Pumapunku complex at Tiwanaku in Bolivia. A typical “oh my god it must have been aliens”-type of structure in among people believing in alien visitors and pseudoarchaeology.
The similarities between people believing in ancient alien visitors and creationists are striking. Both basically argue in the same way. Firstly they really want to believe something sensational (fun > boring), then they strengthen their faith by poor rhetorical arguments. And one of the most basic arguments is refuting the accepted scientific explanations of something. Creationists work their best to find “errors” in the theory of evolution and radiometric dating techniques, since these things more than any thing else makes a biblical explanation unlikely. Creationism isn’t really based on anything else than faith plus the famous god-of-the-gaps-arguments. Creationist find actual (or most often) fictional holes in science and fills them with their creator-god to get the reality that they want. Ignoring inconvenient facts is a must and focusing on gaps a mantra.
I don’t know – therefor God-reasoning.
When starting to reason like that you will have trouble understanding what scientific proofs and theories are. It just poisons your mind and makes you mistake your self being more bright and skeptical than all others with the fact that you just really get dumber and dumber. And when they argue against you with problematic evidence to disprove concepts like scientific conspiracy is used as serious arguments. Because we all know that scientists really are illuminati tricksters…
Well. The strength of a theory, proof or claim in science isn’t based on the problems or errors with other theories, proofs and claims – they are based on their own merits and evidence. A gap is never a proof of anything but a gap.
Ancient alien-believers don’t understand this premise. They see a gap as proof of something. They present claims about how impossible it is for the ancient man to have been able to do this and that. Cutting square rocks in igneous rocks without tools of metal is one example. I just debated Pumpanku with ancient aliens-believers. And boy, do they throw claims about gaps at you.
The fact that you only need time, hard work and a quartz-based rock to drill and grind any igneous rock to the shape of your desire is something they ignore or refuse to acknowledge. In Pumapanku they used simple metal alloy tools (copper, nickel, bronze) also. With tools of these metals, the process of shaping and cutting the rocks is no problem at all. And in the cases of even larger and older pre-metal megaliths the cutting of shapes is even rougher. If you look at the megaliths of Europe they are impressive in size, but only rarely that complexly shaped. And if you compare that to the complex shapes of stone age axes, like the scandinavian boat axes, the level of detail isn’t very impressive, even on huge Egyptian megaliths.
Anyhow. They claim that there is a knowledge gap, an impossibility, and fill this with the “hint” of aliens as an explanation. They same goes for material transport. Huge megaliths transporten for hundreds of kilometers in neolithic cultures that had no relevant knowledge of metal to be used for lifting and sleighs.
Impossible they say and claim that trees cannot be used as sleighs and lifts, despite calculations showing that the trees easily could handle the weight of even the most heavy monoliths (>1000 tons). Wood in general can handle 500-1000 kilograms of pressure to a square inch before getting crushed. So speaking of Egyptian megaliths we have an example of a monolith statue like the Colossi of Memnon that weighs 700 tons and is around 18 meters high. I estimate that the original rock might have been in contact with around 30m2 to its surface below laying down at transport. A rough estimate gives these numbers: Thats 39.2 MPa. 700 000*9.81 N on an area of 30m^2 gives a pressure of 0.23MPa.
It takes 700 tons of rock an contact area of wood around 0.2 m2 to crush it (700e3*9.81/39.2e6=0.175m^2) Anything larger than that and the wood will stay hole. And theres a lot more contact between megaliths weighing 700tons and the wood below than 0.2 m2.
So even given rough terrain, holes in the ground below, moving wood, bad wood and so on, the margin of error is very high. The logs of wood can take the beating, and of course, broken pieces of wood would be replaced all the time. No one claims moving huge megaliths is easy and problem free. It probably took a lot of trial and error before they got it right and I would guess that engineers trying to replicate it today would need a lot of trial and error before getting it right as well. We don’t know exactly how they built their transport in all cases and we never will do, but we know that it is possible to do so with the tools and knowledge they had. There is nothing impossible what so ever about it.
But once again – they create a gap of claimed uncertainties and fills it with aliens as a “needed” explanation.
This is not how science works. Even if there were actual (and not as in these cases fictional) gaps of knowledge with things we didn’t know the answer to in the question of megaliths, then the scientific explanation would have been that: We don’t know for sure. And that is what we do in the case of ancient buildings in general since it is impossible to observe today – only calculate and replicate. However, experimental archaeology and experimental engineering where we try to reconstruct stuff doesn’t prove much, it can only test out one very specific conditional thing at a time and in general at a much smaller scale than the original.
Drawing absolute conclusions on possibilities based on contemporary limited experiments is just stupid. And Ancient aliens-believers often do just that. They say that we haven’t been successful when trying to move really large megaliths. Basing this claim on one or two failed experiments (and ignoring the successful ones).
As I said: Trial and error through many generations gives you knowledge and experience and the builders of ancient monuments knew a whole lot more about moving megaliths with simple tools than engineers today do since this is nothing we do that often today without a lot more advanced equipment to our aid. Someone used to move 100 tons of rock with a truck isn’t an expert on moving it on logs.
The only real gap here is the fact that we, humans, haven’t had to hand build megaliths in a long time and consequently some empirical knowledge on how this is best done with simple tools will have been lost. But Im sure that given enough time and trials we would be able to reconstruct the process to a plausible version. But theres little money in these expensive experiments so that would most likely not happen sadly and in the few instances where they happen, theres little room for repetion until it works. One try, thats what they usually get in attempts today in larger scale experimental archaeology. You need 100s of tests to be able to draw any conclusions. But no, if an ancient astronaut believer have heard about one megalith moving experiment failing, then thats all he need to draw a conclusion that maths and science is wrong and that the wood cant take the weight of the stones.
Most science start this way – with unsolved mysteries. A mystery or problem that sooner or later becomes solved through trial and error. But the solution must always be based on its own merits. It doesn’t really matter if the proposed solution is difficult to replicate or extraordinary – as long as it is based on some actual things we can prove. That means that even if it is an extraordinary claim that stone can cut stone and neolithic people can move rocks that weighs 1000 tons, it is still an extraordinary claim with a hell of a lot more evidence than the combined proof of alien visitors put together…
And talking about gaps. I cannot replicate a computer chip even if I had all the knowledge of the internet at my disposal. I understand the building principles roughly but the complexity of building silica chips astound me.
I cannot build a car. I couldn’t most likely even build a simple toaster if I tried because I lack the knowledge in the practical bits. I don’t however assume that I know all there is to know and that this means you have to be an alien to do so because of this… I acknowledge that someone with more experience than me will know more about this thing than I do. Like a Brazilian wood cutter knowing more about cutting down trees in the jungle than a Swedish one would and vice versa. Trial and error. Learning practical knowledge by doing and practical knowledge that disappears when not used any more. Building megalithic structures with primitive tools is perfect example of this. And NOTHING in the process is theoretically impossible so therefor the practical process is simply a process of trying.
So. We can prove that we can cut rocks with rocks – and in the examples of the so called perfectly cut rocks in Pumapunku we knew they had metal tools as well. We can prove that people and wooden tools can move megaliths through calculations. We don’t really need any explanations to problems that doesn’t exist. There is no problem. No need for alternative explanations.
Put this situation against the total absence of actual proof of existing alien visitors and is a easy choice for the skeptical and free mind.
There is no need for aliens to explain anything. Oh, they might have existed, these aliens. They might even have visited us, and they might be out there watching us today, but they did not build a lot of crappy huge stone structures for us. We did that on our own.
The saddest part of all this isn’t really a bunch of confident idiots refusing to understand science even when hit with it in their head. No its the fact that the incredibly hard work, skill and craftsmanship of ancient men and women is discredited by morons arguing with arguments based on god of the gaps, arguments from ignorance and the desire to mystify what doesn’t not need to be mystified today.
Give humans some credit – we don’t need aliens to be awesome.