In this episode, I talk about some changes to the podcast, go over my fifth installment of my analysis of the Ancient Alien show, and I answer my comments and email.
End Of Segment 1 (Introduction): 08:50
End Of Segment 2 (Ancient Aliens): 39:22
End Of Segment 3 (Comments & Emails): 1:07:48
Links/Topics Mentioned In The Show
The Amateur Skeptics Podcast
Yanis Dellyanis' Blog: Chronicon Mirabilium
Modern Scholar Episode With Susan Johnston
The Aqueduct Of Segovia
All About Granite
An Introduction To Igneous Rock
Granite Turns To Rhyolite When Melted
Quote From "Across South America" by Hiram Bingham:
Ancient Aliens Pt. 3 - In Which I Talked About Josef Blumrich
Theme Music By Jonathan Coulton
Other Music By Danosongs.com
Examples of stone cutting that "defies explanation":
My mind-blowing hand towel:
Rocks from Saqsaywaman that Tsoukalos thinks were melted into place:
Examples of granite construction at Machu Picchu:
The Aqueduct Of Segovia:
Enjoy the show! Here's the transcript:
Welcome to the tenth episode of the Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge! Iím the Dumbass, and I hope youíve all had a wonderful holiday season. This show marks an anniversary for the podcast. Iíve been doing the Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge podcast for a little over a year now, and Iíve had the blog up for about two years. Itís been even more fun than I hoped it would be! And now the show is into double digits! A nice, round number to begin the New Year with! How are you all doing?
Like I said, I hope your holiday season went well. I scored myself a couple of Chapters gift certificates, which is a chain of bookstores here in Canada. I bought a copy of Brian Greeneís ďThe Elegant UniverseĒ, Laurence Kraussí ďHiding In The MirrorĒ, and Michael Specterís ďDenialismĒ. Iíve got a reading list a mile long so itís hard to know when Iíll get to those, but I just may pick one of them up sometime soon and give it a read.
Iíve got a lot that I want to cover today. I hope I didnít make you guys wait too long for this episode. I wanted to get this out there few weeks ago, but a lot of things conspired against me, including computer problems that forced me to take the time to reinstall windows and all my programs. Iíve actually got some plans to put out episodes more frequently in 2012, but Iíll get to that later on.
Anyway, I usually donít talk about emails and comments until a little later in the show, but I got one comment that I thought I should address in my beginning segment. This is a comment I got on Reddit from a user named simjanes2k, who writes:
I like your podcast a lot. There is like ten minutes of non-content at the beginning that I didnít really need, but the rest is pretty good! I like the low-key humor, and the voice is what I picture in my head for every Redditor in the world. Excellent reasoning and analysis.
I really appreciate all feedback, and simjanes2k is right Ė people are naturally going to like some things I do better than others. Iíve been using my beginning segment as a little conversational style blather about things that are on my mind, and perhaps thatís not really interesting to everybody. Some people might want to skip right to the substance and hear about the topic Iím covering this episode.
So what Iím going to do is on the show page for this episode, Iíll list the time that each segment ends. So if you want to, you can easily fast forward straight through to the stuff that you really want to hear. So if you really donít care to hear me yammer on in this beginning segment, feel free to go to dumbassguide.info and take note of the times listed on the show page.
Interestingly enough, though, simjanes2k commented again with a slight change of heart:
After finishing the podcast, I realized it actually adds something to it. Makes the whole thing feel more like a conversation, or listening to a friend. That makes for a good ambiance while Iím working.
Apparently, I tend to grow on people. Iím like that mole that you donít like at first but you donít want to go to the hassle of getting it removed so you decide that it gives your face character and that youíre actually happy with it!
Ö. Works for me!
Anyway, simjanes2k makes a good point Ė I do see this podcast as kind of a conversation. Getting more involved in the conversation is the reason I created this podcast, and thatís even more evident in my other show the Invisible Sky Monster podcast. Iíve been looking for ways to get more involved for a little while. Thereís a Skeptics In The Pub in my city, and I suppose it would be nice to meet local sceptics sometime. The problem is that evenings are difficult for me. Due to my work I have a variable sleep schedule but Iím often in bed by 9 or 10. And the time up until I sleep is scheduled for enjoying with my wife. Also, the pub really isnít my scene.
If there was a lunchtime Skeptics In The Library, Iíd be all over that! But alas, it is not to be. Iíve also tried engaging in online social scepticism, but that also tends to happen later in the evening, which makes it very difficult for me to make the time for it. So my Dumbass Media Empire podcasts are my attempts to take the situation into my hands so that I can have this conversation on my terms. So far, itís been a very rewarding experience.
And speaking of communicating, Iíve set up a Twitter account for my Dumbass Media Empire so that I can more easily communicate with all of you. My twitter handle is @DumbassMedia, and I capitalize the D and the M. I use the account for posting updates on my progress for new shows, so if youíre interested in keeping track of that, then feel free to follow me. I also post about other things that I think fellow sceptics would be interested in, or any other interesting content I find. Itís great for posting quick updates and thoughts that I wouldnít post on my blog but that may still be of interest to people.
So please follow me, the more the merrier! Iím off to a good start, already got some great followers! Stuart Robbins, AKA AstroStu follows me. I was a guest on his podcast recently you know, we had a great conversation about Ancient Aliens, including some information that I havenít talked about here. Go check it out at podcast.sjrdesign.net
Other friends of the show are also following me, including the Conspiracy Skeptic Karl Mamer, the Cognitive Dissonance guys, Skeprechaun Rebecca OíNeill, and most of the members of the Amateur Skeptics podcast.
I should mention those guys here. As those of you whoíve listened to my past episodes know, Iíve been exploring new podcast listening options over the past year, and frequently recommending my favourites here. When I find one that I like I spend a while listening to their past episodes and bombarding them with comments about past topics that they probably havenít thought of in months or years. Call it a compulsion, when I have something to say I want to get it out there. Usually most of my verbal diarrhoea is just ignored, and who can blame them? But the Amateur Skeptics guys actually made an effort to respond to most of what I had to say, and they spend a few minutes talking about me and plugging my shows in their latest episode, which at the time Iím writing this is episode 50.
Iím anticipating that episode 51 should be coming out at any time. Bryan, whoís the founder of the podcast, tells me that the episode is already recorded. So where is it Bryan? Iím waiting here! Whatís the big idea of making people wait for a new episode? Who does that? Bad podcaster!!
Anyway, Bryan spells his name with a Y, and you know Iíve always said that thereís something special about Bryans who spell their names with Yís. He and the whole Amateur Skeptics team are great listening, so I encourage you to give them a listen at amateurskeptics.com. One of the Amateur Skeptics, Kimberly Saviano, joined me and Rebecca OíNeill recently on the Invisible Sky Monster podcast to talk about issues relating to feminism in scepticism. And Iím planning to get Bryan on a new episode with me in the near future.
Now letís seeÖ who else is following meÖ okay, letís take a look at this person! HmmmÖ she seems to be mostly tweeting semi clever one linersÖ Oh, wait, sheís got a websiteÖ http free blowjob pics dotÖ.. okay, maybe thatís something I can look into in more detail later!
Iíll justÖ write down that addressÖ always good to know who my followers are you know! *AHEM* anyway, follow me and Iíll keep you up to date on whatís going on in my media empire. For organization I use the hashtag DG2K when talking about this podcast, and hashtag ISMPod when talking about the Invisible Sky Monster Podcast. Feel free to use those if you give one of my podcasts a mention on Twitter.
Anyway, as you all know Iíve been asking for interesting nonsense quotes and offering up a small prize for the ones I chose to go on the show. So far there havenít really been any takers, and I think I have to call this one as a failed experiment. I think I know the reason why. Iím asking for something that feels too much like homework, and most people are just not motivated enough to put in an effort. Well, thatís fine, it was worth a try. I did buy these things to give out though, and Iíd like to think of an excuse to send them to people. If anybody has an idea of some type of contest I could run that might attract more participation, let me know. The email address is *EMAIL*
And now a quote from crystal skull explorer Joshua Shapiro:
When I touched that crystal skull, I immediately had an inner earthquake that started inside of me. It was as if I was in a real earthquake, except that earthquake was happening inside of my body.WaitÖ hold on just one second here, Iím calling shenanigans! Stop the music, stop the music!!
Okay, first of all, why am I using a record player? Itís 2012. Who do I have to telegraph to get some modern equipment around here?
But more to the point, that quote canít be right. Itís just too perfect, I find it hard to believe that somebody said that without realizing what he was implying. I had to have made that up or taken it out of context Ė he couldnít have really said that!
When I touched that crystal skull, I immediately had an inner earthquake that started inside of me. It was as if I was in a real earthquake, except that earthquake was happening inside of my body.Huh. I guess he really did say that. Well, okay then, I guess itís fair game. Sorry for the interruption, continue playing the music.
Ö. So, crystal skulls eh? Well, everybody has their thing. And Iíve been there man, Iíve felt that earthquake come unbiddenÖ in the depths of night when Iím having anÖ interesting dreamÖ And crystal skulls arenít that crazy. Iím into some crazy, kinky stuff too! Let me tell you about this one time when I took this big, roundÖ.
Once again itís time to delve into the world of Ancient Aliens. This is my fifth entry analyzing the very first episode of the show, and I donít think thereís too much more in the way of interesting claims after this. There are a few more things to look into, but Iím hoping Iíll be able to do all of the rest of them in one episode. But, of course, there are always interesting Ancient Alien claims to look into, so Iím nowhere near to running out of material on the subject.
Anyway, for help with this entry, I would like to give special thanks to Yannis Deliyannis, a historian who has spent over a decade looking at Ancient Alien claims. I found Yannis through his blog, Chronicon Mirabilium, where he looks at ancient anomalous celestial phenomena and mysterious history. Yannis was nice enough to take the time to answer some of my questions and point me to some great resources that really helped me put this article together more quickly than would have otherwise been possible.
I would also like to thank Susan Johnston, archaeologist and anthropologist at George Washington University. Professor Johnston is the lecturer in a lecture series called ďMyths and Mysteries in ArchaeologyĒ. I found her through a podcast from Modern Scholar where she discusses archaeology and her new course. She was nice enough to take the time to talk with me over email and help me to consider different perspectives from which to tackle the claims that Iíve been looking at.
And I would also like to thank my good frenemy Doctor Stuart Robbins, the dauntless exposer of pseudoastronomy! He helped me revise my original analysis to include more information by answering some questions about rock formation and helping me figure out some details.
Anyway, I want to switch things up a little today. The first thing Iím going to talk about is not a response to anything specific from the Ancient Aliens episode. Instead, I want to tell you a little story from history. I came across this story in a book by Simon Winchester entitled ďThe Man Who Loved ChinaĒ. It seemed like a wonderful historical incident to illustrate my point about evidence and how Ancient Alien theorists often go wrong when they draw conclusions.
Over 2,200 years ago in China, a tributary of the Yangtze called the Minjiang River was causing no end of problems because of itís frequent flooding. The most obvious solution would have been to dam the river, but government officials wanted to keep the waterways open for transportation purposes. A man by the name of Li Bing came up with the solution: a massive irrigation project that would control the water flow and provide farmers and citizens with greater access to water resources.
The Dujiangyan Irrigation System created by Li Bing is still in service, and irrigates over 5,300 square kilometers of land. Itís considered to be one of the great marvels of ancient construction, and in China itís known as the ďTreasure of SichuanĒ. Itís a very impressive accomplishment, one that required the ancient Chinese workers to gouge a 20 m wide channel through the Yulei Mountain.
Hereís the problem: the Chinese technology at the time wasnít up to the task. Gunpowder hadnít been invented yet, and they had no tools that could cut through the hard rock of the Yulei Mountain. If you were assigned to perform this task, do you think that you would be able to do it? Can you think of any method by which youíd get that channel dug?
If I told you that thereís no way that the ancient Chinese could have built this channel, and that they must have had help from an advanced civilization from another planet, would you be swayed by that argument?
If you can think of a workable method to accomplish this task without extra terrestrial help, give yourself a pat on the back. I certainly donít think that Iíd have been able to figure it out. But Li Bing did figure it out, and luckily, he left records of exactly how he did it. Basically, he lit fires over the rock, allowed them to get really hot, then doused them quickly with cold water. This caused the rock to become brittle and crack, making them easy to break up and move out of the way.
But what if we didnít have any records of how Li Bing did this, what would you think of this massive man made channel that seemingly couldnít have been dug using the technology they had available at the time? Would you have concluded that aliens must have been involved?
If so, then you would have been wrong, but thatís almost beside the point here. More important is the reason why you were wrong, which is because you used poor reasoning to come to your conclusion. The fact is that you canít solve one unknown by attributing it to another unknown.
It doesnít matter what the unknown is, you could just as easily replace ďaliens from another planetĒ with ďa technologically advanced species of subterranean mole menĒ and it would make very little difference to the theory. We donít have any evidence for either scenario, or any knowledge of either alleged interlopers. All weíve got is wild speculation, and nothing else.
If the evidence fits the subterranean mole men hypothesis equally as well as the ancient aliens hypothesis, then what reason is there to chose one scenario over the other? Indeed, what reason is there to believe that either of them represent what actually happened? It could just as easily be a third scenario, such as beings from another dimension, or a fourth, that they did it through powerful psychokinesis.
But this kind of flawed reasoning makes up the majority of what the ancient alien theorists talk about. They canít figure out how it could be done, therefore it must have actually been aliens. Weíve already seen examples of this in previous episodes, and weíre going to see some very obvious examples of this kind of reasoning coming up very soon. I think the story of Li Bingís irrigation project nicely illustrates why this kind of reasoning is flawed from the very beginning.
But now letís get to the Ancient Aliens show. We start off with the following voiceover by the narrator:
Palm Springs, California. Master stone mason and sculptor Roger Hopkins uses a variety of advanced tools to cut and shape hard stones. Powered implements, such as diamond tipped wires and polishers enable him to fashion works of art out of huge granite blocks obtained from nearby quarries. Yet even with these high tech tools, Hopkins cannot replicate what ancient civilizations accomplished thousands of years ago. Could these advanced engineering methods be the smoking gun that proves humans had help from alien beings?
A master stone mason and sculptor is completely unable to duplicate the stone work of some ancient people? That does sound like an impressive claim. This narration is followed by a quote from Hopkins himself, letís see what he has to say:
The precision on some of the work Iíve seen is just incredible. Itís possible to do by hand, but itíd take an incredible amount of time, plus youíd have to have years of experience to be able to pull it off.
.... Did anybody else notice that Hopkins isnít backing up what the narrator said?
The narrator was just talking about feats of stone workmanship that would be impossible to accomplish even with todayís technology. Yet in the very next sentence, when their expert gets his chance to speak, all he has to say is basically ďItís possible to do it by hand... just difficult.Ē
Hey Ancient Aliens show Ė words are important! ďImpossibleĒ and ďdifficultĒ are two different words with different meanings! You canít just replace one with the other and expect the meaning to stay the same! Your statement was that Hopkins would find this stonework impossible to do, and right after you said that, the moment you let Hopkins talk, he completely contradicted what you said! And itís a clear contradiction, the narrator basically said that it was impossible, and right afterwards Hopkins said
How does this kind of inconsistency slip by you so easily as youíre putting the show together? Itís unbelievable! Your attention to detail and fact checking has to be so minuscule as to be non-existent!
So where is this notion coming from that we canít replicate what our ancient ancestors did? Hereís our friend Giorgio Tsoukalos, publisher of Legendary Times Magazine. Maybe heíll clue us in to what theyíre talking about:
In my opinion the most tangible pieces of evidence that we have regarding possible extra terrestrial technology is when we look at the ancient stonecutting techniques. Because in some instances, we ourselves today could not replicate what our ancestors allegedly accomplished with stonemasonry.
I would very much love to see these instances of stonemasonry that we are unable to duplicate. Maybe theyíll get around to that.
In any case, this is quite encouraging. Tsoukalos says that this evidence is the ďmost tangibleĒ of all the evidence for ancient aliens. Excellent! Iím not doing this analysis because itís easy, you know. I want to tackle the best evidence that the ancient alien theorists can throw at me! Who knows, maybe Iíll find some actual valid evidence!
So the narrator moves on to talk about a pre-Columbian site in Bolivia called Pumapunku, dated to around 200 BC. These people, precursors of the Inca, had no written language or the wheel. Tsoukalos confidently tells us that:
The ruins we find at Pumapunku are simply extraordinary. Pumapunku defies logic.
To explain exactly how Pumapunku ďdefies logicĒ, the show brings in the author and investigative journalist Philip Coppens:
The interest of Pumapunku is not so much that the individual stones molded together perfectly, but the fact that the stones, as such, are of such tremendous design that it requires concepts of mathematics which are far beyond anything we are actually using right now. Yet somehow in the past, somebody has made that for a specific purpose, and in a way which even computer programs today would kind of go ďhow is this possible?Ē
You know, he might be on to something there. Iím a computer programmer, and this kind of thing happens to me all the time when I plug in an equation thatís a little too advanced. Thatís when I get that dreaded pop up error message, saying in bold letters ďHOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??Ē Computers get really confused and frustrated with you if you try to plug in mathematics that are too complicated for them.
But seriously though, What the <EXPLETIVE DELETED> is Philip Coppens talking about??
Designs that require concepts of mathematics that are beyond what we can do today? What does that even mean? And if these concepts are so far beyond us, how do we even know enough to recognize them?
The show gives us a couple of images of these amazingly complex designs, which I will include on the show page. There are some large stone blocks in a row carved out in a manner that resembles the letter H, and thereís a carving of kind of a pixelated peg shape thatís nested within three progressively larger carvings of the same shape. Thatís actually kind of coolÖ but does it really require complex mathematics in order to explain it? Iím pretty sure I could come up with a similar design off the top of my head. In fact, Iíve got a face towel with a design thatís just as mathematically complex Ė Philip Coppens, Iím sure youíre listening, Iím putting a photo of it in my show notes. If you find those ancient patterns impressive, this will blow your mind!
Iím certain that if you look youíll find that this pattern represents some sort of advanced mathematical concepts that are beyond our current understanding. I mean this is proof positive that aliens have infiltrated our home accessories market. I donít know how deep this goes... but you might want to consider checking into Martha Stewartís background a little. Something about her seems just a little bit.... off.
Anyway, this is the first and last time we hear that claim in this episode. From here, the show moves on to a conversation between Tsoukalos and Hopkins. Hopkins, youíll remember, is our expert stonemason. Tsoukalos is showing Hopkins a number of images from Pumapunku, and Hopkins is suitably impressed by the workmanship. Tsoukalos seems to be making every attempt to extract from Hopkins an admission that modern technology couldnít duplicate these ancient feats.
If that was, indeed, Tsoukalosí goal, then he failed at it. The closest he got during the conversation was when Hopkins said:
It would be difficult for us with our equipment to get that kind of precision
Once again, the word he used was ďdifficultĒ, not ďimpossibleĒ. In spite of Tsoukalosí best efforts, the expert in stonemasonry that theyíre using on the show simply doesnít agree with the showís conclusion that ancient people performed feats of stoneworking that would be impossible to duplicate. They try to brush that under the rug, but itís right there glaring at us! And the sad thing is that most people who watch this show probably wonít even notice the inconsistency.
I think that Tsoukalos just doesnít care whether he gets his facts exactly right. If he can find some justification thatís ďclose enoughĒ, thatís good enough for him. And heís pretty comfortable in the knowledge that few people are going to call him on it.
Weíre next treated to a quote by mining engineer Michael Dunn:
When I saw these blocks, I didnít really think that they were cut. The first thing really that I thought of was ďthis appears very similar to Frank Lloyd Wrightís textile block system of construction which he used in his California houses in the early 1920ís. Now what he did was he took concrete, poured it into molds.
This is our first taste of what will become the dominant theory for the rest of this segment to explain how these stone structures were created. Tsoukalos provides the next sound bite:
There actually are ancient Incan legends that suggest that they had the capability of softening the stone. At Saqsaywaman, for example, we find these gigantic stone blocks, gigantic stone walls, where it looks as if those stones were molten , put into place, and then the stone hardened again.
For a picture of the stone blocks that Tsoukalos was talking about, check the show page.
I suppose itís a matter of opinion... but those stones look nothing like they were molten and poured into molds to me. Theyíre all different shapes and sizes, and I donít know about you, but those edges give me the distinct impression of being cut, not melted into being.
It certainly doesnít look like any form of concrete-from-molds construction that Iíve ever seen. And to my understanding, these are still separate blocks. If they were melted then put together, wouldnít they have fused to some extent?
And whatís this Incan legend that Tsoukalos is talking about? Yannis Deliyannis actually located that for me, the manís a fountain of knowledge. He shared with me a quote from the 1911 book ďAcross South AmericaĒ by Hiram Bingham:
The modern Peruvians are very fond of speculating as to the method which the Incas employed to make their stones fit so perfectly. One of the favorite stories is that the Incas knew of a plant whose juices rendered the surface of a block so soft that the marvellous fitting was accomplished by rubbing the stones together for a few moments with this magical plant juice!
As usual, Tsoukalos thinks that itís perfectly acceptable to interpret stories by accepting only the parts that agree with what he wants to say, and dismissing everything else as unimportant. Iíve already talked about why itís important to take stories in their own context. You shouldnít read details into the story that arenít there, but itís also important not to just dismiss details because they donít work with your argument.
The claim in this story was that these stones were softened by the use of some magical plant juice. Tsoukalos wants to just edit out the words ďmagical plant juiceĒ and replace them with ďadvanced alien technologyĒ. The problem is that no matter how finely you slice it, thatís just not what the story says!
The show now moves on to look at an Incan site from the 15th century known as Machu Picchu. Michael Dunn gives us our next talking head quote:
I canít help but think that whoever was behind this thought the process through from beginning to end. They didnít quarry the rock and then decide ďhow the heck are we going to transport this?íĒ They knew, from beginning to end what needed to be done with whatever techniques and technology they were going to use.
Well thank the heavens you were here Captain Obvious! I donít know what we would have done without you!
I wonder who Mr. Dunn thinks heís arguing against. Does he believe there are some naysayers out there going ďNahhh... I think youíre wrong about that Dunn! The ancient Incans were totally just winging it right off the top of their heads!Ē
Mr. Dunn continues:
In industry today thereís an adage: ďKeep It Simple, StupidĒ.
Ah, the KISS principle! Iím a fan! I had a college professor that hammered that in to me.
Anyway, the narrator explains further:
Based on his experience, Mike Dunn believes the simplest way to build the great walls of Machu Picchu would have been to transport small rocks to the site, then melt them and use molds to fashion the exact size and shape needed.
The ďproblemĒ that Mike Dunn thinks heís solving here, is the fact that the stone bricks of Machu Picchu are primarily made from granite. Granite is a very tough stone, itís difficult to work with. So how could these ancient people have done it? Since Mr. Dunn canít think of a way, it must have been aliens! Itís the simpler answer, right?
Well, sure, that may be simpler for the quarrying and transportation - but melting granite is not a simple proposition. In fact, I would argue that the suggestion that they melted the granite so over complicates this theory thatís not in line with the KISS principle by any means.
But this goes beyond just not being in line with the KISS principle. It turns out that the process he describes, melting granite down into construction blocks, is actually not physically possible. Even if these ancient people were given ray guns by aliens that could heat up these stones enough to melt them, it would still be impossible for them to form granite blocks in this manner. This is not something that Mr. Dunn can just takeÖ for granite!
Ö. See what I did there? I replaced the word ďgrantedĒ with ďgraniteĒ, because weíre talking about granite. Ha ha ha! Oh, I am just full of wit!
Anyway, the reason you canít do it is that when you melt down granite into magma and let it cool, it turns rhyolite, which is a different type of rock that wouldnít be mistaken for granite. You see, granite is a medium to coarse grained rock, which means that when you look at it, itís mottled so that you can easily see the individual minerals that make up the rock. In granite the primary minerals are quartz and feldspar, with some other stuff thrown in there. In granite, you can see the crystals of these minerals clearly. The thing is that those large crystals require special conditions in which to form. The main thing they require is a very slow cooling period, on the order of thousands to millions of years. If magma is cooled over a period of days or weeks, the mineral crystals donít have time to grow much, and they only form on a microscopic level, not visible to the human eye.
If magma cools down even quicker than that, crystals donít form at all and you get glass.
But we know they didnít build Machu Picchu out of glass bricks, and it seems kind of doubtful that they stood around keeping some magma hot for thousand of years just to get granite blocks. The only option using this method that would create some form of rock bricks in a reasonable amount of time would never yield granite. Granitic magma, when itís cooled quickly, becomes rhyolite Ė a type of rock with different properties than granite. They would not be mistaken for one another!
It took me only an eveningís worth of research to find this out. As I was revising this article for the podcast, I suddenly got to wondering if there was any way to test Mr. Dunnís theory. If these blocks of granite had been melted into their current shape, I asked myself, would there be any way for us to know it? Itís a basic question, right? Surely itís a question that you should be asking yourself if youíve come up with any scientific theory. The first thing on your mind should be ďhow can I test this out to prove that Iím right?Ē
I can be excused for not thinking of that right away because I donít carry the burden of proof. Whatís Mr. Dunnís excuse? If he thinks heís right about this, shouldnít he at least have done some basic research into rock formation and how scientists test their properties? Whatís painfully obvious here, from this and all of the other Ancient Alien claims Iíve analyzed, is that these people just donít care about doing proper scientific research to actually produce evidence for anything they say. Theyíve just got speculation, and while they try to dress it up to make it look like their speculations are actually evidence of something, theyíre not.
Oh, but then how do I explain how they managed to form those granite bricks to make these impressive constructions without the help of modern equipment? I mean, please check out the show page where I will put links to these images. These are granite bricks that are placed so carefully that they donít even require any mortar to hold them in place! How is that possible without modern machinery or alien help, I ask you?
I mean, Iím looking at one particularly impressive photo right now of magnificent granite block arches stretching up into the skyÖ this has to be impossible without the aid of modernÖ..
..... hold on a second, let me check my notes on something here.....
Iím sorry folks, I just realized that I kind of messed up. This picture isnít of Machu Picchu. What Iíve been looking at here is the Aqueduct of Segovia, built somewhere between the first and second centuries AD by the Romans, who.. also used granite blocks without mortar for their construction.
My bad! But you know, this brings up an interesting point: the ancient Romans didnít have modern machinery any more than did the ancient Incans. Does that mean that the ancient Romans had help from aliens as well?
As opposed to the Incans, we have a heck of a lot of writing from the ancient Romans. Youíd think somewhere along the way one of those ancient Romans would have commented on their subterranean mole men.... err... I mean alien visitations or their stone melting ray guns. Something along the lines of ďThat Galactic Overlord Glorp sure has helped make construction easier for us!Ē would have been nice. Strange that theyíre so quiet about it... and that none of the Ancient Alien proponents are even mentioning the Aqueduct of Segovia as proof of alien visitation.
But letís get back to the show where weíve got a quote from Hopkins about the feasibility of melting granite:
Melting the rocks and then pouring them into place would take an incredible amount of heat ... I have a stone torch which I use for sometimes shaping granite, and it generates a temperature of in excess of three thousand degrees. Three thousand degrees! Thatís a lot!
It certainly is. Hopkins, you have quite the talent for understatements!
Michael Dunn, put your finishing touches on this argument!
When we look back at the ancients and we see a technology that they couldnít possibly know, thereís only two possibilities to that: either God did it, which we really donít think happened, or some high tech civilization from another planet came and showed them how to do it, then took their material and tools and went back home.
Donít you love how he just went from speculating about how these constructions were built, to assuming that thereís no other possible explanation in order to try and back any dissenters into an uncomfortable corner?
Even if you accept his premise, though, his reasoning still doesnít work out. Saying ďAliens did it!Ē is exactly as poorly reasoned as saying ďGod did it!Ē or ďSubterranean Mole Men did it!Ē or whatever have you. Any one of those assertions is an appeal to some unknown entity, and like Iíve already pointed out, you canít solve an unknown with another unknown!
Thereís no reason for the statement ďAliens did it!Ē to be considered any more valid than the statement ďGod did it!Ē. Dunn seems to accept that the aliens theory is more valid, but heís failed to provide a single reason for that.
And letís be clear here that this is not just Mr. Dunnís explanation. This is the main explanation endorsed by the Ancient Aliens show for how these ancient societies built their buildings. I assume that means that it was the best explanation they had. When something so flawed is presented so confidently as the most probable explanation, you know that youíre not dealing with people who have any respect for facts or evidence.
And the thing is that archaeologists have actually been to the quarries that the Incas used, and theyíve found these granite blocks in various stages of preparation. What are we to make of these blocks if we believe that they actually transported smaller stones to the construction site for melting? If thatís the case, what exactly were they doing cutting up these granite blocks in the quarries?
So Tsoukalosí best evidence for Ancient Aliens pretty much evaporates into nothingness when we look at it critically. It doesnít give me much hope for any of the evidence in the rest of the show, which by his own admission is bound to be even weaker and more insubstantial. But Iím having fun with this, and the more nonsense they put out there, the more material I have for my podcast. I donít think Iíll ever run out of material, but I *am* out of time for this segment today.
And now, a quote on interpreting your dreams to get spiritual communications or predict the future from the book ďFringe Knowledge For BeginnersĒ
You will have to separate the meaningful dreams from the nonsense ones that come into your brain from sorting its memory pieces, or an astral critter trying to feed. Only by remembering dreams and trying your best to figure them out will you learn over time how to sift out the nonsense.
Wonderful advice! Youíve got to pay attention to the meaningful dreams! How do you know which dreams are meaningful? Well, those are the ones where you can actually piece together some sort of meaning after the fact. Just make sure to ignore all the ones that donít fit into any pattern.
Now I know some people may say that itís confirmation bias to only pay attention to the hits and ignore the misses. But what do they know? They probably wouldnít recognize an astral critter trying to feed off their dreams if it was right in front of them! Itís the times when you just look for patterns without any criteria or logic that you really find the truth! Trust me, it works! ... except for when it doesnít. Oh crap, is that an astral critter? BACK!! GET AWAY!!! *GUNSHOTS* Youíre not munching on my dreams ya bastard!! *GUNSHOTS*
Letís get to the emails and comments Iíve received! Iíll start with some of the more hostile comments Ė those are always the best ones. I love the ones that are so angry with me, completely out of proportion to what is warranted by anything Iíve said. How many of you out there are also podcasters or bloggers? You know what Iím talking about, those really venomous emails that seem to come out of nowhere Ė theyíre the best, right?
Let me illustrate with a comment from a user named SanDiegoDavina, who posts on the subject ďHaterĒ Ė apparently that refers to me. Iím a hater. We actually established in a past episode that Iím full of hate when I responded to that comment from Adam. Anyway, SanDiegoDavina writes:
I read your blog because I have watched many episodes of Ancient Aliens. I too have been waiting for the History channel to come up with a show to counter the ancient alien theories. I find both sides interesting. I do agree with your opinion that some of the stuff shown on the show about the golden flyers is silly and far fetched. However, I think you are condescending asshole. At least the theorists present their ideas and evidence with an open mind and positive attitude. I think itís great to question what is presented on Ancient Aliens, but donít be a dick about it. There is a lot on the show that warrants investigation such as unexplainable ancient structures. There are also parts of the show that are exaggerated and laughable. Why donít you make your next blog less asshole like and more scientific? You might actually get people thinking, instead off pissing people off by throwing insults at scientists on Ancient Aliens. If had to pick a side, I sure wouldnít agree with an uneducated tool bag blogger like you. Instead of dissing ancient alien scientists, why donít you take a look in the mirror and analyze yourself!
Wow! That wasÖ really harsh! Davina was responding to my original blog entry where I analyzed the very first segment of Ancient Aliens. Those of you whoíve listened to my podcast will remember that itís the same material I covered in episode 2. The content was edited and updated a little, but itís essentially the same stuff I put in that podcast a little over a year ago now. I know I told some jokes and made a little fun of the Ancient Alien theory, but when Davina accuses me of throwing insults I have to wonder if she accidentally read another website and confused it with something I said.
I challenge anybody to find a single insult that I threw during the course of that episode. The transcript is right on the website and is fully searchable, as is the original article. I find it very hard to take Davinaís criticisms seriously when she makes these kinds of statements that wildly mischaracterize what I actually said.
As a general rule, I donít insult. I invoke a little light ridicule, but the aim of that ridicule is mostly directed towards the ideas rather than the people promoting them. Once in a while perhaps itís fun to gently mock some characteristics of a person, like Tsoukalosí hair for example. Iíve certainly commented on that before, but I donít think anything Iíve said qualifies as mean spirited. I try very hard to avoid that, being mean spirited. So when I get accused of being a ďdickĒ, a ďcondescending assholeĒ, and an ďuneducated tool bag bloggerĒ Ė those remarks seem so totally out of character with what I actually said that I have to laugh at the absurdity of it!
Davina seems to be suggesting that her hostility is warranted by at least an equal amount of hostility coming from my article. I would love to see that argument fleshed out in all seriousness. Have I said anything thatís the equivalent to calling somebody an ďuneducated tool bag bloggerĒ?
I do love it that she actually agrees with me about the golden flyer though. I get that a lot. Statements like ďYouíre right, the show does say a lot of stuff thatís nonsense, buuut (dot dot dot)Ē. That was a big but I just said there. I do like big buts, I wonít lie to you about it. Anyway, the buts are always interesting. Iím right, but I have a bad attitude, or Iím right, but Iím refusing to address some other claims. Davina invoked both of those buts here. We just went over the first, what about the second?
Davina said that ďThere is a lot on the show that warrants investigation such as unexplainable ancient structures. There are also parts of the show that are exaggerated and laughable.Ē Ė I think the implication sheís making here is that Iím just choosing to focus on the exaggerated, laughable things and ignoring the stuff thatís harder to explain. Itís a very strange criticism to make, because even in that first article I mentioned that I was covering the very first segment, and that I was looking at continuing my analysis segment by segment until Iíd covered the whole show. Did Davina even read that part? Did she bother to take a look at my other articles on the subject?
Iím not just cherry picking the easiest claims to talk about here. Iím trying to completely cover every claim that comes up in chronological order. If anybody has noticed a major claim made by the show that I accidentally skipped over, please let me know and I will correct the oversight as soon as possible.
As though trying to make Davinaís line of reasoning more explicit, I also got a comment from a user named armysniper, who entitles his coment ďLOLĒ writes:
lol the guy who made this site is hilarious. You either miss the point or skip over any decent remarks from the show. Ill be the first to admit, about 70% of this show is bullshit. But its the 30% of it that no one can explain that is interesting. For instance, you talk about how, when he(i forget his name...but i agree with you that he is an idiot...im not defending him) *Dumbass Note Ė I believe here he is referring here to Giorgio Tsoukalos, whose name is mentioned in the article I wrote that armysniper has supposedly just readÖ it should have been a fairly straightforward task to check said article to make sure heís got his facts straightÖ or maybe he just doesnít care about that Ė End Dumbass Note* referencing the book of ezekiel, he skips alot of it...well cause it had nothing to do with his point. None of that shit that you wrote about it strengthens your argument. Also, your skipping over the most important part of this segment...how about mentionening anything about NASA engineer Josef F. Blumrich and how he recreated and patented the idea. You obviously couldnt prove it wrong, so you skipped it. Maybe this should be ďThe dumbasses guide to being a dumbassĒ
This comment is in response to my third article on Ancient Aliens, the one entitled ďThe Evidence For Ancient Communications.Ē Itís the same article that I went over in episode 6 of this podcast. Those of you whoíve listened to that episode or read the article are my witness Ė and for those of you who havenít feel free to check out what I wrote so you can confirm it for yourselves, that I did, indeed, in that very article talk about Josef Blumrich!
I devoted a whole 8 paragraphs to talking about the Blumrich claims! It was the very last claim I talked about, so if armysniper had just completed reading the article that fact should have been very easy for him to remember. This claim that I completely skipped over the subject because I couldnít prove it wrong is just silly!
Armysniper, hereís a tip for you if you want to avoid embarrassing yourself like this in the future: when youíre criticizing a blog article, it might be a good idea to make sure you actually read it. And by the way, you can actually refer to the article while youíre in the middle of writing your comment if thereís anything youíre unsure about. Thereís this wonderful thing these days called tabbed browsing Ė itís on all the major web browsers. You can be writing your comment in one tab, have my article opened up in another, and you can switch between them if youíre not sure about something.
Armysniper, if youíre too intellectually lazy to make sure that you actually know what youíre talking about before you criticize, how do you expect people to take you seriously?
Anyway, regarding Tsoukalos skipping most of the book of Ezekiel, the point I was trying to make there was that Tsoukalos was picking and choosing the parts that he could interpret as relating to his pet theory, and ignoring the inconvenient details that didnít fit with his theory. That should be fairly easy for you to understand, since itís exactly the same thing that youíve just accused me of doing. The difference is that in Tsoukalosí case, he actually *is* cherry picking this stuff.
I also like that Armysniper gave me some percentages. Apparently 70% of the show is crap, but thereís 30% of it making actual valid claims. I think Iíve covered at least 70% of the show so farÖ havenít found any of those valid claims yet. Are they hiding out right at the end there? Is the last part of the show going to blow my mind? Or maybe he just means that 70% of the episodes are crap, while 30% of them are gold. That must be it! I just made the mistake of picking one of the complete BS episodes to analyze! Silly mistake on my part to think that they might want to start with their best foot forward, and that an episode entitled ďThe EvidenceĒ might be expected to show me some actual, valid evidence.
I really do love it, though, when the people criticizing me implicitly admit that Iím right, that my criticisms of the show are valid. Even if they then go on to say that Iím somehow avoiding some other really amazing claims that I just canít explain away (havenít found any of those yet, but the search continues) Ė even if they say that, theyíre still admitting that I have a point, and they have no good arguments against my logic.
And let me tell you something, even if it was the case that 30% of the claims I went over were mind blowing revelations that I couldnít deny, I would still criticize and ridicule the other 70% of the show that was utter crap.
Anyway, not too long after he didnít fully read my third article, armysniper posted another comment regarding my fourth ancient aliens article.
wow this site is stupid. So Chris dunn is an expert using modern tools...but this fucking idiot is saying is he has ďno ideaĒ how to use a pickaxe or saw(ancient tools). The guy who made this site is an ancient tool. Stop crying about Chris Dunn concluding ancient alien theory...especially when you admin yourself he never said he was. Its people like the maker of this site we thought the world was flat and the world was the center of the galaxy for so long. I love you idiots who sit your fat asses on ur computer while these people are doing actual work.
Awww, I love you too armysniper! And youíve pretty much got me pegged in that last sentence there. I *am* here sitting on my fat ass at my computer. Regarding Chris Dunn though, Iím pretty sure I never said that he doesnít know how to use a pickaxe or saw. I only said that heís not an expert in ancient construction. It takes more than understanding how to use a pickaxe to be an expert in this area.
But armysniper is right when he said that I did admin myself that Chris Dunn isnít an Ancient Alien theorist. I have completely adminned it, and I stand by what I said. I donít see how that should excuse Mr. Dunn from criticism for the claims that he *did* make though. That seems like a very strange thing to call me out on.
And regarding the idea that Iím the type of person who would hold back the advancement of science by insisting that the Earth was the center of the universe, I will refer you to the comments and emails section of episode 7 of this podcast, where I answered this exact same claim from a user named Daybreaker.
I got another comment here, this one on my second Ancient Aliens article. This one is from a user named concern94 and is entitled ďGET A CLUEĒ in all capital letters. Concern94 writes:
your just a stubborn, ignorant indovidual arent you? if you look at the whole series by a few mistakes (possiblly typos) and say that its all fake and a lie, than why do you even watch ot? and there not saying "this is deffenetly what happened" there simply asking the question "could it be possible?" but people like you who are stuck on the 19th century still think that were alone? honestly?? 55 percent of americans have claimed to have seen a ufo or know someone personaly who has. so get with it! if your dumb ass doesnt see this giant dog and pony show the government puts on for americans every day because they think were a bunch of pussies and we cant handle the truth, thsn you obviously arent a good observer. the fuckimg mexican government filmed a ufo flying over there airspace with high tech, millitary standard cameras USED FOR IDENTIFYING AIRCRAFT, but guess what, they didnt know what the fuck it was! and now peice by peice, document by document, countries all over the world are slowly releasing more and more information to the public and encouraging the US to do the same but our govenment wants to be the last ones to have no idea. its all just an act
I really like the suggestion here that Iím just finding a few mistakes, and that theyíre all possibly typos. That explains everything, right? Whenever theyíre wrong about something, itís just a typo!
I think what concern94 was referring to there was how I criticized the show for claiming there were Sanskrit documents dating to 6,000 BC, which was completely untrue. I theorized that maybe somebody made an error when putting in the dates and it just got propagated. So I *did* criticize them for what might have been a typoÖ but thatís not the *only* thing I criticized them about. I covered every major claim made in that segment, including the origin of the Vymaanika Shaastra, and the claims made about mercury gyroscopes. I covered every claim made in a full ten minute segment of this show, so how exactly am I just singling out ďa few mistakesĒ. And even if it is a typo, thatís not an excuse. The claim that there is documented proof of alien visitation from 6,000 BC is a really amazing claim, and for a documentary to put something like that out there without bothering to do any fact checking on it is just inexcusable.
And this argument that the Ancient Aliens show is just exploring the possibilities and I should go easy on them because of it is just nonsense. They claim to have evidence. The title of this very show Iíve been talking about is ďThe EvidenceĒ. Whatís with this attitude of ďWhy, how dare you look at the evidence presented with a critical eye! That is uncalled for sir! Youíve gone far beyond the pale, and I will have none of it! I bid you good day sir!Ē Ö. Come to think of it, youíre right, Iím completely out of line for actually examining what they say to see if thereís any validity in it. Itís all because Iím a hater, thatís just my nature. Nothing to be done about it.
The rest of concern94ís comment is pretty much irrelevant, because I havenít said word one about current alien visitations, government cover-ups, or anything of that nature. I havenít denied that aliens exist, nor have I denied that theyíre currently visiting us and shoving things up our bums for fun. Iíve only been talking about the supposed evidence for *ancient* alien visitation. Why is it that my critics often want to challenge me to explain current alien claims? Thatís not what Iíve been writing about.
Anyway, I think Iíll move away from the hostile comments now. There are a few more I do want to get to at some point. Danny and Avid Watcher, if youíre listening, I havenít forgotten about you and I do plan on addressing your criticisms in a future show.
I got a comment relating to my last episode, the one dealing with the Psychic Detective. Harry Q. Hammer writes:
I was just reading Arthur Robert's story in Ripley's Believe It Or Not comic (No. 20, June 1970). The claims in this story are even bolder than what you found. Indeed Mr Roberts was known as "the world famous psychic detective", so why is there never any authentication?
Thanks for that info, Harry. I love how you really donít need much justification to call somebody or something ďWorld FamousĒ. I think thatís especially true these days with the Internet. My episodes have been downloaded from many different countries, so you should keep in mind right now that youíre listening to the world famous Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge!
I also got an email from a user named George Tsoukalos Ė and for the record I completely believe that this is the very same Giorgio Tsoukalos that Iíve been talking about. Yes, I do realize that here he spells his name G-E-O-R-G-E, and on the show the name is spelled G-I-O-R-G-I-O. What of it? Shakespear famously spelled his name many different ways. And who are you to tell the man how heís permitted to shorten his name when posting a comment on a blog? Heís just trying to be friendly, cut him some slack! Anyway, George writes:
This is a great podcast. I really love it. You really have a good eye for finding BULL$H!T in someone's article. I really love your Aincient Aliens podcasts. Keep it up! Your greatest fan; Georgie!
I KNEW that the guy was just pulling all our legs! You can see it in his eyes, heís always trying to suppress his laughter at the fact that heís taken seriously. Georgie, youíre quite a guy! Thanks for writing in!
Now, I *should* have gotten around to answering Georgie in my last episode. It was a terrible oversight and I was thoroughly reprimanded for it through a comment on the Invisible Sky Monster website. Georgie wrote:
I give you a glowing recommendation on your Dumbass podcast and you don't even acknowledge me; You Bastard! So I must give you a 1/2 star rating on this podcast. I only give you that 1/2 one because you had Karen Wittmeyer podcast in the nude. A nice thank you Goergie would have earned you a glaring 5 star review.
I hate to say it, but I completely deserved that. I have already expressed my deepest apologies to Mr. Tsoukalos, and we have reconciled with each other. Iím just glad that we can put all this ugliness behind us.
I also got a comment from one Simon S Ė and Iím just going to assume that his last name is Singh. Itís entirely possible. Heís a skeptic, and this is a sceptical podcastÖ. It would actually be foolish of me *not* to assume that this was Simon Singh. Anyway Simon Singh commented on my last episode regarding the bus driver who kept saying ďhaveanicedayNOWWWW!!!Ē. Simon says that itís not the strange tone that would have bothered him, instead heíd be bothered that
it doesn't make grammatical sense. A day is a period of 24 hours, but now refers to this instant. You can't have a nice period of 24 hours instantly. The NOW part is completely redundant. Pedantry over. Love the podcast Mr. Dumbass
Absolutely right! Thanks for writing in and endorsing the podcast Mr. Singh!
I got a tweet from a user named T Cochran who writes:
Iíve written 2 raving reviews of the Dumbass Guide on iTunes, but the havenít appeared. Maybe the Apple folks are aliens. Conspiracy maybe?
You may be right Cochran, I certainly wouldnít put it past them. But it seems to me that iTunes is such a messy, bloated, and inefficient program that we donít need to invoke anything but incompetence in order to explain it.
But then, that may be what they want us to think! Itís all part of the plan!
This isnít the first time this has happened. You might remember that Iíve answered a similar comment before. And just recently I got an email from somebody saying that they had trouble downloading my podcast through iTunes on their iPhone. Apparently it worked perfectly fine on their computer, but the version for the iPhone just hung and refused to continue the download.
Apple, what are you doing here?? Youíre always releasing these new versions of iTunes for some reason that provide absolutely no discernible benefits except perhaps to rearrange the navigation a little bit so that everybody gets confused until they get used to the new way of doing things. Have you ever given a thought to perhaps trying to make changes that actually improve peoplesí experience in using your service? How about a thought to quality control between different versions of the program so that people can download a podcast to their desktop computer just as easily as to their iPhone?
And why does it take so long to load up anything on iTunes? It has to be one of the most sluggish applications out there! Anything youíve got on the iTunes store could be easily made into a web application and it would run a heck of a lot more smoothly! And why canít I see the reviews for my podcast from all countries in one place?
And while Iím on a rant, I realize that Iím bringing up stuff from my college days over a decade ago, but the iMac? Really? *That* seemed like a reasonable computer design to you? They looked like childrenís toys! Iíd expect to hit the B key and hear ďB is for BubblesĒ as I hear the pop-pop-pop sound of bubbles being blown out of the monitor. And they came with circular mice! Iíve yet to find a mouse that feels more awkward in a userís hand.
*SIGH*Ö well, moving on, speaking of iTunes, somebody actually managed to write me a new review on the system! I got a five star review from a user named M-M-M-3-3-P-P-PÖ.. mmmthreeeepuhpuhpuh wrote:
This is an amusing podcast that anyone with a sceptical mind will appreciate. I love how he points out all the holes in the Ancient Astronauts show on the History channel. The only downer is that it takes the host up to two months to post episodes. Maybe he could try shorter podcasts that are more frequent? Anyway, I love the podcast.
Thanks for the kind words! I should address here the length of time it took me to bring out this episode. It took much longer to bring this one out than even I was expecting, and the reason for that is pretty simple. Stuff happens. I knew Iíd be a little late because things always get really crazy around the Christmas season, but I was still hoping to have the episode ready last month. But then I had computer problems, and a few other things came up and now here it is in February. When you do a podcast in your spare time, things can easily get delayed when your spare time is in short supply.
Anyway, I think mmmthreeeepuhpuhpuh has a good idea. Perhaps smaller episodes more frequently would be a nice change. I do really like the format Iíve got going here with the different segments put altogether, and I donít want to abandon that. So this calls for a little bit of experimentation. Hereís my plan, Iím going to start putting out shortened episodes, but not exclusively. Every third, fourth, or fifth episode, whenever I can find the time for it, will be a full sized episode like the one youíre listening to right now. The others will be smaller, with only one or two segments. And Iíll broaden the topics I cover so that itís not all really in depth analysis of some subject.
I hope you guys will enjoy the new, shorter episodes, and I look forward to hearing your comments when I put that in place.
Finally, I got a comment on the Invisible Sky Monster website from Mac of the Amateur Skeptics podcast. He