuse in the academia.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
8/4/2014 06:41:16 am
Of course not. I'm just saying that's the most charitable explanation.
8/4/2014 08:53:32 am
The most charitable explanation is that Deloria was a political activist, who may or may not have made positive difference to the situation of Native Americans, but who was actively and deliberately working against science and reason in pursuit of his political agenda.
8/3/2014 06:54:10 am
"when even the Soviets thought a whole country’s ancient astronaut claims were untrustworthy, it’s probably a good bet that they are."
8/3/2014 07:33:23 am
8/3/2014 08:34:36 am
Vine Deloria pretty much endorses the ancient astronaut theory (God Is Red, chapter 9):
8/3/2014 09:02:03 am
"...and it helps us avoid making totally stupid statements."
8/3/2014 09:13:47 am
Based on my limited acquaintance with Deloria's work, he needs all the help he can get :)
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