Science Channel Flat-Earther Killed Making TV Show; Plus: Erich von Däniken Gets Another Ancient Text Very Wrong
Over the weekend, pseudoscience television claimed a life. The death of Michael “Mad Mike” Hughes while filming for the Science Channel was not the first death in unscripted TV, but his Wile E. Coyote escapades in a failed effort to prove the Earth flat marked a particularly ridiculous low for the Science Channel and its parent company, Discovery Communications. The Science Channel was shooting a pseudo-documentary series called Homemade Astronauts in which Hughes attempted to launch a homemade rocket 5,000 feet into the air in the hope of using it as a model for a bigger rocket that would let him see the edge of the flat Earth. Just like Wile E. Coyote in the Looney Tunes, his rocket exploded, but since he was not a cartoon character, he died as he lived, utterly irresponsible. The Science Channel and its outgoing chief executive offered their condolences but accepted no responsibility for enabling ad encouraging this staggering act of utter stupidity, which they filmed. In fact, the Science Channel absolved itself on Twitter, claiming it was merely there to “chronicle his journey.”
Meanwhile, a tweet from ancient astronaut theorist and Chariots of the Gods author Erich von Däniken from earlier in the month has received criticism on Twitter thanks to its utterly bizarre disassociation from reality. In the tweet, von Däniken claims that the Egyptians had no idea who built the pyramids. Below is the German text with my translation:
Vor 2000 Jahren schrieb Diodor von Sizilien über Ägypten. Er kannte auch die Werke aller Historiker, die bereits v o r ihm darüber geschrieben hatten. „Keiner weiss, wer die Pyramiden gebaut hat“. So ist es: die alten Ägypter wussten n i c h t,wer der Bauherr der Pyramiden war.
Wow, is that wrong in so many ways. First, Diodorus reported quite clearly who built the pyramids. Writing in Library of History 1.63-64, he says:
Chemmis, the eighth king from Remphis, was of Memphis, and reigned fifty years. He built the greatest of the three pyramids, which were accounted amongst the seven wonders of the world. […] When this king was dead, his brother Cephres succeeded him, and reigned six-and-fifty years: some say it was not his brother, but his son Chabryis that came to the crown: but all agree in this, that the successor, in imitation of his predecessor, erected another pyramid like to the former, both in structure and artificial workmanship, but not near so large, every square of the basis being only a furlong in breadth. […] After him reigned Mycerinus, (otherwise called Cherinus), the son of him who built the first pyramid. This prince began a third, … Etc. etc. (trans. G. Booth)
These kings are, of course, Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, recognized as the builders of the pyramids. Therefore, Diodorus did not say what von Däniken attributes to him.
So how did he end up with such a wrong tweet?
It’s possible that he garbled Diodorus’s statement in 1.64 that “Yet, concerning the first builders of these pyramids, there is no consent, either amongst the inhabitants or historians. For some say, they were built by the kings before mentioned, some by others.” That isn’t quite the same, and I kind of doubt that von Däniken read that far into Diodorus.
We do know from von Däniken’s many references to it, that he is familiar with the German translation of al-Maqrizi’s Al-Khitat, and that he frequently confuses it for an ancient Egyptian text or one of many other ancient and medieval books. I wonder if he is not misremembering al-Maqrizi’s quotation from Ibn Abd al-Hakam that historians “could find no true knowledge of the pyramids or certain concepts in the work of any of the scholars of Egypt.”
2/25/2020 09:51:53 am
Mr. Hughes dared the Devil and the Devil won. After the 2019 documentary it's difficult to see how the Science Channel has any responsibility here. You can't fix stupid.
2/27/2020 02:04:23 pm
Wow we all forgot about Red Jacket Firearms....even before it aired the producers and network (yes I think it was Discovery...) knew a number of things that would make anyone with an once of integrity walk away.
2/27/2020 07:34:34 pm
Sorry...typed too fast..."the earth was NOT flat by buying the farm"
2/25/2020 11:34:01 am
He was able to prove that gravity exists.
2/25/2020 11:50:25 am
Not that it makes much difference at this point, but I don't think Mad Mike's rocket exploded. The launch went off pretty much as planned, except the landing parachute fell off the rocket as it left the launch pad/vehicle. When the rocket reached it's zenith, the parachute was supposed deploy but it was no longer on the rocket. Oops.
2/25/2020 03:12:11 pm
So you're saying it was suicide.
2/25/2020 03:30:36 pm
Again someone is trying to peddle this “Khufu built the big pyramid” joke. I find this claim maybe doing most damage to science as it tries to be a serious endeavour.
2/25/2020 05:43:36 pm
It's 5150 of one and three days of another.
2/25/2020 08:20:22 pm
Again somebody mocks the idea that Khufu built the Great Pyramid. To summarize the evidence again:
An Anonymous Nerd
2/25/2020 08:25:23 pm
Of course Khufu didn't build the pyramid: Folks working for him did.
Hey Anonymous Nerd
2/26/2020 04:29:40 am
Egyptologists are training their pupils in the errors of John Romer in exactly the same way historians are training their pupils in the errors of Erich Von Daniken,
2/26/2020 04:38:41 am
My mistake - I got Romer mixed up with Rohl
Seshat, Egyptian cannabis goddess
2/26/2020 04:44:29 am
There are those on this blog who dispute that the ancient Egyptian goddess Seshat had anything to do with cannabis. Despite the sculptured depictions of Seshat showing cannabis on top of her head. Even when material evidence such as this exists, people refuse to accept it. Egyptology is infected with the same disease of denial as Judeo-Christianity.
2/26/2020 02:17:16 pm
"Egyptologists are training their pupils in the errors of John Romer in exactly the same way historians are training their pupils in the errors of Erich Von Daniken"
“Khufu built the big pyramid” joke
2/25/2020 05:52:22 pm
Not you again
Jr. Time Lord
2/26/2020 12:37:21 am
"...marked a particularly ridiculous low for the Science Channel and its parent company, Discovery Communications."
Jr. Anthony Warren
2/26/2020 11:17:41 am
Anthony Warren has always yearned to make a yeast connection with a mermaid.
2/26/2020 03:48:00 am
“Yet, concerning the first builders of these pyramids, there is no consent, either amongst the inhabitants or historians. For some say, they were built by the kings before mentioned, some by others.”
2/26/2020 05:09:03 pm
Does the ground hurt more when you impact it if it's flat or curved?
Ghost of Art Bell
2/27/2020 04:22:03 pm
Wanna take a ride?
3/5/2020 02:02:54 am
I appreciate this work amazing post for us. I like it.
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