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Podcast > Sunday, 24 July 2011 16:10:44 EST

Dumbass Podcast 7: Nightmare Island

Keywords: historical, paranormal, ancient alien theory, aliens


In this episode, I have some bonding moments with my new friends in the skeptical community.  Then I take a look at the tale of a mysterious nightmare that predicted a disaster.  And finally I answer my fans and critics by looking at emails and comments.

Links/Topics Mentioned In The Show
Skeprechauns
LSAT Logic In Everyday Life
Warning Radio
Mike Bohler's Blog
Friend Of Reason
The Preacher And The Skeptic
Planet Japan Podcast
The Conspiracy Skeptic
Committee For The Advancement Of Scientific Skepticism
Peter Popoff Video
Searchable Archive Of The Boston Globe
Melly's First Comment
Mellys Second Comment
Daybreaker's Comment
Audible Free Book Download
Theme Music From Jonathancoulton.com
Other Music From Danosongs.com


Enjoy the show!  Here's the transcript:

Welcome to the seventh episode of the Dumbasses Guide to Knowledge!  It should be a good one!  Seven, of course, is a lucky number so numerologically this episode is practically guaranteed to exceed all expectations!  I can't wait!  Let's get started!

First off, I would like to make a couple of small corrections.  I mentioned Doug Delong's blog "The Preacher And The Skeptic" in the last episode, but it turns out that I got the address wrong.  The correct address is preacherskeptic.blogspot.com - so point your browsers to that URL in order to see all the wild arguments between these two zany characters!

Also, I've just realized that I forgot to place links to the websites that I mentioned last time in the show transcript.  I've put those in now, and I'll repeat them in this showís transcript for good measure.

But now let's get on with things.  It's been a couple of months, which is towards the upper end of the interval I like to have between episodes.  So you might well ask "Hey Dumbass!  What have you been up to?"

Well, I'll tell you what I've been up to!  I'm making friends in the skeptical community!  That's right, I'm reaching out and touching people.... in a skeptical way.  Part of this is to try and get material prepared for my invisibleskymonster.com website, but I also just want to connect with like minded individuals.

One of the reasons this episode was delayed is because I was actually trying to arrange an interview with somebody for the show.  We seem to be having communication issues at the moment though, so I decided to just go ahead with putting the show together and leave that for possibly another time.

In any case, I've made a number of really nifty friends, and I'm going to build a treehouse where we can meet and I'll stack it with comic books and skeptical magazines and we're going to have a lot of fun but my bratty little sister isn't allowed because she's lame and annoying and she always ruins everything!!

*AHEM* Uh.... where was I?  Oh yes, friends!  I've gotten mentions on a few different podcasts, and of course, if you plug me on your podcast or blog you're automatically considered my friend.  So first off, Doug Delong mentioned me on his Planet Japan podcast using my alternative username Parrot:

Doug: I want to thank our friend Parrot, he mentioned on his podcast called "The Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge".  I love that title, it makes me feel welcome.

Jen: *LAUGHING* He's a pretty funny Guy

Doug: He's a skeptic, pretty much about everything.

Jen: Well, that's not bad

Doug: That's good, it's good to be a skeptic

Jen: Yeah

Doug: He's one of those - what do you call - smart skeptics.  He's apparently done his research.

Jen: Awesome

Doug: Yeah, that is pretty awesome

Jen: It is, yeah

Doug: He talked about my little Preacher and Skeptic blog that I do, and he also mentioned Planet Japan.  I think he called it possibly the best podcast ever made in the whole world, which may be a little bit overly generous but it was nice.

Jen: *LAUGHTER* Well thank you very much Mr. Parrot

Doug: People should listen to his podcast is my point.

Jen: Yeah, they should.  He's an interesting guy.
    
Okay, those of you who listened to my last podcast may protest at this point that I never actually said that Planet Japan was possibly the best podcast ever made in the whole world, and that's technically true.  But Doug's really good at ferreting out subtext, and I think if you read between the lines it's pretty obvious that that's what I meant when I said:

It's certainly worth a listen

Clearly, Doug knows what I really meant there.  It's really not actually in what I said but how I said it.  You've just got to pay attention and it becomes really obvious.  But just in case there's still any doubt I'll make it crystal clear right now: Planet Japan is possibly... actually, not possibly... Planet Japan IS the best podcast ever made in the whole world.  Universe even!  Give Doug and Jen a listen at planetjapan.org

Anyway, Doug also mentioned that I'm a skeptic about pretty much everything, and that's true.  I don't let any claim pass me by, and that includes claims on the Planet Japan website!  I think Doug's been preparing for my scrutiny because he used to claim on the site that he was a "fabled raconteur and man about town".  I was going to demand to hear one of these fables, and it had better be good!  But he's changed it now to "noted raconteur", so it looks like I'm going to have to let him off the hook on that one.

But I've got a message for his co-host Jen, the "Texas girl with a heart of gold".  Jen, I demand to see an X-Ray and a Jeweller's Certificate!

Okay, moving on, I've got news about another podcast that I mentioned last time, the Skeprechauns.  Rebecca O'Neill has started putting out podcasts once again and I couldn't be happier about it.  She even gave me a mention near the end of the latest episode:

I had a very nice email from a guy who does a podcast by himself, which actually I really really enjoyed.  It's called the Dumbasses Guide To The Universe, which really appealed to me

Ohh.... That's very close... I guess I can't blame Rebecca for getting confused.  She's probably just picking up on my psychic connection to the Skeptic's Guide To The Universe podcast.  So itís an honest mistake, but still... well, I wonder what else she has to say?

So you just have to Google that.  He's an American guy who just does the podcast by himself

Okay, once again, that's close.... but I'm actually Canadian.  I can see how a person might get confused though so I don't hold it against her.  But the fact remains that she put out some false information about me, as accidentally as she may have done so.  That creates an imbalance in the universe, and as we know everything in the universe seeks equilibrium. 

So I'm going to have to publicly make some sort of an error about Rebecca, or something she's said or done, in order to rectify this.  If it were up to me I'd just let it go, but this is a law of the universe so my hands are tied.  But what can I say to bring balance?  Let's see... well... what else does Rebecca have to say:

I really liked his manner.  I'm not big into the monologue-y kind of podcasts, but I think he really does it quite well

Hmmmm... you know what, there are a lot of quotable bits in the things she's saying.  I can use that as kind of an advertisement on my website, you know how they string little bits of text together with dots in order to form an endorsement?

Letís do that here, it will go something like this:

I really, really enjoyed (the podcast)... really appealed to me... I really liked his manner.... he really does it quite well.

Perfect!  We've got a quotable endorsement!  Now to work in some slight mistake so as to bring everything back into balance.  I'm attributing this quote to Rebecca.... Watson.  There, now to update it... the website has been updated, and the universe is back in balance!

No need to thank me, I.... oh, wait... hold on, I just realized something.  I may have squared things with Rebecca O'Neill... but now I've just said something false about Rebecca Watson!  Crap!  Well it's too late to take it back now, it's on the website, which means it's practically set in stone. *SIGH* I guess there's no help for it then.  Your move, Watson!

... I'm sure she listens to this podcast at every opportunity.  What else does she have to do?

Anyway, next I'd like to give a shout out to another friend, Jeff Sykes.  Jeff doesn't have a podcast or blog, but he's now a fellow veteran of the Conspiracy Skeptic podcast.  Jeff contacted me before his interview asking if I had any tips, and we had a nice little conversation.  Jeff's topic of discussion was the Homosexual Agenda, which I believe has something to do with convincing all the straight people to give up women and marry gay penguins.

Fair warning homosexuals, you're not going to get me with that!  We all know that the heterosexual animal to lust after is the cow, and you can paste all the horns and udders onto a penguin you like but you're not going to fool me into pursuing a relationship with one ..... again.

Anyway, check out Jeff's interview on the Conspiracy Skeptic podcast at yrad.com/cs

I'd also like to thank Bryan and Baxter for having me on their show last month, that was a lot of fun.  They arranged a surprise confrontation with AstroStu, who is officially on my enemies list for giving me only a four star review - the bastard!  But then, I did say that anybody who plugs me on their podcast or blog is automatically my friend, didn't I?  And AstroStu did link to The Dumbasses Guide in a blog post... I guess that makes Stu my frenemy!  I've always wanted to have one!  Ever since that frankenword came into common usage, anyway.  You can check out my interview with Bryan and Baxter at warningradio.info

And finally I'd like to give a shout out to all my friends at the Committee for Action on Scientific Skepticism.  It's a volunteer committee run by CFI Canada, and I've been getting involved with them.  They recently did a fascinating investigation of Peter Popoff's latest activities "faith healing" the sick when he showed up to do a gig in Toronto.  It's really mind boggling how a guy can be so thoroughly debunked and disgraced and still come back and do his old schtick as though nothing had happened.

Anyway, what's fun about volunteering with CASS is that I got to Skype into the meeting with James Randi where they asked for advice on how to handle the affair, so I was in on the whole thing before they put it all together and I'd been waiting to see how it would turn out.  I've posted the video to my website, and I'll put a link in the show transcript.

If there are any Canadians listening who are interested in participating with CASS, just email Michael Kruse at mkruse50@gmail.com


And now a quote from Professor Henry Sidgwick:

We are all agreed that the present state of things is a scandal to the enlightened age in which we live, that the dispute as to the reality of these marvellous phenomena of which it is quite impossible to exaggerate the scientific importance, if only a tenth part of what has been alleged by generally credible witnesses could be shown to be true - I say it is a scandal that the dispute as to the reality of these phenomena should still be going on, that so many competent witnesses should have declared their belief in them that so many others should be so profoundly interested in having the question determined, and yet the educated world, as a body, should still be simply in an attitude of incredulity.

Right on Sidgwick!!  It's a complete scandal!  It's an outrage!!  It's.... hold on, this is the perfect opportunity to break in my old timie thesaurus...  Let's see... Ah, here we go:  It's poppycock, balderdash, drivel, and tomfoolery!!

Why, the very idea that scientists demand evidence, rather than just taking people's word for things, is absolute hogwash, hooey, malarkey, and tommyrot!!  Listen scientists!  When I tell you that invisible fairies and goblins are dancing on my genitals every night, why do you have to question it?  I'm credible!  You're not calling me a liar, are you?


Today's topic for analysis comes from an article I wrote back in February of 2010.  I found a book at the local Dollarama called "Nightmare Island", which was a collection of supposedly true stories of the paranormal.  This is the same book from which I got the Ghost Cavalry story.  Here's the introduction to the book:

It sounds impossible, but everything in this book really happened.  The events you will read about here defy explanation.  You cannot come up with logical reasons for why they occurred.  You may not even believe they are true.  But they have all been reported by reliable witnesses.  In many cases, they have factual evidence to back them up.
  
Believe it or not, strange things don't happen only in the imagination.  Real life is full of mysteries that no one has been able to solve.  But see for yourself....

Well, when I heard the statement "You cannot come up with logical reasons for why they occurred", that sounded like a challenge to me!  And so I've had fun examining several of the stories inside, and if you haven't yet heard my analysis of the Ghost Cavalry story, I go over that in my fifth episode.  Today I'm going to look at the first analysis I wrote, the one dealing with the title story: Nightmare Island! *THUNDER CLAP*

That's strange, I could have sworn there wasn't a cloud in the sky a second ago... Anyway, here's the synopsis to the story:

Can a nightmare come true?  You might not think so.  But if Byron Somes were still alive, he would have to disagree with you.

Sounds ominous, right?  Well, it's a little misleading.  Byron Somes does not die in this story, the reason he wouldn't still be alive is because this story takes place in 1883.  But I can't fault the author for building up the atmosphere before telling the story.

Here's how the story goes.  Byron Somes was working as a reporter for the Boston Globe in August of 1883.  On the night of the 27th he was sleeping at his desk in the office, after a night of hard drinking, and he had a terrifying dream.  He saw scenes of earthquakes, explosions, and hundreds of people suffering and dying.  Somehow, in his dream, Somes knew that the name of this place was "Pralape", and when he awoke he began to feverishly write down his dream.  When it was all done he wrote the word "IMPORTANT" at the top of the page in big, block letters.  Then he just left the page on his desk and went home to sleep off his hangover.

The next morning an employee at the newspaper found Somes' dream and assumed that it was an important article for the paper.  Somes didn't come in that day, so he wasn't there to say otherwise, and the article went to print.  This was big news, but it turned out that nobody else knew anything about it.  There didn't seem to be any sources to back up this story, and people started asking questions.  When they finally went to see Somes to get some answers, he told them it was just a dream and Somes was immediately fired. The newspaper began preparing a retraction, but then news began pouring in that large waves were hitting the California coast, and the reason became clear as survivors made their way to telegraph stations that were not destroyed.  Krakatoa had erupted, damaging or destroying hundreds of villages and killing thousands of people.  The details were so close to Some's report that he was immediately re-hired.  The Globe gave several implausible sounding explanations as to why they were able to scoop everybody else, but those who worked at the paper knew the truth.

And to top it all off, Somes eventually learned that Pralape was actually the ancient name for the volcano now known as Krakatoa. *THUNDER CLAP*  Oh for crying out loud, I was planning on having a nice picnic today!  *SIGH* Thatís what I get for trusting the weather man!

Anyway, that's the story.  I like how Somes, for some strange and unexplained reason marked his dream as "IMPORTANT". He had a dream, and gosh darn it, it was an IMPORTANT dream!!!

But let's get on with looking at the details of this story.  The first thing I do when looking at claims like this is to try and find the source of the story.  An online search revealed only two websites narrating this tale, and neither of them gave any source.  Very Strange.  A wider search yielded a few more retellings of the story, but in those versions the reporters name was Ed Samson, rather than Byron Somes.  Unfortunately, none of them provided any sources for the story either.

I also found that this story had been reenacted in an episode of the 90's television series "Beyond Belief, Fact Or Fiction", where they changed the name of the reporter to "Jack Hogan"... why they would bother to protect the identity of a man who would have been dead for close to 100 years is beyond me.

Anyway, so I have no idea where this story comes from, and that's a problem.  If we had somebody claiming to have done an interview with Mr. Somes or somebody who worked at the newspaper, then there might be something here.  But when all you've got is a story attributed to nobody, then you've basically just got an urban legend.  Might as well have happened to a friend of a friend of yours.

Fortunately for me, the Internet has provided a way that I can move forward.  There's an online searchable archive of Boston Globe articles for the period between 1872 and 1926.  That's exactly what I needed!  I tightened my search parameters to include articles from the beginning of August to the end of September of 1883, and I performed a search for "Byron Somes".  There were no results.

Okay, well maybe the guys name was actually Ed Samson after all, so I did a search for that.  No results.

So I figured, just for kicks and giggles, let's try a search for Jack Hogan.  Predictably, there were no results.

Okay... well how about searching for the word Pralape, maybe that would bring up something.  Nope.

Maybe if I widen the search to include the entire historical archive and search for the word "Pralape", does that bring any results?  No, as it turns out.

On that topic though, let's look at this word Pralape.  Is it actually an ancient name for Krakatoa?  I did a web search, and found everything that I could about Krakatoa's historical names.  Not a one of them in any list I could find sounds anything like Pralape.  A web search revealed two websites stating, outside the context of this story, that Pralape was an ancient name for Krakatoa.  But neither site gives a source or even mentions which people it was that used this name for the volcano.

So what was the Boston Globe's first report on the explosion at Krakatoa?  Well, a search of the archive revealed that as well.  The first article was written was on August 29, not the 28th as claimed by the story.

The title of the article was "Java Desolated".  It was delivered by Special by Cable to The Boston Globe.  They knew where the destruction was happening, there was no guessing at a name like "Pralape" where nobody knew the exact area being talked about or which volcano was acting up.

The truth is that the explosion was heard as far away as 5,000km, and the telegraph system at the time was perfectly capable of delivering this kind of news in a timely manner.  There wasn't a wait period of several days while refugees made their way to the closest towns to inform the rest of the world clueless about what had happened.

And it's not like this came completely out of the blue either.  The people of Java were experiencing rumbles and small shocks coming from the volcano in the time leading up to the eruption.  The Boston Globe even just the day before reported that the volcano was scattering stones and ash all about.  This wasn't something that left scientists scratching their heads for days upon seeing the seismic readings.

I don't see any reason here to believe that this incident ever happened.  There's no evidence that there was a Byron Somes or Ed Samson working for the Boston Globe at this time.  There's no evidence for any article mentioning the disaster at some impossibly early time either.  And there's just no source for this story.

Unless somebody at least shows me the original article written by Mr. Somes, I think we have to conclude that this story is just some urban legend that eventually got put down in writing.  As it stands, thatís the answer that makes the most sense of all the available evidence.


And now, a quote on interpreting your dreams to get spiritual communications or predict the future from the book "Fringe Knowledge For Beginners"

You will have to separate the meaningful dreams from the nonsense ones that come into your brain from sorting its memory pieces, or an astral critter trying to feed.  Only by remembering dreams and trying your best to figure them out will you learn over time how to sift out the nonsense.

Wonderful advice!  You've got to pay attention to the meaningful dreams!  How do you know which dreams are meaningful?  Well, those are the ones where you can actually piece together some sort of meaning after the fact.  Just make sure to ignore all the ones that don't fit into any pattern.

Now I know some people may say that it's confirmation bias to only pay attention to the hits and ignore the misses.  But what do they know?  They probably wouldn't recognize an astral critter trying to feed off their dreams if it was right in front of them!  It's the times when you just look for patterns without any criteria or logic that you really find the truth!  Trust me, it works! ... except for when it doesn't.  Oh crap, is that an astral critter?  BACK!! GET AWAY!!! *GUNSHOTS* You're not munching on my dreams ya bastard!! *GUNSHOTS*


Time for emails and comments!  First off, I should acknowledge a comment I received from Mike R regarding the Nightmare Island story.  Mike says that there was a show called "One Step Beyond" that related this story in the late 1950's.  Interestingly, he tells me that the reporter's name was there said to be Edward Somes, and that the newspaper was apparently the Boston Star, not the Boston Globe.  Perhaps that's the reason I couldn't find any information about this.

Well, that's certainly a possibility, so I looked it up.  I can't find anybody on the Internet reporting a version of this story where the reporter's name is Edward Somes, nor could I find any sign of a newspaper called the Boston Star.  And there's no recounting of this story that I can find which lists the newspaper as anything but the Boston Globe.  I did find the episode list for the television show "One Step Beyond" though.  The episode Mike refers to is apparently the very last episode of the show, and it's from 1961.

But we don't know where this show got the story from, so we still have no source.  I'm still left with the same conclusion as before, that this was probably just an urban legend that managed to get written down.  But thanks for writing in Mike, I appreciate the extra details.

Now on to the Ancient Aliens comments.  You knew they were coming, right?  I can't believe how much attention I get on that.  But I'm not complaining, it means that I'm actually getting my arguments out there.  I've started telling the people with really long messages that I'll reply to them in the next podcast.  Might as well get some extra value out of the discussion, right? 

So letís bring this, Iíll respond to all my critics point by point!  Iím ready to take on the hardest questions, so letís go!  My first comment is from the comment thread of my fourth episode, and itís written by a user named... ďdumbĒ, and he entitles his comment.... ďdumbĒ... okay... well, dumb writes:

dumbest site ever *ROLLING EYES EMOTICON*

.... *AHEM* *SNIFF*.... IS NOT!!!!

.... ANGRY FACE EMOTICON!!

.... Thanks for writing in dumb!

My next comment is from a user named Heiryonanomous in regards to my second article on Ancient Aliens:

I know I'm late to this party. Just starting watching this show on Netflix Instant... I'm enjoying your counterpoints. However, you spend a lot of time debunking a strawman it seems. I only watched the show once, so I could be mistaken, but I'm almost positive the narrator says 6000 years ago, not 6000 BCE, which would put it at 3000 BCE, just where you date the Sanskrit language.

It's not very often that I get an alleged mistake pointed out to me that's this easy to answer.  I just have to check the tape.  If you're right about this, I will publicly declare right here that I made a mistake.  Let's see what the tape says:

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

Well, there you have it.  I guess I won't be eating my words, at least not this time.  This just goes to show how easy it is for people to misremember things, so we should all aim to always double check our facts.  Heiryonanomous is also confused about a couple of other issues as well, though.    First of all, 6,000 years ago is 4,000 BCE, not 3,000.  Also, I did not date the Sanskrit language to 3,000 BCE.  Our earliest record of Sanskrit dates to only 1,700 BCE.  3,000 BCE is about the time that I said the people in the region were speaking itís precursor, what linguists call Proto-Indo-Iranian.

Anyway, next, I want to get to a couple of comments written to me by a user named Melly.  Melly objects to my analysis of the Ancient Aliens show on several fronts, and wrote two comments to tell me so.  She repeats herself a little, so I'm going to try to put both posts together and cut a little around the edges in a way that I think preserves what she's trying to say.  If you want to see her full comments, Iíll post a link to where you can find them.

Melly writes:

I'm a fan of AA, and what I don't appreciate is your belittling of the AA cast, especially Giorgio Tsoukalous. I certainly know that not ALL of what AA says is valid, and I make it a point to try and research the points they bring up on my own. However, you really seem to be trying to make fun of the AA team every chance you get, which to me, makes your points a lot less valid.

Well, I'll admit to being guilty of engaging in a little light ridicule.  In my view, when somebody says something ridiculous, it deserves to be ridiculed.  I try not to engage in ad hominem attacks, and I certainly don't think that anything I've said is mean spirited. 

But even if you do think that I've gone too far, why should that make any of my other points less valid?  It seems to me that you've got to take each argument at it's own merits.  Even if I were to be a complete dick, that wouldn't invalidate any of my facts or logic.

But I don't think that I've gone too far.  I stick mostly to ridiculing the things the AA crowd says, rather than making fun of them personally.  I've gone through the material that Melly was commenting on, and I found only one instance where I directly ridiculed somebody.  What I said was:

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!

That's it.  Wow, I really went over the line there, didnít I?  How could I say such a mean spirited thing?  Melly, when you say that I make fun of the AA team every chance I get, what you mean is that I make fun of the AA theory a lot.  My main activity is in pointing out the glaring flaws in the claims these people are making.  I don't spend a lot of energy on ridiculing them personally.

You said yourself that you don't think everything they say is valid.  I assume that means that you agree with some of my points.  Well, even if you're right and they do have something worthwhile to say, does that mean that I should hold my tongue when they say ridiculous things?  I mean, they're getting a lot of even just basic facts wrong, doesn't this kind of shoddy research warrant at least some level of ridicule?

So Melly, if your complaint is that I ridicule these people too much, I think we can pretty much put that to rest.  Iím clearly a puppy dog in that department.  My guess is that your objection has more to do with the fact that I'm making fun of a theory that you really like and believe in.  But listen, we're more alike than you think.  I really like the Ancient Aliens theory too.  I think it's just a really cool theory. I've said that before and I'll say it again.  If I didn't like it, I wouldn't spend this much time talking about it.  Where I differ from you is that I just think it's all completely fiction.

Anyway, Melly continues:

also, you made mention of Ezekiel. Ezekiel had stated that GOD came to him in this flying machine, the one w/ wheels within wheels w/ thousands of eyes. Then you stated that "biblical scholars" had interpreted what Ezekiel said he saw to really be a metaphor for something else. Isn't that just as bad as what you are accusing the AA team of? If Ezekiel said he saw God come down in some "flying machine," how does that get interpreted to mean something entirely different? Once again the biblical scholars are to be believed, what they say goes, but the AA peeps are crackpots eh?

Well, let me correct one minor thing here.  Melly said that I stated that "biblical scholars" had interpreted what Ezekiel said he saw to really be a metaphor for something else.  Melly, you're a little confused.  I never said that.  That was the narrator of the Ancient Aliens show:

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?

See, that's not my voice.  If that was my voice, this podcast would sound a whole lot more sophisticated.  But thatís a minor point, because I actually agree with the statement that Bible historians do interpret portions of the Bible symbolically, rather than literally.

So let's get to the meat of the matter here.  This is a question about how to interpret ancient texts.  I chided the Ancient Aliens supporters for disregarding what Ezekiel actually said and placing in their own meanings instead.  Well, it's certainly the case that ancient documents can be analyzed symbolically by scholars, so aren't biblical scholars guilty of exactly the same crime?

Well Melly, let me ask you something.  How do you think we should interpret Ezekiel?  There are two options here.  We could assume that Ezekiel was telling some sort of fictional tale designed to make a point, in which case we should interpret the text symbolically.  On the other hand, we could assume that Ezekiel was narrating an actual series of events that he personally experienced, in which case we should interpret the text literally.

If we interpret the text symbolically, then weíre pretty much forced to make substitutions, because we assume that Ezekiel was talking about something different than what he actually said.  But if we interpret the text literally, then we canít make substitutions, because we expect to hear a straightforward report on what literally happened.

But hereís the thing, the Ancient Alien theorists want to have it both ways.  They want to say that Ezekiel was narrating a literal series of events, but they still want to make substitutions.  Well, Iím sorry, but thatís just not a valid way of interpreting the text.

And even when biblical scholars make substitutions, they do so with a recognition of the importance of interpreting this symbolism in the context of the people who were doing the writing.  They compare these symbols and writings to other writings and art work from the same place and time.  And they look at contemporary commentary on the types of meanings people derived from these symbols as well.  People have worked their entire career at understanding ancient genres of writing and the imagery involved and what kinds of meanings the people at the time would have gleaned from them.

You can't just go in without knowing any of this background context and say "Hey, if I replace the word God with the word Alien, that means there were ancient alien visitations!".  That's just writing your own fantasies into the story.  It's not how you interpret a document in it's own context.

Melly goes on to mention a couple of topics that I'll just briefly talk about here.  She challenges me to give her an answer regarding the stones at Puma Punku.  Well Melly, I'd like to direct you to my fifth article analyzing the Ancient Aliens claims, entitled "The Evidence For Ancient Stone Cutting".  I cover the claims about Puma Punku there, and I'll put a link in the show transcript for your convenience.

Melly also challenges me to account for the numerous UFO sightings that occur all around the world.  She says that she's personally had UFO sightings and asks if I think she and all the other people who've seen these things are crazy.

Well, the short answer is no, I don't think they're crazy.  I wrote a response to Melly specifically addressing that issue, but I don't want to get into it too deeply here because it's kind of off topic.  As I've said several times before, the question of whether aliens are currently visiting us is a completely different question from whether they visited us in the distant past.  Each question deals with different kinds of claims, and each has different types of alleged evidence to examine.  I'm more interested in looking at the historical evidence, so that's what I'm going to focus on.

Anyway, Melly's final point seems to be an appeal to historical plausibility.  She argues that it's quite likely that if ancient people came into contact with an advanced alien society that they'd worship them as gods.  Her argument is that it's perfectly reasonable to speculate that this might be the case, and that I should interpret the Ancient Alien arguments in that light.  As she writes:

I don't think that AA puts stuff out there and says "ok what we are saying is a FACT," they are saying that MAYBE this is how it really happened. They are looking for answers to what they believe in, and when you see a UFO for yourself you might just understand what it is all about.

Well Melly, if all they were doing was brainstorming and they made no claims to be indulging in anything more than pure speculation, then I wouldn't have any criticisms for them.  But they're saying that they have actual evidence for their claims, and when you make a claim and present evidence, then your claims and evidence are fair game for scrutiny.

That's just the way things work.  People who don't want their evidence to be tested and scrutinized should keep their claims to themselves.  Science moves forward when people are able to answer their critics logically and convince the community that they have a valid theory.

The reason I put so much effort into answering my critics here is because I welcome the opportunity to defend my arguments.  You won't hear me complaining that my critics are going too hard on me.  If I get something wrong, I sincerely hope that somebody steps up and says "Hey Dumbass!  You made a mistake here!"

So I don't see any reason to let these guys off the hook.  I have seen a UFO myself, and I can understand how people might want to find answers to this kind of thing.  But that doesn't excuse sloppy arguments and getting the facts wrong.

Anyway, moving on my next comment comes from a user by the name of Daybreaker.  Daybreaker put so much effort into writing such a long comment that I felt he deserved to have it tackled here.  He entitles his post "Improbable vs impossible", and he starts off as follows:

I agree that many of the arguments used on Ancient Aliens are weak and technically/historically incorrect. That does not completely negate their theories to me though.

For all the knowledge we have, and for all the logic we employ that stems from that knowledge, there is still not a 100% concrete answer to many ancient questions. There is no concrete proof, nor disproof that aliens have visited this planet. So what we're dealing with (from everyone) are a lot of theories, not concrete facts.

Where I have a problem with Ancient Aliens and your assessments are that both present your theories as concrete fact. If not presented that way, you at least cling to your beliefs with such distain for the other side that is does indeed make a casual reader wonder if you (or the makers of Ancient Aliens) are open-minded enough to admit that you simply don't know how the pyramids were built, why the "delta wing" models were built, and a host of other things.

From the standpoint that you don't absolutely know these things, how can you be so confident in your correctness to the point that you are willing to call those who disagree "comical?"


I want to pause here so that we can digest everything that Daybreaker's been saying.  The argument here is that the Ancient Aliens theorists may not have any good evidence that aliens did these things, but I don't have any evidence that they didn't.  So according to this logic, I'm in just as tenuous a position as they are.

I've had people make this kind of argument to me before, and it really boils down to a misunderstanding about where the burden of proof lies.  The thing is, I'm not claiming that aliens didn't visit us in our ancient past.  I haven't made a single statement to that effect.  I don't have to.  Without any evidence, there's absolutely no reason to assume that aliens visited us in ancient times.  So when I show that these guys have no good evidence to support them, the default assumption is that aliens probably didn't visit us.  That's not a claim I'm making, that's just the default assumption.

All I'm doing is showing that these Ancient Aliens claims are nonsense.  They get their facts wrong, they use extremely poor reasoning, and they just don't have a leg to stand on.  And that's why I call their position comical.

Daybreaker, when you say that we both present theories as concrete fact, that's wrong.  They're the ones who are presenting a theory, I'm only showing that their theory is nonsense.  It would be really strange to expect me to prove that aliens didn't visit us in ancient times.  It's kind of like accusing some random stranger of killing a guy, and when he points out that you donít have any good evidence asking him to prove that he didn't do the crime.  The two sides in the debate just aren't equally valid.

Anyway, Daybreaker continues:

A lot of things are VERY obvious! The sun and moon both revolve around earth--which is flat. To suggest otherwise is proposterous, because if Earth was moving, we'd feel it move. If it were round, it wouldn't look flat. Who wants to be the "crackpot" who tries to debunk the obvious? Mankind was held back for thousands of years by those who presented very concrete answers to real questions. Their arrogance and sense of being "correct" fueled ignorance for a LONG time.

My point? Solid observation and logic, even when things are obvious (like the sun "moving" across the sky) can work against humanity finding the answers we seek. We seek those answers (how the pyramids were built, etc) because nobody truly knows. Many theories have been presented over the years, and until a concrete, absolute answer is found, that practice should not be discouraged...no matter how improbable, because the trust is NOTHING is impossible yet. For all we know, a huge frog built the pyramids, then it left for Mars. EXTREMELY doubtful, but it cannot be ruled out 100% because in matters of uncertainty, there is always uncertainty. Improbable dos NOT mean impossible.

Okay Daybreaker, let's say that Georgio Tsoukalos were to argue that the pyramids were built by a giant frog from Mars.  Then I come along and point out that Tsoukalos has no evidence for this and that it's pure speculation.  Do you honestly think that both sides in this debate are on an equal footing?

If somebody makes some sort of claim, shouldn't we expect them to back it up with solid evidence before accepting it?  Yes it's true that many truths are counter intuitive.  Our senses suggest that the sun revolves around the Earth, not the other way around.  So when somebody came along and said that it's actually the Earth that's moving, people were skeptical.

But here's the thing, people were absolutely correct to be skeptical about that.  They weren't correct to rely on biblical dogma to support their perceptions, but they were absolutely correct to be skeptical about a claim like this that runs counter to the evidence of our senses.  When such a claim comes along, the proper thing to do is to demand the evidence.

We only now know that the Earth really does revolve around the sun because the evidence was presented and eventually accepted.  When Copernicus first proposed that the Earth revolves around the sun, he had absolutely no evidence for his claims.  People were absolutely correct to say that until some evidence shows up, there's no reason to believe that this guy was onto something.  It wasn't until Galileo made his observations that we actually had evidence.

Certainly it's true that once Galileo presented his evidence, that the people who opposed him were guilty of pure ignorance and prejudice.  But before this evidence came out, there was no reason for anybody to accept the Copernican model.  People were completely justified in telling Copernicus that until he presents some evidence, there was no reason for them to believe in his model.

And unlike the Ancient Alien theorists, Copernicus didn't go around claiming evidence that turned out to be nonsense.  All Copernicus claimed was that he had this idea and he thought it made for a more elegant model of the universe than the Earth centred model.  If Copernicus had done what the Ancient Alien theorists do and try to support his theory with nonsense, then even today we would have to admit that the guy was full of it.

Anyway, Daybreaker goes on:

You and Ancient Aliens both do the same thing...attempt to answer age-old questions with theories. That's what scientists and historians do. That's what Galileo was doing before he got arrested by the Catholic Church for suggesting something CRAZY...like Jupiter having satellites. I'm not going to suggest that Georgio Tsukalos will go down in history as the next Galileo, but there's a one in a billion chance that aliens are going to land tomorrow and tell us that he was right. You're going to feel like an idiot if that day ever comes. ...And even though it probably won't, you need to learn to respect those whose theories vary from yours, because you, like the Ancient Aliens guys, are NOT perfect. Your theories, while logical, are NOT absolute. You must be open to the idea that you are the Pope in this situation, and not Galileo. No matter how unlikely, you need to have the same humility that the rest of us do...the humility is NOT knowing EXACTLY who we (or the pyramids, etc) got here.

Let me tell you something Daybreaker.  If the day ever comes when we find out that Aliens really did visit us in ancient times, I will be very excited at the news and I will certainly not feel like an idiot.

I want to illustrate what I'm trying to tell you here.  If I came up to you and said "Two plus two equals four because four is a perfect magical number and it's the answer to all math problems." what would you think of that?

I gave the correct answer, but I came to that answer by using nonsense reasoning.  Is my answer really valid?  No, of course not!  Even though I gave you the right answer, I'm still wrong!

It's the same situation with the Ancient Alien people.  Their claims are supported by so much nonsense that even if it turns out by some crazy fluke that aliens did visit us in ancient times, they're still wrong!

Yes it's true that sometimes really crazy sounding theories turn out to be true.  But they become accepted as true only when they present valid arguments and evidence.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it doesn't make that much difference to me whether you're conclusions are correct.  I'm far more interested in how well you argue your case and how solid your evidence is. 

Let's get back to Daybreaker's final comments:

You are a theorist, not an absolute historically and scientifically-proven author of ABSOLUTE fact. Unlike the Ancient Aliens guys though, you belittle/insult those with whom your theories disagree (calling the whole concept of the show "comical") instead of merely presenting your arguments as a possibility like they do. Nobody on that show ever seems as absolute about themselves as you do yourself. If you showed more respect for those you debunk it would greatly strengthen your argument. Instead you come across like the Pope vs. Galileo--dictating what is absolute scientific "fact"--everything revolves around the earth. Look around you, except for occasional retrograde motion in their paths across the sky, it's obvious! I'd argue that aside from tiny airplane-looking thingys, it's obvious that you are right. Like retrograde motion, those little "airplanes" could (I repeat, no matter how unlikely, they COULD) be a clue that what seems obvious is not. The best and most important scientific discoveries in history have been made that way. The worst, least productive times in science have been caused by those who defend the status quo with ridicule and dislike in their hearts.

Don't be that guy. While you are probably right, you may just be holding back mankind for 1000 years. Be aware of that, and speak and behave accordingly.

.... Oh crap!  I don't want to be that guy!  That guy's a dick!  My little podcast could be holding mankind back for a thousand years?  Who the hell knew that I was so influential?

But back to reality, I want to pick out some of the things Daybreaker said here.  Daybreaker said "If you showed more respect for those you debunk it would greatly strengthen your argument."  It's pretty much the same argument Melly was using, and it's just as invalid here. The strength of my arguments do not depend on whether or not I use ridicule or show a lack of respect.  They just don't.  Period.

Daybreaker continued "Instead you come across like the Pope vs. Galileo--dictating what is absolute scientific "fact"".  Like I pointed out earlier, these guys aren't comparable to Galileo.  Galileo actually had verifiable scientific evidence.  Galileo would have been thrilled if the Pope were to actually order that this evidence be examined and evaluated to see whether it held up.  Thatís the way science works!

If I were acting like the Pope, I would refuse to even look at the evidence and just proclaim that the Ancient Alien theorists were wrong unconditionally.  But Iím not doing that.  Iím systematically, and exhaustively looking at each and every claim and piece of evidence and holding it up to scrutiny.  Thatís the way science works.  And yes I editorialize.  This is a podcast and a blog, itís my prerogative to not only give you the facts but to let you know what I think about them as well.  If you donít like my thoughts on the matter, thatís fair - but itís entirely beside the point.  My analysis is all about looking at the evidence and figuring out whether it stacks up to support the claims being made.

And listen, I'm all for fringe theories and things like that.  I have no problem with people operating on the edge of what science knows.  I'm not criticizing them because they have a theory that I don't think is true.  The fact of whether it's true or not doesn't even really matter that much to me.

The reason I'm criticizing these people is because they support their point of view with nonsense.  It makes absolutely no difference whether aliens actually did visit us in the ancient past, nonsense is still nonsense, and I don't think that it's unreasonable to call them out on that and engage in a little light ridicule.

Whew!  I think thatís pretty much what needs to be said there.  Always good to hear from the critics, but just so you know, I don't just get comments from people who disagree with me.  Case in point, I'd like to now read out a very nice comment from a user named Apxeo:

As an archaeologist, I just want to say how much I appreciate the work you put into the podcast (and blog). That Ancient Astronauts show has become the bane of my life. It's becoming difficult to go outside without being cornered by some History Channel devotee and ending up getting roundly berated for being a tool in suppressing ancient knowledge in order to prop up my lavish grant-funded lifestyle.
I haven't watched the show. I tried, but I can't do it, I just can't--I thought I was going throw my remote through the TV. So your heavy lifting here and the detailed takedowns are greatly appreciated. I had no idea what the Vaimanika Shastra is (which is understandable since it is a 20th c. document) but now I do. I am sure I speak for the rest of the International Archaeological Conspiracyô when I say keep it up.

Thanks man!  I really appreciate this vote of confidence from the International Archaeological Conspiracy.  You guys do good work in keeping the public ignorant of the the true nature of our past, and I'm very happy to be a part of it!  Now, I hope you guys remember our deal, that in return for me spreading this disinformation on my podcast and blog I get to petition the Atlantean council for permission to touch the true crystal skull which will grant me one wish.  Just let me know the proper attire and I'll happily perform the forbidden ritual exactly as you've laid it out for me.  I'm just having trouble getting my hands on a pair of monkey testicles for the ceremony, so if you could give me some pointers on that I'd be very grateful.


And now, a pair of quotes from Buckland's Book of Spirit Communications:

The chakras are linked with actual physical glands, and there are seven of them.  The first, lumbar (or base) chakra, is at the gonads; the second, spine chakra, is at the adrenals; the solar plexus chakra is at the lyden, the heart chakra is at the thymus; the throat chakra is at the thyroid; the third eye chakra is at the pineal, and the crown chakra is at the pituitary.

On the next page, Buckland writes:

It is important that the chakras be awakened in the right order, from base to crown.  You will find you feel a sensation of warmth with, perhaps a faint pricking at each center, as you "awaken the fiery serpent".

Alright, let me get this straight.  I start out with the base, or gonads chakra, and then I "awaken the fiery serpent"?  I can do that!  Hell, I'm really good at it!  I've been practicing at it since I was a teenager!  I had no idea that what I was actually doing was something spiritual!

Hey honey, you'll never believe this, but I'm actually a super spiritual master of the chakras!  Watch, I'll show you!  ..... Honey?  Where are you going?  Well it's not a question of whether or not you're in the mood, this is all about spiritual enlightenment here!


I'm not doing the Dumbass Book Club this episode, but I'm sure you all know that you can get a sweet deal on a free audiobook just by visiting audibletrial.com/dumbassguide - give it a shot!

I want to end the show by reflecting on everything we've discussed.  So what did we learn on the podcast today?  Well, we learned that Planet Japan is the best podcast ever, that women named Rebecca have a tendency to unbalance the universe, and that gay penguins wear devious disguises in order to lure unsuspecting heterosexuals.  We also learned that astral critters are lurking out of sight just waiting to devour your dreams, that the Dumbasses Guide is the official podcast of the International Archaeological Conspiracy, and that if you have a dream of a massive eruption, it's probably not related to any actual disaster.  But you may want to check your sheets.

I feel that we've covered a lot of ground today, and it's just about time to queue up the ending music.  So my thanks to everybody listening to this podcast, if you liked the show then please leave me a review on iTunes or leave a comment on the website at dumbassguide.info.  Iíd love to hear from you!  My theme music is My Monkey by Jonathan Coulton, visit him on the web at jonathancoulton.com.  You can reach me by email at *EMAIL*, and you can also use that address to PayPal donations to the show.  So thanks for listening, Iíll see you next time on the Dumbasses Guide to Knowledge, and always remember, because that way youíll never forget!  


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