5X5 Episode 27

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5X5 Episode 27
Cracking the Dogu Code - Ancient Astronauts
6th July 2008

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5X5 26 5X5 28
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
M: Mike Lacelle
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Cracking the Dogu Code - Ancient Astronauts[edit]

Voice-over: You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide 5x5, five minutes with five skeptics, with Steve, Jay, Rebecca, Bob and Evan.

S: This is the SGU 5x5 and tonight's topic is: The Dogu Code. Robert Patterson has a website called the Dogu Code, in which he interprets an ancient Japanese clay figurine – a very common art form five to ten thousand years ago, up until about 300 BC – as an ancient astronaut. So this is definitely within the mythology of the ancient astronauts, where believers look for any sign in ancient art work typically, and they just interpret what they see as evidence of aliens visiting primitive humans thousands of years ago and influencing their culture.

E: So, this thing is supposed to be the secret to unlocking the mysteries of anti-gravity.

S: So Mr. Patterson claims.

E: Yeah

J: Now, he found these in Japan

S: There's like 15,000 of these things in collections. Archeologists have dug – these are very, very common. In fact, they think that they were used as either good luck charms to–

J: Or paper weights, yeah


S: –to give either luck or probably fertility. A lot of them are pregnant, so it's like a female figure – wide hips, narrow waist – but it's very, very stylized. The arms and legs are very thick and the arms are pointing down. The eyes are – look like goggles and have horizontal slits. You could also see earlier versions of this that are not quite as fully developed in this style. Any artistic archeological, either review of the evidence shows that yeah, this is a cultural kind of fertility icon that had a role in their mythology and their belief system. And they were very, very common. A lot of them were broken deliberately, so they thought that perhaps breaking one was part of the ritual use of these items.

B: If you go through the web site, you see a lot of the crank red flags, such as the lone researcher who sees what none of the experts see–

S: Uh-huh

B: –referencing other quacks. My favorite, the unattributed, meaningless quote, such as, "Probably the most important discovery on vortex and gravitic science in this century"

E: Uh-huh

B: There's also a couple more: claims of suppression of the discoveries; a lot of his stuff is being suppressed, of course, by the main-stream. And, of course, the bottom line to it all is that they generally all have something to sell, like the $35 for his CD.

S: Uh-huh

M: He actually attempted to build some of these anti-gravity devices from, I guess, what he inferred from the statutes and there's a YouTube video that he has up where he tests one and basically it's a one minute video of him saying "this is a test", flips the switch and then he's like, oh, well, total failure.

J: (imitating comic sound - muted trumpet descending passage)

M: Nothing.


S: And yet he still put it up on YouTube

E: Yep

M: He did, yes.

B: Wow

E: With promises to make more–

S: Yeah

E: –attempts in the future and to document them appropriately.

M: That's right.

J: I think he really does believe it, and this is another thing to keep an eye out for. Is it a scam or does the person really believe it? And, as a true believer, you read the web site– meaning that he's a true believer– and you can see he seems to have his heart in it. He's talking about his experiments, talking about the craft that he built. From what I could find, other than the advertising on his site, there is no plea for money of any kind, either, so that's another reason why I think it's legit.

S: He's trying to sell his book and whatnot, but he – you're right Jay. That's the sense I get; you never know, you can't read these people's mind and it doesn't really matter for our purposes, but it does read like somebody who is reality-challenged. Bob, you hit all the key red flags that are on this site. There was one thing, though, that I wanted to point out in addition to that. He refers to the standard archeological interpretation of these little statuettes. He says that archeology's using the rule of contextual evidence.

B: Uh-huh

S: And he doesn't like the rule of contextual evidence. So, because that – if you, in other words, if you look at these things in the context of their history and their culture, etc., then you come up with a very different interpretation of these things than the one that he prefers. So, he wants to change the rules. He wants to discard the rules of putting things into historical or cultural context, because he wants to then insert his own mythology onto it, even though he does not present any actual evidence beyond his own personal interpretation, and offers no way to distinguish his interpretation from the standard interpretation of these works of art.

S: SGU 5x5 is a companion podcast to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, a weekly science podcast brought to you by the New England Skeptical Society in association with skepchick.org. For more information on this and other episodes, visit our website at www.theskepticsguide.org. Music is provided by Jake Wilson.

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