This post is part of a series of guest posts on GPS by the undergraduate and graduate students in my Science vs. Pseudoscience course. As part of their work for the course, each student had to demonstrate mastery of the skill of “Educating the Public about Pseudoscience.” To that end, each student has to prepare a 1,000ish word post on a particular pseudoscience topic, as well as run a booth on-campus to help reach people physically about the topic.
Come Along and Ride on my Cosmic Voyage! by Scott Sims
While the modern UFO boom began after the 1947 Roswell incident, there is actually evidence – and I use that term loosely – for UFO sightings as far back as ancient Egypt. There are thousands of websites (wait…you didn’t know that NASA had a hidden moon base? Piteous fool) that contain archives of UFO sightings, as well as countless books, television shows, news articles, and every other imaginable form of media that will detail some phenomena related to UFO’s. I’d like to take this post to point out my favorite account of alleged extraterrestrial contact, both for its entertainment value as well as its utter lack of regard for the scientific process.
This book is probably hands down my favorite account of extraterrestrial activity, history, and identification. It hits so many different pseudoscientific bases that it boggles the mind to think that it’s not a piece of satire. I am talking of course about the literary titan that is Cosmic Voyage: The Scientific Discovery of Extraterrestrials on Earth. Notice the accompanying blurb that describes this masterwork of human ingenuity. I confess that I have read Cosmic Voyage in its entirety, and was thoroughly entertained by it.
I did not, however, at any point believe a word that Dr. Courtney Brown (he has a PhD in political science) wrote. I actually have a hard time believing that Dr. Courtney Brown believed a word that Dr. Courtney Brown wrote. The premise of the book is that Dr. Brown uses Scientific Remote Viewing (it has science in the title, so it must be real) to visit an alien civilization on Mars, as well as a race known as the “Greys” who are now taking up residence in Mount Baldy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also claims to have used SRV to investigate the nature of Jesus Christ, the nature of multiple realities, nonlinearity of time, and even Atlantis. There’s so much pseudoscience in Dr. Brown’s work that it has actually become hard for me at this point to focus on what I started this post as, which is a commentary on the UFO and extraterrestrial phenomenon.
Alright, let’s get to Dr. Brown’s claims. Dr. Brown states that intelligent life once existed on Mars, and that this is a strongly supported hypothesis (here is the support in Dr. Brown’s links of interest). Dr. Brown is not interested in truly supporting his claims because his method is not a scientific method. If you want to know the evidence that he has to attempt to support these claims you will have to purchase his book (how convenient). Fortunately for you, I have read his book (it’s one of my favorite works of fiction). He claims that the Greys are a physical extraterrestrial species, and that this has been confirmed definitively. His evidence for this is that the CIA has not refuted it. That logic is basically we know it’s true because no one has said it’s not.
He further claims that Greys have technology capable of interstellar travel and are visiting Earth (confirmed definitively). This is supported by this extremely logical statement: “If they are here, then this is obvious.” There is strongly supported evidence that there are still some Martian technologies underground on Mars. There are several claims that have not yet been confirmed, yet in the comments section it states only: “This is a complex issue. Read the book.” Essentially: “Throw money at me so I can make stuff up.”
One of my favorite claims is that, and I quote: “As humanity slips into a Mad Max scenario, Earth’s elite eventually hunker down into fortified shelters, largely underground.” This has not yet been confirmed, but as the astute Dr. Brown points out this seems increasingly likely in a post-2012 world (this website was probably last updated pre-2012 when everyone thought the ghost of the Mayans would cause world ending tidal waves or whatever.) The majority of the claims made in this book can’t even be physically tested. They are purely theoretical and nonsensical to boot. The problem with these claims and all the rest from this book (I don’t have enough room to really get into all of them, but they’re all outrageous) is that they can’t be validated, replicated, or falsified. Dr. Brown is a “master” of remote viewing, meaning that if you want to be on the cutting edge of nonsense you need to learn transcendental meditation and something called the TM-Sidhi program (also called “yogic flying”). His penchant for dodging any request to demonstrate this ability in a controlled environment is a huge red flag against his ability. But even if he did consent and failed to produce results, he might choose to go the Uri Geller route and claim that he couldn’t activate his powers under such scrutiny. There is also the propensity of poorly drawn conclusions regarding the types of evidence that I have shared here. The fact that there are some strange features to an alien world does not indicate that there is some strange architecture on an ancient world. NASA has stated that this is a trick of light, and not an actual face in that picture. The tinfoiled domes of the underground revolution claim this to be a government cover-up, because of course it is. There’s no way that something can look like something even though it totally doesn’t.
I want to take a moment to describe my stance on the UFO and extraterrestrial phenomenon. I am a huge fan of UFO shows, books, and news. I, however, recognize the fact that it is rife with hoaxes and terrible science in almost every case. I enjoy the fantasy of the subject, I suppose. To say that it is statistically unlikely that we are alone in our universe is a massive understatement (second page, first slide). That does not mean that they are visiting us, receiving communication from us (not to demean what they are doing, just that as of yet it isn’t working), or attempting to communicate with us. It simply means that if they exist in some distant quadrant of our universe, they aren’t taking the scenic route to get to us. I hope they’re not, because Dr. Brown is not the one that I want making first contact.