An Issue with UFOs and Aliens
Why I don't buy alien conspiracy theories.
There've been a number of reports in recent days about government admissions of UFOs or as they often call them UAPs (Unidentified Alien Phenomena). Even Obama chimed in on the issue. UFOs often stir up comments on aliens visiting the Earth and governments covering it up.
First, let me say that I don't really doubt the existence of aliens, in general. The chances of some alien life somewhere in the universe is quite good. The chances of intelligent alien life out there is pretty good as well, even admitting that intelligent life doesn't exist on Earth...
But there are a number of reasons I don't buy into alien conspiracy theories. I also have one concession to make. I'll start with my reasons for doubting the existence of an alien presence on Earth.
The Problem With Conspiracy Theories
Right from the start, there's an issue with the idea of aliens on Earth, because it's a conspiracy theories. These kinds of theories are not scientific. They are generally not internally consistent and are often not falsifiable. Any data which contradicts the conspiracy is just said to be generated by the conspiracy. Any person who rejects the conspiracy is considered to be part of the conspiracy.
Moreover, they often involve highly unlikely scenarios. For instance, why exactly would all the world governments hide this information? For our benefit? I doubt it. To prevent disorder? There's plenty of that. I also doubt that all of the world governments could keep this kind of secret for such a long period of time. It would require a significant amount of coordination between governments that want to destroy each other.
It's not that a conspiracy theory has to be wrong, and quite frankly I wouldn't put it past the government to hide just about anything. But accepting these theories would mean rejecting scientific inquiry and reason.
The Physics of Space Travel
Aside from the issue of conspiracy theories, there's an issue of physics. As far as we know, FTL (faster than light) travel is not possible. Sure, we see it all the time in science fiction shows, and it would be great if we could travel around the the galaxy without it taking hundreds of thousands of years. But, it violates our understood laws of physics.
Now, our fundamental understanding of the universe could be wrong, but there's no reason to override all of the data we have justifying our current models, because of conspiracy theories. There is also no other theory that is satisfactory, consistent with the data, and which allows for faster than light travel.
If a new theory of the universe emerges, is consistent with the current data, and is just as robust as current models of the universe, and it allows for FTL travel, then I would reconsider my position. But until then, I just have trouble buying it. FTL space travel, and even communication, just does not seem to be possible.
My Concession: A Possibility, Colony Ships
For most of my life, thinking about this issue, I simply rejected the idea that alien life would be dicking around in our neck of the woods. I just don't buy that aliens with advanced technology capable of faster than light travel would spend so much time poking around this planet. Maybe they're some sort of space anthropologists. That's a possibility. But I still don't buy that. I also don't buy that we'll be able to break the light barrier. So, it seems like we'd be out of possibilities.
But thinking about this article today caused me to realize one option. What would happen if a colony ship set out to colonize a habitable world, only to find out that it had a sentient lifeform on it when they got there? Certainly there have been plenty of shows about alien invasions. Most of them focus on aliens with FTL travel going around from planet to planet, consuming it.
It's much rarer to find a story about accidental contact, and even rarer to find one where the aliens don't have FTL travel. In such an instance, this colony ship would be screwed. They couldn't just start out again and move to another planet. They'd be stuck here. And they'd have to figure out some way to survive. If that were the case, they would likely scout out the planet, work on making contact with the various governments of the world, and work on finding a way to slowly integrate with the other inhabitants of the planet.
Originally published on Medium in the First Church of Penguinism Blog