In which we learn the aliens are conservatives…
As we open Chapter One of Twilight of the Gods and come to the book proper, we’re already more than 10% of the way through the book. This seems to be a pretty short effort, even by EVD’s standards. (I have the eBook version, so I can’t readily see exactly how long—thanks, Kindle!)
EVD starts off by revisiting Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco), the Bolivian city that he insists on viewing as an ungodly ancient alien base camp on the basis of Spanish chroniclers’ assertions that Native Americans could not have built it. Tiwanaku has been covered and covered again and again in these pages, and I have no reason to return to this except to note that EVD makes the claim that mainstream media, like the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, are purposely ignoring Tiwanaku as part of a “conspiracy.” I know for a fact that the city was featured on Assignment Discovery, though so far as I can tell, the city has not been featured recently on TV except on ancient astronaut and Atlantis themed programs. Of course, that’s pretty much all the historical programs on those channels (along with History and H2, so take it for what it’s worth). But it’s hardly a conspiracy when the Smithsonian Institution put Tiwanaku on the cover of its People of the Andes book.
EVD then profiles the World Ice Theory of Hans Hörbinger, a Nazi-era German thinker who imagined that big chunks of floating space ice destroyed Atlantis and other early high cultures. EVD derives this information from our old friends Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels, the French pair who tried to find facts to support a Lovecraftian reinterpretation of history. Anyway, according to EVD, Horbinger inspired a German archaeologist named Edmund Kiss to explore Tiwanaku and date it to 27,000 BCE. Mittleuropa chauvinist that EVD is, he prefers to give this priority over the English-speaking alternative community’s fascination with Arthur Posnansky and his equally-ridiculous dates (discussed by EVD later in the chapter).
Kiss believed that the earth was inhabited by giants before our “previous moon” (don’t ask) exploded some 138,000 years ago. EVD promises to show us these giants.
Sadly, he doesn’t have any giant skeletons. Instead he regales us with a litany of giants mentioned in myths and legends from Mesopotamia to Israel to Greece to Mexico. But as a fluent speaker of German and someone who data mines public domain texts for a living, EVD should well know that the German scholar Othenio Abel explained the origins of giants as misunderstood fossil skeletons of megafauna (specifically extinct elephants) in 1914. He probably should also have known that the French writer Georges Cuvier had done the same on a much grander scale in 1806, and that this explanation is widely accepted as true. (Another factor in the giant stories is the widespread myth of degeneracy—the idea that everything and everyone in the past was better and bigger than today.)
He speaks of the conclusions of Denis Saurat about the existence of giants as though they were current, but Saurat died a decade before Chariots of the Gods, and his work has been superseded by more recent scholarship. Also, Saurat was a scholar of the occult, not paleontology, and his claims were not supported by anyone other than himself and other believers in Atlantis.
We then get the completely debunked Paluxy footprints (supposedly of dinosaurs and humans together) as fact, along with a laundry list of other material that appears drawn from Forbidden Archaeology and other long-discredited creationist sources. As soon as I wrote that sentence, the very next page informs me that I guessed correctly. EVD cites the “well-researched” Forbidden Archaeology as his source! Hey, do I know my alternative authors or what?
EVD takes a few gratuitous swipes at the theory of evolution (largely because he is cribbing from creationists here) and global warming (because, as we learned from the US government’s secret files, he’s apparently a reactionary conservative) and then starts speculating madly about alternative histories for the moon. Why the moon, and what does it have to do with aliens? Who knows? But weirdly EVD takes time to defend the 1969 Apollo moon landing against its conspiracy theory detractors because he “personally” knew the men who ran the program and knows they’d never be involved in a conspiracy, unlike, say, every archaeologist on earth. Finally, he lets us know that the moon is pretty much what we all knew it was, a rock that’s been in orbit for millions of years and therefore not responsible for giant humans or the destruction of Tiwanaku.
We then hear about (a) the theory that the whole universe is itself God, (b) Higgs bosons, (c) and memes. Mostly we just see the politically conservative EVD thrashing about for a way to wedge ancient astronauts into a broader alternative theory of the universe that would just happen to support a conservative political agenda.
While all this fills space, it certainly wastes time since it has nothing to do with ancient astronauts.
At this point, I grew bored with this chapter. Since it’s not as though I get paid to read this stuff, I’ll try to briefly summarize the next section in a sentence: EVD lists every possible mystery of Tiwanaku, particularly the size and hardness of the stones, as a reason why humans could not have built it while systematically claiming archaeologists (who work there every year) are conspiring to prevent anyone from knowing about the site (even though it is open to the public), all while ignoring any plausible and earth-bound explanation for the city’s construction. It’s funny that he says on one hand that no one could move or work with the hard stone blocks of Tiwanaku and then report that the cathedral of La Paz had been built with repurposed stones stolen from the city.
I will dismiss the following passage similarly: EVD recapitulates the same tired arguments about Arthur Posnansky that have been debunked time and again as though he either does not know or does not care about them. There is nothing new here.
This brings us to the one piece of supposedly “irrefutable evidence”, the supposed precision of the blocks of Puma Punku (near Tiwanaku), as measured in the 1870s. It just isn’t true. They are not fabulously precise. David Childress humiliated himself on Ancient Aliens trying to use a set square to “prove” the blocks were perfect right angles when they were not. EVD thinks these blocks could not have been done because prehistoric people couldn’t have done “architectural planning” because they had only leaves, sand, and skins to draw on. EVD’s failure of imagination thus becomes proof of impossibility. The existence of Gobekli Tepe—a site whose existence was not predicted by any ancient astronaut theory—proves that complex, precision building could be done without writing and without the hallmarks of civilization, farming and cities.
Summary, summary, summary! All we have is summaries of other people’s dumb theories. Even if we assume everything EVD presents is true—that Tiwanaku is thousands of years older than thought, had been flooded at the end of the Ice Age, and was built with high technology, it still says NOTHING about aliens unless you simply hate human beings.
Oh, and EVD also thinks carbon dating is a crock because it doesn’t directly date rock. Well, we have methods for dating rock, and they confirm the carbon dates of material extracted from under those rocks whenever they are used.
No, you know all the wrongheaded “alternative” literature. You know nothing about the actual archaeology done at the site. This is the only way you can make the definitive statement (not, this time, a rhetorical question) that Puma Punku is the “base camp” for aliens.
At the end of this chapter, EVD’s radically conservative agenda has been laid bare. I’m so glad the National Archives provided the 1976 documents that spelled out his conservative politics because it helps put this book and EVD’s theories into perspective. EVD has created a conservative ancient astronaut theory that uses what he (wrongly) feels are the tools of science to discredit science itself—by attacking evolution and carbon dating and global warming as false and proposing a creationist world in which a higher power (aliens) is responsible for humanity and the human environment, EVD reinforces conservative claims about humanity’s powerlessness to change the current social and economic power structures. In the end, his version of the ancient astronaut theory is very much about supporting traditional values and traditional power structures and traditional political elites against the “liberal” forces of science. I don’t give EVD enough credit to have purposely done it, but in cribbing so much of his material from Pauwels and Bergier—socialist liberal New Agers—EVD created a conservative appropriation of the New Age for reactionary times. Is this why the ancient astronaut theory was so popular in the conservative 1970s?
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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