I continue to be blocked from viewing the tweets of Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos, but that doesn't mean that I don't know what he's been writing. This week Tsoukalos has been discussing epistemology with his followers in what is sure to be a master class in that branch of philosophy. His outrageous statements, however, do shed important light on his conception of the ancient astronaut theory.
Tsoukalos wrote that he does not "believe" the ancient astronaut theory but instead "know[s]" that is is true, based, he says, on facts and evidence. A follower then asks, somewhat against the commonly accepted scientific definitions, how he can "know" a theory since it requires "faith" to believe it.
It is patently obvious that Tsoukalos knows nothing of science, and nothing of the scientific method. "A court of law" is not the forum for judging the ancient astronaut theory, just as it wasn't the right forum a decade ago when Graham Hancock argued that he was a "lawyer" defending his imaginary lost civilization in a fictive court of law. Courts are not in the business of determining absolute truth; they pit two admitted advocates against one another to persuade a judge or jury whether enough evidence exists to justify a specific charge against a fixed set of laws. They use selective evidence, emotional appeals, and (more often than we'd like) efforts to exclude evidence from consideration to manipulate proceedings toward a predetermined end. This is how Tsoukalos views his advocacy of his pet hypothesis, butt it isn't how science, history, or archaeology work.
Other followers noted this and protested that Tsoukalos' claims were "not science" because they were not falsifiable or repeatable. Tsoukalos' idea of "repeatable" shows his ignorance of the idea. In archaeology, it would involve finding the same type of artifact in similar contexts. Instead, Tsoukalos believes "repeatability" refers to "doing the same thing again and again." In his mind, taking the small gold pre-Columbian jewelry vaguely shaped like airplanes, altering models of them to make them of different material and add a propulsion system not in the original, and then claiming they are "really" alien airplanes is "repeatability" because the "experiment" always comes out the same way when you make the same alterations according to a set of assumptions. (I don't really have a problem with imagining that the Inca invented small toy gliders; it really isn't that much more sophisticated than a paper airplane. The problem comes in imagining these were based on full-sized, functional aircraft with fuel and propulsion systems.)
To a question on whether ancient astronaut claims have been presented in peer-reviewed journals, he responds:
I haven't seen any either, and I've searched all the major journal databases, with the following exception: During the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet and Chinese governments sponsored ancient astronaut research and produced several articles in communist-run journals of dubious value in support of the communist policy of devaluing religion by attributing its supernatural claims to scientific (read: extraterrestrial) sources. These poor-quality articles were rightly rejected by the American government and non-communist scholars and have not been cited in mainstream scholarship, even in Russia or China, for decades.
I challenge Tsoukalos to present any peer-reviewed journal articles from modern times (say, the past 20 years) in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, the physical sciences, religious history, Classics, or related disciplines that positively support the ancient astronaut theory and utilize it in explaining material.
Me too! That's why Giorgio Tsoukalos is such an endless source of delight, seeings as how the fake author, liar about Atlantis, and promoter of known hoaxes is among the most ignorant people appearing regularly on cable television. It reminds me of a quote from Dilbert about how Dogbert combines "ignorance and arrogance and pass[es] it off as intelligence."
Tsoukalos promises to "tear to shreds" anyone who dares challenge him. I guess we'll have some fun this fall when I'm scheduled to appear on National Geographic Channel to do just that.
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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