Maussan in Congress: a rogue exhibition | Article

Antonio Salgado Borge*

ANDIt was obvious that the Mexican Congress’s invitation to Jaime Mossan as an expert on extraterrestrial life would end in farce. What few of us expected was that it would reach the level of an unfortunate spectacle and eventually spread throughout the world.

Having received an invitation from Sergio Gonzalez Luna (Morena), Maussan had two main options on his table.

The first is to take advantage of this unexpected opportunity and pose as a serious expert. To do this, it was not necessary to detect a black thread. The most common strategy used by charlatans for these purposes is the same: an attempt to blur the line between science and pseudoscience.

Maussan’s second option was to press the nuclear option button; that is, presenting himself as a character that almost all Mexicans know and showing off his full circus. It is well known that Maussan chose this alternative, going so far as to dramatically display the objects in the coffins as alien bodies.

I count myself among those who initially interpreted the results of this tragicomedy from a pessimistic point of view. It doesn’t cost less. In Mexico, images of small coffins installed in our legislative precinct and presented with the support of public resources were widely and rightly ridiculed.

They were also covered with a mixture of disbelief and embarrassment by the world’s most important media (including such serious and diverse journalistic institutions as The Guardian, El País, The New York TimesAgency Reuters, BBCmagazine specializing in science and technology Wired or explanatory journalism site Vox).

However, I recently changed my mind. And if I did this, it is because I believe that a positive effect flows from what happened that deserves to be saved: a wonderful opportunity to put the “scientific work” of Maussan and our Congress in the right place.

To understand why, let’s start with the supposed extraterrestrial bodies that Maussan brought to the convention. goals.” . Roughly speaking, they are “creations made from animal and human bones held together with synthetic glue.”

This is exactly what is stated in a study published in the journal Journal of Biology and Biomedicine revealed that one of the “alien skulls” was actually made from the deteriorated remains of a llama. Add to this that the World Mummy Research Committee saw the need to warn that we were faced with an “irresponsible campaign of disinformation.”

The only thing that can be said in Maussan’s defense is that he is a man whose lack of epistemic or cognitive resources led him to sincerely believe the truth of what he said before Congress.

But even this line of defense is too merciful. In an unusual report Vox is an account of the history of these objects, the components of which, once assembled, turn any charitable reading on its head.

The story of the “alien bodies” that Maussan presented to the Mexican Congress is as follows. Between 2016 and 2017, the remains of crushed bodies were discovered in Nazca, Peru. From this point on, the Alien Project arose, a group dedicated to organizing conferences and proposed research on the so-called “Nazca mummies.”

In accordance with VoxThe main leader of this campaign is a renowned pseudo-scientist named Thierry Jamim, who falsely claims to be an archaeologist and the one who provided the “alien bodies” whose origins Maussant says he cannot reveal.

The most important element of this story is that Thierry Jamin and Project Alien knew full well that they were dealing with fakes. This is so true that they attribute the origin of these mummies to a mysterious man named Luis Quispe, whom they present as “a man with an incredible secret” and collaborating with “grave robbers.” In fact, Quispe was identified as a man who dedicated himself to making puppets to demonstrate how easy it is to deceive people into telling them that they are alien bodies. And Jamin knows it.

Report Vox He emphasizes that the union of Jamin and Maussan is consistent with an important fact: we are dealing with characters with similar profiles. Time and time again, “discoveries” promoted with confidence and supposed evidence in hand are exposed as fakes. Among Maussan’s “greatest hits” are the following:

  • Imagine a strange creature called the “Metepec Creature”, which turns out to be a monkey with a skin.
  • Promote the 2015 scam called the Roswell Slides. What was supposed to be a photo of an alien’s body turned out to be a mummified two-year-old child.
  • Claiming to have discovered a “demon fairy” in 2016, he later sold it for $10,000. After the operation, it turned out that the object was a mixture of a bat, wooden sticks, resin and other objects intended to deceive.
  • Enter the “Hall of Shame” (a sort of counter-hall of fame) of UFO Watchdog, an organization dedicated to exposing scammers seeking to profit from the UFO phenomenon.

There are two main takeaways from this series of elements.

Firstly, not only is Maussan not an “expert” on extraterrestrial life (which is self-evident); Nor is he the delusional and gullible innocent man that many people imagine him to be.

We are dealing with a man who, despite the fact that he knows numerous evidence that he is selling counterfeits, continues to follow the same line. And whenever he can, he refuses to allow objects that he believes to be studied by experts or institutions dedicated to the relevant sciences. Or, to put it more bluntly, to a fraudster willing to use any window to validate his position in a global ecosystem designed to profit from the epistemic and cognitive weaknesses of millions of people.

Second, by presenting the trickster as an expert, Sergio González Luna and the Mexican Congress, in whose hands are responsible for making decisions on budgets and laws concerning science and education, exposed themselves as masters of pseudoscience or charlatans and collaborators of an international network of professional tricksters.

In some ways, inviting Maussan to talk about the possibility of extraterrestrial life is like inviting Walter Mercado to lecture on astronomy, or Dr. Chung to explain the possibilities that nuclear fission opens up for the future of Mexico. But there is another sense in which Maussan’s invitation is more serious: astrologer Mercado and comedian Andres Bustamante are dedicated to entertainment; no one would appear before Congress to lecture on science-related issues in an effort to strengthen their ties to those who benefit from baseless conspiracy theories.

What is important for the purposes of this analysis is that Maussan’s behavior in Congress and in the eyes of the world as a revolving door charlatan has the potential to generate antibodies that will protect us from future repetitions of similar events. .

This may be good news in a context where the search for extraterrestrial life has been called one of the greatest challenges of our time. People and institutions involved in science are convinced that within the next two decades we will discover signs of life on other planets.

This is true, given that the discussion about unidentified objects on Earth is of greatest relevance. Primarily because this represents a national security issue for a number of countries, but also because an investigation is underway to determine the origin of these objects.

Between these two very important issues, the last thing we need is for people like Jaime Maussan to be treated as experts, or for the Mexican Congress to deal with important issues with the seriousness with which the most deplorable entertainment programs do. TV Azteca or from TV.

After the exhibition we were given, I very much doubt that something like this will happen again in the near future.

*Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Nottingham. Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh.

Source: Aristegui Noticias