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First Contact – 8 Theories About What It Really Means

With the recent appointment of a UN ambassador to extra terrestrials, and the testimony that followed days later at the national press club in Washington DC by several former military officers concerning UFO abilities to tamper with our nuclear arsenal, many within the UFO community are wondering if we may be on the eve of the government revealing first contact with an alien civilization. Heck, it seems like everyone from the Vatican to Steven Hawking has come forward with an opinion about E.T. lately. Is it a coincidence or is it something more?

There are good arguments on both sides about the whole UFO issue, and we cannot dismiss the possibility that all of these recent media events may be nothing more than complicated disinformation campaigns… After all, some of these are extraordinary claims and therefore require extraordinary proof. Still, one can understand the excitement for a true believer when they ask themselves “Is this it? Are they finally going to tell us the truth? Are we really not alone in the universe?”

I personally think a better question to ask in the face of all this is, “What would first contact really mean to humanity?”

Science Fiction authors have speculated what contact with an alien civilization would mean to us as a species for years. The thinking basically falls into one of 8 theories:

The Hawking Hypothesis

It will only end badly for humanity based on the idea that in our own history, when a technologically superior civilization meets a less advanced one, the less advanced one generally gets wiped out no matter the intentions of the superior civilization. The big example that people who believe this point to is that fact that the Native American populations were wiped out shortly after first contact with European cultures. These people are misinformed about their history… the fall of Mesoamerica was more because of the illnesses that the Europeans brought with them to the new world, not their advanced technology.

The H.G. Wells Hypothesis

They’re here to wipe us out, and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it unless we get very, very lucky. If this is the case, it is doubtful that we would have any real first contact at all… they would just drop down from space and wipe us all out before we had a chance to react as a society.

The Roland Emmerich Hypothesis

They’re here to wipe us out, and we’re screwed unless we’re ready fight back… Lots of things go ‘boom’ in the process. In a recent episode of Sci-Fi Science, Michio Kako dealt with the protection of earth against this threat (His solution was to send wave after wave of information gathering fodder in hopes we could find their weakness), but is it realistic that we would stand a chance? Most scientists think that the gap between us and any civilizations we may encounter out there would be far more enormous than arrows vs. machine guns… it would more likely be like sea sponges vs. Nuclear weapons.

The Roddenberry Hypothesis

First contact will unite us as a species for the first time in human history. Wars will end, poverty will be eliminated, and we will take our rightful place in a galactic community. Sounds nice, Doesn’t it? It also completely ignores the human tendency to squabble amongst ourselves, even when we’re all on the same side. I mean, seriously… can you really imagine all the countries in the middle east suddenly throwing down their arms and making nice just because Aliens show up? We’re just not like that.

The “Meh” Hypothesis


Humanity looks up for a second, says “Hmmm… Aliens”, and collectively goes about their business not really caring too much about the whole thing, and looking at the aliens as just another “other” that doesn’t affect their daily lives as such. To me, this is the most likely scenario. Sure, the aliens will be a big deal, especially if they’re benevolent and share their technology with us, but will this be enough of a distraction for most of us to look past the piles of bills on our desks, the fact that the kids need haircuts and new shoes, or that the alternator on the minivan just broke down? Not real likely.

The Orson Wells Hypothesis

Humanity panics for no good reason and does lots of damage to themselves in the process. This is another really likely scenario, and is usually pointed to by conspiracy theorists as the big reason behind the “global UFO cover up”. I know that many of you are thinking “but we’ve grown so much since the 30s!” Keep in mind that as a fanboy, your mind is generally more open than Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public. the only difference is that it would be far more difficult for a Hoax like the 1938 broadcast to work today with the saturation of media outlets. If the aliens suddenly showed up in the skies around our world, you can believe that people would be morons about it.

The “Contact” Hypothesis

First contact seems like it goes off without a hitch, but some damn nutjob with a bomb screws it all up for the rest of us. Another very likely scenario. Let’s face it, the first question many devout followers of every faith will have for the aliens will be “do you believe in god?”.  What if the answer is “no”? We already happily kill each other over such a statement…

The “Alien Nation” Hypothesis

The aliens become the latest immigrant population that we start complaining about, but eventually find acceptance in our society, and live among us as equals. I think that this would depend largely on just how alien they are in appearance compared to us. I mean, the Newcomers were fairly human looking, as were the Visitors until you peeled away their fake skin. But what if they look more like the Prawns from District 9, and have difficulty adapting to our language and customs?

25 Comments
  • David E Martin
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #1

    I think the MEH Hypothesis is the one most likely. While folks in the vicinity of the contast will be involved or at least interested, the farther one gets from the contact or the media coverage, the less interested one would be.
    One aspect of the Orson Welles Hypothesis you missed– what about people seeing media coverage of the contact and deciding it’s fake? There is a lot of homemade SFX on the web that look as believable as TV locaql affiliate news coverage. So with 33 years of post-Star Wars FX-filled movies under our cultural belt, a noticeable amount of disbelief would occur.

    • Kahunah
      October 12, 2010
      Reply


      #2

      That is actually a very good point about the SFX David, and may be worth a whole article in and of itself… Or at least a great and funny short story :)

  • Cajun Metal
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #3

    I think it’ll be combination of Roddenberry and disinformation. Governments will use first contact in this ‘tampering with our nukes’, or a generally negative context, in order to unite us, yes, but unite us against a perceived alien threat. Chances are it won’t even exist and it will be used to control us the same way they’ve used 9/11 to take away our rights.

  • Joe B. from Goat City
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #4

    The most likely scenario is the Killing Star scenario.

    All other intelligent life is a threat. Kill them before they kill you. Destroy the planet by crashing objects into it at speeds approaching the speed of light.

    http://sites.inka.de/mips/reviews/TheKillingStar.html

  • Korey Littlewater
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #5

    The UN Ambassador story was fake, the whole thing was denied by the UN the same day that the story broke (which was also the same day that the retired military men held the press conference about UFOs messing with nuclear test sights).

  • Matthew C. Tedder
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #6

    Many native Americans died due to disease but many also died to Custer’s mass extermination campaign and other massacres. On a whole, all of human history is about the technologically/culturally superior nation wiping out and/or absorbing the less superior. (By culturally superior, I mean factors such as value that bind people together in adversity, customs that allow for innovation, team work, etc. )

    This is Memetic Evolution–that societies with the more fit memes (technology/culture) for survival conquer territory/resources and multiply until they become large enough to sub-divide culturally and the process begins anew. What really sets man apart from the other species (besides having dexterous hands) is that we have a strong tendency to imitate, enabling cultural evolution. Chimpanzees have culture but they only tend to retain memes of clear practical use. Humans retain all kinds of traditions and such regardless of any idea what-so-ever as to why we do it. Over many generations of mutations and cullings, there tend to be good reasons for our ways of doing things that are sometimes hard for an individual to understand.

  • Guy
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #7

    Yeah, there will are a few reasons why aliens would want to come “visit” us. One for our abundant variety of Natural Resources[eg minerals gases, animals], Two Want to Enslave us for their means [eg indians + europeans]. Three They have No Place else to go and would never consider sharing.

    Yeah, You can always count on the Jerk Who is gonna ruin it for the rest of us and an alien Quick Blitz Strike. I’m Hoping their weaponry is 1000 years more advanced than ours, so we get vaporized lickity split, rather than getting stabbed several times only to suffer for hours before dying.

    • Keith
      October 12, 2010
      Reply


      #8

      Earth’s minerals and gases are not an impressive “natural resource”. We are a speck of sand on cosmic scales. All our minerals and what-not are readily found elsewhere. Your third point, animals, is possibly more relevant, assuming such a resource is useful to the aliens for some reason.

      I also disagree with the ever-so-droll humanity-enslavement theory. Any civilization capable of reaching us will have the technology to create robots far superior in physical and mental ability to humans, so why enslave us. In fact, the most likely scenario is that any civilization that can travel between stars already transformed entirely to a technological basis themselves, i.e., the aliens will be robots themselves.

  • Guy
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #9

    Oh yeh forgot.

    Lets face it, No advance species that has perfect space travel would want partake in a civilization that would consume an entire species to the brink of extinction and consume our food that causes all sorts of diseases. If anything they would come down from the “heavens” and wipe us out for being so stupid.

    • Kahunah
      October 12, 2010
      Reply


      #10

      LOL And then mankind wins the ultimate Darwin Award…

  • dusanmal
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #11

    One thing all these hypothesis forgot are natural laws which to our best knowledge are quite (maybe absolutely) universal. These laws lead to certain Natural behaviors, most important of which is evolutionary survival of the fittest. Successful species will spread itself as much as it can and fight any competitor who is after the same resources. Knowing that there are only two options:
    a) We are the more advanced species in the contact. Our evolutionary duty is to eliminate newly discovered alien intelligence before they do that to us and take over their resources/habitat.
    b) We are the less advanced species in the contact. Our evolutionary duty is to hide or escape impending extinction to the best of our abilities, trying in the process to improve and become more advanced species in the contact… see part a).

    Layering “meta”-science over it (sociology, psychology,…) is pointless as alien species will definitely have alien social, psychological,… patterns which will mean nothing to us, same as our societal patterns will not mean anything to them.

  • Christ
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #12

    Do we go out of our way to destroy a hive of bees 300 miles in the middle of a forest? No. We leave them the hell alone mostly. Perhaps once in a great while the bees of that hive catch a glimpse of humans on a hike. That’s about it.

  • Eric
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #13

    Wow this is a great analogy and I will definitely be using this again. Totally agree too. I mean we don’t know if extra terrestrials will act like bees when they catch a glimpse of humans but why go poke a stick at a bee hive when you don’t know how the bees think and how they will react right? If they naturally want to hurt us then sure we defend ourselves, but there’s no reason to provoke them.

    • Kahunah
      October 12, 2010
      Reply


      #14

      Furthermore, this could be the reason behind the Fermi Paradox… in that case, we’re the bees, and the aliens simply have chosen to leave us alone for their own protection…

  • Mark
    October 11, 2010
    Reply


    #15

    Just think about it for a second. There are lots of countries and respective governments other than “the new world”, who are either not good at keeping secrets, or they don’t want (or don’t care) to keep such secrets. If there were any first contact it would be on youtube already.

  • Matthew C. Tedder
    October 12, 2010
    Reply


    #16

    So they just kinda let us do our thing as long as we aren’t making trouble for them? Maybe. But once there are behives expanding all over the galaxy, they might come out with a can of RAID.

  • Lou Grinzo
    October 12, 2010
    Reply


    #17

    If aliens wanted to wipe us out, we would have basically no chance to fight them and likely no contact of any sort. Our solar system’s asteroid belt provides more than enough ammunition for a space faring civilization to destroy us at no risk to themselves and with very little expenditure of resources. A few dozen impacts bigger than the one that pushed the dinosaurs’ reset button would do the job quite nicely.

  • Brant
    October 12, 2010
    Reply


    #18

    It’s very, very ignorant of the author of this article to write that “These people are misinformed about their history” when they are talking about Stephen Hawking.

  • korsan
    October 12, 2010
    Reply


    #19

    The Hawking Hypothesis is the ONE I agree with, it’s the “law of the jungle”? Kill or be killed? And the first rule of survival is – don’t look like lunch. the question is “How our instincts of survival will PREVAIL against an advance civilization !?.

  • Jim
    October 12, 2010
    Reply


    #20

    In regards to Hawkings theory: While the Native American example might not be the most clear cut, there is a very simple way to illustrate this theory.

    How many languages were there on Planet Earth, 100 years ago? How many exist today?

    Different languages were only created when people were isolated culturally. Now that technology allows greater contact, languages and cultures are vanishing.

    Do people in third world countries emulate their great grandparents mode of dress? Or do they want Nikes and Levis? I don’t think it is clear whether we would face destruction as a species, but our culture and civilization would almost certainly mimic the alien culture within a few generations.

  • Paul
    October 12, 2010
    Reply


    #21

    I doubt we have anything aliens would want, given the cost of shipping it home: they’d be way better off mining in their own asteroid belt. Mass colonization (that would “inconvenience” us) doesn’t make a lot of sense either: if population is a problem, they’d do much better building space cities or terraforming in their own neighborhood.

    Presuming that aliens advanced enough to get here once passed through the stage we’re at and more or less understand it, it seems unlikely that they’d contact any local government. Either they’re not friendly and have nothing to gain by talking, or they are benevolent and know better than to try to deal with what would appear (to them) to be a motley collection of corrupt gangs of lunatics, robbing and killing each other for no good reason.

    Benevolent aliens would do exactly what flying saucers do: keep an eye on us, let themselves be seen occasionally for their own (psychological?) purposes, and try to quietly get us to the point that they can eventually deal with us as other than savages. That’s the best argument I know that flying saucers are real and friendly.

  • someonewhoknowsthings
    October 12, 2010
    Reply


    #22

    omg.. there is an agenda here. Stirring up talk about Aliens to prepare the masses of sheeple for the hoax alien invasion that is being planned by the illuminati (has has been for over a hundred years). They will use advanced technology, mutated biological animals, and sightings in the sky to make you believe aliens exist, all this is designed to unite humanity against a common threat and bring about the NEW WORLD ORDER

  • RequiredName
    November 19, 2010
    Reply


    #23

    The chances that we have already encountered aliens at-least once in our past then the chances of ever meeting them in the next say, 100,000 years.

    The mere fact that living organizes WILL be discovered on asteroids and planets is a major influence on my rational thinking.

    If say, Humans have already came into contact with Sentient alien life, they where not religious, they are dirty scary violent and openly disillusion (religious), hence dangerous to any kind of diplomatic communications, and the mere fact that were still alive.

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