Ancient Aliens Debunked by Biblical literalist (Updated: Flood myth debunked)

Many paranormal and mysterious news websites have been abuzz about the free and available documentary called “Ancient Aliens Debunked” by Chris White which rips down the History Channel show “Ancient Aliens” that gives credence to unsupported speculation about aliens visiting earth. (You can safely dump the whole thing into the pseudoscience bin.) This new documentary picks at each of the show’s topics.

Ancient Aliens Debunked is a 3 hour refutation of the theories proposed on the History Channel series Ancient Aliens. It is essentially a point by point critique of the “ancient astronaut theory” which has been proposed by people like Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin as well as many others.

The film covers topics like:

Ancient building sites: Puma Punku, The Pyramids, Baalbek, Incan sites, And Easter Island. Ancient artifacts: Pacal’s rocket, the Nazca lines, the Tolima “fighter jets”, the Egyptian “light bulb”, Ufo’s in ancient art, and the crystal skulls. Ancient text issues: Ezekiel’s wheel, Ancient nuclear warfare, Vimana’s, the Anunnaki, and the Nephilim.

 It was produced by Chris White and includes commentary from Dr. Michael Hesier.

White has even promoted his work on Skeptic.com: Ancient Aliens Debunked.

[...]thanks to the erstwhile efforts of skeptic Chris White, this video is a complete analysis that will give you all the ammo you need to respond to people who breathlessly proclaim that they saw this “documentary” on the History Channel that offers “proof” of alien visitation. You can say, “not so fast!” And then tell them what we actually know about ancient history and aliens (and the lack thereof).

The video comes with high praise from viewers for it’s takedown of the rather reprehensible Ancient Aliens TV series, but there is something you may want to know about Chris White. Check out the comments on the Skeptic piece:

“I did not like the Christian spin they pulled toward the end.”

“Was an excellent debunking until it went completely off the rails with the ‘Noah’s Ark must be true’ and ‘Nephilim are real’ nonsense, your clear Christian bias shone through there.”

Yes, White is a fundamentalist Christian and conspiracy theorist. He does not hide this fact but is not quick to disclose it either (though, it’s arguable if that is necessary to do so or not). Nowhere To Run with Chris White: Beliefs:

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible Word of God and inerrant in the original languages.

You can also see on this post that the praise is high until that same point. (See the comments.)

White is a Christian (which I know because he told me so), and he has a Biblical perspective that leads him to propose, for example, that the flood of Noah really happened and that global myths are connected through one exceedingly ancient source (a la the Tower of Babel). This doesn’t significantly impact the good work he does in his film (it’s a very minor part of the story), but it would have been helpful to know two hours or so earlier.

Should we be promoting White’s documentary if he certainly fails to apply the same rigor to all his other beliefs? Some people do seem to be annoyed that the rationality theme of the movie goes off the rails. There is much to be said for taking the piece on its own merits, not on the personal beliefs of the person who made it.

A commenter on the JREF forum had an excellent suggestion, we should certainly set this documentary in context. Show how evidence is correctly used and compelling arguments are presented. However, we can refute the Flood Theory and nephelim arguments using the same high standards. This is the proper way to critical review such a piece.

What do you think about White being promoted as a “skeptic”? Appropriate?

Have you watched the piece? (I am not familiar with the Ancient Alien show or the topics covered so don’t feel qualified to comment on the debunking either.)

Here is a link to the video on YouTube.

Please add any additional links regarding this topic. We appreciate it. (Please note if you add 2 or more links in a comment, it will be delayed in posting by the comment software, but it WILL be posted.)

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UPDATE (17-Oct-2012) eSkeptic has published a piece on the Flood Myth.

Recently, we posted Chris White’s 3-hour refutation of the theories proposed on the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens that claim we were engineered by extraterrestrials. However, the notion of a worldwide flood mentioned in the otherwise excellent documentary could use some debunking.

In this week’s eSkeptic, Skeptic magazine’s Religion Editor, Tim Callahan, and our resident geologist Donald Prothero, debunk Noah’s Flood both from a mythological and geological standpoint.

  33 comments for “Ancient Aliens Debunked by Biblical literalist (Updated: Flood myth debunked)

  1. October 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Jason Colavito (who is a skeptic who writes a blog on the topic of Ancient Astronaut) wrote a review of the documentary here:

    http://www.jasoncolavito.com/1/post/2012/09/reviewing-ancient-aliens-debunked.html

    • October 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      That link is in the post above.

  2. Kwame
    October 9, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    This is a tough one. If his takedown of AA is good then yeah, I think it deserves to be promoted. The danger is that he’ll use whatever credibility that gives him to promote his fundamentalist ideas. A good argument can be made however that there are no perfect skeptics, everyone has a crazy idea or two, and you can’t reasonably allow that to bias their rational views. But maybe White’s crazy is a little too prominent. I guess, all we can do is mention him with caveats and hope people can recognize where the bullshit begins.

  3. Chew
    October 9, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    It is a good opportunity to debunk the ancient alien nonsense just based on who made the video. “It’s such a stupid theory even Biblical literalists think it’s stupid.”

  4. October 9, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    It is a good example of finding cooperation and common ground in unusual places.

  5. Cory Albrecht (@Bytor)
    October 9, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Before White’s documentary brings in the Noachian Deluge and the Nephilim, what tack does it take in the debunking? Is it a facts-based spin like “Nibiru cannot be coming to doom the planet on 12-21-12 because we would have detected it by now” or pointing out that weirdos like Zechariah Sitchin don’t know what they’re babbling about? If so, then yes, I feel that it’s appropriate to be annoyed that at the end he doesn’t apply the same skepticism to his own beliefs as to these others.

    But if he started off from the beginning with a “The Bible doesn’t mention this” spin and only uses the facts to give false validity to that, then no, complaining is not appropriate because you knew what you were in for from the beginning.

    In any case, while “capital S” Skeptics we may not like that he is billed as a a “skeptic” of ancient aliens, it is still a linguistically appropriate use of the word and we do not have it trademarked.

    • October 9, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Yes, it’s absolutely fact-based. Looking at archaeological evidence, misrepresentation of texts, and so on. It specifically attacks Sitchin for not knowing what he was talking about. It also attacks people for misrepresenting Tiwanaku, Palenque, Baalbek, and so on.

      In other words, it is all the standard skeptical arguments about misrepresentation of evidence, omitting evidence, and so on. And then he starts talking about Noah and Nephilim as the best explanations for global myths (with a treatment of global myth that isn’t as bad as the Ancient Aliens folks, but not unrecognizable). There is one slight hint at the beginning that he’s going to do this, but it is very subtle. I picked up on it in part because I knew Michael Heiser was involved (he’s interviewed in numerous sections of the film), and while Heiser is a credentialed expert on Biblical text and related topics, he also believes at least some alien abductions are real demonic events, and helps promote the UFOs=Demons ideology (including links to Alien Resistance on his website).

      So yes, Cory, it is precisely your first suggestion. I’m not going to say for certain that it was deliberately constructed to minimize this element on initial viewing, but that is clearly the effect it has had on some people who I think probably did not watch the whole thing.

    • craig doriot
      October 13, 2012 at 3:04 AM

      Chris White has thorough multi-hour debunkings of Sitchin’s work and Nibiru. He may have glossed over it here, but if you look at his other work, he is very thorough in covering these topics. As for knocking Christianity, maybe dig a bit deeper at examining what is truth, and simply ask out in sincerity for Him to reveal Himself to you personally. Yes, that act will defy your current sense of reasoning, but that is where the search for truth begins.

      • spookyparadigm
        October 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM

        In case anyone is curious, the “Debunking David Icke” video begins with discussion of global Satanic conspiracies, as if they are a matter of fact. That’s about where I cut out.

        • spookyparadigm
          October 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM

          Hey, let’s see if we can get a major skeptical website to put this one up too, even though it goes right into the heart of it in the first minute. Here’s David Icke Debunked.

  6. October 9, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    So we’re comfortable with a skeptical site promoting, with praise, a film that tries to prove the reality of Noah’s Ark and demons/angels/Nephilim (this material is clearer in White’s other videos and writings, so just based on this film alone, he promotes Noah’s Ark as a real event f some kind, and Nephilim giants (descended from supernatural beings) as real creatures.

    So, if I promote the reality of Cthulhu, like for real, dreaming in his sunken city on the bottom of the Pacific, that’s ok for say Skeptic.com’s front page? That would be alright?

    That’s besides White’s amazingly conspiratorial worldview not in evidence in the video. If he believed that in his other videos, but none of the supernatural biblical literalism was in this video, this would actually be something of a judgement call. But as it currently stands, I can’t see how it is.

    On top of that, don’t some of you feel played by this? How is this any different from similar efforts to entice the viewer, somewhat dishonestly, with something appealing, and then switch up and hit them with the gospel. It’s not exactly the extreme of flirty fishing, it’s more like gummi vitamins I suppose, but the principle is there.

    Oh, and I’m serious about that Cthulhu thing, folks (at least in the sense of showing how easy it is to make up your own ancient aliens. I’m posting the following link less of self-promotion than to show that you should at least footnote whether you are serious or not)

    http://miskatonicmuseum.blogspot.com/2010/07/moche-octopoid-headdress-representation.html

    • October 9, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      I will add, though, that skepticism in a sense does this kind of “sugar-coat, for SCIENCE” action. Getting people excited about science by using mystery. So I probably should be too harsh on it, even if I don’t like it in this case.

    • October 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      Then you’re going to love my new book, “Cthulhu in World Mythology” (out soon!), which parodies the ancient astronaut genre with a straight-faced ancient astronaut book with Cthulhu as the star. Sadly, some people already think the book is serious even though it’s labeled “parody” and isn’t even out yet!

      • October 9, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        Heh. We used to have the tagline “People really believe this stuff!” Cause it appeals to SOMEONE, no matter how ridiculous.

  7. October 9, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    I am feeling uneasy about a potential bait and switch here, no doubt about that. There is NO one who is lock solid on all their opinions on claims so we attack the claims instead of the person.

    I am not feeling too trusting about someone who promotes fundamentalist points of view. Maybe that makes me less than charitable but it makes my skeptical senses tingle regardless. I’m certainly not good at putting blinders on for this one situation and praising someone as wonderful when their philosophy has really not changed. I understand this is a different way of looking at things than others see it.

    As suggested above, it is good that this piece exists but it should CERTAINLY come with a strong disclaimer that some of the alternative explanations proposed are not what you might expect.

  8. October 9, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    It clearly does no good to substitute one absurd idea with an equally absurd idea. If an idea flies in the face of logic and has absolutely no reasonable evidence to support it, it is just as bad as any other unprovable claim. In fact, however, this guy may be doing soemthing worse. At least the ancient aliens idea, flawed though it obviously is, serves to offer an alternative to the idea that the Bible is literally true, which is just as dangerous, if not more so.

  9. One Eyed Jack
    October 9, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I wouldn’t toss it aside based on the religious twist. Insisting that everyone agree on all things is a bit fanatical.

    There is a much better use of this video. It as a prime example of compartmentalization. It demonstrates how people can apply logic, reason, and high standards of evidence to one topic, but ignore it on another topic.

    Compartmentalization is not something that just the religious do. We all do it. Yes, I’m looking at you my skeptic friend. We do it when we dissect the politician we dislike while overlooking the shortcomings of our favorite. We do it when we scorn ancient aliens, but embrace ghosts, big foot, or acupuncture (pick a woo). We may say no to those topics, but if we reflect long enough, we might find a part of our lives where we don’t apply the rigors of reason that we do everywhere else.

    Then again, we probably won’t. That is the nature of compartmentalization — we aren’t aware we’re doing it. Someone else usually has to point it out to us. When they do, that’s when rationalization takes over…

    • October 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      On the whole, those of us in the Skeptical frame of mind apply natural laws and reason to explanations. Chris White does not do this apparently with any effort across the board. So, as I said, this idea seems OK within this very limited scope. It might make me a “bad skeptic” to judge his intentions based on his other well-promoted beliefs but it keeps me clear of being duped. We all have to take these kinds of shortcuts to get through life since we don’t have time to judge every little piece on its own merits, in a vacuum.

  10. October 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    My name is Chris White the maker of this video. I would like to say that appreciate that people are posting the video, but it was never my intention for people to post it on their sites that would not have want to promote it if they had seen the part about the similarities in ancient mythologies.

    Whenever I had a chance I warned anyone (who I knew to be in the skeptic community) who contacted me about posting the video. For instance before Michael Shermer posted it on Skeptic. I made sure he knew that I was a Christian and that of the two possible explanations for the similarities in ancient texts (that is that they are based off a more ancient unknown source, or that they are a product of distant memory of an actual event) I thought the latter was more logical, and I promoted it in the film. I told him that if he posted it Im sure he would get all kinds of heat for it, and that I would understand if he reconsidered. To his credit he said it was ok, and that it didn’t change the fact that the debunking of AA was good.

    To hear everyone talk you would think I spent the whole movie talking about Noah’s ark or something but my arguments were trying to find an explanation for the similarities in ancient texts in an honest way. As far as I see it there are two ways to deal with this, three if you are willing to say that the similarities dont really exist, or that they are insignificant.

    If I had said that they were based off a common unknown ancient text then I would have nothing to back that claim up with, as there is no trace of literary borrowing among the texts. That theory would also mean that these ancient cultures all gathered around some ancient campfire, told this story, agreed it would be the mythology that they would all tell their grandchildren was the truth about life, and then begin their migration to the four corners of the world. It would presuppose that these peoples were already very evolved (enough to remember a mythology) before they settled in their respective lands.

    What I said in the film is this:

    “Ironically if you take it at face value, if there was really a flood and all people except for the ones on the boat were destroyed, and if most modern cultures were descended from them, the fact that the entire world seems to have inherited the same story would make sense, because they essentially had the same eight ancestors who experienced such a dramatic event, and made it a point to pass the story to each generation. I propose that something like this really did happen in ancient history. I don’t see any logical way around it. The question I have is which, if any of these accounts, is closest to the truth? ”

    In other words, this evidence would be explained by that being true.

    I wanted to skip this section entirely actually, but if I did I would have not really debunked anything; every ancient astronaut theorist would notice the obvious omission. In many ways the stories of this hybridization event in mythologies is why we have the AAT today. Everything else is almost peripheral to them.

    Also I have listened and read a LOT of debunking from the Skeptic community on this point and I haven’t heard anything better? Most of the time it’s not even dealt with. that’s one reason I am kind of confused by everyone acting as if the answer to this question is so old hat to you, do all of you know the answer to this question? Is it so obvious that no one even has to mention it?

    At the end of the day I dont like being wrong (who does?) and I believe if I had said anything else about this point I would have been. I really believe the correct answer for this one is a weird one. I believe I am applying the same epistemology with this than the rest of the claims.

    Though we differ on many things we are on the same team on this one.

    • October 9, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      Sorry for the typos.

    • October 9, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      Thank you for stopping by to comment.

    • October 9, 2012 at 6:05 PM

      Howdy, Chris,

      I’m one of the writers at Skeptic magazine, where I have discussed ancient aliens myself. I wanted to thank you for all your effort in creating this video. It’s certainly useful work—and my feeling about useful work is, the more people doing it, the better.

    • Thomas Goss
      October 12, 2012 at 4:22 AM

      Hey Chris – it was a worthy effort, but what you have to understand is that the more well-argued your skepticism, the more glaring become the badly-supported arguments. It might have better to leave out the references to Noah’s Ark – but I know well what it is like to put out your own informational media. You are the final arbiter of what goes in and stays out. You can only make the best decision on your own, and take responsibility for the consequences where it is reasonable to do so. Now you know – if you present a polemic with the intention of reaching out to a certain set of viewers, then you know what the response will be to certain approaches you may take.

      It leaves me wondering if you did any research into the scientific challenges to the notion of a catastrophic mass extinction within the last ten thousand years (such as – lack of genetic bottlenecks, geological evidence, or even enough available water on the entire planet to cover more than a few hundred more feet of coastline). It’s rather like serving a delicious pizza with a dead bug on it. No matter how the pizza is divided, someone will eventually run into the slice with the bug.

  11. Bob
    October 9, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    I’ll take good debunkery where I can get it.

    I would point out that “that is that they are based off a more ancient unknown source, or that they are a product of distant memory of an actual event” is a sort of false dichotomy. OR flood stories are ubiquitous because floods are ubiquitous (people have to live near water).

    Another thing that we know about how stories pass down in the oral tradition is that it is the most memorable versions get retold, regardless of how true they are. You never see “rather large flood that wiped out one corner of Frodo’s farm” stories being passed down. There may have been a flood on Frodo’s farm that wiped out a corner of his crops, but he may, in his dotage, conflate that flood with a drought that he lost his crop one year. And then the “flood” gets bigger. And his kids tell the story about the year that all the crops were destroyed and it passes into the community’s common knowledge. Well, a couple generations down the line Frodo and his family have become the sole survivors of a flood and have repopulated the world. Memorable stories, not necessarily true ones get passed along. The Noah story as we have it? Well, likely a version of a story that originated in a preliterate culture in the region. When you have writing, the literary elements become a little more stable. I would not be the first time. :)

    RJB

    • October 9, 2012 at 7:12 PM

      I prefer the term debunkumentary ;-)

      I tend to agree with you about big stories being remembered instead of less interesting ones, It seems to be the way those things go, but we still would be left with the question: Is the big story based on an event, whether 1/4 true, 1/2 true…whatever, or was it an oral/written untrue mythology?

      If it was just a story and not an event then we are still left with the other issues such as the fact that they knew it before they left for their various migrations so there would be all the problems that follow that, plus you still would have to say that the various cultures that did write it down showed no evidence of literary borrowing from one another. In other words the only difference would be that instead of a more ancient unknown text it would be a more ancient unknown oral tradition vs. a real event the precise truth of which would undoubtedly vary from one story to another.

      Its important to note that it would be selling this issue short to limit the similarities to the flood issue alone. That happens to be the one people know the most about, but there are plenty of other issues in this common story.

      Take Atrahasis for example, the flood plays a minority part in the sea of similarities, similarities which appear in creations stories all over the world: hybridization, giants, imprisonment in the underworlds, for the hybridization, and a host of little things like the mentions of ribs and breathing into them, I could go on.

      Im not telling you what is true and what isnt, Im just saying that it’s an uphill climb to explain all this away in naturalistic terms, and I have yet to hear a really good argument from the Skeptic community on it, if I had I would have addressed it in the film I assure you. If you have one please email me chris@ancientaliensdebunked.com I really will like to hear it. Im not sure if I will continue to check this thread but if your reading this and you have the answer please do email me.

      It should also be noted that the mention of Noah’s ark in the movie was only in the context of demonstrating that the Sumerians scribes were pretty lax in the preservation of the texts even from one contemporary temple to another. I was using it to back up a claim about scribal integrity. In that example though I was comparing Utnapishtim’s cube to Noah’s ark to demonstrate that just because the Sumerians were first didnt mean they did the best job preserving texts.

      I know Im going to kick myself for not proofing this more, but here goes.

  12. Bob
    October 9, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    I’m actually doing an experiment to see if typos get passed down through the generations. Damn it.

    • October 9, 2012 at 6:32 PM

      Aside: I can not find a comment plug in that would allow typos to be corrected. Or I would plug that in for sure. Sorry.

  13. October 10, 2012 at 2:59 AM

    Whether one believes the Bible is true or not, the idea that “angels” mated with human women is nonsense when chronology and common sense come into play.

    Genesis 6:4

    There were giants in the earth in those days; AND ALSO AFTER THAT, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

    Clearly the “giants” already existed before any socalled “supernatural unions” took place. What’s more, the vast majority of Hebrew scholars agree that the “sons of God” were simply those who believed in God, while the “daughters of men” were women who did not believe in God, or believed in other gods. Just humans of differing beliefs begetting humans, nothing supernatural about any of it.

    If there were “giants” they were very likely an evolutionary or biological branch of really big people, not supernatural offspring.

    As a note, the “giants” were still around after the “flood”. If they weren’t on the ark, how did they survive?

    Aside from that, I found the video very informative and well researched.

    I would have used bold text and italics, but I don’t know how, or if I even can in these text boxes.

    • craig doriot
      October 13, 2012 at 3:20 AM

      the notion that “sons of God” means people that follow God doesnt really work upon close examination. It is a case of reinterpreting the bible to give it a more “reasonable” understanding, and not offending twisted contemporary thinking. Here is a good explanation of the “sons of God” theory:
      http://www.khouse.org/articles/1996/43/

      • October 14, 2012 at 12:27 AM

        Thanks for the laugh.

  14. Graham
    October 11, 2012 at 5:41 AM

    It should be noted that one of the first attempts to tackle Von Daniken was also by a fundamentalist, namely “Crash go the Chariots” by Dr Clifford Wilson which appeared in 1972 along with many other books, none of which were re-printed while the Ancient Alien peddlers books are reprinted again and again and again…

  15. October 16, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    I’m not split. Bad science is still bad science. Just because we agree on the outcome doesn’t mean both methods were valid.

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