Life on Mars fails in comparison to the alien stories available in cyberspace


UFO conspiracy buffs must not get much fresh air. After all, sitting through Independence Day a dozen times, watching the collected X-Files on video, and trading bizarre alien-abduction theories on the Internet doesn’t leave a lot of time for a normal social life. If I spent as much time inside as these guys do, I, too, would mistake street lamps for flying saucers whenever I ventured out to cash my unemployment check.

Of course, to paraphrase the old saw, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there aren’t little green men waiting to zap you. Thanks to Independence Day, Area 51 — a tract of Nevada desert home to a military base that purportedly harbors alien craft — is now familiar to more people than Bosnia. And upcoming series such as NBC’s Dark Skies promise to give ETs the Must-See TV treatment. However, it’s in the world of multimedia — where everyone is an expert and no one is accountable — that extraterrestrial sightings abound. Here are some theories gleaned from a brief tour of cyberspace:

UFOs exist, and that’s why you can’t get a decent cut of beef for less than 5 dollars a pound.

The Mad Hackerz Cattle Mutilation, Conspiracies, and UFO’s Web page posits a huge galactic plot to terrorize hapless bovines in the Midwest. Apparently unaware that the evidence points more toward real-life Beavises and Butt-heads than at hungry aliens, the anonymous author observes that ”the seemingly casual disposal of the useless carcasses hints at the extreme confidence — even arrogance — of the mutilators.”

UFOs don’t exist, but don’t go leaving the house just yet.

The Controllers Web page plays down alien kidnappings in favor of a more elegant hypothesis: that the CIA (for reasons that are unlikely to emerge as you plow through this dense treatise) has been planting hallucination-inducing microchips in the brains of unwitting suburban homemakers, truck drivers, and airline pilots.

UFOs may or may not exist, but what the heck, we’ve already got your money.

In the schlocky tradition of such TV shows as Unsolved Mysteries, the new ultra-slick CD-ROM The Unexplained pays lip service to skeptics (”Many scientists doubt the existence of…”), then presents tricked-up interviews with supposed abductees as if they were honest-to-ALF reliable witnesses.

Aliens exist, and they built the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

”Did you know that the height of the pyramid (481 feet) is almost exactly one one-billionth of the distance from the Earth to the Sun (490 billion feet)?” I don’t know what’s scarier about James K.’s Web page; its claim that aliens visited what is now present-day Egypt circa 10,500 B.C., or the fact that this guy is a student at Columbia University.

The alien-autopsy film exists, but it’s not the one you’ve seen on TV.