Good news, everyone! Robert Bauval, the purveyor of The Orion Mystery, has finally admitted to being an ancient astronaut theorist. I’ve suspected this for decades, ever since Bauval admitted in The Orion Mystery that his inspiration for the book was the ancient astronaut speculation of Robert Temple. His frequent appearances on Ancient Aliens were also a strong hint. But Bauval has long pretended to be interested only in Graham Hancock’s lost civilization. However, in December he will release a new book with panspermia advocate Chandra Wickramasinghe called Cosmic Womb: The Seeding of Planet Earth (Bear & Company, 2017) in which Bauval and Wickramasinghe argue that Earth life was purposely seeded from the stars by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization and that ancient people were aware of this fact. This is an early review of the forthcoming book courtesy of galley proofs made available by the publisher
In the publisher’s preface that begins the book, the publisher writes that Bauval “feels it is time for him to step up and expose what he has come to believe. It is a bold step because he is aware that by doing so he is putting himself in the firing line of his critics and detractors.” Bauval apparently now feels that the imaginary correlations and mathematical mysteries he sees in the Great Pyramid could only be the result of extraterrestrial intervention. Bauval came to believe this, according to the publisher, because his brother, an architect, informed him that the math “encoded” in the pyramid is so advanced only space aliens—not Atlantis—could have delivered it to Earth. Somehow, however, Bauval’s brother was advanced enough to understand and recognize it. The publisher adds that the book came about after Bauval and Wickramasinghe discussed ancient astronauts together at Erich von Däniken’s eightieth birthday party, the one thrown by his German publisher, which has rightwing and Neo-Nazi ties.
The first half of the book was written by Wickramasinghe (who, for the sake of my wrists, I will abbreviate as CW), and he uses it to discuss the probability of life in the cosmos and his conviction that science has become similar to a “totalitarian state” that is actively stifling innovative research emerging from outside the iron triangle of government, corporate, and university laboratories. This, he says, prevents research into unconventional hypotheses, such as ancient astronauts and space aliens. He alleges that modern science has a Western and Judeo-Christian bias, in which the standard model of cosmology echoes the book of Genesis, with the Big Bang representing creation and evolution the sequential creation of species. In discussing panspermia, he throws out some random strange claims. For example, ancient references to red or blood rain he takes to be the precipitation of an unknown space life form, a claim that other scientists have disputed and which he claims that the “fake news” mainstream media refuses to report honestly. But even if the cells were from outer space, what would this have to do with the Great Pyramid?
Another chapter segues incongruously into creationism, a subject about which CW has testified in court on behalf of efforts to teach creationism in U.S. schools, and despite claiming to be a Buddhist who “lean[s] toward atheism,” CW complains about “rationalists” who are driving the public out of churches and temples and away from beauty and philosophy. He seems to have a profound dislike of Darwin for destroying what he perceives (wrongly) to have been a previously universal subservience to the dominion of God. CW presents arguments for why life cannot have emerged from non-life, and he tells us that this means that all life emerged from “an intelligent creator or omnipotent God.” Weirdly, for CW, space alien architects and an omnipotent God are pretty much the same thing, giving the lie to the idea that the ancient astronaut theory is anything but religion in pseudoscientific clothes. CW is not a Young Earth Creationist or a Flood geologist but uses his panspermia hypothesis as a wedge argument to find common cause with Old Earth Creationists by putting forth the proposition that there are other alternatives to Darwinian evolution. Either CW is disingenuous, or he believes that elites benefit when the masses believe in authoritarian religious traditions which can be exploited to support elite rule.
For no good reason, he includes a lengthy section on reincarnation and his belief that elite geniuses are reborn in each generation to lead humanity. Others are probably reborn too, but he focuses on geniuses, and it’s pretty clear where CW classifies himself.
But what does any of this have to do with Egypt and the Great Pyramid? Who knows. He moves on to essentially arguing that The Andromeda Strain is a real-life concern and while we might be wiped out by diseases from space, bacteria probably rode space rocks to the early Earth with the purpose of making Darwin look the fool—as though such bacteria had no prior history on their own planet governed by the same principles of evolution. He argues that octopuses transformed from squid when space alien virions inserted 33,000 genes into the squid’s DNA. He did not specify whether 33,000 virions each added one gene or whether the virions came to Earth with a full program for octopus, apparently riding here from Yuggoth on orders from the Cthulhu Spawn. What do aliens want with octopuses?
There are few more of CW’s chapters, but you get the idea.
In the second part Robert Bauval takes over and offers what he calls “intelligent speculation.” We can quibble about the adjective, but there is no doubt about the noun. He begins by saying that he has become convinced that extraterrestrial contact should be evident in prehistoric monumental architecture, particularly the Great Pyramid, where aliens are most likely to have left a lasting legacy. He takes time to blast “some television production companies”—i.e. Ancient Aliens, a show on which he regularly appears—for intemperate speculation, and he then turns his ire on Egyptologists for refusing to recognize a true “mystery” in the construction of the Great Pyramid.
It goes without saying that he devotes a great deal of space to yet another airing of his grievances over the BBC’s 1999 Horizon documentary on the Orion Correlation Theory, which he last complained about in the book he and Robert Schoch released earlier this year. At some point, it really starts to become like the middle-aged man who keeps telling the same war story about his high school glory days. An entire generation has grown up since the incident occurred.
Bauval has become fascinated by math that he doesn’t understand, and, unable to understand it, he concludes that it represents knowledge beyond the human. A lot of the claims have been seen on Ancient Aliens before, such as the mathematical prowess of Ramanujan, savant syndrome, etc. Bauval confesses that he believes he acquired savant syndrome when he fell and hit his head as a child, after which he says he “never felt quit (sic) the same,” and induced a curiosity about life and the university and the ability to “see” patterns like the Orion Correlation that no one else can see. He also added, disturbingly, that he also believes that ideas enter his head from “somewhere else,” such as a supernatural or extraterrestrial realm of ideas, and that this has occurred for more than 30 years.
The evidence that Bauval provides for extraterrestrial intervention in the Great Pyramid is remarkably empty. It’s numerology of the kind that has been popular in pyramid-speculation circles since the nineteenth century. Coincidences of measurement are taken to be indications of intentional encoding of random numbers—11, 137, etc.—that are thought to be related to complex sequences of primes and cubes that have no inherent connection to the Great Pyramid, or really much of anything. Bauval adds that he has experienced mental health issues such as debilitating depression over the years and often sees numerical patterns in the world around him, and that certain numbers carry prophetic meaning for him. When he sees a 96, for example, he knows bad things are going to happen, while the number 3 is good for him. He devotes a chapter to quantum physics and how its “weirdness” might underlie some of what he experienced. He confesses that he does not understand the math behind it, but claims that with the help of “the Internet,” books, and “YouTube channels,” one might learn everything necessary about quantum physics “without knowing the mathematics” (emphasis in original). Bauval now considers himself qualified to opine about quantum spookiness and other topics because of his online “self-education.”
I needn’t tell you that this is not a logical argument, or a rational one. Bauval’s belief in the magical power of numbers is almost identical to that of David Wilcock, who also sees imaginary correlations in every numerical coincidence. I frankly have no idea how to begin to critique a claim that is based in literal magical thinking. Bauval, unable to convince with evidence, has turned to the mystical and can therefore appeal to divine authority and secret knowledge where facts fail. He suggests that his discovery that the Orion Correlation dates to 10,500 BCE, a year targeted by Edgar Cayce, suggests a supernatural force providing information to them both. He neglects to note that the period had long been tied to fringe history. John Kilduff used Bauval’s own methodology to determine that the Sphinx was built in 10,750 BCE—in 1909! The Victorians used “10,000 B.C.” as a marking point for the end of the Ice Age, and Bible-thumpers of the Old Earth persuasion suggested it as the date of the Flood. Bunsen, the most widely cited writer on Egypt in that era, gave 10,000 BCE as the time when Egyptian religion was founded, under Osiris, after the Flood period of 11,000 BCE to 10,000 BCE, using the numbers given in Manetho’s king list. Short form: Bunsen’s chronology stands behind most of these claims, and the coincidence that Leo “matches” the Sphinx at 10,500 BCE allowed later writers to “match” Bunsen’s claims to Renaissance-era astrological claims about the Sphinx and Leo, itself based on a conflation of the Greek and Egyptian sphinxes.
Much of the rest of the argument is little more than a rehash of 1960s ancient astronaut material drawn mostly from Carl Sagan’s Intelligent Life in the Universe, including claims about the Fermi paradox, the prevalence of life in the universe, and the likelihood that it reached Earth. To this, he adds fashionable Ancient Aliens claims about quantum physics and how it might explain the way aliens could traverse the universe or influence it quickly. He speculates about whether the “aliens” are actually interdimensional.
When he finally gets to the Great Pyramid, things get worse. He has decided that there was not evolution in the development of pyramids from mastabas but rather that “something special” happened—meaning that aliens delivered the plans telepathically—or else that the pyramid first developed in the Ice Age. He speculates that aliens designed the pyramid as a “three-dimensional blueprint” for a machine that a future society could build using quantum principles and “laser transmission of ‘encoded’ information.” This somehow descends into recapping of nineteenth and twentieth century pyramid numerology, which Bauval takes to be true, and from which he extracts numerical coincidences of importance to him, and he supports this with an alleged quotation from Manetho that is actually from Schwaller de Lubicz and which does not seem to come from Manetho so far as I can find (Nothing like it is in the Loeb Manetho): “We would be universal scientists if it were given to us to inhabit the sacred land of Egypt.” It makes no sense since Manetho was Egyptian. He pauses here and there to complain about Egyptologists ganging up to suppress numerological readings of the pyramid, and he endorses several fanciful numerical coincidences, and some that require a bit of work to generate, particularly those that ask us to assume that the Egyptian planned for their measurements to be converted into modern meters for added levels of magical numerology. For example, expresses his belief that the latitude of the Great Pyramid of 29.9792° N, expressed in decimal degrees that were only invented in the seventeenth century (earlier systems were inconsistent), yields a number that reproduces the significant digits of the speed of light as expressed in kilometers per second, using the kilometer defined in 1983—299,792 km/s. Apparently, a conspiracy has kept modern measurements in sync with the pyramid but did not bother to adjust them to make nice and even numbers.
The number, needless to say, is coincidence. For example, the digits 299792 are also found in the net revenue of $299,792 on a railway company’s balance sheet in December 1890, and it was the value in dollars of radioscopes exported by the United States in 1980. It was the purchase code for the “Lady Editor” (a pig) advertised in the American Poland-China Record in 1907, and it was also the number of acres suitable for potential timber growth of 50 to 84 cubic feet per year in Bitterroot National Forest in 1987. I could go on, but to what end? It’s all just coincidence.
Is there any use in chronicling more of this? Clearly, Bauval has become unmoored from reality and is happy to accept any bizarre claim or Internet meme so long as it reflects his magical worldview. Bauval concludes, for what it’s worth, that there are a number of possibilities behind the pyramid, ranging from coincidence to a super-intelligent ancient human designer (e.g. Atlantis), and from something like the Akashic Record to alien contact, and of course that the universe is all a simulation. He declines to speculate on which is correct but notes that Egyptology falls with any but coincidence being true.
CW closes the book with warnings about climate change and killer asteroids.
The book is disjointed, rambling, and a bit shambolic, a grab-bag of random material revolving around the possibility of alien contact of various kinds. It is notable for what it is missing. CW’s panspermia does not include alien architects of human structures, but Bauval’s projection of his own ignorance onto ancient people lacks even speculation that the Egyptians knew about panspermia. The two authors’ views have nothing to do with one another, and it seems that the publisher decided that neither author had enough material to justify a book and therefore jammed together too vaguely similar proposals that are collectively less than the sum of their parts because of their incompatibility.
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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