Alan F. Alford calls himself the "voice of common sense"
on his website
where he publishes many articles about his books, which include Gods of the New Millennium
and The Phoenix Solution
He is one of the few authors in the alternative history genre to say that he firmly rejects the ancient astronaut
concept after doing extensive research in the field. He has determined that the "gods" were not flesh-and-blood aliens, but
exploded planets instead: "I have argued that the religions of the ancient Near East were 'exploded planet cults' and that
the priests popularised their religion by telling the celestial story with human-like imagery. In other words, the ancient
priests 'dumbed down' their religion." Of course, appearances can be decieving, and the ancient astronaut theory does not
die such an easy death.
While there exists no scientific evidence to back up the claim of planets blowing up willy-nilly
across the solar system, as Alford suggests, it is his shameful lack of knowledge about evolutionary theory that has led many
of his readers into believing that our own species, Homo sapiens
, was the genetic legacy of advanced residents of
an exploded planet, a process he calls Interventionism: "For me, the most intriguing aspect of Interventionism is the possibility
that ancient astronauts interfered with the evolution of the hominids on Earth, thus giving rise to Homo sapiens
The ancient aliens are back again in force.
The 40-year-old Alford became interested in ancient mysteries by reading
alternative literature, according to his website: "The Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis has intrigued me for 15 years, ever since
I read the books of Erich von Däniken
. It was the writings of von Dä
niken, [Zecharia] Sitchin
and other ancient astronaut writers which really got me hooked on the subjects of religion and ancient history." While he
supposedly rejected this philosophy, even today he claims on his website to show that man is not descended from apes, but
is the product of Interventionism from above. Whether the product of God or aliens is for the reader to decide. With this
background in mind, let us examine Alford's arguments. 1. THERE IS NO MISSING LINK
uses selective quotations from scientists like Stephen J. Gould (called "America's evolutionist-laureate" by Alford) to build
a case that science has no concept of human origins. He quotes Gould as saying humanity is "an awesome improbability" without
mentioning that Gould does not treat this as anything other than a mathematical fluke; winning the lottery is an awesome improbability,
but someone wins somewhere in America every week.
Of the earliest of man's ancestor species, Alford says "It is also
important to emphasise that many of these finds have skulls more like chimpanzees than men." Far from being a strange fact,
this is precisely what one would expect from ancient ancestors, that they would be most like the apes from which they diverged
millions of years ago. There is no mystery here.
Alford then cites a newspaper article as evidence that the human family
tree baffles scientists, who he says cannot find a connection between the mysterious chimp-like creatures and modern man:
"The missing link, however, remains a mystery. In 1995, The Sunday Times
summarised the evolutionary evidence as
follows: 'The scientists themselves are confused.'" Of course, as Stephen J. Gould or any number of evolutionary biologists
will testify, this is not true. While the human family tree is complex and often incomplete, it is not without the general
trend of ape-like to man-like creatures. Australopithecines gave way to Homo erectus
and then modern man. This is
fairly well-established, and Alford offers no evidence that this is wrong; therefore, we must conclude this argument does
not hold water. 2. HUMANS HAVE NO HAIR
"Today, four out of ten
Americans find it difficult to believe that humans are related to the apes. Why is this so? Compare yourself to a chimpanzee.
Man is intelligent, naked and highly sexual - a species apart from his alleged primate relatives," Alford says. This is demonstrably
Alford maintains that the work of Sir Arthur Keith in 1911 demonstrated that the human was "nearly three times
more distinctive than any other ape." He based this on "generic characters" that supposedly measure the distance between species.
Alford shows his ignorance here, since 1911 was long before scientists learned that genetics, not noses or fur color, determined
the relationships among the species. Therefore, Keith's study, while good zoology, is bad taxonomy.
yet to produce a satisfactory answer as to how and why man lost his hair," Alford says. Strictly speaking, this true, since
there is more than one possible explanation. Alford ignores volumes of scientific literature and attributes the furless
human skin to sex and sexual selection. Among many explanations, one theory says hair loss came from a need to sweat to cool
the body when tree-dwelling apes, who were in the shade, ventured to the savanna where a hot sun beat down on the body. Fur
caused overheating, so a naked skin cooled the body. Alford ignores such ideas, saying "The one conclusion that can perhaps
be drawn, based on the principle of gradiented change, is that man spent a long time evolving, either in a very hot environment
or in water." Yes, exactly. Anyone who has traveled to the African savanna knows it is hot. Paleoclimatology says that 100,000
years ago, it was even hotter. 3. HUMANS LIKE TO HAVE SEX
says that humanity has is different from all other animals because Homo sapiens has "unique human features such as extended
foreplay, extended copulation and the orgasm." Unfortunately for Alford, foreplay, copulation and orgasm are not uniquely
human. The bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee) engages in near constant foreplay with frequent and sometimes homosexual sex. The rhinoceros
copulates for hours at a time. Lastly, if animals had no orgasms, why would they have sex? Obviously and biologically sex
is enjoyable for most mammals.
He goes on to say that hidden ovulation, the fact that women do not advertise their
periods of fertility as other apes do, is an "evolutionary enigma that cannot be explained by natural selection." Once again
he is wrong. Concealed ovulation and open ovulation are used variously by different species, and evolutionary histories suggest
that species go back and forth between the two as environmental situations warrant. Concealed ovulation leads to constant
sex and a reinforcement of pair bonds. There is nothing unnatural about that.
For much of the above, Alford relies
on the work of Desmond Morris
. Morris, however, is not an evolutionary biologist but a zoologist with no special training in evolution. In fact, the biography
Morris' agent provides says specifically that Morris "reminds us that man is relative to the apes--is in fact, the greatest
primate of all." This is a far cry from the implication in Alford's work that Morris finds faults with the relationship between
man and ape. 4. OTHER HUMAN PARTS ARE INCORRECT
Alford then complains
about "the appalling ineptitude of the human skin to repair itself." Anyone who has had a cut or bruise can agree that skin
can and does heal, and since most of us are not covered in scar tissue from cuts, the skin heals quite well.
problem for Alford is our eating habits: "Whereas most animals will swallow their food instantaneously, we take the luxury
of six whole seconds to transport our food from mouth to stomach." He says humans had no place to develop this "luxury." Apparently
the apes in the forest are flukes, too. Let's not leave out the pandas. These animals take time to swallow and have no problems
with evolution. 5. THE BRAIN IS UNIQUE
He then argues that the
complexity of the human brain shows that evolution could not create it. He even says that it is so complex that "it is so
complex and unique that there is no chance of reverse engineering the evolutionary process that created it." Yet he expects
us to believe that this miracle of complexity was bestowed by the aliens which apparently were able to grasp this self-same
process of complexity creation. 6. EVOLUTION IS TOO SLOW
Alford then says, "It is widely accepted that we are the descendants of Homo erectus
(who else was
there to descend from?) but the sudden changeover defies all known laws of evolution." It does not. Here again his ignorance
shows. All it takes to start a new species is two animals with the same mutation. He then says, "The experts all agree with
Darwin's basic idea that natural selection is a very slow, continuous process" He obviously ignored the previously-quoted
Gould's puntuated equilibrium which shows that great changes happen very rapidly followed by long periods of stasis. Thus,
a lack of smooth transition is expected.
But Alford has another card up his sleeve: "If the evolution of a species
is a time-consuming process, then the separation of one species into two different species must be seen as an even longer
process." Here again he is wrong. As the artificial production of new plant species shows, new species can be created in a
single generation. A mutation affecting sexual organs can do the same. He then claims, "Today, however, it is impossible to
pinpoint a single example of a species which has recently (within the last half a million years) improved by mutation or divided
into two species." Sea-gulls are dividing into not two, but multiple species as we speak. So far, those gulls can mate only
with geographic neighbors; sea-gulls from farther away are too genetically distant and cannot mate. This is speciation.
course, the human birth canal is too small for babies' heads, so it is "extremely doubtful that natural selection would have
favoured a gene for large brain size, with its potential harmful consequences to both mother and child." He forgets that the
large brains made primitive humans survive on the savanna, a very useful trait. Those who lived got to mate, regardless of
brain size. It just turns out that big brains are smart enough live longer.
That brain is too complex, Alford argues
again, because it has programming for "non-essential abilities in art, music and mathematics." He forgets that those abilities
are all related to spacial perception, a key necessity for living in a three-dimensional world. 7. THE CULT OF DARWINISM
Alford plays numbers games and makes many other arguments
derived from "creation science" literature, but at this point we see how his thinking goes. It should not surprize us then
that he finishes his essay by claiming "Clearly everything is not 'hunky dory' with Darwinism." He calls for an "alternative"
to Darwinism, which is his label for science with which he disagrees. He even says that evolution's "general principles are
of great value in explaining the evolution of animals and specific organs such as the eye, but severe doubts surround its
practical application to man." If it can explain all of man's organs, then, pray tell, why not man? The answer for Alford
is that an "intelligent extraterrestrial species migrated to the Earth." He believes that this is much more scientific than
a century and a half of evolutionary research. Needless to say, he does not say whether the aliens evolved.