Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: We Are Not the First

Andrew Thomas starts out by dredging up a series of pseudo-historical, pseudo-scientific claims about 'out-of-place' artifacts [1] and events that suggest that ancient civilizations were once at least as advanced as we are, if not more. For him the rise and fall of civilizations isn't just that, it's evidence that aliens once visited the Earth and imparted their wisdom and technology (which we've since lost and are only now rediscovering). I'll give him this, he did a lot of research. But he's wholly unable to approach anything with any skepticism. Anything and everything is potential evidence for him. And if it's evidence against, he happily discards it.[2] He also often fails to reason through his ideas.[3]

He follows this up by claiming that using alchemy to transmute the elements (e.g. turning lead into gold) must be possible, or else why would anyone try to do it? (Beautiful logic, isn't it?) His interpretations of ancient passages are often imaginative. For example, he quotes from a Medieval document called the Emerald Tablet (though he insists that it's more likely from 2,500 BC):
"This is the potent power of all forces for it will overcome all that is fine and penetrate all that is coarse because in this manner the world was created."[4]
What does this passage mean? Tomas says it means that the ancients understood that atoms vibrate and that space is filled with cosmic radiation. Man, why didn't I see that? No wonder he got published!

My verdict: If you want a brief glimpse into the mind of a kook [5], I highly recommend this book. But don't turn to it for anything resembling science, history, or rational thinking.


[1] Many of these are adequately refuted at

[2] He also disguises his research by citing sources by their French or German titles (when he offers a citation at all). At one point he quotes an old source and mistakes the long s (ſ) for an f. And thus "Almucheſi" ("Almuchesi") becomes "Al-Mucheff". I also found a source that incorrectly had it as "Alchumesi" (here).

[3] He presents evidence that several earlier astronomers believed that Venus has a moon (it does not). He then speculates that what those men saw were "mobile, space-going cities of extraterrestrials". For some reason he believes that aliens are incapable of hiding their tiny spaceships from simple telescopes, yet at the same time are able to hide all the radio communication of the universe (supposedly inhabited by these superior beings) from us.

[4] Tomas, Andrew. (1971) We Are Not the First. G. Putnam's Sons, New York, NY, p. 51.

[5] He was the head of the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau and the many organizations it morphed into over the years. See Tomas.

Image attributions:

UFO House is by, available at

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