Bill: Oh, watch out for the horse crap, Ted.
Ted: Oh, thanks dude.
-Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
There is so much horse shit out there, the key to managing existence is to learn to identify the horse shit for what it is. Though this sounds easy, one would think that the smell alone would alert us to its presence, it’s not easy. Horse shit is being peddled to us on a daily, hourly, basis. This blitzkrieg of manure comes at us in such rapid fire succession that, without the healthy use of pause-and-rewind, we aren’t given time to reflect or explore, for ourselves, any give subject before we’re hit with the next barrage crap disguised as truth-repressed.
Take for example the History Channel’s program…Ancient Aliens – Gods & Aliens: Peddling horse shit like it’s competing against gold in this shitty economy. (Watch it here)
For starters, imagine you’re seven years old again, or the earliest you can remember yourself, the earliest moment you remember being conscious; self aware. Now imagine that self, yourself, at a time far before modern life, before it was even known that planting seeds would give rise to crops. Place yourself there, well over five thousand years ago, where your family hunted herd animals for food or even before that when you fed of the carcasses of the kills of lions or other, larger, predators. Then imagine looking up at the sky, the sun, watching it throughout the day as it travels slowly across the blue sky. Imagine watching a thunderstorm roll across the horizon, lightning streaking down, thunder following, over the course of an afternoon. Then, having learned nothing about modern astronomy, about stars being distant suns or the Milky Way is the galaxy which contains us, imagine the sun setting and the stars appearing, one by one, as dusk turns to night. Imagine how the five other planets, while they seem just like all the other stars to you at least in appearance, move differently than the “fixed” stars. Imagine viewing the occasional mysterious streaks of meteors, which grow more numerous at least twice during a year or the rare comet streaking across the night for months then never to be seen again…at least by you. Imagine the changes of the moon, its phases, sometimes appearing during the day, sometimes during the night. Imagine, as a woman, noticing the close correlation of the phases of the moon to your menstrual cycle as you lived beyond puberty. Just imagine all that, having no modern knowledge, no writing in which to record these things for future generations only, at best, pictographs on the walls of caves. Imagine growing up with that…what would you tell your children when they asked, “why does Mars move like that?” or “where does the lightning and thunder come from?” What would you say? You can’t really study history without having empathy for the humans in it.
The opening questions that this program asks is, “But just who where these mystical beings that ruled the sky with supernatural powers…did our ancient ancestors create the gods from their own imaginations or did they simply report events they believed to be true?”
Why not both? Simply because “they believed” it to be true doesn’t make it true. “They,” meaning our ancient ancestors, believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. And really…what our really ancient ancestors believed is kind of all up in the air…without any written record saying “we believe…” we’ve got nothing but conjecture to go on. Conjecture based on the later records, the texts and artifacts, made by the people who inherited and expanded upon those earlier oral traditions. Add to that, gods and monsters make great, entertaining, story devices. The story of a man having to travel to the far hills to get some lumber is a little boring, even if it was a great event for the city. But if he gets there and finds the forest guarded by a monster created by the gods…well that’s a story that will light up the eyes of the kids around the campfire. “Adventure, excitement – a Jedi craves not these things,” but the Star Wars audience does! If given long enough, these stories then gather a cloak of dogma moving them from the realm of entertainment and possible explanation to cherished belief.
The program quickly switches to a commentator, not yet named, who says “Our ancestors misinterpreted extraterrestrials as gods because that was the only way that they could explain away what they witnessed.” This is a bold claim that, in the span of a few seconds, completely ignores all actual textual evidence from the historical record. A bold claim when the only evidence left over is text, written words, describing what they, our “ancient” ancestors, witnessed and crafted as surviving artifacts. Again, imagine yourself, pre-puberty, watching a thunderstorm or the sun rise and set on the horizon. How would you describe these events?
The second “big” question the program asks is “Millions of people around the world believe we have been visited in the past by extraterrestrial beings, what if it were true?” Over a billion people believe that Allah is the one true god and Mohammad is his prophet. Over two billion are Christian. Nearly a billion are Hindu. Nearly 150 million are atheist. 15 million are Jewish. (Source) Does belief equate to fact? No. Regardless of what is believed, in the end we are only left with the evidence…so does the evidence point conclusively towards extraterrestrial involvement with the origins of humanity? But what bearing on the program does that statement have for the program? None. It’s a sentence stated in order to give the appearance of legitimacy for the rest of the program but it adds nothing to the other questions at hand.
The show jumps into Schliemann’s excavation of Troy. Note, lecturer Richard Rader of UCLA, only states that Schliemann’s discovery “rocks the archeology world,” in finding Troy. Which is true. Schliemann’s discovery ushered in an era of archeology that is still going on today. And if you’ve read the Iliad, you’ll note that the gods take an anecdotal bookending to the human-centered events. One could remove the gods from the Iliad and still have a compelling story that inspires the imagination. War is the story of humanity becoming and fighting the monster that is humanity at war.
Yet the narrator goes so far to say, “But if Homer’s story of Troy was true, what would it say about other Greek stories and myths. Might those also be true? Did powerful gods and goddesses actually exist? And if so, where did they come from?”
The earliest recorded human story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, tells the tale of Gilgamesh; a two-thirds divine hero and ruler of Uruk who travels, among other places, to the underworld in search of immortality. And yet, there are records, written accounts amounting to a list, that state there was an actual king “Gilgamesh.” And I ask you, how elevated has Ronald Regan become to some in America, or Abraham Lincoln, or George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson? What if literacy was removed from the human experience for the past three thousand years? How would the oral stories of Regan, Lincoln, Washington, or Jefferson have portrayed them some twenty-five, thirty, centuries later?
Schliemann’s discovery of Troy indicates that a location in an ancient text actually existed. There’s evidence for the city. If the city was visited by extraterrestrials as Greek gods, then there hasn’t been any evidence excavated; no discarded laser battery packs, or “I went to Earth and all I got was this lousy tunic” articles of clothing. Nothing. Just the remains of an ancient human settlement.
Next the show names some ancient Greek temples as a segue to talk about gods coming down from the sky as a quick, spitfire, way of pretending to add credence to the idea that the ancient gods of those temples were not only real but, hint-hint, they were aliens. David Childress, a “world traveler” who has no formal education in ancient cultures, astronomy, or physics (at least no documentation that I could find after reading over a couple of his biographies), then says, “When you look at many of the mythologies around the world they have these stories of gods coming down from the sky.” The reply to this is…”so?” Remember that seven-year-old from thousands of years ago looking up at the sky. Birds come down from the sky, meteors, lightning, rolling banks of clouds over mountains, and so on. Would not a made up sky deity take on the properties of that which falls under its domain? Rader then says, “there’s a beautiful description of the way that the gods move like when they kind of come down to the Earth you get the sense of them gliding down but the way that they move is kind of beyond time, it just kind of happens.” Great. Rader says “there’s a” or “there is a”…as if speaking about a specific bit of text. So what’s the description? From what source? The actual information is omitted. The actual, proposed evidence is not presented. You are not given it and you are not even given a hint as to where to find it. The program is assuming either we already know what the quote is or that we’re too stupid to notice it’s not being presented. Whether the creators of the program are conscious of it or not, I’m betting on the latter.
The program then goes on to say, “If the ancient Greeks invented the stories of gods as a primitive attempt to explain their universe, how can we account for similar deities found in widely different regions and cultures around the globe? Was it mere coincidence or was there a common origin for these gods who supposedly traveled to Earth from the skies.” The images being shown during this quick narration are a Renaissance painting, a bird-like emblem (presumably Mesoamerican), a relief of Ashur (presumably, though I’m not positive), a Mesoamerican statue with headdress, then a Greco-Roman statue, and finally a completely modern image. Does the History Channel label these objects? No. This is of utmost importance. If the program is going to present items for our consideration, presumably as possible evidence for extraterrestrial involvement in human civilizations, knowing where these things come from, or at least being able to look into it ourselves, is key to our understanding. It’s like giving a coloring book to a kid but throwing the crayons on the radiator and then yelling at the kid that she’s not flipping through the book fast enough.
Look at it this way. Two thousand years from now, archeologists dig up a modern apartment complex. Now the archeologists have documented all the items they’ve found, from what rooms they’ve come from, etc. But a television program (or mind-telepathy program, or what ever it could be in two thousand years) runs a show saying “did giants once terrorize our cities and did ancient humans (us) fight them with their primitive militaries?” all the while they’re displaying images of Barbie dolls next to G.I. Joe. If we can look at what the archeologists documented, we’d find that the same room in which these artifacts were found there was only a single bed and it did not have its own bathroom but there was a plethora of other objects akin to the two shown in the program as well as rudimentary counting blocks and other items indicative of childhood. In the larger bedroom, with connecting bathroom, there was a double bed with crucifixes and paintings of the Virgin Mary. Where something is found is often just as important, or more important, than what it looks like.
Back to what the narrator says, “If the ancient Greeks invented the stories of gods as a primitive attempt to explain their universe, how can we account for similar deities found in widely different regions and cultures around the globe? Was it mere coincidence or was there a common origin for these gods who supposedly traveled to Earth from the skies.”
How can we account for this? Well the simplest is…we’re all human! If the Greeks invented stories to explain their universe, then the Maya, Aztecs, Navajos, Hittites, Egyptians, Etruscans, Zulus, Nords, Chinese, Aborigines, all did as well. That’s it. Big mystery solved. People look up, see the sky, and try to figure things out. The common origin is the human brain, the Earth, its one Sun, and our positing within the Universe. So everyone around the globe sees the same damn thing…just at different times. Same for stars, meteors, comets, planets, birds, thunder, lightning, rain, floods, etc. If humanity is prone to worshiping gods, and it is, then it’s easy to see how humans all over the world would create similar gods. It’s more than a coincidence; it’s human nature.
Jason Martell then says, “the earliest civilization we have, thirty-eight hundred B.C., the Sumerians actually give us visual descriptions of these beings and speak of this time that they lived amongst their living gods. They called their gods the Anunnaki, and that term simply meant ‘those who from heaven come to Earth.’” Martell seems to be using his own definition. Wikipedia says the name means ‘those of royal blood’ or ‘princely offspring’ and most online dictionaries define the term as ‘servitors of the gods’ ascribing them power more akin to genii and spirits than gods. In one of the earliest records of the Anunnaki, the Atra-Hasis, the earth-god Enlil creates the Anunnaki to be field laborers –who then rebel after forty years so the gods then create humanity (extremely similar to the later description of the fall of the sons of God in Genesis by the nearby Israelites some six hundred years later…and both lead to a Flood myth). Is Martell making things up as he goes along in order to fit his latest book?
Rader then comes in and says, “mythology is chalk full of these episodes of these gods coming down to Earth. I mean, because mythology is so interested in the relationship between gods and humans there is necessarily going to be a lot of communication and communion between the two of them.” What is being left out is that mythology is also full of how the gods were created and it’s not from coming down from the sky. Gods are born from the heads of other gods, the sea, the genitals of their parents, from the copulation of earth and sky gods, from eggs, virgin births, some even existed before time began, just about every imaginable way are they created. The gods then take up residence in heavily abodes (or create them). Just because a text says a god came down from heaven does not indicate that is where the god originated.
The program then introduces Erik Von Daniken (aside from a brief quote from him in the introduction). The narrator says, “in his book…Daniken argues that the worlds’ sacred books are full of descriptions not of gods but of supernatural beings interacting with humans.” Now this may just be terrible writing of the program, but, well, Daniken argues that it is extraterrestrials who are mistaken or labeled as gods. Extraterrestrials are, if they exist, “natural.” They can be studied, interacted with, subjected to physical tests to determine their nature. If they’re “supernatural,” then they exist outside of nature and are therefore actually gods.
But the biggest mistake is having Daniken on the show. When his name pops up then Bill S. Preston, Esquire should be in your ear warning you that you’re about to step, knee-deep, into horseshit. Daniken’s basic premise is that extraterrestrials visited Earth long ago and mankind was ill-equipped to understand their technology and mislabeled them as gods.
There are a lot of problems with this premise. First off, Greek gods emerge around 1,000 B.C.E. (big plus or minus there) with the Iliad being one of the earliest written records of those gods. But the Egyptian gods, well, 3,000 B.C.E., Sumerians nearly 4,000 B.C.E. the Judeo-Christian god (and the other gods mentioned in the Old Testament) around 1,200 B.C.E. Then in the Americas, the Maya gods around 2,000 B.C.E., but the Nazca Lines in Peru (a big source sited by those claiming ancient extraterrestrial visitations) were made, at the earliest, around 400 A.D. So there is over 4000 years of proposed alien visitation across the globe and not one, not a single alien artifact has been documented and dated. Secondly, in those 4000 years, the aliens never passed on information, unambiguous declarations, about bacteria and washing of one’s hands, how to make a steam engine, how light works, etc. Thirdly, name etymology of the gods either progresses along known linguistic transitions between similar cultures (i.e. Sumerian, Babaloynian, Hittite, Assyrian, Judeo-Christian) or they are completely dissimilar (i.e. Near East vs. Americas).
Then we go to Mount Olympus, home of many of the Greek gods. Again, the speaker claims that some descriptions of the home of the gods as coming down to the top of Mount Olympus and rising back up. Page number, please. Then quickly glossing over the fact that describing the home of a god or gods as being made of gold, silver, and jewels sounds like the dream of every aspiring human warlord, the program then starts making modern weapons out of lightning and tridents which are linked to natural phenomena. Like OMG, make things up much? Seriously, these guests are creating a new mythology that does nothing to add to understanding human history. And this is a huge issue with the program. Each section could easily fill a hour long program dealing with the actual facts; gods in the Iliad, the ruins of Carnac, genetic progression of homo sapiens, etc. But in each case, the show jumps quickly from topic to topic, briefly peddling bullshit sentences full of “If’s”, “Maybe’s,” and “Could it be possible’s.”
The narrator then goes on to say the Romans paid homage to gods similar to the Greeks and asks is it a coincidence that Apollo had the same name amongst both cultures? I’m sorry, did the writers and producers of this program ever look at a map? Ancient Rome here…Greece here. Neighbors often borrow things with out giving credit, er, giving them back. Are the authors of this program unaware of the utter love for Greek culture the Romans had, how the best slave to have had in one’s household as a Roman was a Greek philosopher. How the Greeks were influenced by the Etruscan’s, proto-Romans, whose name for Apollo was Apulu?
Then someone comes on and says this idiotic bit of drivel, “We know that the extraterrestrials more than likely are the source of what they call gods. How did they get here, more than likely in some type of craft.” If we knew, “more than likely,” perhaps we would have ancient text that says something along the lines of “And Zeus (or Aten, or what ever god) came down from heaven and spoke of having come from near the second star in Orion’s Belt, from a region where stars were born…” Is there anything definitive like this…not that I’m aware of and nothing is presented in this show to indicate otherwise.
Then we get into the Stones of Carnac with an overview, of how shit-crazy impossible it would be for mere humans to have created them all on their lonesome, by David Childress. Somehow, these stones, are used by Apollo to guide himself to Hyberboria. I guess the aliens could travel light years across empty space to get here, but couldn’t map the goddamn planet to know where they’re going or even understand how a compass works. And the program goes on to posit that it’s so crazy that they’re laid out in Pythagorean triangles. Daniken says, “the angles are always the same, it’s Pythagorean triangles, it’s all a giant geometrical pattern. From stone age, which is impossible, our stone age people had no idea of Pythagoras triangles. Pythagoras was about four hundred and twenty B.C.” Wait? Are there inscriptions saying, “This is laid out using Pythagorean Theory”? No. All Pythagoras’ Theorem says is, for a right-angled triangle, the square of one side plus the square of the other side equals the square of the hypotenuse. But anyone, from any age, that makes a right triangle unknowingly has created an object that will, by definition, conform to Pythagoras Theorem. If you arrange four stones in a square or rectangle and draw a line between two opposing corners…bam! You’ve got a right-triangle which conforms to Pythagoras’ Theorem. To paraphrase; “Shit Ted,” “Thanks, Bill.”
We’ve come to the end of the first third of this monstrosity, which in and of itself is but a single episode of the second season of a series entitled, “Ancient Aliens.” This is where I’m stopping, not because it gets any better, but because nearly every sentence uttered by either the narrator or the guest speakers are either severely uninformed about the subject or is outright lying or ignoring information. The images shown along with the program pick and choose from across the temporal landscape of human art, architecture, and artifacts with little to no citing of what one is actually looking at. At best it is a deliberate misleading of the facts to fit a fantasy. At worst it is lies in order to confuse and sell purely fictional non-fiction books.
The History Channel is no longer about history, about the study of the human record through texts and artifacts. It is the Channel of Earth-based fantasy that works to misrepresent and lie about the facts of human history. By claiming to be “The History Channel” and presenting programs like Ancient Aliens it is screwing us over. Human history is rich with deeds, thoughts, and accomplishments of…humans, like you and I, and by honestly approaching the subject we learn what we humans are capable of, for good or ill. By removing humans as the prime actors in history, without any hard evidence to indicate otherwise, we explosively crap all over our ancestors and shove our children blindfolded down a path of horse shit.
P.S. Thanks to P.Z. Myers for posting the episode in question on his blog so that I could come across it and get a little pissed off.