Aliens versus Myers

PZMyers gave a talk dismissing all sort of fantasies about aliens, and reports about it: My weird weekend in St Paul.

One thing that I liked a lot is his arguments about the "aliens built the pyramids" myth, which echoes something I’ve been saying all along:

"I had to mention one thing that had been bugging me all weekend, even if it wasn’t strictly about biology. Could aliens have offered cultural guidance, rather than tinkering with genes? And I told them flat out that the question was a bit insulting and also often a bit racist. So I showed them a photo of the pyramids (man, there had been a lot of talk about Egypt this weekend) and said that it was peculiar that alien astronaut proponents are always talking about aliens helping to build these monuments, but…and then I showed a photo of Notre Dame cathedral and asked, why don’t you think the French needed alien assistance to build that? It helped that John Ward had given a talk earlier in the conference where he described the quarries where the stones of the pyramid had come from and how they’d been built by human labor."

I usually cringe when people start talking about how pre-Columbian cultures in the Americas obviously had to have help from aliens to build their pyramids, buildings and monuments for this same reason. Such cultures were incredibly sophisticated, possessing knowledge that surpassed those of Europeans of the same era, as in astronomy, for instance. So, yeah, aside from being a fantasy with no verifiable foundation, it is incredibly ethnocentric, even borderline racist.

Aliens, shmaliens.

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