Talk:Erich von Däniken

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Biography (Rated B-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
WikiProject Paranormal (Rated B-class)
WikiProject icon This article falls under the scope of WikiProject Paranormal, which aims to build a comprehensive and detailed guide to the paranormal and related topics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, you can edit the attached article, help with current tasks, or visit the project page, where you can join the project and discussions.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Skepticism (Rated B-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Skepticism, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of science, pseudoscience, pseudohistory and skepticism related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Switzerland (Rated B-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Switzerland, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Switzerland on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.

22 September 2007 Skeptic magazine[edit]

It seems that the 22 September 2007 issue of Skeptic magazine contained a number of short articles by Daniel Loxton on the subject of von Däniken, including:

If anybody can get access to this issue (either electronically or hard copy), it might help fill in some holes in the article. HrafnTalkStalk(P)


I don't see the point of this edit. It is an objective claim that he is best known for his claims about the influence of extraterrestrial beings. He is almost exclusively known for this!

And we should certainly mention that his books have been translated to many languages, since it indicates his widespread influence over the world. Maybe we need a better source? --Enric Naval (talk) 20:25, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

The statement that Erich von Däniken is best known for his books about the ancient astronaut theory is neither inaccurate nor POV. There doesn't seem to be much of a problem with the books and translations mention either.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 05:46, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree and have reverted it. Dougweller (talk) 06:49, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
I also agree and have also reverted it. The removing editor argues that ""best known for" is an entirely subjective and unverifiable statement. nothing is gained by trying to guess what people know about the subject of an article." - although we're already implying that his views on UFOs are important by mentioning them so heavily in the lede, I don't see any harm in confirming that they are what he is "best known for". (And it should be trivial enough to find a source verifying that von Däniken is best known for.)
When writing a lede section, we should always work from the starting point that the reader knows potentially nothing about the subject of the article. --McGeddon (talk) 12:57, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
People who have never heard of him don't "best know" him for anything. People who he stole stuff from presumably best know him for being a thief. His family certainly don't "best know" him for his controversial claims. Does the Charles Dickens article claim that he is "best known for his novels"? Does the William Shakespeare article start by saying he's "best known for being a playwright"? Does the Moon article say that it's "best known for being the Earth's largest natural satellite"? Does the Beatles article start by saying they are "best known for being a band"? Does the Roger Federer article start by saying he is "best known for being a tennis player"? When you can simply say "Article subject is/does X", it makes no sense to try to apply some kind of subjective judgement to it and write the verbose and non-neutral "Article subject is best known for being/doing X". (talk) 13:03, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
1- It is implied: "The general public best knows him for this theories".
2- "best known" is used when someone is known mostly by only one thing, or by a small amount of things.
The general public only knows him for his theories, thus he is "best known for his theories". If someone in the "general public" has heard about Däniken, it's only because of his theories. When sources discuss Däniken, it's only because of his theories. I don't see any POV problem here. I can't share your interpretation of NPOV on this matter.
And, of course, if assorted sources state plainly that he is best known for the books where he exposes his theories, that he is one of the best know proposers of those theories, etc, then we are only repeating the assessments that sources make about the sources of his fame. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:33, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Your point #2 is ridiculous. What you are saying is that rather than "best known", you mean "only known". Obviously you would not write "only known for his theories". You can recognise that that would be stupid, right? And by the logic of your argument here, you'd be writing "The Beatles, best known for being a band". Again, you can recognise that that would be stupid, I assume?
You almost get the point with your #1 though. When we write articles, implicit in the inclusion of facts is that these facts are worth knowing. We do not need to say "note this fact: " or "this is what the article is about: " or "this is the reason you've heard of X, if you've actually heard of them: ". It adds nothing. It's pointless.
Finally, opinions are opinions whether they appear in sources or not, and you are not allowed to report them as if they are facts. (talk) 15:15, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia regularly uses "best known for" to establish context. It's not a Troy McClure "you, the reader, probably remember Erich von Däniken from", it's just "most people who know of Erich von Däniken think of him as the ancient astronaut guy". I agree there are other ways to get this across - we'd probably be better off introducing him as the Swiss author of some bestselling alien-astronaut books - but there's nothing intrinsically wrong or subjective in saying that someone is "best known" for something. --McGeddon (talk) 17:11, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
And Wikipedia regularly uses "famously" when that is specifically proscribed by the style guide. Usage is not a reliable guide to correctness. The phrase "best known for" is intrinsically wrong because it's subjective, as amply demonstrated below by the contradictory claims of what he is supposedly best known for. What exactly do you think is added to an article by applying a subjective judgement to straightforward facts, instead of just stating the facts? (talk) 17:40, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
And I guess you didn't actually read any of the results of your google search. Comparing the first two which actually make a claim for what this guy is "best known" for:
* "best known for his book, and the motion picture based thereon. Chariots of the Gods."
* "best known for a series of highly controversial books"
If this was an objective fact, then obviously you would not get two different sources claiming different thing. (talk) 15:20, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Differences between English and German versions[edit]

There are serious differences between English and German versions, especially covering Erich's earlier life - when and why he went to jail including other, less important details. So unless you keep the facts straight there is no reason to deduct from the significance of Erich's contribution to research on alien species, astrology, astronomy, philosophy, archaeology and the history of early mankind and related species. Its a sad fact that Wikipedia in some sense has become the bullhorn of the detractors and those that are playing the anti-scientific field. Lets not fall prey to the sensationalists and leave out the jailbird stories! Thank you. -- (talk) 15:03, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

What contribution are we talking about? According to reliable scholar sources (which are cited in the article), van Däniken has only managed to damage the field archaeology... From those sources, he just made up spurious theories, arguing from misinterpreted evidence and flawed logic; and misguiding people who don't have access to serious archaeology.....
If you want the article to speak about von Däniken's wonderful contributions, you better provide some reliable sources for them...... --Enric Naval (talk) 16:19, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
The English-language article mentions von Däniken being arrested for theft in his teens, convicted for fraud and embezzlement in Egypt before becoming a hotelier, and later being arrested for fraud and falsifying hotel records. The German article doesn't mention the first two crimes, and only mentions the second without context. We could expand von Däniken's early biography with some of the details from the German version, but I don't see anything contradictory here, and apart from the unexplained Egyptian embezzlement, his criminal record seems strongly tied to his life story (leaving school early, writing a best-selling novel while in prison, etc.). --McGeddon (talk) 16:29, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
If what happened with Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber is anything to go by, the German language Wikipedia may have decided that it is too risky to mention von Däniken's past convictions. Since they are in English language reliable sources, there is no problem with mentioning them here.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 16:34, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict)There are some basic differences between the German and English Wikipedias on handling and sourcing BLPs as I recall, which may explain these. In any case, we aren't the German Wikipedia. Dougweller (talk) 16:41, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
The German wikipedia has much stricter rules on BLP. Anything negative gets nuked unless it has immaculate sources with exquisite pedigree. --Enric Naval (talk) 12:38, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes, and they aren't keen on citing opinions. Dougweller (talk) 13:05, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

On the other hand, von Däniken has made a positive contribution to one field.... to the field of pseudohistory... by popularizing theories that already existed, and making up "evidence" to support them.

This should be easy to find in reliable sources, and it would be a good addition to Erich_von_Däniken#Popularity. --Enric Naval (talk) 13:36, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

Biased/undue weight[edit]

I just came here clicking through another Wikipedia entry and, although I knew his name and general reputation (a sci-fi fantast), I don't think the article is balanced. Whilst I fully appreciate that his work is not scientific and might be labeled as "mumbojumbo", I still feel that when 80% of the text is about criticism of his work and labelling him as a criminal, this is not an encyclopedic article. Too much skepticism.... Niels? en | nl 01:32, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

"Labelling"? He *is* a convicted criminal - a repeat offender - which is a matter of public record. More significantly, he has multiple convictions for fraud and forgery. This is important and relevant information when judging the credibility of somebody who has made controversial claims. He's not being labelled, he's being described accurately. That said, the article would probably be better with a section simply presenting the arguments made in his best known works, before following it up with the criticisms. Itsbruce (talk) 23:16, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

I totally agree with Niels. I'd like to add also that the man never pretended to do science or scientific research. He used the term "research" in connection with his books. Advancing hypotheses falls under the heading of constitutional right of expression. Hypotheses, mind, that to the present day are NOT disproved, on the contrary, they were considered interesting enough for some scientists to include them into their research objectives, this time respecting thoroughly the scientific method. And confirming that, to date, there are not viable answers for the absence of the Keops name in the Great Pyramid, for the absence of trees for rollers on Easter Island and on the Puma Punku altiplano for moving blocks of 10-12 tons, for the three decimals precision in carving the Puma Punku blocks. Insisting on his convictions for embezzling is irrelevant, and the attempt of connecting him with a nazi editor is downright pathetic. After all he has paid for his misdeeds and whatever criticism might be thrown at him, nobody can deny the sincerity of his writings, nor his dedication. He did put an enormous amount of work in his books and had the curiosity and common sense to go and see for himself, his works are not compilations. His Mystery Museum at Interlaken, another considerable investment, is a great initiative, attracting thousands of visitors each year and teaching them to think outside the box. Personally, I like him, he showed me interesting things, he made me wonder. The debunkers, on the other hand, had not. GPintea (talk) 22:19, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

I realize the above post is several months old, but I feel an obligation to respond to these sorts of arguments when they come up. GPintea, you should peruse some of the published analyses of von Daniken's claims. A good place to start is Space Gods Revealed, by Ronald Story, which demonstrates in detail (with good references) why the WP article is a fair reflection of mainstream scientific consensus (which is WP's standard) on von Daniken's theories. Unproven claims may be "interesting", but lending them undue weight in a WP article violates WP:UNDUE. To your point that von Daniken's "hypotheses to the present day are not disproved": (1) yes, they are, actually, for the most part (see Story's book, and various sources cited in the article); and (2) it is not our job to disprove fringe theories -- it is up to those proposing them to prove them. The fact that von Daniken has, so far, failed spectacularly in that regard is accurately (and I believe, fairly) reflected in the article. There is no question that the article could be improved substantially (I have yet to run across a WP article that could not), and I and others will be working on it, as time and reliable sources permit. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 17:48, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Name in main text - should be "Däniken" or "von Däniken"?[edit]

Does WP have a policy about whether we should include "von" in sentences like "Däniken was born in Zofingen, Aargau."? DenisMoskowitz (talk) 18:19, 16 February 2016 (UTC)