UR DOIN IT WRONG
Newsweek’s current cover story on the “Search For Aliens” appears (only part of the article is available online) to take a look at the cutting-edge science behind the search for ET contact. The newest entry (at least in the past decade) for the search for extraterrestrial life is made possible by better techniques for searching the firmament for extrasolar planets by their signatures left by passing in front of the stars which they orbit. Measure the drop in electromagnetic radiation as the star is partially occluded by an orbiting body, and we can tell the size and orbital period of the planet. Another method uses the doppler shift “wobble” of a star to deduce the mass of an unseen object’s gravitational force
Astronomers claim that they might even have rough idea of the composition of the planets in question, and can make an educated guess as to the possibility of life on these rocky outposts. I hope that the Newsweek journalist (Andrew Romano) continues with an explanation that the planets in question may exhibit the possibility of life, given their composition and distance from the host star. Almost certainly this would be mentioned by the astronomers he interviewed for the article, who would add that this does not prove that aliens are visiting us. Perhaps the best we can say is that there is now an infinitesimal possibility, rather than not at all.
I watched Monsters Vs. Aliens a total of eleven times last week (for pay) and each viewing left me even more disillusioned with the standard pop culture message of aliens = E.T. As Nick and I (and others) have argued, there is as yet NO firm or reliable evidence that we have been visited by an extraterrestrial intelligence flying here in spaceships.
There is however, a debatable amount of evidence of something that exhibits some sort of intelligence and that has been interacting with us for some time. Whether that manifests as lights in the sky, discs in the daylight, or strange creatures grabbing people from their beds in the middle of the night is still wide open for discussion. It might also show itself as furtive unexplained animals, patterns in crops, or channeled messages. Just because we have been taught to assign UFO phenomena to aliens coming from other planets does not make it so. (Actually, it might, but that’s another ontological can of worms.)
We are stuck in a culture that needs to settle on one way to look at things, and uncomfortable with ambiguity, for the most part. Any non-human intelligence who wanted to “conquer” us, or at least make limited contact would do well to exploit this tendency, as well as our reliance on conscious sensory input to make their presence as subtle as a light breeze on our collective consciousness. No flying saucers, death rays, or even handshakes with the President needed.
When issues like these (and other non-ET theorizing) appears in the mainstream news, some of us may be able to stop whining and move on to greener pastures. Perhaps I should work on entertaining sound-bite versions of alternates to the alien hypothesis, backed up with the newest theories in astronomy and physics, but perhaps Michio Kaku does that better…and not many people listen to him anyway.
Maybe a new way of playing with the possibilities in a popular way is just waiting for a name. “Theoretical Ufology”* perhaps?
*Thanks to Micah Hanks for reminding me of the term, which was originally suggested by Mac Tonnies.
Also thanks to Mac for locating this wonderful image:
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