Weekly Web Links:
- If evolution had occurred slightly differently could dragons have existed? I’m hoping this could still happen…
- A look at the changes that have occurred in Manila over the past 100 years.
- Links like this are the reason that I’m continuously short on money; 10 American history books that everyone should read.
- Psychedelic Drug Culture in 500AD.
- Women at work during World War I.
- Teaching history with 100 objects.
Historical Book Review for the Week:
Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men by Joseph P. Farrell
I love conspiracy theories and the people who come up with them. I am completely aware of just how much that statement may sound like sarcasm but I mean it with complete sincerity. These ideas are, at worst, constructed and supported by people who have a level of belief and enthusiasm that is rarely rivaled by any other group of people. At their best, however, they provide alternate viewpoints which, while they may need to be tempered or modified in order to fit evidence and facts, can completely alter the established record of almost any subject.
With that personal disclaimer out of the way, however, if you’re going to argue a point that goes against conventional thinking you need to be very careful about how you present your information if you want to be taken seriously. The data can’t be picked and chosen selectively, everything has to be laid out cleanly and clearly, easy to follow and with no room for distraction and confusion. One of this book’s major arguments is that ‘cosmic elites’ helped form the bulk of history’s most significant civilizations (Sumerians, Egyptians, etc) because there is no way that human ancestors went from hundreds of thousands of years of hunter-gatherer lifestyles to the aforementioned civilizations that still fascinate us today. While I in no way mean to diminish the accomplishments of the construction of a wonder like the Egyptian pyramids and their like I do feel that claiming that they are the direct result of visitors from another planet is a bit of a stretch. This belief appears to be based predominantly on the theory that there is insufficient evidence to provide a sufficient progression from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to advanced civilizations which is inaccurate; in contrast to this theory, there is a well-documented progression from nomadic hunters to settled hunters to farmers to villages to towns, cities, and finally civilizations. I do have to say that as the book progresses towards the middle section it does get slightly better; the author’s ideas about hallucinations, suggestions being made through white noise, and the like are very interesting although it does go a bit too far into conspiracy theories for my liking with suggestions being made to the government controlling people through microwave radiation and that type of theory.
My final complaint of this book is that there is a rather childish tone throughout the whole book; it is as though the author was aware that his evidence was not sound enough to convince the majority of the public and he was already getting defensive in his explanations. There are a number of snide comments made in regards to the traditional fields of education that are referred to in the book including anthropology, science and history. The frequent and sarcastic use of quotation marks (“amateur” “traditional”) gave off the impression of listening to a teenager telling you that you just don’t understand and ‘GOD, you’re ruining my life’ rather than a grown man with a well thought out theory. Again, if you’re going to try and argue something that goes outside the conventional way of thinking, you should probably go for a well-thought out, logical, eloquent argument rather than resorting to attitude and name calling.