– Cartman (South Park)
In this crazy mixed up galaxy, it’s hard to know who’s who, what’s what and what THEY want. Of course, THEY can say the same, but the universal consensus apparently suggests that we are not the same. To be honest, we’re not really sure who THEY are or if they even exist, but many folks are real nervous just the same.
There’s been some discussion concerning a recent study that reviewed a number scenarios depicting the nature of contact with alien life forms, in other words, extra-terrestrials. The study basically assesses a variety of science fiction themes to reach some conclusion over what contact with extra-terrestrials might reap, and whether or not this is something we might actively want to be pursuing. Word making the rounds is that our ultimate fate may be decided by our galactic neighbors, possibly in the name of ‘keeping the neighborhood safe’.
Ok, so everyone wants to know who or what might be lurking out there in the great galactic void, and of course, what their intentions are. According to the study, a review of science fiction themes reveals the following scenarios:
- Galactic Bullies: These types want our ‘shit’, be it our planet’s natural resources, ourselves in the form of slave labor or just our physical location in time and space, as suggested in the classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in which Earth is to be destroyed due to the expansion of a “a hyperspace bypass”. Yes, humanity has less intrinsic value than interstellar infrastructure.
- Join The Galactic Club: Anyone who has ever watched Star Trek knows abut ‘the Federation of Planets’, a sort of utopian ‘NATO’ of species, all working for the common good. They learn from us, we learn from them, and everyone holds hand while singing “Joy To The World” and hugging trees.
You’ve Got Cooties: This scenario basically suggests that the intelligent life that thrives amongst the stars basically just wants to stay out of our way and keep its distance. This could stem from the fact that we are too barbaric in nature, or perhaps because we have no respect for our environment … or simply because some of us really think Sarah Palin should be President.
|Sarah Palin For President|
The study concludes that we really don’t know what route contact with aliens may take, because we just don’t know too much about extra-terrestrial species. Basically, it offers that nothing from nothing reaps nothing … but we should be careful anyway, and not assume one way or the other. In other words: more research is needed.
I find it interesting that our search for what lies ‘out there’ always begins with a look within ourselves. Given the eccentric and egocentric nature of the human psyche, I’m not sure if this always a good idea. Moreover, a fundamental flaw of the above mentioned study is that it makes no mention of Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica … but that’s another issue.
Early science fiction often applied humanoid features to visitors from outer space. No one could really fathom an extra-terrestrial that looked like a turnip or a licorice whip. Similarly, the tenements of Judea-Christian religions suggest that the nature of God is non-corporeal and possessing of ways beyond our comprehension. Dogma suggests that we need take a blind leap of faith when it comes to doing the Lord’s work. Nevertheless, despite this caveat, our belief structure continues to cling to the notion that God created man in ‘his’ image. Logic would dictate that the Klingons, deferring to their own religious beliefs, might beg to differ. Ah, but then logic was never our strong point, was it? I think Mr. Spock would concur … but then again he was half-human, wasn’t he?
Certainly contact with an extra-terrestrial species, or a galactic club of life forms, would indelibly leave its mark on our collective ‘state of being’ yielding a plethora of spiritual, physical, psychological disconnects. It would definitely ‘blow our minds’. Still, we all have expectations of what a ‘Close Encounter of the 3rd Kind’ may present. Conjecture runs rampant. Some have grand visions, others have delusions of grandeur … others still are worried about an anal probe. Regardless, should such an event occur, I think we need to rethink our thinking.
Relatedly, a theme in some of my posts concerns defying the expectations of others and, of course ourselves. I think there’s a connection here to be made in the sense that we need to be more open minded when considering possible contact with ‘visitors’. They may not necessarily come in peace or in war … they may simply come for the food. Moreover, not everything in life revolves around anal probes or inter-species breeding. ‘E.T.’ may simply want try a chicken and ribs combo.
We are basically social creatures, and curious ones at that. We dream about voyages to “seek out new life and new civilizations”. We also have a daredevil penchant “to go where no man has gone before”. Still, it is often said that ‘curiosity killed the cat’. In this vein, since we really don’t know the nature of any other galactic beast, other than ourselves, I’d suggest it’s one thing to contemplate contact with alien life who happen about our planet, but it’s another to consider beginning a marketing campaign.
In the early 70s, a Canadian progressive rock group called ‘Klaatu’ formed, naming themselves after the alien protagonist in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still. In 1976, they released a neat and nifty song called “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft”. The songs suggests the declaration of a ‘World Contact Day’ in which humans would collectively communicate a telepathic the message to all possible extra-terrestrials that “we are your friends”. I often marveled at such a wonderful concept fostering the idea that humanity could be united in such a common goal. Nevertheless, the prolific message of this song was lost on the public who were more concerned at that time with trying to confirm rumors that the musicians were actually the Beatles reformed and recording under a pseudonym. Alas, I have no doubt that should an emissary from another planet arrive, some fool would jump from our welcoming committee to ask if Elvis were alive and living on Uranus!
Since we are obviously a threat to our selves, we are certainly a threat to others. In this sense, some suggest we should ‘keep a low profile’ and not overly advertise our presence in the cosmos. It’s been suggested that programs such as METI (Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) that aim to actively contact intelligent aliens may yield less than stellar results. This example of ‘nervous Nelly’ thinking may have some merit amongst those with clenched butt cheeks. Still, I like to think that throwing caution to the wind is the only way we may be someday be able to overcome the “the Great Silence in the Universe”. After all, isn’t that the nature of social networking platforms like Facebook and MySpace? So indeed, I say we should say “hey!” and let our presence known! Lord knows, I could use a few more followers on my Twitter account.
PS. Thanks for reading. Are you nervous at the prospects of contact with alien species? Do you think such beings would be benevolent or malevolent? Do you think we should sending greetings into outerspace, or are you more concerned that Sarah Palin might jump into the US presidential race? Let me know by commenting below.
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