Thursday, September 20, 2012

The return of the alien theories

With the airing this week of the BBC series 'Wild Pacific' in the US (previously released as 'South Pacific' in the UK), questions regarding the role of aliens in the creation of the moai reappeared in various media sources, including headlines such as 'Aliens visited Easter Island':

Aside from being so fanciful that they don't even warrant discussion, these theories are also hugely disrespectful to all of the scientific study of the past century, and even more so to the original Rapanui who carved and transported all of the statues.  While Erich von Daniken's book 'Return to the Stars' (1972) was seemingly the starting point for these theories, and the first to suggest that the islanders didn't possess the tools or the knowledge to carve the moai, it seems incredible that 40 years later these theories are still in existence, and are periodically aired on slow news days.

And while Joanne van Tilberg's recent excavations inside the crater at Rano Raraku should have been highlighted for the new archaeological information that they unearthed, most newspapers went with a completely different story: namely that this was the first proof that the 'heads' actually had bodies:

The fact that they used a photo taken in 1986 to announce this 'breakthrough' only confirms the total lack of interest by most journalists to research these stories thoroughly.  It is ironic that 2012 has been the year in which Easter Island has featured more than ever in the mainstream media, including the cover of National Geographic for the first time, and yet the quality of the reporting has been some of the very worst.

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