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Podcast > Sunday, 18 September 2011 15:03:12 EST

Dumbass Podcast 8: Ancient Aliens Part 4

Keywords: aliens, ancient alien theory, conspiracy, historical


In this episode, I look at some podcasts both starting and fading away, 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
Planet Japan - 6 Years Worth Of Podcasting Goodness
The Cognitive Dissonance Podcast
The Exposing Pseudo Astronomy Podcast
The "Oh No Ross And Carrie" Podcast
The Skeptic Zone Podcast
The Preacher And The Skeptic Blog
Christopher Dunn's Website
Moving The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The Ancient Secrets Of Levitation
Man Moves Multi-Ton Stone Blocks Under His Own Power
The Discussion With Adam
The Discussion With Commonsense
The Discussion With Chris
Librivox.org - Free Public Domain Audio Books
The Right Way To Do Wrong by Harry Houdini
The Miracle Mongers, An Expose by Harry Houdini
Popular Tales From The Norse by Sir George Webb Dascent
MP3 Of The Tale Of Hacon Grizzlebeard
Theme Music By Jonathan Coulton
Other Music From Danosongs.com

Images Referenced
Ancient Egyptian Limestone Quarry
Christopher Dunn's Cut In A Granite Block
The Ancient Egyptian Boat Pits
Rendering Of How The Giant Circular Saws Would Have Looked
Roger Hopkin's Five Ton Stone
Ancient Egyptian Illustration Of Pulling A Heavy Object On A Sled

Enjoy the show!  Here's the transcript:

Welcome to the eighth episode of The Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge!  This is my little podcast where I critically analyze things, and make a bunch of lame jokes in the process.  Glad you could stop by!  Iím the Dumbass, and Iíll be your host for the next little while, so letís get started!

First of all, I bring some terrible news.  Last month I had set myself up eagerly in front of the computer to listen to the latest Planet Japan episode, which if you remember from my last episode Iíve proclaimed as the best podcast in the entire universe.  I was sitting there eagerly listening when my astonished ears beheld the sound of something truly shocking as Doug Delong announced that this episode, their 200th, would be their last.

So as I blubbered incoherently, tears streaming down my face and spoonful after spoonful of ice cream disappearing into my mouth - Oh Ben and Jerry, youíll never desert me in my toughest times, congratulations on the gay marriage thing in New York by the way - anyway, as I was wailing in distress, face soaked with tears and ice cream drippings, I realized that Doug was talking about me and my podcast.  

People really should, now that weíre leaving the scene, they should tune in to Parrotís show.  Weíll make him our designated successor in the podcast world.

At that very moment I felt something.  A power, a strange force that seemed to come upon me all of a sudden.  I didnít know what to make of it as it built up stronger and stronger until....

Well, actually the moment was kind of anticlimactic, but as I understand it, Iíve now inherited Dougís podcasting skills and charisma, as well as his entire audience.  By all rights I should also get Jennifer Edda, but she has so far not reacted well to my demands that she obediently follow my commands..... women!

Anyway, I take this to mean that Iíve now inherited a new possible opening for the podcast.

Itís mine now! Doug, all your introductions are belong to me!  But anyway, welcome to all previous listeners of Planet Japan!  Iím the Dumbass, and this is my podcast.  I hope youíre enjoying it so far.  I release an episode every one to two months, and theyíre usually close to an hour long.  If you like the show give me a good review on iTunes.  Iíll probably read your comment in the show.

I only started listening to Planet Japan a couple of years ago, but Dougís been doing the show since 2005.  Thatís really interesting, because it means that his was among the first wave of podcasts really taking off in popularity at the time.  I guess he just felt that heíd now been there and done that, and wanted to move on to something different.  I canít fault him for that, nothing lasts forever, and Iím sure there will be one day when I decide that this podcast has run itís course as well.

For those of you joining me who are fans of Doug Delong, you might be interested to know that Iíve asked him to participate in another podcasting project Iíve come up with, and heís showed some interest.  We havenít arranged anything definite yet, but stay tuned to dumbassguide.info and hopefully Iíll have more for you soon.

Moving on, I want to mention friends of the show Cecil and Tom of the Cognitive Dissonance podcast.  Theyíre friends of the show because theyíve plugged The Dumbasses Guide in their show.  Iíve got to return the favour because these guys are just really fun to listen to.  They have great chemistry, and theyíre always joking around.  They talk about politics and religion from a liberal, atheistic position, but theyíre always willing to engage listeners who disagree with their point of view.  And I should point out that theyíre pretty opinionated, loudmouthed guys who donít shy away from salty language.  I personally think thatís wonderful, but others may not share that view, so keep that in mind before listening if you have delicate sensibilities. You can listen to them at dissonancepod.com

I also want to mention a brand new podcast released by my frenemy, AstroStu - AKA Doctor Stuart Robbins.  His new podcast ďExposing PseudoAstronomyĒ takes a detailed look at false astronomical claims and explains very clearly the science behind the misconceptions.  As my regular listeners will both no doubt know, AstroStu earned my ire for giving the Dumbasses Guide a four star, instead of a five star review.  I was considering returning the favour, but after listening to the show I canít do it in good conscience.  Damn you AstroStu for your knowledge and talent! .... Bastard!

I make it very clear on this show that Iím not an expert.  Iíve got a diploma in computer programming, and Iím proud of that, but it doesnít give me any extra authority for anything I write or say here.  AstroStu, on the other hand, is actually an expert.  Heís got a doctorate.  Heís forgotten more about astronomy than Iíll ever know!  His episodes are relatively short, and he releases an episode about every two weeks.  If youíre a fan of astrological phenomena, you should definitely give him a listen! The address is podcast.sjrdesign.net

I also want to mention a podcast that Iíve started listening to called ďOh No Ross And CarrieĒ.  Ross and Carrie are friends who decided to just go out and explore strange beliefs.  They show up, ask the tough questions, and try to experience what the believers do.  Their tagline is ďWe show up so that you donít have toĒ, which is great... but to be clear I never really felt the need to show up... even before they came along.

They have great chemistry, and they sound like they have a lot of fun.  Theyíve investigated the Sikhs, joined the Mormon church, and most recently they actually went in and got some acupuncture done.  Great stuff!  I canít wait for the no doubt upcoming episode on Trepanning!   Look for it at ohnopodcast.com

And the interesting thing about these podcasts is that theyíre all newcomers.  A lot of people are jumping on the podcasting bandwagon and releasing some really good stuff!  Itís helping to fill the void left in my soul by Planet Japan.  Iím sure the hurting will get better in time.  In any case, these are just regular people who want to have fun and put something interesting out there, and I think itís a wonderful thing.  The entertainment options available are just exploding these days, itís kind of exciting.

Another thing thatís exciting is that I think Iím becoming the hub of a psychic skeptical network.  Just a day or two after my last episode, which dealt with a psychic dream, the Reality Check podcast released an episode talking about dream analysis.  Also, there was an episode of the Skeptic Zone podcast where Richard Saunders rolled a 20 sided die twice, and I guessed correctly both times.  Thatís true!  And as you know, Iíve commented several times on my psychic connection to the Skepticís Guide podcast.  I just donít understand whatís taking Randi so long to cough up that money!

To be serious though, it is kind of neat to notice coincidences like this.  If you keep your eyes open and donít have any solid criteria, you can pattern match these kinds of things very easily.  I know that the fact that I guessed both those die rolls correctly is not something unexpected by pure chance alone.  But even so, itís kind of a heady feeling when something like that actually happens.  I can certainly understand how some people could deceive themselves into thinking that they actually have psychic abilities.

Richard rolled the die four times in his next episode, and I got none of those correct.  If I do have psychic powers, then theyíre pretty unreliable.  I could excuse that failure by saying that my mind just wasnít in the right place this time, there were some negative vibes in the air, or that my psychic powers wonít work if Iím just trying to prove something for my own self aggrandizement.  (These powers adhere to a strict code of ethics, doncha know!).  I can easily excuse this stuff away and sweep it under the carpet.  It only counts when I get something right, we can just ignore the failures.

I could very easily fall into that trap, and thatís something I feel is important to realize.  If thereís one thing I want to consistently hammer home, itís this: donít think that you canít be fooled.


And now, a quote from the Preacher, of the blog The Preacher and the Skeptic:

Planned Parenthood encourages minorities to have abortions, thus keeping their population down to more manageable levels, which presupposes that minorities are less evolved than the majority (white) population, and need to be treated as such.

Amen Preacher!  Planned Parenthood is totally racist!  I canít believe nobody calls them out on their commercials, like the one I heard the other day that went:  ďAre you pregnant?  Are you a minority?   Why not come on down to Planned Parenthood and get an abortion!  Have a pregnant minority friend?  Bring her down as well and take advantage of our two for one Abortorama special!Ē

... Itís just so damn racist!  Their goal is clearly population control, thereís no other possible reason they could be offering these services.  They might as well be wearing white pointy hoods! .... racist bastards!


Itís time for my fourth installment analyzing the Ancient Aliens show.  I actually debated with myself whether to do an AA episode this time.  Iíve been putting one out every other episode since I started, and I clearly canít be expected to keep that trend up indefinitely.  But I do want to get through the articles that Iíve written on the subject, and I feel like this particular segment is an important one.

You see, the people who challenge me about Ancient Aliens come in a few different varieties.  Some of them will just argue outright against my evidence, telling me that Iím a fool for taking it at face value.  Obviously itís all just a lie by the International Archeological Conspiracy.  Others challenge me on more subjective matters, like the people who keep insisting that the Tolima artifacts are so obviously airplanes.  Then there are the people who donít like my attitude, Iím completely dismissive of the possibilities and Iím on no firmer ground than the people Iím arguing against.  I looked at some comments along those lines in my last episode.

And then there are the people who will read one of my articles, then say something like ďYouíre right that thereís a lot of nonsense involved in Ancient Aliens, but that doesnít mean that itís all nonsense.  Can you explain this, that, and the other thing?Ē

I like these comments because it shows a level of intellectual honesty.  These people are willing to admit when the evidence doesnít support their favourite theory, at least in relation to the specific claims that I talked about in one article.  And theyíre technically right.  Just because Iíve analyzed a handful of claims and shown them to be faulty, that doesnít mean that the theory has absolutely no valid points.

What Iím trying to do here is look at the best evidence they have to offer, and see how it stacks up.  So Iím looking at the very first episode of the series, the one entitled ďThe EvidenceĒ.  Surely the implication here is that theyíve put their best foot forward.  This is the most compelling evidence that they want to use to convince me that theyíve got a genuine story here.  So far in the three parts Iíve tackled, weíre about half an hour into the show and I havenít seen anything compelling yet.  But perhaps thatís about to change.

See, the most common question that people want me to look at when they challenge me in this way, is about ancient construction.  Specifically the pyramids.  How did those primitive ancient Egyptians move those big, heavy stones with the technology they had available at the time?

And thatís precisely what this segment of the show deals with!  Since this is probably the most popular topic, the one that Ancient Alien fans believe rests on extremely solid ground, I think it deserves a thorough exploration.  So now that weíve finally dispensed with the claims of flying machines, itís time to get stoned!

.... or something along those lines.... (The Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge does not support or endorse the use of illegal drugs for any purpose)

Anyway, letís look at the pyramids.  Theyíre quite an accomplishment.  Most of their blocks weigh about one or two tons.  But even thatís small potatoes, as the show points out.  Look at the nearby valley temple, whose granite stones weigh around 100 tons, or some even 200 tons.  It's a remarkable feat of human achievement.

Here to try and cast some doubt on this remarkable feat of human achievement are a couple of chuckleheads who are asking the pertinent question, "What was their motivation?"

Hereís Robert Bauval, author of 'The Egypt Code':

Let alone how they moved these blocks, why would they want to use 100 ton blocks?  It simply doesn't make sense

And hereís David Childress, author of 'Technology Of The Gods':

There's no reason for them to want to build out of granite blocks the size of a semi truck.  It's like 'okay, let's do something but let's do it as difficult as we could possibly do it!'

Okay, point taken.  Moving these huge blocks was a difficult undertaking.  But to say thereís no reason for it... well, thatís just wrong!  There was reason for it, and itís a very good reason, and I think any reasonable person would agree that itís a mind numbingly obvious reason

Of course they made it as difficult as they possibly could!  If they didn't want to do things the hard way, they would have just stuck to mud bricks!  They're cheap, plentiful, and effective... nobody really needed anything else.  The reason they made things difficult for themselves was because they had the power to do so and they wanted everybody to know it!

It took a hell of a lot of time, manpower, and money for the ancient Egyptians to build their most impressive monuments - that was the point of it!  The more difficult the construction project, the better for making the statement "Look at how powerful I am that I can command that such a thing be built!"

There's absolutely no mystery as to why the ancient Egyptians would want to build something that took a lot of time and effort.  They used big stones because they wanted to show off, plain and simple.

Here's our old friend Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, Publisher of 'Legendary Times Magazine' adding in his two cents:

The reason why I am convinced that sophisticated technology was utilized in these ancient rocks is because if we go to a stone quarry today and look at the scope of machinery required to accomplish similar things... those machines are HUGE!

This is the big issue that ancient alien theorists can't seem to get past  There's one thing that they don't understand, and that is that ancient people had a huge advantage over us modern people when it came to large building projects.  It seems counter-intuitive, but it's true.  It's a pretty simple advantage, but it makes all the difference in the world:

They were willing to devote the time and manpower necessary in order to complete these kinds of monumental constructions.

Today we want our buildings built in a few months, maybe a few years, and we use a pretty small workforce, comparatively, in order to build them.  Our huge machinery makes this possible, and it's the reason why we're able to take these buildings for granted.

The ancient Egyptians didn't take their building projects for granted.  They built only their most sacred buildings out of heavy stones.  They were willing to devote tens of thousands of people to a building project, and they were willing to devote decades to its construction.

A hell of a lot of manpower, coupled with a hell of a lot of time, culminates in accomplishments that under modern construction methods wouldn't be attempted.  Today we don't care about moving a huge stone for a construction project.  We're perfectly willing to break that stone into smaller pieces for transport if it means saving time and money.

The ancient historian Herodotus describes a project in which a 580 ton object was transported under the command of Nectanebo II.  It took 3 years and 2,000 men, probably working in shifts.

A lot of manpower, and a lot of time, more than makes up for the lack of modern machinery.

Our next talking head is Christopher Dunn, author of 'Lost Technologies Of Ancient Egypt':

If you look at the Giza Plateau, and all the stones that they actually placed in the Great Pyramid and in Khafre's pyramid and Menkaure's pyramid... two and a half million blocks of stone in the Great Pyramid alone.  They had to have some efficient means of cutting them to size and putting them into place.  They had to have had somebody on site who was saying "Okay, I need a block this size", and then getting a block to them that size stat... like immediately!

Mr. Dunn is a qualified engineer, and I'm sure that he understands modern construction projects quite well.  But he doesn't seem to have much of a sense of how construction worked in the ancient world.

As I've already pointed out, ancient construction was not efficient.  By our standards, it was a tremendous waste of time and manpower.  There was nothing immediate about it.  Nobody was requesting that a stone be provided "stat!".  They planned their needs well in advance, and they arranged a slow but steady supply of just the stones they needed for the project.

And they planned it all very well.  They got most of the stones for the pyramids at Giza from a limestone quarry just 200 meters (1,000 feet) away.  The remnants of this quarry, and it's grid of unfinished stone blocks, can still be seen today.  Check the show transcript for an image.

Beautifully preserved measuring tools from the time have been recovered, we know that they had the ability to make these stones to order.  There's absolutely no reason that the ancient Egyptians would not have been able to deliver the precisely measured stones needed to build the pyramids.

Anyway, Mr. Dunn goes on to talk about a granite block he found at Abu Roash with a deep cut in it:

When I first saw it I just didn't know what to make of it.  And it was only after puzzling over it for days and sometimes waking up at three o clock in the morning scratching my head and thinking 'well how did they make this cut?', and finally to realize that the only way that they could have actually cut that thing was with a saw that was 35 feet in diameter.

I'm not a big fan of the kind of argument that goes "I can't think of any other way they could have done this, therefore it must have been done in this improbable way!".  In terms of logical fallacies, that's an argument from ignorance.

Certainly it's true that we don't know a lot of the little details of exactly how they managed to do certain things.  Ancient craftsmen didn't tend to write how-to books, they learned on the job.  And like I said, they were willing to spend a lot more time and effort than we are. There's no reason to expect that cutting granite would have been beyond their abilities.

There are many cases where weíve just lost a lot of the skill set that the ancient craftsmen possessed. Ancient bronze smiths, for example, were masters of their art.  Modern admirers have tried to copy their skills, and they're able to make workable swords and such using ancient techniques.  They know the basics of how it was done, but they're not able to come close to the quality of the ancients.

Nobody's suggesting that the reason for this is because aliens helped them out with technology that allowed them to make better swords.  They just knew secrets of the trade and had perfected their art over a long period of time.  Modern imitators are only hobbyists.  We no longer rely on a good smith to make us fine blades for battle.  We don't have group of tradesmen dedicated to practicing this craft and improving the skill set.

How they did what they did is a secret that is lost to the ages.  But it doesn't require any mystical explanation, and neither does the ancient Egyptian stone work.

In any case, Dunn continues:

As an ex machinist I look for tool marks.  I look for them everywhere I go.  And I could be accused of 'well, you know, if you're going to look for something you're probably going to find it because you're looking at it through a certain filter.'  Accepted, I agree.

I like the intellectual honesty of this statement.  I've said several times before that I don't really mind people being wrong.  It's how they argue their points that I object to.  If somebody is right in spite of reaching their conclusion through poor reasoning, to me that's just as bad as being wrong.  And if somebody's wrong, but they used solid reasoning to get to their conclusions, to me that's just as worthy as though they were right.

Mr. Dunn has anticipated a valid objection to his reasoning, and it's the exact thing that I'm going to accuse him of.  It's called anomaly hunting, and I'm fairly certain that he's doing it.  But he thinks there's something more than that going on here, and he tries to explain himself.  I can respect that.

And I should be fair here and point out something that the History Channel didn't mention: Mr. Dunn is not an ancient aliens theorist.  He believes that the ancient Egyptians had more sophisticated tools than we give them credit for, but from looking through his website it seems like he believes that they came up with this technology of their own accord, rather than through alien intervention.

In any case, I'll let Mr. Dunn continue his thought that I so rudely interrupted:

But the question is, why is it there?  Clearly to me, that is a machine mark.  But there were no machines back then.  So what do I do?  I just go looking for more machine marks, and they're all over the place.

Well, he did anticipate that this was coming: *COUGH* ANOMALYHUNTING! *COUGH*

On his website, Mr. Dunn has a page of pictures displaying what he believes are indication of marks made by ancient power tools.  The interesting thing is that when you go through them, you notice that no two of them indicate the same type of markings.  I donít believe that Mr. Dunn is seeing a lot of consistent evidence here.  I think heís just looking for anything and everything that could possibly fit as any kind of modern machine mark.  

If you believe that the ancient Egyptians used a 35 foot saw, then you should look for more evidence that shows it.  As far as I can tell, Mr. Dunn has only the one saw mark for evidence of that.  He shows a couple of other types of saw marks, but they look different and must have been made in a different fashion.  Repetition is important here.  If the ancient Egyptians regularly used these kinds of saws, then youíd expect to see the exact same kinds of marks over and over again.

Listen, I'll grant that Mr. Dunn is an expert in the kinds of marks left by modern tools.  But I don't think he has a great deal of expertise in ancient tools.  The ancient art of cutting rock relied on pretty much the same mechanism as used by modern tools, it was just a lot slower.  I don't see any reason why ancient tools couldn't have made the same kinds of marks as modern tools.

Now, if an actual expert on ancient tools were to tell me that there's no way that those tools left such marks, I might give that a little more credence.  But as it stands, I don't see any reason to believe that Mr. Dunn is on to anything.

He does have a pretty cool theory though.  For example, he believes that what archaeologists commonly think of as boat pits may have instead been housing pits for giant circular saws.

I speculate that they were actually saw pits, the saws were mounted in these pits, and that they ran the blocks through the saws before they put them in the great pyramid.

Fair enough - he admits that this is only speculation on his part.  I think he's wrong, but it's still a pretty cool theory. Iíll attach some images from the show illustrating the point.

I actually kind of hope that he's right... but I don't think that he is.  Certainly no remnants of ancient giant saw blades have ever been found, and if this was a common construction technique we'd have expected to have come across them before now.

In any case, the show moves on now to look at more claims about how impossible it was for ancient people to move these stones.  Here's Philip Coppens, author and investigative journalist:

What you find in modern construction is that to build big buildings you need to build big instruments which help build these big buildings.  And that is something which archaeology has never addressed.

Really Mr. Coppens?  Have you tried maybe asking an actual archaeologist about that?  I mean, hell, I'm just a dumbass and I think Iím doing a pretty good job of addressing it.  It can't be that hard to find an actual expert who will probably do a better job of explaining this than I could.

Here's the narrator now, talking about some incredibly massive stones:

The three largest man made stones in the world are found at the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek in Lebanon.  Each weighs an estimated one thousand tons, or two million pounds.  A nearby quarry contains an even bigger stone, known as the stone of the pregnant woman.  This giant rectangular block weighs an incredible 1,200 tons.  To move it today would take the strength of 21 heavy lift cranes.  

Thereís a little bit of bait and switch going on here.  We started off talking about the ancient Egyptians. The Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek is dated to the 2nd century CE, long after the pyramids were built, and even some 300 years after the death of Archimedes, who famously invented a compound pulley system that would allow a single man to move a large ship with ease.  I don't see any reason why the Romans of the second century CE should find it impossible to move blocks weighing 1,200 tons.  And these were the Romans!  Itís not like weíre stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out this society!  They left tons of records in a language thatís easily readable by scholars!  We donít even need a Rosetta Stone like we did in order to first figure out Egyptian hieroglyphs!

And of course, using 21 heavy lift cranes would be an impractical way of doing anything.  What the show seems to be suggesting here is that we wouldn't be able to move such a stone today, therefore it was impossible for ancient people to do it.

In illustration of that, we're shown a large stone being handled by modern equipment.  Iíll put an image in the show transcript.

Stone sculptor Roger Hopkins explains:

This stone came off of a project in Palm Springs, where they had one of the largest excavators they could rent.  They had trouble loading it into the truck.  It's well in excess of five tons, ten thousand pounds.  Small in megalithic terms, but basically what we can handle with modern machinery.

So, the contention here is that modern machinery can only handle moving about 5 tons or so.... interesting....

Have you tried telling that to the guys who moved the Cape Hatteras lighthouse weighing 4,830 tons to a position 1600 feet (488 metres) inland in order to prevent it falling into the sea back in 1999?

Guess what? they didn't use cranes.  You don't use cranes in order to move something this heavy.  You undercut it and shore it using timber, then you lay out your track, bring plenty of lubrication, and you pull.  In 1999 they used machinery to do the pulling.  In ancient times, they used hundreds or thousands of men to get the same results.

In any case, Robert Bauval makes a reappearance at this point:

We're supposed to accept that the people who built the pyramids did not have the wheel, did not have the pulley, did not have iron, in fact they had nothing but brutal manpower and pieces of strings.  The context does not fit the evidence.

Small correction here: the ancient Egyptions did have the pulley.  But letís look at the meat of this statement.  Bauval thinks that the archaeological community expects people to accept on their word alone that the ancient Egyptians were able to move these stone blocks with the common tools they had available.  He's not willing to take their word for that.

Okay, that's fine with me.  I wonder how he feels about accepting the word of the ancient Egyptians themselves?  Because they kept records that actually tell us how they did it!

Guess what?  It had nothing to do with aliens or advanced technology!

Iím going to post an image in the show transcript of a 3,900 year old wall painting from the tomb of Djehutihotep which displays the method they used to move a 57 ton statue.

The statue is sitting on a wooden sled, which is probably being pulled along wooden runners.  176 men are pulling the statue, and there's a man on the sled pouring lubricant down onto the tracks to ease the passage of the sled.

Archaeologists have discovered these ancient sleds, and we have testimony from the ancient Egyptians themselves that this is how they did it.  Robert Bauval, what more do you want?

Next we have a reappearance by a somewhat agitated David Childress:

You've got to ask yourself 'why would they try and do something that seems so incredibly difficult.  The answer to why they would do that has to be that it somehow wasn't so difficult for them.  It was easy.  

Okay, if it was so easy for them to build out of large stones, why wasn't everybody doing it?  Why was construction with these stones limited to the buildings of the most powerful people and organizations?

I mean, who wouldn't choose a nice stone house over mud brick if it was so easy to do?  I mentioned earlier that mud bricks were perfectly adequate, but stone blocks are nicer looking, and theyíre more durable.  If building with them was so easy, why wasnít everybody doing it?

The fact is that building out of these stones was hard work, and that was the very point of doing it!

Next is a reappearance of Giorgio Tsoukalos.  Let's hear what he has to say:

There exists one very concise description of how these massive stones were transported from the quarry to the building site.  The master builders had the capability of putting some type of a white substance, a paper like substance, onto the stones.  And they wrote on it, and then they basically gave the stone block a push and it moved by six feet as if by magic.  Now, did that thing really move by magic? No!  Some technology was used.

When I originally wrote this article, I was completely dumbfounded at this point.  A white paper-like substance that levitated the stones?  What the hell?  I searched everywhere for this ďconcise descriptionĒ that Tsoukalos was talking about.  I even tried emailing Tsoukalos himself, but didnít get an answer.

Finally I came to a conclusion that seemed to make sense.  Some sort of paper that you write on and has magic-like effects... that sounds like a Shinto paper charm, also known as an Ofuda.  Theyíre usually just good luck charms, but Iíve read through several folk tales where theyíre used to perform some sort of magic.  It fits, after all, this is the same guy who believes flying carpets are actually spacecraft.

But there may be another explanation.  I got a wonderful note from a user named Graeme who found another possible source for this claim.  He directed me to a page on paranormal.about.com, entitled ďThe Ancient Secrets Of LevitationĒ.  This page tells of a text by a 10th century Arab historian named Abul Hasan Ali Al-Masudi.  Long after the ancient Egyptian empire had ceased to exist, Masudi claimed (without specifying his source) that the ancient Egyptians placed these stones on a magic papyrus, and then hit them with a special metal rod.  The stones would then levitate and float down a specially prepared path for about 50 meters, then it would come to rest again and somebody would hit it once more with the metal rod.

Of course, as you just heard, Tsoukalos said six feet, and this source says 50 meters, which is about 164 feet.  Thatís a pretty big difference... but then again, you wonít hear me accusing Tsoukalos of being stringent about making sure he gets his facts straight.  I think heís in a competition in this show with David Childress to see who can make the most outlandish claims.  If you ask me, Tsoukalos is winning by a hair.

Speaking of Childress though, here he is now giving Tsoukalos a run for his money!

That is part of the solution.  In order to really move massive amounts of stone like that they would have had to have been levitated.   Somehow made weightless, and then just moved through the air by some kind of device, perhaps even a hand-held kind of device like some beam weapon.

Beam Weapons? Awesome!  The ancient Egyptians were shooting phasers at stone blocks in order to move them! PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW ... Aw crap, the construction site is under attack, good thing we use weapons for stone moving tools!  Iím calling in some air support, thereís a fleet of quick response Shakuna Vimannas close by!  Until they arrive we can hold them off with some catapults and wooden gliders!  Letís go people!  For the pharaoh!!

.... *AHEM* uh... sorry, I guess I accidentally channeled an ancient battle.  That kind of thing happens once in a while.

But letís get back to the evidence.  Show me this ancient magic like paper, or an ancient beam weapon.  Because if you don't have that, if all youíre going by are stories and speculation, then what kind of case are you making?

The archaeologists have the ancient sleds, and the accounts of actual ancient Egyptians.  How can you go against this actual physical evidence with nothing but speculation and fairy tales?

Anyway, that wraps up my fourth sequential look at the claims made by this Ancient Aliens episode.  


And now, a quote from The Book Of Crystal Healing:

Crystal healing works on the principle that every cell in the body vibrates at its own specific frequency.  When these natural frequencies become unbalanced, we experience dis-ease.  *Dumbass Note: Dis-ease is here spelled D I S - E A S E .... End Dumbass Note* Crystals oscillate to a natural healing frequency that is activated by mental energy.  Powered by strong intention - either your own or that of your therapist - healing energy is channelled through the crystal from an inexplicable source, often referred to as the Universal Life Force.  The appropriate healing energy - stimulating, balancing, or tranquillizing - is transmitted from the Universal Life Force and amplified through the unique molecular structure of natural crystals.  This helps to harmonize and balance the body's frequencies back to optimum, healthy levels.

.... Yeah, of course!  What the hell more do you want?  Makes perfect sense.  Youíve got oscillating healing frequencies channeled through an ďinexplicable sourceĒ, resonating with the molecular structure of crystals which vibrate against your body causing you to feel all happy!  Itís all completely coherent.  If youíre still not sure you understand exactly how this all makes sense, youíve just got to realize that 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe....


Itís time to go over some emails and comments, and I just received a very insightful comment as Iím recording this episode on the very topic that I was just talking about.  Itís from a user named Wade, who illuminates an angle on the ability of ancient civilizations to build great building projects that I hadnít considered:

Ancient Aliens conveniently forgets to mention that there were no unions, no OSHA nor politics dictating the costs of construction. Power was pretty much absolute so the men needed were there and with enough of them anything could be done. Death and injury would not be emotional barriers to continuing construction. Compare to today. A few astronauts die while participating in an incredibly risky venture and it shuts down the manned space program for years. Gone are the days of continuing to risk life because completion of a project was deemed more important. Look at the massive bridges we built not that many years ago, bridges that took the lives of many. That simply would not and could not happen today. People buy into the ancient alien theories simply because they can't imagine a world where human life was considered far less important than the actual construction of whatever.

Youíre absolutely right Wade, the ancient Egyptians almost certainly didnít have any kind of institutions devoted to health and safety.  Even in just my three decades on this Earth weíve gotten much more stringent about safety, for example nobody wore bycicle helmets when I was a kid.  We can afford this kind of extra caution these days because we have an ability to protect and prolongue life that ancient people could only dream of.  In a time when people often died from the simplest of infections, it didnít make sense to make sure that your accident rate during construction was as low as possible.  Nor did anybody care about making sure the workers were reasonably comfortable and not worked too hard.  Itís just another example of the kind of advantages that ancient people had in building their most impressive structures.

My next comment comes from Adam, who writes:

To Mr Dumb Ass, you seem to be so full of hate, and extremely close minded. As ridiculous as it is for you to believe in these things, it is just as ridiculous to me that you only believe what modern day historians have told us to believe. To your point on Sanskrit not being as old as the narrator says, if you had actually studied Sanskrit, as well as Greek and Latin, you would find it is far more advanced and complex than the latter two. The majority of the planet speak languages derived from Sanskrit. (I will let you do your own research as you seem to be an expert) According to your 'research' this is not possible because it has to be a recent language. You are correct, the narrator is wrong, it is in fact much older. Many of the scientific subjects discussed in the Vedas would have been too advanced even 50 years ago , yet many 'modern' technologies we use today and concepts still too advanced for present day society, are discussed within the Vedas and other 'myths'. I won't go into all the discrepancies within your analysis as your negativity might upset my chi, which you will tell me doesn't exist. However the passion behind your analysis is encouraging, and I hope others will follow your lead on not taking everything at face value. Try researching without bias and you will find that you don't always get the answers you so adamantly are looking for.

I want to ask you guys something.  Do I seem like Iím full of hate to you? Adam starts off by saying that Iím full of hate, but I donít feel any hatred as Iím writing or narrating these articles.  At most I feel a sense of disappointment that these guys are taken seriously enough to have a big television series on the History channel.  But hatred?  I donít see any reason to hate anything about the Ancient Alien theory.  Iíve said plenty of times before that I actually like the theory, I just donít think itís true.

This is a very strange message in that Adam is asking me to basically do his research for him.  He wonít challenge me on any of my points because that would apparently ďupset his chiĒ, and heavens to betsy we canít have that!  So to avoid upsetting his chi, itís incumbent on me to go out and prove all the linguists and historians wrong about the age of the Sanskrit language.

.... thatís certainly an.... interesting.... point of view...

I responded to Adam, and told him that if he could prove me wrong about the age of the Sanskrit language, I would eat my words and admit that I was wrong.  I thought heíd abandoned the issue, but a few weeks later he did write back.  I wonít bore you with the whole conversation, but in part he said that

many scriptures have been dated by the Indian Archaeological Society to be more than 15000 years old, written in Sanskrit.

I looked, but wasnít able to find the documents he was talking about.  So I asked him for more information.  He responded, in part:

As I spoke earlier about misinformation, there seems to be a lot from uncredited sources on the internet so I'm happy to sift through the books I have read and give you book titles and excerpts backing my claims, but it will take me some time so bare with me.

So far, no more word on that.  But hereís my suspiscion: as we know, the oldest Sasnskrit douments date to somewhere between 1,500 and 1,700 BCE.  I think this is just an example of that dating error I talked about in my second Ancient Aliens article.  Somebody saw the date of 1,500 BCE, accidentally added a zero, and accidentally switched it to ďYears AgoĒ instead of ďBCEĒ.  So what we end up with is a claim of 15,000 years ago, but itís just sloppy handling of the facts.

And I like how Adam continually encourages me to do some research on this topic... because, as you all no doubt realize, Iíve just been making stuff up off the top of my head this whole time.  I do it because Iím just so full of hate!

Anyway, I want to talk next about a comment I received from a user calling himself Chris, and in brackets after his name he writes ďFellow SkepticĒ

... Okay, Iím going to take the unusual step here interrupting this message before itís even begun.  Chris (fellow skeptic), if youíre listening, I can see what youíre trying to do here.  Youíre trying to identify with me and put me at ease before you disagree with me.  Well, first of all itís not necessary.  I plan to take whatever you have to say on its own merits regardless of how you identify yourself.

Secondly, people who consider themselves part of the skeptical movement donít go introducing themselves to other skeptics this way.  Iíve disagreed with other skeptics in the past, but Iíve never done so by starting out with ďHey, Iím Dumbass, Iím a fellow skeptic!Ē.  Personally, I try not to overuse the word ďskepticĒ because itís kind of an awkward descriptor.  I realize that itís the word most used for critical thinking people, and I wonít protest that.  But the word is awkward because it lends itself easily to misunderstanding.

See, whenever somebody says ďIím skeptical about thatĒ, the take away message that people naturally understand is that this person is saying ďI donít believe thatís trueĒ.  So when somebody identifies themselves as a skeptic, people have this perfectly understandable impression that a skeptic is somebody who refuses to believe in things.  But thatís not what the skeptics movement is all about.  Itís about using logic and the scientific method as a basis for analyzing claims.  This often leads to a rejection of specific examples of poor evidence and faulty logic, but thatís not really the point.  And so when we use the word ďskepticĒ we naturally have to explain to people what skepticism is, and what it isnít, and I know that this consistent misunderstanding of what skepticism is all about really bugs a lot of people in the skeptical movement.  I like the term ďRationalistĒ myself, but I guess it has too many syllables to catch on.

Anyway when Chris identifies himself as a ďFellow SkepticĒ, I think what he means to tell me is that he also has his doubts.  Thatís fine, but it really springs from a misunderstanding of what Iím trying to do here.  Iím going to respond to what Chris has to say on its own merits, regardless of anything else.  

Chrisís message itself is kind of unfocussed, Iím not sure exactly what heís trying to say.  I wonít read it all here but Iíll put a link in the show transcript.  He starts out criticizing religion and dogma, but follows that up with:

Either way I think Dumbass is a little too harsh on the show...but I enjoy the perspective.

I think his point is probably the same one that Melly and Daybreaker were trying to make from the last episode.  Iím being too harsh because I refuse to acknowledge all the possibilities, and my opinion is just as valid as anybody elses.  If you agree with that position, I refer you to the email and comments section from episode 7 to hear my response.

In any case, thanks for writing in Chris, and Iím glad you enjoy my perspective, even if you think Iím a little too harsh.

My next comment comes from a user calling himself ďcommonsenseĒ.  He writes:

please explain how 200 ton stones were lifted off the ground and actually sat on top of other stones - please tell me how they moved 50 ton granite stones from one mountain,across a valley,and across a river then up the side of another mountain - go on you tube and view what we have to go through to transport a 50 ton rock TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would like to point out here that the word ďtodayĒ is spelled in all caps, and followed by 28 exclamation points.

I donít think that commonsense has a very good grasp of the exact route that the ancient Egyptians used to transport these stones, but Iím a little fuzzy on that myself so that might be a good subject to look at in the future.

I responded to commonsense.  He posted this comment on my third Ancient Aliens article, the one which talks about the book of Ezekiel.  I referred Commonsense to my fourth article, the one that Iíve just read for you.  I also referred him to a video of a man demonstrating how itís possible to move multi ton stone blocks, and he does it under his own power with no aid from modern technology.  Iíll post a link to that in the show transcript.  The video demonstrates really well how just a little bit of ingenuity can accomplish some remarkable feats.  Itís not a textbook of exactly how the Egyptians built the pyramids, but it shows pretty clearly that these kinds of things are possible.

Commonsense responded, and boy is he annoyed with me!

Video is spliced to death,you do the same thing as the people you make fun of,your theory may be correct,however, thats hipocracy which is alot worse quality than,thinking that ancients had help,rather be a little goofy,than be a hipocrite. I have gone through and looked at all your articles,looking for a reasonable alternative to the ancient alien theory,but found nothing viable in any of them.thanks for trying though,no need to reply,I wont be checking back

I donít quite understand his criticism of the video, that itís ďspliced to deathĒ.  Nor do I understand how he contends that Iím a hypocrite.  And I donít see why I should have to provide a ďreasonable alternative to the ancient alien theoryĒ - the ancient alien theory itself isnít a reasonable alternative to mainstream historical knowledge. All Iím doing is pointing that out.  Unfortunately, it looks like Iíll never have the opportunity to hear him explain himself.  

Next I want to very briefly go through a few new iTune reviews.  Iíve only recently figured out that not all the reviews are displayed on the iTunes webpage, and that apparently I have to switch to different iTunes stores in the application in order to actually see my reviews from any one country.  Itís a very clunky way of doing things if you ask me, but I found a few new reviews from the US store that I want to go over.

Bryan from Warning Radio gives me 5 stars and writes:

Great Podcast .... keep it up.

Thanks Bryan!  Itís been very hard to find the time to listen to you on Monday nights for the past few months, which is a shame because I understand that youíve had some really great guests.  Iíve been checking your feed every once in a while and I really hope that youíll take the time to update it soon.

A user named ThinkingThoughts gives me five stars and writes:

If the Ancient Astronaut shows on discovery channel drive you crazy, this is the podcast for you.  I really enjoyed the explanations for the phenomena in the show.  Iím planning on sharing this with some friends who love Ancient Aliens!

Keep making new episodes! Iíll keep listening

Thanks ThinkingThoughts!  I imagine the fact that youíre sharing my show with Ancient Alien believers must mean that youíre responsible for some of the angry comments Iím getting.  Iím not complaining though, I love having the opportunity to face my detractors!

A user named OverunityAlchemist gives me five stars and writes:

This eclectic podcast is a slightly acquired taste - not that thatís a bad thing.  I listen to this one when Iím doing chores; it helped me through cleaning and sorting the entire pantry! Some of the audio transitions are a little goofy, but thatís part of the charm ;)

Thanks man!  And I think youíre exactly right, Iím probably an acquired taste.  Iím okay with that.  I know that I sound like a dork and my bits are often kind of goofy.  Iím trying to make this entertaining as best I know how, and my skill set is pretty limited in this department. And I know that for even the most professional performer there will be people who canít stand them, so thereís no way that I can expect my little dog and pony show to have anything but a limited appeal.

Anyway, I love that youíre listening to me while sorting through your pantry.  If you ever release a podcast, I promise to listen to you while buying groceries!

Finally, I got a five star review from a user named John Molotis, who writes:

Love your show and attitude.  Informative and funny.  Heard about your show through the ďCognitive DissonanceĒ podcast. They spoke well of you and you didnít disappoint.

Thanks John.  Cecil and Tom are great, theyíre much more entertaining than I am, but Iím glad that at least one of their listeners enjoys my show as well.

Speaking of Cecil and Tom, a couple of people have written to me commenting on my username. Cecil and Tom even talked about it on their show.  The comment they have is that they donít like the fact that I call myself a dumbass, because they feel quite the opposite about me.  I really appreciate the sentiment, and this might be something that I have to talk about once in a while.  Iíve mentioned before my reasons for choosing my username, but I think itís a good idea to tell new listeners exactly what my reasoning is behind this.

The physicist Richard Feynman once said that heís smart enough to know that heís dumb.  I prefer the term ďdumbassĒ, because I donít believe that Feynman was specifically talking about intelligence.  Itís more about the fact that weíre all human, and therefore prone to making mistakes and doing silly things.  

If I do something foolish and it bites me in the ass, Iíll say to myself ďWay to go dumbass!Ē.  When I say that, Iím not questioning my intelligence.  The most intelligent person in the world is subject to human nature.  That person can be fooled, and can fool himself just as easily as anybody else.  Heís also subject to making mistakes and sometimes not thinking things through.  In essence, the most intelligent person in the world is still a dumbass.

And the more you observe things like politics and business, the more you realize that all people are dumbasses just doing the best they can.  In fictional worlds there are people who are ultra competent and have a complete grasp on everything that happens.  That appeals to us, and itís part of the reason that conspiracy theories can take root.  But in reality, people are dumbasses, and I believe that the only way to minimize the negative effects of your dumbass nature is to embrace it.

So when I call myself Dumbass, what Iím doing is acknowledging that Iím fallible.  Itís a reminder that even though I have this soap box here, I shouldnít take myself too seriously.  I need to constantly check what I say for mistakes, and address all criticism openly and honestly.  Itís a philosophy that I feel strongly about, but I really appreciate all of the people who protest and tell me that the name doesnít suit me.

Iíve also received a couple of emails and comments asking me when Iím planning on releasing a new episode.  I think I should take a moment to talk right now about my episode schedule, or lack thereof.  I donít plan out my episode schedule to try and make sure that theyíre out by a specific date.  When I first started this podcast, my plan was to just read old articles that Iíd written.  It quickly evolved into something more intricate, though, and so now the time between my episodes is about a month or two.

One reason for this is just that I usually need to wait at least three weeks before Iíve gotten enough comments and enough other stuff has happened for me to talk about.  Then I need some time for my mind to process everything and come up with ideas for things that I want to say.  After that I need to make time to write all this stuff down, and then do the recording, and each step can take days.

I have some ideas on ways to bring out some episodes more quickly, but I think most of my episodes will still take a month or two.  And I donít think thatís a bad schedule.  There are a lot of podcasts out there, and it can be very difficult to keep up with your favourites.  I think releasing an episode every month or two allows people to keep up without feeling overwhelmed.  Certainly I love many of the podcasts that release an episode a week, but I think there are some benefits to having a slower release schedule, and I think that my particular podcast works best that way.

But I love the fact that people are actually looking forward to a new episode.  Iíll definitely try to get them to you as quickly as possible.


And now, a quote from the film ďWhat The Bleep Do We Know?Ē

When Columbusí armada landed in the Caribbean, none of the natives were able to see the ships even though they existed on the horizon.  The reason that they never saw the ships was because they had no knowledge in their brains, or no experience that clipper ships existed.  So the shaman starts to notice that there are ripples out in the ocean but he sees no ship.  But he starts to wonder whatís causing the effect.  So every day he goes out and looks, and looks, and looks, and after a period of time heís able to see the ships.  And once he sees the ships, he tells everybody else that ships exist out there, and because everybody trusted him and believed in him, they saw them also.

I totally believe that this story is true!  Iíve never been able to see things that are even slightly new in some way that I havenít experienced before.  For example, when the iPad first came out, I had absolutely no idea what people were holding and poking at.  These things were completely invisible to me.  Okay, I realize that an iPad is just a larger version of an iPod Touch... but then, a clipper ship is kind of a larger version of a canoe, and the natives would have been familiar with those.  So thereís a precedent here.

Anyway, my wife and I were puzzling over this phenomenon.  Then my wife found this video of a cat playing with an iPad, and there was this program that simulated water, and the cat would bat at it and cause ripples.  And my wife stared and stared at these ripples for days and finally she was able to see the iPad.  And then she told me about it, and because I trusted her and believed in her, I was suddenly able to see it as well!

By the way, does anybody else get really annoyed when the new car models come out and they make them different enough from the previous yearís models that you canít see them on the road?  It makes it damn hazardous to cross the street!  Somebody oughta make a law about that!


Itís time for the Dumbass Book Club!  Of course, you all know that you can get a great deal on an audible.com membership by going to audibletrial.com/dumbassguide.  But Iím not going to talk about audible today.  Today I want to plug a book that I found on another website called Librivox.  Librivox is a volunteer run organization that distributes free audiobooks on the web.  These are all public domain works, and thereís a massive catalogue of audiobooks to browse through.

I recently listened to the book ďThe Right Way To Do WrongĒ by Harry Houdini, a fascinating exploration of the methods used by criminals to trick and con people around the turn of the 20th century.  Thereís another book on the website by Harry Houdini that I also plan to read called ďThe Miracle Mongers, An ExposeĒ.  You can find fascinating, classic works, and itís all completely free.

I would also suggest, if youíre looking for something interesting to do, that you try your hand at volunteering and reading a chapter or two of a book.  I did, and I had a lot of fun.  Itís part of what prompted me to get involved in podcasting.  If youíre interested in hearing something I read, Iíd recommend ĎThe Tale of Hacon Grizzlebeardí, which is part of a collection of Norse fairy tales.  Itís kind of a crazy, sordid tale.  A prince dresses up as a beggar in order to get a princess to sleep with him, and when she gets pregnant he sneaks her away from her furious father and convinces her to commit multiple thefts before revealing his true identity.  Just look up ĎPopular Tales From The Norseí by Sir George Webb Dascent.  Iíll put a link in the show transcript.

So visit librivox.org, thatís l i b r i v o x dot o r g.  The downloads are free, and volunteering is really easy.  I think youíll enjoy it.

Now, some of you may remember that a couple of episodes ago I asked people to send me examples of quotes to make fun of in my little segment transitions with that funky, new age music.  So far I havenít received a single submission, and I have to say that Iím disappointed in each and every one of you.  Looking up these quotes is something that takes a good deal of extra time, and I could get these episodes out much sooner if I had some help with that.

I guess none of you are willing to take the time just to help me out.  Okay, fine, Iíll sweeten the deal.  If you send me a ridiculous quote from a book, website, or other source, and if I use that quote in my podcast, I will send you something.  Thatís right, I will send you a thing, a physical object that I actually went out and spent money to buy.  Nothing expensive, Iím not Mr. Money Bags here... you ingrates should feel lucky to get anything at all!  Anyway, each episode I will pick out some item that has something to do with skepticism, or science, or maybe just something thatís unusual or interesting.  Iíve already got my first prize picked out.  I bought three of them, and I will send them out to the three lucky people whose quotes make it into my next episode.

Iíve done a good number of these quotes already in past episodes, so I think you guys should have an idea of the kinds of quotes Iím looking for.  Just something silly or absurd that somebody said, where I can easily make fun of it by basically bringing the absurd statements to their logical conclusions.  

So browse some nonsense websites, watch some nonsense television shows, or take a detour to the nonsense section in your local library or book store.  If you find a juicy quote, mark it down and send it to me, and Iíll send you something absolutely free.  Iíll give you credit in the show as well.

Anyway, that brings us to the end of this episode.  Thanks for listening, if you enjoyed the show give me a positive review on iTunes.  You can also write to me at *EMAIL*, and you can also use that address to PayPal a donation if youíre feeling generous.  Send me nonsense quotes and get a prize!  My theme music is ďMy MonkeyĒ by Jonathan Coulton, visit him online at jonathancoulton.com.  Iíll see you next time on The Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge!


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