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Ground Rules for Reconstructing Ancient Events
By David Talbott

We must now take up the matter of cross-cultural comparison and the use of evidence drawn from the patterns of human memory.

"Ancient testimony is not credible unless it is supported by science" —in one form or another, I've heard that remark again and again. But there is a telling fallacy hidden in that assertion. It ignores the possibility—however remote this possibility may seem—that our ancestors witnessed things unknown to science, events that could force a revision in scientific understanding.

As a rule, mainstream science is unfamiliar with the more ancient patterns of memory, and almost all modern perspectives are conditioned by a profound distrust of the ancient world. For centuries, in fact, it has been the mission of science to overcome the "myth and superstition" with which it associates our remote past.

But we are challenging this common supposition, and we have claimed that a quite different perspective on the past is possible. In an earlier submission, we addressed the principle of converging testimony. We noted that the more unusual and specific the points of agreement between independent witnesses, the more confident we can be in these discrete memories. The principle was illustrated in the story of "The Unfortunate Peter Smith". Here we used an extreme example, in which the witnesses were prone, respectively, to hallucination, lying, and dyslexia. In this case the convergence was so precise and so out of the ordinary that - despite the general unreliability of the witnesses - the conclusion could not be doubted.

In fact, we affirm this principle in our judicial processes all the time, and do not hesitate to employ it even when the life of the accused is at stake and no other body of evidence is available.

In relation to the proposed Saturnian reconstruction, here is a way you might approach the issue of evidence. Try an experiment. Just for the fun of it, simply grant the claims of the theory! No need to believe anything, not even to believe that the hypothesized planetary configuration is "possible". This is only an experiment, designed to throw light on the question, WHAT COUNTS AS EVIDENCE?

If you are unfamiliar with the general details of the theory, I suggest you let a single "snapshot" of the Saturnian configuration suffice for now. You will find an example on the Thunderbolts.info website:


Go to the Saturn Theory page (it's listed on the menu to the left), and note the image on the top of the page. Though a snapshot of this sort cannot convey the more dynamic components of the story - including both stable and unstable phases of an evolving configuration - it is a useful starting point for an illustration of methodology.

Imagine those planetary forms towering above us; three celestial spheres of much different sizes, juxtaposed in the sky, very close to the Earth. The largest of the spheres is the planet Saturn prior to acquisition of any rings. Within that sphere (i.e., in front of Saturn) appears a much smaller, highly luminous orb, the planet Venus, from which brilliant streamers radiate visually across the face of Saturn. And within Venus rests a still smaller reddish body, the planet Mars.

Now imagine human communities obsessed with this spectacle in the sky, responding with a mixture of veneration and terror. And observe how, in the wake of the configuration's devastating collapse, human imagination exploded as well, cultures around the world striving relentlessly to remember and to re-enact those events in pictures and words and ritual practices.

In this envisioned condition many different "mythical" interpretations would arise. But these interpretations could not fail to reflect the natural drama which inspired them. So you ask the question. If such a world existed, what would be the value of ancient testimony - of all those cultural records celebrating the dominating forms in the sky, or re-enacting those terrifying events? And would you not expect to find a vast range of words and symbols consistently pointing to the SAME celestial forms, no longer present?

Or let us put it another way. In evaluating a new theory, does it make any sense to exclude what would clearly be the most crucial source of evidence if the theory is either correct, or on the right track?

I know it will be easy for some to hear these words as a dismissal of conventional science, though this is not my intent. One does not have to draw any conclusions in order to see the dangers of circular reasoning when new possibilities arise. I am only suggesting that historical evidence must be allowed to speak for itself. If the evidence is weak, then it will be easily overruled by contrary opinions of science. If the conclusions are well supported by the evidence cited, then there is a basis for re-considering contrary scientific opinion. And if some of the conclusions are INESCAPABLE, as I believe some are, then one can be confident that there will be no conflict with physical facts as the specialists comes to interpret the facts correctly.

By all means, let the scientists among us express every doubt. As we've said many times, the remembered events could not have occurred without leaving a vast trail of physical evidence. (I intend to suggest several lines of inquiry in the present series.) But all true explorers, whatever their background, will welcome a rigorous investigation of cultural memories from a new vantage point. They do not need to be told that the scientific mainstream has not always gotten the picture right.

Part 2

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