The renowned physicist Enrico Fermi posed this question in 1950, following his premise that because the galaxy is very old and very large, with hundreds of billions of stars and planets, we should be seeing evidence of advanced civilizations. The question came to be known as the Fermi paradox. And in today’s strange, alien-haunted world, it should be noted that a paradox beats a full house. Especially when the players are only playing with half a deck.
Despite all the problems we have on earth with such things as global warming, a pandemic, and scientists who tell us things we don’t want to hear, the majority of us do want to hear more about space aliens. The majority, in fact, believe that aliens have either been here before, are here now, or are in the planning stages for a surprise visit. Or invasion. This has led to much amateur speculation about alien capabilities and motivations, which is much like speculating on the capabilities and motivations of many of our own species, only with less of a need for bodyguards and lawyers. Fortunately for all of us however, there are professional speculators.
The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, as various investigations have been called, began in earnest in 1960 when Frank Drake, an astronomer from Cornell University, employed the large radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia in the hopes of tuning in to alien radio signals. Anything, he likely reasoned, had to be better than Doo Wop music. Nothing of interest was found, but his excuse that space is big did trigger an interest in excuses that continues to this day. And they only got bigger and better, in keeping with the ever bigger and better telescopes, promises, and egos of the new SETI projects. (As a side note, the 2021 release of the long awaited U.S. National Intelligence Report on UFOs also reported nothing of interest, but it was reassuring to see that swamp gas hasn’t lost its ability to fool us.)
At this point in the search, perhaps it’s time we took a step back and asked a different key question, notably, why are these aliens making us look like fools? Although I’m not a professional speculator like those noted above, in some circles I am considered a professional excuse maker, unlike those noted above. So as the aliens aren’t around to either defend themselves or abduct me, I’d like to offer some excuses on their behalf as to why they might not be making themselves more readily discoverable.
- The aliens discovered long ago that we didn’t need any help in looking like fools, and are putting their resources to better use elsewhere.
- After seeing what happened on other worlds, the aliens adopted policies that prohibit them from contacting or interfering with primitive indigenous cultures. They’ve noted that once an individual sees a ray gun, everybody wants one, and before you know it whole cultures simply disappear, leaving only a legacy of ray gun rights legislation.
- The aliens became too intelligent for their own good and destroyed themselves through pollution, planetary warming, weapons of mass destruction, and deadly diseases they figured they could outsmart. The warnings they sent before they went extinct were in fact received by National Intelligence Agencies, who promptly marked them as spam and deleted them.
- Alien messages aren’t received because aliens communicate in neutrino signals while we listen in radio waves. On earth, this can be compared to how the genders communicate.
- The aliens realized that the speed of light is an effective barrier to space exploration, and are concentrating their resources at home to improve the lives of all aliens. The laughter from other civilizations has yet to reach them.
- The aliens are waiting to make a grand entrance at the next July 2 UFO Day celebration.
- The aliens actually were here, and were, in fact, the originators of Doo Wop music. Mission accomplished, they left to spread the joy of singing nonsense syllables in harmony to other worlds.