The genetic “proof” for ancient aliens


I have a new, horrible obsession – the History Channel’s show Ancient Aliens.

On Saturday I found myself drinking with a group of my boyfriend Sean’s friends, when one of them announced that we must play an Ancient Aliens drinking game. I had no idea what the show was, but became intrigued when they started discussing the rules of when to take a drink:

  • Whenever someone being interviewed has no relevant credentials like a PhD
  • Whenever someone says the phrase “Some scientists say”
  • Whenever someone says the phrase “ancient astronaut theorists”
  • Whenever an ancient manuscript is displayed
  • Whenever there’s a terrible CGI reenactment
  • Whenever Giorgio starts talking

Me: Who’s Giorgio?
Them: Oh, you’ll know who Giorgio is soon enough.

This is Giorgio, by the way:

…That’s all I’m going to say.

They decided to reduce the list so we would wouldn’t get alcohol poisoning. But I found myself following my own rule of “drink whenever someone says something that blatantly defies logic or is a total non sequitur.” Which meant I was pretty much constantly drinking for an hour and a half. Especially when you’re jumping from pyramids, dragon drawings, Tesla coils, and the Bible all being proof of aliens (just to name a few).

For those of you who’ve never seen the show…I’m not quite sure how to summarize it. The footage looks professionally done since it’s on the History Channel, and some of the shots of the ancient artifacts are cool to see. But if I had to summarize the major theme, it would either be “Brown people never could have done <insert amazing feat here> because they were too lazy and/or stupid, therefore aliens had to help them.” I think my favorite mindblowing moment was when Giorgio explained that:

  • People worship “Gods”
  • But people only believe in things they have evidence for
  • They had written/drawn evidence for these “Gods”
  • Written/drawn evidence is always realistic and never abstract, imaginative, or metaphorical
  • But “Gods” don’t actually exist
  • Therefore they were actually aliens

Oh, Giorgio. How I wish point #2 was true.

Something about the show hooked me in its terribleness. My emotional reaction was actually very similar to the time when I visited the Creation Museum. Yes, I was mad at how they were twisting science, using terrible logic, and spreading blatant lies. But the absurdity of it all was oddly amusing. By the end you find yourself playing along, like you’re watching a fantasy novel… and not something people actually believe.

Also, being heavily inebriated helps.

So Sean and I plowed forward to episode two, since the first two seasons are conveniently available on Netflix. Our “game” was to guess what sort of bizzaro conspiracy theory the show would provide to explain a phenomena they were hyping before the show made the reveal. Sean was a little too excited when he correctly guessed the “Humans and aliens had sex and interbred” plotline. To which I replied, “But they’re an alien. Humans can’t even breed with chimps. Humans would have to actually be aliens seeded here or something for interbreeding to be possible.”

And then that’s exactly what the show said, and I nearly peed my pants laughing.

But the real kicker came when the show brought up the human genome. Sean and I both study genomics and evolution, so we exchanged a wary look. I’ll let you see it for yourself. The clip begins at 7:34 in the first video, and continues until 3:03 in the next.

In case you can’t watch the video or had trouble following that pristine argument, let me summarize:

  • Geneticists discovered the gene HAR1, which is unique to humans and plays a critical role in the development of the human brain.
  • Did it develop through evolution? Francis Crick says human genes couldn’t have evolved because there’s not enough time for DNA to evolve by accident. He said it would be as improbable as a hurricane going through a junkyard making a Boeing 747.
  • Since it couldn’t have evolved, the aliens performed a targeted mutation in HAR1 to make us “human.”
  • We only understand 5% of the genome. If you wanted to record an eternal message that could be decoded by a creature that eventually evolved enough intelligence to decode it, you shouldn’t put it in a monument or text that can be destroyed…put it in the DNA! OMFG THAT’S WHAT JUNK DNA IS! SECRET MESSAGES!

And now, for a quick debunking:

  • HAR1 is present in all mammals and birds, not just humans. But in all non-human species, the sequence is effectively the same, or conserved. The human copy in particular has a number of differences compared to other species, so we consider the human copy of HAR1 divergent. This is not at all the only human gene to be divergent. And all species have uniquely divergent genes – that’s precisely what makes things different species. But no one is arguing that marmosets or fig trees or syphilis are actually aliens with special alien genes inserted into them. Well, maybe people are arguing that. There’s four seasons of this crap, and I’m only on episode 3 of season one. Maybe the syphilis aliens are right after the episode titled Aliens and the Third Reich (I shit you not).
  • Francis Crick has always been a strong supporter of evolution and has spoken passionately about how evolution shaped his scientific investigation. He was one of the Noble laureates who advised US courts bogged down by creationists that “Creation-science’ simply has no place in the public-school science classroom.” He also was an advocate for making Darwin Day a British national holiday. While he was initially doubtful of the origin of the genetic code and wondered if panspermia could be the answer, he later published a retrospective article where he and his colleague “noted that they had been overly pessimistic about the chances of abiogenesis on Earth when they had assumed that some kind of self-replicating protein system was the molecular origin of life.” So, um, no.
  • Francis Crick did not come up with that 747 argument – Fred Hoyle did. That’s why it’s called Hoyle’s fallacy. It’s already debunked a bajillion times by biologists – Dawkins wrote two books about it – so I won’t waste time trouncing it here.
  • Whatever alien thought junk DNA would be a great place for an eternal message is a dumbass. Because junk DNA doesn’t code for a protein or have some sort of regulatory role, it’s what geneticists refer to as “neutrally evolving.” It means it’s at liberty to gather mutations because they don’t have any major effect that would weed them out via natural selection. This is especially true when the show’s premise is that the message was placed there eons ago, and had tons of time to accumulate changes. It also doesn’t explain why chimps share a lot of junk DNA with us, or why a huge proportion of junk DNA are remnants of ancient viruses. I’m sure Giorgio would say that those aliens were trying to throw us off the scent by making it seem like our genomes had evolved through natural processes.
  • They never address the fact that the hypotheses they present throughout the show aren’t even internally consistent. At one point they say all life on earth was put there by aliens, and it evolved naturally. Then they say we ARE the aliens. So what, were the aliens unicellular organisms? How can we interbreed – like they say we do – if we’re that distantly related?! But then they say the proof that we’re aliens is that we look like the aliens…so how about those billions of years of evolution?

In poking around the internet about this show, I discovered that Giorgio had a twitter account, which included this gem:

Lizard people? Total nonsense. Aliens? Of course, duhhhhh.

Oh, History Channel. How the mighty have fallen. I remember when I was little and I’d watch you with my history-buff dad, and learn all sorts of cool things about Egypt and Rome and WWII. But now I watch you to point and laugh.

Comments

  1. Decnavda says

    But what about the pyramids? How could two different civilations on different continents, supposedly with no commincation between them, each come up with the exact same idea of putting the smaller blocks on top of the bigger ones? Huh, tell me THAT! If you give blocks to random 5-year-olds or chimps, will they start building pyramids? Huh, will they?
    /sarcasm

    As for the racism charge, I am always reluctant to question a racism charge, so I have to guess that could be a part motivation. But I would also note that some of these ancient alien believers also give the aliens credit for Stonehenge. Which means they also apparently believe that ancient white people were incapable of setting up stones in a circle. (I mean Stonehenge is cool and all, but when you compare it technically to either the Great Pyramid or the Pyramid of the Sun…)

  2. says

    There’s an anti-human bais to all of these ancient astronaut theories. They seem to say, “Humans are too stupid to do this.”

    Ancients were just as smart as we are. We just have a larger body of knowledge to work with.

  3. says

    I remember one morning many years ago when I was visiting my in-laws. Desperate to span awkward silences one morning, we had the TV tuned to a National Geographic special (in the days before they had their own channel). It was on crop circles, and the gist of it was “Human pranksters? Or evidence of ALIENS?” Because Occam’s Razor is just too difficult.

    Our favorite line occurred when one “expert” explained that one interesting geometric design in the cornfield was “a spot-weld on the time vortex”. This comment was never explained or probed further, the narrator content to let it go as obviously self-evident.

  4. Vern says

    I find it difficult to watch shows like this. However, one that is tangentially similar is, “Is It Real” which was a Discovery Channel series. It takes all that same crap but it subjects it to good science and logic and comes up with the real answer, although at the end they say that it’s for you to decide. But anybody who can’t see the reality it presents has already made up his mind. Good series, stronger in the beginning.

  5. Caliguy7281 says

    LOL, I love this guy, and his crazy assed hair. Oh and BTW the Nazi’s and Aliens episode is funtastic.

  6. says

    Granted, I’ve only watched the first two episodes… but the only white people are the ones doing the talking. The ancient people have been predominantly from Egypt, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and some from China.

  7. Josh Benton says

    The first thing I saw was upper half of Giorgio’s picture, and wondered how a shot from Babylon 5 was related to the rest of the post.

  8. Pieter-Jan van der Veld says

    As someone who has been working with Indian People for quite some time, I always found this Ancient Astronaut thing insulting. As if these people were to stupid to create anything complex.

  9. says

    No self-respecting Centauri would have blathered on like that while sober. Unless he was under the influence of a Drak controller (conspiracy!).

  10. gworroll says

    I think it was Giorgio who puts forth the idea in a later episode that the “aliens” aren’t actually aliens at all. They are time traveling humans, because there is no way in hell an alien could survive in our atmosphere. Could have been another of them, but I’m pretty sure this was Giorgio’s idea.

    Von Danniken gets excited about alien sex in one episode.

    Oh, apparently the Bagavad Gita describes nuclear war.

    Ancient Aliens is one of my favorite comedy shows and kindergarten level critical thinking exercises.

  11. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    Damn you gueguen! Beat me to it by two hours. I bet you’re on an earlier timzone than me. amiright? Where was your tim solidarity when it was needed?

    And Pint? Note that Giorgio ‘s hair is improperly short for a Centari. That almost certainly means he is …. decadent. Which means almost certainly drunk all the time.

  12. Illustratheist says

    When we finally got pay-TV a couple of years ago, I was excited. Discovery channel? Awesome. History channel? OMFG YES, I’m a total history nerd!

    And then… what’s this? Hitler’s UFOs? Maya 2012? A plethora of documentaries that CRAM two minutes worth of potentially interesting information into an hour of programming, repeating the same shitty CGI while the narrator talks in ALLCAPS VOICE ABOUT HOW AMAZING THIS FACTOID IS THAT WE’VE ALREADY REPEATED 15 TIMES!!!!1!

    Suffice to say, I gave up pretty quickly. I’m sure there are good programs on there, but I got tired of wading through the shit. I don’t even own a TV these days, as my computer has a DVD player and internet access.

  13. says

    The terrible shows on the History/Discovery channel are my favorite thing ever. I am also a huge fan of the absurd Unsolved Mysteries. Ya know, the ones that investigate Big Foot, the Lock Ness Monster and The Moth.

  14. Hendi says

    Well… but… but…

    you all don’t believe the junk DNA is ehm, secret encoded message because you non-EE/CS types of geneteticists do’t know about forward error correction! Thats a means of picking a consistent, uncorrupted message out of noisy, well… junk which once was a message! :-)

    Just like your DSL modem or digital TV set does with that junk that someone once encoded and sent to you…

  15. benjaminsa says

    I wonders where the Histoy channel is going to go next, going to be hard to top this insanity.

  16. Makoto says

    Planet Green has some awesome UFO shows. You can just hear the sarcasm dripping from the narrator’s voice as he talks about the “theorists”. There was one about the chupacabra on the other day which had me rolling in laughter as the narrator was discussing the competing ideas of CIA pet project, mutant mosquito, alternate dimension critter, or… dogs.

    It’s like they took Ancient Aliens, but instead of presenting them straight, they’re pointing and saying “yes, there are people out there that believe this. Wow”

  17. Chimako says

    I’ve watched pretty much all of them, they are interesting in the way that bad fantasy novels are interesting. And they do say pretty much the same things about the white ancient people as they do about the brown and black ones. There’s just less impressive stuff to talk about with the white ancients. My husband and I spend like to mock that Coast to Coast AM guy. His hair color changes constantly and unlike Giorgio, as far as we can tell he doesn’t even have a college education much less scientific anything.

  18. Chimako says

    All the good content for history and science seems to have migrated to Netflix. I’m watching a BBC documentary series on Africa right now that’s amazing but afaik never appeared on any science or history channel.

  19. m5 says

    “Brown people never could have done ”

    I’ve seen every episode and they don’t think any human can do anything without alien help. Nazis, Mayans, NASA, nobody.

  20. says

    “No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids — human beings built them, because they’re clever and they work hard.” — Gene Roddenberry

  21. marismae says

    I tried to watch that this past weekend! I didn’t even get halfway through, though. I wasn’t drinking (alas), and my 5yr old was sitting beside me. I decided not to continue contaminating her airspace with that much stupid. I think she was also frightened of my horrified expression.

  22. Pablo says

    I disconnected the cable in ’06 for two years. When I had it connected again I was all excited that I would get to see History (Discovery/A&E) programming again but what did I find? Ice Road Truckers, Gangland etc. (What the fuck does Ice Road Truckers have to do with history?). I don’t even bother to check what’s on the “History” Channel anymore so have missed out on Ancient Aliens. (Have always hated that “Chariots of the Gods shit even as a young kid I knew it was crap.)
    Animal planet is going down hill fast too with that show in which the pets are suppodedly detecting ghosts an with “Finding Bigfoot” wherein every time a twig snaps in the forest all those dweebs start shouting “That was a Squatch, difinately a squatch.”

  23. yoav says

    Everybody know humans are really Pak breeders who didn’t go through the transformation into protectors because Earth soil didn’t support the tree of life. I read it in a book so it must be true.

  24. RealityBasedSteve says

    DON’T DO IT!!!!

    The genetic “proof” for ancient aliens
    March 12, 2012 at 6:40 pm Jen
    I have a new, horrible obsession – the History Channel’s show Ancient Aliens.

    On Saturday I found myself drinking with a group of my boyfriend Sean’s friends, when one of them announced that we must play an Ancient Aliens drinking game. I had no idea what the show was, but became intrigued when they started discussing the rules of when to take a drink:

    Whenever someone being interviewed has no relevant credentials like a PhD
    Whenever someone says the phrase “Some scientists say”
    Whenever someone says the phrase “ancient astronaut theorists”
    Whenever an ancient manuscript is displayed
    Whenever there’s a terrible CGI reenactment
    Whenever Giorgio starts talking

    If you take a shot for each of these, I predict that in less than 4 weeks your liver function will be at 30% of normal, your hands will shake and the 5 remaining brain cells will want to watch the Shop At Home network all day.

    RBS

  25. Reginald Selkirk says

    While {Francis Crick} was initially doubtful of the origin of the genetic code and wondered if panspermia could be the answer…

    Crick did author Life Itself, exploring the possibility of panspermia, in 1982. In the foreword he stated as a motivation that no RNA enzymes had been discovered to back up the RNA World hypothesis. By the end of that decade, the lack was remedied and the 1989 Nobel prize in chemistry was awarded to Thomas Cech and Sidney Altman for the discovery. Later, around the turn of the century, structures of the ribosome revealed that the cell’s protein factory, consisting of dozens of subunits of both protein and RNA, had a catalytic core of RNA. I.e. the ribosome turns out to be an RNA enzyme.

  26. Jer says

    The bias in all of these “Ancient Astronaut” type arguments (not just shows like this but any work you read about them) is that “primitive” cultures couldn’t possibly make anything like the Great Pyramid or the Mayan Pyramids or Stonehenge or whatever so it must be aliens who taught them how to do it. There’s a lot of racism hiding in that “primitive cultures” phrasing – and a lot of believers in the Ancient Astronaut “hypothesis” don’t even realize that the racism is there.

    It is though. These “ancient astronaut” ideas grow directly out of the whole “Atlantis” fantasy – that once there was some worldwide empire of technologically advanced people and their society collapsed but not before they built the pyramids and the Nazca lines and Stonehenge and whatever. And those ideas about Atlantis grew up in the casual racism of the 19th century – where it was patently “obvious” to everyone that “primitives” couldn’t possibly be responsible for such amazing architectural achievements.

    As for Stonehenge – well, remember that the Anglo-Saxon ancestors of the English wouldn’t have been the ones who built those monuments. It would have been the Celtic ancestors of the Scots and the Irish who built them. And “everyone knows” that “those people” were just primitive savages before the Romans showed up to pacify them and before they were conquered by those of good Anglo-Saxon stock. The folks we consider to be “white” today were not the ones that folks would have considered to be “white” in the late 19th/early 20th century when this stuff was really growing in the mass consciousness.

  27. Dexeron says

    You see the same kind of logic displayed in proponants of the Solutrean Hypothesis, also known as the “Brown Cavemen in America couldn’t POSSIBLY have figured out how to make SPEARS, so the European White Cavemen (who all look remarkably like Patrick Stewart) must have sailed over here, despite the total lack of evidence of any such trip, to teach them before being horribly slaughtered by those dirty, dirty savages” Hypothesis. It’s the same vaguely racist (and ancient-ist?) bias you see in most popular misunderstandings of the ancient world.

    I hate the assumption that various separate groups could not possibly come up with a similar solution to a similar problem all on their own. “These two speartips in different hemispheres look kind of similar. OMG THEY MUST HAVE HAD BROADBAND INTERNET WITH WHICH TO SHARE DESIGNS. ALIENS!”

    Funny enough, look whenever History does one of those shows featuring ancient humans. You can bet they’ll have least ONE Solutrean proponant on “for balance”. Probably an “ancient alien” guy for good measure as well. “Some scientists say” after all.

  28. gworroll says

    History Channel used to have UFO and other fringe science shows where they’d let the nuts ramble on for most of the episode, and have one actual expert utterly destroy them at the end in 10 words or so. Those were cool.

  29. Tom Singer says

    I only have a tiny bit of knowledge of this idea that there was a westward migration from Europe from one or two news articles, but it seemed like the folks behind it weren’t obvious cranks. Do you have anything to support your characterization?

  30. chrisinphx says

    I was clicking channels when he was speaking, it was his hair that made me stop and watch it.

  31. Quatguy says

    Great post Jen, thanks for sharing. I remember when the History channel used to be about history. Now, it’s just sad.

  32. Bob Jase says

    Pawn Stars is the best show the HC has now.

    As to Ancient Astronauts, my spleen is too perforted from being vented to allow me to watch more than 5 minutes of it.

  33. Dexeron says

    The hypothesis is fringe enough (there’s just no real compelling data supporting it, and quite a bit suggesting that it’s just not valid) but as far as the crank aspect, I honestly have nothing to go on apart from my own experience with some archaeologist friends of mine who liked to rant about it whenever it came up. Totally anecdotal, I know, so take my opinion on it for what it’s worth: not much.

    But what my friends used to say is that the Solutrean Hypothesis is less about making conclusions based on evidence, and more about seeing “evidence” to fit a preconcieved idea – in other words, its proponants can’t or won’t accept that Clovis technology could have developed independently and coincidently in a similar way to that of the European “Solutreans.” Basically, it’s science. As to the reasons behind that, or motivations of its main proponants, my friends had some pretty strong opinions about that, but like I said: that’s anecdotal.

  34. paul says

    If the HAR1 gene is in all mammals and birds, shouldn’t it be in alligators and crocodiles too? Actually, this tree makes it look like anything common to mammals and birds would have to be shared with pretty much all land vertebrates that aren’t amphibians:

    http://tolweb.org/Amniota/14990

  35. Dexeron says

    ugh, typo at the worst possible moment:

    The sentence should read: “Basically, it’s BAD science”.

    Sorry about any confusion.

  36. Tom says

    Stonehenge is also does not nearly represent as strongly in the Anglo-centric canon as the pyramids do to their respective cultures. Good call on the pre-Anglo Celtic point.

  37. gworroll says

    Stonehenge dates to around 2,000 to 3,000 BCE. Some parts appear to be older than others, but the site as we know it now was substantially complete by 2000BCE.

    This is way before the Celts, who didn’t start emerging until around 1250BCE. And they were in Central Europe at the time, so it wasn’t their ancestors that built Stonehenge. Whoever built it left no written records, and no surviving oral traditions(or only traditions that mutated into an unrecognizable form) after the Celts and the later Anglo-Saxons took over the area. The Celts probably made use of it, but they didn’t build it.

    The origins of Stonehenge are pretty much a mystery. About all that’s been proven are alignments that suggest the builders knew a bit of astronomy, and that it could be built using technology of the time period. How they did it, we don’t know, we just know that they could have done it without alien tech.

  38. Beth says

    Wasn’t there a guy building a replica Stonehenge in his backyard out of concrete blocks, using only simple tools? I’m pretty sure his conclusion was “Yeah, this is incredibly difficult and time-consuming, but totally possible.”

  39. paul says

    its proponants can’t or won’t accept that Clovis technology could have developed independently and coincidently in a similar way to that of the European “Solutreans.”

    It seems to me that the first people to come to the Americas from Asia would have already had a stone blade technology of some sort. If Clovis tools did share a common origin with Solutrean tools, wouldn’t it be simpler to posit that the technique diffused westward to Europe and eastward to the Americas from a point somewhere in the middle of Eurasia?

  40. David Layzell says

    I just love this. Thank you Blag Hag. I am spending more time than I would like debating creationists, and I come across this misrepresentation all the time. BTW there is an “unedited tape” that “shows” that Richard Dawkins cannot think of any increase in genetic information. Since I, a lowly biology teacher can think of one, then an expert like Dawkins could think of many more. Did this Channel show that aliens using helicopters built the pyramids? The “evidence” is that the hieroglyphic letter “b” looks like a helicopter blade. lol.

  41. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    Hold up, hold up. Junk DNA is not encoded messages from aliens. It’s psychic antennae through which humans can decode the genomes of other living beings while under the influence of ayahuasca. I have it on good authority. Dude is a PhD, what more do you want?

  42. says

    Me too!

    And in this blog post I couldn’t read anything after I got ensnared in his majestic hair web XD

    Seriously I can’t stop laughing long enough to read.

    Oh god I love this show.

  43. Kahfre says

    “Oh, History Channel. How the mighty have fallen. I remember when I was little and I’d watch you with my history-buff dad, and learn all sorts of cool things about Egypt and Rome and WWII. But now I watch you to point and laugh.”

    So what’s your point? That you were more intelligent, or less stupid, when you were a kid?

  44. Steve says

    NatGeo did a special or a pilot called “Psychic Gold Hunt” that was wildly entertaining, but not for the reasons they wanted. A remote viewer, a dowser, and a psychic were convinced that they could find buried treasure in Northern California.

    Spoiler Alert:

    They can’t.

  45. gworroll says

    In this case, probably not. The distinctive features of Solutrean technology that show up in Clovis technology date to well after the Clovis culture had reached the Americas, and the Clovis didn’t start using them until after the Solutreans developed them. If these features did share a common origin, transatlantic contact is pretty much the only way to explain it. The Solutreans had more advanced technology in general, so they would be more likely to conceive of and succeed at such a voyage.

    That said, independent development of new technologies is a documented fact. It isn’t surprising that the Clovis culture came up with some of the same innovations as the Solutreans. It’s happened with stuff like the telephone, why not stone tools.

    I don’t know why the Solutreans came up with the newer tools first. Necessity tends to dicate what technologies a given culture develops. Egypt didn’t adopt the wheel for a while after it was common in Mesopotamia, they just had so many people for labor that they had no need for it. So I’d imagine that something about living in Europe made better stone tools a higher priority than it was in America. No idea what that something was though.

  46. sailor1031 says

    No Erich von Daeniken? How can this stuff be science then? As for the lizard people – weren’t they the valusians who perished in old hyperborea by the horrifying eldritch light of a waning, gibbous moon? Any fule kno that life were brought to earth by the great old ones. Alien astronauts, alien DNA – it is to laugh, faugh!!

  47. michaeld says

    I hate when these shows say area of the genome or gene or something as they zoom in on a single base pair.

  48. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    Looks like you’ve sent all your Saskatoonian snow over to Vancouver Island right now. Take it back at once! Please!

  49. Eric O says

    Ugh. I just can’t bring myself to watch this sort of stuff. The stupidity burns, and the fact that this is shown on a channel which tries to market itself as educational just makes me kind of angry. I hate it when fantasies are propped up as real scholarship then thrust on a public that generally doesn’t have the background knowledge to know when they’re being lied to.

    That said, I’m glad that there are skeptics out there with the patience to sit through this crap and point out its flaws.

  50. Sas says

    It’s been a long time since I watched this show, but I seem to remember they were discussing some stonework on an old castle, and they brought in an “expert” stonemason who said it would be impossible for someone to do that particular stonework without modern tools because it would have taken more than a year.

    I too enjoy watching shows like this and pretending they’re intentional fiction, but at that point I had to turn it off because I would have also turned off any fictional work that made such a stupid plot point.

  51. Midnight Rambler says

    Given what they’ve become, I think it is worth a reminder that there was a time in the past when the History Channel had, you know, history.

  52. Desert Son, OM says

    Sas at #41:

    an “expert” stonemason who said it would be impossible for someone to do that particular stonework without modern tools because it would have taken more than a year.

    That makes me wonder: In addition to the racism that seems to underlie some of the “premises” for “alien intervention,” is there also a kind of, for lack of a better word, contempo-centrism (or techno-centrism)? Or maybe the contempo-centrism is just an aspect of the institutionalized racism?

    That is: “They totally didn’t have internal combustion engines or tower cranes or cell phones back then! It must have been extra-terrestrials! Otherwise, how would that stuff have been accomplished? You’d need like, thousands of people and you’d have to work at it for, like, a long time! Years, maybe! There’s no way!”

    The Romans had a recipe for viable construction concrete. Steel smelting is probably around 4,000 years old. Sophisticated agriculture, economic and trade systems, literacy and writing, navigation and exploration, engineering, and so on are all aspects of many pre-modern societies.

    But they didn’t have cable television, therefore aliens, I guess.

    I wonder how many of these “experts” know they’re spouting nonsense and it’s the paycheck and the chance to appear on a technology non-existent 4,000 years ago, and how many really do think there’s good evidence for extra-terrestrial public works project engineers. Not sure which are more worrisome.

    Also, religion? Same question to you and yours.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  53. Eric O says

    That makes me wonder: In addition to the racism that seems to underlie some of the “premises” for “alien intervention,” is there also a kind of, for lack of a better word, contempo-centrism (or techno-centrism)? Or maybe the contempo-centrism is just an aspect of the institutionalized racism?

    There’s actually a word for that: “chronocentrism”.

    And yeah, I think that’s a big part of it. Some peope have a lot of trouble accepting that people in earlier societies were just as clever as we are. I think it’s related to that whole colonial idea that if a society is not as technologically complex as ours, then it’s due to a difference in average intelligence; it’s like the Victorian European attitude towards the aboriginal people in Africa, the Americas, and Australia.

    In that sense, I agree that chronocentrism is an aspect of racism, at least in the sense that it informs racist beliefs.

  54. ZombieFood says

    I remember that message-in-the-junk-DNA thing in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

  55. says

    You should find a bunch of other science folk and just form a youtube channel that does everything the discovery network is like… supposed to do. I know a few guys who would love such an opportunity! :D

  56. C Bryant says

    Well, according to JMS, Centauri hair is a status symbol. Wearing it longer than your station is a “pathetic” attempt to garner a higher status. Therefore, you can see Vir’s hair is much shorter than Londo’s hair given his subordinate position as assistant though later his hair is very long when he is the Ambassador and then Emperor himself.

    Giogio’s hair most reminds me of Vir here:
    http://tinyurl.com/8xs86n9

    Go Saskatoon :)

  57. sc_82aa2379a8d9c3c7aacd01b9c36b5462 says

    Acolytes of Pseudoarchaeology have terrible trouble with the idea that a culture could have achieved something if we can’t figure out how they could have achieved it. The Old Kingdom Egyptians inherited thousands of years worth of know-how when it came to getting things done using stone and wood. A lot of this knowledge has since been lost as we’ve discovered how to use metals and plastics and all sorts of other things. Modern engineers can’t figure out how the pyramids were built because they are used to working with computers and cranes, and emphatically not used to having to shift blocks of stone around using pack animals and human labour. Of course we don’t know as much about using Egyptian technology as the Egyptians did, but to fringe theorists if we can’t figure out how to do something this is as good as proof that ancient peoples simply couldn’t have done it.

  58. M Groesbeck says

    That high-tech modern-looking building shown at 8:31 in the first video when they’re talking about research done at UC Santa Cruz is, in fact, a high-tech UCSC building; but it’s the music recital hall. Great sound, sections of ceiling and wall adjustable to suit different styles of music…not sure what it has to do with genetics, though.

  59. AlanMac says

    I’ve seen that expression that Giorgio has on his face before….a lot….when I was in high school…..in the 60’s. Which, of course, explains the program. It’s obviously aimed at the “smoking public” demographic. We They love this shit.

    Stoners gotta eat too.

  60. says

    Many of you are dismissing these theories based on the argument from ignorance; just because you can’t conceive of something being consistent with the evidence doesn’t mean it isn’t. True, none of the arguments they present on the show are valid, and many of them seem to contradict each other if only simple logic is used, but the application of meta-logic and the super-imposed symmetry of a Cantor set, combined with a paradoxical Turing machine construct could explain the apparent contradictions. With respect to the idea of junk DNA as a coded message, they really could have made a much stronger argument by pointing out that the HAR1 gene has a reverse pattern that is exactly identical from one end to the other. This pattern does not exist in any other part of the gene sequence. There is simply no chance of this particular sequence occuring as a result of natural selection without some kind of outside influence, because natural selection is defined by outside influence. In addition, the way in which genes replicate is more evidence in favor of the coded message hypothesis, because genes don’t replicate in loco, but only when dividing. Sometimes these patterns even repeat, and not only that, but if you look closely you’ll see that sometimes these patterns even repeat. Okay, History channel, can I be an expert on one of your shows now?

  61. says

    Yes, exactly! And all you need to do that is a flux capacitor!

    There was even a movie about how that could be used for time travel!

    I can’t understand why they didn’t include footage from that movie as evidence!

  62. says

    I love this show. It’s a great bizarre travelogue of ancient sites you’ve never heard of but which are actually pretty cool along with the bizarre and adorable Georgio! My favorite quote was in a past season where he was talking about some biblical passage. “Angels! There’s no such thing as angels. It had to have been ancient aliens!” woooo, gotta love that guy.

    South Park’s send up of it last year was so spot on! It was the Thanksgiving episode in case you want to catch it.

  63. Proponent says

    Everyone seems to be too focused on whether or not ancient man had the capabilities to build the ancient pyramids and stonehenge, but I think the motivation is more important. I find the most compelling evidence in ancient alien theory is the fact that all ancient cultures believe in beings descending from the heavens down to earth. The bahagavad gita has the most interesting encounters with ancient aliens but the bible is not far behind. Giorgio always makes the excellent point that ancient man mis-interpreted flesh and blood extra-terrestrial ecounters with the divine.

  64. Matty says

    History channels Ancient Aliens has gotta be the best series they’ve put out there…not claiming it’s gospel but what they have done is help awaken people’s minds and question the things around us…It doesn’t matter what the biggest skeptic has to say in debunking a theory because the facts are,a lot of things just can’t be explained away, the more one researches the history of man a picture is put together but for most of us the picture seems to be missing a lot of pieces!! Knowledge is power but the society’s we live in and the people who control them feel to much knowledge is dangerous for the average Joe!! …the second man to walk on the moon would surely have to be a famous historian, someone of intelligence and sanity?? watch the expression on Buzz Aldrin’s face when he quotes “We aliens… are certainly part of a magnificent race.”

  65. jimbo says

    you can watch these and replace every time they say ancient aliens with invisible underground mole men made out of lava and the whole story still works. lol

  66. binkswebelf says

    Dear Proponent:

    The existence of God is not the same question as the existence of ETs. If ancient peoples met aliens, they might make that mistake; but no matter if this universe is teeming with aliens or not, God (if existant) is transcendently different in being than any bunch of Ferengi or suchlike.

    “Aliens” only removes the ultimate question one step back. If there is a creator, that being created all the aliens, too. Sorry, StarGate fans.

    Just sayin’, is all.

  67. says

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  68. Overkill says

    How the hell can you people right a way say(O this show is just bull shit and lies and only stupid people watch and believe in it)Now who every says this is either religious or doesnt think like a human should.Now to start this off I will like to say thank you Jen for your stupidity for right away disagreeing with this theroy, how can you “point and laugh”(also its not smart to start of your blog with you and your boyfriends friends haveing a drinking game,how stupid can you be)when as you can see all the religions and ancient texts and writings have amazingly the same ideas and plots in them,meaning god,gods,goddesses,ect.comeing down from the heavens or in my term,space.Now as human beings can we just actually use are common sense and think for moment instead of just saying that this theory cant be true,because this theory could possibly be actual truth.Now as humans when we tell stories of are history and things we did in are life(and we all do)we start to exaggerate or make things bigger than they really are(here is a example,someones sees a snake that’s about 2 feet,well when they tell the story about seeing the snake,they usely will say This thing was about 5-6 feet long!!!!!Which was exaggerated.)now think about this,after a story is told over thousands and thousands of years, wouldn’t you think that after so many people have told these stories they would have exaggerated and add their own made up stories to their own history,because that is what humans have and still do.This is what it comes down to,early humans used cave paintings to show there history but when they started to write down their history people added more stories of their own imagination into their history(in short terms,the first things that people wrote down was their history,THEN humans used their creativity to write their own made up stories,but then both history and mans creativity fused into what is called religion.)Now lets talk about this so called DNA junk,it is said that about 97% of humans DNA is this so called “junk”,i mean hows this possible that scientists can that 97% of ARE DNA is junk because i was taught that all DNA is important,and the reason that we havent discovered is because(in my perspective)Is when early humans were beginning out an alien species changed are DNA and after mixing up are DNA up to the point were we could be used as slaves(What the ancient Sumerian texts say)and after they were done with using them as slaves them,they started letting us become more intelligent,meaning they started to study us and keep an eye on us(which would explain all the ufo sightings and abductions that people have which only means one thing”research”)Well since Ive wrote so much Ill wait for you people to ask me questions about the ancient alien theory and Ill try to answer them the best and most reasonable I can.

  69. adamgordon says

    This is the stupidest comment I’ve read in some time. Before I continue, let me just say that, like the author of this post, I am a geneticist by trade. Having said that, you really need to do some more reading on genetics and evolution before you can begin to discuss so-called ‘junk’ DNA. reading some of the articles here might be a good start: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/evolution/junk-dna/

    You say “the reason that we havent discovered [junk DNA’s function] is because(in my perspective)Is when early humans were beginning out an alien species changed are DNA and after mixing up are DNA up to the point were we could be used as slaves”

    Here’s a question for you: are humans the only organism with this junk DNA? If not, how did the genomes of other organisms acquire similar profiles of junk DNA if this DNA was added in by aliens? I eagerly await your response.

  70. Binks, Webelf says

    AGordon:

    I`m not a geneticist, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Still, I thought in current research that the idea of so-called junk DNA was old science, and that part played by all the DNA as a system, with complex interrelationships of the whole was in vogue.

    That is, just like the claim that we only use 10% of our brain, the idea that there are leftover garbage sections of DNA is ridiculous. Just because we do not understand all the parts and reasons for the genome doesn`t mean they don`t have them– witness the failures of simplistic tampering via gene therapy.

    Or am I terribly, terribly wrong?

  71. Overkill says

    I already know what i need to know about junk DNA,Ive researched about it for a while.Here is some info.about junk DNA that i personally like(Junk DNA is DNA which does not appear to have any discernible function. However, the term “junk” is a bit misleading, as research on junk DNA has suggested that it may actually play an important role in the evolutionary history and lives of many organisms. Rather than junk, this DNA may in fact be stored for a critical reason, and researchers have started exploring junk DNA with the goal of learning more about it.

    Some people refer to junk DNA as “noncoding DNA,” referencing the fact that it does not code proteins which express in the host organism’s phenotype. Whatever you call it, the percentage of junk DNA in the genome is often quite high. In humans, for example, 95% of the genome is composed of noncoding DNA. Junk DNA appears to explain a large part of the differences in genome size between different organisms, as some plants and animals have a great deal of junk DNA, while others have less.

    All sorts of information may be contained in junk DNA. For example, huge sections of noncoding DNA are what is known as “ultraconserved,” meaning that they have remained the same for millions of years. Scientists know that these sections are ultraconserved because they are identical in numerous organisms, sometimes in the case of creatures which are only distantly related. When you hear claims like “the genome of animal X and humans is 98% identical,” this is because of ultraconserved DNA.

  72. Adam G says

    You know, if you’re going to literally copy and paste block of text from a random website you should really

    b) find a better source than http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-junk-dna.htm
    a) cite your source properly, and indicate when you are quoting and when you’re not

    You should probably try to read some of the actual literature or writings from actual geneticists about the issue rather than vague summaries like the one you’ve posted here. Again, I suggest you read some of the articles at the link I posted which were written by actual researchers.

    You also failed to answer the questions I posed, even though you said “Ill wait for you people to ask me questions about the ancient alien theory and Ill try to answer them the best and most reasonable I can.”

    So let me ask again.

    Are humans the only organism with this junk DNA? If not, how did the genomes of other organisms acquire similar profiles of junk DNA if this DNA was added to early hominids by aliens? I still eagerly await your response.

  73. adamgordon says

    Whoops, sorry, ‘Adam G’ above is actually me, just forgot to login accidentally.

  74. kevin says

    What i love is the fact that all of the people supposedly challenging the theory of ancient astronauts are all pointing out the same things but ignoring the blatantly. Obvious evidence that really cant be disproved. As we take a look at the show ancient aliens yes we find many things that are inconsistent and are probably phony and untrue, but we forget that this is a television show with ratings and producers making alot of money. So what do they do they start with a bit of concrete evidence and they find that this will only get them so far so what do they do they do whatever they have to so as to keep getting their ratings and making more money. They don’t care about ancient astronaut theory they care about their money they are television producers. I love ancient aliens and i love where it started but season after season i can see they are departing from what was a solid backing on a revolutionary new way of thinking. There are episodes where i myself look at with total disbelief and disappointment, but instead of dismissing it all as lies and story telling i examine it with an open mind and separate what is relevant and what is ludicrous. Nobody here is talking about the ancient evidence that cant be explained your all jumping on this episode and this falsehood and mocking and tearing it to shreds and that’s fine but don’t mock the underlying theory to which the show was based on, it is a very solid theory. Assuming that you take away all the nonsense that is being presented in the show and stick with the wealth of evidence that is authentic and true then you find yourself seriously considering the FACT that extra-terrestrials were involved in our past. Or you still find yourself laughing and mocking the idea and you sir are a close minded, foolish idiot and i feel sorry for you and your lack of a higher evolved consciousness.

  75. Yoav says

    Nobody here is talking about the ancient evidence that cant be explained

    Such as..?

  76. Beth says

    Love the blog… and I totally agree. Ancient Aliens has been the most entertaining thing on the air lately and I have a morbid fascination for it, all their amazing assertions, and Giorgio’s hair. I’ll have to try the drinking game, as it would give a whole new dimension to the dialog! Somehow when watching this show I don’t feel so bad about our impending extinction. :)

  77. says

    Actually, it would make perfect sense that the aliens would put the same junk DNA into other organisms as well; the whole point of coding information important to the survival of our species into human DNA is so that the aliens would not have to wait around for us to be sophisticated enough to understand their message. If they decided there was a chance we might not make it, they might have decided to back up the message in the DNA of other organisms, figuring “If the humans screw it up, maybe one of these other organisms will evolve into a being that can use it.” Naturally, backing up the message in all of those other organisms would likely have been a much larger expense of time, energy, and resources, but I can see how it might have gone down (I tried to come up with good alien-sounding names…):

    Let us start by imagining a ship from a foreign star system cruising the universe on an intelligence seeding mission, millions of years ago. For the sake of a name, let’s call it the starship Lohdak-Rahp, manned by Captain Krah Kosht, and Lieutenant Hee’poho R’spu. They reach earth and inject the coded message into the DNA of every human living at the time. Capt. Kosht then says to his Lieutenant: “Run the computer simulation to see if the human species stands a good chance of surviving long enough to use this valuable message. If we can’t get at least an 80% chance of survival to the stage at which this information will be useful, we’ll have to go with Plan B, that is, to code the DNA of every other organism to the extent that their DNA will accept it, in the hope that one of them will eventually evolve into a being capable of using this message.”

    Now, naturally any aliens that could have travelled this far would have a very powerful computer, but even so, it would have its limitations. R’spu drops a piece of fairy cake into the computer and the computer extrapolates from it the entire universe up to the current decade (after which point the error margin rapidly becomes unacceptably large), and two seconds later the two officers view the data, which gives them a complete model of our current Earth down to every Higgs Boson, with a negligible margin of error. They zoom into a television set and see the “Ancient Aliens” television show. Realizing that no species that would allow that large an amount of resources to be spent on such an incredibly ridiculous hoax could possibly have any chance of surviving for more than a few more centuries, they immediately put Plan B into effect…

  78. says

    Author is so ignorant. So your saying because you study genetics, you know everything about them? The theories presented in this show are just that… theories. You’d fall into the “World is Flat” group if this were 1491. So I guess it’s more feasable that the anceints carried 2 ton rocks clear across the desert, then shaped them into perfectly symmetrical stones that created pyramids just as symmetrical if not more than the best built skyscrapers we have today. I guess the theory of one God, pictured as an old man in the sky watching over us is much less “bafoonery”. Not to mention how closed minded the thought that we are the only living things in the entire universe, to which the size is so large that we as humans aren’t arent even capable of measuring yet and actually have a special word for our incapability, called “infinite”. Your right, know it all, anything you’ve been taught thus far must be the abolute truth… humans have NEVER taught BS in the past nor been wrong about anything.

  79. Kelvin Crenshaw says

    In the forthcoming 5-10 years you all will see the truth…. Skeptics and the like will the inevitable ..

  80. Kelvin Crenshaw says

    In the forthcoming 5-10 years you all will see the truth…. Skeptics and the like will the see the inevitable ..

  81. kamui04 says

    Just like many people I just watch this show for the lulz.
    Although I believe in UFOs from own personal experience. As a teen I watched an object flying in the sky and doing perfectly sharp 90 degree turns which can’t be explained. And I think there are many things in the universe which we still don’t know, BUT I’m not one of those that need to explain everything by saying “Aliens” and inventing an irrational, illogic and convoluted conspiracy theory to explain even the most insignificant and simple of things.

    But back to the show I’ve noticed in the show which bring it to another level of comedy.
    Anyone notice that every time they need to explain some scientific or historical background they always have someone with a real title or ironically a Ph.D.? Their only function is recite a textbook description of whatever the show tries to twist. Also notice that like 99.99% of the time this textbook descriptions don’t mention aliens or anything similar and don’t lead to any supernatural or extraterrestial influence? After the scientific, historian or whatever gives his lines… CUT!!! insert the quack… be it Tsukaulos or von Daniken or any other one in their club and they start adding and twisting everything to suit their Aliens did this and that?

    About this line: “Written/drawn evidence is always realistic and never abstract, imaginative, or metaphorical”
    If it were only true… lol. I can’t remember which episode but one of this guys says, we have to take this kind of evidence literally. Yeah like cause ancient civlizations didn’t have imagination or fiction or people like in today’s time don’t exaggerate their own stories…?
    I can bet that in many centuries in the future there will be people like him and when they discover a painting by Picasso they’ll speculate that some humans decended from aliens had this deformed bodies.. or discover some episodes from the Simpsons and speculate we had a sub-race of yellow skinned people with bulged eyes and four fingers in each hand, confined into a city named Springfield. Or the Avengers is proof that ancient humans in the early 21st century built super soldiers with super serums and metallic suits, created green ultra strong mutants with some unique properties of gamma radiation, or found that their gods were aliens from some far away world named Asgard and they came back to visit us… Lest not forget the dozens if not hundreds of times we have recorded the chronicles of alien invasions or how we opened the gates to hell and how repelled them with heroic acts of valor by ragtag teams of heroes… YEAH cause this evidences MUST BE TAKEN LITERALLY, cause Written/drawn evidence is always realistic and never abstract, imaginative, or metaphorical…

    And like people said, the main justification for the show is that humans are too stupid to do anything. At 6 seasons and ongoing, they’re starting to explore even more ridiculous theories and really I await the season 10 premiere titled “How Ancient Aliens taught us how to tie our shoelaces and neckties” followed by episode 2 titled “How Ancient Aliens taught us how to do our basic biological necessities like eating and pooping because we’re too stupid to do it by ourselves compared to animals”…

  82. says

    I find the show thought provoking & in my opinion, it’s not too far fetched to believe that Aliens might have visited us in the past & gave us knowledge that has now been lost. How else would you explain PUMA PUNKU & the perfectly carved hard stone that we even find it hard to cut now,let alone the ancient Incan.
    It would have been easier for them (aliens) to visit us in the past because they wouldn’t have to fear us stealing their ship & taking them hostage for science experiments &/or to further human civilisation, like we would now.
    I am a believer in ANCIENT ALIENS & that they created us as a slave race, that’s why our evolution has been extremely fast & why we have trouble finding “the missing link” & why/how we have the “HAR1″ gene that makes us human.

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