How Chariots Of The Gods Became A Best Seller: A Sketchy Tale Of Ancient Aliens

The familiar front cover of Von Daniken's best-seller. Source:

Erich Von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods told us that aliens were responsible for everything from the pyramids at Giza to the statues of Easter Island. The best-seller from 1968 was popular around the globe, with millions of readers believing its theories, an early example of the passion instilled by seductive, widely-distributed pseudoscience. It's a phenomenon we wrestle with to this day, whether it's hokey TV we kind-of want to believe (like Ancient Aliens) or the so-called "fake news" that simply confirms a worldview we'd like to be true. 

Before we had infinite cable channels and the internet to put questionable information at our fingertips, we had Chariots of the Gods, its sequels, and the documentaries it inspired. In the late '60s, many people were open to alternative thinking, and looking for a narrative that explained the cosmic mysteries they'd pondered in smoke-filled dorm rooms at 3 AM, and Chariots of the Gods scratched that itch.