Monday, February 11, 2013

Okay space aliens, how about now?

The President of the United States just started his second term. Europe seems to be out of economic critical care. China and Russia face plenty of challenges, but the governments are fairly stable right now. There is no great world disaster in need of immediate attention. In short, Earth is a relatively calm place. So, how about now for First Contact space aliens? If you’re waiting for us to pull our collective human act together, this may be as good as it gets. Sure, Egypt is going to hell and Syria is still a bloody mess. But we can handle it. First Contact would be an incredible distraction for humanity. In a critical moment, such as the Japanese tsunami disaster or the height of the European debt crisis, such distraction could be a real problem. The entire world needed to mobilize to help the Japanese, especially in light of the nuclear crisis. The European Union had to make tough decisions to find a road to economic recovery for Greece, Spain and Italy. You wouldn’t want to make contact during a crisis of such an immediate nature.

I’m not saying that there are any extraterrestrials out there waiting to say hello. Even if there are extraterrestrials in the neighborhood, they may have no interest in making contact with us. But one would imagine that if extraterrestrials were interested in making contact, timing would be everything. If they care about human reaction they would want to plan the big hello very carefully.

This scenario makes a couple of big assumptions. The first assumption is that aliens would care about human reaction to First Contact. The second is our perspective on timing. The extraterrestrial concerns over timing in First Contact could be very different indeed. They might have criteria that would never even occur to us. As usual, we view First Contact through the lens of human perspective. The alien point of view would likely be quite different.

Still, if extraterrestrials were concerned about human reaction, picking a time of relative calm would be a good idea. Dramatic First Contact would be a big shock to our system.  It might be best to approach us when we can best handle it. Better get on it space aliens. Calm is unlikely to last very long on the third rock from the Sun.

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