Television is apparently a medium where consistency doesn’t matter, and as long as you’ve been on some show somewhere you can always find a new program higher up the dial. Ancient Aliens pundit Mike Bara, author of Ancient Aliens on Mars and Ancient Aliens on the Moon, has a new show from production company Raw TV, Uncovering Aliens, airing on various Discovery networks (Animal Planet and Science Channel), where he is the skeptic, casting cold water on recent American UFO claims. I can’t wrap my mind around it.
While I try to digest the bizarre sight of Bara endorsing UFO claims on Ancient Aliens on Friday nights while debunking them on Uncovering Aliens on Wednesdays, I thought I’d talk a bit today about some surprising and disturbing information posted last week over on the Bad Archaeology blog. Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews asks “Is Pseudoarchaeology Racist?” In addition to presenting the very clear evidence from the case of Great Zimbabwe, he also presents some telling excerpts from one of Erich von Däniken’s lesser works, Signs of the Gods (1979; English trans. 1980).
I read Signs about twenty years ago, but I admit that I haven’t returned to it as frequently as von Däniken’s other books because it lacks an index, making it hard to look things up. It turns out I should have reviewed this one more carefully because it contains some of von Däniken’s most appalling race-based claims. Here’s a sample from those passages found by Fitzpatrick-Matthews:
“The evolutionists say that man descends from monkeys. Yet who has ever seen a white monkey? Or a dark ape with curly hair such as the black race has?”
Von Däniken asserts that if evolution were true, then the “black” or “Negroid” race was the first to evolve. Because black people did not “spread out” all over the earth, they therefore did not evolve. Instead, the aliens placed different colored people across the world for “educative effect,” to prove that no matter our skin color we are all the same species.
I’d like to add to Fitzpatrick-Matthews’s list the following paragraph, which is, I think, even worse, both for being racist and for completely lacking any understanding of the subject (evolution) he claims to discuss:
A black family emigrates from its home in the tropical zone of the earth and settles in a cooler region. Pigments change down the generations, dark skins become light, perhaps so light, the negroids become white. Dark skin, say the racial specialists, no longer being necessary as a protection against the sun. OK, but in his new environment the black man would also have to lose his curly hair, his prominent dark eyes and protruding lips, otherwise he could never become a white man. But it’s all quite simple, someone will tell me. The black breeds with a white and there you are...
He then claims that African people take their traits from “the apes,” which I presume implies that white people are somehow genetically distinct from the apes and the Africans. Von Däniken further claims that “intermediate” races such as the Eskimo and the Arabs were produced by “racial interbreeding.” He therefore complains that science asserts on the one hand that there was originally only a black race but that somehow the white race emerged from it. Being opposed to evolution and not understanding it (mutation seems beyond him), he asserts that like can only produce like, so that there being “neither a white nor a half-breed” for black people to mate with, it was impossible for black people to produce white offspring.
Fortunately, von Däniken exempts himself from charges of racism by acknowledging that such questions can spark cries of racism but that he is being brave in refusing to sweep under the carpet uncomfortable questions. However, he says that “understanding” what goes on “in the heads and ‘hearts’ of members of another race” is “so difficult.” He explains that Europeans cannot fathom why black people attend funerals with “tomtoms,” thus conflating (purposely) cultural and biological variation, and he says he is deeply interested to learn whether there are “races which are obviously endowed with higher intelligence than others.” The use of “obviously” suggests that he has an answer to that question, despite his next sentence asserting that he does not ascribe to racist theories. He follows this by reflecting that the Jews are the Chosen People, but since Judaism isn’t a race, the chosen race must therefore be the one to which the Jews belong: “the European race.” The “outstanding achievements of Jewish scientists,” von Däniken wrote, are the result not of Judaism but their membership in the European race.
Von Däniken asserts that the “extraterrestrials did choose a specific race.” He won’t say what that race is, but he leans heavily on Jewish claims to be the chosen people, which we have just seen him connect to the white (European) race. There can only be one conclusion, even if unstated. He then advocates eugenics, suggesting that modern genetic research will advise which combinations of races “are beneficial and which should be eliminated.” He seriously asks whether the aliens want “strict segregation” of the races, and he advocates human cloning to perpetuate the very best superior specimens in the event of disaster.
We know from documents I obtained from the National Archives that in these years von Däniken secretly tried to influence the U.S. Republican Party to use his alien theories to energize voters to support conservative politics, particularly in opposing creeping socialism. We also know from his recent books that he remains uncomfortable with changing gender norms, writing as he did in 2009’s Twilight of the Gods that if Islamic prophecy were correct the world would have already ended because “women act like men and the men act like women.”
Also in that 2009 book, Erich von Däniken decried efforts to link him to racism: “And suddenly Erich von Däniken is associated with idiotic racists, as if the ‘heavenly seed’ were my idea and I had made up the ‘chosen ones’ myself.” Well, I think that the racism claim has a bit more to it than that.
And remember, folks: Cable TV gives a frequent platform to a man who openly wondered if the black race were a failure and whether white people are the aliens’ chosen master race.
Ken R. Stone
1/23/2014 03:01:34 am
What kind of "Racism" is this?
1/23/2014 03:10:29 am
Do you think mainstream political racist would disagree with EVD's comments (other than questioning the alien interaction)?
Ken R. Stone
1/23/2014 03:21:29 am
Please define which mainstream politics you are referring to
1/23/2014 03:23:59 am
The ones you noted in your post.
Ken R. Stone
1/23/2014 03:35:32 am
Of course, when Scott Wolter and Erich Von Daniken deny that they are racists they are 100 per cent correct, because they are indeed not racists, and their offbeat theories represent something entirely different
1/23/2014 03:40:07 am
First, I don't equate Scott Wolter with EVD. I don't think SW is a racist. I do think EVD's comments noted above are racist.
Ken R. Stone
1/23/2014 03:43:22 am
Except that EvD is not denigrating anyone on the basis of ethnic origin, he is merely expressing his quack ancient astronaut theories and nothing else. He himself is not engaging in what can be called mainstream racism
1/23/2014 03:47:46 am
I think, Ken, you're making a distinction between policies of discrimination and advocacy of race-based essentialism. The first definition of racism in the dictionary is: "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races." EvD's 1979 comments meet all of those criteria.
1/23/2014 03:49:51 am
I consider statements like "Was the black race a failure..."
1/23/2014 03:52:24 am
Also, Ken, I find it quite curious that you don't even seem to acknowledge the possibility that EVD's racism is what let him to those particular Ancient Astronaut theories, as opposed to the other way around.
1/16/2020 09:07:12 pm
As a black man that has a very strong interest in ET's, etc. I knew that the topic of race would pop it's head and certain people (some of the white scientists, EVD and other) would claim the 'white race' is the chosen race. Hence, further adding to the current racial issues prevelent from yesteryear and today, that some race would claim that they are the chosen ones. SMH
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/23/2014 03:56:07 am
How exactly, other than enforcement power, are von Däniken's remarks substantially different from Roger Taney's in "Dred Scott?"
1/23/2014 04:46:06 am
Good point. if POTUS Andrew Johnson's racism in the 1800s
The difference is that Chief Justice Roger Taney was writing the up the majority opinion on the Dred Scott decision. An opinion based on the Constitutional readings of the day, and in many ways no worse than some of the decisions that have been handed down since. It is a product of its time for good or ill. EVD on the other hand is like trying to nail jelly to the wall, it only sticks when it wants to. It also allows him plausible deniability, as he constantly changes his mind, but can never remember doing so.
1/23/2014 05:10:52 am
Sorry, Ken, I can't resist. I know you meant "goofy" or "kooky" racism, right? Otherwise, "gooky" could be construed as something either W or else McCain would've said. Bite my tongue.
1/23/2014 05:50:03 am
i am way too young to remember the Korean Police Action that
1/23/2014 06:04:07 am
CORRECTION --- in 1951's THE STEEL HELMET it is said
3/5/2017 06:36:46 pm
2/14/2014 04:24:13 am
The same way that dog breeds has physical and intellectual differences, why humans are different? Let's compare for example, a Chinese man who is down and weak with an Italian who has a lot of testosterone and that is high, who do you think is stronger physically? It is obvious that the Italian would be stronger! If we compared the intellectual matter, the Italian would be even smarter than a Chinese because of head format (which defines the size of the brain). This all reflected when the Mongols were defeated by the Romans when trying to invade Europe.
4/21/2015 09:55:37 pm
Are you joking? If you are serious, this is very serious racism and very ignorant. And the Chinese had older and much more refined culture than the Romans.The size of the head doesn't matter, the fold on the brain do, and number of neurons etc.
8/12/2017 04:18:26 am
I think that during the times of this type of thinking, it was a try to not push the buttons, ya know? Im a southern woman,an I can tell you its still tabu.
10/29/2017 08:19:56 pm
Mr. D. conveniently forgot to mention that when you shave a monkey or an ape its skin is always white. I know. At Los Angeles' Griffith Park Zoo where I once worked, when the vets had to perform surgery on an occasional ape or monkey, they shaved the area first. They always had white skin underneath the hair.
3/26/2022 11:12:45 pm
True also let's look at how hairy the races are. If you believe man descended from apes look at racial hair, Whites, Black, Native Americans and Asians in that order of hairiness.
Ken R. Stone
1/23/2014 03:53:39 am
"advocacy of race-based essentialism" within the framework of ancient astronaut theorising, which is quack philosophy, should be distinguished from racism based upon discrimination within context of politics (something that belongs to the world of reality)
Ken R. Stone
1/23/2014 03:55:49 am
"acknowledge the possibility that EVD's racism"
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/23/2014 04:05:58 am
The Final Solution was the product of Germann fringe thinking, as I doubt most Germans were aware that Lanz von Liebenfels or Alfred Rosenberg existed in 1932, but starting in 2 33 their acolytes suddenly had a hand in policy decisions. Saying it isn't political or reality-based ignores the fact that every political movement has a philosophical underpinning. Alexander had Aristotle; Alcibiades had Socrates; Stalin had Marx. The philosopher can be as mainstream (Aristotle, Marx) or obscure (Socrates at the time, Liebenfels) as you like, but obscurity is no barrier to being used to further someone's agenda.
1/23/2014 04:25:19 am
So, I don't think you're denying that these are racist remarks (are you?). But the question seems to be that if someone makes racist remarks but doesn't INTEND them to be racist or doesn't KNOW they are perceived as racist - are they, themselves, still a racist? I say yes.
1/23/2014 04:56:02 am
Paula Dean's remarks said some thirty years ago are milder
1/23/2014 05:12:45 am
EVD is Swiss and was born in 1935, he is ten years of age
1/23/2014 05:20:53 am
"the members of prominent members of the Nazi Party" (typo)
The Other J.
1/23/2014 08:26:09 am
So explain the dividing line between EvD's race-based essentialism and his using his trying to "influence the U.S. Republican Party to use his alien theories to energize voters to support conservative politics, particularly in opposing creeping socialism."
The Other J.
1/23/2014 08:27:45 am
(Does the Weebly platform offer a comment-edit feature? I always spot my typos after I submit a comment.)
1/23/2014 08:46:33 am
Sadly, no. It's pretty primitive. I'll bring it up with them for a future update.
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/23/2014 04:07:57 am
One day I will learn not to post from my phone. I blame all tips on the combination of not being able to see everything I type and a keyboard that can't read my mind.
1/23/2014 05:59:46 am
I don't care for nor have I been following Van Daniken in many years and I certainly read "Signs of the Gods" at the time. It should be pointed out that Signs is probably racist from a "40 year on" point of view but back then those views were widespread in Western culture. For example I remember hearing about the mysterious certainly non-native-American mound builder culture which was undoubtably wiped out by the the native Americans in school. Also people and peoples views do change in 40 years. So Van Daniken is allowed to change just like the rest of us and he just might be a bit more skeptical as well. And IF he wrote signs today it might well be wrong but not rascist.
1/23/2014 06:09:12 am
"I realized that North Americans were not interested in being educated. They want to be entertained. The book (UFOs: Nazi Secret Weapon)? was for fun. With a picture of the Führer on the cover and flying saucers coming out of Antarctica it was a chance to get on radio and TV talk shows. For about 15 minutes of an hour program I'd talk about that esoteric stuff....."
1/23/2014 06:26:13 am
"A black family emigrates from its home in the tropical zone of the earth and settles in a cooler region. Pigments change down the generations, dark skins become light, perhaps so light, the negroids become white. Dark skin, say the racial specialists, no longer being necessary as a protection against the sun. OK, but in his new environment the black man would also have to lose his curly hair, his prominent dark eyes and protruding lips, otherwise he could never become a white man. But it’s all quite simple, someone will tell me. The black breeds with a white and there you are..." EVD
1/23/2014 06:26:27 am
Believe it or not, I was actually going to write you and tell you of Mike Bara's new and interesting endeavours, but I couldn't convince myself it'd be worth your time (being neither ancient nor interesting). Not only is Mike Bara introduced as 'the skeptic', but he comes at the claims and evidence from the other three "investigators" with the same kind of "Are you even serious?" condescension that Ancient Aliens uses to make their straw man arguments. The most telling (and saddest) thing, I think, is that while Mike Bara is introduced as an author in AA, for Uncovering Aliens he's presented as "an experienced aeronautical engineer". Reminds me of the heady, bullshit-laden days of MonsterQuest wherein a Primatologist was introduced as the same...and "anthropologist", and "evolution expert", and "tracker" depending on the episode you watch...or the S.C.U.B.A. diver who suddenly became a marine biologist, tracker, or "animal expert" (when suddenly there was no water to wade in). I realize that certain fields and specializations contain many potential descriptors...but intentionally changing the "I'm a __________" intro, and to do so every episode, strikes me as intentionally dishonest.
1/23/2014 06:42:51 am
Can we avoid talking about Mike Bara?,I already took a shower 15 minutes ago.
1/23/2014 06:58:30 am
Wow! Talk about a scathing bio on Rational Wiki.
1/23/2014 02:52:17 pm
I read the rationalwiki on Mike Bara. In his defense, I like what he said about Obama,
1/23/2014 07:05:19 am
1/23/2014 07:15:48 am
"Nothing illustrates Bara's abject ignorance of technical matters better than the case of Explorer 1, the very first American satellite (launched 31 Jan 1958).
1/23/2014 07:36:54 am
The Other J.
1/23/2014 08:37:18 am
What the hell -- spam?
1/23/2014 08:45:48 am
I think he wants to be notified of new comments without actually commenting.
The Other J.
1/23/2014 08:42:05 am
For what it's worth, here's a trick people can use if they have a book lacking an index and want a way to search it quickly (Jason probably already knows this):
1/23/2014 10:33:16 am
The Other J., your video is waiting in the comments at the other blog post entitled, "Roberto Rodriguez and the Maps of "Aztec" America"
The Other J.
1/23/2014 11:14:34 am
What video? I thought we were done. And given your track record, why should I trust a video you produced?
The Other J.
1/23/2014 11:33:08 am
Well that was a waste of time. Here's your rhetorical games at play: I said having "america unearthed fake" popping up as the first Google autocomplete suggestion for "america unearthed" should be concerning. You said I'm wrong because it actually only pops up second if you instead only type "america un," as if that makes a difference.
1/23/2014 11:57:52 am
Put your tail between your legs and go home, "The Other J."
1/23/2014 12:05:34 pm
The Other J Squirmer wrote, "You said I'm wrong because it actually only pops up second if you instead only type "america un," as if that makes a difference."
1/23/2014 12:21:19 pm
Steve "Baby Face" St Clair strikes again....
1/23/2014 12:36:12 pm
Hey, Baby Face Nelson was a tough dude.
1/23/2014 12:38:57 pm
For people who complain about ad hominem attacks, this is degenerating into personal attacks that we could do without. Additionally, since this has nothing to do with Erich von Daniken I would prefer we stay on topic. This blog post had nothing to do with America Unearthed.
1/23/2014 01:08:56 pm
Jason,with all due respect,something has to be done with this imbecile.St Clair is a public nuisance,get rid of him.
1/23/2014 01:28:32 pm
You are quite right, Jason. Sorry, everyone, for the interruption.
1/23/2014 01:47:48 pm
So, just to clarify...
1/23/2014 02:03:17 pm
Come on, Steve! Eric von Daniken is anything BUT a "poor target". The man has said repeatedly that humanity is the result of alien tinkering with the DNA of primitive primates millions of years ago. I would think someone with your focus in genetic studies would be the first to step up and shout, "Bullshit!"
1/23/2014 02:08:04 pm
This is not true.Steve St Clair gets "america unearthed fake" results because he has already been searching for it.
1/23/2014 02:51:24 pm
Jason, you have a habit of butting-in to make a general point, but right after I post. My comments have been mild compared to others here, yet you chose to butt-in, again, again, after my comments. You have done this several times. Why don't you spread your joy around a bit more, a bit less selectively.
1/23/2014 02:55:10 pm
Not to mention this topic would be suitable for a pigeon-hole by now.
1/23/2014 02:58:09 pm
Will, it's called splitting fine hairs. It's a tactic to annoy. I was a victim of this, too, over "metaphor" of all things!
1/23/2014 10:45:50 am
I once wrote a satirical vignette that touched on this. The blue people--aliens who resembled us only, y'know, blue--created the "races" of earth in a failed attempt to preserve the greatness of their dying species. Since we didn't live up to expectation, the blue race moved on to die elsewhere, and left us to do the same here.
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/23/2014 11:13:31 am
I think I saw something about that on a documentary back in the 80s. Show called the Smurfs...
1/23/2014 11:57:46 am
That reminds me of a story from the Decameron (1.3). Saladin needed money and went to a Jewish banker named Melchezidek. Saladin tried to trick him, and this force the loan, by asking which of Islam, Christianity, of Judaism was right. Melchezidek replied with a story about a father giving his three sons identical rings indicating who was his heir. After he died the sons realized they each had rings and could not determine which was the rightful heir. So they had to accept that none could discount any others. A very good story that you reminded me of.
1/23/2014 12:09:24 pm
I've always enjoyed the Decameron but it's been so long since I read it. I need to add it to my "Read list"
1/23/2014 12:05:20 pm
I wonder how much of the racism in the alien and fringe history movement is a result of people who are attempting to seem smarter and more educated than they are or a result of writing for who they perceived to be their market?.....or a combination of both.
1/23/2014 01:16:17 pm
Yeah, Basketball Jones.
1/23/2014 01:25:14 pm
I don't think that there is any question that von Daniken is a racist. Interestingly, the noted sceptic James Randi pegged him as one long ago, simply by noticing what he did and did not ascribe to extraterrestrials. As Randi noted, he did not include the Parthenon or Stonehenge "because these wonders are European, built by people he expects to have the intelligence and ability to do such work. He cannot conceive of our brown and black brothers having the wit to conceive or the skill to build the great structures they did leave behind." (Flim Flam (1982), p. 130)
1/23/2014 03:25:12 pm
As long as we're on the subject of racism, here's a parody on racism, as satire, to lighten us up. Something to chuckle over as a few of us say goodnight. (Toto always makes me crack up.)
1/23/2014 03:57:05 pm
I am sorry but I have not made it a point to read EVD on a regular basis. But reading the excerpts provided it is clearly evident that his views are ridiculously racist. I find it ridiculous that anyone would defend or excuse such commentary. The nature of his comments border on the line of lunacy, I know some here think that Jason is overly sensitive to racial theories but I am not sure how anyone can defend EVD's comments.
1/24/2014 04:31:41 am
Just to clarify that the above reference was apparently accidentally attributed to myself, Gunn Sinclair, aka Mr. Sinclair; I am guessing it was meant for Mr. St. Clair, aka Steve. I am as innocent as the driven snow on this one, as I haven't commented about EVD at all.
1/23/2014 03:57:15 pm
It would appear that it was is the "ancient alien's" burden to spread Western culture to the "undeveloped" areas of the world.
1/23/2014 06:36:26 pm
Jason, thanks much for this blog. I was disgusted by these writings of EVD. And another simple definition of a racist is a person who believes a particular race is superior to another. You've provided numerous examples of EVD's racism, including writings about some races being more intelligent than others and a "chosen" race.
YellowJacket One...formally Titus Pullo
1/24/2014 01:12:38 am
Any discussion on race is so politically polarized. That the human race has developed superficially differing characteristics can't be debated. Indo-European (I won't use Aryan for obvious reasons), Sub Sahara African, and Oriental. Visual observations show that when the three primary groups interacted/mated you had blending..see southeast Asia and the Middle East and now in many areas of the world as people move around. That is great for the species and allows for more diversity and hopefully a better species. That said there is nothing wrong with asking how the three different races begin. This goes back to the debate on how what is called "modern" behaviour started with modern humans. Since modern humans have been around for at least 100,000 years yet their tools and so on were at the same level of the previous humanoids out of Africa to Europe and Asia...where and when did the modern behavior start. There is the out of Africa theory versus the theory that the previous humaniods developed modern behavior as in a multi regional approach. Both seem to have the meager fossils record and some mitrochrondial DNA studies supporting their views. The multi regional theory has perhaps a little better explanation on how the three primary races came about. Interesting stuff and I'm sure the truth will be a lot more complex.
1/24/2014 06:00:54 am
I agree there's no problem with asking and investigating scientifically why people have different physical features.
It seems logical to suppose that three separate branches of humanity did not originate. I say this only because of the odds of humans developing at roughly the same time, with the basic same physiology. It seems to me that the odds of this happening are too astronomical for it to have occurred. The science of math should bear this out.
1/24/2014 05:38:32 pm
Gunn, check out John Hawks's blog and how he picked
1/25/2014 04:02:25 am
Thanks for the reference. I'm basically saying that the fact of our life systems (human) being so complex has everything to do with my mathematical odds approach. What are the chances that all the races would be so similar today, yet having followed completely different evolutionary paths? I'm just saying that logic and mathematical odds seems to reveal that we all evolved from the same origin, at some point. We are all related, going back to a point. But then, mutations took over, making us all different. We are all related, but different, and we all have the same value as humans.
1/26/2014 03:45:39 am
Thanks for this. I wanted to weigh in on the totally fallacious idea of three "racial" stocks and the current state of knowledge in DNA. Hope it puts to rest some of the preceding bizarre speculation. Wonder how EVD explains the neanderthal DNA in all of us.
3/7/2014 11:26:02 am
BTW...The Steel Helmet is a great little war movie that faces racism head-on.
6/15/2014 10:05:53 pm
Von Daniken is merely rephrasing very lucratively the old Theosophical teaching on "ROOT RACES", that later led to "Ariosophy", "Theozoology" and...Nazism. Hitler was a confirmed initiate of these occult societies obsessed Nordic-Germanic renewal, who often served as the " shell " of more earthly-minded gun-running radical right-wing counter-revolutionaries... (See the Thule society victims - all aristocrats, all blue bloods.)
11/5/2014 03:26:41 am
Ridiculous. This is not racist and there ARE differences between races. We can list the physical differences and they can't be ignored unless you are blind; are you seriously saying that there are not cultural, intellectual, or otherwise differences as well between races? All people should be treated equal with equal rights but it is just plain ignorant to state that there cannot be different traits and strengths among races of the world...that sir is not racist at all.
11/1/2015 06:10:40 am
If the EVD actually said this, he needs a genetic lessons with Neil deGrasse.
Fucka You Dumbass
8/27/2016 04:00:19 am
You are a bitch. When intelligence comes you will be left behind.
9/11/2017 01:44:30 pm
Hmm...both EVD and several of the commentators here fail to grasp a couple of simple concepts relevant to the genuine, i.e. SCIENTIFIC understanding of evolution.
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