ET go home: Why humanity should not find extra-terrestrial life
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Without a doubt, millions would be ecstatic if our years of searching for intelligent life was a success. A discovery of such magnitude would probably be the most significant scientific discovery ever made. As Nick Bostrom of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University said in his 2008 article for the MIT Technology Review, what could possibly be more fascinating than discovering a form of life that had evolved entirely independently of us here on Earth?
Many of us would find it reassuring and comforting to
Image Credit: Yan Wang, UFO
So, now it's time to confess something: the discovery of alien life is something I dread. This fear is not just related to the abundance of media featuring hostile alien invasions - we've all seen Independence Day. Rather, my fear of extra-terrestrial contact is focused just as much on friendly alien visitors. In his article,
The human race is not as amicable as we would like to believe. We do countless things without regards to the repercussions of our actions, repercussions which are, interestingly, often
However, these are all things that indirectly hurt humanity when we are perfectly good at harming each other already. The worst crime in my eyes is how we treat each other. The concept of a united human race is a myth. We
In England and Wales alone, there were 44,480 hate crimes reported by police in 2013/2014. On average, that's 121 hostile, discriminatory criminal acts a day. This is just two countries out of the 196
You'd have to live under a rock to not have
Discriminatory violence has happened on a mass scale at several points in our history, and it is not a case of it being long ago in the past. A quick look
Image Credit: Michael Büker, Gravestones at the Potočari genocide memorial near Srebrenica
Our attacks on each other are not just based on our differing characteristics; we have a tendency of trying to kill each other over very trivial matters too. For how long now have North Korea been threatening to nuke the Western world, all
The horrors humans inflict on one another in war are unfathomable. An example that immediately springs to mind is the wicked experiments of Josef Mengele in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. This twisted physician, for those of who have been spared from the knowledge of the atrocities he committed, was responsible for selecting the prisoners that would be sent straight to their deaths in the gas chambers and those who would instead be worked until they died. He also took the liberty of using the inmates of Auschwitz for human experimentation. Many of these sadistic experiments were performed on children, and they often ended in dissection.
I wonder what’s stopping us from treating aliens as badly as we treat each other? If we mistreat other human beings, how can we be expected not to harm lifeforms that may be very different to ourselves? We've already seen in movies that the first reaction of our leaders to aliens is to experiment on them or blow them up - if the idea is already planted in our culture and our minds, what are the chances of it not becoming a reality? Our very nature as human beings regularly leads us to harm things that we don't fully understand, whether we do it intentionally or not. My belief is that the discovery of otherworldly intelligent life would not be a good thing, simply because we could not possibly treat extra-terrestrial visitors with the required respect.
If we can't even cooperate with each other here on our own planet, how can we forge relationships with beings that will be, although fascinating, so exotic that our perceptions of life in the universe change forever?