So now we get to the heart of the matter. I wondered why Philip Coppens had become so aggressive over the last few weeks in attacking his critics, and now I have the answer: He has a new book coming out and can't afford to let skeptics dominate online discussions of his views. It's all about the marketing! That doesn't stop him, however, from continuing to offer weird, misleading, and wrong ideas.
Coppens new book is called The Lost Civilization Engima. If his last book, The Ancient Alien Question was more or less re-heated von Däniken and Robert Temple with a veneer of scientific inquiry, his new book is shaping up to be leftovers from Graham Hancock and David Childress, or, more accurately, the hundreds of authors Childress summarized and copied in his patchwork "books." Coppens is now claiming that advanced civilization stretches back at least 10,000 years prior to Sumer in forms not directly attributable to aliens.
But check out his hedging of his bets in his interview with Examiner.com published earlier today:
Let us grant him this: He is absolutely right that some Greeks and Romans (specifically Strabo, Posidonius, and possibly Crantor) believed Atlantis was real. That they also believed many other impossible things does not help us to assert the reality of Atlantis on their authority. He goes on to say that Atlantis existed on the ridge in the Atlantic that geologists long ago determined was never above water because it is rising up due to plate tectonics, not sinking down due to rising oceans.
But it gets worse:
Notice how skillfully Coppens elides facts to produce a false impression. Gobekli Tepe was a "true temple" (whatever that means) in that it was a series of stone buildings used for worship--but it was not a "city." In fact, the consensus is that hunter-gatherers came to the site during certain times of the year as a meeting place and to work on the stones. This is decidedly not a "city" in the sense of Sumer or later sedentary cultures. Gobekli Tepe revolutionized our understanding of how civilization arose (religion before agriculture), but Coppens is mired in a belief that the elements of civilization are inseparable and the existence of one (temples) implies the existence of others (permanent settlements and agriculture).
In the interview Coppens (who accuses archaeologists of fabrication and conspiracies at least twice) goes on to assert again that the ancients believed they were contacted by "non-human intelligences." These would be the "gods" to them, but Coppens uses his own terminology to carefully conflate the gods with extraterrestrials. But the experiences of the ancients are still happening today every time someone sees a vision of the Virgin Mary, claims a demonic possession, or even sees Jesus in a tortilla. Coppens says that "they might be wrong, but we at least need to accept that they believed it." To me, this isn't the same as claiming these experiences have an objective, external reality. And if they were "wrong" labeling these "intelligences" by terms other than what the ancients chose to call them simply puts a modern bias on the ancient texts and asserts a spurious connection to hypothetical extraterrestrials that quickly becomes self-sustaining circular reasoning.
I requested copies of Coppens' Ancient Alien Question and Lost Civilization Enigma from New Page Books, his publisher, for review on this blog. While New Page has provided me with review copies of books in the past, so far they have declined to respond to my request.
So here is my challenge to Philip Coppens: If you believe your Lost Civilization Enigma is such strong evidence for a lost civilization, send me a copy to review. If you're right, I'll happily tell the world. If not, you still get free publicity among the "skeptics" you say you want to reach. You have nothing to lose but shipping and handling.
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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