The Search for Intelligent Life on Earth
Simon Sheppard argues that flying saucers only exist in the minds of misguided conspiracy theorists
Some people seem to have a consciousness like a vacuum cleaner, sucking in every strange idea they come across. Another, similar set of people have an obsessive compulsion to believe the absurd, adopting any theory that cannot be disproved. Here’s one: the Earth is made of green cheese. Ah, you may say, all you have to do is sink a deep bore into the ground to show that it is soil and rock. But then the claim is modified so that only part of the Earth’s centre is made of green cheese, or that the green cheese is scattered around in small lumps or hidden away in particularly inaccessible places. Then soon a theory has developed which cannot be disproved, because to do so would require testing every cubic centimetre of the Earth’s core before being able to categorically state that none of it was green cheese.
Of course, the composition of the inner Earth is investigated using seismic waves, especially during earthquakes, but then the determined believer might merely retort that it was especially dense green cheese and not your common-or-garden Brie or Stilton.
This process can be extended ad infinitum so that opinion degenerates into the simple matter of believing what you want to believe and ignoring anything else. This is the philosophy, rarely stated explicitly, ‘Don’t confuse me with facts.’ (Nationalists will be familiar with this attitude.) Into this category one can include astrology and the many other forms of mumbo-jumbo which has become unhealthily popular in recent years. Here we shall discuss claims of visits to Earth by beings from other worlds.
First of all, it’s obvious that UFO’s exist: everyone knows that UFO stands for an unidentified flying object, so that anything which cannot immediately be accounted for, like a box of matches flying across the other side of the room, a meteorite or an unscheduled aircraft is a UFO. To distinguish between little green monsters from outer space and more mundane explanations we shall denote our supposed extra-terrestrial visitors ETFO’s. It is claimed that government agencies are conspiring to suppress information about ETFO’s.
Probably the biggest obstacle to the presence of ETFO’s is the time required to travel the enormous distances between solar systems. We can see that the planets in our own solar system are uninhabited, or at least any life-forms inhabiting them have made no visible attempt to modify their environment, as we have. Even so it takes radio waves some minutes to travel these comparatively short distances and months for space probes to reach our closest neighbouring planets. When we look at the stars we are watching history; the light we see left some of the more distant galaxies many millions of years ago. One of our neighbouring stars, Rigil Kentaurus, is 4.3 light-years away but a more typical sun is Betelgeuse which is 520 light-years away. Thus a spacecraft travelling at 675 million miles per hour (1080,000,000 km/h), the speed of light, coming to Earth from the vicinity of Betelgeuse would take 520 years to get here. To travel between galaxies would require a method of propulsion many times faster than light-speed in order to arrive in a feasible time. Thus it is safe to assume that a civilization that was capable of mounting such an expedition would be an advanced one, because the voyage requires solving the problem of time-travel. This brings us to the reason why people want to believe in flying saucers.
Humans need something to look up to and have faith in: one famous preacher talked about people having “a God-shaped hole.” We need not enter here into the debate as to whether this proves that God made Man or the other way around, but it is evident that humans are religious creatures. One can deny God but not the concept of God because the notion, at least, is alive and strong in a great number of people. The new religion for the common man is Holocaustianity. This modern religion doesn’t have a god so a void remains to be filled. The promotion of ETFO’s in the mass media and the disproportionate, irrational attention given to such topics by the admass (that proportion of the population which is susceptible to media manipulation) is really just closet messianism.
It’s no good having a god who is just ‘one of the lads.’ What awe can such a god inspire? The best god, of course, is omniscient, omnipotent, unique and forgiving. Anything mortal simply won’t do – even the gook that might ooze, slide, leap or fly from a spaceship.
Whenever an advanced civilization meets a markedly less developed one the result is usually a profound loss of self-esteem in the inferior culture. This is what happened when Europeans came into contact with Aboriginal and Red Indian societies and both of these cultures are now notorious for social problems like alcoholism. Another interesting example was the native Tasmanians, who are now extinct. It has even been stated (incorrectly, by an American Nationalist) that “the only true case of genocide was of the Tasmanians by the British.” For the Tasmanians contact with a higher culture was disastrous: their birthrate plummeted and they simply petered out, despite repeated attempts, documented in Darwin’s Descent of Man, to prevent it. The Tasmanians’ racial pride was irreparably damaged; this is confirmed by their practice of killing their half-castes at birth. The result for us of contact with an advanced civilization would be a crisis at the very least. Any superior civilization, certainly one capable of overcoming the enormous difficulties of space travel already detailed, would realize that revealing themselves would be one of the worst things they could do to us.
The milder, marginally more rational form of space religion does not claim that alien life-forms definitely exist, only that their existence is very likely. The argument relies on a ‘balance of probability’ but the assessment is based on a series of speculative suppositions.
Firstly it is supposed that space is infinitely big, then that it contains an infinite number of planets. Therefore, the argument goes, among those countless millions of planets there must be at least one besides our own containing life. This argument can be extended indefinitely:
This assessment of probability is based on a sample of only one, our own planet, and the supposition that the planets are infinitely numerous. In fact only a few remote planets have been detected; all we actually see is stars. Finally we are told that the universe is expanding, so something that is infinitely big is getting bigger!
Our Sun is a type G2 (V) star and of the 286 brightest stars only three are G2-type. The argument for intelligent life on other planets is rather like the hypothesis that if you put a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters then sooner or later one will produce a work of Shakespeare (it’s said that the internet has disproved this theory).
Two hundred years ago, sailing ships were claimed to have been seen in the sky because that generation of anti-scientific believers then imagined that aliens would arrive in such ships, blown here by astral winds from the sun and stars. Perhaps a useful strategy when meeting an intransigent believer in alien abductions and the like is to counter with the Creationist thesis, that God made the world in six days, and any evidence to the contrary is merely God’s way of testing us. Chesterton said that “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.”
In any case there are far more tangible and pressing things to worry about and distraction from real-world problems is the ulterior purpose of the current wave of Jewish-Hollywood fodder on this and similar themes. If Jews invent religious concepts as other cultures produce popular music then every now and again there is bound to be a hit. Determined conspiracy-hunters will accept practically any crackpot theory on which to base their futile speculations but the real conspiracy, which is staring them in the face, is taboo.
First published in issue 18 of Final Conflict magazine entitled ‘Is There Intelligent Life on Earth?’