Verifiability and the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis

Please NOTE that the content on this page was contributed by Pasqual Sebastian Schievella, Ph.D from Schievella's "School" For Clear, Critical, and Analytical Thinking.
Copyright © 2004 by Pasqual Sebastian Schievella, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Licensed under a Creative Commons License.


            Throughout the history of our species, from Australopithecus-Lucy to today's human being, curiosity has been the driving force of our struggle for knowledge and an understanding of our world and our origins. Man has established multitudinous methods and approaches for acquiring the information and knowledge he has accumulated since the era of Lucy, three million years ago in Hadar, Ethiopia.

We've departmentalized them with titles like physics, chemistry, psychology, education, anthropology, archeology, writing, mathematics, and many more. Curiosity underlies them all. Human beings need to know and to understand.

However, most of us are inclined, because of personal interests, to be selective in what we need to know. This inclination sets us on different paths in our pursuit of knowledge. Unfortunately, our diversity of interests too often pits us against one another. This is why ideas which do not fit society's current web of beliefs are so often scofted at as was the case when Einstein posited the theory of relativity.

Our schooling system, as opposed to education, conditions us to become comfortable with the current and popular body of facts and instills a tendency to look upon new ideas with a jaundiced eye. As Einstein so aptly put it, "Do not pride yourself on the few great men who, over the centuries, have been born on the earth through no great merit of yours. Reflect rather, on how you treated them at the time, and how you now have followed their teachings."

History shows that the inability to accept new ideas is as strong a characteristic as is curiosity. But as in the case of the old adage, "Curiosity killed the cat," curiosity has also gotten man into a great deal of trouble beginning when, as a caveman, his mode of communication advanced beyond a series of grunts in an attempt to explain the events and phenomena of his environment which he did not understand. Man has been and still is a victim of unverifiable language. He makes claims about events beyond his ken that cannot be tested, such as theistic claims, concepts, and beliefs appealing to unknowable and immaterial gods as the source of those events.

In the seventies, many antagonists, including Carl Sagan, not then well-known but the most outspoken among them, ridiculed Erich von Daniken and the Ancient Astronaut theorists attempting to relegate us to that category of believers. One would think that scientists would know the difference between what is and is not verifiable. I have no doubt that Sagan was one of those people and I must say I have great admiration for his contributions to the advancement of exploration in space. Yet, I am deeply disappointed in him for the damage he did; he should have known better. But by using von Daniken as his foil, he did get a lot of attention. In unjustly ridiculing Eric and the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis, he greatly, but only temporarily, caused widespread negative responses to the hypothesis. Despite his efforts, however, he unwittingly helped to lay the groundwork for its acceptance, as I shall show shortly.

In the heyday of scientific skepticism, a question often asked by the skeptics was, "Why would ancient astronauts bother to travel billions of light years to reach other worlds? One might retort, "Why bother to climb Mount Everest?" "Why bother to do anything that appears to have no "practical" value?" Of course, one may offer such answers, among many, as "to see if it can be done" or "to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the mountain."

But were that question applied to us, curiosity is not the only answer. For instance, we might reply: "to replenish resources," "to mine minerals on other stellar bodies," "to counter overpopulation," "to seek new information," "to communicate with other civilizations," "to solve the mystery of what seeded life and/or intelligence on Earth," "to survive as a species" "to seek adventure," "to fulfill a thirst for knowledge for its own sake," "to experience the beauty, spirituality, and even the sense of mystery that permeate our pursuit of knowledge," or in Star Trek terms, "to boldly go where no one has gone before." It takes little imagination to conceive countless other reasons for bothering to see what's out there in the universe. But, more than that, man, as a species, cannot tolerate "not knowing." Mysteries cannot be allowed to remain unsolved. They are the motivating force of his curiosity. If he resisted delving into them, he could never have lifted himself out of the swamps of ignorance. And if one studies the history of our pursuit of knowledge, one will find that it has also been a process of discovering how little we know.

Above, I alluded to one of the reasons for traveling into space might be "to solve the mysteries of what seeded life and/or intelligence on Earth." That's an idea that has recently been mentioned in derisive terms some months ago in the media, as "the wacky provenance of Clonaid, a private company (which) has ties to the Raelians, a religious sect that believes humans were created through genetic engineering by space aliens."

Clonaid claims to have cloned a baby but has presented no evidence of having done so. The Raelians believe, but offer no evidence, that intelligence on earth was seeded through genetic engineering on our caveman ancestors. They confuse belief with fact. Such believers must have acquired this habit on the laps of theistic authorities, who, throughout the history of man, made claims to their doctrines that cannot be verified--or falsified. Yet, the theists of the world's great religions are not held up to ridicule. If I may ask a rhetorical question, why is that? Please, don't misunderstand me. I am not defending the Raelians. I have no sympathy for anyone who makes claims and refuses to offer evidence for them.

Lets's consider the issue of the source of our intelligence. Evolution theorists, of whom I am one, ascribe to the theory that it evolved in us here on Earth. All the evidence that has been accumulated points to that condition. But there is a caveat to which we must give serious consideration. History has shown that evidence acquired in the past is very frequently proved, by information accumulated years later, to be false or at least inadequate. Evidence is never all in and, hence, is only probable. According to available evidence, absolute evidence is a false concept. We should avoid saying, with absolute certainty, that our intelligence is a result of evolutionary processes.

Our scientists have made great strides in genetic engineering. Isn't it likely, at least possible, that someday in the far future when they've made even greater strides, that our astronauts will travel to distant planets on generational spacecraft? May we not assume that they will impose their engineering skills on primitive intelligences, unless of course there is a "prime directive" forbidding our interfering with their evolutionary development? After all, our scientists are already using such meager skills here on earth. The point of my argument is there is no doubt genetic engineering is not only possible but is being practiced.

Much of the evidence you have accumulated, however circumstantial, suggests that we might have been visited by ancient astronauts. If that is the case, at some stage in Earth's history when cavemen may not have reached a high level of intelligence, it is possible that somewhere between the range of Australopithecus Afarensis, 3 million years ago, and Cro-Magnon man, 40,000 years ago, ancient astronauts may have worked their "miracle" of genetic engineering and, then, left homo sapians to their own devices.

The visitors knew from their own history of evolutionary development that it would take countless millenia before we would stop destrying the earth and killing each other. Even now, they may be checking up on us periodically to see if we've survived our savage instincts. With their superior surveillance means, they'd assume there would be little danger of being detected or not care if they are. Improbable? Could be. Impossible? No way.

Some skeptics may counter, "Well it is barely possible." That rejoinder just won't fly. As a woman cannot be almost pregnant, so too, events cannot be barely possible. Though they may be barely probable--or not, they are possible or not. It is imperative that we keep an open mind about what is possible, however much we may consider it improbable because of our present limited accumulation of knowledge.

Considering that there are non-human intelligences here on Earth in environments hostile to man, such as our oceans and jungles, surely that is clear evidence that hostile environments on distant planets could harbor, if not intelligent life, at least the basic components necessary for the evolution of biological entities. After all, we have good reason to believe that extraterrestrial objects, impacting our planet, were major factors in carrying the seeds of life to Earth.

Until scientists began to discover evidence of the existence of other planets, few dared to suggest the possibility of extraterrestrial life not alone intelligent life. Within the scientific community, and in many other professions, one risked damaging his career to do so. It was strictly taboo. However, when man finally overcame his greatest conceit, that he alone populated the universe, scientists cautiously began to admit that there probably is extraterrestrial life, and later, intelligent life, possibly even superior to us.

It is reported that in the early sixties, the National Academy of Scientists asked Dr. Frank Drake, an Emeritus Professor of astronomy and astrophysics, later connected with NASA, to arrange a meeting of world scientists to discuss the possibility of existence of extraterrestrial life. According to Drake, a mere twelve showed up. Astronomers, at that time, even doubted that other planets existed. Consequently, in the seventies, almost no one considered sending messages into outer space.

To our great pleasure, both NASA and SETI are now gungho about doing so, expending many millions of dollars despite the extremely meager chance of success. Even the Voyager Explorer, now traveling beyond the boundary of our Solar System, carries our greetings. Should we not wonder, do they know something they are not sharing with the public.

Yet, too many scientists, even today, show no interest in and still resist admitting any possibility of there having been visitations from outer space. They reject the vast amount of historical art work depicting flying saucers, documentary descriptions of direct personal contact in the great religious tomes, and present-day observations by intelligent and credible people many of whom claim to have been abducted by extraterrestrials. Some were hypnotized or successfully passed polygraph tests by highly trained professionals. There seems to be no contradiction between the claims and results of hypnosis and polygraph readings. To my knowledge, there is no certainty that we have been visited, but I, personally, am not qualified to pass judgment on the veracity of those who claim we have.

However, there are those who seek to cast suspicion upon the credibility of the telling account, THE DAY AFTER ROSWELL , written by Colonel Philip J. Corso, highly decorated and honored ranking officer (now deceased) in the echelons of the military hierarchy. His recording of the Roswell event and its aftermath was based not only on personal experience and knowledge but also on copious Freedom-of-Information-Act documents. He Spelled out in precise detail the official cover-up of the mysterious crash just outside Roswell, New Mexico, in the summer of 1947.

I quote from the book's dust jacket, he "... was given command of one of the Pentagon's highly classified weapons development budgets and was made privy to the U.S. government's greatest secret: the dismantling and appropriation of the Roswell extraterrestrial spacecraft by the Army." "Colonel Corso revealed how a deep-cover council officially discontinued all UFO reports to the American public, and cleared the path for his R&D (i.e., Reasearch and Development) team at the Pentagon to analyze and integrate the Roswell artifacts into the millitary arsenal and private business sector."

Corso described how he parcelled out the spacecraft's technology to such companies as IBM, Bell Labs, Hughes Aircraft and Dow Corning for study and development. Not one of them suspected the source of it. The alien devices, again quoting the dust jacket, "... were the precursors for today's integrated circuit chips, fiber optics, lasers, super-tenacity fibres," night vision capacity, and too many others to cite here, which now enable President Bush to threaten and later to invade Iraq with the most powerful military force on Earth.

Along with relevant data, beginning on page 29 of his book continuing into his chapter entitled, "The Roswell Artifacts," Corso gave vivid and shocking descriptions of an extraterrestrial being, floating in a coffin, often referred to by its code name, "the package," filled with a special liquid. But, this book has an interesting twist. According to Corso, he did not in fact see the body of an alien. Unknown to him, his editor added the false information to inhance interest in the book.

Corso described in great detail the extreme precautions taken to keep the Roswell event a secret under threat of severe consequences. Referring to "Army Counterintelligence bogeymen" taking great pains to terrorize loyal American citizens of the surrounding communities into remaining silent, he described graphically how careers were destroyed, children frightened, and, in general, lives destroyed.

He identified many involved military personnel and courageously listed them by name from enlisted men, to sergeants, generals, and presidents. To this day, so far as I know, before his death no one has sued him. According to internet reports, however, his enemies, soon after his death, made numerous surreptitious attempts at character assassination. Of all the armchair criticism I've read, however, there is a notable absence of reference to Freedom-of-Information-Act documents.

Recently, however, fifty years after the event, the TV History Channel presented a segment entitled "Roswell: Final Declassification," in its UFOs: Then and Now series. In it and hoping to dispel the mystery and to convince the public that there was no government cover-up relating to the existence of UFOs or extraterrestrial beings, the government reveals documents on its secret experimental projects it claims it was developing a half century ago. The only documents released by the government, relating to the Roswell incident, was the government's position that the Roswell incident reports were misinterpretations of its experimental programs. Glaring in it's absence, however, unless I missed a segment, was the complete lack of reference to the highly respected Colonel Philip J. Corso, his book, The day after Roswell , his account of the Roswell incident and the government's cover-up of it.

However, the truth of Corso's expose is superbly supported by a significant number of private investigators into the cover-up to which he alludes. Moreover, now available on the internet are many documents which either were declassified and/or leaked by persons unknown--some of which were labeled "top secret." And, though there are skeptics who declare that the documents are not originals and therefore may not be authentic, the investigators claim that not only do they possess some originals but are performing extensive tests showing that the copies are authentic replicas of the originals.

You may want to do a search on the internet for Majestic Documentation and download copies of some of the documents, and/or communicate with the TV Station Sci-Fi, channel 224 (in US). Enquire about its presentation of the Majestic Twelve. There you will find reference to famous people from Einstein, to our own astronauts, to President Truman all of whom are reported to have admitted to visitations of extraterrestrials.

In the past, considering the depictions of horror from Hollywood's la la land and sci-fi writers, the idea of aliens arriving on Earth caused much apprehension, justifying secrecy. But today, few are disturbed any longer by the possibility of aliens visiting us, thanks, probably, to the efforts of Ancient Astronaut theorists. Now, it is time for the truth to be admitted and officially revealed by the government.

The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that if extraterrestrials are visiting us today, and the evidence certainly suggests that they are, it is highly probable that they have visited us in the distant past.

But to the question, "Why would ancient astronauts bother to travel billions of light years to reach us?" let us heed Shakespeare's admonition to Horatio, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth ... than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Recent hypothesis suggest that there is more about our spacetime continuum than we know. After all, we do predicate our scientific knowledge upon little more than a couple of centuries of scientific research. Compare our minimal scientific knowledge to that of a possible extraterrestrial civilization with a hundred thousand years of research.

Based upon the mathematics of his time, Einstein postulated the existence of black holes sucking in all nearby matter, permitting not even light to escape. There is credible evidence that he was right. But some scientists, are as guilty of making claims that, at least to non-scientists, appear to be as farfetched as they insist is the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis.

Consider for instance, the idea of time travel, traveling to a place and time, in the past, where Earth was a trillion miles from where it and you now exist, and watching yourselves being born--not alone traveling back to other times, repeatedly, in intervals of one minute, and watching yourselves watching yourselves being born, ad infinitum. With shades of Parmenides'plenum, a fifth century BC postulate; what was, what is, and what will be must exist from the moment of the Big Bang and will continue to exist eternally. How else could one travel into the past or future? How could that possibility be verified?

There are other hypotheses being floated also. Scientists say that the spacetime continuum can be distorted by black holes revolving at enormous speeds becoming the source of worm holes. Such a worm hole might cause "space to loop back upon itself" condensing a billion light-year's trip into a day's trip without exceeding the speed of light. Such an idea, I suspect, is meaningless to most of us. Even scientists need several years to become comfortable with it--not that that verifies anything. If it is true, however, extraterrestrials could pop into our space and time at will. Farfetched? Perhaps. I must admit, I'd say "99.9% improbable." Nevertheless, that is no reason verifiable hypothesis should not be investigated considering how much mathematical language, as a tool, has advanced our civilization. Let's not forget that much of our present-day knowledge was once scoffed at as outrageously ridiculous.

Einstein also hypothesized, though it has not been unequivocally verified, that nothing can move faster than the speed of light. Yet, some scientists are toying with the idea that it is possible to exceed its limit. They posit tacyon particles that in order to continue to exist must exceed the speed of light. They have been intimated that they may have found such a particle. Why should we not, then, research that possibility, however farfetched it may sound? If such a hypothesis is in fact valid, civilizations a hundred thousand years more advanced than we would almost certainly have made these discoveries. They may even have developed the technology for creating worm holes wherever and whenever they choose to.

Personally, I am skeptical about present-day worm-hole and time-travel hypotheses because the language relating to them is not testable. Such ideas were derived through conceptual and mathematical computation, not to be confused with material observation. For one thing, the pressure of the force in the worm hole would compress us to a pinpoint or separate us into a cloud of subatomic particles.

Accoding to such great thinkers as Albert Einstein, Godfrey H. Hardy, and Bertrand Russell, for all the power of mathematical concepts they do not in fact describe the universe or anything in it. One of the weaknesses of science is that scientists tend to ignore the limits of mathematics. They conflate its language with "knowledge" deduced about the nature of what exists beyond the perceptions of our sense faculties. They forget that their laws are about our perceptions of a material world, rightly assumed, I hasten to add, to exist.

For instance, try defining the number one without circular reasoning or add one quart of water to one quart of alcohol and discover that you don't have two quarts of liquid. Numbers are only the language of science--tools that we use in everyday life. They are not material facts floating around in the universe. They "exist" only in the minds of intelligent beings. This is not the case with the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis. It is testable.

As you know, scientists now readily admit the high probability not only that there are extraterrestrial civilizations but that some of them may be superior to ours. It follows logically, then that being a space-faring civilization ourselves for a short period of time, extraterrestrial civilizations with superior scientific knowledge must be considerably more advanced, especially in matters of space travel. And, Sagan to the contrary, it also follows that ancient astronauts do exist, even if they have not visited Earth. Why, even we have a few of them, here on Earth, as former members of our space program.

Let us not forget, however, that present awareness of the possible existence of extraterrestrial intelligence was not stimulated by the works of Plato, scientists, science-fiction, religious tomes, or other mythological tales. Even though many ancient and twentieth century references to extraterrestrial beings exist, until a few decades ago, reference to such an idea was available mostly only to scholars of mythology and science-fiction aficionados. Also, it was only around 1980 that the media began publicizing, derisively, reports of UFO sightings, real or suspect.

In conclusion, then, credit belongs to you who look upon the concept seriously enough to organize yourselves and to spend a major part of your lives studying, researching, and seeking evidence for the hypothesis. It is the writings of Ancient Astronaut theorists in the past several decades, especially those of Erich von Daniken and the popularity of his Chariots of The Gods , copyrighted in 1969, that stimulated wide cognizance in the world to the strong probability that we are not alone in the universe. You have withstood and continue to withstand those who claim to know absolutely, as did the uniformed of the past who believed the Earth to be the center of the universe, that we are alone in the vastness of space.

In the spirit of their ancestors, however, the skeptics still claim that the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis is without merit. It is important that you contunue to accumulate, present, and persuade them to study what certainly appears to be evidence that there are extraterrestrial civilizations and that we probably have been visited by them, a task which, apparently, only you are willing to support and perform.

Suggested books: The Day After Roswell by Philip J. Corso The Day After Roswell by Philip J. Corso and The Gods Were Astronauts by Erich von Daniken The Gods Were Astronauts by Erich von Daniken.

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