Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Von Daniken

Ancient Astronauts Revisited Again

with 8 comments

Here it is, proof that aliens visited the Middle East thousands of years ago, a Sumerian clay seal depicting the Sun surrounded by all eleven planets, with visiting planet Niburu by itself in the next open space to the right. Yes, proof positive that aliens have visited earth in the past. OK, yes, I’m being facetious. Even a little insulting and sarcastic, sue me. At the behest of reader’s comments, I reviewed online what is touted as the best evidence for alien visitation in human history. I was not impressed.

This Sumerian seal is claimed to represent ancient knowledge of our Solar System having more than the traditional five visible planets (Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.) I suppose it could be interpreted that way, but eleven planets? Assuming it is even supposed to be the Sun and planets, how people explain the depiction of eleven planets quickly gets too torturous to bear repeating. Suffice it to say we don’t know much about ancient Sumerian astronomy, but I couldn’t find any serious references to the ancients having any knowledge of the Solar System beyond the visible planets. Nor did the idea of a Sun centred Solar System appear until thousands of years after the Sumerians were dust. I don’t know what was being depicted above, but Venus in a field of stars is as good a guess as any. My point is that there is nothing definitive about the above image, so one can make any interpretation one wants.

The Nazca Lines were mentioned. These are huge outlined figures in scraped soil in a  desert in Peru made some 15 or 16 centuries ago.   They were rediscovered, or at least weren’t brought to the world’s attention, until the advent of modern aircraft revealed their extent. Yes, they are very curious. Yes, we have no idea, only speculation, as to why these ancient peoples went to all this trouble. However, and it’s a big however, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about their construction. It didn’t take that many people to make them, nor were any particular arcane skills involved. Ancient peoples did all sorts of stuff that seems pointless to modern people. Because we don’t know why they made these figures isn’t evidence of anything. They wouldn’t have been to only people in history who thought the Gods were looking down on them from the skies.

A lot is made about how ancient people’s moved such huge rocks around. Again we have a number of problems with this as evidence of alien intervention. First of all, a lot of progress has been made understanding ancient engineering. So right off the bat we have a line of argument that has been steadily weakening the past few decades. And it wasn’t a strong argument to begin with, and was often exaggerated to make it stronger. No, the blocks making the pyramids weren’t so finely cut that a piece of paper can’t be slid between them. Gaps between them are often big enough to stick one’s fist into them. The pyramids were an amazing accomplishment, and there is no doubt lots we still don’t know about them, but the mysteries they still hold don’t require any alien intervention to explain.

Then there’s the ancient Sanskrit writing in India. I can’t even be bothered to look up the reference, because a decade ago I read a book on same. If the gentle reader doesn’t know what I’m talking about, they’re not missing anything. Long story short, in this huge body of ancient mythical literature, there are a few passages that could be interpreted as descriptions of flying machines or space flight. There’s also passages in the Bible that could be interpreted as same. And other references too I am sure. The problem here is the same ol same ol retrofitting problem. If one has a theory, and searches for evidence that supports the theory, one can find evidence that “fits” the theory. Um, so what? Unless the evidence of alien visitation is so clear that every other interpretation isn’t viable, it’s not really evidence. Yes, this is setting the bar rather high. That’s because when one theorizes that leprechauns invented human civilization, anyone with a brain is going to require powerful arguments and strong evidence.

As one more aside, a lot of people don’t seem to understand that at least some of the people promoting alien visitation claims and similar such are doing it for the money! Gasp, would people simple make stuff up to sell books and make buckets of money? Yes, yes they would Virginia. I have a hard time grasping how  someone can fervently believe the claims made by say Von Däniken, but not believe that he might be simply lying? Alien visitation is more likely than a human being lying to make a buck? No doubt some adherents of radical theories are serious, but a huge amount of nonsense gets injected into the debate by charlatans. And then repeated as fact by the credulous. Sigh.

On the plus side, pseudoscientific nonsense aside, there is really good news in the search for ancient aliens. Since it’s entirely possible that aliens not only exist and have visited the Solar System, there are sound scientific reasons for looking for evidence of same. Any empirical evidence of alien technology would be fascinating and informative for any number of scientific disciplines, and even the search for same has interesting scientific aspects, so mainstream science is indeed moving beyond looking for alien radio beacons in the stars. There are  a number of promising avenues of investigation in the search for ancient alien visitors to earth.

That’s my next post. Or some future post. I think the next post is on the frightful rise of elder immolation in the USA.

(The above image is so ubiquitous on the Internet that a copyright notice seems pointless, still, it’s claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, yadda yadda yadda. I chose this image because it’s as far as I can tell the best proof the informal ancient astronauts theorists can come up with. I see.)

Written by unitedcats

November 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Ancient Astronauts, has the Earth been visited by aliens?

with 6 comments

Yes, I am deliberately writing a fluff piece because I don’t want to write about the nightmare that is Libya. OK, fluff piece is a bit unfair, let’s just say this is a fun post. In the spirit of “any topic should be taken seriously,” some people are convinced that aliens have visited Earth in the past, and claim there is evidence purporting to support said conjecture. What are we to make of this? In no particular order …

First off, the theory is not absurd. Humans exist, therefor it’s undeniable that tool-using interstellar travelling aliens are a possibility. IE if tomorrow someone found the equivalent of an alien Viking lander sitting in the Gobi desert, it wouldn’t overturn any current scientific theories. At least there’s no extent theory I am aware of that precludes that possibility. OK, so the concept of ancient aliens passes the laugh test. It goes mostly downhill from here though. Sigh. And I loved “Chariots of the Gods” as a kid.

For one thing, there is no known artifact of alien origin extent or in the historical record. There are a few hints here and there in the historical record, none of which rises above anecdotal hearsay level in terms of empirical veracity.  If aliens have visited Earth, they were few and far between, and they were careful not to leave anything behind.

Secondly, there are no mysteries in the historical and archaeological record that require an unknown alien contribution to explain. In the nineteenth century things like the Egyptian pyramids and Easter Island statues were head scratchers, those days are long gone. There is no need for nor is there any evidence of non-human intelligence in any ancient construction, archaeologists are agreed on this. And modern archaeology is an amazing thing.

As a codicil to the first two, it should be noted that it would be relatively easy for aliens to leave more or less unmistakable traces of themselves if they so desired.  Artifacts  made out of alloys only modern technology could produce for example. In the information realm it’s even easier. A map of the far side of the Moon, or a map of the Solar System showing Neptune and Uranus would do the trick in spades. No such item exists to the best of my knowledge.

Now I could take a look at a lot of the purported evidence for alien visitation in more detail, but frankly none of it is really much to get excited about. Some rock drawings of people with what could be construed as space helmets on. (As illustrated above.) Some figurines and such that bear a superficial resemblance to jet aircraft. Nothing that rises above the “well, it sorta looks like” level.

Well, almost nothing. There are three items that bear a little more comment. The first is the Tunguska Event in 1908. This was a nuclear sized explosion in remote Siberian, I’ve blogged about it. At one point it was somewhat mysterious, and it has been half seriously proposed that it might have been an exploding alien spaceship of some kind. As with the pyramids and Easter Island, that was then, this is now. Modern science, while it doesn’t understand everything about the Tunguska event, is now sure it was caused by a large rocky asteroid that overheated and exploded when it plunged into Earth’s atmosphere. Poot.

Secondly, the Dogon people Sirius mystery. The Dogon people are a people that live in Africa, Mali to be exact. It is claimed by some that the Dogon possess astronomical knowledge that wasn’t known until the modern era, to wit that the star Sirius has an invisible (to the naked eye) companion. Sadly, what the Dogon don’t possess is a written language. So even if we believe that some Dogon wise man told a western anthropologist about Sirius’s invisible companion star in the 1930s (and even this is subject to a lot of doubt,) that’s still nearly a century after modern astronomers discovered Sirius’s companion star. That’s a lot of time for the information to have made it to the Dogon people long before the anthropologist got there in the1930s, the Dogon are not some obscure tribe living in the hinterlands, they are a large tribe in well travelled areas that have had contact with westerners for centuries.

Lastly, the author Johnathon Swift in his satire Gulliver’s Travels written in 1726 mentions Mars as having two small moons similar in size and orbit to the Moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos … which weren’t discovered until 1877! Pretty amazing coincidence, eh? This has led some to suggest that Swift had access to information that had to have come from aliens. Alas, the reality is more prosaic. For some time before Swift it had been conjectured that Mars might have two small moons. Small because they couldn’t be seen with the telescopes of the day. It seems more than likely that Swift was just using an astronomical theory of his day when he wrote about the two moons of Mars. Poot again.

So basically, when it comes to ancient astronauts, there’s no there there. It’s a nifty idea, it’s not impossible, but none of the evidence so far lacks alternative prosaic explanations. Personally I think that the people who believe in alien visitation should take a more scientific approach to the problem instead of searching for evidence that supports their belief. Any moron with a theory can find evidence that supports their theory. The scientific method was invented to weed people like this out of serious discussion. It needs to be appled more rigorously.

(The above image is public domain under most copyright law since the artist has been dead some 10,000 years. It’s a rock drawing in Italy, one among hundreds of thousands. Yes, it could represent people wearing space helmets. It could represent idle stylized graffiti. It could represent whatever one wants. What it doesn’t represent is proof of anything.)