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Podcast > Monday, 30 May 2011 19:09:56 EST

Dumbass Podcast #6: Ancient Aliens Part 3

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


In this episode, I make some new friends in the skeptical podcast and blogging community, I take a look at more claims from ancient aliens theorists, answer some comments, and recommend a book in the Dumbass Book Club

Links/Topics Mentioned In The Show
The CDC's Warning About The Zombie Apocalypse
Skeprechauns
LSAT Logic In Everyday Life
Warning Radio
Mike Bohler's Blog
Friend Of Reason
The Preacher And The Skeptic
Planet Japan Podcast
The Kebra Nagast
Text Of The Kebra Nagast
History Of Depictions Of Antarctica
Orontius Finnaeus
Mercator
Map Projections
Blumrich's Measurements
Special Audible Free Trial Deal
Charlattan by Pope Brock
Theme Music from Jonathancoulton.com
Other Music from Danosongs.com

Images Referenced (Also Embedded In Transcript Text)
Map Of Monte Alban
Cover Of Blumrich's Book
Depiction Of Ezekiel Craft In Temple

Enjoy the show!  Here's the transcript:

Hello and welcome to the sixth episode of the Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge.  In todayís episode, I talk about current events and plug a few podcasts and blogs, then I go over my third installment analyzing the Ancient Aliens show, and finally I read listener comments and do the Dumbass book club thing.  Should be fun!

But first I should acknowledge some serious business.  Iím preparing this episode on the 22nd of May, 2011, and as you all no doubt know, the apocalypse was yesterday.  I donít know when Iíll be able to get this out to you, or how many of you are even still alive, but if youíre listening to this, hang in there!  I havenít yet worked up the nerve to look out my window at the post apocalyptic wasteland outside, nor have I turned on the news.  It will only depress me.  But I can be certain of one thing, the appocalypse did occur.  Thereís no possibility that they were wrong, after all, they had billboards.

Iíd been wondering what kind of apocalypse to expect, and I think Iíve figured out now that itís a zombie apocalypse.  The CDC has been warning about that possibility, and it was pretty much confirmed when I heard the sounds of a zombie attack from a nearby apartment.  There was... a lot of moaning... and... rhythmic thumping.... the human skull is pretty thick so zombies have to bash at it for a little while before feasting on the sweet sweet brains inside.  There was a lot of screaming for God, and in the end there was a... a final climactic scream of terror... and then... all was silent... *CHOKE UP*... Iím sorry, itís all really overwhelming to talk about.  I was just curled up in the fetal position in a corner with my hands over my ears the whole time.

Anyway, thereís no sense dwelling on this.  I must keep a positive attitude!  As you all out there face the zombie hordes and dodge fireballs from the heavens, maybe this podcast can help you pass the time until your certain demise and make the end of the world just a little more enjoyable for you.  So keep your chin up and your shot gun at the ready, and letís get down to business!

You may remember from the last episode that Iíve been on the lookout for interesting small corners of the skeptical community.  Skeptical blogs and podcasts that are a part of the so-called long tail of popularity.  Iíve got a number of really interesting ones here that Iíd like to plug.

First I want to mention a few podcasts.  Iíll start with a podcast from Ireland called Skeprechauns.  Get it?  Because theyíre skeptics from Ireland... where the leprechauns live!  Right about now I imagine that zombie leprechauns are running amok in the Irish countryside.  Of course, we all know thatthe only defense against zombie leprechauns is to stand out in a field taking slices out of bars of soap with a pen knife.  They canít stand the smell of the lasting fresh scent of Irish Springs.  Hang in there Skeprechauns!

The last Skeprechauns podcast was in December, when they hinted that they had big plans for 2011.  Those appear to have fallen through though.  I managed to get a hold of Rebecca OíNeil by email, and she tells me that they have plans to start things back up again, but there are some difficulties and she canít give me a date.  There are eight episodes of Skeprechauns available, itís basically a free flowing discussion about skeptical matters.  I hope that Rebecca manages to get everything set up again so that we can hear more episodes, Iíve really enjoyed all the episodes so far.  You can find their episodes on iTunes or by going to skepticireland.com

Another podcast I want to mention is called LSAT Logic In Everyday Life.  The episodes are very short, and theyíre intended to help students who are preparing to take the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test.  The test features questions that test studentsí logic and reasoning skills, and this podcast is meant to help students develop a more logical mindset by applying LSAT style logic to contemporary issues.  I love how the theme for the podcast sounds like some sort of self help tape.

Oh Andrew Brody!  You had me hooked from word one!  Are you handling yourself well in these end times?  Where have you been?  There hasnít been a new episode of LSAT Logic since May 13, 2010, a little over a year ago now.  I think we can safely call this podcast abandoned, but there are 117 archived episodes available that apply logic to a variety of issues and I highly recommend giving them a listen.  The podcast is put out by princetonreview.com, and Iíll post a link to the RSS feed in the show transcript.  Itís also available on iTunes.

The third podcast I want to recommend is actually still in operation.  I got a message a little over a month ago from Bryan from Warning Radio, who spells his name with a Y because itís cool and it differentiates him from all those other Brians who spell their names with an I.  PFFFT!  Losers!

Bryan says that he likes the Dumbasses Guide and invited me to be on his show.  He does a live feed with his partner Baxter on monday nights at 9pm Eastern.  Iím scheduled to come on the show on May 30th.  Itís a great show, pretty informal and off the cuff.  Theyíve lined up some pretty impressive guests though, heavy hitters in the skeptical community such as D. J. Groethe, Karen Stollznow, and and Joe Nickell, amongst others.  Iím not sure if you could call it a small time podcast or not.  Iíd never heard of it before a month ago, but of course that means absolutely nothing.  In any case, they donít update their podcast feed regularly, so itís usually a good idea to listen to them live.  Iíve been trying to do so for the past few weeks, but things keep on interrupting during that time and I never catch the whole episode.

Me and Bryan have an interesting way of communicating.  I ask him a question over email, then I wait a week and tune in live to his show where he notices me in the chat room and gives me his reply directly.  Three weeks ago he told me that he would put their latest episodes up on the website the next day.  Thereís no sign of that yet, so we know that heís a damn dirty liar.  But thatís okay, after all, he spells his name with a Y.

A small number of Warning Radio episodes are available on iTunes, and you can listen to them live on Monday nights at 9pm eastern by going to warningradio.info.  Itís a very informal show, and itís a lot of fun to listen to.

Now I want to plug a few blogs.  I got an email from one Mike Bohler, who has a small skeptical blog at mikebohler, spelled m i k e b o h l e r .com/blog1.  Mikeís an electrical design engineer who writes in his blog when he gets some spare time.  He heard my request for interesting websites to check out and suggested his own.  Iím happy to add his blog to the list.

Thereís also the Friend Of Reason blog operated by my Australian friend Christian Polson-Brown.  Iíve commented before that Christianís experience at starting a skeptical blog shared some similarities with mine, so Iíve called him my Australian twin.  Somehow, he failed to take that as an insult.  Christianís a busy university student though and he hasnít blogged since September of 2010, but his articles are well worth reading and you can see them at friendofreason.wordpress.com.

Finally, I want to plug a very interesting blog maintained by my friend, noted raquonteur and man-about-town Doug Delong.  Dougís an American living in Japan.  Heís an atheist and a skeptic who met a fundamentalist Christian preacher from America also living in Japan.  And so now the burning question on everybodyís mind is ďCan these two diametrically opposed personalities share an apartment without driving each other crazy?Ē Find out in the new fall show ďThe Preacher And The SkepticĒ *The Odd Couple Theme*

Wait wait... wait a minute, thatís not right.... sorry about that folks, sometimes I have these little episodes where I start seeing the world in terms of sitcoms from the 70Ďs and 80Ďs.  ďThe Preacher And The SkepticĒ is actually a blog where Doug and the Preacher pick issues to debate back and forth with each other.  In their most recent debate, the Preacher contends that Planned Parenthood has a hidden racist agenda.  Oh that crazy preacher! *laugh track*

Dougís plugged my blog before on his Planet Japan podcast, which isnít devoted to skepticism but itís certainly worth a listen.  It can be found on planetjapan.org, and the ďPreacher And The SkepticĒ blog is at preacherandskeptic.blogspot.com


And now, a quote from a message to prospective students from Raymond Edge, Dean of the Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine.  On the collegeís website, Dean writes:

homeopathy is the only western medical system recognizing the spiritual nature of man and the importance of our life force in regulating and balancing all sensation and function of the body. When that life force is disturbed in some way, sickness results and health can only be regained by addressing that disturbance with specially-prepared homeopathic remedies capable of resonating with the life force and influencing it to heal.

Iím one hundred percent with you Raymond!  Homeopathy *IS* the only method of restoring health to sick people.  Western medicine is completely useless!  They think they can help people by actually understanding how the body works and using science!  Well excuuuuuse me modern science if I prefer to put my trust in magic water!  Magic was around long before your puny science, so fear it scientists!  Expelliarmus!!  Confundus!!  Crucio!!!


Itís Ancient Aliens time again.  This will be my third episode where I cover one of my installments analyzing the show.  According to the introduction to this segment, the topic is about an ancient worldwide communications network.

In the twenty first century, modern transportation and communication methods have connected the world like never before.  Products and ideas, no matter where in the world they may have originated, can spread to even the most remote countries.  A Hip-Hop hit in Brooklyn might make it big in Tokyo before itís even heard in Manhattan.  This cultural interconnection has transformed the globe.  But is it new?

Donít be fooled, except for the introduction, this segment has nothing to do with worldwide communications.  Itís basically just part 3 of the claims about ancient flying machines.  The narrator goes on to briefly mention similarities between ancient cultures for the first, and last time:

Mainstream archeologists believe ancient civilizations such as those found in the remote Pacific islands, Asia, and South America developed independently from each other.  But ancient astronaut  theorists contend that similarities in building styles and beliefs found in these cultures suggest that a world wide trade route may have connected them to each other.

There isnít much discussion in the rest of this segment about similarities in building styles or beliefs.  I'll just point out here that this talk of similarities is basically people seeing what they want to see.  No mainstream archeologist would mistake the building style of one culture for that of another.  Cultural beliefs also tend to be very distinct from one another.

Ancient alien theorists basically look for shallow surface similarities and say "case closed!".  Pyramids, for example, were a popular building structure.... so they must have all been in contact with one another!  Well.... except that when you're building with stone, a pyramid structure is basically the most stable structure you can build, so it kind of makes sense that it would be developed by stone age cultures.

But this segment doesn't dwell on that, so I won't either.  The first talking head we're subjected to in this segment is our old friend David Childress, author of "Technology Of The Gods":

Just like we have airports today around the world,  in ancient times with the Vimanas there would have been hangars for the craft, airports for them to land... and those airports would have been situated in strategic places around the world.  And thatís exactly what we see in remote places.

Hold on a second there Childress, if these places are so remote, how do you contend that they were also strategic?  Why would your airports tend to be built in remote locations?

If people were flying around in Vimanas, wouldn't you expect to find most of the evidence for ancient airports near to major cities?  Certainly there may be some locations that are remote today that would have been more important in the ancient past.  But there are so many more cities today that are in the same location as their ancient counterparts.  Wouldn't you expect to find more evidence of ancient airports close to modern cities, rather than out in remote locations?

Childress continues:

One of the unusual archeological sites in Mexico is a place called Monte Alban.  That is also a mountain where  the top of the mountain was completely cut off and leveled to make a very flat tabletop mountain.  And there's a magalythic city there too that's extremely old.  This was probably some kind of Vimana airport.

Hereís what Iíd like to know: Who the hell levels the top of a mountain just to build an airport?

What reason is there, exactly, to suspect that the top of this mountain was an airport?  Childress doesn't explain himself here.  I'm guessing his thought process is something along the lines of: Leveling the top of a mountain is an impressive achievement.  Therefore it's purpose is probably really impressive as well.  What's more impressive than an airport for ancient Vimanas?

You run into this kind of thinking all the time.  People find it hard to accept that large, impressive events or artifacts can have simple causes.  The assassination of J.F.K was such an important event... and yet it was caused by some small time nutjob?   To many people, it's counter-intuitive to believe that big results can have anything but big causes.

In any case, I've been poring over information about Monte Alban, and I can't find any indication that it was ever used as an airport.  Certainly, it's layout doesn't seem to resemble an airport in any way.  There donít seem to be any runways or any kind of logical setup for receiving passengers.  Check out the show transcript for a map of the site.

Map of Monte Alban

There are some very simple reasons why ancient people might want to level off the top of a mountain and build there.  To make an airport isn't one of them.  Just off the top of my head, the top of a mountain is a good place to build for defensive reasons.  It's always best to control the high ground.

In any case, Monte Alban was founded somewhere around 500 BC.  That makes it a contemporary of ancient Rome.  If there was a worldwide network of Vimana air travel at this time, we'd certainly expect that the ancient Romans took part in it, wouldn't we?

We have tons of writings from ancient Rome, but not a single document outside of folklore ever mentions air travel.  No Roman official ever wrote about heading down to Monte Alban for the weekend.  Nobody ever showed any sign that they even knew that North America existed.

If this was truly an ancient travel network that connected far flung civilizations, you would expect there to be a whole lot of documentation to back it up.  Instead, as we shall see, the ancient aliens theorists only have folklore and fairy tales.

Case in point, we now move on to the Kebra Nagast:

According to the Kebra Nagast, a holy book of the Ethiopians, written sometime before the second century A.D., the queen of Sheba was once given the gift of a flying carpet by King Solomon of Israel.  

Awesome!  Flying Carpets!  Now let's see which talking head is up next.... Excellent, it's Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, publisher of Legendary Times Magazine, he's always good for a laugh!

The Kebra Nagast is one of the most important texts you've never heard of.   The Kebra Nagast means 'The Book Of Kings', and it is the most sacred book of the Ethiopians.  In it, King Solomon is described, he had access to some type of flying machine.  And in that part of the world, the term 'flying carpet' was always used very liberally.  My question is did they really mean actual flying carpets? or was it another term with which to describe some type of flying machine?

The term 'flying carpet' has been used liberally in that part of the world?  In what way?  I've been researching all the documentation I can find on magic carpets and their history in legend.... I have yet to find any indication that the term has ever referred to anything other than a carpet that has the magical power of flight.

I would certainly be interested in knowing how the term has ever been used to describe something other than this classical interpretation.

The Kebra Nagast clearly describes the carpet in question as a "magical carpet of green silk", and it further states that "a vast army of birds of every kind kept flying over the carpet to protect its occupants from the heat of the sun."

If this carpet is, in fact, an enclosed Vimana aircraft, why would this kind of ad-hoc system need to be put in place to shade it?  The story makes no sense if you assume that this is a description of an advanced flying machine.  But it makes perfect sense in it's own context as a mythical tale.

Tsoukalos here wants to pick and choose what parts of this story to accept, and writes the rest off as fantasy.  He accepts that this is a description of a flying object.... but the fact that it's described as being made out of green silk is probably mythical.  He has no basis on which to accept one part of the description but dismiss the other.... but he does so anyway.

In any case, the show moves on from here to briefly talk about ancient maps that the Ancient Aliens theorists believe have unusual properties.  Our next talking head is Graham Hancock, author of "Fingerprints Of The Gods":

Some of these maps show the world not as it looks today, but as it looked during the last ice age.  And this is really hard to explain.

Hmmm... yes... very hard to explain.  I've got one for you that's even harder to explain: Why the hell would alien visitors be in the habit of handing out maps to humans that represent the Earth as it looked during the last ice age?

"Here you go my friend!  This map will be of no use to you whatsoever.... but your descendants will surely get a kick out of it!"

Everybody's heard of the Piri Reis map, but they've perhaps not heard of the Orontius Finnaeus map or the Mercator maps that show Antarctica in great detail hundreds of years before Antarctica was even discovered.

As it turns out, this is just not true.  At least not in the way that Hancock explains it.

Ancient maps often used to show something in the area where we know Antarctica to be today.  The landmass depicted certainly did not correspond very well to Antarctica at all.  There was no "great detail" in these maps, no real consistency with the landmass we now know as Antarctica.

It only takes a little bit of research to understand what's going on here.  The idea that there was some kind of land in the general area of Antarctica dates back to the time of Ptolemy.  Ptolemy believed that such a land mass was necessary in order to balance out all the other land masses on Earth.

His reasoning may have been in error, but it turns out that his conclusion was correct.  And it was a popular enough meme that cartographers got into the habit of drawing a land mass in that area.

Some people look at these ancient maps and manage to find small areas that seem to roughly correspond to actual features of Antarctica.  It's pure cartographical pariedolia.  It's never an actual cartographer who's making these connections.  Instead it's people who have no experience with or knowledge of the subject.

Hancock mentions Orontius Finnaeus and Mercator, each of whom created a form of map projection in the 1500's.   A map projection is a system that attempts to create a two dimensional representation of a section of our spherical planet.

It's complicated work, and it necessarily leads to certain distortions.  For example, in the Mercator maps, Greenland is shown as having roughly the same amount of land mass as the entire continent of Africa.  When you have distortions like that, small features from the source maps can be greatly enhanced.  It makes for a treasure trove of possible spurious combinations and correlations that can easily mislead people who don't know what they're doing.

In any case, the show quickly moves on from the topic of maps in order to discuss the Bible.  Specifically Ezekiel.

In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet describes a flying chariot containing wheels within wheels and powered  by angels.  Although Bible historians suggest Ezekiel was speaking symbolically about the terrifying enemies facing Israel, could this be another example of an alien visitation and proof that prehistoric aircraft existed?

Here's Jonathan Young PH.D, founding curator of the Joseph Campbell archives:

In the story of Ezekiel's throne chariot, this flying vehicle that doesn't seem to have any means of propulsion. If we thought of the word "Angel" as representing something like celestial energy, it sounds much more like a spacecraft then because some of the angels are going back and forth... well, that sounds like flames, that sounds like propulsion.  Some of them are wheel-like, well that sounds like flying saucers.

..... Yeah, sure, makes perfect sense to me!  If I think of the word ďAngel" as representing celestial energy, then of course this is a spacecraft!  And if I think of the term "discarded scrap paper" as representing hundred dollar bills, I can raid my waste basket right now and instantly become incredibly rich!  This is awesome!  All my money troubles are over!!

Since when is making convenient substitutions just because you feel like it a valid practice in biblical scholarship?  Mr. Young has made no attempt to understand the book of Ezekiel in it's own context.  Instead, he's forcing it into his own context and ideas without any cause for doing so.

And now Tsoukalos comes back into the picture.  I was wondering when we'd see him again.

Ezekiel saw something that was so frightening to him that he fell to his knees.  Then, out of the glory of God, came this being in these bright clothes that looked like metal and told Ezekiel "Alright, man, we brought you here, we want you to measure this monument, this building, and Ezekiel asks 'well, why should I do this?' and the being says 'that's why we brought you here.'  And then you have 40 pages in the second part of the book of Ezekiel with measurement after measurement after measurement of this gigantic building, in which, by the way, the glory of the Lord landed.

You skipped a whole heck of a lot of Ezekiel there, didn't you Tsoukalos?  Like pretty much the majority of the book?

The time between when Ezekiel first meets God and when he's given the measurements of the temple is about 25 years.  God spends the previous 39 chapters whining about how he's mad at the people of Israel and how he's going to do such nasty things to them, and asking Ezekiel to perform strange tasks like cooking with human feces as a fuel source, and staging a miniature mock battle of Jerusalem with a brick, some poles, and an iron pan.

If this was actually not God, but an alien, as Tsoukalos believes.... then what the hell was this alien up to??

Is he just playing a prank on Ezekiel?  Is he watching just out of sight and calling his friends over to see what he's convinced this poor human to do?

"Look at this you guys!  I can't believe that he's actually doing it!  Hold on, watch this... I'm going to insult his people at length to his face and he can't do anything about it!"

The story just makes absolutely no sense if we assume that this is an alien.  It only makes sense in it's own context as a religious story trying to make a point.

But in spite of the absolute nonsensical nature of the claim, the show continues on with this topic.  We're told of a NASA engineer named Joseph Blumrich.  In the early 70's he wasn't convinced that what Ezekiel saw was a spaceship... so he went ahead and tried to re-create it.  In the process he managed to convince himself that what Ezekiel saw really was a spaceship, and he wrote a book about it.

The Spaceships Of Ezekiel

He basically interpreted the story by changing or discarding any part of the description that didn't fit in with the spaceship hypothesis, and making a whole bunch of unwarranted assumptions.  In the end he created a model of a ship tha looked kind of like the Lunar Lander with helicopter blades on itís legs.  Check the show transcript for images.

A few years later, we're told, a German structural engineer named Hans Herbert Bayer decided to make a blueprint for the temple in Ezekiel based on the measurements in the book.  Inside the temple complex there's an open top building which Tsoukalos contends was meant to hold the alien's ship.

His big proof of this is the fact that Blumrich's ship model fits into the area of contention very well. 

Ezekiel's Spaceship In Hangar

As Tsoukalos explains:

So what we have here is a proof by indication.  Here we have a NASA engineer and a structural engineer.  They didn't know of each other's work, and both pieces fit together like a puzzle.  In any court of law, that's evidence that would hold up.

This statement just flabbergasts me every time I hear it.  Of course the pieces fit together!  Both Blumrich and Bayer were working off of the same measurements!  Blumrich designed his ship so that it would fit into the temple described in Ezekiel.  If it didnít fit, it would mean that either Blumrich or Bayer or both measured something wrong!

Tsoukalos, I completely believe you when you tell me that they didnít know of each others work!  Blumrich didnít need Bayerís model in order to make a ship that would fit, the measurements he needed are right there in Ezekiel!

Say, how come this picture I took fits so perfectly into this picture frame I bought when the designers of neither had any contact with the other?  Could it be aliens?  Or are they just working off of the same measurements?....  Hmmmm... must be the aliens.

Tsoukalos seems to have huge blinders preventing him from seeing anything that doesn't fit in with his narrative.  He's basically got no case here, but he seems to believe that this is iron clad.

Iíll let you be the judge of that.  For now, this is the last claim in this section of the Ancient Aliens show.


And now, another quote from a message to prospective students by Raymond Edge, dean of the Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine:

Now, many years later, the interest in homeopathy is stronger than ever.  Regulation of the profession in Ontario gives us greater credibility and this is attracting very motivated, passionate individuals who are determined to follow a meaningful and fulfilling profession that offers such hope to so many.

Today I consider myself very fortunate to be able to indulge my two passions Ė music and homeopathy.

I recently recorded a CD of original songs which has generated much interest and airplay. One of my songs is the backdrop to our College website video.  Go to www.rayedge.com to hear more.

Raymond, youíre a maverick!  Using a message to prospective students of your institution to plug your side projects?  Thatís genius!!  Why do we never hear the head of Harvard encouraging prospective students to check out his weekend ventrilloquism act?  Youíve hit on something golden here Ray, this will catch on like wild fire!  Itís professionalism at itís best I tell you!

 
Time for emails and comments!  First off, Iíve got a new iTunes review, and the podcast has finally received enough ratings for iTunes to produce an average.  Apparently they only need five, but the average among my five ratings is 5 stars.  Awesome!

The new review comes from a user named Mark 111z, who gave the show 5 stars and writes:

Very funny but also quite informative. And he sources his material, which I very much appreciate. He is a little needy, though.

..... Needy?  What the hell are you talking about Mark?  This is just ridiculous, I canít believe youíd even.... you know what, itís not worth going into. You basically liked the show, so I can live with a little criticism, as absurd as that criticism may be.

Okay, moving on, my next..... Okay, Mark, look.... Iím sorry I got angry at you there, I didnít mean anything by it.  Weíre still good, right?  You still like me.... right?  .... I.... Iíll be your friend!

To be serious though, I have to admit that this podcast never comes out sounding exactly as I picture it when Iím writing this stuff.  I imagine myself speaking with the wit and the smooth voice of a Brian Thompson and the informative flair of a Brian Dunning, two Brians who spell their names with an I but whose talents more than compensate for this flaw.  Then I listen to the results of my efforts and it turns out that I donít measure up to either of them, but thatís okay.  Iím just having fun doing my own thing.

I tried to guess exactly what part of the show Mark thought was needy.  Did it seem like I was looking for validation when I talked about myself in the last episode?  Did he think that I asked people to contact me a little too often?  I donít know, but I realize that people wonít necessarily perceive things as I would like them to.  A paragraph that I intended to be funny might, to some, mark me as a complete loser.  Youíve got to make peace with that when youíre doing something like putting out a podcast, otherwise youíll be constantly second guessing yourself and talking in a way that shows your embarrassment, causing everybody else to feel more embarrassed for you than if youíd just spoken clearly and unabashedly made a fool of yourself in the first place.

The Amazing Randi was on The Skepticís Guide podcast just recently talking about something similar, which is further proof of my psychic connection to that show.  You still owe me a million dollars, Randi!  Anyway, Randi was talking about how he once decided to film his performance, and began noticing little things that he wasnít aware of that affected the audience in ways he hadnít intended.  It began to make him feel very self conscious and messed with his ability to perform confidently.

So if any of you think I come off as being a little needy, Iím okay with that.  In a way youíre right, I *am* kind of needy.  I crave your validation.  Just like anybody whoís ever performed anything anywhere, I want to know that my audience appreciates it.  Even if my audience does just consist of two guys and a chihuahua.   So write me a glowing review on iTunes, post a comment on my blog, or send me an email at *EMAIL*.  I want to connect with you guys.

So please talk to me.  Iíll be ever so nice!  Iím so lonely.... and there are wolves... *HOWLING*

Moving on, thereís one comment that I got on my blog just the other day that I have to go over here.  Once in a while I come across some comment placed by a user thatís just so perfectly absurd that I wonder whether it was done intentionally just in order to mess with me.  But itís so hard to know, reality can so often mimic satire that I usually just have to just take this kind of thing at face value and assume that the person is serious.  But either way this is a masterpiece of a message. 

It was written by a user named Kris.z - thatís Kris spelled with  K - in the comment section for my second podcast, the first one in which I talked about Ancient Aliens.  She entitled her comment ďWooww".  It starts off as follows, and this is all one sentence:

For you to say that those don't look like jets your smoking something these are ancient times if ancient people saw planes of course they would interpret it as a bird they didn't understand what they saw so they merely used assumption and tried to explain what they saw.

Iíve talked about this notion of the Tolima artifacts and their resemblances to airplanes several times, and I think I difinitively laid the issue to rest in the last podcast.  If anybody still disagrees with me after that, then I donít know what else to say.

One really strange part of this comment is when Kris talks about people interpreting planes as birds.  Itís strange because there was absolutely no talk in the episode, or my analysis of it, of anybody misinterpreting an airplane as a bird.  The Saqqara bird was claimed to be a model of a wooden glider that the Egyptians flew around in.  If the Egyptians did use such devices, they wouldnít have been confused by them, thinking that they were actual birds.  And nobody claimed that the Tolima artifacts looked like birds in any way at all.  So whereís that coming from?

But this argument does wonderfully illustrate a sort of strange way of thinking about our ancestors that Iíve seen a lot of.  According to this mindset, itís okay to re-interpret ancient documents to say what we want them to say because these ancient people were probably just confused.  They had no idea what they were looking at, and so they just came up with an object that kind of resembled what they saw and concluded that thatís what they were seeing.

But think about it, have you ever known anybody whoís ever described an unknown object this way?  Even when people describe UFO experiences that theyíve had, they say things like ďI saw a cigar-shaped object in the skyĒ.  You never hear them say ďAnd then I saw a giant flying cigar!Ē

Letís look back for a second at the story of Ezekiel that I was talking about earlier.  If youíre near a computer, go to the show page at dumbassguide.info and have a look at the model of the craft that Blumrich believes is an accurate description of what Ezekiel saw.  Looks kind of like a top standing on wheeled columns with helicopter blades.  But then look at what it actually says in the book of Ezekiel, Iíll summarize some of it for you here.  Those four wheeled pillars with helicopter blades are based on a description in Ezikiel of four creatures, each had four faces and four wings.  Their feet were like hoves and they sparkled like metal.  Under each wing was a human hand.  For their four faces, they each had a human face to the front, a lionís face on the right, a bullís face on the left, and an eagleís face on the back.  And they glowed like the coals of a fire.

Now, do you see anything in Blumrichís model that would make you think of four faces, a human, a lion, a bull, and an eagle?  Do you see anything in this model that looks like a human hand?  You canít just pick and choose which details of the description you want to accept and discard all the rest.  You need to have some sort of criteria, and it canít be just to accept everything that fits with your theory and ignore everything else.

I want to play you a few minutes of a talk given by Michael Heisser, a historian with some expertise in biblical languages.  He explains that Ezekiel was perfectly capable of describing objects by comparing them to other objects without implying that those objects *were* the objects they were being compared to:

Verse four he says ďI looked and lo a stormy wind came sweeping out of the north.  A huge cloud and flashing fire surrounded by a radiance.  And in the center of it, the center of the fire a gleam as of amber.Ē

Now we have to assume at this early point that Ezekiel saw a cloud glowing within, since Hebrew has a word for Ďcloudí and itís used here.  Just a generic word for ďcloudĒ.  He *could* have said ďsilver discĒ or ďsilver circleĒ, but he doesnít.  Hebrew has words for ďsilverĒ, for ďdiscĒ, for ďroundĒ, for ďwindowĒ, even for ďlittle people in windowĒ *laughter*

I mean all these things a Hebrew writer in the sixth century could have just said it!  They have the words.  All youíve got to do is buy a Hebrew grammar and look at the index and the words are there.  Buy a guide to Hebrew vocabulary, itís very simple I mean if youíve got a computer program you can do it even faster.  He has the words in his vocabulary but does not use them.  Doesnít use any of them, in fact, in the entire chapter.  So people who want to include these elements in the vision are doing just that.  Exactly that, theyíre putting them in for Ezekiel. 

Heisser goes on to read the description from Ezekiel of the beings with four faces, and then continues:

So at this point, we see the beings here, and here are the relevant features:  They have a human or humanoid appearance, at least partially.  Four animal faces, four wings, two touching each other and two covering their bodies.  Their legs were fused into a straight leg, their feet were like calfs feet.  It was sparkling like bronze, again itís just some kind of sparkly material, and they had human hands.  Now my question initially here is do these creatures resemble any UFO occupants in the literature?  Do they resemble any craft component?  I think itís pretty obvious the answer to both is no. 

Remember for deep space travel and the necessary velocity and/or hyperspace capability we canít have the lunar module, or flying animals for that matter.  Iíve seen pictures of this, people drawing the lunar module.  Well, Iím sorry but the lunar module just will not do interstellar travel. 

Note that while Ezekiel does use the word ďlikeĒ a lot, and he could therefore be searching for ways to describe what he sees, he does not say that the creatures looked ďlikeĒ animals.  He clearly identifies each animal face.  So the old argument that ďWell, Ezekielís just so overwhelmed with this alien that heís like 'well, how do I figure out how to describe this guy?  heís like this, heís like thatíĒ... thatís not what he does.  He clearly says it was a cherubim and that there were four of them.  He knows what cherubim are.  Why?  Because practically everywhere you go in the ancient world you run into them in the artwork. 

Theyíre cherubim and here are the kinds of faces they had.  He clearly identifies each face.  Heís not struggling for words here

Heisser sums up what Iíve been saying on this perfectly.  Our ancestors from biblical times were just as intelligent and coherent in their speech as we are today.  Assuming that they didnít know what they were talking about and making substitutions just because theyíre convenient to some pet theory is not a valid way of understanding any text in itís own context.

Anyway, back to the comment, Kris continues:

There is a gap in human history and evolution isn't the answer obviously considering cro-magnons and Neanderthals and modern man were all living at the same time so we clearly didn't evolve from them and if we had languages and societies how do we not understand what or where we came from our human time on the earth is about one blade of grass on a football field

This is a new sentence, but we havenít reached the end of it yet.  The whole thing comes right out of nowhere.  I never once even mentioned evolution in any of my Ancient Aliens articles.  Youíd think somebody complaining about something Iíve said or written should focus on the subjects Iíd actually covered.  At least in the first message.

Anyway, Kris is confused about a few things here.  First of all, cro-magnons are not a different creature than modern man.  Cro-magnon is just what we call the very earliest examples of fully modern humans, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.  Second, regarding Neanderthals, nobodyís claiming that we evolved from them any more than theyíre claiming that lions evolved from tigers.  Neanderthals were our cousins, not our ancestors.  Species branch off and take different evolutionary paths, and there can be many cousin species living at the same time.  And evolution isnít a steady and inexorable march forward.  Itís even possible for one group to evolve drastically while another barely changes, so itís entirely plausible for a group of creatures to live at the same time as a lineage of itís ancestor species.

Kris talks of a ďgap in human historyĒ, and mentions that ďour human time on the earth is about one blade of grass on a football fieldĒ.  I assume she just worded that last part very poorly, because it sounds like sheís talking about an individual human life compared to the history of the Earth, and that makes no sense in this context.  What I think sheís trying to get at here is the fact that for most of the history of our species, nothing really changed.  Itís only been in the past small sliver of time that weíve developed agriculture, cities, writing, and all that good stuff thatís allowed us to be so successful.

The ďgapĒ that sheís talking about probably refers to the fact that we donít fully understand exactly what changed and allowed all this innovation to take place.  Kris is invoking a ďGod-of-the-gapsĒ argument here, though in this case itís the Alien Of The Gap.  Wheras a religious person might look at something we donít yet understand and say ďGod did it!Ē, Ancient Alien theorists look at something we donít understand and yell ďAliens did it!Ē  It all amounts to exactly the same thing.

But this fact about the history of our species doesnít require any hand-waving god-of-the-gaps explanation.  Nature is replete with examples of systems that are stable for long periods of time until they reach some sort of a tipping point and start to change very quickly.  In the case of human culture, we donít know exactly what that tipping point was, but thereís no reason to suspect that aliens had anything to do with it.

Anyway, Kris writes on.  This is still part of the same sentence, and itís not yet over:

you should do more research on these subjects before you try to disprove scholars that have been to these ancient sites and witnessed the power of the ancient technology

Well Kris, you should address the research that Iíve done and show me where I got my facts wrong.  I wouldnít say that Iíve tried to disprove these ďscholarsĒ.  In many cases, Iíve succeeded in disproving them with actual facts that show that the claims theyíre making are just wrong.  Iím not just giving my opinion here, Iím factually proving that the things they say are just wrong.  And in cases where the facts are less tangible, I think Iíve at least managed to show that their contentions donít hold up to scrutiny.  If you want to show that Iím actually the one whoís wrong, then youíre going to have to show me where Iíve made some sort of factual mistake.

Iíll grant you that I havenít been to these ancient sites, but plenty of archaeologists actually have, and theyíre not convinced that aliens had anything to do with them.  Iíve never seen an actual expert in these ancient civilizations on the Ancient Aliens show coming out in favour of this theory.  Itís mostly people whoíve written books or who work in other fields.

By your own logic, shouldnít *they* be the ones who need to do more research before they try to disprove scholars who have actually studied these ancient civilizations in college and who have years or even decades of experience in the field, digging up and studying ancient artifacts?

Anyway, Kris ends her rant with this wonderful finale:

you think it's coincidence we have no Idea how pyramids were build when they had the technology of language writing reading and mummification your ignorant and should research more about the annunaki before you get on. The web and try to sound like a genius because you clearly just sound like a dumbass *Angry Face* *Angry Face*

I didnít just pause at some random place there.  Thatís where Kris ended the long sentence weíve been going through.  And itís clear that she actually meant to end the sentence there, because the next word is actually capitalized.  She actually wrote ďbefore you get on -period- The webĒ.  Capital T.  And to be clear, when I said ďAngry Face Angry FaceĒ, I was referring to the emoticons she used, she didnít type out the words ďAngry FaceĒ twice, although it would have been awesome if she had!

.... I mean, itís things like this that have me questioning whether Kris is actually serious or whether sheís just playing with me.  Anyway, thereís really not much in the way of actual claims here.  The only one that I see is that we have ďno Idea how the pyramids were buildĒ, and thatís just not true.  We know a lot about how the pyramids were built.  We may not completely understand each and every step one hundred percent, but even where thereís some question itís not true that we have ďno ideaĒ.  We have plenty of ideas, and they donít require aliens in order to explain them.

But anyway, thanks for the comment Kris, it gave me the chance to go over a number of interesting topics here.


And now, a message from Harold Camping:

Itís going to happen.  Thatís why when we bring the warning to the world that judgement day is coming we donít say maybe or high likelihood.  Weíre saying judgement day is May twenty one two thousand and eleven.  And thatís going to happen.

Well, Iím convinced!  I donít know why people are doubting this guy, I mean, heís predicted before that the world would end, and he turned out to be right right on the money!  Iím sure we all have stories about where we were when the world ended in 1994. And now itís happened again.  The guyís got a proven track record, so this is actually kind of a non story.  What Iíd like to know is where were Harold Campingís predictions when it *really* mattered.  Remember this past winter when it was ďSnowmageddonĒ all over the news?  Why couldnít he have predicted THAT!  Camping, if you care at all about your fellow man, you should really channel your amazingly accurate prediction power towards the weather.  Thatís where the real action is!


Time for the Dumbass Book Club.  As always, the Dumbass Book Club is brought to you by Audible.  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

Here's a small tip for new Audible members: keep visiting the site to look for special sales.  Audible selectively discounts books to sell to members on a fairly regular basis.  You can often get audiobooks for as low as around five dollars if you keep your eyes open.

Now, before I tell you what book Iíll be recommending this time, let me ask you a question.  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have the testicles of a goat?  Silly question, of course you have!  Well then, youíll definitely be interested in ďCharlattanĒ by Pope Brock.  Brock tells the story of a ďdoctorĒ from the early 20th century whoíd come up with a novel treatment touted as the fountain of youth.  If you could pay his fee, doctor John Brinkley would bring you in and implant goat testicles into your scrotum.

Unfortunately, and I know youíll find this hard to believe, the good doctor was a quack.  But he was so popular and so slippery that he evaded the fledgling forces of conventional medicine who were trying to shut him down for a good long time.  Itís a riveting true tale.  And while the procedure itself may seem unbelievably ridiculous to modern ears, the fight against an alternative form of medicine and all that goes along with it will sound frighteningly familiar.

Go to audibletrial.com/dumbassguide to sign up, or if youíre already a member, click on the link to the book on the show page at dumbassguide.info.  It will tell Audible that I sent you.


Well, the episode is just about over now.  I have one small request to fit in before I go.  You know those little quotes I do to separate each segment?  Those often take a little bit of time for me to find.  What would be great is if I could gather a collection of these kinds of quotes to have in reserve.  So if you know of any interesting quote that I can make good use of from a book, pamphlet, website, or what have you, then please send it in.  And maybe if youíre in a book store or a library, take a small detour into the new age or alternative medicine section and just flip through some of the books looking for juicy quotes that you can send in to me.  Try not to take the quote out of context, just find something silly that somebody said.  Iíd really appreciate it!

My email is *EMAIL*, which you can also use to PayPal me a donation if youíre feeling generous.  Write me a glowing review on iTunes, email me, comment on the website, just let me know what you think.  My regular theme song is My Monkey by Jonathan Coulton.  Just for today though, Iím going to switch up the ending theme a little bit and use a clip from another Jonathan Coulton theme song entitled ďRe: Your BrainsĒ.  I thought it was appropriate.  To all of you fighting the relentless zombie hordes, Iím pulling for you.  And Iíll see you next time on The Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge.


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