Today I am proud to host a guest post from Annabel Lee over at Double Dip Politics. Normally she spends her days cutting through the spin to get to the facts behind the day’s political stories, but today she has been gracious enough to stop by here on LDSS to touch on a topic I haven’t done much with–aliens. Specifically, what the government is doing (or not) to prepare for a visit from otherwordly beings. Should you want to hear from yours truly, I’m over on Double Dip Politics talking about voter apathy and why it is so important for college age youth to get out and vote. Now, without further ado, I give the floor to Annabel.
In the movies, it all looks so easy. Aliens appear out of nowhere, somehow avoiding detection from our bevvy of probes, radio telescopes, satellites, space-based telescopes, radar stations, individual telescopes, binoculars, and countless other defense systems in place, and either land in a field demanding to see Earth’s leader or begin destroying large cities and monuments. Every person on Earth bands together instantly to fight the aliens or instinctively knows who the right leader of Earth is. In films, it’s the President of the United States.
In reality, there are no formal plans* regarding contact with an intelligent species. The Pentagon has plans for how to invade every nation on Earth, as well as each individual US state, but has nothing for dealing with an alien invasion. *(Link: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2010/07/if_mars_attacks_.html )
The United Nations has taken on the task of trying to protect Earth from near Earth objects, or NEOs. When it was announced the UN was working on plans for dealing with potential life-ending asteroids and comets, the conspiracy theorists claimed the UN had appointed an ambassador to the aliens. This was debunked* as just wild speculation by bloggers and dreamers attempting to shape support of alien life in the universe. *(Link: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post/2010/09/alien_ambassador_appointed_by.html )
The reason for lacking any formal plan in dealing with alien life coming to Earth is the pervasive dismissal of the very potential for its existence. The Vatican has stated alien life conforms to the Bible*. Astrophysicist Frank Drake devised the Drake Equation** used to determine the potential for life within the Milky Way Galaxy. *(Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24598508/ns/world_news-europe/t/vatican-its-ok-believe-aliens/ ) **(Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation )
Drake’s equation has been extrapolated for the known universe. Given the number of stars in the universe, the number of potential planets, the age of the universe, and the size of even one galaxy, Drake postulated life was a mathematical certainty on other planets.
Even with the mathematical certainty of alien life existing on other planets, humans are an interesting species. Since we have never met any aliens, nor have conclusive proof of life beyond Earth, we do not feel the need to plan for an encounter. In our view, having 38 different plans on how to invade and hold Texas is more important than how to protect Earth from potential threats.
Humans don’t want to admit it but proof of life beyond Earth would shatter our worldviews. Our religions are based on humans being special in the universe. Our laws and understand of the world are limited to our experiences. The confirmation that we were not alone would drive many people mad, having devoted their lives to false beliefs and ideals. It would shatter our world and create a type of panic unseen in human history.
What harm would it do to prepare for potential aliens? In the best case, you never need those plans. In the worst case, we need the plans and don’t have them, creating chaos and confusion in a situation, which could have been handled more efficiently.
After all, our government has plans* for dealing with zombies. *(Link: http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm )