Where Are the Aliens?
by: Patrick Redding GatewoodJournal@aol.com http://hometown.aol.com/gatewoodjournal/
There is a longstanding controversy among the new era of scientists: if there is other intelligent life in the universe, where is it? If there are aliens, why have we not seen them? Does the lack of evidence prove that we are alone in the universe? I would like to address some of the assumptions - and what I believe to be misconceptions - regarding these questions. Hopefully this will shed light on some aspects of the search.
First of all, I would like to point out that, as researcher Clifford Stone has stated, "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Just because we have not found it does not mean it is not there. Believing that something does not exist simply because you have not found evidence (based on your own particular definition of what constitutes evidence) is like refusing to believe that bears exist based solely on the fact that you have never seen a bear in your backyard. You've never even seen bear tracks; therefore, your neighbors must be making up those stories they tell about bears in the woods, and those blurry photos they showed you are obviously doctored pictures of some other animal - perhaps they're images of a house cat which have been altered on someone's computer. And the growling sounds on that home video sound kind of like a garbage disposal with a fork stuck in it. The mystery is solved. Bears are clearly a hoax drummed up by nervous neighbors who have been duped by a computer-savvy photographer.
Ludicrous as this scenario may sound, it is exactly this sort of of thinking that many people bring to the question of whether there is other intelligent life in the universe. It is, in fact, reasoning such as this which sometimes causes me to wonder whether there is intelligent life on earth. Not being Vulcan, I cannot simply note that it is illogical and move on to the next thing. It annoys me. But the lack of real logic doesn't stop there.
As I've said before, I don't firmly believe or disbelieve that there is other life "out there." I have no personal proof either way. But I do find it ridiculous to discount even the possibility based on such faulty reasoning and uncreative thinking. I also find it equally silly to believe wholeheartedly in little green men - or gray ones - based on questionable evidence, but that's another story. At the moment I'm more concerned with those whose minds seem a trifle too tightly closed than those who surely must feel a draft between their ears when the wind is right.
For instance, consider these assumptions that people make about the idea of alien life:
1. We assume that they would be humanoid when they may not be. "Life" encompasses a great deal more than those creatures who are able to walk upright. And as far as "intelligence" goes, we also define "intelligence" by human standards. (And again, walking upright on two legs is not necessarily evidence of "intelligence," as anyone who's ever ventured out to Wal-Mart on a Friday night can attest.)
2. Following the logic of assumption #1, we also assume that intelligent beings would choose to try to communicate with others, even if those others are not as "advanced." This is like a schnauzer sitting smugly in its doghouse, certain that no one else in the house is as smart as he is because obviously, if they were intelligent, they would have tried to learn to bark by now.
3. We assume that if there were intelligent beings out there, they would need very technologically-advanced ships of some sort in which to travel the universe. This may not be the case at all. A more "advanced" civilization may not necessarily be more technologically advanced in the way that we think of it. They may be perfectly capable of traveling WITHOUT the use of ships of any kind (i.e., teleportation or some such concept). They may not even need to travel to us at all, in the way that we think; even some humans have demonstrated abilities for remote-viewing. Such abilities, if dependable, would eliminate the need for actually going to a planet for reconnaissance purposes at all.
4. We assume that any life form must have a physical body, even if it is a non-humanoid species. Again, this may not necessarily be the case at all.
5. We assume that all "alien" priorities are the same as ours. Are your hopes and dreams the same as that of your goldfish? No? Then why on earth (no pun intended) should we assume that the goals of other species would be the same as our own imperialistic ones? The universe could be teeming with life forms who have absolutely no interest in conquest, colonization, exchanging information, or saving the earth from catastrophe - and yet even those who are inclined to think that there might be alien life tend to lean toward one of these common viewpoints.
6. We assume that if there are multiple species of alien life, even if their motives are not the same as ours, they must be at least the same as each other (also known as the "alien agenda"). This is bound to be faulty logic. All HUMANS' motives are not the same. Why would we assume that those of species we know nothing about would be? All too often, if the anecdotal evidence is not discounted outright, the relatively small sampling of stories are presumed to be indicative of the whole. If it is believed that aliens exist, chances are very good that they're expected to have gray skin and big black eyes a la the cover of Communion, and they're here to either perform medical procedures and/or save the earth (possibly in order to invade it later). While I have no doubt that many of the people who describe just such abduction scenarios are sincere, I find it hard to imagine why there is not more variety among the stories. (Especially given the idea that aliens are supposed by many to be able to shape-shift.)
These are just a few especially prevalent ideas that I've encountered in my own experience; I'm sure there are many more that deserve re-examination. Any assumption left unchallenged runs the risk of becoming dogma. In a field of inquiry as open as this is, if we really want to find truth, we need to start thinking more creatively.
(Copyright c2002 by Patrick Redding. Feel free to use the article in full or to quote from it; just drop me a line to let me know where it's going. You can reach me by e-mailing GatewoodJournal@aol.com and putting "Patrick" in the subject line. Thanks!)
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