Check the Claim: Were “alien mummies” shown in Mexico’s congress?
SKILL: Check the Claim
SUBJECT(S): Pop Culture, History, Science
Students will use a keyword search to learn important context around the alleged “alien mummies” brought to Mexico’s congress.
About the Example
This Instagram post from an account called “Pubity” claims that 1000-year-old mummified beings that some believe to be aliens were shown in Mexico’s Congress in the “first-ever ‘alien hearing.’” The post explains that the journalist who led the event, Jamie Maussan, said one-third of the specimen’s DNA is unknown, indicating they did not evolve on Earth. The post goes on to explain that the specimens were found in Peru, and investigations found that one specimen might even contain eggs.
Since this post is a brief summary of what is likely a larger story, and Pubity is not a known professional news or scientific organization, we can use a keyword search (“alien specimen Mexico”) to trade up to a higher quality source.
Due to the virality of this story, we’ll want to toggle to the “News” tab to filter for only professional news sources and to select a source that provides thorough coverage. Some good options include Smithsonian Magazine, Global News, and Reuters.
According to these higher-quality sources, the journalist who made the claim is a self-proclaimed “ufologist”, the scientific community resoundingly rejects the claim that the mummies are aliens, and the scientists whose findings were cited as proof of alien origins do not endorse the claim themselves.
By trading up to a higher quality source we learn that the Pubity post is very misleading. The truth may still be out there, but it’s not here.
- Show students the Instagram post and have them identify the main claim, along with any important additional claims.
- Have students conduct a keyword search (“alien specimen Mexico”) to see if other sources are reporting on this story.
- Have them click on coverage from Reuters. Guiding questions
- Are the claims in the Pubity post mostly true or mostly false? Explain your answer.
- What additional context did you learn from the Reuter’s coverage of the story?
- What do you think the motive behind the Pubity post was? How might that differ from the motive behind Reuter’s coverage?
Review and Discuss Key Concepts (optional)
Discuss with students what they know about conspiracy theories. Why might stories about aliens go viral on social media?