The reason pyramids are common accross the ancient world is because it’s a primary shape for a structure; Fat base, narrow top. It’s like the default way of making sturdy buildings out of stacked stones. Stone being the only durable material available until concrete was invented. Of course you’re going to develop precision ways of working with the only material you’ve got, for millennia. Stone cutting was a serious artisan business (masonry) passed down over generations and taken as seriously as religion. There is documented evidence of the evolution of these methods over time. It is the story of engineering itself.
The proponents of alien theories love to omit that sort of thing. They would have you think these amazing structures just fell from the sky, literally.
This stuff bothers me because people dedicated generations of lives to these ancient projects. The alien hypothesis only serves to mock and dismiss the lifelong hard work of so many dedicated humans. And even though it doesn’t involve lasers beams, the real histories of engineering and art behind to these human achievements are a million times more interesting and explanatory than that Ancient Aliens nonsense.
Incidentally, that show represents almost the exact moment when the history channel jumped the shark in favor of cheap entertainment over factual information. But it goes beyond that. It’s a real bummer that people will forego real, useful and fascinating information for a fantasy. It reminds me of creationism. Notice some similarities:
-Ignorance: you don’t know how something amazing was done, like building a pyramid, so you think that some powerful super-being must have done it. Also, when you lack a background in ancient or medieval art and symbolism, you’re likely to fill in your ignorance with familiar patterns. Which brings us to…
-Apophenia -defined as the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”, but it has come to represent the human tendency to seek patterns in random information in general, such as with gambling and paranormal phenomena. A more common human experience is perceiving faces in inanimate objects. But, hey doesn’t that hieroglyph look like the spaceship from classic science fiction, or the alien in the movie Predator? It’s proof I tell you!!
-Anthropocentrism: We are the special ones. Of course, earth is obviously the universe’s premier destination. Forget that it’s a less than a dust speck in the vastness of space… And why wouldn’t advance aliens, who have mastered god like energy and technology, want to hang out and help us place heavy stones? I mean, what else could they have to do with limitless energy and technological know-how.
They must have some special purpose in mind for us.
Throw in some confirmation bias and some scifi romanticism and boom: Ancient Aliens, Jesus aliens, government conspiracy aliens… aliens everywhere.
For a deeper look at this phenomenon, I recommend Ancient Aliens Debunked; and as always, Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World
Sleepy Hollow 1x06 - The Sin Eater
I’m skeptical about the things I read on the internet… except for the things that confirm what I already believe
Things people do but don’t know they do
This probably deserves a proper reply but it’s really late so this picture will have to suffice for now.
Q.I. - 11x02 - Kit and Kaboodle
Quantum Mechanics (via xkcd)
“You can also just ignore any science assertion where ‘quantum mechanics’ is the most complicated phrase in it.”
Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites (via skeptoid)
“The Internet is a dangerous place. It’s full of resources, both good and bad; full of citations linking one to another, sometimes helpfully, sometimes not. Today we’re going to point the skeptical eye at ten of the worst web sites in terms of quality of science information that they promote. To make this list, they not only need to have bad information, they also need to be popular enough to warrant our attention.
Many of these sites promote some particular ideology, but I want to be clear that that’s not why they’re here. Sites that make this list are only here because of the quality of the science information that they advocate…”
I need more science and skepticism posts in my blog but some days I’m just too lazy to do research
James Randi by Laurel Austin
Artist blog / facebook
Cold reading (via Skepdic)
Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to “mysteriously” know things about the subject.
In cold reading, salespersons, hypnotists, advertising pros, faith healers, con men, and some therapists bank on their subject’s inclination to find more meaning in a situation than there actually is. The desire to make sense out of experience can lead us to many wonderful discoveries, but it can also lead us to many follies. The manipulator knows that his mark will be inclined to try to make sense out of whatever he is told, no matter how farfetched or improbable.
Thus, a good manipulator can provide a reading of a total stranger, which will make the stranger feel that the manipulator possesses some special power.
The selectivity of the human mind is always at work. We pick and choose what data we will remember and what we will give significance to. In part, we do so because of what we already believe or want to believe. In part, we do so in order to make sense out of what we are experiencing. We are not manipulated simply because we are gullible or suggestible, or just because the signs and symbols of the manipulator are vague or ambiguous.
There seem to be three common factors in these kinds of readings. One factor involves fishing for details.
Another characteristic of these readings is that many claims are put in vague statement form (“I’m getting a warm feeling in the crotch area”) or in the form of a question (“I sense that you have strong feelings about someone in this room. Am I right?”) Most, but not all, of the specific claims are provided by the subject himself.
Also, those occasions where the psychic has guessed wrongly about the subject are likely to be forgotten by the subject and the audience. What will be remembered are the seeming hits, giving the overall impression of “wow, how else could she have known all this stuff unless she is psychic.” This same phenomenon of suppression of contrary evidence and selective thinking is so predominant in every form of psychic demonstration that it seems to be related to the old psychological principle: a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.
John Edward / James van Praagh Bingo
Successful cold readings are sometimes a testament to the skills of the reader, but they are always a testament to the ability of human beings to make sense out of the most disparate of data.