Dan Aykroyd’s Bizarre Alien Rant

Dan Aykroyd’s Bizarre Alien Rant November 11, 2014

Joe Queenan once joked that the three scariest words in the English language were “starring Dan Aykroyd.” He’s fine as a co-star with someone funnier, but when he tries to carry a movie you get Dr. Detroit. He also appears to be just a little bit loopy on the subject of aliens.

He even insists he saw two suspicious objects in the sky as the horrors of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York were unfolding, and believes that sighting gives a clue as to why aliens have not made contact with humans.

Aykroyd tells The Sunday Times Magazine, “(It’s) because we are a violent species. They don’t want anything to do with us. They watch us. There were two white orbs over (New) Jersey when the second tower went down on 9/11. They were on CNN for about two minutes… They never showed it again.

“Can you imagine what was going through their advanced minds when they saw what happened on 9/11? These humans crashing our highest evolution in aviation into our highest evolution in architecture and metallurgy, like kids wrecking toys in the sandbox. They are disgusted with us. And rightly so. Because we are a depraved, disgusting species.”

Personally, I think the aliens refused to visit us the moment they saw Nothing But Trouble. Or Tommy Boy. Or Spies Like Us. Or Canadian Bacon.

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  • bryanfeir

    Well, Aykroyd’s been a pretty blatant spiritualist most of his life; there’s a reason why he was a host on Psi Factor. It runs in the family, too: his great-grandfather used to correspond with Arthur Conan Doyle, and his father wrote a book on ghosts.

    I don’t know I’d call ‘starring Dan Aykroyd’ that scary, but he definitely does seem to want to take himself seriously in a way that can interfere with being a good comedic star, especially more recently. (He seems to do better playing it straight while others do the goofier stuff.)

    It’s also worth noting that his better collaborative movies like Ghostbusters and Blue Brothers had Aykroyd as one of the writers as well, whereas Doctor Detroit didn’t.

  • He’s got a point. If you were aliens, would you visit us?

  • anbheal

    I dunno, that sounds about right to me, we are pretty depraved and disgusting. And if I were an alien, I’d probably try talking with Coneheads before Humans.

    But spot-on about co-starring versus starring — he ranks with Mary Tyler Moore and Larry Fine as one of the three or four greatest set-up comics in history. He made Chase and Belushi and Martin and Radner and Murray much funnier, but on his own you can count the hilarity on a hand or two.

  • After all, as they say, that is proof for intelligent life elsewhere.

  • =8)-DX

    It was The Three Amigos that did it..

  • Larry

    It was The Three Amigos that did it

    Dan wasn’t in Amigos. It was Chevy Chase, Martin Short, and Steve Martin. You can’t blame him for that travesty.

  • macallan

    He’s got a point. If you were aliens, would you visit us?

    Of course I would. For the same reason I read Right Wing Watch.

    That said, I am quite literally a card carrying alien.

  • Alverant

    I remember liking Dr.Detroit when I saw it years ago. I should see it again to see how it holds up now that I’m older.

  • moarscienceplz

    I remember liking Dr.Detroit when I saw it years ago. I should see it again to see how it holds up now that I’m older.

    Me too. Although I saw it in its original theater release and not ever again, so I may have rose-colored glasses on. The only parts I can really remember are with James Brown, so maybe those are the only good parts.

    What Aykroyd is imagining is nothing particularly unusual. If he had been born in 1752 he would have called them angels, and if he had been born in 1852 he might have called them fairies, like Arthur Conan Doyle did. It’s just that age-old longing for a sky-daddy to watch over us and protect us from ourselves.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    I agree with most of the others, but I like spies Like Us.

  • Alverant

    #9 All I remember about the movie is Aykroyd dressing up crazy with a big neon orange hat then latter we see him married to a prostitute while wearing a yamaka (sp).

    It reminds me of an A-team episode where they had Murdock pretend to be a crazy crime boss that everyone was too scared to cross. “Hey! It’s your lucky day, you don’t get to stain the carpet.”

  • Sastra

    “Can you imagine what was going through their advanced minds when they saw what happened on 9/11?”

    We don’t have to imagine, Dan. We’ve known what the aliens have been thinking about us for years …

  • RickR

    Yeah, this isn’t exactly news. His original idea for “Ghostbusters” was to do it as a straight-faced paranormal drama.

  • Sastra

    The movie Ghostbusters actually works as a hypothetical example of a logically possible world where science can study the supernatural.

  • cactuswren

    So really his role in Sneakers was to some extent typecasting? (“And then Truman says to the aliens, hey, give us your technology and we’ll give you all the cow lips you want … “)

  • Chiroptera

    Well, when you come right down to it, Aykroyd’s beliefs are no stranger than those of the folks who are trying to get public schools to teach that there was no Second Law of Thermodynamics until a talking snake tricked two naked people into eating some fruit.

  • dean

    He’s got a point. If you were aliens, would you visit us?

    But the republicans are telling us the aliens will take us over if the borders aren’t sealed. You mean that’s not true?

  • lorn

    I think Dan Aykroyd has a point.

    Given what we know and the distances involved any aliens capable of visiting earth would be so technically advanced they might as well be using magic. As far as we know the only to practicable method of covering the distances are arcs, multi-generational, ships that take hundreds of years to get there or Faster The Light (FTL) travel, and there are profound doubts as to ever accomplishing the later. They would look at us as we might view chimpanzees using sticks and rocks, except there is a good chance they wouldn’t see any commonality.

    There would be little or no point to contacting us. There is more than enough culture leaking out through TV and radio broadcasts and radiated signals to keep they busy studying us for a very long time. It isn’t like we could teach them much. As a society they also have nothing to fear from us, with disease being the possible exception.

    If there are aliens visiting I suspect that here are hundred, if not thousands of PhDs being written about our broken world and struggling people.

  • Nemo

    As an answer to the Fermi paradox, it’s as good as any.

  • weatherwax

    I have a vague memory of him saying, years ago, that he’d clearly seen a flight of UFO’s flying overhead. He could tell just by looking that they were moving at 100,000 mph, and at 100,000 ft, but he could see them clearly. I think he even specified what material they were made out of.

  • criticaldragon1177

    Ed Brayton,

    I actually think its plausible that advanced aliens would avoid us based on our violent behavior. If humans came across a primitive alien species that was constantly waging war, might we not also be a bit reluctant to make contact with them? However, even if there are any aliens out there, there’s no good reason think they’re here and we just don’t know about them. There isn’t even any good reason to assume aliens are spying on us somehow.

  • criticaldragon1177

    #19. Nemo

    You wrote,

    “As an answer to the Fermi paradox, it’s as good as any.”

    Actually I think the best answer to the Fermi paradox is that intelligent life is probably very rare in the universe and the closest alien civilization is probably far way. Most aliens that do achieve human like intelligence, probably wipe themselves out before they develop interstellar travel.

  • criticaldragon1177


    Assuming of course something else doesn’t wipe out their civilization like a massive asteroid strike. Imagine if an asteroid the size of the one that killed the dinosaur hit the Earth a hundred years ago. Instead of landing on the moon, the survivors would desperately trying to get food.

  • hey now, canadian bacon was a great movie… and dan aykroyd only had tiny bit part.

  • matty1

    Actually I think the best answer to the Fermi paradox is that intelligent life is probably very rare in the universe and the closest alien civilization is probably far way. Most aliens that do achieve human like intelligence, probably wipe themselves out before they develop interstellar travel.

    It may be that interstellar travel really is impossible. I know science fiction is full of ways to get round the speed of light and there are all sorts of speculations to that end in theoretical physics but maybe it is as simple as Einstein was right and it is not possible to travel between stars fast enough to avoid any form of life dying on the way.

  • birgerjohansson

    As long as he does not join the Raelians, he is no weirder than the fundies.

    — — — — — — —

    Peter Watt´s “Crysis; Legion” came up with a pretty good explanation to why we don’t see the aliens, and why they would be interested in Earth: They use biospheres as open-air labs for bioprospecting.

    Make an inventory of a million organisms and you get a lot of useful enzymes and other biomolecules. Of course, the aliens wait a million years between each inventory so they do not show up very often.

    Recently, a blight has turned up [Homo sapiens], destroying the biosphere and messing with the bioprospecting project. The aliens take action to rid the place of us, and the book tells the story of how it is possible to fight off a supercivilization that is millions of years more ahead of us*.

    * a good point most SF books ignore.

  • jesse

    Re: Fermi paradox

    There are several ways to answer it. First is that we really are the first ones up; if we note that on Earth it took 4.5 billion years to get to intelligent life (and assuming it takes about as long everywhere else) one can do a quick-and-dirty tally of how many planets there are likely to be that have a) been around long enough and b) are in anything like a habitable zone. b) turns out to be relatively small. On top of that, you need to get to intelligent life in the first place. Stephen Jay Gould noted that there was no particularly good reason for life to get beyond algal mats. As he put it, run the tape again, and the stochastic nature of evolution means that there was a very good chance that single-celled organisms would dominate. They did, after all, for the first billion years or so anyway.

    There are also constraints on the kind of star that works. Anything much more massive than the sun has problems because the star won’t lat 5 billion years. And then you get the metallicity issue — basically none of the first generation of stars would even have planets because the relevant materials weren’t there yet. (No carbon, no oxygen, no silicon).

    The second is that life is rare and we’re the only smart ones in our galaxy. That’s certainly possible.

    On the second point, even if we aren’t the only ones, there are several things working against detecting any civilization that hasn’t done something that affects stuff on astronomical scales. The galaxy is 100,000 light years across, and really only the outer parts are suitable for living things like us. So you figure if there are 100 civilizations scattered relatively evenly around, you’re looking at average distances of thousands of light years (my back of the envelope gets a figure of ~7,000-30,000 or so, depending on how much area you assume is habitable).

    Now, radio transmissions don’t go as far as people think they do — you couldn’t pick up TV more than a few light years away, and AM radio and power transmission would go a bit further but not much. Why not? We don’t broadcast TV signals to the sky, we broadcast on the ground to reach other ground stations (your TV). And the power levels are measured in kW.

    So to have any hope of picking up on anyone else they need to a) use radio b) be within ~100 ly or thereabouts, more likely a LOT less, and c) have been using radio in the last ~100 years from our perspective.

    Our civilization has used radio for 100 years and we have been around or ~100,000, depending on your definition of “us.” That isn’t a big window. And for us to pick up on a civilization 7,000 light years away they’d have to have been using radio — LOUD radio — exactly 7,000 years ago. AND they’d have to not stop long enough for us to pick up on it. There could be a dozen sets of radio signals that zoomed by us long ago, and we missed them because they stopped broadcasting after a couple of centuries, or even 1,000 years.

    This assumes that civilizations are all only a few thousand years “off” from each other. If the number is larger, then you have even more problems, at least in terms of detection.

    What about travel? Well, let’s say some civilization went with generation ships 100,000 years ago. We’ll say they had a technology to get to 99% the speed of light. We’ll even say they were close by, a few thousand light years away. Why aren’t they here? Well, why would they come to us? The number of stars in a 1,000,000,000 cubic light years is large, even out here. Even when you ONLY include stars like the sun. And after 100,000 years the first ships from said civilization would just now be hitting the other side of the galaxy. And to get to all the stars in a given area you’d need a LOT of them. The energy requirements alone are pretty daunting.

    More realistically, it would take a million years at least to get to a sizable number of planets, even in a small piece of the galaxy, and you wouldn’t necessarily see the aliens at all. They could have built an entire civilization just like ours practically next door, and we’d never notice.

    We haven’t even gotten to the issue of self-destruction. Our own culture seems to drive us to that; it might even be an integral part of what makes us so smart. Selection pressure may only favor relatively staid, not-going-into-space civilizations to survive more than a small part of the planetary lifetime.

  • Holms

    I still don’t understand Ed’s petty jabs at someone’s acting / music / etc. whenever a celeb’s opinions turn out to be silly.

  • dingojack

    Jesse – Estimated habitable plants within 10pc of Sol: 132-160 (mean separation 1.964 – 1.842Pc), estimated number of habitable planets within the Milky Way Galaxy: 40 billion – 49 billion. (mean separation 1.6394 – 2.5515Pc). Data collection has moved on quite a bit recently. [SOURCE].


  • dingojack

    (Of course those mean separations are assuming only one habitable planet per system. With multiple planets the ranges are larger. With 1.5 habitable planets per system, for example, increase the distances by 14.47%)


  • dingojack

    Confirmed habitable exoplanets: 21, confirmed habitable exomoons: 30.

    Kepler candidates habitable exoplanets: 87, habitable exomoona: 24.

    (/exonerd. Sorry, but this kind of stuff interests me).


  • At the moment we have insufficient data to know. We also tend to base our discussions on what humans would do if we had the technology. Presumably the more alien technological civilisations there are/have been, the greater the chance one will behave in some way like us. But if the number is small perhaps those that exist behave in ways unlike us, and would find the idea of physically exploring the galaxy weird.

  • Kevin Kehres

    @18 lorn…

    Our diseases would not be interested in them — as they have evolved to infect only certain types of hosts. Likewise, Earth life would probably be poison to them, so no cookbooks. Or at minimum non-nutritive.

    Unless you’re proposing the Star Trek universe where everyone is a carbon-based, DNA-encoding humanoid (with various odd bits of ears and eyebrows to distinguish them from humans).

  • lldayo

    @27 Jesse

    You forget about stargates. Traveling is much easier that way. I’m looking at one on sale on Amazon for only $35 used!

  • abusedbypenguins

    Holmes, when a celebrity opens her/his mouth and drivel pours forth, they must be called on it. Would raygun have been elected if he had been called on the crap that flowed from his mouth? The emperor has no clothes and must be called on it.

  • lordshipmayhem

    I think you could have left the headline at, “Dan Aykroyd’s Bizarre” and been just as accurate in describing the article.

    Mind you, he does produce drinkable (if horribly overpriced) Ontario VQA wine.

  • caseloweraz

    Regarding UFO sightings, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the popular explanation — visiting alien spacecraft — is the least likely to be correct. I think that if an ET civilization actually sent ships to Earth, they would either keep completely out of sight while observing us (which would not be difficult) or they would reveal themselves unequivocally.

    As the late Arthur C. Clarke wrote in Childhood’s End, UFO reports in the aggregate make Earth look like the crossroads of the universe. Yet there is not one piece of solid evidence for ET origin: no fragment of hardware, no recording of a radio signal, no unambiguous photograph that’s provably not a hoax.

    NASA has been accused of hiding the evidence. That’s ludicrous; it would guarantee them expanded funding for the foreseeable future. As much as I’d like to see proof that ETs exist, I’m not aware of anything convincing.

  • caseloweraz

    Now, that is not the same as saying I disbelieve in the possible existence of ET civilizations. The Fermi Paradox does make this more difficult, and it seems to rule out any single explanation for why aliens exist but have not appeared here. However, in my opinion, multiple reasons working together could account for their absence. But this is getting off topic.

  • Dexeron

    Aykroyd’s shortcomings as a comedic leading man and his strange devotion to some really odd woo-belief are pretty well known, but I find that I’m able to separate all that from my enjoyment of his work. At least he’s still got good musical taste.

    More importantly, someone upthread called “The Three Amigos” a travesty, and that, my friends, will not stand. Them there’s fighting words, and I demand satisfaction!

  • Holms

    #35 abusedbypenguins

    Holmes, when a celebrity opens her/his mouth and drivel pours forth, they must be called on it. Would raygun have been elected if he had been called on the crap that flowed from his mouth? The emperor has no clothes and must be called on it.

    I don’t think you read my criticism very carefully. I don’t object to pointing out the stupid crap people say, I object to the petty jabs that Ed almost always makes at their profession. In this case, pointing at Dan Akroyd’s silly article is fair enough, but it is with accompanied what amounts to calling him a shit actor. Another time it might be a musician to say something stupid; Ed will (rightly) criticise their silly article or speech or whatever it may be, but then also call them a shit musician.

    It’s extremely juvenile.

  • dingojack

    Holms – Or could it be that — he’s correct? Difficult concept I know.


  • jesse

    @dingojack — the issue isn’t whether a planet is habitable. There are actually two in the solar system right here (I’m including Mars/ Europa). And there are plenty of exoplanets that are in the habitable zone

    The issue is that the odds of getting to anything like intelligent life may be small. And even if you offer pretty generous odds of that — let’s call it 1 in 100 — even if very single one of the confirmed habitable planets you cite has life on it, only one or two will have intelligent life, and then you have to get that intelligent life surviving long enough to get off the planet and go somewhere. You’re talking 100pc separations.

    Let’s take your number of 50 billion inhabited planets in the galaxy — that’s right, I am assuming that every single one of your planets has life on it.

    The total volume of the galaxy is ~212 billion cubic parsecs. Knock off some to account for the galactic center that isn’t all that habitable because there’s tons of radiation and crowded stars knocking about and destabilizing orbits of local planets. Call it 200 billion cubic parsecs you can put a civilization in. (I’m being generous).

    50 billion planets means the average separation (assuming they are evenly distributed) means 1 planet per four cubic parsecs. Now let’s assume that 1% of them get to a technical civilization. Now your average volume is 400 cubic parsecs. That gets you an average distance of ~4.5 pc between civilizations assuming a rough sphere, which is pretty close but too far to “hear” TV transmissions (though you’d know something was up, maybe, if you used really sensitive radio telescopes, you wouldn’t hear anything that was a definite signature of intelligent life). The only way to see a signal from ET is if it’s beamed right at you, or sent omnidirectionally with the kind of energy you see from stars.

    This assumes that every single one of your 50 billion habitable planets develops life, BTW. If the odds of developing life itself are anything less than 100 percent then the average distance between civilizations goes up a lot. What are the odds of getting life? 50 percent? That puts the number of civilizations (again, assuming 1/100 make it) down to 25 million planets spread among 200 billion cubic parsecs. That would mean that the average separation between civilizations would be ~5.7pc.

    Either way, the estimate I was using was that there were 100 or 1,000 civilizations that could go interstellar — a pretty generous one — still gets you hundreds or thousands of light years worth of separation. The galaxy is big. And that takes a long time to cover. You still have the issues of seeing each other as well.

    So my answer to the Fermi paradox is actually pretty simple: even if you have ET out there, contact is a tough business, and we could have 10 billion ETs living on a nearby star and we’d never see them even if we were looking and even if they just happened to be using loads of RF transmissions to communicate with each other. The only way to test this is to beam powerful transmissions at nearby stars — and hope someone happens to be listening for it (and has the appropriate technology). What are the odds of that? Not good. (Remember the timing has to be spot on). I’d place good odds that we are the first in our local region to have a technical civilization at all.

    Remember that the old Drake equation includes a term for how much of the planet’s lifetime a technical, radio-capable civilization lasts. If it’s anything less than 100,000 years or so, forget it. We have ~150 years of technical civilization that could make radios. If you are loose with the counting you could call it 1,000 years. Plug that in and you see that it cuts the number of civilizations a lot.

  • dingojack

    50000ly radius is approx. 15329.5Pc. 3.1415927*(15329.5*15329.5) = 7.38255×10^8 squared Pc. 7.38255×10^8*306.59Pc (1000ly thick) is approx. 2.2634×10^11 cubic Pc.

    40 billion habitable planets*(1/100) = 400 million planets with intelligent life (using your own criterion).

    2.2634×10^11/4×10^8 = 56.585 cubic Pc = mean separation of about 5.1310 Pc (or 16.736ly)†, not taking into account the central ring/bar/core structure as being likely uninhabitable (thus reducing the volume and mean separation).



    † For comparison: t Cet e 12ly, Kapteyn b 13 ly, GL832 c 16 ly, GL682 c 18ly, GL667C c/e/f 24ly, GL180 b/c 30ly …

  • lorn

    Kevin Kehres @ #33:

    As far as we know all life is carbon based with left handed molecular structures.

    I think it is a fair enough assumption to conclude that all life will be similar. At least it is until proven otherwise.

    I base this on the conclusion that physics is the same everywhere and, being redundant, the elements are the same everywhere. Those point started out as merely convenient working assumptions because we had know way to know. But over time we have found that, as far as we can tell, waiting for better technology to give us ever better measurements, our working assumptions were correct.

    Last I checked all the elements on earth are also common on other galaxies.

    If there were another basis for life, non-carbon form, why are there only carbon forms here. Why is there no physical or genetic evidence for a non-carbon lifeforms competing with the carbon based forms? And if there was an evolutionary race with carbon based forms winning wouldn’t that same race take place on other worlds? As I understand it the earth was lifeless for billions of years. and populated by only microbes for a billion more. During those billions of years, as far as we can tell, no non-carbon life forms made any mark.

    If the physics and materials are pretty much the same everywhere it seems to me that what happened here is the most likely form.

    I also cite the historic trend that shows that the earth and our solar system is a common sort. Every time we cite our exceptionalism we find out just how unremarkable we are. As far as we can tell the one major remaining exceptional aspect of earth is life. I suspect we are either all alone, or all the other life is similarly carbon based. Of course, given the distances involved, if neither of us has FTL ships, we might as well be all alone.

  • On a related note, Curt Schilling has presented his “wisdom” on twitter, “disproving evolution”.


    Yes, that Curt Schilling, who blew $30-50 million of his own money on a computer game company, and then asked for a $75 million government bailout of taxpayer money which also went into the hole, never to be seen again.

    As I read someone say elsewhere, he’s as knowledgable about science as he is about business.