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.