I remember reading “Chariots of The Gods” not long after it came out (yes I am that old, but still pretty spry) and believing every word of it, the feeling of revelation it had for me, and complaining to my mother to make older brother take me along to see the movie when it came out (I wasn’t that old then.) Still, it was the talk of my school and I was so looking forward to the day when it the Aliens would return.
I found this item on a similar blog site to our favorite, so please give Mori a shout out when you check out what he has to say. There are some interesting stories over there.
April 8th, 2012 by Mori
“To me this is the most incredible, fantastic story of the century”, wrote Swiss author Erich von Daniken in his 1973 book, The Gold of the Gods.. “It could easily have come straight from the realms of Science Fiction if I had not seen and photographed the incredible truth in person. What I saw was not the product of dreams or imagination, it was real and tangible”, he emphasized.
Daniken gave an excited first person account of this expedition guided by fellow Juan Moricz, and the incredible wonders he saw for himself. Only thing is, shortly after the book was published, Moricz disauthorized the Charioteer and told German newspapers Däniken had never been to the caves “unless it was in a flying saucer. If he claims to have seen the [golden] library and the other things himself then that’s a lie”.
And in the NOVA/Horizon documentary above, The Case of the Ancient Astronauts (1977), around 40 minutes on, you can see Däniken himself admitting these things described in his book didn’t actually happen. It’s wonderful seeing how he express some discomfort, but does not seem terribly disturbed confessing he simply made up the “incredible real and tangible truth”;.
According to him, those were simple literary “effects” and “small details” that an author was allowed to use. Not only did he invent his visit to the caves, despite the persevering search for what is yet another version of El Dorado, all suggests Moricz himself also invented everything. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but when those who claim to have seen those wonders come up with excuses like “they were too heavy to take out”, “the world is not yet prepared to know it” or that even simple photos “wouldn’t prove anything anyway”, one can reasonably disregard the subject until something solid comes up.
That was not actually the first time Däniken somewhat candidly confessed making things up. Previously, in a wonderful interview by Timothy Ferris published on Playboy, August 1974, after being presented as a three times convicted criminal – one for stealing and twice for fraud –confronted with someone who contrary to him, had done his homework, Däniken concedes again and again how little he knew of the subjects he wrote about.
You can read a full scan of the interview here. And in the end, Däniken actually admits he was not entirely serious on what he wrote:
“Ferris: A last question comes to mind because of our favorite of your theories – the one in Gold of the Gods in which you suggest that the banana was brought to Earth from space.
Ferris is referring to this excerpt, from the same book with the imaginary expedition to the non-existent golden caves:
“The banana, a delicious item of food, has been known in every tropical and subtropical region of the earth for many thousands of years. The Indian saga tells of the “wonderful Kandali” (= banana bush) which the “Manu,” the loftiest spirits and protectors of mankind, brought to our planet from another star which was much further along the path of evolution than our earth. But a banana bush or banana tree simply does not exist! The banana is an annual plant which does not multiply by seeds, which it does not possess, but by suckers. Looked at in this light, the banana is a problem. It is found on even the most remote South Sea islands. How did this plant, which is so vital for the nourishment of mankind, originate? How did it make its way round the world, seeing that it has no seeds? Did the “Manu,” of whom the Indian saga tells, bring it with them from another star-as an all-round foodstuff?”
And Ferris straightly asks: “Were you serious?” Von Däniken answers:
“Von Daniken: No, and not many people realize that.”
The best part ends the brilliant interview:
Ferris: That leads us to ask if all your writing is a put-on. Are you, as one writer suggested, ‘the most brilliant satirist in German literature for a century’?
Von Daniken: The answer is yes and no. We have a wonderful term in German: jein. It’s a combination of ja and nein, yes and no. In some part, absolutely not; I mean what I say seriously. In other ways, I mean to make people laugh.
Ferris: Well, you’ve succeeded in both aims.”
Wikipedia has this to say about “Chariots of The Gods”
Soon after the publication of “Chariots of the Gods”? von Däniken was accused of stealing the ideas of French author Robert Charroux.
A 2004 article in Skeptic magazine states that von Däniken plagiarized many of the book’s concepts from The Morning of the Magicians, that this book in turn was heavily influenced by the Cthulhu Mythos, and that the core of the ancient astronaut theory originates in H. P. Lovecraft’s short stories “The Call of Cthulhu” and “At the Mountains of Madness”.
The iron pillar of Delhi, erected by Chandragupta II the Great, which Von Däniken claimed did not rust.
One artifact offered as evidence in the book has been disclaimed by Däniken himself. Chariots asserts that a non-rusting iron pillar in India was evidence of extraterrestrial influence, but Däniken admitted in a Playboy interview (vol.21, no.8, August 1974) that the pillar was man-made and that as far as supporting his theories goes “we can forget about this iron thing.” Neither this nor any other discredited evidence has been removed from subsequent editions of “Chariots of the Gods.”
von Daniken’s “theories” have pervaded UFOlogy for the decades that have followed his writing. You hear them still in shows like “Ancient Aliens.” Rarely attributed to anyone, and of course since he seems to have passed off many other writers ideas as his own they could hardly be honestly attributed to him in any case, but still the influence of a popular book on our culture can hardly be ignored, as is aptly stated in the old proverb: “a lie will go ’round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” But facts are objective and will continue to exist regardless of a preponderance of contradictory belief.
For those of you less interested in stories of debunking, and want the juicy gossip, I have not given up on that quest either. Stay tuned, more to come.
ps. note for the literal minded, the Banana is neither a fruit, nor a tree but an herb that is botanically classified as a berry. Go figure.