We have always been intrigued by what lay out of sight beyond the boundaries of the heavens. We invented gods and all manner of wonderful beings in an attempt to make sense of our world. The modern concern is with intelligent visitors from other planets. There are a number of cults who are even preparing for their arrival. UFO sightings have increased considerably since the 1950s and the number of abduction reports has also increased. To date though, there is no absolute proof of intelligent extraterrestrials. Of course, this hasn’t stopped Hollywood speculating as to what they might look like and what they might want from us. Their agendas range from the benign attention of benevolent aliens in films such as ‘the day the earth stood still’ through to the war mongering of the aliens depicted in ‘V’ and ‘Independence Day.’ So, benign or malevolent, are we ready to make contact?
A number of UFO conspiracy theorists would have us believe that contact with alien beings has been made but that Governments have conspired to keep this knowledge from the general public. I am not sure I subscribe to this theory, but it is plausible and lying at the heart of it is the notion that Governments would have a reason, or reasons, not to share this information. One reason that is often suggested is that Governments do not believe that our societies could continue to prosper if this news were made public. This breakdown in society could stem from either individual reaction to the news or systemic reactions. In either event, there is the possibility that societies would fail and Governments fall leading to anarchy and chaos, a state of affairs to be avoided. The mechanisms for failure are many and varied but would likely include a number of the following:
a) Knowledge of extraterrestrial beings would lead to a crisis of faith in individuals and possibly destabilize the organized religions. In most societies, religious leaders wield considerable influence with the Government and they would argue to maintain the status quo. Governments too recognize the stabilizing influence of organized religion on their populations, both in terms of underpinning the moral attitude of the society and controlling populations through religious dogma. It is easy to see that if these are brought into serious doubt, society becomes more volatile.
b) Economic systems would be put under severe strain, and would probably collapse, once the knowledge of extraterrestrial contact has been confirmed. The mere fact that aliens have managed to contact us would indicate greater technological capabilities. The fear that this might engender in the populace is probably sufficient to change behaviors. People will be less likely to continue in their normal routines and businesses would be undermined as they lost their workforces. But even if this fear was well managed and the population were quickly convinced of the benign nature of our new alien friends, business would be concerned about how any new technologies would be introduced into society. Just taking energy as an example, it would be speculated that the alien visitors would have access to more advanced energy supplies which might render our current energy industries redundant overnight. The same may be true in the medical and food production industries. The shock to our economic systems just from the speculation alone would probably be sufficient to cause collapse or severe recession.
c) General fear and panic could easily be envisaged if populations are faced with the unknown. Riots and attacks against Government forces and agencies would ensue. Such unrest has been caused with far less provocation in the past. People could lose faith in the ability of the Government to protect them and a vigilante culture would grow. The mistrust that this would breed would allow people to exercise their prejudices and attack other groups in society who they might label as alien sympathizers. This state of affairs could easily escalate into civil or national wars, particularly if people perceive that one country is becoming closer to the alien visitors than others. They would be fearful that alien technology would provide a military advantage and might choose to strike before they are attacked. All sorts of paranoia might find voice as society disintegrated.
If you are convinced by the arguments that I make, then it is clear that we are not yet ready to make contact with aliens and to have this made common knowledge. If such contact is ever to be made, then Governments will have to manage the situation carefully. They would need to maintain strict secrecy and prepare the population gradually. They would need to ensure that they had the answers to the main questions that would be asked, about how friendly the aliens are, what would be shared in terms of knowledge, technology and products and how we would defend ourselves against any aggression. These will be difficult answers to find and it is likely we have a long wait before the population in general is able to deal with confirmation of alien contact. It makes you wonder whether we are being kept in the dark.