Thursday, January 19, 2012

Superstitious People =/= Stupid People

I made the mistake of not being near my remote control when one of The History Channel's infamous stupidities started to run.  I wound up watching Ancient Aliens, a show about early people who "may have had contact with extraterrestrials."

If you are not familiar with the depths to which The "History" Channel has sunk, here is a quote from the "Ancient Aliens" episode about underground cities that I saw:  "If there were extraterrestrials that visited Earth in the distant past, could they have looked like Ant People or Lizard People?  The Answer is Yes."  

Because of course the Hopi of Northern Arizona couldn't possibly have invented the image of lizard (or snake) people or ant people using just their imaginations!  They must have seen some in order to create art like this!

Or...  a human could have had sex with a lizard and created monstrous looking babies that got strung up like skinned goats.  Sure, why not?  And could a bunch of scifi geeks pull E.T. stories out of their asses rather than settle for natural explanations?  Yep, methinks yep yep yep.

What sucked me into this show was a fascinating archaeological find I hadn't heard of before:  Derinkuyu.  It's an eleven-level underground city, fed by a natural water source and ventilated by an ingenious system.  Or genius.  The obvious answer to the question of why people would make such a place is to hide from invaders.  A bunker.  We still have them. 

But oh nooo... bunkers are too vulnerable.  So they propose that people from ca. 1000 BCE were hiding from the next ice age, having survived the last one of thousands of years ago or somehow knowing about it despite being very stupid.  So... people can pass along memories over millenia, but they can't develop an engineering system.  Or maybe they were hiding from sky aliens!  Yeah, that's it!

Inevitably, they bring up Von Daniken, who popularized this ancient visitation theory and inspired a slew of crackpots who believe that they are brilliant but ancient people were stupid. 

There are other "underground" people too, in Ecuador and the Yucatan.  Besides claiming that these cultures have come up with ideas tha they couldn't have come up with on their own, they denigrate them by referring to legends as if they must certainly have been inspired by aliens.

The Mayans scared their people with images of animals and objects drawn from life: jaguars, bats, knifes, and possibly a river of blood.   Was the cave that held these things created before or after the book that describes them?  Does it really matter?  The Book of the Jaguar Priests references a bunch of gods coming down from the sky (on a road, not from a space ship), ergo we should think there were E.T.s influencing these people.  If there were E.T.s then why do the Mayans depict only animals they would have seen in their environment?

Why can't the Mayans have been inventive enough to come up with the idea of people in the sky without actually seeing some?  The sky was pretty easy to observe but not very easy to understand.  Almost every culture came up a population of sky people in their pantheons.  The people of ancient cultures had the intelligence to transmit their knowledge via language, to organize into societies, to build large cities, cultivate land, and domesticate animals.  They didn't have the knowledge or technology to explain the Cosmos correctly, but they did have the imagination to come up with satisfying stories.  They didn't need any outside help.  They were every bit as smart as we are.

The "Hollow Earth Theory" is introduced toward the end of the show, because of course you have to have seen the rest of the nonsense in order to be lulled into a properly gullible state of non-mind.  Who is their authority for this?  Edmond Halley.  Yes, of course because we know his comet we should therefore believe all of his other (unsupported) ideas.  Somehow there are huge openings into the middle of the Earth at each pole without all the water and ice falling into it.  Verne's fanciful story, Journey to the Center of the Earth, comes up too of course.

How's this one?  Admiral Byrd's plane flew over the North Pole was taken into the hole by a tractor beam and he got lectured to by aliens who are our protectors.  Washington, D.C is hiding his secret by claiming he was really at the South Pole, not the North Pole.  uhhh sure.

What really maes my blood boil is the assumption that modern people  are capable of coming up with fleshed-out fairy tales but not people of thousands of years ago.  Why believe it's impossible for ancient people in South America to make precisely built pyramids, but not for people in Egypt?  Why take the position that people who could figure out how to make buildings above ground couldn't figure out how to make them underground?  Anyone who has seen an animal burrow into the ground for protection could have come up with the idea of a bunker.

I want this hour of my life back, but at least I learned about Derinkuyu which is a pretty cool place.  I wish the "History" channel would interview archaeologists and anthropologists and real historians instead of "UFOlogists" and other crackpots.  You know, people who say "We don't know" and stop there. 

As a history buff, I am frequently amazed and awed by stories of the accomplishments of people who have been dead for thousands of years.   My reaction to their accomplishments is roughly parallel to the awe I feel when I learn something about the natural world.  I don't need to add something supernatural or extra terrestrial to the story.  I don't need to diminish the truth by putting some bigger mind to work on the problem.   Early people were pretty darn amazing.  They left behind some fabulous artifacts and intriguing mysteries.  They also created us, so they couldn't have been that stupid.

Anyone who believes superstitions today is stupid, or at least lazy, but we can't assume that because people thousands of years ago believed in sky people that they didn't have the intelligence to carry out impressive building projects.


Anonymous said...

Superstitious People =/= Stupid People

Except Christians, right? Cause, you know, Rachel Maddow said so.

L.Long said...

Superstitions are not the same as religion. Religion is superstition on steroids.
One of the DrWho duds was involved with a TV experiment where 7 people were put into a locked room and hidden cameras watched as they tried to get clues to get out. You could see how 'superstitions' came about as many thought doing this or that would give them a clue which never really worked and surprisingly not one of them just tried to open the locked door which is all they had to do.
Superstitions do not get made by stupid people but by smart people that do not think well under various stresses.
But the formation of a superstition is not that bad the problem is that even after figuring out that it is invalid and silly they still 'knock on wood'.

LadyAtheist said...

L.Long, and by people who don't have the background or technical development to find a natural explanation. Today, we have no excuse for believing in things like prayer or a supernatural mind-reader.

Anonymous said...

If believing in things that were "wrong" makes one stupid, then every scientist who ever lived is stupid. Stupid =!= willfully ignorant.

LadyAtheist said...

uhhhh what?

Chatpilot said...

@Anonymous who stated that all scientists are stupid. You make as much sense as a an idiot trying to ride a sleigh uphill because he is ignorant of the laws of gravity.

L.Long said...

Being wrong does not make one stupid.
Superstitions are not really superstitions until the 'activity or belief' is found to be wrong then when one WILLFULLY ignores the evidence and continues following the activity then you have a superstition and a delusional person.
Lets see 'WILLFULLY ignores the evidence--continues superstition activity by a delusional person' why that sound just like any religion not science.

Infinitend said...

Unlike science, religion will not correct itself in the face of reason. Religion has no basis in reality and it's followers display characteristics strikingly similar to those who are schizophrenic.

Linda said...

Ha ha, so awesome that you wrote about this because I was just saying the same thing. I had a friend the other day telling me over coffee about this Ancient Aliens show and how there's soooo much evidence. I was like, "really? You're actually buying into this?" This friend is an atheist and I was telling him that he's making the same mistakes. Just because you don't understand how they made something doesn't mean aliens must have intervened! I guess you can be an atheist without necessarily being a rational thinker or a skeptic. So I decided to watch the show to see all of this so-called evidence for myself (it's on Netflix btw) and I was struck by the same thing you were. I told my husband, "Geez, didn't ancient people have fiction? Didn't they have imagination? Didn't they have artists?" The show assumes that they must have actually seen the things that inspired the art that they made. It was really annoying. And by the way I didn't see all of this "evidence". I'm so glad I'm a skeptic and not easily sucked into this stuff like my friend was.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the history channel uses these propaganda to maintain their ratings, fine, but to say that there is nothing to suggest that we've been visited by extra-terrestrial biological entities in the past is just plain ignorant. I also agree that angels and aliens being the same isn't exactly the most factual data either. So how's this, PHOENIX LIGHTS, look that up and get back to me on that. Tell me that there isn't something otherworldly happening under our noses. Also, looking at biblical paintings and texts, there are FACTUAL references to beings (angels or aliens, whatever) coming from the heavens. Where are the heavens people?... OUTER SPACE!!! So of coarse ancient people with no knowledge of this would have to create magnificent stories to explain these happenings and keep their sanity!! Here's another one, Geniuses. When was the STONE AGE? precisely 12-14,000 years ago, right? Then tell me how there exists, a site, of massive stone pillars cut with tools and engraved with depictions of strange animals and the like, in TURKEY, that is dated to be 12,000 years old?... It's called GOEBLEKI TEPE. For all of you who don't know, the STONE AGE is a period early in human history, where it was though that mankind did not have sufficient knowledge of tools or even the wheel, let alone the complexities it requires to build (16), 10-30 METER-wide circles of stone and erect beautiful stone pillars 12,000 years ago?... ANYONE?? didn't think so..
I believe that there is a lost episode in human existance in which we were an extremely advanced civilization, which existed between the last two ice ages, you know, the ice-age where man appeared to start AFTER THE GLACIERS MELTED 12,000 years ago.
This period would place humans living between 40-60,000 years ago. After they died out or committed civilizational suicide, they left some remnant of human left to inherit the planet. so here we are. THINK ABOUT THAT..

Anonymous said...

Hello. I hope you enjoyed my previous post about GOEBLEKI TEPE. cool huh? Here's something else to look at, as far as building monuments to the gods by ancient humans. It would appear (as it does in their legends) that gods came from the heavens in many ancient stories. Coincidence huh? How about this story I'm about to tell, let's go to WWII in the '40s.
While scouting islands in the PACIFIC for base operations, the military happened upon an isolated island in the south pacific that was inhabited by aborigines (a-bor-ig-in-ees) (how of which any societies ever got to any of these islands without boats is beyond me) ANYWAY,
When they came upon these inhabitants, the inhabitants assumed that the military presence was actually gods coming down from the heavens!! Not having ever seen aircraft before mind you. Why would they think this if they had no knowledge of anything like this ever happening before to them? Why would they assume the military personnel were actually gods? Beats me. But what astonishes me to this very day, when I heard this story, is that upon their departure of the island came an eerie sight. When they came back to establish a base there, the same military personnel saw and unimaginable sight. These island inhabitants had built large-scale monuments in the shape of the various aircraft that had came to the island initially. Assumably to honor their so-called 'gods' upon their return. Doesn't this mean that ancient peoples were more receptive to writing tales about their experiences rather than just making stuff up? As a society, we have been compromised with hollywood and various other distractions, that has dilutted our imaginations with fiction. This leads me to my theory. When ancient peoples were visited by their so-called 'gods', they built monuments in their honor while they were there. When the gods departed, they erected even more massive monuments to hail their return, or just say they're sorry for whatever they did to make the gods leave in the first place. An incentive for the gods to come back so to speak.
The theory is this. People don't just make huge structures for no reason, maybe these structures were to the order of very egotistical rulers of the various ancient cultures that wanted monuments to be erected for themselves, and that gods had never came at all, and their stories are that of fiction.
But I say this. It's far easier to create a story from something that actually happened, rather than make up stories like this from scratch. Let alone many cultures, separated by thousands of miles, to create eerily similar accounts of gods coming down from the heavens. I don't necessarily believe in the ancient astronaut theory, but it would amaze me if anything it represents is true. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in addition to my GOEBLEKI TEPE post earlier..
Did I mention that these 'circles' of stone and stone pillars were found in remarkable condition given their respective ages of 12,000+ years old, and that they appeared to have been 'buried' intentionally?
Why would the creators of such stone complexes want to bury their works of art under dozens of feet of earth?
The answer is that the creators of GOEBLEKI TEPE intended to preserve it.
Why? I'm not entirely sure. -END-
But some could speculate, that they have been preserved for a return of some kind.. A return.. of their ancient gods..
Why I placed -END- there is to mock an earlier statement that any real expert in paleoarcheology would just say 'I don't know..' and be done. BORING!!
We are a curious species, it is in our nature, all we can do is speculate on ancient stories and artifacts, because we literally have no experience in the purposes, conditions and stipulations, of which these relics have been constructed.
As far as the history channel being misleading, MIND YOU, THIS IS ALL JUST SPECULATIVE COMMENTARY. Of course some of them take it way too far, but none the less, we cannot just sit here (like we're on a high-horse) and point out what is true and what is not. IT IS ALL RELATIVE TO THE NATURAL CURIOUSITY OF THE HUMAN SPECIES. thank you.

Anonymous said...

The closed mind see's a narrow truth and finds the least resistance.

The open mind see's truth lurking everywhere and can't resist it.

The educated mind see's truth is patient and enlists it.

Ignorance is to not know something, stupidity is to know better.

You all should know better than to think you really know the truth. The truth has notoriously revealed it's self slowly, and only to those who seek it. The truth has so often turned out to be the connection between fantastic variables. The truth is never what one expects. The truth offers its self to those who go and find it.

You all have such harmony in your lack of beliefs, absence of faith and need to be just like eachother. It could appear you are all in the same cult. So many religious people would be so envious of such a congruous group of people. The rest of us could call you the "anti-religious religion".

Stick together in your confined huddle of fear and let the excitement of the real world speed past you. None of the rest of the world wants you out here anyway.
In your case, igonorance is bliss and what jacks your jaw is stupidity.

Glowing Red Brain said...

I agree to a certain level with you . But believing that in this VAST, INFINITE and totally unknown (to us) universe we are the only sentient race is even more stupid than bible thumping idiots.