Are Aliens Real? You Decide

In the twenty-first century, mythology is no longer (or no longer just) about Greek gods, Marvell superheroes, or Santa Claus. While people have arguably always lived in fantasy worlds, the worlds they live in today look very different from the belief systems studied by ethnographers.

In the past week alone, my Facebook feed has been full of sardonic chatter about the “mysterious monolith” meme, a story about the discovery of in the Utah desert of an obelisk that resembles the one in Arthur C. Clarke’s novel and Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey; and a story about an allegation by the retired head of the Israeli space agency that earth has been secretly collaborating with an alien Galactic Federation for years; another article supposedly debunks this by revealing that the book on which the claim is based was written by a fantasy author. Anyone old enough to remember Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods books may be getting a sense of déjà vu.

Just as priority at roundabouts in the U.S. goes to the largest vehicle, in the conspiracy-theory age the most interesting story is the one assumed to be true, irrespective of evidence. No smoke without fire, right? But on closer examination smoke often proves to be just steam.

Which of the Galactic Federation stories is bullshit? The story the article is telling us about, or the article itself? More at 11.