Debunking right wing myths: Ancient aliens

I once caught a programme called “ancient aliens” on the History channel (given that they seems to show nothing but pawn stars and sensationalist nonsense, I’m not sure why its called “History” anymore). Anyway, I thought it was a hoot (I’m laughing at you, not with you), but I was unaware until recently that this wasn’t merely a couple of episodes, that they presumably show on the 1st of April, but that there’s actually been 16 seasons of this rubbish! Thus I was completely unaware than anyone, other than a few tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy wackos…..or Musk…..took this seriously.

Ancient Aliens is some of the most noxious sludge in television’s bottomless chum bucket. Actual experts are brought in to deliver sound bites that are twisted and taken out of context while fanatics are given free reign. Fiction is presented as fact, and real scientific research is so grossly misrepresented that I can only conclude that the program is actively lying to viewers….” Brian Switek, Smithsonian

The basic punchline of “ancient aliens” is to simply connect aliens to every event that has ever happened in human history. Who built the pyramids? Ancient aliens! The Nasca lines? Ancient aliens! Great wall of China? Ancient aliens! The great flood? Ancient aliens! The Bronze age collapse? Ancient aliens. Rinse and repeat.

Well needless to say this falls into the category of “not even wrong”. How do we know the pyramids were build by the ancient Egyptians? Well the short summary would be: because they are in Egypt, they are shaped like a pyramid and they are made of stone.

Given the building technology available at that time this was pretty much the only way to build something that tall. The problem with any building is that the taller you go, the more weight presses down on the foundations and the bricks towards the bottom have to carry a heavier load. Eventually either the building starts to subside and sink (essentially being pushed into the ground by its own weight), or the blocks at the bottom start to crack and fail. So you angle the structure, such that each layer of blocks occupies a smaller area than the next, reducing the load on the blocks at the base and spreading out the weight of the building over a larger area.

Or in other words, you end up with a pyramid. And accounts from the time, evidence from numerous archaeological digs and modern day experiments corroborate historians theories of how the pyramids were built. The AA brigade, chose to ignore all of this evidence in favour of contrived and biased studies that set out to provide the answer they want. Not unlikely climate change deniers or young earth creationists.

So we are being asked to believe that these ancient aliens, despite having the advanced technology to get to the earth, would choose to use an extremely slow, inefficient and expensive means of pyramid construction. And this has to be contrasted with what can be built using modern building techniques (nevermind those available to ET). It is theoretically possible, using existing concrete and steel to building structures several km’s tall, although there are practical reasons why you probably won’t want too (e.g. most of the structure’s interior will just be stairs, lift shafts and service risers).

Imagine the conversation at ET’s Egyptian HQ. We can build a massive 4 km tall pyramid out of something cheap like concrete & steel, which we can throw up in a few years….or we can build a piddly little stone one which will be a fraction of the height, take decades to build and cost many times more. Seriously, you think they’d choose the latter option?

Furthermore different pyramids build before the great pyramid show signs of a learning curve. So we go from the step pyramid of Djoser (one of the oldest surviving pyramids), to the so-called bent pyramid (which was built at too steep and angle, resulting in a change in construction plans half way through building process), before the first of the great pyramids at Giza was raised.

Of course when pushed, the ancient aliens brigade will say, ya but you see the aliens were trying to cover their tracks. Why? There are uncontacted tribes here on earth, the occupants of North Sentinel Island being a good example, and while we are trying to avoid interference, its not like we are going out of our way to hide from them. They have witnessed large steel hulled ships passing by the Island (or even crashing into their Island), seen helicopters hovering overhead, etc.

Aliens would be no different, not least because they’d know the impossibility of actually hiding in this universe. We already have the technology to pick up any alien radio traffic from nearby star systems and can determine the orbits of nearby planets. Within a few decades we’ll be able to study the atmospheres of nearby exoplanets. So its basically impossible to hide, short of building an entire Dyson sphere around your solar system (and even that’s not guaranteed to work, as it would have a gravitational effect that would be observable, plus a heat signature which would show up in infrared).

But why did the practice of pyramid building change after the great pyramids? For the same reason such practices changed anywhere else in the world – times changed. Egyptian civilisation lasted for the best part of 4000 years. The date of Cleopatra’s death is closer to the present day, than it is to the completion of the pyramids at Giza. Egypt went through periods of collapse, when ancient knowledge was lost, or where afterwards the culture was very different (and building a massive pyramid as a rulers tomb was considered excessive and impractical).

But what about all these other pyramids build around the world? the Maya, Aztec’s, Angkor Wat. Well firstly these were built many thousands of years apart. Secondly, they faced the same engineering challenges the Egyptians faced. And, given that the laws of physics hadn’t changed, its no surprise they came up with a similar solution. And thirdly, these are very different structures with only a passing resemblance to one another (e.g. the Mayan pyramids tend to be smaller and more steeply build using smaller but more precisely cut stones).

Also why is it that we ascribe ancient aliens to having built the pyramids, but don’t question that the Romans built the Colosseum, or question that the ancient Greeks built the pantheon? There is a certain element of cultural racism at play here, which seeks to undermine the achievements of ancient peoples. Its like trying to claim NASA didn’t go to the moon, they hitched a ride from a passing Vogon. Or that D-day never happened, its all just fake news.

If you want to destroy a civilisation you erase the truth about its past. And that is effectively what this whole “ancient aliens” madness is doing. Its unscientific nonsense that promotes many racist and dangerous ideas. While undermining the achievements of past civilisations and their people.

About daryan12

Engineer, expertise: Energy, Sustainablity, Computer Aided Engineering, Renewables technology
This entry was posted in cults, Global warming denial, history, technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Debunking right wing myths: Ancient aliens

  1. neilrieck says:

    Everyone who likes this article should now watch this Neil deGrasse Tyson interview with Richard Dawkins titled “Combatting Anti-Science”

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