Today let’s look at a few more news stories making the rounds on the internet. This time, let’s have an ancient alien theme.
Chariots of the Gods is also responsible for an upcoming movie trilogy. Roland Emmerich may not be as gung-ho about promoting Erich von Däniken as Ridley Scott—who explicitly advocates the ancient astronaut theory as “fact”—but Emmerich is responsible for popularizing alternative claims in films such as Stargate (ancient aliens), 10,000 B.C. (Hancock-Bauval lost Orion-worshiping advanced pyramid-building civilization), and 2012 (Maya doomsday prophecies). Emmerich not only wants to revive Stargate—which gave its name to the Stargate Conspiracy nonfiction claims of a global ancient alien cult—but to do so as a trilogy of big-budget ancient alien-themed films. How they will differ from the many TV spinoffs, I don’t know.
Finally, from here in upstate New York comes a depressing column by Cheryl Costa who describes becoming a UFO and ancient astronaut believer as a child due to indoctrination from her mother, who would point to “UFOs” in the sky, read her news reports of UFOs, and discuss ancient astronauts with her as real history. Consider this paragraph which is unutterably depressing, but certainly no different than scenes taking place today, except that Chariots of the Gods has been replaced by Ancient Aliens:
Then in 1968, a book was released: Chariots of the Gods, by Erich von Daniken. This book introduced my mom and me to the ancient-astronauts theory and presented evidence that strongly supported the theory. I was captivated with the photos of tribal figurines that looked similar to our Apollo astronauts. I read the book cover to cover and read it again. I came away from von Daniken’s book persuaded that extraterrestrials have probably been with our culture for many millennia. Chariots of the Gods was popular among my family members and began to be the topic of very deep dinner discussions with visiting aunts, uncles and cousins. It was during these dinners I would hear my relatives privately share their own strange and wondrous sightings. That’s when I realized how much more common these sightings were.
And there you have it: Another closed feedback loop where personal experience interpreted through a media-derived paradigm becomes “proof” of the paradigm, and no one thinks to go beyond “alternative” literature or news reports, merely accepting them as fact.
What gets me, though, is that we have a situation where generations of people are spreading ancient alien lies from mother to daughter and presumably onward, much like a religion. This is how myths turn into time-honored facts. Now, I had a somewhat similar experience in that my father’s old book club copy of von Däniken’s Gold of the Gods introduced me to ancient astronauts, but I didn’t have ancient aliens foisted on me as a religion or reinforced with every trusted adult asserting their reality.
9/20/2013 07:43:15 am
I always love the interpretation of ancient rock art as showing alien visitations. There is a fairly famous one near Shiprock NM which besides being interpreted as depicting alien visitation a friend of mine said looked like a note from a man to his wife saying "took train to Santa Fe, back in a few days". (strangely I can't find it at the moment) My dad is very glad his work in the Park Service ended before this ancient alien stuff got too popular. He wouldn't have been able to politely handle the questions.
9/20/2013 08:15:50 am
Jason, the carvings do look like a child was responsible for them. I agree with you on this one however I just read your blog dated a year ago on Markawasi, I don't know about natural erosion causing them, I find the carving's very compelling. Do you have any updated info on it? I am totally captivated by this culture and to find out it may never have existed is crushing.
9/20/2013 08:23:00 am
I fail to see any carvings at Markawasi. If you move even a few feet from the carefully chosen vantage points, there is nothing to see but rocks. Even Robert Schoch, who believes in magical powers and lost pyramid building super-civilizations, sees nothing artificial there. So, first prove there are carvings before trying to attribute them to a lost culture. So far, no one can prove the rocks are carved rather than eroded.
Resist the urge to be 'captivated' by societies known only from archaeology. Any image you have of them is a projection that might bear little resemblance to reality.
9/20/2013 08:29:49 am
I often wonder if, in a couple thousand years or so (assuming humanity is still around), our descendants will look at surviving Domino's Pizza ads and say, "not only was the Noid real, but look at those ears--he was obviously an alien!"
The Other J.
9/23/2013 09:39:18 pm
I've had similar thoughts about tattoos. Often when an old, mummified body is dug up and it has some ink in the skin, the archaeologist in question notes how the tattoos probably marked the person's status.
9/20/2013 09:32:04 am
>>First up: Villagers in Peru think that an allegedly 3,000-year-old set of petroglyphs found in Guayaquil are proof that extraterrestrials visited the Chavín-era site millennia ago.<<
9/20/2013 12:24:49 pm
I used to love Stargate. Then I found out about ancient astronautics...*sigh*.
9/20/2013 02:55:17 pm
The drawings look childish to me. This reminds me of an old BC cartoon, where BC has carved some animal pictographs and finally a version of the US space shuttle, Peter looks on in disbelief as BC says something like this; "In a few thousands of years, it will drive the archeologists nuts." Of course that was done before the ancient alien crapola started, but imagine what that sort of thing might do now days. Yikes!
9/21/2013 09:56:10 am
Thank you for being a voice of reason, to often we take media at its word with little to no substantiation. I was once conned by a Discovery Channel show called Mermaids the Evidence, thats an hour of my life I won't get back. After reading thru some of the negative commentary I thought there may actually be a happy median between reality/fact and fiction/fantasy.
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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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