So Erich Von Daniken wrote a book called "Chariots of the Gods?". It also became a movie. It's on Netflix Instant, and although it's not worth your time, it's worth a few minutes of your time.
"Chariots of the Gods" postulates that the pyramids were built by aliens. He was the first of these. Thus started all this "pyramid power" shit. The Nazca lines were runways for aliens, etc etc etc.
Von Daniken is Patient Zero for the "ancient astronauts" hypothesis.
Basically, it goes like this:
1) Damn, this ancient shit is impressive.
2) But I'm not impressed by ancient people because I'm obviously the pinnacle of my species.
3) Therefore this ancient shit wasn't done by people, it was done by fucking magic.
"Von Daniken Syndrome" is my name for the constellation of symptoms associated with disrespect for those who came before you. If you can't figure it out, nobody can figure it out. If you can't understand how to build stonehenge with paleolithic tools, nobody could have built stonehenge with paleolithic tools. If you can't figure out what Nazca lines are for, nobody can figure out what Nazca lines are for. And, should some errant scientist put forth a perfectly logical explanation for these profound mysteries that involves knowledge beyond your ken, they're obviously delusional, because
So. While it's perfectly acceptable to believe that Vermeer had unholy, unforeseen talent, it's complete sacrilege to suppose that he actually figured out some clever applications of optics that gave him an edge on his peers. In my opinion, that doesn't make him less of an artist, it makes him also a craftsman. Just like William Chamberlen wasn't less of a doctor, he was also an inventor.