The “Ata” Controversy: Should We Suspend our Disbelief?
Since the release of Dr. Steven Greer’s latest documentary film, Sirius, the primary focus remains on the series of tests featured in the movie, regarding a small humanoid nicknamed “Ata”. Greer presents it, rather hopefully, as evidence of extraterrestrial life that has visited Earth.
However, the general consensus among the media, of course, has been that the small creature is of human origin,based on results that appear in Greer’s film that seem to lead to this conclusion. My pal Lee Speigel, writing for the Huffington Post, even noted following the film’s release that, “now that the film is available to everybody, and DNA analysis shows that Ata was human, was that early PR hype about the humanoid a bit premature?” It remains a fair question.
I had expressed previously here at Mysterious Universe that the miniature humanoid, if proven to be anything but human, would still not actually prove the existence of extraterrestrials. If anything, it would prove the existence of anomalies here on Earth, which may challenge conventional views held in the fields of archeology, anthropology, and the scientific study of our evolution as a species… perhaps even the evolution of other humanoid beings believed to exist, as represented largely in the more “fringe” literature of today.
Either prospect–an extraterrestrial, or a tiny nonhuman earthling–would have been fascinating. But as we’ve mentioned, the evidence seems to suggest that the diminutive mummy is indeed of human origin. Still, what does this prove for us at this stage in the game, and are there elements that would still warrant a suspension of disbelief until further information is provided? Indeed, perhaps the verdict is still out on the Atacama humanoid, and here’s why.
Over at The Gralien Report, a very thoughtful comment about this was recently made by Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D, in relation to both the merit of Greer’s treatment thus far, as well as why we may wish to withhold harsh criticism of the so-called “humanoid” until further information is provided:
The analyses of the entity are incomplete, tentative and not yet vetted by peer review, the gold standard for scientific data… When scientists issue ‘preliminary’ findings, be careful. That means they are subject to revision. If they comport with your opinion, be even more cautious because that is when you are most likely to make the error of being insufficiently critical.
Unless and until the complete data are available for scrutiny, this story remains a story, not scientifically established fact. Dr. Greer has found competent collaborators who should be able to meet the customary requirements to produce a quality scientific publication detailing the full data and results. Until that happens I believe neither Dr. Greer nor his scientist collaborators. Maybe each and every assertion made to date will turn out to be the absolute truth. And maybe none of it will hold up to external, independent scrutiny. Time will tell all.
Indeed, scientific process (especially in the world of publication) requires not just the serious, technical and skeptical treatment of such subjects, but also in a manner that features the work of qualified experts which is then peer-reviewed by other qualified experts. As Kokjohn points out in the commentary above, we should note that Dr. Greer, to his credit (and despite making somewhat sensational claims about the “alien” find early on), nonetheless followed through with arranging study of the anomalous mummy by qualified individuals. Whether this goes on to be studied further, questioned, reevaluated, and then presented for peer review remains to be seen… but if it does, and despite the outcome, perhaps Greer’s work will help set new (and truly scientific) precedents with regard to the serious (or should I say “Sirius”) study of the unexplained.
Greer’s presentation can be more than a bit biased, at times, toward belief in the extraterrestrial component regarding UFOs. And of course, his meditative remote-viewing sessions for purposes of creating CE-5 “encounters” borders on being outright kooky. And yet, when presented with possible evidence of the imposible, he also managed to raise funding for proper scientific testing, and then released his findings, to date, in a documentary film. Arguably, this is more than most in the field have managed to achieve, and thus perhaps it warrants a suspension of our disbelief until further scientific information can be presented about the final determination on the Atacama Humanoid.