Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #16

Re: Fact-Checking Angels & Demons: Lies, Damned Lies and Dan Brown

Although I don’t necessarily agree 100% with all of Dan Brown’s “theories,” there is something to be said about “reference material.” Sir, where did you get your facts from? If you have no source material to back it up, it leaves you in the same place as Mr. Brown.

The problem with the world is we all think we know everything, so instead of listening to what others are saying, and exploring the possibility of it being true, we stare quietly into the others eyes, the whole time not hearing a word due to the fact we are already thinking of the next “witty” thing to say. Being book-smart can make you very narrow minded. I can see by a lot of your comments that you are probably Catholic, and offended by his “facts.”

Which of my facts are you interested in?

On antimatter, I visited CERN in Geneva (courtesy of Sony Pictures) and spoke to actual quantum physicists (as well as Ron Howard and Tom Hanks), though most of the facts I referenced can be verified from CERN’s own website.

In Rome I visited the relevant churches (again courtesy of Sony), including Santa Maria del Popolo, Santa Maria della Vittoria, the Pantheon and St. Peter’s, where I saw the “West Ponente” tile (along with the 15 other tiles Brown conveniently ignores) and the tomb of Alexander VII (not, as reported by Brown, at Santa Maria del Popolo, which I can also verify is not where Brown said, or oriented in its piazza as he described). I saw the passetto wall where Brown claimed to be inspired to write Angels & Demons while touring “beneath Vatican City,” though in fact the passetto is above ground, not below.

I can vouch from my own eyes for the unreliability of Brown’s descriptions of churches, tombs and other architectural landmarks, despite his assurances that in this regard his book offers only “entirely factual” descriptions and “exact locations.” Again, most of this information can be verified by mass first-hand attestation from online sources.

Anyone can Google “Sylvia Cavazzini,” the “scholar” whom Brown claims gave him his passetto tour, and try to find online evidence of any academic work she may have done. Anyone can Google Bernini’s Four Rivers and see which rivers are represented (and consult an atlas to determine whether they are all in the Old World as Brown says). Anyone can look up the meaning of the word “cathedral” in a dictionary, or Google Musei Vaticani vs. Musèo Vaticano, something neither Brown nor his editors or proofreaders bothered to do.

I suspect you may be more interested in historical questions around the Illuminati, Galileo, La Purga and such. A question: If Brown is manifestly and consistently unreliable on matters of verifiable fact for which he promises an “entirely factual” descriptions and “exact locations” — when he cannot even reliably report autobiographical details from his own life — why should he be given any credence on matters of history where he appears to be at odds with historians of all stripes?

Link to this entry

Coming Soon

Recently Added

In Theaters – Latest

In Theaters – All