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Podcast > Monday, 28 February 2011 00:00:56 EST

Dumbass Podcast #4: Ancient Aliens Part 2

Keywords: aliens, ancient alien theory, conspiracy, historical, book

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In this episode, I go over some stats on the podcast, update my enemies list, go over the second segment of the ancient aliens show, and make a new recommendation in the Dumbass book club.

Links Mentioned In The Show:
The Skeptic's Guide Podcast
The Evidence For Ancient Spaceflight Original Article
The Indian Institute Of Science's Report On The Vaimanika Shastra
Analyzing Claims About A Mercury Vortex Engine
Invisibleskymonster.com
Skeptichosting.com
Audible Free Trial Special Deal
Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me Audiobook
The Invisible Gorilla Audiobook
Theme Music From Jonathancoulton.com
Other Music From Danosongs.com

Enjoy the show!  Here's the transcript:

It's the fourth episode of the Dumbasses Guide to Knowledge!  That's right, I've heard what you've been saying, and in spite of that I'm back!  This time I'll be going over how the podcast is doing, I'll go over my second installment analyzing the ancient aliens show, I'll talk about another selection for the Dumbass Book Club, and I'll be going over emails and comments.  So let's get to it!

In the last episode I mentioned that the podcast had reached over a thousand downloads total.  As I'm recording this, every single episode I've put out has racked up over a thousand downloads each, and my last podcast has been downloaded over four thousand times.  When I first started, it took around a week to rack up 100 downloads, but my last episode racked up about 100 downloads a day for the first several days!  I've now racked up a grand total of over 9000 downloads for all episodes.

That's definitely progress... but I can't seem to figure out whether I should be impressed by it or not.  It's entirely possible that I had my expectations set too low, and that these kind of numbers are just to be expected when you start out podcasting.  What does a dumbass like me know?  I've never done anything like this before.  Maybe a look at some other indicators will give me a clue as to how I'm doing.  I've got some good stats on my visitors and subscribers.  If I organize them by country, the U.S. comes in first place with the most users checking out the podcast.  That makes sense, it's a big market, about 300 million people.

And coming in second is.... Norway?  How is that possible?  Norway has a population of 4.9 million people.  Canada comes in third... how the hell did I get more popular in Norway than in my own home and native land, which has about 7 times the population?  It's not like it's a close contest either!  I'm getting about 3 times the interest from Norway than from Canada.  

Wow!

Well... Welcome to my Norwegian listeners!  From the pictures I've seen, your capital and largest city of Oslo is quite lovely.  And as for your national anthem... there it goes now... very beautiful and majestic.  And may I sincerely say "Hail kong Harald den femte, kan hans regjeringstid være lang og produktiv".  

I either just said "Hail king Harald the fifth, may his reign be long and productive", or I ordered a cheesburger with extra monkey.  In either case, I'm sure my Norwegian listeners appreciate the effort.  Norwegians, send me an email and let me know why I'm so popular with you guys!  You can reach me at *EMAIL*

Anyway, I'm also pleased to report that my request for a glowing review on iTunes has finally been fulfilled.  Let's see... the review is by AstroStu, and he gave me four stars.... what the hell AstroStu??  I said a GLOWING review!... Okay, let's see... AstroStu says that the biggest negative for him is that the podcast is like an audio blog, and not as engaging to him as other podcasts.  He says that he's willing to give it a few more episodes to see where it goes....

Hey AstroStu, did I say in my last podcast that I wanted honesty?  Jesus Christ!  Listen, I thought this was obvious but it looks like I'm going to have to spell it out for you: I know I suck!  This podcast is the equivalent of the slow kid in the class.  When all the other kids have made pretty pictures of animals, and I've just got a big, brown, goopy mess on the paper and most of the paint has gotten into my mouth, are you supposed to give me your honest opinion?  Hell no!

What you say is "Wow!  That's a really amazing picture of a... um.... monkey? Oh, you say it's a unicorn... well, that's just the prettiest darn picture of a unicorn that I've ever seen!  This is going right up on the wall mister and you get to have a shiny new sticker that says 'Good Job!'"

But that's not what you said, is it?  You gave your honest opinion and now you've made the kid cry, are you happy with yourself?  You know what, AstroStu?  Because I see now that you're the kind of person who enjoys gleefully making young children cry, you're going on my enemies list!  That's right, I have an enemies list!  Let me just get it out here....

Here we go... first on my list is, of course, that rat bastard Karl Mamer.  If you listened to my last podcast you'll know why... and if you haven't, I'd appreciate a written apology and explanation why not. Anyway, second on my list is Santa Clause.  I still haven't forgiven you, Santa, for that fake cabbage patch doll you gave me when I was younger!  All the other kids dolls had signatures on their butts.  Mine didn't even have a butt!  For crying out loud Santa, you've got a state of the art factory and a plethora of magical workers putting this stuff together for you... why the hell couldn't you manage a more convincing counterfeit?  Either improve the quality of your work or stop peddling your inferior workmanship and claiming that you're the king of toy giving!

Third on my list is James Randi, and not just because I suspect that he's actually Santa Clause.  The main reason is that he's so far refused to acknowledge my obvious psychic gifts and pay up.  Where's my million dollars Randi??  I've remarked before about my psychic connection to the Skeptic's Guide podcast.  It's not just that we've both chosen a name with the words "Guide To" in the title.  No.  It's deeper than that.  Right before I did my interview about ancient aliens with Karl Mamer on his podcast, the Skeptic's Guide podcast talked about a crystal skull found by Philip Coppens, a man who regularly appears on the Ancient Aliens show.  Also, a couple of days after I wrote my article talking about Phil Plait's "Don't Be A Dick" speech, they had Phil Plait on their podcast as a guest rogue.  I mean, this is absolute proof!  What the hell more do you need, Randi?  

I've psychically submitted my application several times, and I keep on getting the same automatic psychic message in return telling me that my application is important and that I will be notified if it's approved.  Well, I haven't heard anything yet, and I don't think he has any intention of even looking at my application!  James Randi, unless you give me my million dollars, you've revealed yourself to be a fraud!!

Interestingly, my psychic connection to the Skeptic's Guide seems to work more with the podcast as a whole.  It doesn't seem to work properly when I try and contact them individually.  For example, my steamy psychic love letters to Rebecca keep on getting somehow routed to Jay instead.  And while the equally steamy love letters he sends in return are great, he's really not my type, and I'm not into guys.  If I were into guys, I think Evan would be more my type.  He's just got a voice that's so... smooth... and creamy.... that you want to... to just wrap yourself up in it and... and never leave..... *AHEM* but like I said, I'm not gay.

Anyway, congratulations AstroStu, you're now on the list!  I'll just make it official here... A S T R O S T U.... there we go!  Bastard!

Anyway, now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, let's move on.


And now, a quote from "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Being Psychic":

Beware of becoming overly eager in your quest for psychic intuition.  Don't let wishful thinking or personal ambition convince you that desired - but possibly inaccurate - information is meant to be a psychic blessing.  Positive thinking and affirmations can be extremely powerful, but they must be acknowledged for what they are, conscious and willful directing of your own thoughts.

Those are wise words indeed.  If something you thought was psychic information turns out to have been inaccurate, that means that you gave in to wishful thinking or personal ambition.  Those don't count.  It's the times that you were right that you need to focus on, because obviously those are the occasions in which you resisted giving in to wishful thinking.

By the way, something I've been noticing... where the hell is that music coming from?  I don't remember this crappy podcast ever having sound effects!  Hello?  Is somebody there?  What the hell is going on here?  Hold on... my voice is getting softer... is this some sort of a fade out thing?  Who the hell is doing that?  I demand that you show yourself!  Hello?  Hello??


Well, that was weird.  Anyway, now on to the main topic of today's episode, my second installment on the Ancient Aliens evidence show.  I tackled this segment on my blog back in May of 2010.  I called this segment "The Evidence For Ancient Spaceflight."

Even though the segment doesn't go into much detail about ancient spaceflight, the introduction makes it clear that this is nevertheless the topic that they were aiming for:

Over the past 50 years, NASA has sent astronauts into space inside large rockets.  This method has been described by some as simply putting a man on a large firecracker and lighting the fuse.

Well, when you put it that way, then sure!  Our ancient ancestors could have managed that!  What the hell do we need NASA for anyway?

After this, next there's some talk about theoretical technologies in development for spaceflight such as magnetically levitated launch sleds, and the narrator continues introducing the segment:

While these futuristic propulsion systems seem like something out of science fiction, ancient alien theorists believe past civilisations possessed these same advanced technologies. They point to a number of cultural myths that describe sky people coming to Earth in fire breathing dragons, or metallic looking machines as proof of extra terrestrial visitation.

Proof you say!  These cultural myths are proof!  Interesting thinking there.... you're going to have to run by me exactly what form of logic allows you to claim fanciful folk tales as proof of anything.

Of course, none of these cultural myths that ancient alien theorists talk about bear any real resemblance to each other, but many of them do talk about beings from the sky.  If I understand correctly, the argument is that there's no other way to explain how so many stories from different cultures from all over the world could have the same basic element to them.

It's not as though the night sky is a beautiful, inspiring sight or anything that would naturally cause people to want to tell stories about it.

Oh wait, no... that's exactly what it is!

You don't need aliens in order to explain why cultures from all over the world tell stories about beings from the sky.  The night sky has filled us with wonder probably since before we were homo sapiens.  For goodness sake, it's the stars, the sky... I mean, it's just there begging to have stories told about it!  And of course you're going to have some sort of characters out there, a good story requires interesting characters.

Isn't the more reasonable explanation that these stories are just a cultural meme that has been so successful amongst all cultures because it was pretty much an inevitability that people would tell stories about the sky?

Exactly which cultural myths does this show find so compelling, I wonder...

Ancient Sanskrit texts dating back as far as 6000 BC, describe in varied but vivid detail flying machines called vimanas.

Oh, well in that case I withdraw my...

Hold on a second, did you just say something about ancient Sanskrit texts dating back to 6000 BC?

Now I'm a little bit confused.  The oldest known form of Sanskrit is called Vedic Sanskrit, and the oldest known stories in Vedic Sanskrit dates to about 1700 BC.

Linguists have been working on reconstructing the type of language which would have been spoken by these people before that time.  They call it Proto-Indo-Iranian, and they believe that it was spoken around 3000 BC.

We don't know what language they were speaking in 6000 BC, but it certainly wasn't Sanskrit.  So how can we have any Sanskrit documents dating to 6000 BC??

No word on that yet, but here's Dr. Algund Eeenboom, Co-Author of "Aircraft Of The Pharohs", explaining why he believes that Vimanas were ancient spacecraft:

Vimanas are airplanes, and they are powered by jet engines.  This seems to be true because all the descriptions of the flight behaviour say that elephants ran away in panic.  Grass was thrown out because there was a lot of pressure from behind those Vimanas.  So we can say that this is a description of a spaceship.

We're shown an illustration of one of these Vimanas at this point, which is known as the Rukma Vimana.  It looks kind of like a riveted iron wedding cake with some small gyroscopes at the top. I'm including an image in the show transcript.

The Rukma Vimana

To me it looks more like something out of the imagination of Jules Verne, nothing advanced about this design at all.  Is this description and illustration taken from a document written in 6000 BC?  What document exactly did this come from??

Although mainstream historians believe the Vimana texts are myths, many of the documents contain passages that seem to describe modern machinery and technology.

Still no source on that.  While we wait for them to get around to it, let's take a look at this idea of Vimanas.

Vimana is an ancient Sanskrit word that has several meanings.  It can mean palace, temple, shrine, chariot.... and yes, one of it's uses is in describing flying chariots of the gods and floating palaces.





It's a really interesting subject, and some of the descriptions seem to correspond with what we might consider to be science fiction-esque ideas.  The thing is, though, that the earliest mention of any such Vimana operating without the aid of flying horses, comes from the Ramayana.

The Ramayana was written somewhere in the 300's BC.  So once again I'm left wondering, what ancient document mentions alien spacecraft from 6000 BC?

Here's David Childress, author of "Technology Of The Gods".  Maybe he'll be able to tell us!

The Vaimanika Shaastra goes into metals that are used in these craft. It talks about electricity and power sources.  It talks about the pilots and the clothing they have to wear. It talks about the food they eat. It talks even about the weapons that are kept on these airships.

Great!  Now I have something to look up!

The Vaimanika Shastra is a very interesting document.  Proponents claim that it's an extremely ancient document.  There's only one problem with that, namely the fact that it was written sometime between 1918 and 1923, and was first published in 1959.  We don't have any version of this document existing from before then.

So how do proponents claim that it's an ancient document?  Well, the thing is that it was written by the use of an Indian mystic named Subbaraya Shastry, who was using psychic powers to channel the ancient Hindu sage Maharishi Bharadwaja.

Accordingly, this ancient book was actually lost and no ancient copies remain.  Only through communication with the dead has it been brought back into print for modern audiences to enjoy.

Sounds like an impeccable pedigree for an ancient document to me... I wonder why they never mention this in the show...

Interestingly, in his book "The Anti-Gravity Handbook", David Childress actually claims that the Vaimanika Shastra dates to the fourth century BC.  He claims that it was discovered in a temple in India in 1875.  He gives no source for this, and of course, it's pure nonsense.  Even the man who revealed the text, G. R. Josyer, was pretty clear as to it's origins.  It was dictated by Shastry and completed in 1923.  There's no ambiguity here.

But if Childress claims that the document dates to the 300's BC, where does this 6000 BC number come from?

An internet search reveals that many people are claiming these ancient documents date back to 4000 BC.  My guess is that they heard "fourth century", and made the mistake of beginning the number with a 4, and then adding an extra zero.

Yes, it can happen.  I'm enough of a dumbass that it almost happened to me while I was writing this article.  I realized my mistake only because I took the time to re-check my facts.

In addition, 4000 BC is about 6000 years ago... could it be that a writer from the show just got mixed up and put down "BC" instead of "years ago"?

I'll bet that's it!  And you know, this really gets my goat!  You'd think that they could at least have the intellectual rigour and attention to detail to make sure that they get their imaginary facts right!

But you really do have to love the "futuristic" depictions of alien spacecraft as described in the Vaimanika Shastra.  My personal favourite is the Shakuna Vimana (No, not the song from The Lion King).  You know, The Lion King... Shakuna Vimanna ..... Is this thing on?  YOU SUCK!  .... Again, when the hell did this podcast get sound effects?  And how do I have a heckler?  There's nobody here.... this is kind of spooky.

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh yes, the Shakuna Vimana!  You've got to see this thing, it's wonderful!  It's shaped kind of like a fat boat with a propeller at it's nose, and a fan-shaped tail at it's rear.  In it's center is a three layered structure, roughly corresponding to the shape of the boat.  On top of that structure is a turret which looks like it comes from a middle eastern temple.  And, of course, the coup de gras is that on the sides of this craft are a pair of giant wings.  And they're not just decorative, they're on hinges!  They're meant to flap as the Shakuna Vimanna flies through the air!

When I talked to Karl Mamer I said that the thing looks like it should be named something like "Professor Crumplebottom's Fantabulous Contraption".  It's just wonderful!  Check the show transcript for a picture.

The Shakuna Vimana

I wonder why they didn't make a scale model of this thing and subject it to an air tunnel like they did for the stuff in the last section.

Unfortunately, in 1974 the aeronautical and mechanical engineering experts at the Indian Institute of Science studied the designs and concluded that they were "poor concoctions" and that the author showed a complete lack of understanding of aeronautics.  

PFFT!! What do they know!  Did they even bother looking at the Shakuna Vimana?  That things totally airworthy!  Poor concoction indeed!!

Anyway, according to the Vaimanika Shastra, these Vimanas were controlled with the mind, and used a propulsion system based on a combination of gyroscopes, electricity, and mercury..  What they did was take several gyroscopes, and place them inside of a "sealed liquid mercury vortex".

Childress explains:

Mercury is an unusual element.  Mercury is metal.. it's also a liquid.  And it's a conductor of electricity.  Now there's unusual things you can do with mercury.  You can put it into a closed gyroscopic device with mercury spinning around, and then you can electrify it.  And studies have been done on this by NASA and by other scientists.  And they find that you have levitation effects, anti-gravity kind of effects, and a spinning bright light is part of it too.

Okay, so mercury is unusual because it's a metal and also a liquid?  All metals become liquid when they reach their melting point.  Mercury may be an unusual metal because it has a low enough melting point to be liquid at room temperature, but the fact that it can take liquid form, the thing that Childress feels is so unusual, is a property of every metal.  And the fact that it conducts electricity isn't unusual or surprising in any way.

As for the NASA studies involving levitation and bright lights, I have yet to find any record of any studies of mercury that show these kinds of effects, and I would love to see the sources for what he's talking about.  

The show goes into a little bit more of a description of how gyroscopes work.  A rotating gyroscope wants to stay on it's plane of rotation, and resists toppling over.  It's the same reason why a spinning top stays upright.  Because of this, some people consider gyroscopes to be defying gravity.

But there's no defiance going on here, gyroscopes are just as subject to the forces of gravity as anything else.  Their rotation just makes their position more stable.  If you drop a rotating gyroscope, it will still fall.

There are no "levitation effects" going on here.   I think Childress was actually correcting his terminology here, and switching instead to "anti gravity kind of effects", which is more vague and may pass muster.

As for the spinning bright light, we know that electricity passing through a metal can create light - it's how light bulbs work.  It doesn't seem mysterious to me that a current passing through mercury in a gyroscope would create a spinning light.

There are no mysterious or unexplained properties here that would in any way validate the Vaimanika Shastra as a coherent guide to alien technology.

Propulsion Systems Engineer Robert H. Frisbee, PH.D theorizes on the show that the mercury gyroscope might actually be a flywheel energy storage device.  The problem, of course, is that the energy still needs to come from somewhere... and also that these kinds of energy storage devices lose energy very quickly, and wouldn't be suitable for long space flights.

Hilariously, Dr. Algund Eenboom makes an appearance at this point and states that he believes the mercury vortex engine may be a mistranslation.

The mercury vortex engine is perhaps a failure in the translation because the vortex is not a material quite suitable to a jet engine.

Well, I think that if there's one that we can all agree on, it's that we shouldn't put up with mistranslations of our fake ancient documents!

And that pretty much covers all the claims in this section of the Ancient Aliens show.  The biggest number of hits I get for this article from searches is from people looking for information about mercury vortex engines.  I did a little bit more research on that.  Apparently, the theorists believe that the government is covering up a project in which they use a mercury vortex generator to create a next generation aircraft called the TR-3B.  They say the engine works as a "gravity neutralization system", allowing aircraft to fly by using much less energy.  It's pretty cool stuff to read about, even if I don't believe it's true.

I wrote an article analyzing a webpage with some of these claims, in which the author believes that he was a witness to a government cover-up because he had some trouble finding a few scientific journals in a library.  It's certainly an airtight case... no holes I can poke in that, right?  Well, I'll include a link on the show page.


Anyway, I.... oh, there's that music again.  What the hell is going on here?  Who's trying to make it seem like this podcast is using sound effects and music to aim for some level of quality?  You're not fooling anybody!  Cripes!

Okay, fine... I'm supposed to read some selection here, right?  Okay, here's a reading of a now defunct page proclaiming the dangers of the Y2K bug.  When nothing happened, the author placed the following message on the website homepage:

Thanks for dropping by.

The Year 2000 is now here. It's obvious to all that the "doomsday" predictions were well off the mark. I, for one, am happy about that.

Even though there is much left to do and glitches will be showing up for quite a while, the basic infrastructure that so many were concerned about is holding firm. I thank God for this. This should bring a sigh of relief from everyone.

Experts from around the world were convinced that many overseas countries were going to have moderate to severe difficulties. To date, this has not materialized and they are stumped. The best minds on the planet have missed it by a mile. That concerns me. It also leads me to two conclusions:

1) These great minds didn't know beans about what they were talking about, or...

2) God mercifully spared the world from a technological meltdown.

I'll opt for the later conclusion. You can draw your own.    

Well, there you go.  No need to pay attention to the fact that these "great minds" were a tiny minority who had no expertise in computer science.  You don't need to be an expert in computers to predict that they will destroy the world.  You just need to have watched "2001: A Space Odyssey" to know that they'll eventually all go crazy and try to kill us!  Because of God's miraculous intervention, we were saved this time, but we may not be as lucky in the future!  Keep an eye on that monolith-like device on your desk top, you never know when it will go off!  And beware of people with impassive Austrian accents!  If we humans rally ourselves to action, we can put these mechanical monstrosities in their place!  Who's with me?  Grab some torches and pitchforks, we're heading to IBM and teaching that trivia spouting robot a lesson!


Oh, I'm back again!  That was trippy.  Anyway, let's move on to emails and comments.  The following comment is from an anonymous poster, commenting on the very article that I've just podcasted.  He entitled his article "God":

Awe come on. Do you believe in other wordly lifeforms,or do you think that humans are all alone in a universe with more galaxys and planets than grains of sand on earth. Now that's laughable, I know I bet your a god believer. If you think were alone what a miniscule mind you must have. I know ask god for a answer.

This is one of those really strange comments because it doesn't address a single thing that I've written.  I never even mentioned the question of whether alien life exists in the universe.  It's a completely different question than that of whether aliens visited out ancient ancestors.  I'm just looking at whether the evidence for ancient alien visitation holds up to scrutiny.  Whether I believe that aliens exist out there in the universe or not is entirely irrelevant.

Whether I believe in God or not is also irrelevant to this discussion.  I never mentioned God once in the article.  I assume that Mr. Anonymous believes that I'm a fundamental biblical literalist who thinks that the universe was created specifically for the benefit of humans.  Well, that's certainly not the case, and I find it very strange that somebody would make this kind of accusation with no evidence.  I've never once mentioned any sort of reverence for the Bible or proclaimed any form of biblical literalism.

For those of you who are curious, on the question of whether God exists, I'm agnostic.  If he does exist, then he's being very careful not to broadcast his existence in ways that can be empirically validated.  Perhaps an all powerful creator would have a reason for doing that.  Nobody's thought of a good reason yet, but if God does exist he would be working from a lot of information that is unavailable to the rest of us.  

That's what many believers usually say anyway, and they're technically correct.  But, of course, that's too much special pleading to be a logically valid argument for anything.  There's no real evidence for the existence of God, so I remain unconvinced by anybody who tells me that they know for certain that he exists.

Personally, though, I have high hopes that there's some sort of afterlife.  Not because there's any evidence for it - there isn't.  I just hope that one exists because that will be so cool if it does.  The way I figure it, if there is, in fact, an afterlife, then I'll find out one day.  If there isn't, then the question will have no meaning for me anymore.  In either case, there's no way for me to find out about it right now, in spite of what some people claim, so the question really doesn't have any relevance to how I live my life.

In any case, let's go on to the next comment.  The following is from tmiller19, who entitles his comment "WOW!" - in all caps with an exclamation point:

The people that made that show have infinite amounts of credibility compared to you. Those golden planes are inexplicable and the reason is because it actually did fly. How could those people have known how to make a perfectly crafted model of an airplane? How can you explain moving 100 ton pound stones perfectly etched being laid in to unison? The ancient Egyptians didn't have the wheel or pulley systems. If the pyramids were so difficult to make why would a primitive culture that didn't even have the wheel move thousands of pounds of stone? If it were so difficult why would they even bother? When human logic is to do things in a reasonable fashion? Get a clue guy you are a joke and have no imagination.

This rant was followed by an Albert Einstein quote on knowledge and imagination.  I like how he wants me to explain the movement of 100 "ton pound" stones.  I shouldn't laugh at him too hard for that though, I've made similar mistakes where I replaced one word and forgot to erase the other.  What I really love about this post, though, is when he says "human logic is to do things in a reasonable fashion"... isn't that just adorable?  I know somebody who doesn't pay attention to politics!

The interesting thing about tmiller19's criticism is that it's pretty much the opposite of the last one I read.  That one was essentially a straw man argument, criticizing me for things that I never said.  Tmiller19, on the other hand, is accusing me of not addressing issues that I've actually thoroughly addressed.

It just constantly seems to me that people are commenting on my articles without actually bothering to read them first.  So this time, I thought I'd test that.  I managed to match up tmiller19's post with my website logs, so I can see exactly what he did on my website.  Tmiller19 arrived at my website at 10:47, directed from a Google image search for the term "the aircraft of Ezekiel".  He arrived at my third article on the ancient aliens series, "The Evidence For Ancient Communications", but he only stayed a minute.  At 10:48 it seems that he clicked on the link to my first ancient aliens article, the one I covered in episode 2 of this podcast.

Five minutes later, at 10:53, tmiller19 clicked on the link to send me an email.  He didn't send me an email though, instead he clicked on the comment section for that page and wrote up his little rant.

So now I know what happened at least in this case - but I think I can be fairly confident that this pattern is shared with many of the others who have criticized my articles.  He basically skimmed one article, got angry that I didn't agree with his point of view, and in his anger wrote up this little rant without bothering to double check that he understood my position.

It's not like I don't understand where tmiller19 is coming from.  I feel exactly the same way when I come across some wooish article that I strongly disagree with.  "Yadda yadda yadda, I've heard it all before!  Get it right you moron!"

I can understand the temptation to go in half cocked and assume that you understand what the other person is trying to say without making an effort to carefully read everything.  Paying close attention only makes you angrier, and the objections build up and you just want to put your counter arguments out there.  Of course, you're certain that you're in the right and that the other person can't possibly have addressed any of your iron-clad arguments.

I understand the temptation, and I make an effort to avoid giving into it.  When I'm writing articles analyzing the claims of people I strongly disagree with, I make the effort to thoroughly quote each claim, and to try and understand exactly what is being said so that I avoid either constructing a straw man argument or arguing a point that has already been addressed.

Those of you who've listened to my second episode know that I've already addressed the matter of the airplane flying.  When tmiller19 repeats the claim from the documentary that this was a "perfectly crafted model airplane", he's just wrong.  As I amply demonstrated, the model was in fact not a perfectly crafted aircraft analog at all. The jokers who made this plane had to make a number of very serious modifications in order to get this thing airborne.

I handled each of the other questions asked in further articles, none of which tmiller19 read.  I'll be talking about those issues in future podcasts, but if you're curious you can certainly check out my articles on the subject.  Just click on the "ancient aliens theory" keyword for this episode, and you'll be shown everything that I've written on the subject.  The ones that start with "The Evidence For..." are my main articles analyzing the show.

On a similar note, I also recently received a comment on Reddit, responding to my conversation with RomeoWhisky that I mentioned in the last podcast.  A user by the name of IggySmiles responded to my post comparing the "golden flyer" with an actual model of a fighter jet, and this is what he had to say:

did you actually watch the show? They made a larger version, exactly to scale, put a propeller on it, and it flew. That is where the coincidence breaks apart. They created a perfectly capable flying machine thousands and thousands of years before any humans knew anything about aerodynamics.

Yes, Iggy, I actually did watch the show.  Did you actually listen to my podcast?  In this case, I'm pretty sure that the answer is no.  I don't believe that Mr. Smiles even bothered to click the website link before making his comment.

Anyway, moving on... here's a very interesting comment from an anonymous guest:

Do not a lot of money to buy a car? Do not worry, just because that's real to take the credit loans to solve such problems. Thus take a short term loan to buy all you want.

Well, how nice of this gentleman to offer financial advice.  You don't see good samaritanism like that these days.  Kind of restores your faith in humanity, doesn't it? He even included a link to a website where I can acquire just such a credit loan, although the HTML unfortunately didn't render properly so it's not clickable.  But the effort's certainly appreciated, and in these hard times we could all use some good pointers for how to manage our money better.  Thank you very much, my friend!

Here's another nice comment from EspressoFrog, who's commented on the blog before.  How's it going buddy?  Anyway, EspressoFrog says:

You know the more I watch this series and the more it becomes obvious that none of these learned experts agree on anything. Then entire show works on the idea that it knows better than the scientists because this vanguard of explorers all confirm that same theory, the Ancient Aliens theory. But it's rarely the case. Take my favorite ep, episode 3, at 17 minute they talk about Nazca again. Instead of being an airport now it's a quarry. And a few seconds later listen to what Robert Schoch, Daniken and Giorgio say about the band of holes from Peru. None of them say the same thing again: to Daniken it's a gigantic harvester from Dune that flew away back into thin air, to Giorgio and Schoch it's everything at once.

Oh and the bit where they say that the entire goal of genetics is to make people with the head of a cat or of a heron is hilarious. Their version of Egyptology must be very popular in academia.

Once again. a pleasure to read your blog.


I talked a little bit about the Nazca lines with Karl Mamer.  We talked about the theory that they were supposed to be landmarks for alien ships, which, of course, is a really silly idea. Like aliens would need giant line drawings of hummingbirds and monkeys in order to determine their longitude and latitude. These other theories don't have any more evidence to support them, there's absolutely no reason to believe that anything about the Nazca lines was a result of alien technology.  It's one of the silliest aspects of the ancient aliens theory, and I don't think the proponents even care if they disagree with each other as the particulars.  They're happy as long as there are other people agreeing with them that there's something about these lines that can only be explained by pointing at aliens.

As I've pointed out before, these guys want to just point to something unknown about history and make the case that the only possible solution is that it must have been due to aliens from another planet.  We don't know exactly why ancient people created the Nazca lines... but they're visible from the air, so... ALIENS!!

The problem, of course, is that when you use one unknown to explain another unknown, the unknowns become so large that you can fit pretty much any theory in there.  Why aliens?  Why not a now extinct magical race of winged sasquatch?  That theory fits the evidence equally as well.  I made this kind of analogy in my last article on ancient aliens back in November - the evidence for ancient stonecutting.  

Interestingly, Brian Dunning recently made a similar analogy on his own podcast, Skeptoid.  I think maybe he borrowed that from me.  Actually, now that I think about it, I'm certain of it! Brian Dunning's totally a fan!  Hey Bri!  How's it going?

Anyway, you heard it here first folks!  The Dumbasses Guide to Knowledge is officially Brian Dunning's favourite podcast and blog!


Oh, here we go again.  Our next selection is from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft.

Everybody has the ability within him or her to do magick.  Everybody does magick every day of their lives without even realizing it.

Have you ever....

 - Said a little chant to find a parking place and then, voila, a space appeared right in front of the building you had to visit?

- Made soup for a sick friend or relative to help make that person feel better?

- Worn a lucky outfit for a job interview or a sports competition?

- Thrown salt over your shoulder or knocked on wood to prevent a bad thing from happening?

Every time you ask for that parking place and get it, every time you make your special chicken soup to help cure someone, you perform magick.  When you make that soup you ad your own special ingredients.  (We know you've got your own trademarked recipe!) And you put your own loving energy into the soup's preparation, your hope that your friend or child or uncle will feel better.  The sick person eats the soup and feels better.  That is magick.

Absolutely correct!  Magick isn't anything special, it's just ordinary stuff that happens!  I see it all the time.  You know, I just stuck my finger up my nose, and when I pulled it out, voila!  A magical gift from the universe! .... I would have preferred money... but I guess this is alright... in it's own way...


Hey, want a free domain name and some web space?  Listen, I know a guy... he can set you up real good.  His name's Steve, and he's offering a selection of free domain names along with webspace for skeptical webmasters.  He's got a list of domain names available, mostly atheist themed such as nonprophetatheism.com - that's prophet spelled P R O P H E T.  If he likes the cut of your jib, he'll just hand over the domain and some webspace for you to use as you see fit.  I got him to give me invisibleskymonster.com - I really like that domain name because "Invisible Sky Monster" can be a metaphor for any claim that's so wrapped up in special pleading that it can't be empirically tested.  You can use it in conversation.  If you see a guy claiming that his psychic abilities will only work when there's nobody skeptical nearby running actual tests and sending out negative vibes, you can turn to the person you're with and say "Wow, that's just one huge invisible sky monster!"

Maybe we can shorten it to make it edgy - "Wow, that's one huge ISM!"  It's certain to be the next big thing in skeptical lingo!  I'm sure it'll catch on!

I'm still figuring out exactly what I want to do with the website, but I've come up with a basic design and uploaded a temporary page to let people know that I'm working on it.

Anyway, visit Steve at skeptichosting.com and send him a message if you're interested in his services.  If you're not an expert webmaster, don't despair.  You'll get a selection of numerous pre-set applications to choose from such as blogs and forums that can be automatically installed in just a few mouse clicks.  Steve provides hosting services for such well known websites as Skepchick and the Skeptic Wiki, so you know that you're in good hands.  If you'd like a shot at doing something interesting with a free website and domain name, talk to Steve, he can set you up with everything you need.

And now it's time for the Dumbass Book Club!  The Dumbass Book Club is brought to you by Audible.com, one of my favourite places on the Internet!  I've found so many wonderful books on Audible, and they're so convenient to listen to as I'm doing chores or running errands.  With Audible, you can learn many interesting things during times when reading an actual book would be impractical.

Audible has over 85,000 titles available, and it is compatible with the Apple iPod and over 500 other MP3 players.  Right now you can get a special 14 day trial offer including 1 credit that you can use to download a free audiobook.  This offer isn't available on the audible.com homepage.  To take advantage of this offer, go to audibletrial.com/dumbassguide

Last time I advised members to keep on checking back at the Audible.com website for special sales that they regularly feature.  Well, right now they're advertising a 30% off sale for members on selected books.  You could find some really good deals.  And let me give you a little extra pointer: if you're on a plan where you get credits every month, and you want to make the most of your money, then pay attention to how much your credits cost.  Most books can be bought for only one credit, and depending on your plan, a credit is worth about twelve to fourteen dollars.  If you see a book, even on sale, for significantly over that amount, then you might want to consider using your credits to buy it instead of money.

This episode's book club pick is Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.  This book changed the way I think about cognitive dissonance.  There's more to it than just the mental gymnastics people go through in order to justify their actions or beliefs.  It's about a conflict between our internal views of ourselves and the world and the facts, and how it's often so much easier to let our internal views win out.  The more our views of ourselves are validated in this manner, the harder it is to accept any facts, no matter how glaring, that run counter to those views.  It's a fascinating book, and I'm sure you'll love it.

If you've already got your Audible.com account, I'm including a link in the show page that will take you right to the page for this book, and it will let Audible know that I sent you.

AUDIOBOOK LINK

And keep in mind the book that I recommended last time, The Invisible Gorilla, also a wonderful book that you will find hard to put down.

AUDIOBOOK LINK

So now it's time to wrap up the show.  Thank you all for listening!  If you enjoyed the show... or even if you didn't, write me a glowing review on iTunes.  Yes, I know the show sucks... but you're not hooked up to a lie detector here!  Just say that my show is better than sex and chocolate combined.  Consider it a practical joke, imagine the disappointed faces of all the people who will believe you and decide to have a listen.

I love getting your emails, so if you have anything to say please send me a message at *EMAIL*.  I'm looking forward to hearing from you.  And if you feel generous, why not donate to the show to help keep me going?  You can PayPal the money to *EMAIL*, or use the donate button on the website, www.dumbassguide.info.  My theme music is "My Monkey" by Jonathan Coulton, check him out at jonathancoulton.com.  I'll catch you next time on The Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge.



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