Bronze-level articleAliensdidit

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The woo is out there


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Aliens did it and ran away
For all I know we may be visited by a different extraterrestrial civilization every second Tuesday, but there's no support for this appealing idea. The extraordinary claims are not supported by extraordinary evidence.
Carl Sagan, Encyclopedia Galactica

Aliensdidit postulates that extraterrestrials are responsible for interfering with human history, from giving us technology to actually starting life itself. As a hypothesis for abiogenesis, this is known as panspermia, and when the aliens did a little bit more and effected evolution, it's known as directed panspermia.

Like most odd-ball conjectures about how the universe works and came to be, there is no actual evidence that aliens did anything to the planet, ever. The only "evidence" is that there are currently things that naturalistic science hasn't fully explained yet, or things that it has explained but the proponents didn't understand. Consequently that leaves us with "aliens of the gaps" instead of God of the gaps.


[edit] Intelligent design

With respect to the origin or diversity of life on Earth, aliensdidit is a subset of intelligent design (ID). However, it should be considered something of an illegitimate stepchild of ID, since ID was never meant to be anything other than a simple redress of Goddidit. By leaving the "designer" vague and obfuscated, yet still supernatural, it allowed for fundamentalist interpretations to be made by implication while masquerading as science. Aliensdidit therefore provides a handy secular excuse version of ID to try and show that it isn't just creationism in a cheap lab coat. By pinning the designer down to be aliens, ID becomes naturalistic; advanced alien race created or seeded life on Earth, which is vaguely plausible as the laws of the universe don't exclude alien life existing and interfering with us. The claim must ultimately revert back to evolution and natural selection - i.e., in order to explain how the aliens themselves developed. Still, the evidence points to an undirected evolution, via natural selection - there is no evidence that actively suggests alien involvement in the development of life. It's plausible (or at least not implausible), but just highly unlikely and with little, if any, evidence to back it up (obviously).

Put simply, aliensdidit is the naturalistic version of Goddidit for people who still can't deal with things they find difficult to understand, but still want to act smug because at least they don't believe in God.

Famous proponents of aliensdidit include Francis Crick, who co-discovered the structure of DNA. Crick never strongly held this view, only advancing it as a possibility. Richard Dawkins, despite what was claimed in the ID film Expelled by the smug narrator Ben Stein, does not believe in aliensdidit; he specifically stated that it was the most plausible mechanism by which Intelligent Design can be true. Not "I believe in space aliens" as Stein suggested after that segment of the film.

[edit] Ancient astronauts

"Umm, Captain Prometheus, are you sure this is part of the mission objectives?"
See the main article on this topic: Ancient astronauts

While there is a crowd that suggests that life here began "out there", one of the key aliensdidit type beliefs is that human civilisation began due to alien intervention. Erich von Däniken‎ even credits aliens with altering early man's DNA to create the first "intelligence" by taking sperm from a man, genetically engineering it and placing it in a woman, an event he says formed the basis of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.[1] This argument, however, relies heavily on the credulousness of the listener. The proponent begins by claiming that early man lived in caves, hitting things with rocks, and "suddenly" started building large stone structures with advanced technology using information they could not possibly have worked out for themselves, such as the positions of stars and the location of the North pole. By reinforcing the false perception that ancient people were not capable of deep intellectual thought, proponents of alien interventions claim that things like Stonehenge, the Pyramids and the Mayan calendar are mysteries that science can't explain. So after creating their own mystery, they provide their own answer: aliensdidit.

The much simpler explanation, and the one generally accepted by mainstream science due to the evidence available, is that humans were still evolving and becoming more intelligent up until the end of the last ice age. At the beginning of the Holocene era, the most recent geological epoch, humans began to form permanent settlements, developing language which enabled the sharing of information. As these settlements grew larger, more information was shared and a greater number of people were available for large undertakings. The "ancients" merely did in stone what we do today in steel and concrete: build large structures for the powerful in our groups, so they can advertise and maintain their status.

[edit] Modern technology

The final category of aliensdidit has nothing to do with jump-starting life or human evolution, but deals with today's technologies. This view argues that revolutionary technologies like transistors, fiber optics, digital computers, cell phones, and military technology like night vision and stealth aircraft weren't developed after years of research here on Earth, but rather it was reverse engineered after the Roswell crash.[2] Because of the interaction required between aliens and established governments, this belief crosses into the territory of conspiracy theory. These conspiracy theorists claim that in exchange for advanced technology the aliens are allowed to abduct us (and stick probes up our butts).[3]

Much of this nonsense can easily be attributed to this line of thinking: I don't know how it works, when explained I don't understand how it works, the government may have classified it, therefore it can not be from this world.

[edit] Relation to Clarke's laws

Clarke's third law dictates "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." While this is not a formal law of the universe by any stretch of the imagination, Arthur C. Clarke was quite perceptive about this one. The idea that advanced technology appears "magical" may go most of the way to explain aliensdidit beliefs; people lacking the ability to understand advanced technology or how biology can lead to complex evolution just view the whole thing as magical, and therefore attribute it to an equally magical, otherworldly origin.

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