In the first half, Michael Shermer, the publisher and editor of Skeptic magazine and the Director of the Skeptics Society, discussed his latest work outlining how science and reason have been the driving forces of truth and morality throughout history and how our deepest problems of the past, present, and future can be solved by our ability to reason our way to solutions. Though the news media is always reporting a barrage of bad news, homicide and crime rates are on a significant downswing, and life is much safer than it was hundreds of years ago, partially because of better crime fighting technologies, he noted.
In fact, we are living in the most moral time of our species history, he contended. Slavery is outlawed everywhere in the world, and minority rights, women's rights, gay rights, and now even animal rights have become part of our moral landscape. More people in more places have more freedom, autonomy, and prosperity than at any time in history, he added. Shermer also touched on some of the scientific reasoning and evolutionary origins of morality, weighed in on the climate debate, and offered several of his skeptical takes on the paranormal, including UFOs and near-death experiences.
In the latter half, Ardy Sixkiller Clarke, a Professor Emeritus at Montana State University, who spent seven years traveling through Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, immersing herself with indigenous populations, shared their stories of encounters, sky gods, giants, little people, and aliens. Many of the people she spoke with had not had exposure to media such as books and TV, yet described alien encounters not dissimilar to what has been experienced in the US. Near Monte Alban, a pre-Columbian site in Mexico, she learned of a man who arrived and departed in a beam of light.
In Guatemala and Mexico, she heard tales of little people, who only come up to about your knee. "They dress like ancient Maya when they are in human form but they have the capability of turning themselves into stones, plants, shadows, and animals, so...you can pass right by one and not even know it," Clarke detailed. In the Guatemalan jungle, there were accounts of giant hairy creatures who resemble what we would think of as Bigfoot, she said. Interestingly, there were also stories of giants with blue skin, who in ancient days shared caves with the Maya, but in more recent times were known to steal women in order to repopulate their group. One elder from Honduras told Clarke about a strange 3-ft. skeleton in a silver suit with attached tubes that he found in a cave in Copan decades ago.
A photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope seems to depict a happy face floating in space. Yet, its two orange eyes are actually bright galaxies, while its "smile" and button "nose" are produced by an effect known as gravitational lensing. More on the image here.
Click on photo to enlarge.