The other night, my Lovely Lady and I sat down to some television. She had seen the tail end of a show called Ancient Astronauts on the History Channel, and she found it interesting. Oh, not the ZOMG ALINES R EVERWHERE angle, but the things that they have been finding. We watched it together, and honestly, I had a real hard time enjoying the actual information of the program because of the inundating waves of ridiculous allegations that were being made. What made this worse was that this was a program from the History Channel, which is a channel I had respected in my long-time-ago days of having cable for being committed to good programming and education. This is clearly no longer the case.
The argument that this is all based on is that a long time ago, aliens came to earth, created massive evidence of their being here, and then flew away again. It reminds me of the cargo cults of the South Pacific, and has been totally and completely debunked by a variety of sources, most notably the April 25th, 2007 article from Skeptic Magazine entitled A New Mythology: Ancient Astronauts, Lost Civilizations & The New Age Paradigm by Tim Callahan. As well, Nova put out an episode in March of 1978 called The Case of the Ancient Astronauts, wherein they got the author of the book to admit that he had arranged a potter to make some supposedly ancient pots because people would only believe if they saw proof (explained further here, on Skepdic). I won’t bother with debunking this here, as I would be merely regurgitating what has already been said.
I can also say that the topic was new to me. Well, not entirely, I had heard the notion several times, but never had I sat down and listened to what they were saying. However, a lack of information did nothing to prevent my scoffing at the program. Throughout, they would say laughable things along the lines of “Ancient people were clearly too stupid to have done this, so it HAD to be the result of aliens.” It’s the same kind of logical leap that says, “Eyes are super complicated, so they must have been invented by a loving God who sent his son to die for your sins”.
Throughout the program, I kept loudly commenting on the total lack of thought that had gone into the argument. They talked about the Bermuda Triangle, a topic which I only wish had been exhausted by now. They talked about finding a perfect stone face under water, and then showed what looked to me like a rock with two holes that bore no uncanny resemblance to a Sphinx, a Moai, or anything remotely human or human-inspired. They talked about Plato and his writings about the sinking of Atlantis, and how it could have been aliens flying away. It was awful.
The new discoveries they laid claim to were indeed interesting, but it seemed odd that they did not have valid scientific data to justify their claims. I can say that the bathtub in my basement is 18,000 years old based on the geographical evidence, but until you have some neutral third party geographer making a few independent observations about it, nobody would believe me.
What made me mad about this was that History would put this kind of shit on the air. Oh, I know, I get it. They’re in the business of making money, and I’m sure they saw a few viewers tuning in for the show, but I had expected better.
The origin of life can be easily understood from the fossil record and our understanding of evolutionary theory. If something came along to show that these were misunderstood or bogus, scientists would be the first to turn their backs on their old theory. There is no need for a father figure in the sky, and there is no need for an equally unsubstantiated alien race to explain it.
When you’re watching TV, I hope you’re asking questions. Too much fiction is being represented as fact these days for my liking.