Robert Temple is perhaps best known for his theories about flying space frogs from Sirius jump-starting civilization, a theory he called The Sirius Mystery, but it is another aspect of his body of work that jumps out at me as off-the-walls bizarre.
Temple is convinced that the CIA, the FBI, MI5, and other security agencies are out to get him because he knows too much about the aliens, hypnosis, and sundry other alternative ideas.
I have previously written about his 1998 assertion that the CIA harassed his associates after the publication of The Sirius Mystery in order to damage his career. Their influence, of course, did not extend to major publishing houses since somehow the book was both published and widely-reviewed. The information obviously was top secret.
I have assiduously researched all the available government document archives, and there is not a single mention of Robert Temple, The Sirius Mystery, or any related concepts anywhere in them as far as I can determine. Now, this could be due to a careful scrubbing of government records, but since brief, scattered allusions to other ancient astronaut nonsense like Erich von Däniken, the Ancient Astronaut Society, and The Spaceships of Ezekiel remain for the diligent researcher to find, the implication is clear: The US government had no interest in Robert Temple.
If it did, something would show up in the records. For example, the FBI almost certainly kept a file on Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, and even though it is not public, we can see traces of the government’s interest in him in other public FBI files and in formerly secret State Department cables. Even wacky nut-jobs trying to find Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat can be cross-referenced in both CIA reports and State Department diplomatic cables straight up to the office of the Secretary of State. Surely there should be something about Robert Temple or aliens from Sirius.
After finding nothing in the American archives, I was not tempted to waste money on an international call to Britain’s Home Office to inquire into MI5’s interest, if any.
But Temple apparently continues to believe that the world’s security agencies are out to get him. In 2009, Temple wrote in New Dawn magazine that a 1989 book of his, Open to Suggestion, on the abuse of hypnosis throughout history “so alarmed the hypnosis community and various security agencies (especially my sections on mind control and mass hypnosis), that every effort was made to suppress the book.” This effort was so successful that the book was openly published in Great Britain, is for sale at Amazon, and is on Google Books. Temple complained that eight American publishers rejected the book, all on the advice of “the same two men” acting as referees, whom Temple admits he “knew personally and strongly disliked.” Temple claims that the unnamed referees warned that Temple’s book was dangerous, and he states that they were secret liaisons between security services and “the hypnosis community.”
Let’s try to unpack this. First, since the book (which, full disclosure, I have not read) was published in Britain, it could not logically be British intelligence working against Temple, unless James Bond is more of a Maxwell Smart. That leaves American security agencies. But, as I mentioned, there is no record of Temple in any American security archive. In fact, by most accounts, the government’s interest in hypnosis petered out decades earlier, with the end of Project Artichoke, a 1950s-era multiagency project designed to use hypnosis and forced drug addiction to control the minds of persons of interest. This material is genuinely scary stuff, and it is all publicly available for review on the CIA’s website. Temple’s book, by contrast, minimizes the seriousness of all of this and is, apparently, quite innocuous—According to The Stargate Conspiracy (though not the most reliable of sources) Temple even goes out of his way to talk about the need for authors to uphold “national security considerations” and excuses the CIA for Project Artichoke as merely “naughty.” This is not the behavior of someone who in 1989 was convinced that the CIA was actively suppressing his work, as he would claim from 1998 onward.
Second, I do not know what type of non-academic publisher uses referees. Maybe things were different in the 1980s, but today one is lucky if an editor personally rejects a manuscript rather than has an assistant forward a form letter to one’s agent. The idea of editors colluding with one another to suppress Temple’s book and then being dumb enough to let him in on it by having all eight forward identical copies of the same letter defies belief. Surely it would be more effective merely to say “this isn’t right for me” rather than clue him in to the conspiracy.
Given that Temple has for the past 14 years made repeated claims of government efforts to suppress his work while publishing his work without hindrance, I do not believe him. I want to see copies of these letters warning him to back off the story of hypnosis, and I want him to name names. Who are the mysterious men? Why withhold their names if they’ve already done all of the damage to Temple’s career that they could do? Could it be because naming names would open Temple to charges of libel and defamation since the incident never happened?
And why was Temple’s book singled out among the hundreds of books on hypnosis published between 1987 and 1991 according to a Google Books search, among which is at least a dozen that cover nearly the same material as Temple’s own? It couldn’t be that his book was, as he admitted, over-long, and also, say, not a very good read?
I think another example will serve to explain what was really happening.
In 1996, Robert Temple compiled an illustrated abridgment of James Frazer’s Golden Bough. He prepared an introduction for it that was not used in the published copy of the book. Temple claims that the publishers “suppressed” the introduction and “refused to print” it. He implies this was part of the conspiracy against him. In fact, there is a simpler explanation: His introduction is (a) factually inaccurate and (b) wildly off topic. The introduction has errors large and small, including a wrong date for the compilation of the first abridged Golden Bough. (He gives 1925 as the date, but it was really 1922, thus changing significantly the order of events described in the introduction). But the bigger sin is that his introduction is full of New Age nonsense about building a perfect society and self-serving references to how Temple’s family helped make the Golden Bough possible.
As an author and editor myself, I can say that I would have “suppressed” the introduction, too, because it is completely inappropriate for a popular edition of Frazer’s work. It tells us nothing about the Golden Bough to help the reader understand the text to come, or even about the process of abridging or illustrating the text.
Temple admitted that he had a disagreement with his publisher about the direction of the Golden Bough project. It appears that unable to comprehend that it is possible that someone doesn’t like his sloppy, factually-challenged work (see, additionally, his voluminous attacks on those who reviewed the Sirius Mystery negatively), he imagined that all-powerful, hidden forces were behind it all. After all, isn’t it that same imaginative force he used to conjure up the flying space frogs in 1976?
However, Temple does have something useful to say in that Golden Bough introduction:
I think this is Temple’s confession. The mysterious CIA agents following him and the unseen amphibious ancient astronauts are all of a piece—a hidden mental agenda revealed through Temple’s own nonsensical writing.
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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