Aliens erected a monolith in Nevada? Not likely.

aliens erected a monolith in nevada? not likely.

It all began in 2020 with this monolith in the Utah desert

In the mountains near gambler's paradise in the US, Las Vegas, people have discovered another "alien" monolith.

It's sparked a fresh wave of monolithic hype, even though there's a perfectly earthly explanation.

The monolith, a stele, was found 30 kilometers from Las Vegas in a barren rocky landscape, near the summit of Gass Peak, reported local police.

And — perhaps — to ensure the rectangular mirror structure was quickly discovered, it was conveniently placed next to a hiking trail.

You can't drive directly up to it by car, but it wouldn't be so mysterious then, would it?

Worldwide imitation

There's been "monolith hype" on social media and other channels, with people voicing suspicions that aliens might have erected the monolith in the US — as one in Wales in March 2024.

When that one was discovered in the Welsh countryside, it made similar headlines.

A resourceful hiker posted a picture of themselves in front of the 3-meter-high shiny object and told The Guardian newspaper that it "looked like a UFO."

The hiker and the newspaper did everything right: They created a mystery about the monolith's origin, using key buzzwords: "eerie" and "UFO", and the news spread around the world.

Aliens are the answer — what else?

It is striking that aliens seem to be particularly interested in very remote areas.

Back in 2020, while humans were fighting a small virus called SARS-CoV-2, US officials discovered a monolith in Red Rock County, Utah, while counting sheep. A sensation! Everyone reported on the strange structure in the middle of nowhere.

Soon after, similar objects were discovered in California, Romania, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the German state of Hesse. Often in places where there is mostly one thing: almost nothing!

The fascination with the unfathomable

The unexplained, mysterious, and undiscovered have captivated us since ancient times. Mystical places and things that we (initially) cannot explain arouse our curiosity.

American psychologist W. McDougall said at the beginning of the 20th century that curiosity was the essential core of all types of motivation, and thus the basis for humanity's special scientific and cultural achievements.

Curiosity is an instinct and can be observed in toddlers even before the onset of language. The more remote and unreachable, the greater the curiosity.

The legendary island of Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle swallowing ships in the western Atlantic, UFOs and aliens, astrology, supernatural powers, or gigantic crop circles — the more inexplicable, the more attractive.

The search for explanations

We not only want to perceive things but also to understand them. We are conditioned to investigate, to "grasp" and explain things. What remains a mystery to us, what is "unfathomable", we call "mysterious".

"It's the fascination with the unusual," said psychologist Günter Molz at the University of Wuppertal. "Those who advocate unusual theories are 'not normal' in the sense of inconspicuous, boring. They represent an exclusive position and may feel narcissistically gratified," Molz told DW. These people may have an exaggerated need for admiration.

If something is mysterious, we look for plausible explanations — for example, in science, in para- or pseudo-science, in esotericism, in superstition or in religions. All areas tend to claim a certain degree of absoluteness. "Non-scientific explanations also have the advantage of exclusivity," said Molz.

Attention instead of aliens

It may be that an extraterrestrial life form has a heightened interest in the barren rocky landscape in Nevada or Wales. However, in the past, the monoliths turned out to be relatively crude attempts to attract attention.

Immediately after a monolith becomes known, hordes of tourists, onlookers and seekers of meaning flock to the objects. And in their wake, souvenir traders, snack stalls and other soldiers of fortune.

The artist Matty Way was responsible for the first monolith in Utah. When the hype reached its peak, Way identified himself as "The Most Famous Artist". Replicas of the monolith could be ordered from his artist collective for $45,000 (€42,000).

Four amateur artists from California thought it was a great business idea and erected their own monoliths in the Sunshine State. Other copycats followed and so the monolith phenomenon grew.

But the monoliths in Romania, Spain, and Hesse were so badly welded that aliens would probably be ashamed of them.

The downside of the hype

Once attention is drawn to a mysterious object, which has become much easier through social media, everyone wants to see it or profit from it. Who knows how long it will be on display.

The resourceful explorer from Wales pointed this out straight away: "I can't say how long the object will be there, quite honestly," he said. "Knowing our national parks, they don't think it's funny if someone just puts something up."

He was probably right. After all, the brief joy at the unexpected windfall is quickly followed by the anger of local residents or conservationists in the affected region, who have to witness how the previously untouched landscape is littered and devastated by the crowds.

"We would like to remind public land visitors that using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorization is illegal, no matter what planet you are from," joked the Bureau of Land Management Utah on X.

Many of the monoliths were soon destroyed or removed by the authorities. As a precautionary measure, the Utah Department of Public Safety concealed the exact location of the monolith so that streams of tourists would not set in motion in the first place and no further objects would be erected in the untouched nature.

This article was originally published in German.

Author: Alexander Freund

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