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Apr 25 2013

I’d watch it

But only to laugh at it. Some new pseudoscientific ‘documentary’ has been released this week, titled Sirius, which apparently has everything in it: conspiracy theories galore, ancient astronauts, zero point energy, pyramids, UFOs, antigravity, war, top secret government agencies, and aliens. One alien at least; the big feature proving the existence of aliens from outer space is dessicated, tiny little corpse of an “alien” found in the Atacama desert.

I saw that and knew immediately what it was. It’s human. It’s simply a mummified fetus, in which the plates of the skull (still quite distinct) have collapsed on themselves as the flesh dried out.

Here are a few shots of the obvious.

"Alien" mummy from Chile

"Alien" mummy from Chile

Apparently, the UFOlogists are all surprised now because they had a lab run some simple tests, and they returned the information that it was human — and an indigenous Chilean native, at that. Whoop-te-doo. Anyone other than a deluded fanatic could see that by just looking at the sad little thing.

I did find out one useful bit of information, though: a site with a skeptical summary of all the purported alien corpses that have turned up over the years, from shaved monkeys to deformed children to fake alien mannequins. I have to say that I rather liked the Siberian alien made out of bread crumbs and chicken skin. There’s some real artistic talent there.

42 comments

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  1. 1
    mythbri

    Apparently, the UFOlogists are all surprised now because they had a lab run some simple tests, and they returned the information that it was human

    Actually, it just means [SINISTER ORCHESTRA CRASH] that we are ALIENS!

  2. 2
    Dauphni

    Dun dun DUN!!!

  3. 3
    fernando

    “they had a lab run some simple tests, and they returned the information that it was human — and an indigenous Chilean native”.

    How much time till ufo fanatics will claim that aliens are, in truth, space travellers humans, originally form Chile,that mastered time travel and travelled to Venus and Mars?

  4. 4
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Actually, it just means [SINISTER ORCHESTRA CRASH] that we are ALIENS!

    Clear proof of panspermia.

    Which always, à propos de rien, sounds like a pagan fertility rite to me.

  5. 5
    CJO

    the Siberian alien made out of bread crumbs and chicken skin

    From the planet Matzo?

    #oyvey

  6. 6
    Becca Stareyes

    You’d think they’d have done that before proclaiming it proof of alien visitation and such. I mean, I’m not a biologist, so ‘fetus deformed by mummification process’ didn’t occur to me on seeing the pictures, but checking to make sure that it is biological and isn’t something from Earth seems like a good set of steps when discovering any living/once-living tissue that might be extraterrestrial. Even if you believe panspermia, an life-form separated from terrestrial life for billons of years should at least as different on the cell/DNA/molecular level as we look from an E. coli bacterium or a sunflower or something.

  7. 7
    urbster1

    I thought it was a horrible pile of PR bullshit that made love to Steven Greer’s face. All evidence is entirely glossed over — “we know there is overwhelming evidence for UFOs” after playing a few typical UFO-style videos — and the humanoid figure is, guess what, human. I believe the strongest statement their researcher made was “We can’t prove it’s not ET.” It’s really not even worth laughing at, for me anyway, it was just frustrating and sad.

  8. 8
    Dauphni

    Really, the strangest thing about all of this to me is that apparently somehow it can only be ‘alien’ if it’s vaguely human-shaped. I mean really, how likely is it that if it evolved on a distant planet it would still look similar to us? Life takes such an incredible variety of forms on this planet alone…

  9. 9
    vaiyt

    The Chileans are aliens! Everything suddenly makes sense!

  10. 10
    moarscienceplz

    You’d think they’d have done that before proclaiming it proof of alien visitation and such.

    Oh Becca, you naive child! Don’t you know that aliens is the best, first, explanation for anything weird?

    All UFOs can be LGMs
    Though recent claims are bolder,
    For aliens (I’m glad to say) are in
    the mind of the beholder.
    If you’re properly hip,
    Every blip’s a mother ship.
    (I could tell you things about Peter Pan,
    And the Wizard of Oz, he’s a lizard-man!)

    (Apologies to Tom Lehrer)

  11. 11
    Gwynnyd

    Aliens killed JFK? Wha…?

  12. 12
    mikeyb

    Wouldn’t this be on the cover of Nature or Science if there was something to this? Also heard this was a feature story on Glenn Beck’s the Blaze, so that should tell us something.

    Anyway, Fox Mulder came up with a lot more interesting conspiracies. I prefer the cigarette man any day.

  13. 13
    chigau (違う)

    But do they explain Rebecca Watson?

  14. 14
    yazikus

    This is a little OT, but I just had some lovely Jehovah’s Witnesses stop by and leave some literature. I was interested to learn that angels are spirit creatures, that usually help & protect us. However, “soon Jehovah will use the angels for a different purpose, to destroy the wicked”. Soooo… that kind of makes them scary aliens.

  15. 15
    moarscienceplz

    It’s Rebecca Watson’s fault that the aliens don’t talk to skeptics.

  16. 16
    AJ Milne

    I’m also grateful this came up in my news feed ‘cos it set me on a webtrawl that lead me through photography of Atacama ghost towns (do go look, seriously) through the nitrate economy in Chile prior to the invention of the Haber process, the economics thereof, the crash that followed said invention, leading to those becoming ghost towns, the 1907 Santa María School massacre in Iquique (you want labour unrest? this is… notable), the prison camp Pinochet set up in one of those same towns, and so on…

    Reality is way more interesting than anything the UFOlogists dream themselves up. By orders of magnitude.

  17. 17
    Acolyte of Sagan

    #15
    moarscienceplz
    25 April 2013 at 5:01 pm
    It’s Rebecca Watson’s fault that the aliens don’t talk to skeptics.

    Oh yes we do. Rebecca was merely our first contact.

    (I was gonna make a joke there about giving up after trying to make initial contact in an elevator, but thought better of it.)

  18. 18
    unclefrogy

    saw a thumb nail of that on a huffington post headline the other day and thought no way am I going to go and look at that BS so thanks for checking it out.
    these fools would know an alien if a “real” one walked up shook there hand.

    uncle frogy

  19. 19
    timgueguen

    Fernando, you probably won’t have to look very far to find UFOnauts as human time traveller theories.

    The UFO crowd will be upset when the first aliens we meet, the Brizangdi, arrive, because they look pretty much exactly like giant ferrets. The Brizangdi will be less than amused when they find out that some humans keep ferrets as pets, given the resemblance.

  20. 20
    pacal

    To make another X-Files reference; once again we hear the cry “I want to believe!”

  21. 21
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    So both this and the Starchild Skull are actually human remains from indigenous Americans. Are there any human remains getting passed off as aliens that are from white people?

    It does seem like the logical progression of the dehumanizing “ancient aliens” bullshit. First they decide brown people are incapable of developing technology, then they declare the brown people remains they find aren’t even human.

  22. 22
    LykeX

    Aliens killed JFK?

    And Bigfoot, working on orders from the Illuminati, covered it up, using mind control rays developed by the Nazis living at the center of the Earth.

  23. 23
    fractalheretic

    Siriusly?

  24. 24
    PZ Myers

    Strangely, I’m reading that the scientist who did the DNA analysis is claiming that it’s the skeleton of a 6-8 year old boy — I don’t believe it. It’s 6 inches long, which would make it a fetus around 20 weeks postconception; assuming a fair amount of shrinkage during dessication, I could guess as late as 6-7 months. The pattern of bone ossification — notice, no sternum — fits that as well, but it doesn’t fit a 6 year old at all.

  25. 25
    gijoel

    Engineers dude!!!!

  26. 26
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    “soon Jehovah will use the angels for a different purpose, to destroy the wicked”.

    It’s been done.

  27. 27
    OptimalCynic

    You’d think they’d have done that before proclaiming it proof of alien visitation and such.

    If they were sensible enough to do that, they wouldn’t be UFOlogists.

  28. 28
    Caveat Imperator

    @The Mellow Monkey, #21,

    When you put it that way, it’s not too different from “brown people couldn’t have built the Benin Bronzes or Great Zimbabwe or the massive temples in Mexico or the mounds of Cahokia, they MUST have been a lost white civilization!” The only difference is that mainstream historians and archaeologists left those ideas behind decades ago, and most of the fringe recognizes that blatant racism isn’t socially acceptable. Usually.

  29. 29
    Glen Davidson

    What could possibly explain these loons–except ALIENS!?

    Glen Davidson

  30. 30
    shouldbeworking

    South Americans are aliens!!

    That explains Florida and Texas politics.

  31. 31
    Sastra

    Some new pseudoscientific ‘documentary’ has been released this week, titled Sirius, which apparently has everything in it: conspiracy theories galore, ancient astronauts, zero point energy, pyramids, UFOs, antigravity, war, top secret government agencies, and aliens.

    So what’s the big difference between this movie and Thrive? Sounds pretty much the same.

    Yes, I watched that thing. I watched the entire movie in the company of friends who loved it. There is a ready audience of spiritual-but-not-religious woo-sters who eat up movies like What the (Bleep).., Zeigeist, Thrive, and Sirius. The fans think the science is cutting-edge.

    So you’d watch it, eh? Only to laugh?

    Yeah, well … we’ll see who’s laughing, Mister, when they drag this thing out at the Paradigm Symposium and show it right before your speech — so you can’t leave. You may not feel so hearty afterwards.

    It’s enlightening … but not in the way they think it is.

  32. 32
    falstaff

    Zero point energy is a “real” thing? It’s not just some crap from Stargate?

  33. 33
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Wow. Fetuses really are aliens.

    That really does look creepy. Like, alien burst-from-your-chest creepy.

  34. 34
    Jake Hamby

    When you put it that way, it’s not too different from “brown people couldn’t have built the Benin Bronzes or Great Zimbabwe or the massive temples in Mexico or the mounds of Cahokia, they MUST have been a lost white civilization!” The only difference is that mainstream historians and archaeologists left those ideas behind decades ago, and most of the fringe recognizes that blatant racism isn’t socially acceptable. Usually.

    Some years ago, I got into an email argument with a 9/11 truther on a small politically oriented mailing list. He was incredibly obnoxious and I wouldn’t have bothered except that I didn’t want to see his views go unchallenged by anyone, for the benefit of the lurkers on the list.

    This guy’s particular take on things was that Larry Silverstein, the owner of the WTC property at the time of the attack, was in league with the Bush administration to blow up the WTC with explosives (and also crash the planes into them?) in order to collect on the insurance money. Seriously. I kept trying to point out the numerous absurdities of Americans plotting a major terrorist attack for such an uncertain gain and with such huge negative consequences if they were ever found out.

    I tried to point out the absurdity of a Jewish American working in league with radical Islamic extremists, but this guy seemed to have a serious racist hangup that prevented him from accepting the idea that a small motivated group of what he called “grumpy Muslims” (or maybe it was “irritated Arabs”, or something equally dismissive) could have the wherewithal to learn how to fly commercial airliners into large stationary objects. So instead he would rather believe in a massive conspiracy between Republicans and the WTC property owner to do a “false flag” operation for the political consequences (the so-called “Reichstag fire”) and for the money, respectively. That theory fit his stereotypes better, I guess.

  35. 35
    birgerjohansson

    Re @ 34;
    “the absurdity of a Jewish American working in league with radical Islamic extremists”

    It is always “ZE JOOWZ!”
    — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
    No, it was the cigarette-smoking guy who murdered JFK
    — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
    Dauphni,
    Yes, I would consider anything even vaguely humanoid a hoax.

    Anyway a real alien relic, say some artifact that had drifted through space a billion years is not likely to have many interesting features left, certainly no delicate organic matter.

  36. 36
    richardelguru

    PZ at #24

    “6-8 year old … I could guess as late as 6-7 months”

    Maybe the analysts had worked on the Mars Climate Orbiter??

    I mean years, months or pound-seconds, newton-seconds… What’s the difference?

  37. 37
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Mythbri:

    Actually, it just means [SINISTER ORCHESTRA CRASH] that we are ALIENS!

    Spoiler alert!
    That’s pretty much the premise of Prometheus.

  38. 38
    David Marjanović

    The pattern of bone ossification — notice, no sternum — fits that as well, but it doesn’t fit a 6 year old at all.

    Also notice the complete lack of wrist bones, kneecaps, and basically the ends of all long bones (huge gap in the knee).

    It does seem like the logical progression of the dehumanizing “ancient aliens” bullshit. First they decide brown people are incapable of developing technology, then they declare the brown people remains they find aren’t even human.

    I don’t think that’s intended. Lots of people simply have no idea of a human skeleton, let alone of what dried or rotting corpses look like. Remember the Montauk Monster? That’s what a raccoon looks like when it’s been drifting in water for some time, but few people know that; some, of course, declared it an alien.

    Yes, I would consider anything even vaguely humanoid a hoax.

    Me too.

  39. 39
    unbound

    Looks like any comment that is even remotely against the movie is getting automatically flagged as spam. Unhide them and you see the pattern that most of the film is rehashed UFO nonsense. Not sure you’d find it all that entertaining PZ.

  40. 40
    unbound

    For clarification, I’m all for funding the nonsense since it can be more entertaining than some Hollywood efforts. But at least put some effort into these things to make it new and shiny. Have pride your work…even if it is nonsense.

  41. 41
    ivan321

    @32: zero point energy is a real effect (and well-understood, too, see “Casimir effect”), but you can’t tank your car with zero point energy.

  42. 42
    suttkus

    The link says that mini-alien-corpse has “well-formed teeth”. Isn’t that inconsistent with it being a fetus? Not that I see any sign of teeth, well-formed or otherwise, in the pictures, so that’s probably an error on someone’s part.

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