My mother, the alien

My mother, the alien

My mother, the alien

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 9 2006 9:24 PM

My mother, the alien

Do aliens have mothers?

I have a better question: Are aliens our moms?

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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This may in fact be a legitimate question. Not that I think our moms are really aliens from another world (nor would I imply it, since my mom reads this blog), but could it be that the mythologized face of alien greys -- big heads, black almond-shaped eyes, almost no nose, slit for a mouth -- is simply a distorted view that babies have of their mothers?

Sounds weird. But in January, at James Randi's The Amaz!ng Meeting 4, I was MCing a series of talks based on "papers" in skepticism-- research done about skeptical topics. One speaker was Frederick V. Malmstrom, a psychologist and visiting scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Basically, he took pictures of human women, and then ran them through a filter to distort them. The filter was based on how a baby's eyes work, so that the resulting image would represent what a baby would see when they look at their mother. Malmstrom's work is online, and here is a before-and-after image set:

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She looks like a normal woman to me. But look at how her newborn infant sees her:

Aieeeeeeeee!

Look familiar? It does to me:

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So are the stories of grey aliens just a memory of how we saw our mothers when we were infants? The case is not definitive, of course, but it's pretty compelling. There are questions, of course. Can we remember things from that far back? Are memories retrievable form then, even distorted? And one I think about a lot: why do we have a primal fear of alien faces (that one gives me the screaming creeps) if they in fact represent our mother's face, a woman who cared for us, nurtured us, loved us, when we were helpless infants?

And yet, there are so many similarities between alien abduction stories and the way mothers take care of infants. Alien abduction victims are whisked away, helpless, for no apparent reason; aliens chatter over them; there is sometimes a feeling of weightlessness and floating (a baby in the womb?); strange and unexplained things are done to the victims, usually medical in nature. Coincidence, or causal connection?

Beats me. But it's certainly something to think about.

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Do I think people are abducted by aliens? Nope. There are lots of reasons why not: the ships are never seen (sorry, but the blurry photos I've seen are pretty poor evidence), the aliens are never seen, and most damning, there is simply no hard evidence of it. There are lots of claims of "implants" found and removed, but they either never seem to surface when the victim is queried (because, for example, a hoax is being pulled) or when tested they turn out to be ordinary objects found right here on Earth.

And, as I think Carl Sagan pointed out, if you take the number of people who say they are abducted and extrapolate to the rest of the world, there would have to be something like 800,000 abductions every year to account for the reported cases! Seems unlikely, doesn't it? Incidentally, I don't have a citation for that number, but I have seen it floating around the web and it seems like a reasonable number.

Finally, when people ask me if I think aliens are coming to Earth to experiment on people and our livestock, I give them the same answer: why should aliens travel trillions of miles to repeatedly excoriate cow anuses when they only have to do it once and then clone all the cow anuses they need at home?

Tip of the space helmet to God is for Suckers! for the article, and, by the way, there is another article about this at the Washington Post.