The ‘Ancient Aliens’ Atrocity
This post was originally published on Mar 19 2015 here
Today Atheists Against Pseudoscientific Nonsense takes its proverbial baseball bat to the skull that is the intellectual clusterfuck known as the ‘Ancient Aliens.’
Before treading any further down this alley, we would like to take a moment to make something clear. It is quite commonly acknowledged by many that given what we know of the mechanisms of life – its prerequisites, emergence and gradual evolution -, it is more than reasonable to assume that some forms of life can be found elsewhere in this wondrous galaxy of ours. As a group that is sincerely dedicated to the promotion of rationality, skepticism and informed thinking rooted in hard science, it is our firm conviction that these principles must be applied to the pursuit of the knowledge of whether or not we are alone in the universe. That being said, when it comes to tackling profound questions like this, there is a right approach and there’s a wrong approach. ‘Ancient Aliens’ doesn’t only sit firmly on the ‘Wrong’ side of the line – it’s so far on that side it almost disappears behind the horizon.
Skipping over the broader and clearly more fruitful debate on the possibility of extraterrestrials existing, we can turn our attention on what makes ‘Ancient Aliens’ such an atrocity. We could, of course, bombard it with the same accusations we have leveled against other brands of pseudoscience we’ve covered so far but it would be an exercise in repetition. Ultimately, the greatest sin of the Ancient Aliens Theory is that is the proverbial ‘other side of the coin’, the first side being creationism. At first glance, these two may not seem related but they are, in fact, shockingly similar.
Both muddy up the waters of any meaningful discourse on how to better understand our past and origin by presenting questionable, poorly construed, wildly speculative, insufficient and – at the very best – biased ‘evidence’; both shamelessly promote and glorify their application of demonstrably false claims, logical fallacies and non sequiturs as a sign of enlightened, independent thinking and love to portray themselves as the victims of the exclusion and persecution by “elitist” academic establishment; and both rely on sensationalist, populist and emotionally evocative arguments to win approval. Most crucially, however, they both promote intellectual and scientific laziness by playing the Argument From Ignorance and God of the Gaps argument – creationism literally so; the AA advocates substitute ‘aliens.’
The fact that ‘Ancient Aliens’ is into its seventh season with some 1.5 MILLION regular viewers – despite the avalanche of negative reviews from critics and the scientific community – is a clear sign of a major intellectual bankruptcy in our society.