I want to believe
October 1, 2017 6:27 AM   Subscribe

A wonderful story and a satisfying conclusion! I love "Carey couldn’t comprehend someone calling him 'a hemorrhoid with glasses'."
posted by languagehat at 7:03 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Archaeology is familiar with Mexican infant and child mummies [warning: images may be disturbing]...
posted by jim in austin at 8:14 AM on October 1, 2017

I did think of those Victorian fake mermaids that turn up in museum collections that turn out to be a mummified monkey's head on top of a dried out fish.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:44 AM on October 1, 2017

Feejee mermaids! I, uh, found one once that I was going to give to a friend, but then my dog got up on the table and ate it.

I'd like to think that, if I'd seen those slides, I would have known what it was, but if you're primed to see one thing, sometimes you can miss the obvious.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:32 AM on October 1, 2017

That was a wonderful story. Also, the story of Hilda Blair Ray sounds wonderful.
posted by crush at 10:05 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]



(I want to believe)
posted by chavenet at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

Pfft, that's no mummy, that's Adam, Titanica's number one fan!
posted by symbioid at 11:17 AM on October 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


It all boils down to this. If aliens do arrive here, they'll either be looking for the equivalent of money, or they'll eat us.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:18 AM on October 1, 2017

I totally thought it was going to turn out to be Mamie Eisenhower the whole time.
posted by vorpal bunny at 11:23 AM on October 1, 2017

Spoiler Alert: It was an actual alien.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

Monkey On A Stick, franchise, freezer ships.
posted by Oyéah at 12:44 PM on October 1, 2017

Fellas, this visit's top secret, so no one is to know about it except the senior officers, scientists, and one conspiracy nut no one will believe.
posted by kersplunk at 1:14 PM on October 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

I shouldn't be amused by anything involving the remains of a child that ought to be buried. But this reveal was hilarious. I was a little frustrated with the way they were stripteasing the photo, and then it was completely worth it. What about the guy in shorts in the background said top-secret to them?

I was obsessed with Pedro the mummy when I was younger and there was less Internet around. You have to admit it looks pretty spoopy, especially if you don't have any further context.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:03 PM on October 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's heartening to see that at least some in the UFO community are sincere enough to call out mistakes. But, the amount of wasted effort is depressing.
. . .Carey, who has anthropology degrees from two different universities. . .
What an incredibly weird statement. Tough to say whether the reporter or subject is a nut.
He and Carey also worried that any Roswell evidence taken to a US college that received federal funding would be shipped to the military and disappear forever.
Well, that clears it up. The subject is a nut. You'd think he'd have gained some insight into how universities are structured while obtaining his two degrees.
posted by eotvos at 2:43 PM on October 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

if there were aliens or bigfoots (bigfeet?), we'd know by now because cellphone cameras. hell, some guy in russia caught a giant fucking meteor on his dash cam.

the deep sea, and exoplanets - that's where the fun is (h/t bruce, manfred).
posted by j_curiouser at 7:10 PM on October 1, 2017

What an incredibly weird statement. Tough to say whether the reporter or subject is a nut.

Carey's official bio is easy to find on the internet. He has a bachelor's in business admin from Temple University, a master's in anthropology from California State University, Sacramento, and pursued (but did not complete) a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Toronto. His bio is upfront about this, so it seems like the Guardian's error in reporting otherwise.
posted by Emily's Fist at 7:16 PM on October 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Just to note the display or even scientific study of Indigenous human remains is increasingly Not Cool. In many contexts, it is illegal. This child's remains being publicly exhibited proves they were the result of grave robbing, not science. The UFO nutcase iteration of the dynamic is no less a ghoulish and disrespectful spectacle.

That purported physical anthropologists could look at the body and see something non-human only tells you they didn't even learn anything from all that grave robbing. As an anthropologist myself (albeit linguistic) my appalled-o--meter was properly pinned by the end of this article.

Many years ago I heard Stephen Jay Gould (with whom I was privileged to take two classes and maintain an occasional correspondence for years) give a lecture on what we would now call exobiology. He was running the thought experiment about whether the evolution of life on other planets and in other galaxies, absent a common ancestor to life on earth, would produce adaptations and thus organisms that would closely resemble the forms life had taken on earth, as nearly every sci-fi work presumes.

His argument was that it was quite unlikely beyond gross morphological constraints on size and shape, that the efficiencies and accidents would accumulate very differently minus the same "accidents" of natural history that produced the "punctuations" of his famous theory of punctuated equilibrium. Anyway it involved statistics and may have been a stretch, but he argued convincingly that we might not even recognize "alien" life forms as living beings at all. Bilateral symmetry, let alone a basically humanoid form, were pretty damn unlikely indeed.

I hope that child's remains were at least taken off exhibit. They need to be repatriated to a modern Indigenous community in the same area as they were found looted.
posted by spitbull at 8:34 PM on October 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

Fascinating story.

"The Sasquatch community"

Cough. Yeah.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:01 PM on October 1, 2017

Spitbull the pictures were taken before 1950 and the article says "The mummy was traced to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum in Mesa Verde, Colorado. The museum confirmed the child’s body had been on display for years. "

Meaning, no, it's no longer on display. They don't say what happened to it, but having worked on digs in the region (and having visited Mesa Verde even) I'd imagine it was buried or returned to local indigenous peoples. There are agreements between the tribes and the major excavators regarding treatment of human remains that are discovered (mostly that you aren't allowed to disturb them at all if you find any these days.)
posted by threeturtles at 3:00 AM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

It says in this article, The Racism Behind Alien Mummy Hoaxes, that the body was repatriated in 2015. Got that from the Archaeological Fantasies podcast, which is about debunking but also a lot of fun.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:04 AM on October 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd like to know of the remains were in fact repatriated or not. Huge collections of human remains are still in university and museum basements and not being actively repatriated. This includes federal museums like the Smithsonian and public universities like Indiana University. Despite NAGPRA, compliance is uneven and still poorly funded.

I realize the photos are from before 1950, but that doesn't excuse the display of them then, nor their use now by UFO bullshit artists. Nor the legacy of grave robbing that built American archaeology and a traffic in Indigenous human bodies that made many white people rich.
posted by spitbull at 6:58 PM on October 2, 2017

The grossness of this phrase in Countess Elena's link (which is worthy of inclusion in the FPP) really answers the question of whether Maussian is ".. either a fearless crusader tackling environmental issues or a sensationalist with an unhealthy UFO obsession."
Incredibly, Maussan then offered $10,000 for information that might permit the Puebloan boy’s “location and recuperation.”
What a jackass.
posted by mikeh at 7:32 AM on October 3, 2017

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