Mexican journalist finds aliens: intentional hoax or idiocy?
The news cannot stop reporting. Teenagers cannot stop making memes, such as the aliens being made of cake, according to The Daily Dot. The entire world has been invested after Jaime Maussan claimed to discover aliens. Though the aliens have been deemed fake, it brings up the latest question: was this an intentional hoax or did Maussan make an honest mistake?
Maussan, a journalist and self-proclaimed "ufologist," presented two gray figures to Mexico’s Congress. He claims to have found them in Peru in 2017, though only presented them to Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 13. However, the scientists were not convinced. According to Reuters, they found the scientific testing to lead to the conclusion that they were not aliens, but likely mummies.
The figures themselves are gray with eyes, a mouth, a nose, two arms, and two legs, not much different from humans but bearing a remarkable resemblance to a mummified E.T. from the 1982 film of the same name.
Fabricated stunts for publicity is not a new concept for Maussan — in fact, according to Reuters, he has participated in several others before, the most notable being when he claimed in a 2017 documentary that mummies were aliens.
A criminal complaint was filed against him, questioning how Maussan came in possession of these historic Peruvian artifacts and how he got them all the way to Mexico. Maussan isn’t worried because, as Reuters reported, he claims he has “done absolutely nothing illegal.”
It is no shock why this has drawn the media’s attention — a man with a history of committing meticulous stunts to garner attention has once again claimed to find aliens that point towards being Peruvian artifacts.
Dr. Scott Dodelson, Carnegie Mellon professor of physics and department head, doesn’t see this nearly as bad as the media is making it out to be. It makes sense for humans to be fascinated by the possibility of life beyond earth, Dodelson explained.
“It is pretty natural for not just scientists but everyone to think of looking for signals of these people," he said.
There are about two billion stars in our galaxy alone, Dodelson noted. All of them have planets, it’s just a matter of if they are habitable for life. The possibility of life being on at least one of these planets is high.
Science is all about making mistakes and learning from them; Edison did not develop the lightbulb overnight.
“We are often wrong. The greatest scientists were wrong often. So we have to be very, very, alert to the possibility that we are wrong,” Dodelson said.
Dodelson added that UFOs have been something the nation has found fascinating for years, even those without a background or education in astronomy. To close it off to just astronomers and cosmologists, would be foolish.
“Even [for] people who are not credentialed — this person [Jamie Maussan] is not credentialed, he’s labeled a crackpot in some stories but is not credentialed — sometimes we have to be open to the possibility that people thinking outside the box will get to the truth," Dodelson said. "Having said that, the chance he has got the truth is very very small.”
Dodelson then prompted the question: Who do we believe and who do we trust?
He explained that we put our faith in people everyday. What doctor we decide to go to or what news channels we watch. When you work in a field that is so broad, like astronomy, you need to be able to trust other people’s research and data. It would be impossible to make any developments if you needed to find all that information out individually.
Dodelson does find that “there is a little bit of danger” if this alien discovery is an intentional hoax.
He doesn’t see the immediate harm this could cause, but finds that in other fields, such as fabrication of data in medicinal fields may be detrimental. He compares this to COVID-19, where he found that the professionals who made major decisions were not credentialed enough to do so.
He clarified that it is never good to fabricate evidence, which he adds rarely happens. However, the truth will always come out, he said.
“You want more voices heard and the truth will eventually win. Especially in universities, I think universities have evolved from being places where you copy down wisdom to places where people your age tell people like me we don’t know what we’re talking about and have the freedom to do that, and I think that’s extraordinarily important.”