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The Ancient Alien Question

Book Review of: The Ancient Alien Question

A new inquiry into the existence, evidence, and influence of ancient visitors

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Review of The Ancient Alien Question, by Phillip Coppens (Softcover, 2011)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)


A great read for the intellectually curious.

What I like most about this book is how the author seems to dance around a point rather than bowl you over with only one side of an argument. So there I am, reading what I think is his take on something. Thus far, the evidence and argument have been compelling. I'm almost hooked. Then he calmly goes about poking holes in what I just read. And he wraps up with "...maybe this, but on the other hand maybe that. And what if....?"

You have to appreciate intellectual curiosity to like this sort of thing. I suspect Mr. Coppens has been on a debate team. He's clearly able to research both sides (and the middle, too) of an issue. This shows up in his discussions, but also in the almost ridiculously long biography.

He goes into some of the old myths and arguments, pointing out where they are weak and, in many cases, flatly wrong. But he extracts from many of those new questions. The conclusion is false, he shows, but what does this set of facts imply? What questions should we be asking? Then he asks some "keen insight" questions.

Erich von Daniken wrote the foreword to this book. Something this book shares with von Daniken's breakthrough best-seller Chariots of the Gods is the huge number of questions. Not that Coppens is trying to imitate von Daniken. These are clearly two different writers and they clearly have two different ways of examining facts and anomalies. But they sure do ask a lot of questions.

Coppens does express his opinions in the book, and he's entitled to do that. It seems to be clear from the text that he's drawing a line between "here is what I looked up from a reliable source" and "here's my conclusion." But in one case, he's way off course.

On page 226, he errs in his discourse about the theory of evolution. As with many people, he mistakenly believes that when science calls something a "theory" that means it's a thought they can't prove. This is not at all the case, and not just in science. Many technical manuals describe the "theory of operation" and electrical engineers refer to "electrical theory." This has nothing to do with the veracity (or lack thereof) of the subject. You can think of "theory" in these instances as an explanation of the underlying fundamentals.

The theory of evolution is not just Darwin. It's a broader concept, and most of our science is based on it. Evolution is very real, and the overwhelming evidence is all around us and even inside us. And it's in the technology we use. It's even in our language, which is constantly evolving. As are our music, culture, law, etc. We can see the universe evolve simply by looking back in time with today's powerful telescopes.

Coppen's digression into error is a minor part of the book, but it was really a nails on the chalkboard thing to encounter. And it just does not go with the intelligent analysis found in the rest of the book.

Coppens brings up a line of inquiry I haven't seen written about very much. That is the idea that aliens communicate with earthlings in a mode other than physically. He looks at several anecdotes that are explained only by this idea. But again, he avoids telling the reader "Here's your definitive answer, even though actual evidence is scanty." And I appreciate that.

He does provide us with one of his own conclusions as the end of the book nears, and he ends the book on that note. His conclusion is that we are the aliens, having arisen (sans evolution?) from DNA that arrived here from outer space. That may be true, but it's a well off topic from the other ideas explored in this book.

Over all, a great read that will have you thinking "What if" questions and not taking official dogma as beyond all reasonable doubt. There's plenty of reasonable doubt provided by unexplained anomalies, coincidences, facts, and artifacts. While we don't have conclusive proof that intelligent life exists on other planets (or in Washington, DC), much less that it has visited here, we do have plenty of reason to suspect that it does and it has.

This book consists of eight chapters and a conclusion in 289 pages. It has a large bibliography, an index, and a foreword. It also contains some great color photos, in addition to many greytone photos and illustrations.

Add it to your collection. You won't be sorry.




About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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