Avi Loeb Doubles Down on New Status as Ancient Spaceship Guru; Plus: Joe Rogan Says Tom DeLonge Can't Recognize UFO Hoaxes
Last week, I wrote about the way that Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, who suggested that the interstellar object Oumuamua might be an alien probe, seems to be using his speculative hypothesis to engage in pseudo-religious philosophizing about morality and ethics. In a profile published on Monday in the Washington Post, he basically confirmed everything I gleaned from his recent Scientific American blog post, and he added an extra dollop of a cult of personality. It seems as though he wants to use the possibility of ancient astronauts to make himself the astronomical version of Jordan Peterson or Steven Pinker. The key passage of the article features Loeb discussing how he can parlay the publicity over his ersatz kumbaya cosmology into greater fame and fewer work responsibilities:
In a matter of months, Loeb has become a one-man alternative to the dirge of terrestrial news.
Regardless of whether his hypothesis about Oumuamua’s origin as a space alien probe holds water (most scientists say it doesn’t, but it is not impossible—though the latest thinking is that it is a chunk of comet dust), Loeb’s attitude grates on me. Throughout the interview with the Post, he seems eager to cast himself as a populist standing against a cabal of elitist scientists. At one point, he literally says that he doesn’t subscribe to a “class system” that ranks academics as “elite.” He said that while posing for heroic photos beside the Great Refractor, a nineteenth century telescope, and name-dropping the famous people he’s met.
Loeb also has adopted the language of ancient astronaut theorists, referring to “cosmic modesty” to suggest that humans should presume that advanced aliens exist and that humans are not special, a lesser version of the traditional ancient astronaut refrain that humans are “arrogant” if they don’t imagine that superior space aliens are in control of our destiny. Both are inversions of the traditional religious claim that humans are the center of creation. While Loeb’s position is defensible, and statistically logical, the language he uses is more reflective—as I noted last week—of social and political posturing than scientific inquiry.
The end of the piece is telling. The reporter notes that Loeb prompted his freshman astronomy students to recognize him as the man who speculated about Oumuamua’s alien origins and smiled broadly when one of them does.
Loeb hit upon a claim that sparked popular interest, and it seems that he is prepared to ride it to pop culture fame.
Speaking of which… Most readers will remember that former Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge has used his rock star fame to promote his eclectic To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, and its multipronged mission to develop UFO-themed media, pursue UFO disclosure, and develop high-tech propulsion technologies to mimic UFOs.
Anyway, his former bandmate Travis Barker was on the Joe Rogan Experience this week, and he and Rogan discussed DeLonge’s lifelong passion for UFOs.
The most telling exchange came when Rogan described how he and DeLonge watched alleged UFO videos together and Rogan was able to immediately identify the videos as fake. But despite watching what Rogan described as some of the most clearly fake UFO videos ever made, Rogan said that DeLonge credulously believed every one of them to be authentic. “In his mind, he was seeing a real alien spaceship,” Rogan said. This is reminiscent of the time that DeLonge shared a still from Steven Spielberg’s Taken and mistook it for a government photograph of a UFO. This kind of extreme credulity explains a lot about To the Stars.
2/7/2019 10:10:36 am
"Loeb hit upon a claim that sparked popular interest, and it seems that he is prepared to ride it to pop culture fame."
2/7/2019 04:51:45 pm
Now wait. Who wouldn't like to get high and watch the stars?
Apothermic Cool "Disco" Dan
2/7/2019 05:20:50 pm
"To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, and its multipronged mission to develop UFO-themed media, pursue UFO disclosure, and develop high-tech propulsion technologies to mimic UFOs."
An Anonymous Nerd
2/7/2019 07:54:04 pm
I have to say I don't understand Avi Loeb. He had this unusual explanation for an unusual object. It wasn't accepted by most of his colleagues but it wasn't discounted. It was considered possible. Acknowledged as such by his colleagues.
AVI COOL "DISCO" DAN
2/7/2019 11:33:43 pm
AVI COOL "DISCO" DAN
2/8/2019 06:18:19 am
I don't think its especially apt to compare Anti-postmodern scaremongers like S. Pinker and J. Peterson to someone doing the postmodern 'all opinions are valid' shtick. The non-hysteric version of anti-postmodernism would be writing off guys like Loeb (while hopefully also noticing Pinker's obsession with Straw man arguments).
2/8/2019 06:12:10 pm
Oumuamua has gone on its merry way and will be forgotten by a large percentage of a general public bombarded by a daily onslaught of horror-inducing political headlines all pointing to the imminent, crash and burn of the US.
Ambiorthogonal Cool "Disco" Dan
2/8/2019 06:56:33 pm
"After all, how many astronomers ever became known or featured in media stories outside their field?"
2/8/2019 08:03:46 pm
When you must go back 400 or more years to produce a list of 7 names the correct answer is "very very very very few." Unless one wants to start counting every guy who got about 30 seconds of screen time on the news when a large meteor shower occurs.
Anacin Cool "Disco" Dan
2/8/2019 08:39:06 pm
So I was selective. Fuck you, there's a lamb.
2/8/2019 08:56:50 pm
Make that 400+ years and at least three countries. At that rate its a marvel that there isnt at least one astronomer a week being featured on Anderson Cooper or on the cover of Time. Why every schoolboy can probably rattle off a list of dozens of these gents.
Ayurvedic Cool "Disco" Dan
2/8/2019 09:54:39 pm
President John Quincy Adams, bitch. You're right because I know more than you? That's some weak tea, ma nigga*.
2/9/2019 12:11:22 pm
Mr/Miss Milky Way,
Archaebacterial Cool "Disco" Dan
2/9/2019 11:54:27 pm
Put your dick away and calm the heck down, Short Eyes. After all the challenge was "After all, how many astronomers ever became known or featured in media stories outside their field?" not "Name an astronomer who's been on The View."
2/10/2019 09:12:53 am
The kooks just keep on giving and giving....and a Harvard astrophysicist, no less!
2/11/2019 11:24:39 am
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