Ancient Aliens Debunked & Information Literacy
Stuck at home the last couple of days suffering from the flu, I had a little time on my hands and stumbled upon the website Ancient Aliens Debunked. Essentially this site is the host of a free documentary (embedded below) by Chris White that goes point by point through claims from the History Channel’s popular Ancient Aliens program and offers alternative explanations to the ancient astronaut theory presented in the show.
While I am a casual fan of Ancient Aliens, seeing a three hour documentary that tried to vet the sources was very interesting and got me thinking about how we (and our students) evaluate information today. As the documentary progressed, it became clear that some of the information in the Ancient Aliens show was clearly not sourced or obviously invented and not merely a different interpretation of a known source or artifact. However, given the professional and authoritative air that the TV series put on, some may accept these proposals and theories without question. While it is not perfect, the Debunked documentary and website does make a concerted effort to link various sources that allows viewers to research on their own to reach their own conclusions.
Neither show is perfect in anyway, and it is a rather roundabout way to get to my point, but what struck me was one statement by Dr. Mike Heiser, Debunked’s ancient language authority:
“[A source] should always be willing to direct you to information so that you can do the work and check on them. If they don’t, you should be suspicious… You should ask that source; that person ‘Where can I look? What can I do? What can I access to try to test what you’re saying?’”(via).
This idea is one we should stress to our students, and allow them to have access to the materials and sources to conduct their own research and analysis. This type of independent discovery is a key to student learning – especially as more and more classrooms are flipped into a student-driven environment. We just need to be willing and open as instructors to not only show them our research, sources, and methodology, but also to provide them with the tools to evaluate and critically analyze what they find, see, and hear on their own.
In the coming weeks, I will add more tips and tricks to help provide more Information Literacy tools for evaluating sources and content as well as how you can help students in pulling out relevant information from source then properly citing them in their research. In the meantime, enjoy the documentary and visit the companion website where you can see the research conducted (with citations) by filmmaker Chris White.