Racism, Colonialism, and Ancient Aliens

Racism, Colonialism, and Ancient Aliens November 16, 2018

Paul Barford shared this quote from David Anderson, which I think exposes a sinister aspect of the “ancient aliens” idea that many are prone to miss:

The central claim of the show is that humans could not have achieved feats of engineering and science without the help of aliens. If they’re right, humans are pretty dumb. If they’re wrong … well the whole show is an exercise is denigrating human achievement. There’s no evidence that aliens visited earth in the archaeological record. The show takes objects out of context, dims the lights, squints, and says “doesn’t this look like an alien/ufo to you?” If you ask an archaeologist you’ll find they leave out lots of data in this process. […] Promoting [ancient alien narratives] promotes a show that makes a dishonest presentation of data to cast the human race as dumb! […] A disproportionate number of the show’s alleged examples of ancient alien contact come from places colonized by Europeans. The colonizers couldn’t believe that the ancestors of their subjects built the fabulous ruins found in places like Egypt, Central America, and Asia, so… They made up stories of lost white races and suggested these people must have built the ruins. ‘Ancient aliens’ claims are ideologically and historically connected to the idea that indigenous people were incapable great feats, the show has just replaced “lost white race” with aliens. The show is also radically anti intellectual. Archaeologists are regularly maligned as too narrow minded to see the truth and thus not capable of telling us about the real past. If you believe this, please visit a real estate agent the next time you need a root canal.

Take a look at the whole Twitter thread from Anderson for more detail. And then see the article that Sarah Bond wrote, which highlights not only this point about the racism of denying that the peoples conquered by colonial powers could create marvels, but explicit racism in the writings of Erich von Daniken, arguably the main driving force of the whole ancient aliens phenomenon. Daniken explicitly articulates the view that the dark-skinned peoples of Africa might have resulted from a mistake in the process of alien experimentation with humans!

Mike Heiser also blogged about this. Of related interest, see John Johnston’s piece about the Doctor Who episode “Pyramids of Mars.”

And then finally, see also Anderson’s tweet about what it feels like checking social media for anything new that might have appeared that falls under the heading of “pseudoscience”…

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  • Illithid

    I’ve had this thought myself; the “aliens” nonsense is basically a claim that people a few thousand years ago were too stupid to move large rocks.

    • Happy Noodle Boy

      What modern people fail to realize that those feats of construction were possible using the ancients’ level of technology. They just took a very long time to complete. Most archaeologists estimate that Stonehenge took several decades to complete.

  • So, this thesis is totally believable as far as I’m concerned, but I also wonder if part of it isn’t that most of the very ancient wonders of the world are not in European colonized areas? Like, I’ve heard the ancient aliens theory about Stonehenge, for example, which is a European site. I’m not sure what other sites might be candidates. The Giants’ Causeway was caused by giants, of course, so that’s out.

    In some ways, this might actually sharpen the racism element. It’s not just the disbelief that other ethnicities could produce marvels, it’s also the fact that these other peoples produced great marvels during a time when proto-Europeans were not. Must have been aliens helping, right?

    But I did wonder what other European sites would be -candidates- for ancient aliens but are not generally ascribed to ancient aliens.