Last weekend I discovered a programme on the History Channel called “Ancient Aliens.” After watching it I think it would better suit an “alternative history” channel. This series looks back through history and hypothesises that aliens have been visiting us and influencing our history. Watching the programme is a bit like driving past a traffic accident – you know you shouldn’t look but just can’t help yourself. It’s a perfect example of confirmation bias and cherry picking.
The episode last week suggested that Hitler had access to alien technology such as antigravity and used it to wage war against the allies. This suggestion overlooks two key facts:
1) If the German military had access to antigravity craft then why did they spend so much work developing chemically propelled rockets?
2) With such advanced technology, why did they not win the war?
The episode this week suggested that aliens used genetic engineering to accelerate the development of humankind to make us smarter and curious. I actually find this a little bit annoying, the assumption that humankind could not naturally evolve to be intelligent but had to be tampered with. It almost seems to me to be a belief that parallels creationism except in this case instead of needing a god to create us, aliens take their place.
Indeed, supposed evidence for alien tampering is based on the god myths common to many early civilizations. Rather than gods, the programmes experts claim that the presence of aliens on Earth is indicated in the writings of early civilizations, beginning with the Sumarians. Pictures and carvings are also interpreted to show alien craft and equipment such as space suits, batteries and weapons. However, it seems to me that an alternative interpretation is that researchers are finding only what they want to see. Surely, there are multiple interpretations for simple ancient diagrams and pictographs? These sort of interpretations remind me of an episode of Buck Rogers I saw many years ago when a future archeologist is examining a hair dryer and proclaims it is some sort of laser gun.
The more I watched the programme the more extra-ordinary I found the claims to be. That the aliens were visiting Earth to take precious metals to help repair their damaged environment (I believe psychologists might cause this projection) or that they are creating human alien hybrids in order to take over the planet. I also noticed that the programme would happily list lots of reasons why aliens might be here but made no attempt to prove (or disprove) that aliens were here in the first place.
Next weeks episode is on “Underwater Worlds” and is described in the TV Guide as “Ancient underwater cities can be found around the globe, but could these aquatic worlds be the ruins of unknown civilizations – or even proof of extraterrestrial visitation.”
I know I shouldn’t but I’m actually looking forward to it – it is more imaginative than the X-Files!