Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Culture Fail?

^Memesis - Neil Degrasse Tyson x Aliens

Aliens = (Science + Religion) / Science

I was afforded the experience last night to watch Ancient Aliens (the History Channel documentary) with some friends. After many attempts to conjure Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit, I was faced with a stark reality: It’s not a person’s belief in aliens that should frighten us, it is the consistent, thought-disarming default solution to complex phenomena. Aliens in the [memetic*] sense has been re-calibrated by the Internet as a kind of dead-end, dysfunctional thought syndrome that is still prevalent in many, many people in The West.

*search “alien meme”

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Aliens. I like to dream about what they look like, where they come from, how they get here, and what they want out of life. Stranger in a Strange Land is on my bookshelf, no doubt, albeit right next to Asimov’s The Universe. I also love H.G. Wells’ galvanizing memesis of “little green men” (though he did not actually describe them as such), but am more endeared with its hysterical effect, and meta-effect in the dispute over the extent of the hysteria, on population when presented by Orson Welles via radio broadcast in 1938; disregard, or not, the confusing Wells/Welles coincidence herein.

So, for the record, I come in peace.

Check the history of the word “aliens”, in the extra-terrestrial sense; the word’s inception is quite recent. I will fuzz-it-up here, for the sake of effect, as well as for mnemonic purposes, and place this inception date of the word (but more importantly the concept) in the public psyche, as concurrent with our entrance into the atomic age, the modern era, the postwar world – the second half of the 1900’s. It would be interesting to see what correlates here join with the fall of the influence of Christianity in Western society.

Though it should be argued that a primary “goal” of religion is to guide us in the ways of things we yet understand (not in understanding, of course, but in coping with not-understanding), it also provides answers; that is, it helps to satisfy the awakening of the rational mind of our more animal-inclined selves. “Aliens” (in the conventional sense, not the internet-meme sense) delivers us an equitable service. For a world where the “legitimacy” of Religion* comes under increasing scrutiny, it seems natural that something like Aliens would appear in the popular culture. 

*I use quotes here because  the authenticity of religion is ultimately non-rational in nature, and thus impervious to scrutiny and hence delegitimization.

Respective to the Christian narrative, they [aliens] are more significant in a new world of space travel and aeronautics and unprecedented organization at super-national levels (which queries for the presence of even higher levels of organization, below God, perhaps, but above the Axis powers, for example). "Aliens" also functions as an unintentional reservoir for the misplaced confusion and unresolved conflict of religiously skeptical yet patriotic American citizens exposed to the "if you're not Christian then you must be Communist" idea of their Coldwar culture.

And so, finally, it is funny how the possible supplanting of Religion by Aliens, comes via undeniable consequences of Science on society (via advances in aeronautics, space exploration and communications technology), and yet those who believe can only do so in denial themselves of the basic tenets of science.

Okay, forget it; just watch the damn video! (link directly below)
“You shouldn’t believe anyone based on authority.”
“You want to have a mind open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brain falls out.”
–Michael Shermer invoking Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit

somehow related:
from the New Yorker's Sci Fi issue
Jon Michaud; May 28, 2012

greatest conspiracy theory website ever, created by robots, for robots:

Verified Facts

Pope Francis says he would baptise aliens: 'The doors of the Catholic Church are open to everyone'
May 14 2014

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