Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Dogon Mystery - Introduction and Section 1

(Blogger's Note: Issac Koi published the following on UFO UpDates. I read it over and liked the format and the information. I thought it was something that should see a wider circulation, which is not to say that all that many read this blob. However, it provides some interesting information and follows in a tradition that I have attempted to start here. I believe he provides reference to the articles on the positive side of the debate so that those interested might access them as well.
The only changes I made were correcting some spelling errors I noticed and an attempt to format the article in a way that made it easier to follow.
Here then is Issac Koi's Dogon article)

I thought some of you might be interested in my article Dogon Alien 'Mystery' Demystified, which can be found (with proper formatting and various hyperlinks) at the link below:

I was provoked into writing about this subject by an article promoting the Dogon mystery which was distributed by (ATS) via its email newsletter to its 60,000 members.

Since I thought that the relevant article only gave one side of the story (a point which the author of that article has since accepted), I drafted a fairly lengthy article in response.

My article (Dogon Alien 'Mystery' Demystified) was not accepted for distribution via the email newsletter, so I simply posted it on their forum at the link above.

I'm happy for my article to be displayed elsewhere (although, for formatting reasons, some hyperlinks may disappear if displayed other than on the ATS forums).

Kind Regards,

Dogon Alien 'Mystery' Demystified
By Isaac Koi.
Copyright 2008.


On 12 October 2007, the ATS email newsletter contained a provocative article by NGC2736 entitled How Could They Know That? The Dogon Mystery at the link below:
'That article related to astronomical knowledge (particularly relating to the Sirius solar system) attributed to the Dogon people of the Republic of Mali in Western Africa.
By the time the Dogon people were questioned by two French anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, between 1931 and 1950, the Dogon supposedly had knowledge of various astronomical matters (particularly relating to the Sirius solar system) that could not have been discovered using the technology available to them.
Various researchers have stated, or implied, that the relative knowledge derived from alien visitors to the Earth.
The article by NGC2736 claimed that the things told [by the Dogon] to these two outsiders back in the 1930s were astounding, especially for that day and age, and from that remote a people. Their oral history told of the correct motion of the near planets, and of the moons of Jupiter. They spoke of the rings of Saturn, and of the star Sirius. How could they know that it had an invisible companion, a fact scarcely known to most Europeans even then? How could they know its true orbital length of 50 years? And how could they have all this in their thousands year old oral history?NGC2736's article is a concise and well-written account of one side of the debate regarding the Dogon. But it only presented one side.This article seeks to present some of the alternative answers to the question raised by NGC2736, i.e. How Could They Know That?Numerous sceptics, notably popular astronomer Carl Sagan, have suggested that the knowledge attributed to the Dogon may have been obtained from Europeans prior to questioning by Griaule and Dieterlen.This article is split into the following sections:
Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Alleged Knowledge
Section 3: ContaminationSection 4: Out-dated Knowledge
Section 5: What about Sirius C?
Section 6: Did the Dogon even say anything about Sirius Band Sirius C?
Section 7: Conclusion
Section 8: References
I shall discuss the claim by the leading proponent of the The Sirius Mystery that the alleged discovery in 1995 of a third star in the Sirius solar system has rendered most criticism obsolete, and give several compelling reasons for considering that claim to be severely flawed. (See Section 5: What about Sirius C?).
Although not mentioned in NGC2736's article, the Dogon mystery gained widespread publicity when Robert Temple wrote a book in 1976 entitled The Sirius Mystery. Since 1976, numerous researchers have pointed out serious problems with the content of that book. Indeed, the Sirius Mystery has probably received more detailed attention from scientists than almost any story relating to UFOs and alien visitors.
The claims made in Temple's book about the content of the Dogon myths are based on work by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, two French anthropologists. They published an article in French about their research in 1950. The research was carried out in the 1930s and 1940s.
Erich Von Daniken, the famous (infamous?) author of several popular books on ancient astronauts has written that Robert Temple's book confirmed my theories (Von Daniken, 1977, pages 81-82).
Several more recent authors have given relatively uncritical presentations of Temple's views (e.g. Coomer, 1999, pages 13-14) and/or of Temple's suggestions that his theories have resulted in the CIA showing an interest in him (e.g. Hansen, 2000, pages 191-192).
Books by several popular scientists have included lengthy discussions of Robert Temple's claims about the Dogon, including Carl Sagan (a 16 page discussion) and James Oberg (an 11 page discussion).
The Dogon mystery's claims to fame include the following:
*Carl Sagan has commented that at first glance the Sirius legend of the Dogon seems to be the best candidate evidence available today for past contact with an advanced extraterrestrial civilization (Sagan, 1979, page 87).
* Ian Ridpath (a British author and broadcaster on astronomy and space) has suggested that the Dogon claims are perhaps the most puzzling of all ancient astronaut stories (Ridpath, 1978a, page 189).
* E C Krupp has said taken at face value the Dogon beliefs are quite amazing (Krupp, 1981, page 291).
* The Dogon mystery is one of the few stories relating to alien visitors that has been discusesd in the prestigious science journal Nature, in an article by Michael Ovenden in 1976 (Ovenden, 1976, pages 617-618).
* Respected ufologist Thomas E Bullard has written in relation to the Dogon people's lore that here alone is anything close to evidence that some external source may have provided people of earth with advanced knowledge (Bullard, 1998, page 135).
* In relation to the Dogon's alleged knowledge of Sirius B, famous British astronomer Patrick Moore commented It seems surprising (Moore, 1976, page 115).
The Sirius mystery has been the subject of severalprevious threads on the ATS forums, including the following:
* The Dogon Tribe Research Project:
* The Sirius Mystery - book by Robert Temple claims aquatic aliens have been to Earth and will return:
*ATS Premium: How Could They Know That? The Dogon Mystery.
* The Dogon People and the Sirius Mystery:
* The Dogon tribe...
For additional information (particularly photographs)relating to the Dogon, see a relevant entry on Wikipedia:
For example, Ashpole has suggested that the Sirius star system is not a likely home for life (Ashpole, 1989, page 151) while Ian Ridpath has referred to its extreme unlikelihood of supporting life (Ridpath, 1978a, page 199).
There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, the stars in Sirius solar system are relatively young. In relation to Sirius A, Ashpole, 1989, page 152 Sirius A is a very young star: only about 500 million years old. This star will end its life-cycle long before advanced life could evolve on any suitable planet there (Ashpole, 1989, page 152). Similarly, Ian Ridpath has suggested that Sirius B has a life-span of no more than about 1000 million years, which does not seem to be long enough for advanced life to develop (Ridpath, 1978a, page 191).
Secondly, Robert S. Harrington of the U.S. Naval Observatory published information indicating that planetary orbits in the habitable zone around Sirius, defined as the region in which water would be liquid, are unstable (Ridpath, 1978a, page 193).
Ian Ridpath has concluded astronomical evidence argues strongly against Temple's ancient astronaut theory (Ridpath, 1978a, page 193).
However, the force of these arguments is considerably undermined by the fact that the relevant planet supposedly orbits Sirius C, not Sirius A or Sirius B.On the other hand, it is possible to come up with one or two arguments supporting the plausibility of alien visitors coming from Sirius. In particular, Sirius is (in astronomical terms) basically a near neighbour. It is barely 8 light-years from Earth. This is only twice as far away as the nearest solar system to our own.So, no clear prove emerges from these points. It is therefore necessary to consider the evidence as to:
(a) What the Dogon allegedly knew about the Sirius system;
(b) How the Dogon could have gained that knowledge.
I shall also give below details of an article written by an anthropologist in 1991 which casts considerable doubt upon the entire basis upon which the debate about The Sirius Mystery had proceeded during the previous couple of decades. (See the discussion in Section 3 (Contamination) and Section 6 (Did the Dogon even say anything about Sirius B and Sirius C?) of the article written in 1991 by Walter E. A. Van Beek).

Sections 2 and 3

What did the Dogon allegedly know about the Sirius system?
Alleged Knowledge: Sirius B and its period of rotation
Sirius A is the brightest star in the sky. Sirius B, on the other hand, much dimmer. It is not visible to the naked eye. Yet the Dogon reportedly discussed Sirius B with Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen between 1931 and 1950. Not only that, but Robert Temple claims the Dogon know the actual orbital period of this invisible star, which is fifty years.
The statement actually attributed to the Dogon is slightly more ambiguous: The period of the orbit is counted double, that is, one hundred years, because the Siguis are convened in pairs of 'twins', so as to insist on the principle of twin-ness (Temple, 1976, page 24;Temple, 1998, page 100).
However, the Dogon statements about the existence of Sirius B and its orbital period reflected information known in the West for nearly a century prior to the visits by Griaule and Dieterlen. The German astronomer F W Bessel suggested that long-term motion of Sirius A was affected by the gravitational influence of a dark companion with a fifty-year period (Bessel, 1844). Sirius B was discovered by a direct visual observation eighteen years later by Alvan G Clark (Flammarion, 1877; Sagan, 1979, pages 90-91).
Could some early visitor to the Dogon people have been aware of that information? Yes. MIT physicist Dr Kenneth Brecher wrote an article in 1977 that reported that Sirius B was important and widely disseminated news in the 1920s and stated that he had found references in the 1920s to Sirius B in 'Le Monde', 'The New York Times', and 'Scientific American' (Story, 1980, page 119).
Robert Temple's own book mentions in passing an article by a Dr P. Baize which appeared in the September 1931 issue of Astronomie concerned the discovery, orbit, period and density of Sirius B (Temple, 1976, page 27; Temple, 1998, page 103).
Alleged Knowledge: Density of Sirius B
One of the most remarkable facts the Dogon are supposed to have known relates to the density of Sirius B.
Sirius B is a white dwarf star. White dwarfs have mass comparable to that of the Sun, but a relatively small volume - comparable to that of something only the size of the Earth (see the Wikipedia page relating to white dwarfs at the link below).
Robert Temple quotes Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen as reporting the following about the Dogon's views: the star which is considered to be the smallest thing in the sky is also the heaviest: 'Digitaria is the smallest thing there is. It is the heaviest star:' It consists of a metal called sagala, which is a little brighter than iron and so heavy 'that all earthly beings combined cannot lift it'. In effect the star weighs the equivalent of 480 donkey-loads (about 38,000 kg. = 85,000 lb.), the equivalent of all seeds, or of all the iron on earth,' although, in theory, it is the size of a stretched ox-skin or a mortar. (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
Temple suggests that the statement that The star which is considered to be the smallest thing in the sky is also the heaviest is the most amazing of all the Dogon statements (Temple, 1976, page 24; Temple, 1998, pages 100 and 102).
While the Dogon did not have the technology to find out for themselves that Sirius B had a high density, they could have learnt this from others (not necessarily aliens) prior to the 1930s.
Europeans had thought that Sirius B had a high density since the late nineteenth century, i.e. long before Griaule visited the Dogon. Knowledge of the relative motion of Sirius A and Sirius B permitted estimates of their masses. Both Sirius A and Sirius B have masses about the same as the Sun. But Sirius B is about ten thousand times fainter. Either it is much smaller or has a much lower temperature. But in the late nineteenth century it was believed that stars of the same mass had approximately the same temperature. Carl Sagan has stated, therefore, by the turn of the [nineteenth] century it was widely held that the temperature of Sirius B was not remarkably low. Accordingly, the concept of Sirius B as an extremely dense star was widely held in the first few decades of this century (Sagan, 1979, page 91).
Indeed, while Temple suggests that the Dogon knowledge of Sirius B's high density was amazing, even the background information of his book indicates that this knowledge was available to humans prior to the 1930s. Somewhat buried in a footnote in Temple's book is the following information: In 1915 Dr W. S. Adams of Mt Wilson Observatory made the necessary observations to learn the temperature of Sirius B, which is 80000, half as much again as our sun's. It then began to be realized that Sirius B was an intensely hot star which radiated three to four times more heat and light per square foot than our sun. It then became possible to calculate the size of Sirius B, which is only three times the radius of the Earth, yet its mass was just a little less than that of our sun. A theory of white dwarfs then developed to account for Sirius B, and other white dwarfs were later discovered (Temple, 1976, pages 33-34, footnote 4; Temple, 1998, page 115, footnote 4).
Was information about Sirius B's high density only reported in some obscure technical journal, unlikely to be conveyed to the Dogon by any Western visitors? No, it wasn't limited in this way. Carl Sagan has reported that the peculiar nature of the companion of Sirius was extensively reported in books and in the press (Sagan, 1979, page 91). He quotes a discussion of white dwarfs, including the Companion of Sirius, in Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington's book The Nature of the Physical World. That book was published in 1928 and was translated into many languages, including French (Sagan, 1979, page 92).
So, the Dogon's knowledge was not that amazing. It was already information known to those in the West (and, according to various skeptics, the Dogon may have got thatinformation from the West).
Contamination: Introduction As discussed in more detail below, numerous sceptics (including Carl Sagan) have suggested that the astronomical knowledge attributed to the Dogon may have been obtained from Europeans prior to questioning by Griaule and Dieterlen.
Sirius A is the brightest star in the sky. It's appearance in the dawn sky marked the beginning of the Egyptian calendar - and warned of the impending summer's heat and Nile floods (Oberg, 1982, page 122). Thus, it is not improbable that the Dogon already had some myths about that star and/or may have wished to discuss Sirius with any Western contacts.
Carl Sagan is one of many skeptical researchers that have suggested that the Dogon may have regaled a visitor with their Sirius lore and asks a Western visitor what his Sirius myths may be (Sagan, 1979, page 92).
Many of the discussions of the Dogon mystery give examples of the problems that can arise in anthropological investigations as a consequence of prior contact between the subjects of the study and other cultures. The subjects of the study may be contaminated by such prior contact.
One rather extreme and amusing example is given by Carl Sagan. He recounts a tale about an (apocryphal?) anthropologist that visited an elderly member of a tribe of Native Americans in the first decade of the twentieth century. After each question, the old man retreated into the darkened depths of the hogan. In each case, he emerged quarter of an hour later with a rich set of answers. Eventually the anthropologist asked his informant what he did each time he retreated into the Hogan. The old man smiled, withdrew, and returned with a well-thumbed copy of the Dictionary of American Ethnography, compiled by anthropologists in the previous decade (Sagan, 1979, pages 92-93).
Carl Sagan also recounts two stories which show how such contamination can arise. Both were told by the physician Dr D Carleton Gajdusek. In the more amusing of those stories, Dr Gajdusek visited a village in New Guinea in which there remained a tradition of cannibalism. While they, the visitors sang several Russian songs, including Otchi chornye. Some years later, Dr Gajdusek discussed traditional songs with young men elsewhere in the same region. They produced a clearly recognizable version of Otchi chornye. Many of the singers apparently thought the song traditional (Sagan, 1979, pages 94-96).
What about the Dogon themselves? Has such contamination occurred with them in relation to matters other than Sirius? Yes, it has. Van Beek has referred to many instances in which foreign elements (including Christian and Muslim traditions) were adopted and in a single generation became 'traditional' . [The Dogon] see no particular reason for any fundamental distinction between things learned from their Dogon forefathers and from newcomers (van Beek, 1991, pages 152-153).
Contamination: Relevant dates
The Dogon people were questioned Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen between 1931 and 1950.
Thus, the issue of potential contamination of the information by Western sources of astronomical knowledge have focused on possible contamination prior to 1931.
However, it should not be assumed that all the relevant information was obtained in 1931. Some of the information may only have been obtained much later. Indeed, Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen themselves stated that the main investigation was carried out among the Dogon between 1946 and 1950 (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 35; Temple, 1998, pages 476-477).
More fundamental is the issue of whether there is any evidence that the knowledge attributed to the Dogon had been held by them prior to its communication to Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen between 1931 and 1950. Some of the proponents of the Sirius Mystery claim there is such evidence. For example, in response to criticisms of his theory by Carl Sagan, Robert Temple has suggested that the Dogon have had the relevant knowledge for hundreds of years, referring hundreds or thousands of objects, symbols, woven blankets, carved statues, etc., etc., which exist in those cultures relating to the 'Sirius Mystery' and stated that he is baffled by how these hundreds or thousands of objects are meant to have been expertly fabricated fakes purporting to be centuries old, fooling all dating experts (Temple, 1981).
However, few details of such hundreds of thousands of pieces of evidence have been supplied by Robert Temple or anyone else.
Obvious questions about the hundreds or thousands pieces of evidence mentioned by Robert Temple are:
(1) What specific objects are relied upon?
(2) How do those specific objects prove that the alleged knowledge of the Dogon is centuries old?
If such objects and symbols did indeed exist, then the alternative explanation put forward by sceptics (i.e. contamination with Western knowledge) would be completely undermined.
Temple has written a lengthy book on the Sirius Mystery. He also substantially added to that book, after two decades of attacks by skeptics largely based upon the theory that the relevant knowledge is the result of recent contamination. So, why hasn't Temple answered the two basic questions posed above about the hundreds or thousands of objects and symbols?
The obvious inference is that he is unable to providecompelling answers to these questions.
Contamination - Possible Routes
How could astronomical knowledge from the West have beencommunicated to the Dogon people prior to them beingquestioned by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen between1931 and 1950?
What possible routes of contamination existed?
Well, there are quite a few.
It is important to realise at the outset that the Dogon were not extremely isolated. Supporters of the mystery have sometimes implied that this is the case. For example, Temple has referred to the implausibility of supposing a group of Western amateur astronomers had rushed out to the desolate hinterland of Mali to implant this knowledge in the presumably pliant minds of the Dogon priests (Temple, 1981).
However, the truth is somewhat different.
In fact, the Dogon were not isolated (Oberg, 1982, page 124). Ian Ridpath has pointed out that the Dogon live near an overland trade route, as well as close to the southern banks of the Niger river, which is another channel of trade (Ridpath, 1978a, page 199). More details has been provided by E C Krupp: The Dogon have, in fact, long been a relatively cosmopolitan, adaptive people. They live in the general vicinity of Timbuctu, which for centuries has been a major market city and a center for schools and scholars in west Africa. The Dogon have enjoyed regular communication with other cultures because they live so near a major trade route linking North Africa and Egypt with the sub-Sahara. In fact, French schools existed in the Dogon territory as early as 1907 and well before the 1920s, when there was considerable European interest in Sirius and research on its companion (Krupp, 1981, page 292)
Carl Sagan summarised the position by stating Perhaps the Western contact came from a European visitor to Africa, or from the local French schools, or perhaps from contacts in Europe by West Africans inducted to fight for the French in World War I (Sagan, 1979, page 90).
When looked at in detail, it is clear that there were several possible routes of contamination. I outline some of the evidence in relation to such routes below.Routes of contamination - White Fathers MissionariesOne of the various specific routes of contamination been suggested by various sceptics relates to missionaries (e.g. by Sagan and Ridpath). James Oberg has suggested that many missionaries are avid astronomers (Oberg, 1982, page 124).
In an apparent attempt to rebut this criticism of the Dogon mystery, in a revised edition of his book published in 1998, Robert Temple has stated that the White Fathers, a group of missionaries, confirmed to him in correspondence that none of their missionaries visited the Dogon until after 1931 (Temple, 1998, page 97). On his website, Mr Temple gives the following additional details: I wrote to the Father Superior of the White Fathers Mission in Mali and asked when the first missionaries were sent to the Dogon areas. He replied that the earliest missionaries arrived in 1949. By that time anthropologists had already obtained theDogon Sirius information. See:
Ignoring for the moment the fact that Temple's assertion only relates to missionaries related to the White Fathers' organisation (i.e. not all sources of potential missionaries to the Dogon), it is noteworthy that apparently conflicting statements have been made by various researchers on this point. Science journalist Ian Ridpath has written that I confirmed with the London headquarters of the White Fathers, a Catholic group who have been very active in this part of Africa, that missionaries from their sect had made contact with the Dogon in the 1920s. (Ridpath, 1978a, page 200).
So, Robert Temple claims the White Fathers have confirmed their first visit to the Dogon areas was in 1949 (and this claim is repeated on several websites), while Ian Ridpath claims to have been told by the White Fathers that first contact had been made in the 1920s.
Neither researcher mentions the apparent conflict of evidence on this point.As part of the process of drafting this article, during October 2007, I sent various queries to the White Fathers after obtaining contact details from the UK website of the White Fathers and from the international website of the White Fathers.
My queries were forwarded to Father Ivan Page, the Archivist for the White Fathers. He kindly took the time to respond on 29 October 2007 (Page, 2007). While he modestly stated that unfortunately he could not help very much, stating that a quick look in published sources does not answer my question.
Father Page was, however, able to provide some information on relevant ecclesiastical administration. He stated that the Dogon country originally came under the Apostolic Prefecture of Gao, a post founded in 1945. The name, and the residence of the superior, were changed to Mopti - now a diocese - when that post was founded in 1953. The three missions in the Dogon country proper were founded:
Pel in 1953,
Bandiagara in 1954,
and Barapirelli in 1947 (Page, 2007).
Father Page ventured the opinion that almost certainly there would have been some contact between our missionaries and the Dogons long before that.
However, to find traces of this contact would involve spending of much time trawling through unpublished sources, namely the correspondance of missionaries in what was originally called 'le Soudan français' before being narrowed down to Mali, and the reports of regional superiors and Vicars Apostolic (Page, 2007).
Perfectly understandably, Father Page did not have time to do this for me, nor did I ask him to do so - I am sure that the White Fathers have higher priorities than resolving apparent conflicts of evidence on such points. (I note that the relevant archive is in Rome if any other researcher has a desire to follow this point up).
Fortunately, during further research I think I found the answer in a book published during 1961. Mud and Mosaics by Father Gerard Rathe gives details of a journey across parts of Africa from 1957. In Chapter 7 of that book, Father Rathe gives detailed information about contact between the White Fathers and the Dogon people. The information below appears in that chapter 7 and is attributed by Father Rathe to a Monsignor Landru during discussions at Mopti:
The first news the White Fathers had about the Dogon people came to them at Bamako, two hundred miles away, when, in 1927, a French Administrator at Bandiagara wrote to the Bishop telling him that he had discovered a people, pagan and fetishist, who seemed a promising field for the sowing of the Gospel. Nothing could be done at that time from Bamako, and it was not until 1945 that the first direct contact was made with the Dogons.
Prima facie, this account is credible and consistent with the limited information supplied to me by the White Fathers. The level of detail in the account is impressive and difficult to reconcile with mere misunderstanding. It also possibly explains a considerable amount of the apparent conflict between the dates given by Ian Ridpath and Robert Temple respectively, with there being reference to the Dogon in records of the White Fathers from the 1920s but with no direct contact until the 1940s.
I raised the conflict in evidence with Ian Ridpath, who helpfully replied with several comments. He indicated that he could not throw any light on the first contact between the White Fathers and the Dogon, commenting that I simply reported what I was told (Ridpath, 2007). He further commented: As you point out, first contact would occur long before the setting up of any official missions in the area so the dates quoted by Robert Temple and myself could both be right, in their own way (Ridpath, 2007).
While the above information may seem to cast considerable doubt on suggestions that information about Sirius B was obtained from missionaries prior to the visits of Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, it is vital to note that:
(a) Missionaries are merely one category of Westeners that may have been the source of contamination;
(b) The White Fathers are merely one group of missionaries.
Routes of contamination - Other missionariesMost discussions of the Sirius Mystery refer to missionaries in passing (if at all), with few specificsbeing given. Robert Temple and Ian Ridpath are exceptions, since they have discussed missionaries belonging to theWhite Fathers in some detail. However, even these two researchers have not referred to any other specific group of missionaries that was, or may have been, active in the area.Various websites paraphrase Robert Temple's information about the White Fathers in ways which imply (or expressly state) that the Dogon had no contact with any missionaries at all until the 1940s.
However, the White Fathers did not have a monopoly on sending missionaries to Africa prior to the 1940s.The White Fathers are a Catholic group of missionaries - what about other Catholic group, or groups representingother denominations?Given that the burden of proof lies upon Robert Temple and his supporters to provide evidence to support their claims, the failure to provide any information about the dates upon which other missionary groups became active in the area in itself is a significant failure. In my view, sceptics areentitled to point to the mere possibility that other missionary groups may have been active in the region.
However, there is actually evidence on this point which supports the contamination theory.In an article written in 1991 by van Beek (considered in more detail below), there is mention in passing of the fact that one individual (named Ambara) had frequented the Protestant mission (Sudan Evangelical Mission, predominantly Baptist) since his early youth (van Beek, 1991, page 157).
The article does not give details of the Sudan Evangelical Mission that Ambara allegedly frequented, e.g. the article does not expressly state where the mission was located or when it opened. However, the contents of the article strongly imply that the mission was frequented by members of the Dogon (or at least one member, Ambara) prior to the visits of Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen.
How is this date implied?Well, according to van Beek, Ambara was first recruited to work with Griaule in 1931 (van Beek, 1991, page 155 citing page 209 of Griaule's Le Renard Pale) and in the period 1950-1955 Ambara was established as a mature Dogon elder (van Beek, 1991, page 155).
Thus, it appears that not only did at least one of the Dogon have contact with a mission prior to the visits of Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen but further that individual subsequently had direct contact with Marcel Griaule.Routes of contamination - French schoolsMissionaries are not the only route by which information from Western scientists may have reached the Dogon. All the talk about missionaries risks reinforcing the few of the Dogon as some remote jungle tribe, only visited by the occasional brace white man on a mission from God.
In fact, there were French schools in the area prior to the visits of Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen.
Peter and Roland Pesch of the Warner and Swasey Observatory have referred to the existence of French schools in the Dogon area since 1907 - see Pesch and Pesch , page 27 - citing M P Marti's book Les Dogon (1957) at page 92). Pesch and Pesch also mention Islamic schools in the area (Pesch and Pesch, page 27 - again citing M P Marti's book Les Dogon (1957) at page 92).
Temple has clearly read the article by Peter and Roland Pesch. He has discussed it in an article on his website entitled Distorted Evidence From E C Krupp (1977). Somewhat disingenuously, Temple points to one (irrelevant) error in a footnote to the Pesch article to supposedly demonstrate the superficial nature of their familiarity with the subject. He completely fails to acknowledge, or attempt to address, the substantive points made by Pesch and Pesch and the sources they cite. In particular, Temple has ignored the evidence of existence of French schools in the Dogon area since 1907.
Thus, Temple's discussion about the alleged lack of White Father missionaries in the area until the 1940s must be viewed, at the very least, as rather disingenuous and potentially misleading.
But is there any evidence that those interviewed by MarcelGriaule and Germaine Dieterlen had been to one of the French (or Islamic) schools in the region? Two points arise:
(1) The question is strictly irrelevant. The information may have been communicated to other members of the Dogon, and then been passed on to Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen.
(2) In fact, there is evidence that at least one of those interviewed by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen had been to a French school. The details of the relevant individual provide yet further indication of the contact between the Dogon and the Western world prior to the visits of Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen. The relevant individual is, once again, Ambara (referred to above in the context of the presence of other missionaries in the region). The article written by van Beek in 1991 refers to Ambara having spent considerable time outside Dogon country and to Ambara's French education - his study abroad as well as his schooling in Sanga (van Beek, 1991, page 156).
Routes of contamination - World War I
One of the specific means by which it has been suggested by sceptics that the relevant astronomical knowledge may have been obtained was from contacts in Europe by West Africans inducted to fight for the French in World War I (by Carl Sagan in his Broca's Brain (1979) at page 90 (in Chapter 6) of the Coronet paperback edition). Various other sceptics have referred to the participation of Dogon tribesmen in World War I, particularly in the French army. For example, James Oberg has stated that many [Dogon] served in the French army in World War I (Oberg, 1982, page 124).
However, Robert Temple states on his website that: I do not believe it is true that any Dogon tribesmen fought in any trenches in Europe in the First World War.
In an attempt to resolve this issue, I attempted to find an embassy of the Republic of Mali in England. Unfortunately, it does not have one here. I therefore contacted the Washington embassy of the Republic of Mali. I also contacted a university in the Republic of Mali. Unfortunately, I did not receive any response from the embassy or from that university.
Routes of contamination - Griaule himself
It appears that certain aspects of the Dogon culture render it particularly susceptible to cultural contamination.
It further appears that Griaule's personality and techniques were particularly prone to obtaining results that had been contaminated by his own knowledge and views.
Taking the Dogon culture first, Van Beek has reported that Dogon culture is oriented towards overt harmony and are very slow to correct each other, more senior individuals are the ones who know and consequently should not be contradicted (van Beek, 1991, page 152).Similar comments are made in a passage provided by Father Page of the White Fathers. Father Page helpfully provided an extract from the book Le Mali by his confrere [fellow-member], Joseph Roger de Benoist. That book is in French (see Endnote 1 for relevant original text), but the gist of the passage is that:
(1) the Dogon did not say no to Europeans, which they viewed as sent by God.
(2) If it was felt that the European came with an obsession and that the European wanted to find something, one helped the European to find what he came to seek. One invents ananswer, one improvises a legend.Turning next to Griaule's personality and techniques, it can be seen (in the light of knowledge of the Dogon culture) that the risks of obtained contaminated data were particularly high.
Van Beek reports that Griaule confronted his informants with items, be they artifacts, plants, animals, or stars, and expected them to provide adequate information immediately. Van Beek quotes one of Griaule's informants as saying Griaule thought each keke (cricket) had its own Dogon name, and he did not stop (van Beek, 1991, page 154).
Van Beek pokes fun of Griaule's belief that the Dogon had names for 24 different species of dung beetles, including a beetle wallowing only in the dung of grey horses, referring to an inability to take no for an answer and an unwillingness on the part of the informants to disappoint the researcher. Van Beek suggests the Dogon engaged in harmless games in which information was produced that did not exist beforehand, all the while clearly conforming to the white man's wishes.
Van Beek suggests many Dogon see Griaule even now as a forceful personality, in a situation of undisputed power, with a clearly expressed preference for specific information and his own ways of getting at it (van Beek, 1991, page 153). The Dogon reportedly viewed Griaule as the white man, endowed with power and prestige, ranked high in Dogon eyes, and Griaule allegedly capitalized on it. Van Beek has suggested that Griaule asked leading questions and that Dogon that worked with him (or should one say 'for' him?) still comment on his impatience.
When considering the Sirius Mystery it is significant to note that Van Beek specifically states that Griaule had studied astronomy in Paris and that Griaule deployed star maps to investigate Dogon knowledge about astronomy (van Beek, 1991, page 154). While these specific allegations appear as statements of fact on several websites on the Internet, they are in fact somewhat controversial. Griaule's daughter, GeneviPve Calame-Griaule, has responded to some of these allegations.
She has further denied that her father studied astronomy, writing that "As for his alleged training in astronomy, I can report that his training was in literature; he had no notion at all of astronomy." (Calame-Griaule, 1991, page 577). Unfortunately, van Beek failed to provide any supporting reference for his allegation that Griaule studied astronomy, so it is not easy to resolve this dispute. I note, however, that Calame-Griaule may have had in mind only his latter education. In the 1920s, Griaule had studied a languages degree. However, prior to World War I (in which Griaule served as a pilot), Griaule had been preparing to become an engineer. I wonder whether van Beek's reference to Griaule studying astronomy relates to that earlier period of his education.
Indeed, GeneviPve Calame-Griaule has written that Griaule was completely ignorant of existence of the satellite of Sirius until the Dogon told him of a companion (Calame-Griaule, 1991, page 577).
In relation to the use of star-maps, however, there is no outright denial. She has merely written that If he later displayed charts of the heavens, it was for his own use and not to instruct the Dogon (Calame-Griaule, 1991, page 577). The purpose of displaying star-charts is irrelevant - the concern relates to the effects of his alleged display of star-charts.

Sections 4 and 5

Is there any evidence that the Dogon knowledge came from the West?
Probably the most compelling evidence that the Dogon knowledge originated in the West is that the information they reportedly gave Griaule represented the state of knowledge in the West at that time.The Dogon did not anticipate any subsequent discoveries.
Indeed, subsequent discoveries have falsified some of the views held in the WestThree examples have been highlighted by sceptics, relatingto statements reportedly by the Dogon in relation to:(a) the density of Sirius B;(b) Rings around other planets;(c) Jupiter's moons;(d) Our solar system's outermost planets.
Out-dated knowledge: (a) the density of Sirius BOk, let's ignore the fact that the Dogon rather under-estimated the mass of Sirius B if they stated (as reported by Griaule and Dieterlen) that the star weighs the equivalent of 480 donkey-loads (about 38,000 kg. = 85,000 lb.) (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
Such remarks can (if we are fairly generous) be written off on the basis of some cultural idiosyncrasy. Perhaps 480 donkey-loads is the greatest weight the culture of the Dogon has.
On the same basis, let's be generous and also ignore the reported comment that Sirius B is the size of a stretched ox-skin or a mortar (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
A rather more substantive difficulty arises in relation to the lack of mention by the Dogon of any heavenly objects smaller and heavier than Sirius B.
Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen state that the Dogon consider Sirius B to be the smallest thing there is. It is the heaviest star Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
Several researchers have pointed out that, in fact, since the 1930s it has been discovered that there are in fact smaller and heavier objects in the universe.
James Oberg has commented that, while in the late 1920s, Europeans too believed that the 'white dwarf' Sirius-B star was the heaviest thing in the universe, in later years astronomers were to find thousands of similar objects along with even heavier and denser objects such as neutron stars and black holes (Oberg, 1982, page 123).
Similarly, Ronald Story has commented that white dwarf stars are no longer believed to be the smallest and heaviest bodies in the universe. Rapidly rotating neutron stars called pulsars (about 100 million times as dense) and the incredible 'black holes' are the new candidates for such honours (Story, 1980, page 119). The same point has been made by Ian Ridpath (Ridpath, 1978a, page 196).
Out-dated knowledge: (b) Rings around other planets.
Robert Temple, and several of his researchers, have trumpeted alleged Dogon knowledge of Saturn's rings. For example, Robert Temple has stated Their drawing of the planet Saturn has a ring around it (Temple, 1976, pages 27 and 29; Temple, 1998, pages 104 and 106-107).
However, the Dogon did not talk about any planet beyond Saturn with rings.This reflected European knowledge of the 1920s-1930s.Since the 1930s:- A Cornell University research team led by James Elliot discovered in 1977 that the planet Uranus is surrounded by rings (Sagan, 1979, page 90).- Jupiter was subsequently discovered to have rings as well (Oberg, 1982, page 130).
Out-dated knowledge: (c) Jupiter's moons.
Robert Temple refers to Dogon knowledge of 4 moons of Jupiter. The other moons of Jupiter are small and insignificant, having formerly been asteroids which were captured by Jupiter's gravitation at some unknown time in the past (Temple, 1976, pages 27-28; Temple, 1998, pages 105-106):
Four moons of Jupiter were first observed by Galileo in 1610.
However, those are merely the largest (by far) of Jupiter's moons.
Writing in 1982, James Oberg wrote that Jupiter has at least twelve moons (Oberg, 1982, page 124). In November 2007, Wikipedia states Sixty-three moons orbiting Jupiter have been discovered:
Thus, James Oberg and other skeptics have suggested that any visiting spaceman would have known that Jupiter has more than four moons (e.g. Ridpath, 1978a, page 196).
Temple, and one or two other researchers, have responded that the smaller moons of Jupiter are relativelyinsignificant and/or are not really moons at all (e.g.Spencer, 1997, page 59). However, this really does smack of seeking to explain away a fairly damning point (particularly when taken in conjunction with similar points made in relation to the Dogon's outdated knowledge of rings aroundother planets, no to mention their knowledge of Saturn and Sirius B).
Out-dated knowledge:
(d) Our solar system's outermost planets
Robert Temple's book states that Saturn is the outermost planet which the Dogon mention (Temple, 1976, page 29; Temple, 1998, page 107).
However, we now know that Saturn is not the outermost planet
in our solar system:
If the Dogon had access to information provided by alien visitors to Earth, why didn't they appear to know this?To be fair to Robert Temple and his supporters I must say that some sceptics have somewhat overstated this point. For example, James Oberg has stated that the Dogon insist that Saturn is the outermost planet (Oberg, 1982, page 124). This isn't strictly accurate. The relevant records of alleged statements by the Dogon do not record them as insisting that Saturn is the outermost planet.
However, Temple does state that the Dogon as referring to Saturn as the star of limiting the place in association somehow with the Milky Way (Temple, 1976, page 29; Temple, 1998, page 107). In my view, this (rather ambiguous) statement does imply that Saturn was regarded as the outermost planet in our solar system, particularly given the lack of any reference to any planet beyond Saturn.

But Digitaria is not Sirius's only companion: the star emme ya, Sorghum-Female, is larger than it, four times as light (in weight), and travels along a greater trajectory in the same direction and in the same time as it (fifty years). Their respective positions are such that the angle of the radii is at right angles. (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
Back in 1978, Ian Ridpath suggested that the true test of a good extraterrestrial story is that it should tell us something we don't already know (Ridpath, 1978a, page 199).
A similar comment was made by Edward Ashpole in 1989. He said Like all such stories we need information unknown to us, predictions that we can check. The Dogons provided just one piece of information that we did not already know: that in the Sirius system, there is a third star, four times the size of Sirius B, but this astronomers have not found (Ashpole, 1989, page 152).
Robert Temple has claimed that a third star, Sirius C, has been discovered relying upon an article by Daniel Benest and J L Duvent published in 1995.
Robert Temple has made some fairly grand claims about this purported discovery. The revised and expanded version of his book (published in 1998) only refers in passing to his various critics, on the basis of a contention that the discovery of Sirius C has rendered most criticism obsolete (Temple, 1998, page 23).
Robert Temple has said that the hypothesis of 'The Sirius Mystery' has now been verified in a dramatic fashion. This verification is a highly specific astrophysical prediction which has now been confirmed (Temple, 1998, pages 3-4).
The claims about the significance of the purported discovery of Sirius C have been echoed by others in various articles and on various webpages.
For example, in a discussion on the AboveTopSecret forums, NGC2736 wrote that: Even if the Dogon were 'contaminated' by the original contact, we're still left with the third star idea to ponder. How could even Temple himself have such information so long before this new research and the publication of it in the journal 'Astronomy and Astrophysics' in 1995?
(1) The article by Daniel Benest and J L Duvent published in 1995 does not, in fact, claim that Sirius C has been discovered. The relevant article discusses a 6 year perturbation in the motion of Sirius A-B, which may indicate the existence of Sirius C. The article concludes that stable orbits with 6-year periods exist around Sirius A, but does not claim that there is definitely a star (i.e. Sirius C) within any of those orbits. The article provides information which may assist in the search for Sirius C, if it exists (Benest and Duvent, 1995, page 627).
(2) Far more importantly, the discovery of Sirius C would not be very significant to any proper assessment of the Sirius Mystery. Given the crucial significance of this point, I consider it in some detail below.There is a simple reason for the latter point - there were reports of sightings of Sirius C in the 1920s.
In fact, Sirius C was observed about twenty times between 1920 and 1930 (Benest and Duvent, 1995, page 621).American astronomer Philip Fox believed he had seen a close companion of Sirius B in 1921 (Ridpath, 1978a, page 194). Various other authors also refer to reported sightings of, or speculation about, Sirius C in the 1920s (e.g. Oberg, 1982, page 123; Spencer, 1997, page 59)
While the new introduction to Robert Temple's revised book trumpets the importance of the purported discovery of Sirius C, much later in the same book is buried the following information in relation to Sirius C: Fox claimed to see it in 1920, and in 1926, 1928, and 1929 it was supposedly seen by van den Bos, Finsen, and others at the Union Observatory (Temple, 1976, page 12 - citing Aitken, R. G., The Binary Stars, Dover Publications, New York, 1964, pp. 240-1;Temple, 1998, page 81).
Indeed, Sirius C was suspected to exist prior to the various reported observations during the 1920s. From 1894, there have been suggestions of irregularities in the motion of Sirius B which have resulted in suggestions that Sirius C may exist (Benest and Duvent, 1995, page 621).
The views held by astronomers regarding the existence of Sirius C have changed like fashions during the last century. After the 1920s and 1930s, Sirius C went out of fashion. It was rarely observed by astronomers and considerable doubt existed by the 1970s regarding its existence. Those doubts increased considerably in 1973, when Irving W Lindenblad reported that a series of photographic observations showed no evidence of a close companion to either Sirius A or Sirius B. In 2000, scientists suggested that the sightings in the 1920s were probably due to an unrelated background star but the existence of a long-period companion cannot definitely be ruled out (Bonnet-Bidaud, Colas and Lecacheux, 2000).
Thus, the earlier reported observations of Sirius C were widely regarded as observational errors. Irving W Lindenblad informed Ian Ridpath during the 1970s that the possibility of a very distant third body cannot be ruled out theoretically (Ridpath, 1978a, page 194). Thus, at the time Robert Temple's book was published in 1976 few astronomers considered it probable that Sirius C existed.
So, the possible existence of Sirius C currently remains in doubt.
However, even if the claims attributed to the Dogon people regarding the existence of Sirius C turn out to have been correct, this would NOT demonstrate that the Dogon had any knowledge beyond that of the rest of the human race.
Such views are perfectly consistent with the theory that the views attributed to the Dogon people was, in fact, the result of cultural contamination in, or prior to, the 1930s.The existence of Sirius C had been made in the West (based on reported observations) prior to the Dogon's claims.
Sirius C's orbital periodWhile the mere suggestion that Sirius C exists does not provide tells us anything that was not known (or at least believed) prior to the 1930s, what about other details supposedly provided by the Dogon to Griaule about Sirius C?Robert Temple indicates that the Dogon supposedly stated that Sirius C travels along a greater trajectory in the same direction and in the same time as [Sirius B] (fifty years). (Temple, 1976, 26; Temple, 1998, page 102).
Is that statement about Sirius C's orbit correct?
According to the known laws of physics, no. As Ian Ridpath has stated: This is a physical impossibility. According to Kepler's laws, the larger an orbit, the longer an object takes to go around it (Ridpath, 1978a, page 195). Similarly, Krupp has commented that the information which the Dogon supposedly provide on the orbit of Sirius C is inconsistent with itself as well as with Kepler's laws (Krupp, 1981, page 292).
Le Renard Pale states that the orbital period of Sirius C is 32 years (i.e. not the same as Sirius B), which would make its orbit smaller than that of Sirius B (Ridpath, 1978a, page 195). It is notable that this is considerably different to the orbit suggested in the article by Daniel Benest and J L Duvent published in 1995 heavily relied upon by Robert Temple in the revised edition of his book. As noted above, that article indicates the possible existence of a third star in the Sirius system which orbits Sirius A with an orbital period of about six years.
It is interesting to note that Robert Temple's discussion of the article published in 1995 by Benest and Duvent fails to discuss the fact that the orbital period for Sirius C is different from the various figures which had been supposedly been put forward by the Dogon.

Section 6 and Section 7

Following the publication of Robert Temple's The Sirius Mystery in 1976, points made by sceptics focused strongly on whether the knowledge attributed to the Dogon could be explained on the basis of possible gaining of knowledge from the West. Most of the relevant discussion either assumed that the Dogon had the knowledge attributed to them, or at most briefly mentioned the possibility of inaccurate reporting of that alleged knowledge.
In 1991, the position changed.
As a result of an article published in 1991, the following fundamental question arises: Did the Dogon even say anything about Sirius B and Sirius C to Griaule?The relevant article was written by anthropologist Walter E. A. Van Beek and was entitled Dogon Restudied --A Field Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule (van Beek, 1991). Van Beek stated that he could not replicate despite systematic attempts to do so findings reported by Griaule regarding Dogon knowledge of Sirius.
Contrary to the results reported by Griaule, Van Beek reported following his own investigation of the Dogon: (1) That Sirius is a double star is unknown (van Beek, 1991, page 148) and (2) the purported knowledge of the mass of Sirius B or the orbiting time was absent (van Beek, 1991, pages 149-150).
Van Beek's article included the following: The Dogon, of course, know Sirius as a star (it is after all the brightest in the sky), calling it dana tolo, the hunter's star . Knowledge of the stars is not important either in daily life or in ritual . no one, even within the circle of Griaule informants, had ever heard or understood that Sirius was a double star . Consequently, the purported knowledge of the mass of Sirius B or the orbiting time was absent (van Beek, 1991, pages 149-150).
Some of the various articles on the Internet which discuss van Beek's article suggest that Griaule had managed to unearth secret knowledge known to only a few within the Dogon people, and that van Beek had failed to ask the right people and/or had not had the secret knowledge revealed to him. Such suggestions are supported by an article written by Griaule's daughter. She has suggested that van Beek has not gone through the appropriate steps for acquiring knowledge (Calame-Griaule, 1991, page 575).
However, van Beek actually includes a reasonably detailed discussion of Griaule's clear statement that the deeper Dogon knowledge belongs to a class of secrets hidden from the majority of the population, as well as outsiders. He refers to an estimate by Griaule that 15% of the population had this secret knowledge (citing Griaule, 1952 pages 32-33). Van Beek commented that rediscovering this knowledge will not be easy; yet it must be possible (van Beek, 1991, page 143). Thus, van Beek clearly had in mind the suggestion that the relevant knowledge was confined to a certain part of the Dogon population. He discusses this suggestion in considerable depth in his article.
Following his study of the the Dogon, van Beek reported that they have various myths, many of which are conveyed by song texts. However, he reports that neither the myths nor the song text . are secret, commenting that every Dogon knows the myths and parts of the songs, though not everyone can tell or sing them in full. Some individuals are trained to recite the myths without fault or hesitation, but their knowledge does not go beyond the pubic knowledge.
Van Beek concluded: Thus, the secrets of Dogon society are not at all of the initiatory kind. The knowledge defined by the Dogon as secret is, in fact, of the 'skeleton in the cupboard' variety. The best-guarded secrets in Dogon society pertain to facts that shame them as members of their families or lineages, such as divisive past quarrels, or to the mechanisms and trappings of witchcraft and sorcery (van Beek, 1991, page 150).
The article by Griaule's daugther which comments upon Van Beek's work repeatedly refers to many misreadings and errors in van Beek's article, but does a remarkably poor job of coming up with specific examples of material errors (Calame-Griaule, 1991, page 576).
On the other hand, another academic has referred to spending 10 years working among the Dogon and has confirmed the validity van Beek's finding regarding lack of knowledge of Sirius (Bouju, 1991). Importantly, Bouju also commented that the domain of secrecy is indeed not that of esoteric knowledge revealed only to a few great initiates but that of historical or current events that are considered shameful - instance of conflict, past (serious transgressions, betrayals, wars, massacres) or present (over land, women, or sorcery) (Bouju, 1991, page 159).
Thus, the suggestion that the Dogon do not in fact have knowledge of the Sirius solar system is not confined to van Beek alone.
In one related, but separate, respect van Beek's article goes further. He provides one account of discussions between Ambara and Griaule. Van Beek reports that According to Amadingue. Ambara never spoke in terms of a double-star system. What he did speak about always. were stars of different generations (togu; the French translation is his), meaning (and pointing out) two adjacent stars in the sky, which were to be considered as father and son to Sirius as a grandfather. These stars, as Amadingue pointed them out to me [van Beek], were the two other stars of the Dog constellation. If this is so, then Griaule must have interpreted the information given by Ambara and Yebene in a different fashion, as a system of double and triple stars (van Beek, 1991, page 157).
Thus, it seems that the debate regarding Dogon knowledge of the Sirius solar system may have provided on a rather faulty basis during the period 1976-1991.Indeed, it is notable that many of the discussions of The Sirius Mystery on the Internet today do not refer to van Beek's article (or comments from individuals confirming the facts within that article, e.g. by Bouju).
What did Robert Temple say about van Beek's 1991 article when Temple revised his book in 1998?Nothing.Nothing at all.Temple did not even refer to van Beek.
A Google search of Robert Temple's website during December 2007 failed to find any reference to van Beek, although I have read (and referred above) to some of Robert Temple's comments on some of the other points made by sceptics since1976.
Articles continue to be written on the Internet and in print about the Dogon mystery which ignore various criticisms and facts which have been raised by numerous sceptics since the publication of Robert Temple's book The Sirius Mystery in 1976.
Robert Temple revised his book in 1998, but the expanded text of that book fails to deal with many of the points that have been made.Ufologists will never be taken seriously if the arguments put forward by scientists are simply ignored. It is important to acknowledge and consider the points made by prominent authors such as Carl Sagan. Failing to acknowledge counter-arguments will result in ufologists appearing ignorant of, or unable to consider, the evidence against their claims.
Of course, some sceptics have also written material which fails to accurately reflect the debate regarding the Dogon. For example, Philip Coppens has written a skeptical article entitled Dogon Shame which asserts that Robert Temple's book's reputation was first dented in 1999, when LynnPicknett and Clive Prince published The Stargate Conspiracy.
As can be seen from the discussion above, Robert Temple's book had been subjected to detailed and forceful criticism much earlier than 1999. (Coppens concise articles about the Dogon are, however, well worth reading for details of a suggestion that Temple had been highly influenced in his thinking by Arthur M. Young).
Has the Dogon mystery been resolved?
Well, as with many questions in relation to UFOs and aliens, it depends upon your views regarding the burden of proof and the appropriate standard of proof. The Dogon mystery can therefore usefully be considered in the context of a wider debate about Ancient Astronauts and UFOs.
During the debate regarding the Dogon, several ufologists and sceptics have expressly raised these issues.
For example, ufologist Randall Fitzgerald has written that dispelling [the] bias against the prospect of visitation by ancient astronauts will require nothing less than extraordinary, irrefutable evidence. (Fitzgerald, 1998, Page 15).
Such remarks echo the statement popularised by Carl Sagan that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
I note in passing that the suggestion that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence actually reflects English law in relation to proving matters on the balance of probabilities. In the leading House of Lords case of Re H [1996] AC 563, Lord Nicholls said: the more serious the allegation the less likely it is that the event occurred and hence, the stronger should be the evidence before the court concludes that the allegation is established on the balance of probability .. The more improbable the event, the stronger must be the evidence that it did occur before, on the balance of probability, its occurrence will be established (emphasis added).
Most skeptics do not claim that the Dogon mystery has been conclusively shown to have any one particular solution. For example, James Oberg has commented that the evidence for the recent acquisition of the knowledge is still entirely circumstantial. It seems likely that we will never know for sure (Oberg, 1982, page 131). However, there are various plausible explanations for each part of the mystery.In these circumstances, several sceptics have made remarks along the lines of the following comment by Carl Sagan: There are too many loopholes, too many alternative explanations for such a myth to provide reliable evidence of past extraterrestrial contact (Sagan, 1979, page 99).
In comments helpfully provided by Ian Ridpath, he noted the following: Looking at the case again in the light of criticisms from anthropologists, I was forced to conclude that the main contaminator was Griaule himself and that all the emphasis on earlier contact may have been irrelevant. As I am fond of saying in relation to UFO cases, before you try to explain something, first establish what it is that needs to be explained! (Ridpath, 2007).
Ian Ridpath concluded In this case, in particular, it seems that there really wasn't much to explain after all(Ridpath, 2007).

Endnotes and References

Endnote 1:Le Mali by Joseph Roger de Benoist, Paris, L'Harmattab, 1998, page 204: Amadou Hampate Ba nous a dit un jour: Dans la tradition africaine, il y a quatre personnes auxquelles on ne dit pas 'non': on ne dit pas 'non' au roi, on ne dit pas 'non' aux personnes plus agees, qu'on appelle les engendreurs, on ne dit pas 'non' au maître initiateur, on ne dit pas 'non' a l'etranger que Dieu vous envoie. A tous ceux-la, on leur sert un 'oui' de politesse et pas un 'oui' de verite. L'Europeen, quand il arrive, est un hote envoye par Dieu. On ne lui dit pas 'non'. On le laisse demander ce qu'il veut. Si l'on sent qu'il est venu avec une idee fixe et qu'il veut trouver quelque chose, on l'aide a trouver ce qu'il est venu chercher, et cela en inventant des legendes qui correspondent. On le laisse d'abord poser des questions, puis, vite, on invente une reponse, on improvise une legende. On appelle cela: 'mettre dans la paille', ce qui signifie 'econduire poliment'. Les Dogon se sont defendus ainsi, ils se sont forges des traditions extraordinaires.
Ashpole, Edward The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (1989) at pages 149-152 (in Chapter 9) of the Blandford softcover edition. [4 page discussion]
Benest, D., & Duvent, J. L. (July 1995). Is Sirius a triple star?. Astronomy and Astrophysics volume 299: pages 621-628. Available online at the link below:
BBessel, F. W. (December 1844). On the Variations of the Proper Motions of Procyon and Sirius. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 6: 136-141. Available online at the link below:
Bonnet-Bidaud, J. M.; Colas, F.; Lecacheux, J. (August 2000). Search For Companions Around Sirius. Astronomy and Astrophysics 360: 991-996.
Bouju, Jacky Comments, Current Anthropology 32:2, April 1991, pages 159-160.
Bullard, Thomas The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon From The Beginning - 2nd edition (1998) in Volume 1:A-K at page 135 (forming part of the entry entitled Anomalous Aerial Phenomena before 1800 at pages 121-138) of the Omnigraphics hardback edition. [1 page discussion]
Calame-Griaule, Genevieve. On the Dogon Restudied. Current Anthropology 32:5, Dec 1991, p.575-577.Coomer, David The UFO Investigator's Guide (1999) at pages 13-14 (in the Introduction) of the Blandford softback edition. [2 page discussion]
Coppens, Philip (sometimes spelt Fillip) on his website in an article entitled Dogon Shame, first published in the Fortean Times. Available online at:
Coppens, Philip (sometimes spelt Fillip) in The Encyclopedia Of Extraterrestrial Encounters (2001) (edited by Ronald Story) at pages 550-552 (in an entry entitled Sirius Mystery, The) of the New American Library softcover edition, at pages 538-540 of the pdf edition (with the same page numbering in the Microsoft Word edition). [3 page discussion] Available online at:
Fitzgerald, Randall The Cosmic Test Tube (1998) at pages 11-15, 50-52 (in Section 1), 313-314, 315 (in Section 4) with a one sentence summary at page 368 (in the Guide To Books) of the Moonlake Media softcover edition. [11 page discussion]
Flammarion, Camille (August 1877). The Companion Of Sirius. The Astronomical Register 15 (176): 186-189. Available online at the link below:
Griaule, M and Dieterlen, G Un Systeme Soudanais de Sirius, Journal de la Societe des Africainistes, Tome XX, Fascicule 2, 1950, pages 273-294. An English translation of this article was included by Robert Temple in his book The Sirius Mystery Temple, 1976, pages 35-54; Temple, 1998, Appendix 1, pages 476-503). The 1976 edition of this book (which is considerably shorter than the 1998 revised edition) can be found as a searchable html document in a zip file online on the Truly Free website at:
specifically at the link below:
Hansen, Terry The Missing Times: News Media Complicity In The UFO Cover-Up (2000) at pages 191-192 (in Chapter 5) of the Xlibris softcover edition. [2 page discussion]
Krupp, E C in Science And The Paranormal (1981) (edited by Abell, George O and Singer, Barry) at pages 289-295 (in Chapter 16) of the Junction Books hardback edition. [7 page discussion]
Moore, Patrick Can You Speak Venusian? (1976 edition) at pages 115-117 (in Chapter 13) of the Star Books paperback edition. [3 page discussion]
Oberg, James UFOs and Outer Space Mysteries (1982) at pages 121-131 (in Chapter 6 generally, The Sirius Mystery) of the Donning paperback edition. [11 page discussion]. The relevant chapter is available online at the link below:
Ovenden, Michael Mustard Seed Of Mystery, Nature, Volume 261, Issue 5561, pp. 617-618 (1976). Available online at the link below:
Page, Ivan (Father), email entitled Dogon to Isaac Koi dated 29 October 2007.
Pesch, Peter and Pesch, Roland The Dogon and Sirius The Observatory, Vol. 97, p. 26-28 (1977).
Ridpath, Ian Messages From The Stars (1978a) at pages 189-202 (Chapter 12 generally) of the Fontana paperback edition. [14 page discussion]Ridpath, Ian in his article Investigating The Sirius Mystery (1978b), Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 3, Number 1, Fall 1978, at pages 56-62. Article available online at: [7 page discussion]
Ridpath, Ian in email entitled to Isaac Koi dated 3 December 2007.
Sagan, Carl Broca's Brain (1979) at pages 66 (in Chapter 5), 85-99 (in Chapter 6) of the Coronet paperback edition. [16 page discussion]
Spencer, John and Spencer, Anne True Life Encounters - Alien Contact (1997) at pages 53-60 (in Chapter 5 generally) of the Millenium paperback edition. [8 page discussion]
Story, Ronald Guardians of the Universe? (1980) at pages 113-126 (in Chapter 12 generally) of the New English Library paperback edition. [14 page discussion]
Temple, Robert The Sirius Mystery (1976) generally. [Whole book]. The 1976 edition of this book (which is considerably shorter than the 1998 revised edition) can be found as a searchable html document in a zip file online on the Truly Free website at, specifically atthe link below:
Temple, Robert On The Sirius Mystery: An Open Letter to Carl Sagan, Zetetic Scholar, Issue Number 8 (July, 1981), page 29. Available online at the link below:
Temple, Robert The Sirius Mystery (1998) generally, particularly at pages 3-16 (in Chapter 1) of the 1998 revised Arrow paperback edition. [Whole book] The 1976 edition of this book (which is considerably shorter than the 1998 revised edition) can be found as a searchable html document in a zip file online on the Truly Free website at
specifically at the link below:
Van Beek, Walter E. A. Dogon Restudied --A Field Evaluationof the Work of Marcel Griaule Current Anthropology 32:2,April 1991, p.139-167.Von Daniken, Erich According To The Evidence (1977) at pages 81-92 (in Chapter 3) of the Souvenir Press hardback edition. [12 page discussion]