On September 12, ufologist and journalist Jaime Maussan presented what he said was evidence of extraterrestrial life to the Mexican Congress. On September 19, Mexico’s scientific community gathered at a conference to ask a simple question: „Aliens or llama skeletons?”
The answer was in the subtitle of the conference: „Science Responds to Charlatans and Fraudsters.” If Mouzanne shocked Mexico and the world with his outlandish claims, it’s something Mexico’s scientific community is fighting back. At the end of the conference, Alejandro Frank, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and host of the event, summed things up: “We are facing serious problems that we experience in Mexico and on the entire planet. , starting with climate change, war and pandemics, is sad to talk about the misdeeds of a professional charlatan.
Scientists did not meet to discuss Moussan’s „decades of ridiculous conspiracy claims,” Frank said, but rather because of Moussan’s latest outlandish claims. Mawson’s appearance in Mexico’s Congress, he argued, „turned the world upside down” and made scientific reasoning an object of ridicule in Mexico. „What is at stake here is whether our country will follow science or superstition and intrigue.”
While Mouzon’s extraterrestrial claims are laughable, the danger they pose to science in Mexico and around the world is serious. Frank pointed out that the polarization of Mexican politics, especially around urgent issues like the climate crisis, is a particularly alarming example of how the country’s scientific reputation has already suffered. Following the Alien debacle, Frank called on Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, or National Council for Science and Technology, to speak out and take action. „Agency remains silent on facts surrounding Nazca mummies, increasingly popularized as 'Mexican mummies.'”
José Franco, researcher at UNAM’s Institute of Astronomy, opened the conference on „Life in the Universe”, where he spoke about DNA and RNA, interstellar chemistry, radio spectra of the Orions KL Nebula and cloverleaf quasars.
He talked about exobiology, the field that studies the possibility of life outside of Earth; A direct search for microbial life in space; Meteors, Moon, Mars, Europa, Enceladus and Venus. Arecibo spoke of messages sent from the telescope, and humanity’s secret search for extraterrestrials; precursor plates; Voyager 1 and 2 Golden Records; Message sent from Ukraine Gliese 581c, a planet with some Earth-like conditions in 2008; and another broadcast, in 2008, directed to the Beatles song „Across the Universe.” Star Polaris.
„Hayabusa2 has been sent to the Ryugu asteroid, returned to Earth, and is already in the hands of scientists in Japan and NASA,” Franco said. He mentioned the Osiris-Rex sample collection mission, which collected about 250 grams of debris from an asteroid. He touched on nine probes sent to Mars, among them famous persistence. „No life to be found, no intelligence to be found in Congress,” quipped Franco.
Gabriela Frias, a scientific researcher, described the recent events in Mexico’s Congress as „a pseudoscientific phenomenon that appeals to our imaginations, desires and fears.” During his presentation, Mawson pointed to the „carbon-14 analysis” conducted on the Nazca mummies by scientists at UNAM. Moussan cited this, in part, as evidence that he was presenting „inhuman beings”. UNAM disclaims itself „from any subsequent application, interpretation or erroneous conclusions”.
In a statement, UNAM said it was necessary to approach the search for alien life „with the support of scientific research institutions and by following the strict ethical standards inherent in research”. Moussan’s appearance in Congress was the opposite.
This article was originally published WIRED in Spanish.