This essay reflects a lifetime of being interested in science fiction and the possibility that alien species from Outer Space have visited Earth and influenced elections and other human events…. When I started putting together a book, “A Young Person’s Guide to Life, Love, Art, and Philosophy,” this was one of the first topics I wanted to present. I’ve updated a few of the references in here, but it’s basically the same as what I saved in 2006. I’m posting individual chapters, here, in case the book is never finished or published…. Paul Stephens, June 28, 2017
The Alien Contingency (1999, 2001)
In arguing with “true believers” about flying saucers, alien invasions, and a future in which intersteller wars between different species and cultures may come to pass, a number of interesting contingencies arise. Personally, I acknowledge the possibility that alien cultures, more advanced in science and technology than our own, have visited earth, and may still be here, observing and altering the course of human history in various ways.
What probability do I place on this being true? At present, I conjecture that there is about a 1 in 7 chance, or 15%, that this is true. There is also the possibility that life on earth was “seeded” here by aliens millions or billions of years ago, rather than having spontaneously evolved from materials indigenous to earth. The second conjecture depends on the first, but the converse is not the case. Life may have evolved independently on earth, and only recently come to the attention of extra-terrestrial species who were attracted by our nuclear explosions or high power radio transmissions (mostly television and radar, which could have already traveled about 60 light years into space).
This estimate, entirely free of scientific evidence, statistical or other mathematical derivation, is a very rough guess based on my reading of science and s+cience fiction, and the credibility of the evidence which various people put forward to “prove” either that aliens are here, or that they couldn’t possibly be here. No doubt the estimate will seem overly generous to many professionals in the field (even those who strongly believe there is life in other solar systems are very doubtful that it could have ever traveled to earth), while it will seem drastically conservative to those who are totally convinced of an ongoing alien presence.
If I had ever personally observed flying saucers, or had the experience of alien abduction, I would undoubtedly give the alien presence a much higher probability, which is why I stress that this is a personal estimate, based upon my own personal experience. Tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are presently being spent on such projects as SETI ( the “search for extra-terrestrial intelligence”), although most of it is now privately funded, since Congress decided this was an unconscionable waste of the taxpayer’s money. It seems unlikely that such projects would continue if it was already certainly known that extraterrestrials are already here, and our government is spending billions of dollars in studying, preserving, and reverse-engineering alien spacecrafts and other technology. Yet, there are many highly educated and experienced people who will claim that this is true. I hope to include some comments or analysis from such people in this chapter. [See attached PDF – AlienConting-ET&Sci-Tech]
What I am wondering, and intend to explore in this essay, is whether or not the alien presence is a contingency which is taken seriously in national security planning. It drastically changes the nature of defense policy, for example, if we are to prepare for an alien invasion, rather than merely an attack from some other human nation – no matter how large and powerful it may be. In fact, it changes the whole picture so drastically that it seems clear either that nothing is being done about this contingency at all, or that it totally overshadows all other defense considerations.
For example, even though space-based defense systems, large nuclear arsenals, and sophisticated laser and other “ray gun” or electro-magnetic-pulse (EMP) weapons are totally useless (and potentially suicidal or “doomsday”) defensive weapons if deployed against other human nations, they may be entirely rational and necessary if deployed against an impending alien invasion. Of course, it would be up to the defense authorities to somehow prove or demonstrate that such an invasion was impending – something they are neither willing nor able to do, at least publicly. Yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if a great deal of military policy and research, development, and procurement of advanced weapon systems is actually based on this idea.
On the other hand, it is virtually certain that we will eventually have a global nuclear war – with nuclear winter, destruction of the ionosphere, a proliferation of mutations and the degeneration of the gene pool (both human and for other species) along with other genuine threats to our very existence as an ecosystem – unless we dispose of our nuclear arsenals before that happens. It is almost as certain that we will have plagues and famines resulting from biological warfare and genetic engineering killing billions of people unless we control these technologies along with nuclear weapons. Further exponential population growth and environmental degradation also threaten our health and well being in a much more obvious and direct way than any potential alien invasion.
Yet, even these more tangible and human-caused threats seem to be largely ignored or denied in our real-world policy-making efforts. And it is a non-partisan or bi-partisan kind of denial. When Democrats controlled the Presidency and Congress, they were no more interested in ending the Cold War, disposing of nuclear weapons, and removing the causes of war than the Republicans are, today. There are too many jobs, corporate profits, and “national security” issues involved to let this happen. Indeed, whatever programs and treaties once attempted to address them have been put on the back burner. They have become politically inexpedient, and any major candidate who focuses on them is likely to lose the next election, largely because of negative news coverage and biased polls which misrepresent the issue and then misinterpret voter interest in it. (See the chapter “Fads and fallacies in the name of Democracy”).
Better, perhaps, that we consider alien invasion as a kind of generic disaster scenario. At least it has a following in Hollywood – something the anti-nuclear movement hasn’t had since Jane Fonda retired. Perhaps, as Jung suggested, alien contact is only a metaphor for a human-caused crisis (the nuclear arms race) or disasters. In a similar fashion, George Lucas’ Star Wars became a generic term for space-based weapon systems and a revival of the nuclear arms race among human nations. As long as we keep thinking in these terms, and each successive generation is imprinted with images of space flight and combat with alien species, we will continue to spend the billions of dollars and risk billions of lives in an enterprise which is so stupid and improbable that we can hardly conceive of its actual costs and consequences.
Whatever the case may be, a 15% probability of an alien presence is not enough to focus a nation’s energies to meet that threat. But it is certainly worth a lot of research and contingency planning. The chances of a serious nuclear accident, in any given year, are supposed to be about 1 in 50 (historically, it has been about 1 catastrophic accident every 10 years, any one of which could have precipitated some larger nuclear exhange in one of many “doomsday” scenarios). The chance of a nuclear war being started more or less by accident is approximately the same. For some of us, this is far too great a risk to take, when the consequences may include the extinction of the human species.
A similar logic could apply to the presence of aliens. Even if there are some, the chances that they are hostile and mean to destroy us are much less than the probability of their existence and presence here. Perhaps there is a 1 in a 100 chance that we are actually being threatened by hostile aliens. Or 1 in 10,000. Without concrete, reproduceable evidence that we actually face such a threat, any calculation of probablilities is sheer guesswork and speculation. If there are such beings, here, it would seem prudent to treat them as though they were welcome, and attempt to establish peaceful relations with them, rather than immediately assuming they are some sort of hostile force. But that would be a strange reversal, at least for American diplomacy and “foreign policy.”
One can’t help but wonder whether the nuclear arms race, itself, has been stimulated by a fear of alien invasion. For those who were fans of the short-lived television series Dark Skies, or more successful series such as The X-Files or Earth, Final Conflict, these contingencies have already been worked out in fiction. Dark Skies interpreted “post-Roswell” history as being largely the consquence of alien infiltration and intervention. President Truman, according to this account, started the war with the aliens by refusing to surrender unconditionally in a meeting at Roswell, and then ordering the alien emissary’s ship destroyed. Thus began an alien infiltration into the highest levels of government, and the show subsequently dramatized the Kennedy assassination as being alien-caused. Finally (the show was cancelled after the first season), they were portrayed as being at large within the government as a kind of CIA-like underground, manipulating government policies at home and abroad. A similar conclusion was reached in the X-files TV series and subsequent feature films.
This is the issue which concerns us, here. What political methods and policy options are available to those who would resist such an alien takeover? In Earth, Final Conflict the Taelons attempt to peaceably acquire a benign and wisely scientific hegemony over earth. Unfortunately, they, too, are threatened by another species in an intergalactic war, and there is much deception and intrigue in the effort to recruit human soldiers and adapt them to warfare in interstellar space. At first, humans are genetically altered to be “companions” to the Taelons. Later, under a secret program which the “good Taelon” Da-an opposes, large numbers are altered or created as warrior clones and other secret operatives. A resistance grows to overthrow the Taelons, leading to a situation where earthlings and resistance leaders are making contact with another alien species at war with the Taelons. A few years later, it is the “Twilight of the Taelons”, who are running out of their vital energy, and threatened by yet another alien species.
All this makes an interesting story, but it is little different from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds written nearly a century ago. It was viruses or other micro-organisms which destroyed the Martians, and we would probably do just as well to rely on such natural obstacles to alien colonization, ourselves. In any case, there is no use planning for such contingencies in the absence of any evidence that they might happen. It all begins to sound like the ritual to keep away elephants, which was later judged a success due to the fact that no elephants have appeared.
If we can solve our very human problems of the nuclear arms race, environmental degradation, plagues (whether human-caused or “natural”), and overpopulation, we will be doing very well, indeed. But it wouldn’t be the first time that preparation for a war which otherwise would never have happened has been the cause of war, genocide, and otherwise undreamed-of devastation and human suffering.
Aliens, 9-11, and the War on Terror
The text of this chapter so far was written in about 1999. Now, it is September, 2001, and we are experiencing the immediate aftermath of “the attack on America” by 18 Islamic “terrorists” who commandeered four airliners, crashing three of them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. The film, Armageddon, has been released in the interim, in which a number of asteroids and large meteors hit the earth. In some of the scenes, skyscrapers in New York City are destroyed in a vision so much like what we have just seen in the nightly news that people have remarked about the similarity. This has nothing to do with aliens (we’d have to go back to the War of the Worlds film from the 1950’s in which several Los Angeles landmarks are destroyed by alien ray-guns to make that connection), but the fact remains that science fiction often seems like prophecy when compared with current history.
Nearly every science fiction plot, today, has something to do with aliens. Its the one unifying theme, and the source, perhaps, of most of the popularity of this genre. What is the significance of this fear of aliens? Is it merely a transposed fear of the outsider, the foreigner, and thus a kind of xenophobia? Now, we actually have legitimate sciences concerned with this issue – exobiology, and the like. We routinely sterilize spacecraft and quarantine their crews, lest they bring back some alien microbes which could wreak havoc on our bodies since we have no immunity or resistance to such organisms.
Paradoxically enough, Congress and the Defense Department have eliminated nearly every kind of “Search for Extraterrestrials”, flying saucer research, or whatever. Yet, many professional, experienced and legitimate ex-government or military people claim that “Area 51” in Nevada (said to be the repository of alien remains and technology) exists, and that much of the recent explosion in advanced technology was obtained by “reverse engineering” from flying saucers and other alien machines. The unwillingness of governments to even admit the possibility of this alien presence may be due to political pressures of various kinds, or simply the requirements of mility secrecy. If there actually were such programs and the alien presence they imply, wouldn’t there be widespread panic based on the failure of the government to protect us?
This is one of those issues which will not be resolved by any sort of idle speculation, no matter how sophisticated. Either there is an alien presence and the government knows about it, and is keeping it a secret in order to use these technologies and the threat of hostile alien action to further restrict our freedom and well-being, or it is being made up by some sort of cadre of people, in or out of the government, who hope to stampede the country into war, dictatorship or other harmful outcome. Who knows?
My position, and that of this book, is that we don’t need a “national security state”, and creating one acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy to create the very threats which the national security state is supposed to counter. Whether the imagined “enemy” is aliens, terrorists, or “godless communists,” the consequences are pretty much the same. We lose our political self-determination, our individual rights, our freedom of expression and association, and our national wealth and human resources are channeled into weapons of mass destruction and a militaristic regimentation which has by now become entirely politcally and socially respectable. For the past year or two, and in recent days, especially (following “the attack on America”), I have witnessed an astounding change in young people These changes included a surge in enlistments in the military, a marked tendency to become politically right-wing and nationalistic, and believing implicitly whatever we are told by the media and those in authority.
For those of us who came of age during the Vietnam War and the social revolutions of the 1960’s and 70’s, this is inconceivable, and it is for this reason, primarily, that I have undertaken to write this book. We must continue to “Question Authority!” and otherwise maintain our mental, spiritual, and material freedom and independence from government and the agencies of coercion and repression which are constantly being expanded and marshalled against us. We will have more to say in other chapters about the education system and the co-option of the youth culture, and their roles in creating this vast reversal in youth consciousness.