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unutterably depressing, but certainly no different than scenes taking place today, except that Chariots of the Gods has been replaced by Ancient Aliens: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.
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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