Authors of extraordinary claims have two modes when under attack for their false claims. They either lash out wildly like a cornered animal, or they retreat into their shells to ride out the storm like a tortoise or a snail. I have previously documented how alternative authors like Erich von Däniken, Robert Temple, and Graham Hancock have imagined conspiracies to suppress the truth of their claims. Even Philip Coppens this week accused me of a hate-filled “obsession” with him because I dared criticize but a single claim of his.
Robert Temple, who sometimes complains that the CIA and the “hypnosis community” are sabotaging his career, tends to be more of a tortoise. In his 1998 edition of The Sirius Mystery, he failed to acknowledge that the very center of his work—the claim that the Dogon tribe of Africa possess anomalous knowledge of nature of the Sirius star system that only aliens could provie—had been proven untrue by fieldwork conducted with the Dogon by Walter E. A. van Beek in 1991. To this day, he has refused to acknowledge the existence of van Beek’s work.
Temple derived his claims about the Dogon from Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, two anthropologists who had written Le Renard pale (Temple's primary source) about the Dogon. The whole story is rather long and complex—and laid out here—but the gist of it is that Griaule convinced himself of mythologies and facts that were not external to him, and Dieterlen embraced these same views after working with Griaule among the Dogon for many years.
So, when Van Beek discovered no factual support for the claims, he courteously let Dieterlen—who died in 1999—see a copy of his findings before he published them. Her reaction—and she was an actual, credentialed academic—was just like that of any other alternative theorist: suppress the truth to protect the lie. Van Beek sat down with Dieterlen in Paris to discuss his article:
That pretty much says it all.
10/5/2012 10:56:30 am
I bet you were the kind of kid who enjoyed telling other kids that Santa Claus wasn't real.
10/5/2012 11:17:12 am
Clearly, you have never read my Cult of Alien Gods (or the online excerpt), which explains my background. My motive is simple: I love ancient history, and it upsets me when people tell lies about the past. You may be happy to think of truth and lies as two types of "fun," but there are dangers to believing things that aren't true. In my small way I'm trying to help sort fact from fiction.
10/5/2012 12:50:05 pm
Ok, not that it's any of anyone's business, but what DO you believe in? Do you, or have you EVER, had a faith in something that didn't come down to "prove it to me with facts?"
10/5/2012 01:57:51 pm
Actually, I almost never use the word "lies" (excepting headlines, where space is at a premium). I go out of my way to give alternative theorists the benefit of the doubt, except where it appears that they have purposefully and purposely manipulated data or fabricated facts, which is my particular problem with them. As I explained in my Graham Hancock post the other day, whether you make a materialist or non-materialist interpretation of the facts is a philosophical issue, and one I cannot adjudicate. But the facts themselves you don't get to fake for profit.
10/5/2012 08:46:19 pm
These people lie to make money. Why wouldn't you take the time to provide true facts.
7/28/2018 12:30:50 pm
You're doing a great job.
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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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