Timing is everything, and as I have suggested before, extraterrestrials who want to make contact with humans would be advised to choose their moment carefully. One would imagine that it would be best to make contact with humans who can properly focus on the challenges of First Contact with an alien civilization. Distractions may seem like a minor point when it comes to the enormity and significance of First Contact. But there have been periods in human history during which aliens would want to avoid making contact. Examples? How about during World War Two? You have many nations involved in horrible conflict and technology developing that promises new ways to kill people on a mass scale. As a visiting alien do you really want to step into that? Nations involved in the conflict could hardly take the time to properly handle such an interaction. Most likely, they would want nothing more from the relationship than technology to better kill people on the other side of their conflict.
Here’s another example: the Cold War. During the darkest days of the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union were on a hair-trigger response to threat. A visiting extraterrestrial craft could provoke a dangerous response. Paranoia would enter into the picture. Each side could believe that extraterrestrials were a ploy on the part of the other.
These are extreme examples. Others may appear quite mundane in comparison, and yet still provide a significant reason for aliens to stay away. The latest would be the battle in the United States Congress over the budget and the debt ceiling. At first blush this might seem like a national issue. But in the larger scheme of things, the US Government defaulting on it’s debt obligations would have a huge impact on world economic markets, both in reality and perhaps more importantly, psychologically. Instability is a dangerous thing, no matter how it comes about. Instability requires hard work on the part of humans to solve specific challenges. Those efforts would make it tough to respond to significant new challenges. Extraterrestrial First Contact of any type would be a significant world challenge.
Now it would be easy to claim that all sorts of issues on planet Earth are a reason for aliens to leave us alone. And one could then jump to the conclusion that this could be the reason for the “Eerie Silence” as Paul Davies has put it. But, as in all speculation, there is no evidence. Intelligent aliens may be too far away to even realize we are here. Or they just might not care to make contact. Or they may be waiting for us to make contact.
If that changes, and some day extraterrestrials decide to say hello, they might be well advised to keep an eye on the news of the day. Sometimes humans just have too much on their collective plate to handle. And in those moments it might be best to just leave us alone for a while until we can get it sorted out.
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