Sunday, July 16, 2017

[RaelTV FAIL] Doggone it, SIRIUS-ly!

As part of a series of short clips on RaelTV, the Raelian Movement refers to the Dogon tribe of sub-Saharan Africa, as possessing secret knowledge about our galaxy passed down by their ET ancestors/creators thousands of years ago. The clip argues that the Dogons are one of many examples of indigenous peoples from around the world testifying about their origins to be from ETs as fact instead of mythology. This comes from the notion in Rael's writings that humanity's scientific creators, the Elohim of the Bible, left traces of their existence among ancient civilizations across the globe [Intelligent Design, p. 60].

The claim that the Dogons are an exemplary case rests on the subclaim of how it is possible for them to know about a star system 8.6 light-years from here and unseen to the naked eye, that of Sirius A and B, unless the mythological serpent-like amphibious beings known to them traditionally as the Nommos are actually technologically advanced ETs?... and in terms of Raelian confluence, must be the Elohim.

The popularization of these claims in New Age and ancient astronaut literature originates from Robert Temple's book The Sirius Mystery (1976) based on his interpretation of the work of ethnographers Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen. A substantial bulk of The Sirius Mystery consists of comparative linguistic and mythological scholarship, pointing out resemblances among Dogon, Egyptian and Sumerian beliefs and symbols. Greek and Arab myths and words are considered to a lesser extent.

Skeptics question Temple on several grounds: (1) his drawing supposedly by the Dogon depicting the orbit of Sirius B around Sirius A was doctored, (2) the Nommos couldn't have come from the Sirius system, and (3) astronomical knowledge was limited to the time the Dogons first interacted with Europeans in the early 1900s.

Liam McDaid's article featured in Skeptic magazine addresses all of the above.

The following drawing is used by those who support the idea that the Dogon were taught about Sirius B by aliens. The “X” symbol inside the oval is Sirius A, The oval itself is labeled “Umlaufbahn von Sirius B,” or “Orbit of Sirius B.” Pretty convincing. Except that this isn’t the original Dogon drawing.

The next one is the original Dogon drawing. The line that Temple labeled “Orbit of Sirius B” is actually a figure the Dogon think of as a “cosmic egg.” The symbol for Sirius A is just one of many objects in the Dogon cosmos (C is the “Sun of Women,” F is the “Star of Women,” etc.). The diagram is only convincing as a representation of Sirius B orbiting Sirius A when most of the original symbols are eliminated.

Arguments against the Nommos originating from Sirius are multifold: (1) Sirius is much younger than the Sun (by 3.4 billion years), (2) it's unlikely planets in the binary-solar system have stable orbits, and (3) the luminosity/heat of Sirius would make life uninhabitable in that system (the Sun is 25 times less luminous). 

Then, there's evidence suggesting the Dogons got the info about Sirius from more terrestrial sources. McDaid references Carl Sagan in highlighting the fact that:
 The two anthropologists who first studied the Dogon (Griaule and Deiterlen) conducted their research in the 1930s. Sirius B was known to exist then. In their original findings, Griaule and Deiterlen make no comment about the Dogon knowledge of Sirius B. This is strange, because one would think that it would be a major discovery in anthropology. Also, in the 1980s and 1990s, anthropologist Walter van Beek could find no evidence that the Dogon possessed knowledge about Sirius B today. But more enlightening is the fact that Griaule studied astronomy in Paris and brought star maps with him to Mali. Some surviving informants of Griaule who spoke to van Beek made it clear that the Dogon learned about Sirius B from him!
The Dogon don’t speak of objects in the Kuiper Belt, or spokes in Saturn’s rings, or the ring arcs of Neptune. Even in the most optimistic reading of this tale, the Dogon know no more than we knew about the Solar System and nearby stars in the 1930s, which is about the time that Griaule and Deiterlen first interacted with them. Hmm...
It seems that Griaule wished to affirm the complexity of African religions and questioned his informants in such a forceful leading manner that they created new myths by confabulation. Griaule either informed the Dogon of Sirius B or he misinterpreted their references to other visible stars near Sirius as recognition of the invisible companion.

Some myths never die despite being debunked. Rael is perpetuating this modern myth by coupling it with his own fantastical writings, and thus fraudulently rewriting our history in the process. :/

Note: The presenter of the RaelTV clip is the former National Guide of the Australian Raelian Movement, Roy Tyrrell. Some time in 2016, he was excommunicated by Rael for having delusions of being directly guided by the Elohim and thereby, forming a schism in the believers of Rael's Elohim. Surprisingly, Rael's long-term partner, Sophie, was also excommunicated for harboring similar delusions and is reported to be with Roy in Australia at present.

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