Category Archives: Criticism of the Ancient Aliens/Ancient Astronaut Theory

Ancient Aliens: the prequel (as scientifically flawed as the second series)

The previous series of the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens was, as the title of this post suggests, as scientifically flawed as the second. But let’s skate over the fact that it prophesied the return of the ancient aliens and the end of the world on 21 December 2012. That’s just an embarassing detail in the catalogue of the series’ historical ignorance.

Tsoukalis and von Daniken (who respecctively have first degrees in Sports Communication and, er, nothing) claim repeatedly that humans were living in caves but built the pyramids “virtually overnight”. They use this ‘fact’ to prove that humans were genetically engineered by aliens from our ancestors, which is why Homo Sapiens is the only member of the human family tree to possess “culture”.

A wild and earth-shattering claim. And it’s based on claims which aren’t true.

We didn’t build the pyramids overnight. Before King Aha who founded the 1st dynasty (the first step pyramid was constructed hundreds of years later and the Giza triad was built only generations later in the 4th dynasty) there was “Dynasty 0”. Dynasty 0 is a term coined for the hitherto undiscovered history of Egypt which includes King Scorpion who unified Egypt. And before Dynasty 0, there were many different kingdoms. It appears that nomadic tribes settled in the Nile valley and formed settlements which eventually grew into states, perhaps from city states like ancient Greece. This took hundreds if not thousands of years.

Secondly, Homo Sapiens is not the only hominid to have culture. Neanderthals made tools which were better than our tools and art while other species took care of their ill and old members. Homo Sapiens differed from Neanderthals by being more sociable.

The fact that ancient alien theorists don’t know this stuff is staggering. This information is available via documentaries on the Discovery channel (which is why I know it and why my understanding is pretty much limited to what I’ve written here.)

Advertisements

Claims of the Ancient Aliens series refuted

Once again, it’s time for another post on the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens series and why it is completely stupid. I’ve amalgamated several episodes into this one post and I’ll present each logic fail as a quote or claim. As I’ve done a few serious posts on the ancient alien theorists’ qualifications (or lack thereof) this will be less serious.

 

“Why else would he have written above the door [of a church] ‘this place is awesome’ unless he meant it was a portal to another dimension?”

Which is a valid point. That’s also what people mean when they say Avatar is awesome – the film is clearly a portal to Pandora.

“The layout of these three [ancient MesoAmerican] buildings looks like the [inside of a computer]”

Yes, and the layout of Stonehenge, with its concentric circles, looks like the power button on my laptop. So what?

“Nobody has found King Antiochus’ tomb yet. He must have left via a star portal.”

And maybe every historical person whose tomb hasn’t been found departed this world through a star portal. I’m not saying star portals don’t exist, because I wouldn’t know; I didn’t study astrophysics. But even if they exist you can’t assume star portals are responsible for everything we haven’t found yet. As the ‘documentary’ itself claims, Antiochus’ court was scattered by the Romans so it’s more likely he died as a fugitive or an ordinary citizen.

“The Great Pyramid might have been a nuclear reactor or a device for beaming out microwaves or signals to satellites.” (Cue ilustration of the pyramid sending a beam of light out to a spaceship).

This would be interesting if they actually pointed to evidence instead of just saying this and moving on. People should just stick to conspiracy theories about David Cameron being a robot programmed by the corporations.

“These carvings look like people in space suits.”

True, but only after you said it. And the laws of probability mean that since there’s thousands of ancient carvings there should be some that look like astronauts (or TVs, or cars, etc).

“These hieroglyphs are too perfectly carved to be made by hand and this statue is smooth with no chisel marks.”

Actually, the varying thickness of the lines and some chips can be seen during the brief filming of the hieroglyphs. And why wouldn’t the Egyptians have sanded or polished, maybe even painted, their statues?

“These stones look like they were fused together. It must have been alien technology.”

Just because they look fused doesn’t mean they are fused, and even if they are there could be a more rational explanation.

“What made these tracks? It must have been a railway or how rockets were wheeled out for launch. And his chamber was built to bounce sound around the whole cave. So maybe people moved heavy rocks by levitating them into place with sound.”

Evidence??

“Morgellon’s Disease is caused by aliens planting bacteria on asteroids and sending them here to crash into Earth and infect us.”

Can aliens control comets’ trajectories? And Morgellon’s is thought by the medical community to not dven be a real disease – it’s classed as an ‘internet disease’ at best, and a conspiracy theory at worst. The Ancient Aliens programme has a duty to inform people that it isn’t recognised as a real disease before basing theories on it and interviewing the only scientists in the world who do believe in it.

“The star that guided the Three Wise Men was an alien spaceship.”

Only if you believe that the Bible is literally true. The Gospels were written several decades or hundreds of years after Jesus died (after being passed on by word of mouth), so the Three Wise Men story is unlikely to be true.

“The Garden of Eden was a laboratory designed to look like a natural environment in which aliens created modern humans.”

See above. Also, they must refute the evidence that we evolved from other hominids first before presenting their own theory. First rule of writing an essay or creating a theory.

 

 

 

The Ancient alien theory: New theory or 21st century Creationism?

First, we had Creationism. Good, old fashioned, utterly baseless Creationism. But then people started using their critical thinking skills and those pesky, pesky scientists soon had the masses believing in science and fact instead of the One True Word of God (told to the Middle Eastern Jews and adopted by the whites. Who, during colonialism, gave it to everyone else). There is a lot of understandable frustration surrounding the fact that Creationism still exists in one of the most developed and technologically advanced countries in the world. (You know the one I’m talking about – the one where religion gets into politics and they end up being against birth control). But at least it was good honest Creationism.

But when people stopped believing in Creationism, it could no longer be taught in schools. That’s when Intelligent Design stepped in. School boards across America were convinced that the Intelligent Design Theory differs from Creationism. Some might find this ridiculous, but is it that surprising that people were fooled? The ID theory doesn’t mention a god, much less a Christian one. It only teaches that life could have been deliberately designed (not created) and that animals, humans and plants appear as though they were designed.

So, is the Ancient Alien theory the next logical step to make Creationism cool? Some ancient alien theorists posit that humans were created by aliens or are descended from aliens, or that aliens assisted in or speeded up our evolution. ID took out the Bible and called God “a designer”. Ancient Alien theory looks to the Bible and all other religious scriptures for proof of its theory and calls God “aliens”. All three of these theories refute or ignore the fact that we are related to apes. They don’t acknowledge that we evolved from hominids (or in the case of Ancient Alien theory, it alleges that aliens helped us to evolve). Both Creationism and the ancient aliens theory dismiss cavemen – we knew how to farm instantly according to Creationism, while according to ancient aliens theory the aliens gave us technology and guided us. Like Jesus or King Arthur, the aliens will one day return.

And one notable ancient alien theorist is Joseph Farrell, who has a degree in theology and teaches at an unaccredited Christian institution of higher education.

I’m not suggesting that Creationists and Ancient Alien theorists are the same thing – the Creationists vehemently disapprove of ancient alien theory. But what I am suggesting is that the ancient alien theorists haven’t so much created a new theory as taken Creationism and replcaed “God” with “alien”.

 

Most famous Ancient Astronaut theorists have NO qualifications

The most famous ancient alien or ancient astronaut authors do not have degrees in any relevant field of study (or at all). They’ve made lucrative careers out of speculation. And the writer of Chariots of the Gods is a criminal. The craziest thing is, this is all from Wikipedia – that’s right, I didn’t have to do any research. So God Alien only knows what other stuff is out there for anyone who cares to research.

Erich von Daniken wrote the famous book Chariots of the Gods, which I always meant to read but now won’t. Daniken has done the most to popularise the ancient alien theory. He was a hotel manager and has several fraud convictions (he committed theft in Switzerland, fraud and embezzlement in Egypt and then fraud in Switzerland again) and was jailed. His book was published by the time of his trial and it enabled him to leave the hotel business and start his writing/PR career. Giorgio A Tsoukalos, who published Daniken’s articles and manages Daniken’s ancient astronaut research centre, has a degree in sports information and communication – a degree which doesn’t qualify him to speak about ancient astronauts/alien aliens.

Zecharia Sitchin has an economics degreee, and taught himself to read cunieform while doing the nine to five. Unsurprisingly, his translations have been criticised. He also visited some archaeological sites. Sounds like the kind of thing I’d like to do myself, but I won’t be presenting myself as an expert after reading Teach Yourself Hieroglyphs or Ancient Greek for Dummies*.

A book – or a ticket to a lucrative writing career?

 

David Hatcher Childress, one of the most famous proponents of the theory, is in fact a dropout who left university after one year without getting a degree. And Christopher Dunn didn’t go to university either.

Robert K G Temple, who wrote The Sirius Mystery does have a degree. A shame it’s in Oriental Studies and Sanskrit, and he wrote about the Dogon people (and later published two books on the Egyptians.)

Obviously it’s great that we have successful books by people from different educational backgrounds and classes. I have no problem with them writing these books, and I hope they continue to achieve success; after all, they deserve it for their writing skills and the time they spend writing.

What is wrong is that the prominent writers of other scientific or anthropology fields are PhDs, often well known in the scientific community and sought after by the best universities. They’ve spent years in education, researching and doing the fieldwork. Books by the less academically inclined are usually on topics related to politics and culture or are memoirs. These topics require little research because they are concerned with expressing ideas and in any case much of this kind of information is publically accessible and easily understood.

These ancient aliens theory writers are not qualified to talk about science. They of course have the right to write about it, but ancient alien theory should not be considered scientific. The History Channel also has a responsibility to tell viewers that these people did not study anthropology, history or archaeology at university and hold no qualifications in subjects that would be relevant to understanding about ancient aliens.

The only PhD in the bunch is teaching at an unaccredited Christian institute. The History Channel cannot pass this off as science. Most bloggers have more experience and qualifications to blog about their chosen subjects than the top ancient astronaut theorists have to write books and be interviewed on a History channel. The Ancient Aliens programmes should be taken off the History Channel and sold to Controversial TV or some other channel which deals with exploring ideas.

The ancient alien theory is valuable, because it’s a theory created by us,; a theory shaped by culture and history. Alternative theories are interesting and a diversity of opinion is a good thing. But, as the scientific community says, ancient astronaut theory is at best a pseudoscience or pseudoarchaeology.

 

But, you know, I’ve learned something today: it’s easy to become rich and famous writing crap you know nothing about and insulting other countries’ history and achievements in the process! I too am European and priveleged, and I want in!

So here is my pitch to the History Channel:

I do an expose on the ancient astronaut authors using Wikipedia and lots of footage of amazing monuments (while the voiceover does nothing to educate the viewer about them or the people who built them.) I interview all of my friends professional associates and tweeps I talk to on Twitter  the sex-positive blogger community and ask them why the authors pulled a fast one on us. We conclude that since we don’t know why, the aliens must be responsible. All this is stretched over eight episodes with all of us chatting about how the aliens took over the authors’ brains.

*Which is a shame, as me and one of my best friends could totally make a great ancient astronaut writing team. Between us we tick the boxes of having visited archaeological sites and being able to recognise a few ancient characters. And we even have a copy of the ancient Book of the Dead we could study!**

**Which I discovered while exploring a chain bookstore.

 

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_P._Farrell

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Childress

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_von_D%C3%A4niken

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_A._Tsoukalos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zecharia_Sitchin

5 Reasons Why The Ancient Alien Theory Is Not A Convincing Theory

God knows which category this post is going to go in, but I thought I’d try something different today.

South Park once mocked the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens series in an episode abiut Thanksgiving, and I can see why. Now there is a new series, and this blog deals with material from both series.

Now I’m all about being open minded and I’m not saying aliens have never contacted us, because I don’t know. I’m just not convinced by the theory itself and the way it is being presented by the History Channel. So, while I offer criticism or critique of the ancient alien theory, this shouldn’t be taken as a refutation of the possibility that aliens contacted us, but only a criticism of the way it is being argued.

1. The premise and indeed entire argument of the ancient aliens theory seems to be “we don’t know how this structure was built, therefore aliens did it”. This is too simplistic and too much of a leap. Just because we haven’t yet figured out how they were built doesn’t mean we never will. Everyone thought crystal skulls were impossible to make but now we know they were all made in the 19th century, probably in Europe or America (and possess no powers or mysteries). We learn more and more about how Stonehenge was built and why.

And our surprise at how our ancestors could have built things without technology is no more remarkable than our future great grandchildren’s surprise at how anyone could have researched anything without Google (or whatever people are using to research by then). Or indeed our present inability to function without electricity when people in other regions of the globe live very well without electricity.

 

The ancient alien theory offers no evidence or proof except “how else could people have built this stuff?”. This is unscientific.

2. The ancient aliens theory is just religion but with the word “alien” in place of “God/the Gods”. By presupposing that aliens are responsible for civilizing us, guiding us and looking after us, and that anything which can’t be explained was created by them or with their technology, the aliens take God’s place. The belief that the aliens may one day return to us or that they left codes or structures behind to tell future generations (us) that they were here is also reminiscent of folk heroes and religious scriptures.

3. The ancient alien theory replaces a simple and more likely theory (for example that the pyramids were built by the local inhabitants) with a far more complex and unlikely theory (that they were built by aliens, or by humans using alien technology). One of the rules of good science is that one must always believe the simpler explanation until there is evidence to the contrary.

4. The ancient alien theory asks us to believe too much stuff. By depending upon so many necessary premises, without which the whole theory crumbles, it is a bad theory (and also an unlikely one, because a lot of things must be true for it to be a viable theory). For the ancient alien theory to be true, we must take as fact:

That aliens exist

They are more technologically advanced

They contacted us

They were friendly

They didn’t just contact us and leave, but stayed for a very extended period of time

They shared their knowledge with us and guided us

Stonehenge, the pyramids, Carnac and other places were built with their technology

That the aliens looked like Greys (how we would expect an alien to look like) and their spacecraft looked like rockets or flying saucers. [Because ancient alien theorists sometimes point to carvings which look like flying saucers, rockets or aliens in spacesuits].

5. This last point is perhaps less relevant to Stonehenge (in Britain) and Carnac (in France). However as ancient alien theory also rests just as heavily upon the pyramids in Egypt and Central America as well as sites in Ethiopia and India, it is still a relevant critique of the theory.

There has been a long history of not giving indigenous peoples credit for creating the monuments found in their countries. With the pyramids for example, it was thought in the 19th century that Middle Eastern peoples especially those from what is now the Iran or Iraq region built the pyramids. Some thought the Europeans had built them. There was also talk of giants. Now, the buzzword is aliens. I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel once and Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s top archaeologist, said that it wasn’t giants or aliens who built the pyramids, but the Egyptians. Another local egyptologist, (I wish I could remember her name) commented “there seems to be a lack of appreciation for what the indigenous people did.” After listing all the theories about who had built the pyramids, she then concluded, “It was in some ways a bit racist.” And these comments could be applied to any of the other monuments that the ancient alien theorists point to.

It’s important to remember that the ancient alien theory, as well as many of its current well-known authors and figures, are from the west. The History Channel (the mainstream TV channel which has done the most to spread the ancient alien theory to the general public) is based in America. It would be interesting to imagine how we would react if it had been Mexicans, Indians or Egyptians who had come up with the ancient alien theory and were saying that Stonehenge, Carnac, Mount Rushmore, Buckingham Palace and the Lia Fail were made using alien technology.

%d bloggers like this: