Today I'd like to address a topic that has come up repeatedly in the letters and comments I receive. Readers all too often suggest that ancient astronaut theorists and their skeptics are morally equivalent because both sides are simply spouting theories in exchange for money. Many readers have the impression that writing a skeptical book about a fringe topic is a ticket to a McMansion, a Humvee, and a gold-plated toilet.
I hate to disabuse anyone, but it simply isn't true.
Almost no one can earn a sustainable living off debunking ancient astronaut theorists. Most skeptics have one or more day jobs to pay the bills so they can devote their (limited) free time to writing about ancient history because they feel a genuine passion for history and feel deeply offended when self-proclaimed "theorists" do violence to the past through their unethical and untrue theories. A good number of skeptics are professors because they have the job security and the time off needed to write books and do research. Others, like me, are freelancers who have whole other lives that have nothing to do with archaeology or the occult or anything alien.
And we're not getting rich off it.
Prometheus Books, the publisher of my Cult of Alien Gods, pays royalties on a sliding scale based on format and wholesale price. I average $0.24 per copy sold. Trust me, twenty-four cents isn't really doing wonders for my bank account. (Other publishers pay more; my other publisher, McFarland, pays 10% of the cover price, for example. My horror genre books outpace my profits from Cult 10-to-1.) Unless one sells tens of thousands of books, or owns one's own publishing house, writing books is no gravy train. Similarly, skeptical journals like Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer do not pay for articles. I'm often asked why I don't publish more in those journals, and that's the answer: We all have to eat; I need to make money, and there are only so many hours in the day. Finally, TV and radio shows do not typically pay for interviews, so that is another prestigious but financially empty honor. Every interview a skeptic gives is a day away from the work where they actually make money.
But do you know who does make money off ancient astronaut theories? Let me tell you:
* This is why History is moving Ancient Aliens to H2. It's so cheap to produce that if it draws only a fraction of its 1.5 million weekly viewers on the smaller channel, it will produce massive profits for the struggling H2 channel.
1/7/2012 02:41:50 pm
I do not completely agree with the fake tanned, big haired guy's (GT) belief, I believe the fat foreign guy (EVD) is half fraud, and the weirdo looking nerd (DHC) is a tad bit too skiddish, but I do believe in some of their theories. I believe the possibilities of ancient aliens is very probable. I can see how you may not agree with these people as well, or their ideas, but reading through your many blogs, it's very easy to see you are sipping on some Hater-ade. I get it, these guys may be getting rich off these ideas, and may be even fabricating ideas to add to their revenue, but they are doing the same thing that actual historians, church affiliates, and other alt-historians are doing as well, which is making money off of a person's belief. Not trying to piss in your cornflakes by stating this, just saying that your criticism is looking more and more like good old fashioned hating. No matter how much you may refer to your integrity as a journalist or writer, and how much you believe that your truthfulness and dignity is more important than the fame or all mighty dollar, you have to admit that being butt hurt because your cash filled wallet is to big for your britches, sounds better than being butt hurt because these guys are cashing in and you're not. So in closing, I respect your blogs, and I will continue following them, but you need stop flashing that PHD (player hating degree), and just let it go man. ;)
1/8/2012 01:57:57 am
I appreciate your comments, but I think you have overestimated my "hate" for the figures you cite. I have been blogging about ancient astronaut theories in some form since my first proto-blog on my old website in 2001, and, I believe, this is one of maybe two or three times I have ever discussed the financial aspect of the ancient astronaut theory. I only did so now in response to several emails that specifically argued that I had no standing to challenge the theory because I was making significant money attacking it.
9/22/2019 08:04:40 pm
I want to know if it's true about the Bermuda triangle. Why haven't any one sent a robot through it. Technology is so advanced these day. A robot can tell the truth of everything that's been told to us for years. Try out and let's see what's the out come. What harm will it do to find out the truth about the Bermuda Triangle.
11/14/2014 01:53:12 am
I think you're jealous of these guys, whether you agree with their believes or not how can you fault them for how they make a living? I think they certainly believe what they're doing so why not profit from it.
4/29/2015 05:13:17 am
I also think you are just jealous of how successful some people are. If they are just telling stories and its not real that is up to the audience to decide for themselves. Maybe you would start making money from books if you actually had a topic to write about, instead of writing books hating on other success. Get off his Von Dick and you might make some of Von own money.
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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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