One other event I participated in was a "debate" with an ancient alien theorist. It was very peculiar, as you might guess. The way this came about was that Scotty Roberts, the alien astronaut fan, proposed a session on his wacky speculations, and the conference organizers didn't want such lunacy to sail through without a word, so they asked some of the people on the science & skepticism track to engage. Greg Laden and I agreed to sit on a panel with him and another person, with Desiree Schell to moderate. And then I just kind of ignored the prospect until the day of.
Greg Laden met in the hallway briefly, and we asked each other what we were going to say, and wondered what this Roberts fellow's position was. We didn't have a clue. So the afternoon of the debate I pulled Scotty Roberts' book off the magical internet, and quickly speed-read the whole thing, which turned out to be not very difficult at all, and unfortunately, he turned out to be even further out there than either Greg or I imagined.
You're already cringing, aren't you? Just the title is enough.
Pity me. I read the contents. I shall give you a sample so that you may suffer as well.
In the occult science of Numerology, the number 33 represents the ultimate attainment of consciousness. Keeping that in mind, it is very interesting to note that the geographic location of Mount Hermon, the very place where the Watchers are said to have descended to the earthly plane, lies on the 33rd parallel, which is a latitude of 33° north of the equator. If you trace the 33rd parallel to the exact geographic global opposite from Mount Hermon, you will find yourself directly on top of the most controversially mythic place in current ufological history: Roswell, New Mexico. Mount Hermon, where the Watchers descended to the earth, and Roswell, New Mexico, are exact polar opposites on the same 33rd degree north latitude. The global coordinates of Mount Hermon and the Roswell crash site are no accident, and speak to some deeper, perhaps secret significance.
So the basis for making a connection between a greatly distorted myth about divine intervention in the Middle East and UFOs is numerology and geography, where global opposites is supposed to be somehow significant. I take this bizarrely scientific attitude towards facts, though, and despite the absurdity of the logic behind this tortuous connection, I had to look up the numbers.
(My source gave me the wrong Roswell: corrected below)
Roswell is at 33.4° N. Mount Hermon is at 33.4° N. Close!
Roswell is at 104.5° W. Mount Hermon is at 35.85° E. They aren't even close to being longitudinal opposites. The opposite side of the globe for Roswell would be somewhere deep in Asia, while the opposite for Mount Hermon is in the Pacific Ocean.
The rest of the book has the same deep affection for the truth: none of it matters. The entire basis for his argument is a few lines from the Bible and the book of Enoch, in which Nephilim and giants and angels are casually tossed around, and what he wants to do is pretend those are scientific data, from which he can build a gigantic rickety framework of speculation intended to support his foregone conclusion, that angels mated with humans and produced a special line of meddling magic creatures.
Now what about the "debate"?
As expected, it was awful. Scotty Roberts opened by protesting that he hadn't known it was going to be a debate, so he didn't have any "facts" on hand, and besides, it wasn't an argument built on facts, but was a theory and philosophy — this was something of a theme for him, dismissing mere science and claiming that the ass-plucking he was doing should be called philosophy. He actively avoided making any specific claims about what he was arguing for — he did not talk about UFOs, Nephilim, Roswell, or any of the details he promoted in his book, preferring instead to recite vague creationist claims ("there were 600 flood myths!") and complaining about having to provide evidence, of which he had none.
We poked at his gelatinous gooey non-statements. Greg ripped into his pseudo-archaeology: no, there aren't 600 flood myths, there are racist connotations to all of these alien beings stories, because they're often trotted out to support claims of the inferiority of native peoples, who weren't possibly clever enough to construct those peculiar artifacts. I hammered him on the absence of evidence and the absurdity of his pretense to logic.
He was, of course, imperturbable. There was nothing rational about any of his claims, so there was no way rational argument was going to make him question them.
It was a mildly entertaining afternoon, nothing more.
One other thing: he's hosting another convention in Minneapolis this October: The Paradigm Symposium: Re-visioning our place in the universe. I see one word in the title that's been overused to the point of meaninglessness, and another awkward invention. It's gonna be ugly, folks.
But look at the speaker list: they actually have Erich von Däniken coming in, also with George Noory, and, of course, the notorious Giorgio A. Tsoukalos. You know who I'm talking about.
Roberts casually invited me to the conference to participate in a debate there, and I would be tempted, just because JESUS LOOK AT ALL THE BLOG FODDER! I suspect, though, that the invitation will fade from his memory as it sinks in that I would be sitting in the audience, laughing way too hard throughout the event.
Hey, cool: ZOMGItsCriss recorded the whole thing.
If they did visit the earth, they were clearly Undocumented, and should have been deported immediately.
Incidentally, 33 is 41 in hexadecimal, which is close to 42, which is the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, as we all know. Numerology for the loss!
Oh, I agree there isn't a shred of evidence for ancient aliens on earth, much less human-like ones. But that doesn't stop me from writing science fiction using that idea. Mine visited about 125,000 years ago in Africa, though.(See "Jarn's Journal" at http://sueannbowling.com/jarns-journal_344.html for a sample.)
His ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter.
Actually, I have tons of scientific evidence that life on Earth came from a giant turd from the sixth dimension. Beings in the sixth dimension can not exist in three dimensions, but through the lowering of energy and density that occurs when they take a dump, their turds can enter into ours.
Ancient Alien intervention makes as much or more sense than any of the religious theories of our origin and evolution. I'm a skeptic, but the idea of Aliens appeals to me. I want that to be the truth. I am biased, I get it. I think the creation stories and flavor that religion superimposes upon us are so amazingly bland, that I welcome any idea that gives us a reasonable alternative to the "how's" and 'why's" of our existence here on Earth. Religion offers little in the way of explaining the various paths of the multiplicity of civilizations through out History. It's my opinion that as our knowledge of our own organic chemistry in relation to the existential subjective experience of the mind and soul meets advances in physics and our understanding of the cosmos in general, that Alien Intervention seems much more plausible than it would have a couple decades ago. When science affords us a more proportionate perspective on what is possible and what is not concerning the amount of time the Universe has been around, the amount of time it will take us to master the art of bending space and time itself, then the ideas of science fiction and theoretical philosophies such as Ancient Alien Intervention seem more valid than not. To me, the idea that our planet has not been under constant observation by an infinite number of observers of higher intelligence is just another example of humans thinking they are the center of the universe. To put it bluntly, there is no way in hell that civilizations that can't even conceive of using a wheel could build the buildings they have or compute the astrological calculations that are apparent in their culture without some outlandish explanation. Excuse me for believing in the one that makes the most sense after studying every facet of everything I can get my hands on in 36 years of intense spiritual, philosophical, and scientific study. At the very least, finally there are a few theories out there that are actually interesting and not painfully drab and boring as today's modern religious explanations and the purely empirical esoteric stance of in-the-box Darwinian clauses.
Just what are you claiming? The question is whether aliens had some hand in our evolution as a species, not our technological evolution. Are you in some way enamored of the design hypothesis?
All respect to your rather unimaginative sensibilities, Sir, but my experience is that officious sneering is all too often directly proportionate to how incorrect one has been. Stanton Friedman (and debate _him_ sometime, eh?) even wrote a book illustrating that very point.
...More to heaven and Earth and all that?
One might remember that we are pretty light in the drawers as a sentient species in the first place; Moreover, we frequently get things wrong in the second and a fractal understanding of the _fact_ of _our_ existence may demonstrate or bespeak that that we are in a chain of self-aware intelligences in this universe with--and here I tread lightly--some of the links of those chains being _decidedly_ weaker than adjacent others. I would offer perhaps ourselves as a weaker link in that chain. Anything else lacks an appropriate and essential humility. See, like myself? You may be wrong.
You are a extremely closed minded and foolish. I am not claiming that this theory is accurate but there is some intriguing evidence. Your Marxist attitude fails.
So, it turns out under the description for Scott Roberts book on Amazon is a quote from George Noory (kooky host of Coast to Coast AM). "Carl Sagan once spoke of the need to balance the scientific method with pure, unadulterated wonder. Scott Alan Roberts picks up that mantle..." When I read that, I nearly lost my shit. And PZ read the whole book!? You're a better man than me sir. *tips hat respectfully*
This is not correct either. The geographic opposite of Roswell NM (33.3942° N, 104.5225° W) is 75.4884 E and 33.39.42 SOUTH. Geographic opposites must appear either directly on the equator or on opposite sides of it. The geographic opposite of Roswell NM is in the Indian Ocean. All that can be said about these two locations (Roswell & Mt. Hermon) is that they lie on the SAME LATITUDE, as does Damascus, Baghdad, and Tripoli. Oh, you can also say that they are both at the centers of huge amounts of mythology and associated bullshit.
You taught us nothing here, in your futile attempt to rise above the other scatologists. Get to the facts, man! Tell us the root meanings in the Hebrew Bible for Nephilim; read about Ezekiel's Wheel, broken down into the original Hebrew, a language virtually unchanged in over 2000 years.
You could talk to any serious Jewish student in Reshiva, and find Biblical scholars will barely touch the Genesis origins, even though their own Bible says who the Nephilim were: they (we) are the offspring of the Fallen Angels who mated with human women. Now show us some divine scholarship to refute or prove this Biblican truth.
Well, it's about time I found a bacon of sanity in the usual sea of bullshit. Sure, you pointed out that 600 flood myths is a massive exaggeration, but even if it wasn't I'm pretty sure it would be because floods sucked A LOT back then. This isn't because they were any worse, but because we were still wiping our hindquarters with our hands, and had no understanding of the nature of floods. Thus, floods were more or less the WMDs of their day. This elevated them to mythic status, and here we are today, still arguing about ancient aliens while we still have shit to do, like end wars and walk the dog.
For something else highly unorthodox [not UFO whacky] check out BEFORE THE DELUSION by Wm Gleeson. It's unusual, sounds way out but is actually backed by some impressively documented research. Challenging but not quite so easy to dismiss. Ross Melb
Wow talk about bringing a knife to a gun fight
Hey remember when this blog had a thriving comment section? What happened?
It's thriving at freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula. Where have you been for the last year, some guy?