Astrophobia is a psychological condition that involves the fear of the stars and space. For many people the fear is of aliens and alien invasion. Some psychologists think this phobia goes back to the fear of the dark and what may lurk in the dark. While it’s a normal response in a limited degree for humans, when taken to extremes it can turn into an unhealthy fascination with alien conspiracy theories.
However, like anything that is unknown, it takes a scientific approach to disprove such notions. That’s easier when you are a kid and the fear is of something hiding in a closet. You can ask mom or dad to take a look, and through observation realize that you fear is unfounded. The alien fear is tougher, because there is so much we do not know about the universe. Scientists can explain how unlikely it is that extraterrestrial beings would be able to reach our planet. They can talk about how unlikely it is that there are even extraterrestrial beings that know we exist. That still doesn’t stop the people who build conjecture, rumor, outright falsehoods and popular culture to create an entire world of alien conspiracy. The elaborations include aliens conspiring with the U.S. government; aliens performing medical tests on humans; alien breeding experiments with humans; aliens infiltrating human civilization; and of course the doomsday scenario of aliens taking over our world.
We can dismiss these fears as the chattering of a subculture of astrophobs. But popular culture has brought these ideas to the masses. No matter what the conditions involving First Contact, any extraterrestrial civilization contacting Earth will have to deal with these concerns.
Let’s assume that First Contact occurs and we are introduced to an extraterrestrial civilization. There are only a few possible scenarios concerning past contact with Earth:
They have been in contact with governments or people on our planet in the past.
They have conducted medical experiments on Earth beings.
They used to have contact with beings on Earth, including the above scenarios, and have not done so for many years.
They have had no direct contact, but have observed Earth while in Earth atmosphere.
They had only observed Earth from afar and used mechanical probes to observe in Earth atmosphere.
They have observed from afar and have never ventured into Earth atmosphere in any form.
They have only recently arrived in the solar system and have never entered Earth atmosphere in any form.
There may be some overlap in these possibilities; however they cover the broad range of scenarios. Each of these possibilities would have different ramifications and require a different approach to First Contact.
It is certainly possible than an extraterrestrial civilization might not want to reveal the truth in these matters, and that will be a huge factor in how people on Earth react to First Contact. How do we know they are telling the truth? In reality there would be very little way we could tell at first. There would have to be a systematic investigation of past allegations of contact and tampering. This would probably need to occur no matter what the extraterrestrial representatives might say. It is too ingrained into our culture to be ignored.
If their intentions are good, extraterrestrial representatives will need to present a complete and detailed history of interaction with Earth. It would be hoped that some form of evidence could be presented. It seems like such evidence would be hard to quantify. In the end we may have to accept or reject the claims of extraterrestrials at face value. This won’t provide much comfort to Astrophobs and what will be a widening of their ranks in the days after First Contact.
So, what can we do to overcome the fear?
We must move with caution. No matter what we are told there has to be a wariness in our contact with extraterrestrial civilizations. Even if the entire alien conspiracy community is wrong, there are plenty of other problems that we will face in the aftermath of First Contact. At the very least our civilization will be going through a cultural earthquake. The sciences, religion and government will face monumental challenges. Moving forward with caution allows us to address all of these points.
There needs to be strict limitations on contact. We need to control how many alien vessels and alien beings are allowed in Earth atmosphere, Earth orbit and our solar system.
We must move quickly to come up with the governmental framework to interact with extraterrestrials. These could include an Earth Entry Agency that will police what extraterrestrial crafts and beings are allowed into Earth orbit, and atmosphere, and under what conditions they can operate.
We need to be prepared for the unexpected. We must look carefully at how First Contact is impacting our civilization and keep an eye on how events might progress. Everything will be happening so rapidly that we need to be ready at every twist and turn.
We need to build a framework for exploring all past claims of extraterrestrial contact with Earth. This needs to be done in a scientific and investigatory fashion. However, it cannot be allowed to be the primary focus after First Contact. The primary mission must be the here and now, for no matter what happened in the past there will be immediate challenges. The investigation of past contact needs to be conducted in the background and in an open and responsive manner. Governments will need to cooperate with a mass declassification of past documents. This is especially important for the U.S. and Russia, where much of the conspiracy theories have been centered.
First Contact needs to be quick, forthright and honest. Extraterrestrial representatives will need to provide answers immediately to the most pressing questions: Why are they here? What are their intentions?
Ultimately, though, no matter what is done, it will be up to each individual to find a personal way of comprehending First Contact and preparing for a very different future.