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.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Opening your mind to mummified baby aliens

Well, the targeted ad software has done it again.

It's my own fault, really.  I shoulda known that having two posts in a row about aliens was a bad idea.  On the other hand, it'd be nice if the software that chooses ads for my blog would give the same weight to words like "bullshit," "nonsense," "foolishness," and "wingnut" as it does to "aliens," "UFOs," "psychics," and "ghosts."

In any case, almost as soon as I hit "Publish" on the second post, I began to get reports from friends who are regular readers, informing me of a couple of ads that keep popping up that are... interesting.

The first one is entitled "16 Powerful Extraterrestrials Message to Humanity," which tells us that having a conversation with an alien is easy:
What if it was possible to have a conversation with a highly advanced, benevolent extraterrestrial being? What kind of wisdom would this entity have for humanity?

Extraterrestrials do not need to land on your front lawn to share their wisdom. There are other, more subtle, yet far more effective ways to convey their very important messages.

Its been happening for quite some time. We invite you to open your mind
My general feeling is that these folks' minds are so open that their brains fell out, but maybe I'm just not highly advanced enough to understand all this.

So, what if I was to open up my consciousness to aliens?  What would I learn?  Here's a sampler:
Many of these should resonate with you, here are a few:

Consciousness creates matter.
• Each individual creates his or her own reality through thoughts, beliefs and expectations.
There is no death. Consciousness exists forever.
• We all are one, from the same divine source.
• We are spiritual beings but have chosen to exist as physical humans.
• In this life there are no victims, only opportunities to evolve.
• We can control reality through the powers of the Universal Mind.
• Our spiritual purpose is to choose from selfishness or altruism.
• Souls reincarnate to eventually experience God-realization.
• Feelings & Intuition are more important as a source of guidance than intellect.
• We are here to remember what we already know.
• Physical reality is an illusion.
Light cannot exist without the dark. One cannot understand one thing unless he or she understands its opposite.
• God is self-experiential, in that it is the nature of the Universe to experience itself.
• God is not fear-inducing or vengeful, only our parental projections onto God are.
• The very best way to maximize your evolution while on this planet is through regular meditation.

The extraterrestrials messages are amazing! It feels like I already naturally knew some of these.
Consciousness creates matter, and physical reality is an illusion, eh?  Let me just throw a rock at your head and see if you still believe that afterwards.

And the whole thing about "evolution" just torques the hell out of me.  Can we get one thing straight, here?  Thinking you are in contact with an alien isn't evolution, it's a symptom of a mild mental illness.

But if my obviously poorly-evolved reality doesn't convince you, you can buy what they're selling (of course they're selling something) -- "Equi-Sync Brain Wave Meditation Software."  Starting at only $58.  Heckuva deal.

The second ad was a promo for an upcoming film release for something called Sirius.  I didn't know about it, so I did some research, and found this.  It turns out that the premise of the film -- which alleges to be a documentary, i.e., true -- goes something like this:

UFOs have been in contact with humans throughout history.  The military knows all about this, and is trying to stop us from finding out about it because the aliens have promised us an unlimited source of free energy, and that would be bad for the military.  For some reason.  There's a baby alien that has been discovered, that looks like this:

Its DNA has been analyzed, and it has been shown to be extraterrestrial in origin.

Now, you'd think that'd be enough.  But no, there's more:

The director of the film, Amardeep Kaleka, made it public that he was raising funds for his show along with Steven Greer, of the UFO Disclosure Project -- and shortly after, Kaleka's father was killed in the Sikh Temple shooting near Milwaukee.  Was the government trying to shut Kaleka up by killing one of his family members?

*cue scary music*

In a word: no.  The killer, Michael Page, was a white supremacist.  End of story.  As far as the other claims: according to some skeptics who've looked at the photographs, the "baby alien" is almost certainly a mummified baby spider monkey; given that we have no alien DNA to compare it to, the assertion that a certain sample of DNA is "extraterrestrial in origin" is ridiculous; and there's no such thing as "free energy," as the Second Law of Thermodynamics is strictly enforced in most jurisdictions.

But of course, I predict that this won't affect the movie's success one little bit.  I predict that people will love Sirius, with the result that more "baby alien" websites will pop up everywhere, and I'll be hearing about it for the next ten years.

Anyhow, that's all I've got for today.  I encourage you to keep your eyes on the ads on my blog -- in my estimation, they've missed the target far more often than they've hit it.  Maybe one day they'll improve the software, and I'll start getting ads for books by Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson videos.  Now that I could "open my mind" to.


  1. In the interests of protecting academic discourse, I should point out that my PhD is a systematic defence of the position (known academically as phenomenalistic idealism) that consciousness creates matter and the physical world is an illusion.

    Specifically to your 'throw a rock at my head' example - the original expression of which is Samuel Johnson's response to George Berkeley's 'The Principles of Human Knowledge', which was to say 'I refute it thus' and kick a stone that was lying by the side of the road - the illusion of throwing a rock at my head is composed of a sequence of experiences - the heft and feel of the rock in your hand, your visual perception and mine of its flight, my pain at the impact etc.

    Now, I'm sure that your UFO guy has never read my PhD thesis, or the Principles of Human Knowledge, or any of the other hugely sophisticated arguments on this point, but that doesn't mean there isn't a respectable position to be had there. And it's not just vague philosophical bullshit, either - at least potentially, it offers a new way to approach the observer problem in the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, and possibly also a similar underlying philosophical question about special relativity.

    1. Fascinating... and, I'm quite sure that your arguments are on a level of sophistication far out of my league. I must say that (coming from a layperson) idealism has always seemed like an odd position to me. Surely the simplest model is that what we're seeing and experiencing around us is a real, external reality, not a product of our minds.

      That said, I'm aware that this vague, Ockham's razor-ish statement is neither rigorous nor convincing to anyone trained in philosophy. I also know that our intuition about things is as often wrong as it is right. Be that as it may, idealism has never made much sense to me, and I have always wondered why people find it an appealing philosophical stance.

    2. this kind of argument always reminds me of O'Brien's assertions about reality to Winston Smith near the end of 1984.

  2. The composition and density of the rock can be measured. The throw can be measured. The effect of the rock against a cranium can be measured. What does the perception of the event matter to the tangible effect?

    I'm quite sure that everyone who was aware that they were about to get into a car accident had a moment, before impact, where they tried to wish-away the impending situation, to no avail.

    If the problem is "dueling conscious" (thrower's mind vs. throwee's mind) then the analogy is a man on his roof falling off and wishing he wasn't, with no-one else but him aware of the event. He can wish to not be falling off the roof all he wants, it's still happening anyhow.

    If consciousness (perception) creates reality, why do we have so little control over outcomes?