Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chats, Aliens, and Pyramids, oh my!

I kind of have a love-hate thing with yahoo chat. I love the opportunity to talk with many people from all over the world, I have had some good discussions, and dare say, made a few friends. I hate that it's so easy to be nasty, hateful, all big and badass from behind the keyboard, and while it increases opportunity for interesting discussion, it also increases the chances of talking with someone very ignorant or plain nuts.

Take the good with the bad, I suppose.

Today, something was brought up by another faceless name on a screen that irked me. Thing is, it wasn't the person who irked me so much, as the subject it devolved into. It's a particular pet peeve of mine, nearly always involving my beloved ancient Kemet. Ancient astronauts. Well, that's what the proponents of this "theory" call it, with such stunning academic backgrounds as a degree in sports information communications. They make shows, write books, and have people believing that beings from other planets created all kinds of ancient cultures. Because disparate cultures can't figure out that pyramid-shaped is a convenient building style for stone, or that the stars follow patterns, or figure out complex mathematics and calendars, because well, our ancestors were dumb as dirt, because they didn't have things like lattes or snuggies or Jersey Shore.

*breathes deeply for a moment*

As you can tell, this kind of thinking insults me. Are there mysteries from the ancient world we don't have a "conventional" explanation for? Sure there are. Isn't it fascinating to find out that there are some things the ancients had that we never anticipated? Very much so. What I don't buy is the jump to a conclusion that these things simply weren't possible by a culture in ancient times without visitors from space. It smacks of hubris, an assumption that without the European Enlightenment, we'd all be apes clubbing each other, so it must be aliens! I also notice that it's usually non-European cultures that get picked out for these "alien interventions," so it seems a tad racist.

We're not smarter than our ancestors. We have learned more about many things, but our brains are not significantly better, and large portions of our population, in certain ways, are dumber. Why is it so shocking that the ancients could build monuments and write calendars that related to celestial events? They didn't have television, I'm sure they looked at the night sky an awful lot.  Maybe they spent more time thinking, writing, computing, exploring, than the current world spends on facebook, twitter, and playing Angry Birds. (facebook and twitter can be used for good, don't get me wrong, but most of it is...ick.)

By no means am I saying that extraterrestrial life does not and cannot exist. I believe it most likely does. The universe is vast, and the chances of some other life form we don't know about not existing are pretty slim. We're still finding new life forms on our own planet. There is always more to learn, but some "theories" need to leave the stage. Aliens building the pyramids is just silly.


  1. It was a fun theory when von Däniken first wrote "Chariots of the Gods," but now? Don't bore me with that stuff. I do admit I'd love to see the Medieval painting of the Last Supper with grasshopper/locust aliens that's in a German crypt.

    But really? If I had to bet on an odd theory, I'd go with the "Egyptians built flying saucers and went visiting" thing.

    And as you've said, it's so insulting. I'd tell them to look at our tech development over the last 150 years, and come up with a convincing argument that our tech hasn't been alien-inspired!

  2. On the other side of the spectrum, there's the Ica Stones from Peru that depict people riding dinosaurs and other craziness. The local who "found" them has since shown how to make them using a dentist's drill and cow dung, but that doesn't stop Creationists from claiming that they're real artifacts to back up their kooky stories about the flood and whatnot.

  3. Cool post - and I LOVE that picture! (From "Stargate", right?)

  4. Yes, Stargate is what I thought of when the person I spoke of *insisted* my interactions with the netjeru were alien visitations. I have a weird sense of humor, I suppose. :P