Posts Tagged “ancient”

One of the most notorious pseudohistorians currently living, Zechariah Sitchin, has made the big time … in the form of an interview with none other than the venerable Gray Lady, the nation’s “newspaper of record.” If you don’t know who Sitchin is, don’t worry, the New York Times covers his wingnut theories in a quick fashion, although it hardly does justice to his pompous wordiness (WebCite cached article):

Origin of the Species, From an Alien View

WHERE did humankind come from?

If you’re going to ask Zecharia Sitchin, be ready for a “Planet of the Apes” scenario: spaceships and hieroglyphics, genetic mutations and mutinous space aliens in gold mines.

It sounds like science fiction, but Mr. Sitchin is sure this is how it all went down hundreds of thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia. Humans were genetically engineered by extraterrestrials, he said, pointing to ancient texts to prove it.

Sitchin deeply imbues every sentence he writes with an obnoxious certitude, as well as the implication that he’s the only human being who’s ever actually read the ancient texts he claims he’s read. He insinuates that there are no Sumerologists or Assyriologists other than himself. The Times sums up his expertise, as well as his so-called “argument”:

Starting in childhood, he has studied ancient Hebrew, Akkadian and Sumerian, the language of the ancient Mesopotamians, who brought you geometry, astronomy, the chariot and the lunar calendar. And in the etchings of Sumerian pre-cuneiform script — the oldest example of writing — are stories of creation and the cosmos that most consider myth and allegory, but that Mr. Sitchin takes literally.

In his kitchen, Mr. Sitchin pulled two Danish out of a Zabar’s bag and began to explain. It starts with the planet Nibiru, whose long, elliptical orbit brings it near Earth once every 3,600 years or so. The planet’s inhabitants were technologically advanced humanlike beings, Mr. Sitchin said, standing about nine feet tall. Some 450,000 years ago, they detected reserves of gold in southeast Africa and made a colonial expedition to Earth, splashing down in what is now the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Sitchin said these Nibiru-ites recruited laborers from Earth’s erect primates to build eight great cities. Enki, who became the Sumerians’ god of science, bestowed some of the Nibiru-ites’ advanced genetic makeup upon these bipeds so they could work as miners.

This is how Mr. Sitchin explains what scientists attribute to evolution. He says the aliens’ cities were washed away in a great flood 30,000 years ago, after which they began passing on their knowledge to humans. He showed a photograph of a woodcarving from 7,000 B.C. of a large man handing over a plow to a smaller man: Ah, the passing on of agricultural knowledge. Anyway, he said, the Nibiru-ites finally jetted home in their spacecraft, around 550 B.C.

There are a number of glaring, obvious flaws with Sitchin’s scenario, not the least of which is: If these aliens were so advanced that they could pilot spacecraft and engineer humanity, how could their cities have been destroyed — to the point of driving them off the planet entirely — by something as prosaic as flooding? I mean, had they no means to deal with it?

Sitchin makes the same mistake many pseudohistorians do … which is to confuse the speculation and mythology of the ancients, and their metaphorical expressions and various metaphysical suppositions, with fact. For instance, he assumes that because ancient Near Easterners — such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Hebrews — wrote about a “great global flood,” the only possible conclusion is that there absolutely must have been a great global flood! He cannot conceive that there may have been a single localized (yet devastating) flood, which eventually morphed in the telling into something much larger and even more devastating. Oh no. Couldn’t have happened! The presumption that “the Ancients” never, ever wrote fiction, never exaggerated, never repeated unfounded rumors, never leaped to conclusions, and never misrepresented or misstated facts, is of course totally ridiculous … yet Sitchin, for all his apparent intelligence, is by no means the only person to hold this idea.

Sitchin’s leaps to conclusions and pseudoacademic arrogance are all just too asinine for words. Unfortunately his pablum is widely believed, though, and he’s a best-selling author, many times over. Sigh.

Hat tip: The Skeptic’s Dictionary.

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