Rhawn Joseph

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Rhawn Joseph, is a well-known pseudo-scientist who has twice unsuccessfully sued NASA for failing to act on his claims regarding life on Mars. He has no apparent affiliation with a university, but is affiliated with Cosmology-dot-com, which is a truly nutty pseudo-science journal.
—Physicist Matthew Szydagis[1]
The separation thing is an illusion on the quantum physics level and I believe that plants and trees have consciousness. When I go out in the forest, I can almost, like, feel the consciousness. I think some people mistake that as being fairies or ghosts, but I think there's a collective consciousness among trees and experiments have shown that plants are aware of threat.
—Rhawn Joseph[2]

Rhawn Gabriel Joseph[3] is an American author, internet kook, ufologist and promoter of pseudoscience known for his controversial views on the origin of life on Earth and the origin of the Universe.[4][5] He has filed numerous lawsuits against NASA, Amazon.com, academic publisher Springer and the City of San Jose which have been dismissed.

Joseph is involved with the pseudojournal Journal of Cosmology and is the author of Astrobiology: The Origins of Life and the Death of Darwinism, published in 2001. In the book he writes that "Contrary to Darwinism … the evidence now clearly indicates, that the evolution of life had been genetically predetermined and precoded…" The book appears to be self-published under the deceptive "Publisher: University Pr" -- not Press, but Pr, and, oh, which university -- which does not appear to have published any other books.[6]

The Encyclopedia of American Loons describes Joseph as a pseudoscientist and "serious crackpot with a vanity journal".[5] He is an advocate of quantum woo and has argued that plants have consciousness.[2] Plants do not have a nervous system so it is impossible they possess consciousness.

On the origin of life, evolution and the Big Bang[edit]

Joseph is an advocate of directed panspermia and has developed his own hypothesis about the origins of life on Earth. He believes that life did not originate on Earth but was transplanted here by "cosmic seeds" encased in space debris 700 million years after the formation of the planet. He claims that these genetic seeds filled with DNA contained the genetic instructions for the metamorphosis of all life, including human beings. He also rejects the neo-Darwinian synthesis, instead advocating a form of non-Darwinian evolution which he describes as a "pre-determined evolutionary metamorphosis" that is pre-programmed in DNA of all terrestrial life.

Joseph has published a number of fringe papers on panspermia with Rudolph SchildWikipedia in the Journal of Cosmology.

Joseph argues that many of the mainstream scientific positions that he rejects, including abiogenesis and the Big Bang are actually religion masquerading as science. He argues that the Big Bang is rooted in the Genesis account of the Bible and unsupported by cosmological evidence. In his own words:[4]

I embrace the theory of evolution but reject Darwinism and the theory of the Big Bang. My views are the antithesis of that held by theologians, the Church, and the scientific establishment. The theory of the Big Bang is creationism; i.e., the universe is finite and was created. An eternal, infinite universe, does not require a creator, and this is my position. Most theologians and certainly the Church believe life on Earth originated on Earth, as detailed in the Bible, after a creator god blessed Earth with life giving powers. I believe the evidence demonstrates conclusively that life on Earth came from other planets.


Joseph believes that UFOs are intelligent life forms that are associated with electromagnetic activity and have behaviour patterns and characteristics which could be construed as plasmas.[7] In 2012, he authored Biological UFOs: Evidence for Extraterrestrial Extremophiles and Life in Space which argued:

If the entities described in this report are plasmas, they could also be considered an alternate form of life, or a form of pre-life which provided the cellular framework for life to begin. The morphology and behavior patterns of many of these objects are suggestive of living organisms. Extremophiles have been discovered in almost every conceivable environment on Earth including in highly radioactive environments, and it has been demonstrated that spores and microbes can survive within the thermosphere. Therefore, it is possible that some of these structures could be “extraterrestrial extremophiles” or plasma-like alternate life forms which have adapted to living in the thermosphere.[7]

Such ideas are not original in the UFO community. For example, Trevor James ConstableWikipedia promoted similar ideas in the 1970s. Joseph also believes in the existence of giant algae/amoeboid entities which feed on energy sources, a view also held by Constable. On his website, Joseph has written:

Although some of these alien extraterrestrials may be (1) star ships and swarms of alien "nano-bots" which keep the inhabitants of Earth under surveillance, the evidence reviewed here supports the likelihood that these are (2) Swarming "clouds" of extraterrestrial bacteria and/or (3) giant algae/amoeboid entities which dwell in space and feed on radiation and other intense energy sources, or (4) they may represent a fourth-domain of life, which is not carbon-based, and is devoid of DNA, but which dwells in space and feeds on and is attracted to electromagnetic activity and intense sources of energy.[8]

Extraterrestrial Life in the Thermosphere[edit]

In 2024, Joseph co-authored a paper, "Extraterrestrial Life in the Thermosphere" which argued that plasmas engage in life-like behaviours such as "hunter-predatory" behaviour, and these plasmas may account for many Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) sightings including the "foo fighters" of World War II.[9] The paper has been laughed at by many in the academic world for its unrealistic claims. It was published by Scientific Research PublishingWikipedia, a noted predatory publisher.

Matthew Szydagis an associate professor of physics at the University of Albany has dismissed the paper as pseudoscience.[1]

Question: Prof. Szydagis, do you believe that the paper "Extraterrestrial Life in the Thermosphere" should be taken seriously?

Prof. Matthew Szydagis: No, for multiple reasons. (1) I cannot find a single equation in the entire paper. Not one formula. I tell my students this is one sure-fire way to determine if a physics paper is "real" or not. (2) The lead author, Rhawn Joseph, is a well-known pseudo-scientist who has twice unsuccessfully sued NASA for failing to act on his claims regarding life on Mars. He has no apparent affiliation with a university, but is affiliated with Cosmology-dot-com, which is a truly nutty pseudo-science journal. (3) The new plasma paper appears in the Journal of Modern Physics. This journal has an "impact factor" of less than 1, which means that on average, papers published there are cited elsewhere less than once. Since references are integer numbers, that means this journal publishes lots of papers that nobody cites anywhere. That's considered a joke in physics. (4) A plasma is just a ball of hot gas. It is not well enough organized to engage in complex behavior. Where is the brain, where are the neurons? (5) In my opinion, playing up a paper that is this weak damages credibility of UAP studies.[1]


As a pro se litigant Joseph has filed many lawsuits that have been dismissed.


In 2012, Joseph filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com alleging that Amazon regularly "publishes and copyrights defamatory and libelous statements about competitors including Plaintiff" and Amazon have attempted to defraud him by failing to pay him appropriate advertising referral fees.[10] The case was dismissed in 2014.[11]


In 2014, Joseph filed a lawsuit against NASA as he claimed they failed to investigate whether a rock seen on Mars is in fact an alien lifeform.[12][13][14]

In September 2016, Joseph filed another lawsuit against NASA which was dismissed with prejudice.[15]


In 2020, Joseph filed a lawsuit against the academic publisher Springer NatureWikipedia who he contends conspired to cover up his discoveries and defraud him as they retracted some of his papers about extraterrestrial life.[16][17][18] His original complaint was criticized:

The Complaint is at times difficult to follow. It is littered with speculation, confusing ramblings, conclusory legal assertions, and personal attacks against Defendants.[18]

The case was dismissed with prejudice in April 2021.[18][19][20] After losing the lawsuit, Joseph bizarrely claimed that the judge who dismissed his case is a "fraud" who was bribed:

You have (at least) two crooked judges, Cronan who took bribes and Vyskocil who is covering it up. Both judges have conspired with the Defendants to commit fraud against the court, to pervert and obstruct justice, and they have ruled that a "click through agreement" is valid, despite the fact that even the Defendants admit it is fake and it is and was impossible for anyone to "click" "check" "agree" or sign--but that truth doesn't matter to these two black robed criminals--because as Vyskovicil has admitted: The case is fixed. Cronan belongs in a jail cell. Vyskocil is not fit to serve on the bench. And no, I don't expect you to investigate these two gangsters in black robes. I expect you and the Southern District to cover it up and blame the victim. Because, I suspect, there are a lot of judges who are taking bribes--just like Cronan; which is why Vyskocil is covering it up. If these two are representative of the Southern District, then, it's a cesspool of corruption. /s/Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.[21]

City of San Jose[edit]

In 2018, Joseph was involved in a feud with his next-door neighbour over light intrusion onto his property. Joseph has alleged that his neighbour hated him for his "race, religion, and sexual orientation".[22] He also alleged that San Jose Code Inspector Jason Gibilisco "likely solicited and accepted money from and entered into a conspiracy with [Plaintiff’s neighbor] to [] commit hate crimes against Plaintiff, based on [Plaintiff’s neighbor’s] perceptions of Plaintiff’s race, religion, sexual orientation".[22]

Joseph filed a lawsuit against the City of San Jose as he alleged they told him to strip eight of his cypress trees from their base up to five feet as they were in violation of certain municipal code provisions.[23] He alleged that this would affect their aesthetic value and endanger their health, and that the City did not provide him with a code violation. He argued that the First Amendment should offer free speech protection for his cypress trees as they are symbols of his religious beliefs.[2]

Plaintiff's first claim relies on the First Amendment and suggests that his "trees are expressions, symbols of his religious beliefs and are a protected form of speech" and that "Defendants' demand that Plaintiff destroy these trees is not only unlawful and without any legal authority … but a violation of the First Amendment: Freedom of religion and freedom of speech.[2]

Joseph alleged that the 12 cypress trees that he planted have a mystical and religious significance:

Plaintiff did suggest that he planted 12 cypress trees because he thinks the number 12 has both religious and cosmic significance—citing the fact that there were 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples of Christ, 12 hours in (part) of the day, 12 signs of the zodiac, and 12 gods of Olympus—he claims that "12 has been seen as a mystical, magical and religious symbol, and again, it has cosmological significance." He added that "as a reflection of my own beliefs, I planted 12 and I made sure it was 12, and then I put [the] Celtic Cross as well as other religious symbols such as a Buddha because I share Buddhist beliefs and those are right there in the front yard between those trees." In short, Plaintiff is quite adamant that his feeling towards his trees is not part of any set of religious beliefs—and certainly not part of any organized or recognized religion; instead, to put it in his own words, he describes trees as such: "they're still religious symbols—well, not religious, spiritual. Let's not use the word 'religious,' other people would because it is a religious symbol, for me it's a spiritual … to me it's a spiritual symbol that happens to have religious significance."[2]

It turned out however that Joseph has no religious affiliation, but he holds "spiritual beliefs" including the idea that plants have consciousness.

[A]ctually they're more like spiritual beliefs and those beliefs are embedded in quantum physics in the sense that everything is related and everything is connected. The separation thing is an illusion on the quantum physics level and I believe that plants and trees have consciousness. When I go out in the forest, I can almost, like, feel the consciousness. I think some people mistake that as being fairies or ghosts, but I think there's a collective consciousness among trees and experiments have shown that plants are aware of threat.[2]

The lawsuit was dismissed in 2023.

Here, there is no genuine issue of material fact because: (1) the San Jose Municipal Code provisions requiring trees to be kept pruned and below a certain height are valid and neutral regulations of general application that do not constitute a constitutionally cognizable or otherwise substantial burden on the exercise of Plaintiff's beliefs as he has described them in his deposition; (2) Plaintiff specifically disavows religion, and claims that his connection to his trees is rooted in a vague and indeterminate concept of spirituality, quantum physics, and cosmic mechanics; (3) Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that any of the actions complained of in his SAC ever actually impinged on any of his beliefs; and, (4) Plaintiff conceded that he was neither even made to cut his trees, or that he was ever assessed any fine or penalty related to his trees.[2]

Similar to other lawsuits that Joseph filed that have been dismissed, his summary judgment motions were described as "filled with hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, conclusory statements masquerading as statements of fact along with a generous smattering of irrelevant content".[24]

In October 2023, Joseph appealed the dismissal.[23]


Joseph has been criticized by the scientific community for embracing unorthodox mechanisms of evolution. In one instance, the biologist P.Z. Myers ridiculed a claim by Joseph that a rock found on Mars is a living organism similar to a type of fungus existing on Earth.[25] He has also made controversial comments about sex, including "Biologically, females serve one purpose: to get pregnant".[26]

Selected publications[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Plasma Follies?.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 No First Amendment Protection for 12 Cypress Trees
  3. Rhawn Gabriel Joseph
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rhawn Joseph's Scientific Publications & Biography, BrainMind.com
  5. 5.0 5.1 #1809: Rhawn Joseph
  6. Amazon. "Astrobiology, the Origin of Life, and the Death of Darwinism". 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Biological UFOs: Evidence for Extraterrestrial Extremophiles and Life in Space
  8. Astronauts and Extraterrestrials
  9. Extraterrestrial Life in the Thermosphere: Plasmas, UAP, Pre-Life, Fourth State of Matter
  10. Joseph v. Amazon.Com, Inc.
  11. Joseph v. Amazon.com, Inc. et al, No. 2:2013cv01656 - Document 86 (W.D. Wash. 2014)
  12. Joseph v. Nat'l Aeronautics & Space Admin. (NASA)
  13. Lawsuit Alleges NASA Is Failing To Investigate Alien Life
  14. Hilarious 'Mars Fungus' Lawsuit Filed Against NASA
  15. Joseph v. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) et al
  16. Joseph v. Nasa, Springer Nature Am.
  17. Case 1:20-cv-04672-JPC-GWG
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Court tosses $50 billion suit by ‘prince of panspermia’ against Springer Nature
  19. Case 1:20-cv-04672-JPC-GWG
  20. Joseph v. Nature
  21. Case 1:22-cv-00466-MKV Document 23 Filed 08/01/22
  22. 22.0 22.1 https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.339367/gov.uscourts.cand.339367.166.0.pdf
  23. 23.0 23.1 https://storage.courtlistener.com/pdf/2023/10/12/rhawn_joseph_v._city_of_san_jose.pdf
  24. Case No. 19-cv-01294-RMI
  25. Funny Looking Rock found on Mars!
  26. Sex On Mars: Pregnancy, Fetal Development, and Sex In Outer Space
  27. Retraction Note to: Life on Venus and the interplanetary transfer of biota from Earth