Digging for shadows and vapours

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Via @spacearcheology on Twitter I found this inter­est­ing link:

How stu­pid can you get? The Sci-Fi Channel paid real archae­olo­gists to dig for debris of the — myth­ical — Roswell UFO: http://​is​.gd/​g​M​hZs.

@cosmos4u — Daniel Fischer

I’m going to dis­agree with Daniel Fischer, but to be fair Twitter has just 140 char­ac­ters, so I’m sure there’s a lot more to his opin­ion than that tweet. The other thing to note is that this is an old story. I think it happened in 2002, but again that’s no reflec­tion on Daniel, because it’s only just been covered by krqe​.com.

KRQE on the Roswell dig.

So the story is the SciFi chan­nel paid archae­olo­gists to con­duct a pro­fes­sional dig at a site in Roswell. The site was pur­portedly the scene of a crashed UFO or a bal­loon used to spy on the USSR. Is this a stu­pid idea? Yes and no. It depends what you’re dig­ging for.

To take an example from ancient Greece, it’s said that Apollo slew Python at Delphi and made it the site of his Oracle. Now if you want to dig at Delphi for evid­ence of a fight between Apollo and Python you’re wast­ing your time. Likewise, you’re not going to find any dis­carded clothes prov­ing Artemis bathed in spe­cific pools or streams. However, these sites have cul­tural mean­ings des­pite the lack of phys­ical evid­ence. Sites came to have mean­ing and you can archae­olo­gic­ally exam­ine evid­ence of human use of site to study beliefs and inter­ac­tions with the landscape.

For this reason I don’t find the idea of an archae­olo­gical invest­ig­a­tion of a UFO site inher­ently stu­pid. I don’t believe for one moment a UFO crashed at Roswell, but I know plenty of people do. Examining this kind of site is a way to study the pro­cess of myth­mak­ing.

The prob­lem is that the site you’re study­ing has to have some mean­ing. I don’t believe Apollo spoke to people at Delphi, but that doesn’t mat­ter because I know where the Greeks thought Apollo spoke to Delphi. So a dig at Roswell would make sense if there’s a site that is com­monly agreed to be the crash site. Unfortunately that might not be the case. What the SciFi chan­nel did was bring in archae­olo­gists from UNM and told them where to dig. The site was chosen by two UFO enthu­si­asts who aren’t con­sidered com­pletely reli­able even among ardent believ­ers in extra-terrestrial visits.

Without an obvi­ous shared site this has to be a major issue. You could start with land­scape sur­vey to see which places were richer in arte­facts. Such sites could be places that are attract­ing people in search of UFOs (if so why?) or arte­facts from activ­ity unre­lated to the sup­posed UFO. Even if you believe there is a genu­ine crash site to be found, it would make more sense to start with an archae­olo­gical sur­vey than play ‘pin the tale on the don­key’ and hope you hit the right spot.

Despite that, I don’t see a prob­lem with in prin­ciple with archae­olo­gic­ally excav­at­ing repor­ted UFO crash sites. There is a mat­ter of who is going to pay for the excav­a­tions. I’d be con­cerned about using pub­lic money, because the excav­a­tion isn’t likely to reveal any­thing of interest, but if a TV chan­nel wants to spend their money that way, it’s their money. However a good excav­a­tion is only partly about dig­ging

This came as news to Channel 4 in the UK when they ori­gin­ally com­mis­sioned Time Team. The ori­ginal plan was an archae­olo­gical game show. You drop archae­olo­gists onto a site in three days and then you see how close they get to experts’ answers. One of the stick­ing points, I’m told, is that the com­pany mak­ing the show insisted that post-excavation work should be fun­ded. Channel 4 didn’t see why this had to hap­pen, they were only film­ing the excav­a­tion, what happened after­wards was someone else’s prob­lem. It was explained they were mak­ing a prob­lem and that con­ser­va­tion would need to be done. If they wanted coöper­a­tion from archae­olo­gists they had to fund post-excavation work. The res­ult is that Time Team pub­lishes archae­olo­gical reports in recog­nised archae­olo­gical journ­als.

For the Roswell excav­a­tion, post-excavation work is essen­tial. It’s not enough to say “I’ve given it a quick dekko, and it looks weird.” That’s why a sec­tion from the report by Bill Doleman (the prin­cipal invest­ig­ator) is a bit of a worry. You can down­load the full report from Michael Heiser’s web­site, but the key lines are:

Post-field ana­lyses of arti­facts and soils samples from the site remain largely unpub­lished and incom­plete to this day, how­ever, largely because fund­ing ran out. The SCI FI Channel fun­ded X-Ray dif­frac­tion ana­lysis of soil samples from key loc­a­tions on the site, ICPMS ana­lysis (inductively-coupled plasma mass spec­tro­metry) of soil samples from on– and off-site, as well as pre­lim­in­ary labor­at­ory iden­ti­fic­a­tion of six of the appar­ently non– nat­ural arti­facts recovered dur­ing the excav­a­tion project.

It’s hard to tell what this means. There’s no date on this report and the Office of Contact Archaeology has announced a pub­lished report on their site. In addi­tion there’s a chapter on Roswell by Doleman in the Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage.* I haven’t had chance to read either of these, but it looks like post-excavation work has been lack­ing. This is a very odd thing to hap­pen if you’re ser­i­ous about find­ing out an answer. But does the SciFi chan­nel really want an answer?

New Mexico’s Tourist board taps into Roswell.

Not every­one would want an answer. There’s going to be a lot rich people com­ing to New Mexico thanks to Spaceport America, and if your busi­ness plan is built on the pro­verb “A fool and his money are soon par­ted,” then these tour­ists will be at least 50% qual­i­fied, unless they were fool­ish enough to bank­rupt them­selves buy­ing tick­ets for the VSS Enterprise. Archaeological digs with the funds to find new arte­facts, but without the funds to exam­ine them and con­firm they’re ter­restrial are effect­ively cre­at­ing mys­ter­ies. It could be great for selling mys­ter­ies. Yet not all mys­ter­ies are equal.

Is there intel­li­gent alien life else­where in the uni­verse? That’s a mys­tery because the answer is unknown and so far no-one can say with any author­ity what the answer is. Is there an intel­li­gent alien life­form in my kit­chen? That’s equally unknow­able, because I can’t be bothered to check, but it’s a second-rate mys­tery because, if I wanted, I could solve it eas­ily. If the arte­facts found are simply mys­ter­ies for want of a couple of thou­sand dol­lars from a com­pany that spent over $100k mak­ing a pro­gramme, then the excav­a­tion has simply pro­duced coun­ter­feit mys­ter­ies. The premise would be that there is a genu­ine mys­tery that the SciFi chan­nel wants answered, but the reason it’s not been answered is that they couldn’t be bothered to look. If that is the case, then you’d have to ask why did they bother going to Roswell?

NM 13 outside Roswell

What is it that’s inter­est­ing about Roswell?

It many ways it’s a shame as there are inter­est­ing ques­tions to answer. What is it about Roswell that makes it more fam­ous than Gulf Breeze or any other sites where UFOs are said to have been seen? Is it purely about one grainy black and white film? If there is more, and adding things like an archae­olo­gical excav­a­tion looks like adding to the myth to me, then what does it say about sci­ence lit­er­acy? A pop­u­lar fall­back is pseudos­cience thrives when people don’t know bet­ter, the defi­cit model of sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion. The con­clu­sion from this kind of approach is that all prob­lems can be solved if only the pub­lic were bet­ter edu­cated. This can drive sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tions people wappy as it’s out­dated. This case is an example there’s evid­ence that sci­ence lit­er­acy is being used, but not in a way that main­stream sci­ent­ists would use it. You couldn’t use a sci­entific archae­olo­gical excav­a­tion as evid­ence if your audi­ence was too thick to under­stand it. So is going on?

If it is all about the film, then does it have a long-term future as a tour­ist site? If that’s what makes Roswell spe­cial, then it’s just a mat­ter of time before someone makes a more con­vin­cing film.

An alien autopsy.

If you’re inter­ested in Roswell as a poten­tial alien crash site then New Mexicans for Science and Reason has a use­ful page. If you’re inter­ested in the idea of UFO sites as cul­tural her­it­age, then this is a good start­ing point on the Space Archaeology blog about how interests in space and archae­olo­gical meth­ods over­lap. There’s a fol­low up post that’s well worth read­ing too.

*I’ve heard it’s a good book and it’s on my ‘to buy’ list, but at the moment the price has been climb­ing from £70 towards £100, so it’s also on my ‘but I’m only going to buy a 2nd hand ver­sion when it’s afford­able because that’s an insanely high price for a book’ list.

Theorising Space Archaeology

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The future archae­olo­gical site of Spaceport America. Photo (cc) Jared Tarbell

There’s a thought-provoking post on Space Archaeology about how you define the term Space Archaeology. I’ve gen­er­ally just thought of it as the archae­ology of remains asso­ci­ated with space­flight, but I’ve never seen the need to give the defin­i­tion any ser­i­ous thought. It’s a small enough field as it is without draw­ing up bound­ar­ies. Steve Wilson (I assume, the blog is uncred­ited) has given it more thought, and he’s come up with a much more inter­est­ing way of look­ing at it. He sees Space Archaeology as being made up from Aerospace Archaeology (the bit I was think­ing about), Xenoarchaeology (the mater­ial remains of alien civil­isa­tions) and Exoarchaeology (any mater­ial remains that are offworld).

My first reac­tion was does this add any­thing? Adding in Xenoarchaeology is awk­ward as there are no known alien arte­facts. There’s crank mater­ial of ancient astro­nauts and vari­ous forms of SETI which are anthro­po­lo­gical con­cerns and not spe­cific­ally archae­olo­gical. Adding Exoarchaeology only adds fic­tional mater­ial. Things like the archae­ology of ter­ra­form­ing would fit in this cat­egory. As it stands it only adds an archae­ology of things that don’t exist. The dia­gram also excludes Space Heritage and Space Junk, which do exist. As a defin­i­tion, I’m don’t think it helps. However as an ana­lyt­ical tool, I think it could be very clever.

I’ll start with Xenoarchaeology, because that’s the field that’s easi­est to dis­miss as barmy. What’s the evid­ence of palaeo­con­tact? There isn’t any really. But think­ing about how people do Xenoarchaeology, and what would be neces­sary to show the pres­ence of alien mater­ial on earth could be use­ful. Tools developed in this area can then be applied to ‘crash sites’ like Roswell in the dia­gram where Xenoarchaeology and Aerospace Archaeology inter­sect. You won’t learn any­thing about alien civil­isa­tions by study­ing Roswell, but you could learn about how humans react to per­ceived alien vis­it­a­tion. Such research could have helped at Carancas. Likewise a ser­i­ous study of how xenoar­chae­ology is prac­ticed could give genu­inely use­ful insights into the assump­tions in SETI programmes.

Similarly Exoarchaeology poses its own prob­lems when look­ing at inac­cess­ib­il­ity. Thinking about these issues could high­light how the archae­ology of space­flight in orbital space makes demands and chal­lenges that we simply don’t have on the ground. Thinking about it this way Space Heritage and Space Junk could straddle every zone between Exoarchaeology and Space Archaeology. It depends on whether you class the human waste mat­ter on the Moon as part of Aerospace Archaeology or not. I’d include Space Junk / Exogarbology too, because a lot of ter­restrial archae­ology is the study of junk.

While Space Archaeologists might not need bound­ar­ies, draw­ing up defin­i­tions can high­light what makes a field inter­est­ing and also throw some basic assump­tions that need ques­tion­ing. The one that both­ers me is the idea of Xenoarchaeology.

Oddly, it’s not the Xeno bit. I could be pedantic and say archae­ology is the study of the human past through mater­ial remains. Still, the stick­ing with human is a throw­back to the early nine­teenth cen­tury when Man (prefer­ably with a mous­tache and stovepipe hat) was a cre­ation apart from the anim­als. Early palaeo­lithic archae­ology, palae­on­to­logy and prim­ato­logy are sim­ilar enough that it’s look­ing more and more like an arbit­rary dis­tinc­tion about where human ends. It’s the archae­ology bit that troubles me. The study through mater­ial remains when, so far as is known, there are no known mater­ial remains of extra-terrestrial activ­ity near Earth. I think study­ing the human reac­tion to pro­posed alien inter­ven­tions is an inter­est­ing research prob­lem. We study ancient faiths, so why not study mod­ern faiths too? It’s just that archae­ology isn’t always the best way of doing it. Sometimes a bet­ter approach is anthropology.

Thinking about Space Anthropology could have two advant­ages. One is that it recog­nises the inter­est­ing work done by eth­no­graph­ers. Alice Gorman has poin­ted out that indi­gen­ous peoples have a rough enough time as it is get­ting any recog­ni­tion in their sac­ri­fices for space explor­a­tion. Taking American-style four-field anthro­po­logy as a model also points to some other inter­est­ing research top­ics. For example is there any­thing bio­anthro­po­logy could con­trib­ute, and how do bio­anthro­po­lo­gical con­cerns integ­rate with research that is already being done?

I real­ise that by now my response is a bit longer than the ori­ginal post, which was flag­ging up an idea and not inten­ded as a fully formed model of Space Archaeology. Even so I think it’s an inter­est­ing way of think­ing about what archae­olo­gists of space explor­a­tion do. I’d love to see it developed further.

UFOs versus the Rainbow Serpents

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Statistics

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchOne of the advant­ages of trip­ping to other lib­rar­ies is that you get to browse journ­als you’d oth­er­wise miss. One example is the Journal of the Royal Institute for Anthropology, which I wouldn’t see at Leicester. That is a pity because I’m miss­ing some stuff like Close encoun­ters: UFO beliefs in a remote Australian Aboriginal com­munity by Eirik Saethre.

The com­munity Saethre looked at is well qual­i­fied for the term ‘remote’. He was con­duct­ing research with the Warlpiri, an abori­ginal people who live around 300 miles or 500 kilo­metres north-west of Alice Springs in the Tanami Desert. The com­munity he was in was cre­ated spe­cific­ally to provide work for Aboriginals far from Alice Springs. However there is little work there to do, which leads to high unem­ploy­ment and plenty of time for watch­ing tele­vi­sion like the X-Files. At night in this com­munity it’s not uncom­mon to see UFOs. Saethre reports that he and other kardiya, non-aboriginals, were warned not to drive on their own at night or else they were risk­ing alien abduction.

Saethre says he never saw any­thing he would regard as a UFO, but most of the people in the set­tle­ment were quite adam­ant about their exist­ence. The age range of people see­ing UFOs was from 12 to 51 and they were seen by men and women. Not only that, but only around half the claimed sight­ings were by sole wit­nesses. The UFOs were a loc­al­ised phe­nomenon. Saethre vis­ited other Warlpiri com­munit­ies, but if peoples in these set­tle­ments men­tioned UFOs, it was only in rela­tion to Saethre’s home. The UFOs were also said to be spe­cific in their tar­gets. Kardiya could be abduc­ted, but not Warlpiri people. The inhab­it­ants in the UFOs recog­nised that the abori­ginal peoples were where they belonged.

As for the people in the UFOs, the Warlpiri had some details. They were extra-terrestrial, trav­el­ling great dis­tances. The X-Files had more or less got it right (Saethre 2007:909). It would be nice to neatly solve the mys­tery by tying the arrival of one with the other, but Saethre couldn’t get an accur­ate sense of time for when the UFOs first appeared. Odder was that they didn’t seem to have much effect on the lives of Aborginals. They were cer­tainly scary to some wit­nesses, and most people would rather not see one but they didn’t seem to do a lot else. They didn’t bestow prestige or stigma. They didn’t steal or bestow wealth. The only way they really made much dif­fer­ence is that they were thought to take water from waterholes.

If all I told you about were the UFO encoun­ters in isol­a­tion, then this would all seem to be mundane bat­ti­ness. Immensely intel­li­gent and power­ful ali­ens travel the unima­gin­able dis­tances of the uni­verse –and when they choose to refuel with water the place they stop is the middle of the Australian Desert? As it hap­pens the Tanami desert has reg­u­lar floods, but even so there are bet­ter places on the planet to go for water. What makes the idea of water-powered UFOs remotely beliiev­able? This is the clever bit of the paper because Saethre inter­twines the UFOs with the local Aboriginal cosmology.

It’s not just UFOs which take water. The warna­yarra, the rain­bow ser­pents which the Aboriginals believe in, are also cap­able of tak­ing water down into the earth with them. You could argue that this too is batty, but this would be more obvi­ously miss­ing the point. The reason for the warna­yarra is to explain a vari­ety of nat­ural causes and effects. Their exist­ence in Australia isn’t explained by bio­logy, it’s explained by cul­ture. Looking more closely at the warna­yarra reveals some inter­est­ing sim­il­ar­it­ies with UFOs. Warnayarra can abduct Aboriginals, espe­cially Aboriginal people who are out­side their own ter­rit­ory. The warna­yarra recog­nise local peoples as belong­ing to the land, but a man out­side his ter­rit­ory can be in danger if he hasn’t been form­ally intro­duced to the local warna­yarra by someone who belongs.

Saethre is able to draw up a series of com­par­is­ons between rain­bow ser­pents and UFOs. In some ways they are thought of as quite sim­ilar. Neither is cursed for tak­ing resources, they’re accep­ted as a fact of life. They both are tied to ideas of belong­ing to the land. In other ways they’re mir­ror images. Saethre notes that warna­yarra take water down, while UFOs take it up. They are dan­ger­ous to dif­fer­ent tar­gets. They also seem to occupy dif­fer­ent con­cep­tual spaces. Despite oper­at­ing in the same land­scape, they don’t inter­act. UFOs seem to occupy an ambigu­ous social space. They’re con­sidered as part of the land­scape as other tra­di­tional Aboriginal beings but not fully integ­rated with abori­ginal cos­mo­logy. Nor are they a cos­mo­logy bolted-on to the cul­ture for assim­il­at­ing Kardiya into abori­ginal cos­mo­logy. Saethre observed abori­ginal peoples talk­ing about nat­ural events and attrib­ut­ing their actions to ali­ens as other abori­ginal peoples would to ancestor spirits.

Saethre’s con­clu­sions are that declar­ing nat­ive and west­ern beliefs as ‘incom­men­sur­able’ doesn’t work. Instead he argues that the UFO tales show that the local people are tak­ing west­ern con­cepts and re-casting them into abori­ginal cos­mo­logy. Rather than simply being wacky, Saethre states that indi­gen­ous UFO beliefs offer a way of observing the inter­ac­tion and accul­tur­a­tion which occurs between indi­gen­ous and non-indigenous peoples.

It’s an import­ant point to bear in mind. Archaeologists routinely use eth­no­graph­ies as the basis for ana­lo­gies to explain archae­olo­gical depos­its. It’s import­ant to remem­ber that peoples liv­ing now are not straight­for­ward prox­ies for those liv­ing in the past. One eas­ily recog­nised way is that hunter-gatherers today have been pushed out to harsher envir­on­ments as mod­ern soci­ety expands. In the Mesolithic and earlier hunter-gatherers would have had access to the most boun­ti­ful land­scapes. At the same time we can­not think of hunter-gatherers of any period as liv­ing in an inter­change­able time­less­ness. Saethre’s UFO study is a par­tic­u­larly effect­ive demon­stra­tion that indi­gen­ous peoples today live in the 21st cen­tury just like every­one else.

Peer Reviewed Saethre, E. (2007). Close encoun­ters: UFO beliefs in a remote Australian Aboriginal com­munity. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 13(4), 901–915. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467–9655.2007.00463.x

Strange sights in Stephenville

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Paved Bricks of Stephenville
I don’t know what this thing in Stephenville, TX, is. Ergo it’s a Mystery. Photo (cc) Broken Piggy Bank.

If you haven’t been fol­low­ing the press reports, there’s been a UFO flap in Stephenville. The best write-up of it I’ve seen is by Astroprof, who’s put up a couple of entries on it. He’s of the opin­ion that first it’s uniden­ti­fied. He also argues that the wit­ness state­ments don’t add up. For instance can any­one see the prob­lem of a UFO one mile long, half a mile wide, fly­ing just a few hun­dred yards above a town of 17,000 people and only 30 people noti­cing? I think there’s a few dif­fi­culties in say­ing that people saw a UFO like that. At the same time that doesn’t mean that the people who did see some­thing were delu­sional or lying.

Newsweek opens its art­icle on the flap by pla­cing the event in the con­text of evol­u­tion­ary his­tory. Humans are social anim­als and for most of the past we’ve also been hunted anim­als. We’ve needed to learn to spot intent. The psy­cho­logy behind that doesn’t have to be per­fect. There’s a com­prom­ise between speed and qual­ity of judge­ment. Spotting intent where there isn’t may have a pen­alty, but fail­ing to spot intent where it is could be fatal. There can also be pen­al­ties if you take time for reflec­tion. Our brains may still hold the soft­ware that knows hanging around to watch a sabre-tooth tiger does before it attacks is a Bad Idea. That would be triggered again if you think you’re being observed by intel­li­gent and power­ful beings of unknown intent. The people who have seen UFOs, of vari­ous types, around Stephenville are not idi­ots or con­men, they’re simply being human.

Astroprof’s follow-up post is inter­est­ing because it tackles the intel­lec­tual bank­ruptcy of simply throw­ing up your hands and exclaim­ing “It’s a mys­tery!” One of the UFOs is pho­to­graphed and the pho­to­grapher did a great job. It’s good enough to be able to see that it’s a sun­dog. The misid­en­ti­fic­a­tion is not the fault of pho­to­grapher. We’re grow­ing more detached from the nat­ural world. It explains the irony that Pliny the Elder knew more about sun­dogs than many mod­ern journ­al­ists do today, des­pite the bene­fit of 2000 years of research. What Texan journ­al­ists have which the Romans didn’t have (nor the Peruvians in the puna) is access to sci­ent­ists who have spent years study­ing phe­nom­ena. You’d think that the local paper in Texas could do bet­ter, but for some reason it doesn’t.

The Fort Worth Star-Tribune report that went with the report is poor. Laughably poor if you don’t live near Fort Worth. What hap­pens if you want to report an appar­i­tion of spir­its for a news­pa­per? Obviously you inter­view the wit­ness, and the Star-Tribune does this. You can also inter­view the local witch-doctors. The Star-Tribune inter­views MUFON, a UFO net­work which knows Our Universe is TEEMING with LIFE, but hasn’t got round to claim­ing the Randi mil­lion yet. It doesn’t mean they’re not inter­est­ing people. It doesn’t mean they should not be inter­viewed. It’s simply that some­thing is missing.

You could also inter­view a sci­ent­ist. Even an under­gradu­ate in met­eor­o­logy could be a help. There’s no com­ment from a sci­ent­ist in the Star-Tribune. Why? It could be that sci­ent­ists aren’t access­ible in Fort Worth, which might be Texas’ con­tri­bu­tion to the Third World. It could be that a large pro­por­tion of the edit­or­ial staff are sci­en­tific­ally illit­er­ate. If they didn’t know that the pic­ture was sci­en­tific­ally explic­able then it wouldn’t occur to them to talk to a sci­ent­ist. If that’s the case the paper needs to send report­ers for train­ing as soon as pos­sible. The final option paints the Star-Tribune in a worse light. The paper could think that its read­ers don’t need or can’t cope with basic sci­entific inform­a­tion. That would be tre­mend­ous sig­nal of con­tempt for the reader.

The cyn­ical response is there is money to be made. The longer people are ignor­ant the longer it’s a story and the longer the period money can be made. Deliberately ignor­ing or with­hold­ing simple inform­a­tion also shows con­tempt for the people of Stephenville. If there is money being made, very few of the cit­izen of the town will see it. The papers will sell adverts, if it catches on tele­vi­sion com­pan­ies will sell pro­grammes. None of this is about find­ing answers. It’s about plant­ing fear some­where else to make a quick buck.

It’s also about going “Oooh mys­tery!” without ever con­tem­plat­ing what mys­tery means. It’s not a mys­tery that some­thing is unex­plained if you choose to be ignor­ant. True mys­ter­ies are things which have defied explan­a­tions so far. Despite efforts dat­ing back to Plato, at least, people have been try­ing to work out if life could exist bey­ond the earth. So far the answer has remained unknown des­pite every intel­lec­tual assault any­one could through at it. In con­trast simply declar­ing a mys­tery unknow­able and giv­ing up research can only gen­er­ate a very limp enigma.

Finally it’s about a nar­row and paro­chial view of the uni­verse. The exist­ence of alien life is a mys­tery. It may exist, it may not. Either way if we find the answer it will be one of the great dis­cov­er­ies of all time. But if you actu­ally look for answers you can find more mys­tery. Wouldn’t you like to know what con­di­tions make vis­ions of phantom suns? Aren’t you curi­ous to know if your rational self is still haunted by its Palaeolithic ori­gins? What’s hap­pen­ing in Stephenville is inter­est­ing. It would be a shame if they only ever got a one-dimensional par­ody of an answer.