Yesterday, I watched this show on Netflix called “The Pyramid Code.” I was looking to see if I could glean any story ideas from it since a type of pyramid appears in some of my current series (or, will, I should say). However, I came across something else worth talking about.
For example, one of the “experts” shown on the program is Dr. Carmen Boulter from the University of Calgary.
Now, some of the stuff in the program sounds really cool, but I wanted to see what Dr. Boulter’s background was. I could hardly believe the line of reasoning presented in the program was something being seriously believed by egyptologists, even a minority of them.
Well, it turns out that Dr. Boulter was indeed an instructor at the University of Calgary until 2011 (the program was filmed in 2009). However, it turns out that she was part of the education department. In other words, she wasn’t an egyptologist at all.
So, the driving force behind this program, apparently, is someone with no formal training on the subject.
Which would explain why she presented an alabaster platform at the pyramid of Abu Ghurab as actually being made of quartz in the first episode.
However, she’s still presented as an expert on the topic. Why?
Well, first may well be vanity. She’s a Ph.D., after all, and probably expects to be recognized as such. In fairness, it’s not an easy thing to obtain, all things concerned.
Primarily, I think it’s about looking like an expert. How many people would watch a documentary series and simply take its conclusions at face value? Most people would. After all, we’ve been taught not to question experts, and the Ph.D. after her name presents her clearly as an expert, right?
Now, I knew something was up when she commented that the round section of this…
…was “laser cut.”
There’s absolutely no way to present evidence that this was laser cut. At all.
Now, it’s an impressive piece of work, mind you, but it’s also alabaster, not quartz like she claimed. This is actually important because alabaster is soft and often used for carving. Quartz, in contrast, is pretty hard.
In fact, throughout the first episode, she often refers to the white stone like that as quartz.
I’m not sure if she’s lying, or just naive. Either way, she’s someone who looks to have the mantle of authority by virtue of that Ph.D. after her name and that she was working for a major university.
That is, unfortunately, how people become taken in by some things. If you present something with enough authority behind it, what you say will be taken as gospel. That’s precisely what Boulter was doing with her program.
She also then presented only one side of the story, probably believing the other had been presented over and over, and conducted interviews with other “experts” who, once one does a little digging, finds a number of New Age shysters who, if they have any legitimate academic credentials somewhere in their background, it’s simply noise to add credence to the pseudoscience they’re not hawking.
For example, Dr. Claude Swanson, an MIT-trained physicist…who now seems to spend most of his time working on this:
His latest research focuses on the force which has been overlooked by conventional Western physics, which serves to unify and explain many of the unusual aspects of consciousness and explains how the “life energy” interacts with the material world. It explains the true nature of the aura and how consciousness and healing forces are able to exert their effects over long distances. Dr. Swanson has recently published his second book, Life Force, The Scientific Basis, which continues the exploration of his first book, The Synchronized Universe.
Then, Boulter throws in a healthy dose of “government cover-up,” mostly through hints rather than outright accusal, and POOF! Everything people need to believe absolute crap.
Honestly, if you want to watch the Pyramid Code, go right ahead. It’s probably best to watch it for the comedy value alone and not expect to learn anything.
Unfortunately, the damage this type of program does is very real.
With The Pyramid Code, the claims are pretty outlandish so most people will maintain a dose of skepticism, but will still retain some of the bizarre questions asked, such as who could a quartz “altar” be cut so perfectly round because they’re not really given all the facts.
There are other programs, however, that do so with much more plausible claims. It doesn’t take much to actually start to believe that GMOs will kill us all, or that vaccines cause all kinds of medical problems or any number of other things.
They all present it the same way. A bit of pseudoscience, an “expert” presented as the definitive source, and a bit of rebuttal over conventional wisdom, all without really presenting the facts that lead to conventional wisdom being conventional.
Now, if you believe something against conventional wisdom, then so be it. I hope you actually looked at the information out there and really digested it, and not just the hysteria that often surrounds some of these topics. Frankly, I’m not going to discuss those topics.
What I am trying to do is to how the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority” can be used in a documentary-looking program to sway people into believing things that just aren’t true.
They present someone as an authority, then present a one-sided version of the discussion as if it were the complete and total truth.
Where it gets tricky is when the experts actually look like experts.
For example, a nutritionist talking about the benefits of going vegan can be incredibly appealing. Especially when they’re paired with a doctor, a biologist, and so on.
With Dr. Boulter’s so-called “work,” it’s easy to find how wrong it is. Even cursory searches will find the falsehoods (oddly enough, she’s also trying to crowdfund a similar documentary on Atlantis that I have no doubt will be done to the same *ahem* rigorous standards). With others, it can be far more difficult.
So what can you do?
Well, frankly, I think any documentary should be checked with a healthy dose of skepticism. Check the facts, actively look for criticism, things like that.
Whatever you do, don’t take things at face value.