While in his cell [whilst incarcerated for embezzlement, fraud and forgery], he claims, he experienced an intense vision.
Von Daniken won’t discuss the nature of the vision…
Erich Von Daniken, ancient astronaut alien fame (or, infamy)—was interviewed by Timothy Ferris; an interview you can find scanned from the original magazine here and yet, one that no one seems to have transcribed as of yet which is why we will provide much of the text within this series.
Within the article Erich Von Daniken is referred to as an “ex-convict” as he has been convicted of embezzlement, fraud and forgery. It is noted that the legal system’s “Examining psychiatrist said he displayed a ‘tendency to lie’” and that “a count appointed psychiatrist described him as a liar and a criminal psychopath.”
Without getting into the details of his convictions, it may be of interest to note Von Daniken’s statement on the issue:
I have never committed fraud or embezzlement, although it is true I have been convicted of those things. I was improperly convicted three times…People don’t ask if Christ was convicted of a crime. What has that to do with the message Christ brought? What does my having been in jail, guilty or innocent, have to do with my work?
In a way, his reply is a good one as strictly speaking saying something to the likes of “Well, Von Daniken is an ex-convict so his ancient astronaut alien must be false” would be to commit an ad hominem aka genetic fallacy: bypassing a counterargument by seeking to discredit the source of the argument. And yet, if a person has been thrice convicted of embezzlement, fraud and forgery and displays a tendency to lie then his claims can be rightly thought of as suspect. Yet, to be suspect is not to be debunked which is why Timothy Ferris actually digs into the specific claims made by Von Daniken.
Critics say…he plays fast and loose with the truth. “Shilling the rubes,” The New York Times has called his work. “A fine unscrupulous 12-year old mind,” said Esquire. “The Clifford Irving of the Cosmos”—The Miami News. And an archeologist familiar with Von Daniken’s work said, flatly: “He simply lies.”
But that kind of talk doesn’t seem to bother Von Daniken. “I’m the only author who has really frightened the critics,” he says. “Other writers sit at home and wait for miracles, I’m making the miracles”…scientists dismiss him as a con man, but to millions of readers what he writes is close to gospel.
While he surely did not mean it this way, his statement “I’m making the miracles” is actually true; in a manner of speaking as he simply invents his evidence and thus, makes the miracles.
Another interesting fact about Von Daniken’s background is provided:
…he grew up under the twin shadows of a stern father and the Catholic Church, eventually rebelling against both. At Saint Michaels…[a] Catholic school in Fribourg, he soon ran into trouble, he says today, because he refused to accept Church interpretations of the Bible…[“]I did have difficulties with my father and with my Catholic upbringing, but it’s not true that because of this I am now, an adult, trying to defeat Christianity. That’s not so.[”]
Well, rebelling against and refusing to accept (the Roman Catholic) Church’s interpretations of the Bible is not only understandable but commendable. Although, of course, he is, consciously or not, trying to defeat Christianity with everything from his belief that “we came from apes” to his main theory that “we have been visited from outer space” by “visitors [who] had sexual intercourse with our ancestors” and that “we are the products of them.” So, aliens had sex with apes and here we are—not exactly Christian theology.
And just what was that “intense vision” and who bequeathed it unto him? “Von Daniken won’t discuss the nature of the vision.”
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