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My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 2

Towards the end of the previous post in this series, I wrote something to the effect that mythical accounts suggesting sporadic, transient and accidental contact between extraterrestrials and human beings are far more likely than those which claim purposeful, extended and prolonged contact between the two. To put it another way, the Sumerian or Babylonian myth of Oannes is far more likely to be evidence of an extraterrestrial visiting earth than, for example, the construction of Giza pyramid complex or any other large bronze-age (and earlier) buildings and structures found in Egypt or other parts of the world.

One my major issues with people such as Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin or Giorgio Tsoukalos are their attempts to pass off large man-made ancient structures as evidence of extraterrestrials helping human beings, even when it is pretty clear than humans built those structures by themselves. Much of the willingness, among their audience, to believe such bullshit comes from the still prevalent general belief that all people in previous eras (especially in bronze-age and pre-bronze age times) were stupid, primitive and generally incapable barbarians. However, even a brief look at modern archaeological evidence show that was not the case.

It is clear that even pre-bronze age human beings were quite capable of exploring and manipulating the world around them- even if they did so in ways that are not immediately familiar to us. For example: The indigenous people of central america were able to selectively breed an otherwise barely-edible grass known as Teosinte into Maize almost 10,000 years ago. Similarly, the selective breeding of a number of edible plants from potatoes to wheat and rice- all of which occurred before the bronze age suggest that human beings in those eras were just as clever as those living today.

The domestication of certain livestock species, such as cattle, from problematic wild ancestors such as Aurochs also occurred before the bronze age (or very close to its start). Of course, not all species of livestock were that difficult to domesticate and some such as pigs and goats can easily revert to their wild phenotypes. My point is that we should not underestimate the intellectual capacity and ability of human beings from previous eras- even if their mental model of the world around them was rather different from ours.

Moreover there is evidence that technologies were often discovered and then lost in the pre-printed book era. A good example of this is Concrete, which was made and extensively used by Romans only to be lost and then rediscovered almost 1,500 years later. Or take the Antikythera mechanism which is a , pretty complex, geared astronomical calculator made over 2000 years ago. Even fairly large and complex technologies like those behind the sanitation and drainage systems of the Indus Valley civilization can be lost for thousands of years. The mere presence of seemingly advanced technology does not, by itself, prove that extraterrestrials were interacting with or teaching human beings in the past.

And this brings us to the next issue: Is it possible to group instances of alleged historical extraterrestrial-human contact into categories based, perhaps, on their likelihood of being based in fact? After giving this problem some thought, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to categorize alleged instances of extraterrestrial-human contact cannot be binary (as in ‘yes’ or ‘no’) since the classification too much certainty. A better way to classify them would be as follows: high unlikely, ambiguous and somewhat likely.

The highly unlikely, aka basically impossible, category is the largest of the three. It contains ancient mega-structures such as the Giza pyramid complex, the Megaliths at Baalbek, Moai on Easter Island, Stonehenge in UK, other Megalithic structures and complexes in Europe, Mesoamerican pyramids and pretty much all of the very impressive structures built in the stone- and early bronze-age. Note use of the words “pretty much all” rather than “all”. We will come back to that in future parts of this series. The common feature of all objects (mostly structures) in this category is that they appear mysterious only because so many people today think that people in the past were totally stupid savages.

Based on more recent archaeological finds such as the massive and long-used religious complex at Göbekli Tepe, we know that even stone-age humans were far more organized than even “experts” had previously imagined. Let us also not forget that certain parts of the world with the potential for rich archaeological finds such as the Persian Gulf and coastal areas of the Black Sea were above water during the last ice-age which ended about 10-12k years ago. To put in another way, what we consider as “human civilization” very likely began at least a few thousand years before the dates given by conventional historical guidelines.

It is therefore not surprising that humans around the world had the capability and organization to build large stone mega-structures much earlier than is popularly believed. This is why I am very skeptical about those who want to interpret any ancient stone mega-structure as evidence of extraterrestrials interacting with and helping human beings. The case for extraterrestrial assistance or inspiration in building such structures would be stronger if they were built of materials other than stone or were built in hard-to-reach locations where they did not serve any obvious purpose.

In future parts of this series, I will look at examples of physical evidence that is ambiguous or somewhat likely.

What do you think? Comments?

My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 1

May 27, 2017 6 comments

In the previous post, I wrote about my thoughts on why tv shows about “ancient astronauts” are still popular and what that says about the popular mood in the west. The main point I was trying to make is that belief in “ancient astronauts” is the secular version of belief in existence of traditional gods and other mystical/ mythical beings in a previous era. But what about the central question.. you know.. is the “ancient astronaut” theory correct or even feasible?

My short answer is: Yes, but with certain caveats.

The longer version is a bit more complicated and will not make people on either side of the issue happy. But then again, I do not write this blog to make people happy. I simply give you my opinion about issues- whether it is about how to use escorts, the nature of “civilization” and human beings or some recent controversial event. Also unlike many others (especially credentialed morons) I explore a number of alternate possibilities in a systematic manner- even if I do not care about them.

Let us start by trying to answer the first major question: Do extraterrestrial species capable on interstellar travel exist?

The answer to the first major question starts with estimating the likelihood of life (of any kind) on planets other than earth- either in our galaxy or in neighboring galaxies. If you regard life as a series of complex chemical process which can arise under some set of environmental conditions and with a certain probability, then our galaxy (and the rest of the universe) is full of planets which harbor life in some form or the other- even if it is largely in the form of single-celled organisms.

I am not, therefore, claiming that the universe is full of planets hosting life forms with self-awareness and the ability to travel between star systems. Having said that, it is very likely that given enough time, a small minority of planets harboring life (in any form) will go on to host more complex multi-cellular and differentiated forms such as those seen in fossil record of earth.

To make a long story short- if you believe that life is a chemical process based in probability, given sufficient time a small (but not insignificant) number of planets will eventually host intelligent and self-aware species. If we take this idea to its logical conclusion, it is almost certain that there have been multiple independent instances of self-aware species attaining levels of technology which make it possible for them to travel between stars.

Provided they do not subsequently destroy themselves through war, ego or greed- such species could end up becoming very long-lived. It also goes without saying that extraterrestrial species capable of interstellar travel would also have the technology to be basically immortal- for all practical purposes. In other words, extraterrestrial species capable on interstellar travel are an inevitable consequence of life being a chemical process whose creation and evolution are governed by chance and probability.

But would such extraterrestrial species want to visit earth and chill with human beings or somehow influence our evolution?

This particular question has two parts. Firstly, would they explore or visit earth or other planets in the first place? Secondly, would they take a special interest in human beings to the point of deliberately interacting with them or influencing their evolution?

It goes without saying that any species which has developed the capability for interstellar travel will use it to explore their stellar neighborhood. Over time, such species will end up exploring a larger and larger volume of their (and our) galaxy. It is almost inevitable, given sufficient time, that one or more spacefaring species will come across the solar system and discover earth.

Now, this could have occurred 2 billion years ago or it could happen tomorrow morning. My point is that, the discovery of earth by such spacefaring extraterrestrial species is also almost inevitable. Also, my hunch is that such a discovery is far more likely to occur via indirect means (space probes) than direct ones (actual visits).

But would they want to intentionally interact with human beings or influence their evolution or technological development?

Well.. let me ask you a counter question. Would you try to communicate with termites in some termite hill you came across when you were on vacation in some exotic part of the world? Sure, you might take a few photos of the mound and perhaps even briefly study a very small percentage of its inhabitants. But at the end of the day, you simply wont’t care about some species on the other side of your world that poses no challenge or possibility for genuine interaction with yourself.

Similarly, it is very unlikely that extraterrestrial species capable of interstellar travel would demonstrate serious interest in human beings unless we reach a technological level where worthwhile and genuine interaction is possible. This is not to say that there would be no interaction whatsoever. However it is very likely that such interaction would be sporadic and somewhat accidental rather than sustained and methodical.

In other words, accounts of extraterrestrial contact which fit the sporadic and accidental contact pattern are far more credible than those which recall extended contact between extraterrestrials and human beings. So the Sumerian myth of Adapa is much more likely to be based on an actual instance of such contact than extraterrestrial being involved in building of Giza pyramid complex. The description of Vimanas in ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts are pretty close to what one might expect for spacecraft capable of landing on, and taking off, from planets such as earth.

It is also worthwhile to note that instances of non-natural objects flying in a controlled manner in the sky have been reported since the 2nd millenium BC. More than a few of these accounts contain details that are just too peculiar to be explained as natural phenomena or hallucinations. Moreover, these accounts document sporadic and very brief contact with appear to be probes capable of flying in the atmosphere.

To summarize, I think that extraterrestrial species capable of travelling between star systems are almost inevitable. Furthermore, if such species exist (very likely) they are almost certainly aware of the existence of earth and have likely visited it in some manner on more than one occasion. It also likely that some instances of such brief visits or encounters have been documented, albeit in a distorted form, within the mythological narratives of multiple tribes or nations. I am however very skeptical of accounts which suggest extraterrestrials making extended or systemic contact with humans.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Continued Popularity of “Ancient Aliens” Type TV Shows

May 24, 2017 7 comments

A couple of months ago, I decided to write more posts about things other than current political developments. Well.. as many of you can see, so far, I have not been too successful with doing that for a number of reasons- some of which have to do with a lot of developments in the political arena of many countries including the USA. So let us get back to the topic at hand.

I first considered writing this particular post about 3-4 months when flipping through channels on my TV sometime very late at night. While not a fan of most TV channels or their “programming”, the less conventional ones can be sometimes interesting. Anyway, while flipping through all those channels I came across yet another rerun of some episode of “Ancient Aliens“. While I don’t remember the specifics of that particular episode, it was produced sometime in 2015.

A look at the imdb webpage of that show revealed that this show was being still produced and had completed 12 seasons in 7 years. The next thought that came to my mind was.. why? Why was a show like this still in production? And why are people still watching it? Have we not had enough of shows based on people looking for monsters, ghosts, spirits, bigfoot etc? The answer to one of those questions came rather quickly when I looked at the content on other channels. Let me explain..

The idea underlying this series, and other similar ones, is that intelligent extraterrestrial species visited earth in the past and interacted with human beings- aka the Ancient Astronauts theory. While “skeptics” and other assorted credentialed morons who take scient-ism too seriously might want to believe otherwise, the idea that intelligent extraterrestrials species might have visited earth in the past (including human pre-history) is an idea that is highly feasible as well as more likely than not.

More than a few scientists, including people like the late Carl Sagan, have seriously entertained the possibility that a small percentage of the weird stories found in traditional religions might be a distorted account of encounters with extraterrestrial intelligence visiting earth. I mean.. unless the evolution of life and evolution are somehow unique to earth, it is virtually guaranteed that there are more than a few intelligent species capable of inter-stellar travel in our galaxy alone. My point is that the idea underlying that series is highly feasible and likely.

But coming back to that series.. Why do so many people still watch it? Aren’t most episodes of that show full of really tenuous and speculative stuff. Then again, why don’t we ask that question about all those “crime procedural” shows or sitcoms full of outlandish characters and situations? How many viewers of popular sitcoms from Seinfeld and Friends (in the past) to BBT and HIMYM (now) believe that are based on anything approaching reality? What about “reality” shows? How many actually believe that “Real Wives of insert name of some large city” or some “survival” show believe that they are watching something real?

My point is that connection to reality has nothing to do with the success of a show, whether it is on TV or the Internet.

But this still does not explain why people watch such a show in the first place. Let me explain that point a bit more clearly. See, some people watch sitcoms because they like the story or somehow want to identify with one or more of the characters. The appeal of ” reality” shows is based on their ability to titillate and grab the viewers attention- kinda like watching the aftermath of a really bad traffic accident. But what about a show like “Ancient Aliens”? What emotional need does watching such a show satisfy?

The answer to that question can be best understood by posing a counter question- why were such shows not successful in the era between the 1950s-1990s? There are a few factors behind that. The media market, for one, was far more of an oligopoly than it is today. The cost for entry into the field of producing show for TV etc was also much higher than today. But there is a still bigger reason..

The west, especially USA, was a far more hopeful place as late at the 1990s.

But was does hope for a better future have to do with the lack of general interest in shows about aliens visiting the earth during human pre-history? To better understand what I saying, ask yourself the another question- Why were shows and movies based in science fiction so popular during that era and why were they hopeful instead of gritty, dark and dystopic? We,.. for one, this was also the era when the application of science and technology provided massive increases in the quality of life as well as making affordable what can previously considered luxurious.

Since then.. things have not been going too well in the west. Today science and technology is associated with corporate abuse, social atomization, decreasing standards of living, neoliberal technocracy and scient-ism. It is worth noting that the actions and behavior of scientists and academics have also contributed to the rather dismal public image of science. To put it another way, science and technology are no longer connected to hope for a better future and there is no traditional religious bullshit to fall back on. Moreover many other entertainment options, from traditional sitcoms to “reality” shows, contain reminders (direct or indirect) about how the world around you is generally shitty and becoming more so with every passing day.

In such an environment, shows which promote the idea that human ancestors once interacted with space-faring aliens is uniquely positive. Furthermore these shows also promote the idea that human beings, too, could one day in the future become another universally affluent and comfortable space-faring species. As you might have noticed, that particular belief was once the focal point of many successful and optimistic sci-fi shows and films as late the mid-1990s. Then neo-liberalism assumed its full form (after the demise of USSR) and things simply have not been the same since that time. To summarize shows like “Ancient Aliens” are popular because they fill the gap left by the demise of a hopeful future based on science and technology improving the lives of average people.

What do you think? Comments?