Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, September 9, 2011

We have met the aliens, and they are us

In all of the time I've thought about, read about, talked about, and written about the possibility of aliens having come to Earth, I have always looked at it from the prosaic standpoint of a technologically superior race visiting us, usually in some sort of spacecraft.  Controversy about this possibility usually revolves around the feasibility of anyone (however advanced) crossing the distances required, and that sticky little point called "hard evidence."

Little did I know that I might be asking the wrong question.  Maybe the aliens are already here.  Maybe they're...

... us.

This is the contention of those who believe in the bizarre idea of exogenesis.  Humans, they say -- and some of them believe that all living things -- are actually descended from alien life that colonized the Earth ages ago.  Exogenesis is kind of an elaboration of astronomer Fred Hoyle's idea of panspermia - that the earliest life, single-celled bacteria-like organisms, were brought to Earth in cosmic dust.  Exogenesis takes it one step further.  The colonization was done deliberately, by a superintelligent alien race, and we are the descendants of those alien-created life-forms.

*cue music from Star Trek: The Next Generation*

Yes, those of you who, like myself, are TNG geeks will recall that one of the best episodes ever ("The Chase") revolved around the idea of a highly advanced race seeding a multitude of planets with gene sequences that would then somehow guide the course of evolution to create species that resembled the original parent race.  It was a neat, if questionably scientific, way to explain why humans, Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans, and the rest all were basically bipedal, bilaterally symmetric primates, without having to admit that it was because having all the aliens shaped like humans made makeup and costumes way cheaper.

The problem, of course, is that Star Trek is fiction, while the people who believe in exogenesis are dead serious.  Check out this website.  Once you get past the fact that the layout looks like someone ate a Marvel comic book and then threw up on the screen, you will find that the author, one Andre Heath, claims that "scientific studies have proven that 97% of the human genome is extraterrestrial in origin."

Heath quotes a "prominent geneticist," Sam Chang, as saying that "... junk human DNA was created by an extraterrestrial 'programmer.'"

Chang goes on to say a great many other things, which I will leave you to read on your own, because when I got to the part about our DNA containing a "big code" and a "basic code" and that the "big code" was done in a "rush to create human life on Earth," and that this rush meant the job got done in a half-assed way and that's why we get cancer, my brain cells were crying for mercy.

As you would expect, while I was reading this stuff, I kept gesturing toward the photographs of Sam Chang and Andre Heath and screaming, "Where is your evidence?"  This accomplished nothing except for waking up my border collie and inducing her to slink around, looking extremely guilty.  Because of course, they don't have any evidence - we're simply supposed to believe them because Chang is "a prominent geneticist."

Well, I'm not buying it.  Our DNA is made of the same stuff, read the same way, as the DNA of every other life form on Earth, and the changes we see in it - including the so-called "junk DNA" - show a smooth continuum of evolutionary change, just as you would expect if we, and all the other species around us, evolved from common ancestry.  There is no evidence that we were any kind of "special creation," rush job or not. 

So, as appealing as it would be to have a universe in which something like "The Chase" could happen, I'm afraid that it'll have to remain in the realm of fiction.  And I'm calling bullshit on Chang and Heath.

And Andre, as one blogger to another, you really need to do something about your blog layout.  That would include getting rid of that drawing of what appears to be a radioactive President Obama.  Thanks.


  1. Skeptic? I dunno.

    Skepticism is a broad brush. It paints bigfoot and scientific theory without regard to pedigree (or pedigogery – are we allowed to make up our own words here?).

    In your blog I sense the standard conflict between scientists and wingnuts. To me, they’re all wingnuts (me too). The only difference between fact and opinion is consensus. Although science has always provided a rational basis for consensus, we’ve only been a satellite of the sun for about 500 years of our history. Why expect Copurnicus’ ideas to last forever? Oh yeah, science.

    And even though I would line up with you behind the skeptics, I could be wrong (about everything). Maybe if scientists and wingnuts were less devoted to what goes on in their heads, we could begin to ask the right questions. Answers? I dunno.

    Joe Solla – yeah – Alex’s dad.

  2. I have thought this for many years and I would take it a step further. White people came from the breeding of aliens and chimpanzees, black from gorilla's and asiansfrom marmazette's or something along those lines anyway.and as for are we aliens? Of course we are,we live on a planet in the universe and another race on another planet would think we are as strange as we think let's say greys are. I hope you can get the gist of what my beliefs are. Plz excuse my grammar.
    Steve stan thomas