Humans (and other higher animals) love to explore – what’s over the next hill? Food or sex or enemies or greener grass or gold or buried treasure – we’ve got to know. It’s in our very nature; our genes and probably a trait vital for survival. I strongly suspect the same will be true for any Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI).
Part of that survival is knowing about your neighbours (friend or foe) so we seek out new life forms and new civilizations, be they across the valley, across the pond, or across the gulf of space. That should also apply to ETI.
Traditional SETI (the Search for ETI) is handicapped in that it can only detect a small subset of new extraterrestrial life forms and new civilizations. SETI can’t detect non-intelligent life or intelligences that don’t have a high enough or suitable technology. That would also apply to ETI. Their SETI program wouldn’t have detected human civilization even as recently as say 200 years ago.
To find the rest, that is most life throughout the cosmos, we need to Boldly Go and travel to the stars. Ditto ETI.
There are no natural physical laws, relationships or principles that would prevent this, and that applies to ETI as well.
We’ve only just begun to Boldly Go, taking our first few baby steps into our own shallow waters that ultimately lead to the great depths of the cosmic ocean. ETI (in general) has had potentially vastly more time in which to sail the cosmic ocean and way more time to become more advanced technologically – as in interstellar spaceflight capability. We’ve only had roughly 4.5 billion years to get to where we are today; our cosmic (Milky Way Galaxy) neighbours have had potentially an additional 5.5 billion years on top of that since our galaxy is roughly ten billion years old.
More technologically advanced Europeans discovered Australia, Japan, the Americas, etc. not the other way around. By analogy, ETI will discover us before we discover them. In fact, translated, ETI has discovered us. We are the modern equivalents of the Aztecs, Maya, Incas, North American Indians, Australian Aborigines, the Japanese. But that’s getting slightly ahead of the game. In actual fact, ETI discovered Planet Earth probably way before humans were thought of in anyone’s philosophy – especially theirs (but that’s getting ahead of the game again).
We’d be excited to discover the biosphere of another planet – microbes on Mars would be exciting to astrobiologists. Biospheres are relatively rare in the cosmos compared to other real estate abodes. The Moon is cosmic real estate, but it’s not very exciting real estate. ETI would presumably be more interested in real estate with a biosphere – like our biosphere – because again biospheres are rare real estate.
Of course ET may not have actually discovered Earth and Earth’s biosphere by actually exploring our inner solar system. ET could have detected spectroscopically our biosphere remotely, at a vast distance, by finding biomarkers that’s unique to life like chlorophyll or oxygen, or otherwise suggestive of an environment that’s bio-friendly, like water vapour or methane. The parallel there is that we human’s are detecting via remote sensing, extra-solar planets at a rapid rate of knots. Determining the general chemical makeup of such bodies is plausible, and in fact has been accomplished for several extra-solar planets already. It probably won’t be too much longer before we detect an alien biosphere, or at least a potential one.
If humans discover something new and important, and assuming it doesn’t have sensitive military or diplomatic connotations, that information tends to get disseminated as quickly as the technology of the times allows for. In like fashion the first discovery of our biosphere could be common knowledge throughout all of our galaxy’s ETI civilizations within a maximum of 100,000 years at light speed (or less) since the diameter of our galaxy is only 100,000 light years. Probably every space faring ET would want to come and have a look. The terrestrial parallels are obvious. Once we discovered Antarctica it quickly became common knowledge. We (collectively) went back, again, and again and again, finally setting up near permanent quarters despite the obvious costs and hardships, all in the name of science. We’ll go back to the Moon too one day – maybe not anytime real soon, but eventually. Your great grandkids will see lunar settlements or outposts like we today see in Antarctica.
Of course it would prove to be an extraordinary stroke of luck if, after 4.5 billion years of Planet Earth’s existence, that an ETI just happened to stumble across our humble abode at the very era in time that our generation (1947+) was in existence. Therefore, let’s postulate that ETI happened upon Planet Earth – oh, let’s bisect the timeline – say 2.25 billion years ago.
Like the Americas or Australia was to the Europeans – prime real estate, so too our Planet Earth was prime real estate to ET all those billions of years ago. That’s because even back then, Planet Earth had a biosphere, albeit one full of microbes – no humans, just lots of microbes. That’s okay since that still puts our home planet in the higher echelons of valuable and prime real estate.
Fast forward several billion years to just before the dawn of the human. As far as intelligence goes just before the dawn, dolphins and kin, and primates rule the IQ roost – along with the crows and their kin (like magpies).
As noted, way back then, ET couldn’t interact with humans – we hadn’t yet evolved from the primordial scum – yet – but that was to change. If a superior nation happens upon an inferior nation (superior and inferior referring mainly to technology), the usual outcome is, based on our terrestrial history, fairly obvious. So, ETI couldn’t do much with microbes, but they could bide their time until something more suitable and promising came along – the primates.
Enter the realm of mythology, a subject I take as factual until proven otherwise, especially when it comes to universals shared between all races, cultures, and geographical regions. So henceforth the mythological gods are actually an ETI that’s come to pay their respects to and investigate our biosphere.
Universal Mythology Number One: The ET ‘gods’ created humans. Why humans should have imagined they had ever been created in the first place is a total mystery unless someone (the ‘gods’) told them that was the case. Now unless the ‘gods’ are super-duper organic and biochemists, I’m sure they didn’t literally create humans out of mud and dust and all manner of other stuff. Rather humans were ‘created’ as a product of artificial selection and genetic (or bio) engineering from primate stock (as dolphins and crows weren’t quite as suitable as experimental subjects).
Okay, haven’t humans ‘created’ all manner of breeds of organisms (cats, dogs, horses, cattle, roses, wheat, rice, etc.) via just such genetic (and bio) engineering and artificial selection? Genetically modified organisms are a big biotech industry. And isn’t such artificial breeding and genetic manipulation all done with ultimately us in mind, either for practical or cosmetic reasons?
Fast forward to the dawn of human civilization, that transition from hunter-gather to settlements and domestic bliss.
Universal Mythology Number Two: We were created to serve the ‘gods’ (now often termed ‘ancient astronauts’), to be their domestic servants and make their life easier and more meaningful (like having worshippers).
Human analogies abound. History is full of emperors, empresses, pharaohs, kings, queens, dictators, presidents, ministers, religious officials of every type who demand our loyalty and our labour and our taxes, and who erect monuments to themselves, or rather have others erect those monuments on their behalf.
Fast forward to more modern times, like say 1947, when the ‘gods’ or ‘ancient astronauts’ have now morphed into ‘aliens’ who buzz around in their UFOs. One argument against there being real UFOs buzzing around is the following:
Every cubic inch of the sky is monitored from above and below 24/7/52 by highly sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment, always on the lookout for sneak attacks and to track satellites and space junk. The orbits of thousands of bits of space junk are known with high precision, even if that bit is no larger than a ham sandwich! Any alien spaceships that large or (obviously) larger that’s up there, well, we’d know about it.
However, IMHO, advanced stealth technology rules; okay anyone? It’s a major and ever ongoing R&D into stealth technologies that are of interest to the military, the intelligence community and law enforcement agencies on Earth. What might an advanced alien civilization 1000, 10,000 years in advance of our have in the way of such camouflage? They’d obviously use that technology to prevent being shot at by trigger-happy generals! In ‘Star Trek’ terminology, we’d call this sort of technology something akin to a ‘cloaking device’.
My bit above about UFOs and stealth technology or ‘cloaking’ devices’ is nothing more than drawing a parallel between with we humans (the military in particular) do R&D on, and have adopted, and will continue to do R&D on and continue to adopt for obvious reasons. If stealth technology exists, then it would surprise me that ETI wouldn’t have discovered this as well and adopted same, if for no other reason, assuming UFOs are the products of ETI, than it would be useful to often cloak themselves from human observation. ETI is here on a scientific mission, IMHO, and like say wildlife biologists hide in the bushes so as not to disturb the objects of their study; or why a hunter uses camouflage in the woods so their prey doesn’t spot them. If humans, why not ET?
There’s an association been made between the phenomena of animal mutilations and aliens for reasons that aren’t totally clear but might be related to the abduction phenomena (see below). Regardless, from the point of view of terrestrial livestock humans slaughter for meat; frogs dissected in biology classes by humans; humans who do biological and medical research, well often it is less than a bed of roses for the animal subjects who go under the knife.
I’d like to think that their agenda, the alien’s motive for being here is science. As noted above, Planet Earth is really interesting real estate in the cosmos since we have a biosphere. And like our wildlife biologists and anthropologists, etc. go out of their way so as not to disturb the objects of their study in their natural environment, so too might any ETI associated with UFOs try to keep to a minimum disturbing the natives (see stealth technology above). The aliens are ‘harmless as kittens on Xanax’ (a phrase used by a well known SETI scientist) by deliberate design. Of course even wildlife biologists have to occasionally capture, study (maybe dissect), tag and release their subject – perhaps a parallel with the abduction phenomena?
One question immediately leaps to mind – if abductions are imaginary, why? Abductions, as reported by the alleged abductees aren’t overly pleasant experiences. Humans by their very nature like pleasant experiences – warm sunshine, gentle rain, red roses, hot chocolate, a loving relationship with a partner, a nice view, your own home, no job related stress, sufficient finances to pay all your bills, and overall the good life, including in that the philosophy according to Peanuts, ‘happiness is a warm puppy’.
Of course most humans, at some time(s) or other, have nightmares – very unpleasant. However, we apparently have built-in defence mechanisms that jolt us awake if things get too intense. However, you don’t wake up from an abduction nightmare, if nightmare it be, so you’re probably not dreaming.
Humans might like the occasional nasty horror movie or TV show, but though we may hide behind the sofa, or leave the room for a TV snack just when the horror element reaches a peak, we are ultimately in control and can turn the TV off.
So what’s the parallel with the alien UFO abduction phenomena? Alleged UFO abductions aside (and that in itself presents all manner of issues, not the least of which are social and/or psychological if there’s no UFO ETH) are the central point. I mean human scientists, with all good intentions, abduct and perform nasty experiments on wildlife or laboratory animals. If wildlife (and mice and rats used in medical research) could talk, what a gruesome tale they would tell about what ‘harmless as kittens on Xanax’ we humans are. So, we abduct animals for all manner of experimentation; aliens return the favour and abduct us for similar reasons. Why?
If my interpretation of mythology is correct, aliens ‘created’ humans via genetic engineering from our primate ancestors for reasons noted above. Aliens also, via genetic engineering, created the hybrids of mythology – those half-human half-animal, or half-animal-half other form of animal ‘half and halves’, like for example the sphinx.
Now if UFO abductees are to be believed, aliens are really interested in furthering their genetic experiments. They’ve ‘created’ humans from primate stock – artificial selection; they’re created terrestrial hybrids; now their next step is creating alien-human hybrids. Exactly why this should be so, whether for purely academic reasons, or because they have a practical goal in mind – well, time will tell the ultimate tale. I think the jury is still out on that scenario. However, I must point out that if there is an ETI behind some of the UFO phenomena, then we must remind ourselves that we are dealing with aliens. By definition that means an alien mind, alien behaviour, alien psychology, alien emotions, and alien motives. The parallels between human mental processes and alien mental processes might not be one-on-one.
It’s just as important IMHO to consider what they (the aliens) don’t do as well as what they do, do. An important argument against the UFO ETH is that aliens would obviously make contact with us, for diplomatic and trade related reasons. Why would they come all this way and then not openly interact with the lords and masters on this planet – the presidents and prime ministers and associated powerbrokers?
Well, we humans don’t come up to a troop of primates or a pod of dolphins (intelligences in their own right) with a “take me to your leader” or “let’s establish diplomatic and trade relations”.
Aliens, way back then or here and now, didn’t and haven’t adopted traditional Hollywood invasion scenarios. Aliens don’t want our planet the way Hitler did. And although history is chockfull of one nation(s) invading another nation(s), on balance, most nations leave most other nations alone most of the time. There’s probably no resources, minerals, water, real estate, etc. that aliens need Earth for that they couldn’t just as easily get closer to their home and from uninhabited abodes. What resources they want appear to be biological ones (animal mutilations; abductions) and for those they do require being here, but don’t actually have to do Hollywood-style ‘War of the Worlds’ conquest to get what they want or need.
In summary, aliens, like humans, have motives. In the case of our ‘gods’, ‘ancient astronauts’ or today’s aliens, it’s clear that if bona-fide UFOs (past or present) somehow equate to ETI, then ETI doesn’t have extraterrestrial invasion as an agenda, nor a diplomatic ‘take me to your leader’ scenario. Not after some six plus decades. Again I note that alien invasion, a staple of Hollywood like “Independence Day” and hundreds of other similar films, isn’t apparently their agenda. Also, diplomatic contact and setting up trade relations isn’t on their agenda either apparently. I guess it could be tourism and R&R, but I’d like to think the agenda, their motive is science.
Humans have explored ever since we had the ability to explore. We’ve boldly gone, in person or via machine surrogates, to the depths of the ocean, to Antarctica, to the Moon, and to all of the planets (actual, or in the case of Pluto, on route). All this exploration for all practical purposes has been for the sake of just science, pure science, and nothing but the science. Of course there’s usually an ulterior motive in the back of the mind – exploration leads to exploitation. We explore, we like what we see, we colonize, we exploit, we build resorts for R&R, we migrate to escape various forms of environmental/political pressures, we mine for resources, and we farm for food and do more besides. Today the Moon is for science; tomorrow we may exploit its resources. Why should the ET-Earth relationship be any different? Keep watching the skies – we might be in for a rough time of it yet!
Science librarian; retired.