Thing to Think About

The following articles are meant to provoke some contemplation on the subject of extra-terrestrials and our reactions to them.

Article 1:  The Extraterrestrial Dilemma-Why the Deafening Silence?

 From UFOCasebook

The expectation that Alien/Extraterrestrial intelligence exists derives from two facts and one assumption: (1) The universe is vast, with approximately 1011 galaxies (a total of about 1022 stars) within the reach of telescopes. This number is so large that even if the emergence of intelligence is improbable, such intelligence could still have arisen frequently.

(2) The physics and chemistry of the universe are everywhere the same. This is known from astronomical observation.

(3) Habitable, Earth-like planets of the type that might spawn intelligence, with thick atmospheres and liquid water on their surface, are not extraordinarily rare. This is a hypothesis, sometimes called the principle of mediocrity. According to this principle, the Earth is not extraordinary in any of its important properties. The principle dates, in its modern form, to Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543), who dethroned the Aristotelian idea of an Earth-centered cosmos.

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Enrico Fermi is said to have posed the question “Where is everybody?” in 1950. His remark was intended to point out that, while humans are in no position to colonize other star systems, advanced extraterrestrials—if they exist—might do so. Even if they require thousands of years to travel from one star to the next, an ambitious society could spread itself throughout the entire Milky Way Galaxy in only a few tens of millions of years.

Since this is far less than the age of the Galaxy (about 12 billion years), it suggests that, if sophisticated and ambitious societies arose in the past, evidence of their presence should now be everywhere. Since that evidence is lacking, the implication is that the Galaxy is inhabited solely by humans.

There are many suggestions of how this paradox might be resolved; in other words, how the failure to see local evidence of alien activity could be reconciled with a Galaxy that we think might house many sophisticated societies. For example, it could be that interstellar colonization is so daunting that no one ever undertakes it.

Perhaps humans are incapable of recognizing the widespread presence of intelligence. Or the extraterrestrials could know about humans, but have arranged for a “one-way mirror,” whereby they can watch, but humans cannot detect them (the “zoo hypothesis”). The Fermi paradox, while intriguing, remains a point of discussion rather than a key to new knowledge.

Article 2: Beware of the experts

From The Sarasota Herald-Tribune

…But conventional wisdom ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be, as a Royal Society president proved in 1986. Lord William Thomson Kelvin may have attained immortality for developing the foundation of Absolute Zero, but he blundered big time when he veered into aeronautics. “I have not the smallest molecule of faith,” he said just seven years before the Wright Brothers changed the world at Kitty Hawk, “in aerial navigation other than ballooning or of expectation of good results from any of the trials we hear of.”

There’s a long and perversely satisfying litany of such gaffes in Science Was Wrong: Startling Truths About Cures, Theories and Inventions ‘They’ Declared Impossible. Assembled by veteran UFO researcher Stan Friedman and Kathleen Marden, niece of celebrated UFO abductee Betty Hill and co-author of Friedman’s book Captured!, the agenda here is predictable enough. But often fun, especially when the pompous certitude of authority figures makes them look like idiots. E.g.:

“Television won’t matter in your lifetime or mine,” Radio Times editor Rex Lambert, 1936; “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States,” T. Craven, FCC commissioner, 1961; “To affirm that the aeroplane is going to revolutionize naval warfare of the future is to be guilty of the wildest exaggeration,” Scientific American, 1916.

Article 3: UFO News Article:”Cut Sound on TV Program”

From UFO Casebook 

 CBS cut off the sound during a UFO TV debate on 22 January 1958:

“The sound was cut off on a CBS television program last night when author Donald E. Keyhoe, a former Marine Corps major, began to digress from the script in speaking of flying saucers.

A network employe explained that nobody knew what he was going to say.

Keyhoe was silenced for about 15 seconds during ‘The Armstrong Circle Theater’ presentation of a documentary on flying objects.

He had just said: ‘We are meeting in secret with a congressional committee. If these meetings were public it would be proved,’ when the sound was cut.”

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