Avi Loeb has an opinion


The greatest mass extinction in the history of the world took place 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian. 99% of all species died off at that time.

Avi Loeb has an idea.

Popular opinion considers the Permian-Triassic extinction to have been triggered by volcanic eruptions that created the Siberian traps, and humanity to be the first technological civilization on Earth 250 million years later.

Oh. Popular opinion says it was caused by formation of the Siberian traps. Except I have a big problem with that statement: Popular opinion is mostly unaware of the traps, has no idea when the Permian occurred or what happened there, and would be clueless if you asked the average pedestrian what caused the extinction. Popular opinion is irrelevant.

What matters is the evidence that geologists bring to bear on the question. The Siberian traps are real, the massive lava flows that created them too place right around the Permian-Triassic boundary, and they are likely to have been a major contributor to the extinctions — there may have been other factors as well, but look at the scale of the catastrophe that we know occurred coincident with the end of the Permian.

That’s not opinion, that’s real. I’d rather listen to the evidence given by geologists than the weird-ass speculations of a weird-ass physicist.

Yeah, Avi Loeb has an alternative “hypothesis.”

Is it possible that the devastating global warming event was caused 252 million years ago by industrial pollution from a technological civilization? This would have required first intelligence to emerge only 6 percent earlier in the 4,540-million-year history of Earth.

Wait, so geology is an opinion, but this dumb brain fart is worth considering? He even admits that he has no evidence whatsoever for this claim.

Any technological infrastructure left on the surface of Earth from that early civilization could have been demolished by geological activity including subduction, covered by water or tarnished by meteor impacts and weathering.

Instead, he suggests that vague reports of unidentified objects supported by daft nebulous statements from politicians are best interpreted as relics from intelligences that destroyed vast swathes of Planet Earth a quarter of a billion years ago.

The Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, submitted two recent reports in 2022 and 2023 to the US Congress, admitting the existence of Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs) whose nature is unclear, some of which exhibiting trans-medium maneuvers between air and water. Could these relics be evidence for a civilization that predated us on Earth 252 million years ago?

This possibility would overcome the challenges associated with UAPs arriving to Earth through interstellar travel and the puzzle of why such UAPs are here right now despite the vastness of cosmic space and time.

And if I had a slice of ham I could have a ham sandwich if I also had some bread. He’s got no evidence of an alien civilization, and he’s got no evidence that UAPs exist as material technological phenomena, but slap those two dumb ideas together, and he thinks he has something. He’s an incredibly bad scientist.

This is a familiar progression, though, if you’ve watched the UFO fashions come and go. First they were spaceships from Mars, then they were from distant stars, then they were vessels from the Hollow Earth, then they were psychic manifestations piloted by Bigfoot, etc., etc., etc. They’re all just fever dreams from fanatical weirdos, like Loeb.

You just gotta…

Comments

  1. weylguy says

    “Popular opinion says…” It’s the hidden, fallacious assumed “fact” that tiny minds always fall for, similar to the starting argument “Do you still beat your wife?”

  2. birgerjohansson says

    The first “hollow Earth”*:period came in the 1920s and 1930s. The belief was popular among nazis, as they knew buggerall about science. A certain Heinrich approved of any weird belief that crossed his in-tray. By contrast, the art-school reject mostly despised pseudoscience, except the variants that supported his racism.

    (*Edgar Rice Burrough’s crappy Tarzan stories also included the hollow Earth concept.
    By contrast, the stories by wossname about Doc Savage were not too bad. They had a strong influence on Philip Jose Farmer’s writing. PZ’s generation will be familiar with PJF)

  3. wzrd1 says

    This is more like, if I had a slice of ham, I could build a pig.
    I mean, he postulates a super ancient advanced civilization that was destroyed by one eruption utterly and completely and his evidence in support to that postulate is flying fucking saucers. That flew for 252 million years unnoticed until today.
    I suspect Avi should lay off watching episodes of Doctor Who that involve the Silurians when he’s stoned.
    If I actually had to listen to this drivel in person, I’d probably take up day drinking.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    The Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps, like other large leftovers of magma flood events are interesting.
    The Deccan Traps began to form before the K-T * event and probably stressed the biosphere so it was in a worse position to weather the giant impact.

    There is also s huge igneous province in the southwest USA, contributing to the high altutudes of the ‘Morridor’. But I do not know uf it is associated with a mass extinction.

    ( I know it is called the Cretaceous-Paleogene even these days. I don’t care. I am a *genuine conservative, not a political wanker. Also, Santa Claus should have green clothes, not the red stuff Coca-Cola ads made popular in the 1920s)

  5. birgerjohansson says

    BTW is Loeb still employed by the University? If other professors start running around and throw feces at passersby I doubt their tenure would survive the event. There is the guy in “A Beautiful Mind”, but his condition expressed itself in ways that were less embarrassing for the University.
    .
    Also, any advanced civilisation (more advanced than ours) would easily survive something like the end -Peemian mass extinction. It started slowly and lasted for mebbe a hundred thousand years. They would have time to adapt.

  6. Matt G says

    Ethan Siegel had an article about the “extrasolar” metal spheres this clown dredged from the bottom of the Pacific. Industrial pollutants. Can this crackpot please go away?

  7. Louis says

    Wait! The Permian extinction is STILL the greatest mass extinction? Not the Holocene?

    Dammit, humanity! Try harder! Are we ever going to get to number one by slacking like this? NO! And how are we going to go beyond number one with this lackadaisical attitude? Where is our ambition? Our drive?

    For shame!

    Louis

    P.S. I worked at a pharma company ages ago that chose, at the time, the motto: “Beyond Number One”. In a big town hall meeting where the CEO was present and this slogan was announced, I was in the process of raising my hand to point something important out, when my boss grabbed my arm and shook his head. He later commented that, yes, we all noticed, but that commenting would have been a “career-limiting event”.

  8. says

    I wonder why he thinks the ancient saucer men would have managed to survive say the asteroid strike circa 65 million BCE. Or other gigantic disasters we may not yet know about. And if they did survive why didn’t they just rebuild their previous civilisation?

  9. StevoR says

    FWIW when it comes to the Permian Mass Extinction there’s a really excellent youtube mini-doco on it here by Paleo Analysis part of his series on the evolution of Earth and the life on it throughout its existence from the Hadean onwards to just recently the Triassic. His one on the Late Permian (& early too – in fact all of this clips) are also one’s I’d reccomend esp that evolution of life on Earth by geological periods series noted before.

    There’s also
    Ben G Thomasés good clip here Why Was the Great Dying So Bad?
    really starting properly on the topic at the 2 mins 27 seconds or so mark – just over 10 mins total.

    As well as The Budget Museum’s The Great Dying: The Permian Mass Extinction one here which is a few minutes short of 20 mins long.

    All of which I reckon are a lot more intresting and informative and handy in understanding this than Loeb’s fantastic – in the sense of being an unbelievable fantasy – speculation here that sounds like he thinks the Silurians from Dr Who could actually have been real – as 3# wzrd1 already beat me to noting. A new low ebb from this once somewhat credible published scientist indeed.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    To Loeb’s credit, he has not yet teamed up with someone named Leopold
    (a reference for old-timers, like the “driving instructor” gag Clint Eastwood referred to when he talked with an empty chair as Mitt Romney rån for the presidency)

  11. raven says

    Any technological infrastructure left on the surface of Earth from that early civilization could have been demolished by geological activity including subduction, covered by water or tarnished by meteor impacts and weathering.

    Cthuhlu, this is stupid.

    This isn’t even remotely correct.
    We have huge numbers of dead bodies left over from the Permian. That is how we even know there was a Permian followed by the Permian extinction, and the Triassic rise of the dinosaurs.

    The ruling land animals of that time were a fascinating group of vertebrates, the synapsids, the mammal like reptiles. FWIW, they were our ancestors as humans are also synapsids.

    Wikipedia:

    Synapsids were the largest terrestrial vertebrates in the Permian period, 299 to 251 million years ago, equalled only by some large pareiasaurs at the end of the Permian. Most lineages of pelycosaur-grade synapsids were replaced at the end of the Early Permian by the more advanced therapsids. Synapsid numbers and variety were severely reduced by the Permian–Triassic extinction event.

    If there was a previous technological civilization, we would also find fossil Volkswagens, F150 pickups, skyscrapers, microwave ovens, computers, agricultural equipment and so on. Or rather the Permian equivalents.
    The marker for the Permian-Triassic boundary would be the beer can or the Permian equivalent.

    If there were UFOs left over from the Permian, I would guess that they would just land here and ask for something to eat, and a TV guide so they can see what is playing for the next week. It’s not like they would have any where else to go or anything better to do.

    Then again, if they survived the P-T extinction event, they could have just restarted their civilization.

    Let’s see, a technological civilization would not survive the Permain extinction and there would be nothing left because it was 250 million years ago.
    Except their flying saucers, which are also 250 million years old and just now noticing that their civilization is long gone and we are here.

    Yes, Avi, this all makes perfect sense.

  12. says

    Idiotic Creationist language is what’s spoken here when this kook spews out the phrase “popular opinion” as if the all the credible evidence for an ancient Earth is non-existent. Heck. Even Dumb Idiot Ham has similar phrases plastered in all of his stupid plaques at his putrid faculties like this.

  13. StevoR says

    ^ drksky : Loeb was published recently in New Scientist magazine – think I mentioned in a past commrnt on s thread about him here before? I wonder if they’ll keep publisihng him now?

  14. birgerjohansson says

    Raven @ 12
    Synapsids and therapsids were advanced reptiles for the time, but they were really primitive compared with modern lizards.

    Where are the civilisation builders of the Mesozoic? Are they the barrel-shaped Old Ones of Lovecraft lore?
    Did von Däniken’s aliens “uplift” Dimetrodon?

  15. StevoR says

    @7. Louis :

    Wait! The Permian extinction is STILL the greatest mass extinction? Not the Holocene?

    Dammit, humanity! Try harder! Are we ever going to get to number one by slacking like this? NO! And how are we going to go beyond number one with this lackadaisical attitude? Where is our ambition? Our drive?

    For shame!

    I don’t think we need any encouragement in that direction – and we’re currently living in the Anthropocene era Mass Exttinction Event which is just getting started really geologically. When its over, what will be left?

    (Lightning flashes, thunder rumbles outside. Quite literally for me now..)

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    The Permian was 250 million years ago. Piffle.

    I think Loeb would be more excited by the Oklo nuclear reactor in Gabon, which dates to around 2 billion years ago.

  17. beholder says

    @12 raven

    If there was a previous technological civilization, we would also find fossil Volkswagens, F150 pickups, skyscrapers, microwave ovens, computers, agricultural equipment and so on. Or rather the Permian equivalents.

    Citation needed. It’s fair to say weathering on Earth does a lot of damage to any metal objects in that span of time, and what you would find now is so warped and twisted by geological activity that it would be hard to identify as artificial in origin.

    The clincher for me is that any advanced civilization would have landed on the Moon, where their 250-million-year-old landers would be sitting there in pristine condition, even now. Unfortunately for Loeb, we haven’t seen any of those.

  18. says

    Is it possible that the devastating global warming event was caused 252 million years ago by industrial pollution from a technological civilization?

    See, he’s Just Asking Questions. And the answer is: IN THEORY, yes; but in reality, there isn’t a speck of evidence that it actually did happen. And yes, a technological civilization that could so totally disrupt the Earth’s climate would leave specks of evidence of its existence, even after 250 million years, just like there’s fossil evidence here and there that’s even older than that.

    Next question…?

  19. stuffin says

    Leob is the guy who said a meteor that flew by earth was really and alien spaceship and that the metal globes at the bottom of the ocean were of alien origin. These volcanic eruptions and Siberian Traps are him trying to backfill his unproven theory of space aliens.

    And popular opinion sounds like Trump, he would say to his audiences, “people come up to me and tell me all the time” or “I’ve heard it from many people.”

    First rule we were taught in Psychology 101, when the patient uses the word they, always follow up with “whom are they” or “when you say they, could please tell me more about who they are?”

  20. says

    Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and everybody thinks theirs is the best. Most sheople today argue using rumors and opinions in a vacuum and never bring facts into the equation. I’m no intellectual giant. But, I try to ignore speculative opinion and learn from experts providing facts and learn from my mistakes. Yet, Almost all of human society is a laughable failure.

  21. Pierce R. Butler says

    Artifacts, schmartifacts. Any prehistoric civilization – never mind pre-Triassic – would have mined the most accessible ore lodes, leaving only tunnels and pits where our ancestors of just a few thousand years ago found the copper, tin, iron, gold, etc which they started digging up by hand at the end of the Stone Age.

  22. Rob Grigjanis says

    monad @28: Randall Munroe really is a bottomless pit of utter nonsense. Someone recently linked to this;

    https://xkcd.com/1145/

    Because the experts (other than Munroe, of course) seem to have forgotten that violet light has a shorter wavelength than blue. I really don’t get why so many people think his garbage is ‘obligatory’.

  23. raven says

    …Any prehistoric civilization – never mind pre-Triassic – would have mined the most accessible ore lodes, leaving only tunnels and pits

    Yeah, that was my thought also.

    Ever since the start of the Industrial Age, we’ve been powering our civilization with fossil fuels, oil, natural gas, and coal.
    So how old are the coal deposits.

    Coal deposits are known to have formed more than 400 million years ago. Most anthracite and bituminous coals occur within the 299- to 359.2-million-year-old strata of the Carboniferous Period, the so-called first coal age.

    Coal mining – Extraction, Processing, Pollution – Britannica
    Britannica https://www.britannica.co

    The coal deposits we mine are a lot older than the Permain-Triassic boundary.

    Avi;

    Is it possible that the devastating global warming event was caused 252 million years ago by industrial pollution from a technological civilization?

    No.
    How did this Permian industrial civilization touch off a Global Warming crisis from CO2 without you know, mining and burning a whole lot of fossil fuels?

  24. says

    “[Popular] opinion is a compound of folly, weakness, prejudice, wrong feeling, right feeling, obstinacy, and newspaper paragraphs.”

    Robert Peel

  25. JimB says

    birgerjohansson @2
    To expand your knowledge… Tarzan only went to the Earth’s core (Pellucidar) once. And met up with David Innes. Burroughts wrote 7 books on David Innes adventures in Pellucidar.

    And if you ever read any of Burroughs Western novels you would know what high art Tarzan was… ;)

    My first book by Farmer was Blown. I was a teenager. My mind was blown. Still love his Doc Savage/Tarzan crossover novels.

  26. says

    Oh wow, Loeb is “stimulating the field!” Just like all those obnoxious idiot trolls pretending they’re “just trying to start a conversation [that everyone else knows has already been going on for years, if not decades].”

  27. nomdeplume says

    Did he watch the Dr Who story about the Silurians and think it was a documentary?

    What an idiot.

  28. StevoR says

    @34. Steve Morrison : Thanks for those – well written and informative.

    @ 33. wcaryk : Well Loeb’s arguments and notions here anyhow!

    @23. beholder : “The clincher for me is that any advanced civilization would have landed on the Moon, where their 250-million-year-old landers would be sitting there in pristine condition, even now. Unfortunately for Loeb, we haven’t seen any of those.”

    Actually over millions of years micrometeorite impacts, solar radiation and sharp and destructive and sticky lunar dust would probly take a very severe toll on any such Permian landed artificial objects. Then there’;s always the increasing over time chance of them being hit by something substantial enough to leave a crater of moderate size.. or bigger.

  29. John Morales says

    StevoR,

    Actually over millions of years micrometeorite impacts, solar radiation and sharp and destructive and sticky lunar dust would probly take a very severe toll on any such Permian landed artificial objects.

    Artificial objects we primitive types might make, maybe.
    Ordinary baryonic matter, no wonder!

    Interstellar travellers setting up their Monoliths? No worries.

    (I mean, we haven’t even gotten to the (entirely hypothetical) first https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability !)

  30. birgerjohansson says

    Rob Grigjanis @ 31
    Randall Munroe at least tries to get it right. He succeeds more often than he fails.
    Like, at least he has never repeated the garbage about suicidal lemmings, sharks with a supernatural sensitive sense of smell etc.

  31. birgerjohansson says

    JimB @ 36

    Have you ever read his “A Feast Unknown” ? 😊

    There is a much milder follow-up double novel: ” The Lord Of The Trees / The Mad Goblin ”
    Farmer had a serious interest in prehistoric peoples, he even tracked down a putative reconstruction of the Ur-indo-european name for the chief god: Xauxas

    The Nine* (having transcended ageing) set themselves up as gods in neolithic Britain. Ever since, whenever one of The Nine dies, the funeral ceremony takes place at Stonehenge.

    *Baddies that control the world.

  32. Pierce R. Butler says

    birgerjohansson @ # 42: Farmer … tracked down a putative reconstruction of the Ur-indo-european name for the chief god: Xauxas

    He must have hid it again after finding it: a duckduckgo search finds only a city in Peru and related items (sports teams, etc). Should we start calling that language/culture/etc inca-european?

  33. JimB says

    birgerjohansson @42
    At this point, and last time I checked I’ve now read everything Farmer ever wrote. Definitely one of my favorite authors.

    The Nine. Ok, whose turn is it to give up a little flesh for everybody to eat. Geez, how the hell did he even think some of that stuff up.

    Still waiting for somebody to make a movie of A Feast Unknown/Blown. And I want to see the NC-17 version damnit!

  34. John Morales says

    [aside]

    JimB,

    Last time I checked I’ve now read everything Farmer ever wrote

    Ah yes, coprophagia as a last resort source of sustenance, sexual humiliation as a last resort for survival, perversity as a source of strength, that sort of thing.

    (I’ve read much of his work, myself)

    But I always liked his employment of ‘Amerind’, it’s a lovely and felicitous term in my estimation.

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