Why the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Seti may not be a Good Idea

Often when we think of the search of Extra Terrestrial Intelligence we think and speak in awed, golden tones of how wondrous it would be to meet an alien civilization; to understand their culture(s), their language(s), architecture, art, music, their history, their philosophies and religions. Think: Jodie Foster’s character in Contact. Personally, I think that this is naive thinking taken to a new level! In fact, it is often assumed by some scientists and even some science fiction writers that a more advanced alien civilization couldn’t be destructive and would only be a good thing or a positive experience for human beings because if they weren’t peaceful and good, they would have destroyed themselves long ago. I’d like to believe that too but this is foolishness.

Most scientists believe that humans have been on the earth for millions years. So humans been around for quite some time and we are extremely destructive beings. Millions of years of existence hasn’t stopped us from surviving advancing. So, I wonder how some people come to that conclusion? Perhaps they’ve been buzzing around too long in their ivory towers. I think some of these folks need to go back and review history!

I want to call to everyone’s mind our own human history because this is really the only thing we can go by. To make assumptions that have no basis in known fact is wishful thinking and we have no basis for thinking that a hostile alien civilization couldn’t be organized and wise enough to travel the stars. No basis for thinking that they won’t be domineering or even dangerous to us. All you really need to do is take a good look at how kingdoms and empires were founded, whether in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa or Latin America. We could examine Antiquity, the Middle Ages or modern times; the order of the day was, and still is to many in this world: “Might Makes Right.” Those who are technologically advanced, those with more powerful weapons control or destroy those that are weaker. There is no reason to think that an alien civilization with an imperial, warrior-like culture couldn’t survive to become advanced enough to travel the stars. We have our own examples of this.

Some warlike cultures, of course do self destruct, but not all of them. Many times in history small villages or tribes can overcome inter-tribal conflicts, local primitivism and battles and unite and become great empires. I see no reason why this couldn’t occur with an alien civilization. They could unite as many alien cultures under one banner and go looking through the stars for more conquests. Especially if they see some kind of economic good for themselves or even glory for their culture. Who knows what their motivation might be? If they are aware of our existence and the resources our planet has, and they need them, then what might we expect? While it is entirely possible that such cultures could implode, it is also possible that they could unite for a common purpose: for more resources. Thus, they might begin a quest, looking for other planets to terra-form and thereby find and dominate lesser cultures they come upon in the universe.

What have we done to each other when we’ve faced this same problem? What have the British, the Romans, Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Zulus, Assyrians, Egyptians, Ethiopians, the Spanish conquistadors, the Aztecs, the Mayans, etc., done when they found cultures or tribes less advanced than themselves? We know the answer. Civilizations that possess resources that we want? We take them by force. Perhaps we would be nothing more to these aliens than a nuisance, like bugs that need to be exterminated? How bad do we feel when we exterminate bugs? What if they decided to use us as a food source? For breeding or slavery? Scientific experiments? All of this is possible.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong and they could be benevolent and willing to share knowledge with us. It’s just that given the human experience, we have no basis for such an assumption. When thinking about alien civilizations, it would be wise to hope for the best and assume the worst. That’s not paranoid thinking, it’s just caution and wisdom.