First, let me address any epistemological whining that people might do: Anything is possible. There could be a flying spaghetti monster, there could be a planet full of creatures that all look like Kate Upton, there could be a planet of sophisticated machines that can morph into trucks, and there could have been a race of humanoid aliens that visited us and messed with our biology and culture. All of them are so utterly improbable that we are right in dismissing them as fantasy until we see otherwise. Yes, it’s true that you can have deep philosophical discussions about the nature of knowledge and can argue that nothing can be known 100%. It’s also true that pragmatically speaking, you can’t prove most negatives. We do have limited knowledge of the physical and real. Established ideas in science and history can and do often change for the better. So we can never be 100% certain of our current state of knowledge is complete.
Okay, now let’s get into it.
I was a big fan of Erich von Daniken’s books when I was in my teens. I come from a middle-class professional family. Those books blew my mind and fueled my imagination. Later, I went to university and learned how to think logically and rationally. I learned about the history of our species, how we came to be, the known reality of our place in the cosmos and much more about physics, biology, psychology and various other fields. I can now look back at those books and easily see the psychological tricks and fallacies they perform to get people who don’t have those defensive skills on board.
But there is zero credible evidence that this Earth has ever been visited. There is a lot of hearsay, a lot of weird theories, and a lot of vague evidence retrofitted to further an ideological agenda, but when looked at skeptically, rationally and through the lens of Occam’s razor, there is nothing to suggest that history didn’t play out like the established scientific literature says it did.
Did E.T. modify our DNA for some malevolent hybridization program?
There is no biological evidence that suggests our DNA was altered by our space brothers. If you mean “did aliens tamper with ape DNA or even mix with themselves” then the answer is no. There is no possible way terrestrial and non-terrestrial would even have compatible biochemistry, let alone compatible genomes. So no amount of mixing would ever create a viable creature. It would be like mixing a PlayStation 3 with a banana. Just plain nonsense.
We have an outstanding fossil record of the evolution of modern humans from apes, and the timeline does not need outrageous explanations like aliens. The speed of evolution of biped walking and the explosion of growth in the frontal cortex can be explained by things like harsh savannahs, ice ages, and sexual selection.
Now, I guess it’s possible that, like in the book 2001 by Arthur C Clarke, aliens may have guided our evolution, either subtly or more directly, just as we turned wolves into dogs by selective breeding. But again, going back to Occam’s razor, why jump to an extreme, improbable, evidence-lacking, fantastical, extraordinary explanations when we have perfectly good, simple, evidence-backed, sensible, mundane ones?
Hominids driven out onto the savannas, followed by some sexual selection perfectly explains the rapid evolution of the human language, imagination, intellect, and creativity. And our genes are clearly related, but different, to other apes in a manner conforming to what we know of evolution.
In terms of archaeology, there are some interesting examples but they always turn out to have a mundane explanation. A mystery is only a mystery until we get a new information, and then it is not a mystery anymore. It is not helpful to take existing gaps in our knowledge and just explain them by shouting “GOD!” or “ALIENS!” It’s not explaining anything, it’s just ignorantly and deceitfully papering-over genuine mysteries. And the problem with it is that it often curtails genuine curiosity and genuine investigation. And there will always be mysteries. We don’t have the ability to explain all weird things in archaeology, but we just have to accept that. Will future historians be able to explain everything about our culture if 99.999% of it has been lost through the ravages of time?
This answer gives a fantastic debunking of an example of how humans can very easily be tricked into believing what they want to believe:
These ancient hieroglyphs do not portray modern technology like helicopters, tanks, and jets. The answer, when it finally comes through actual scientific research, is always mundane. And asserting humans could not have built the pyramids is nothing more than underestimating human ingenuity and intelligence, and the productivity of brutal, systematic slavery. Throw enough death and human suffering at any project and you get amazing results.
But if you don’t know the answer to something, or choose to ignore it, you can always sell Ancient Alien Theory books to intensely curious and imaginative, but woefully ignorant, people like teenager me. The Ancient Astronauts Theory is a fan fiction, but there’s no convincing evidence to back it up. Most people who believe in it are the people who really want to believe.
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