I'm going to do something today that Bill O'Reilly (not to mention ancient astronaut theorists and alternative historians) will never do. I'm going to admit I got something wrong. Yesterday I said that the gift shop at Ford's Theater wasn't going to carry O'Reilly's book. It turns out I was wrong; I had forgotten that there is a separate bookstore at Ford's Theater (subject to National Parks Service quality standards) and a museum gift shop, which is not. The bookstore is refusing to carry his book; the gift shop is not. It's been some time since I was last at Ford's Theater, and it didn't immediately dawn on me that these were two different things.
Now, while I can admit when I've made a mistake, apparently Bill O'Reilly can't. Faithful readers will remember how alternative historians and ancient astronaut theorists become defensive when their views are challenged, often imagining conspiracies to suppress their views. They also use the fallacy of the argumentum ad populum, claiming that their readership (or television ratings, or website hits) justify their views in the face of know-it-all "experts" who are protecting their turf.
Here's O'Reilly sounding just like an ancient astronaut theorist on last night's O'Reilly Factor:
By the way there are now more than one million copies of Killing Lincoln in print and the book continues selling well. We well understand our enemies are full of rage of that success. We also know the media lies at will with no accountability. Killing Lincoln in an honest book that you will enjoy and learn from, and that every American student should read. And all the gutter sniping in the world is not going to change that.
Compare this to alternative historian Graham Hancock, writing about the reaction to his Fingerprints of the Gods:
To this day I am astonished by the response that Fingerprints [of the Gods] has generated amongst orthodox academics and their supporters. Some reacted with intense horror, like devout Catholics affronted by an act of blasphemy.
Or his frequent writing partner, Robert Bauval, whose theories about the Egyptian pyramids were criticized by "experts":
Eventually an uncoordinated campaign and pulling-ranks began to be seen [as] aimed against us, with CSICOP agents and science editors of journals and newspapers unleashing, on the one hand, systematic attacks and, on the other hand, forming a wall of fire to stop our work [from] entering the academic and scientific arena.
In all these cases--O'Reilly and the alternative authors both--their work was aimed a popular audience, relied on outdated secondary sources and conspiracy theories, and played a bit loose with the facts. And, when these problems were exposed, they all attacked historians and the media for pointing out these flaws as though it were a personal attack on them and their egos.
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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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