Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Extraterrestrial Contact: Fault Lines

I believe that problematic reactions in human society will form along familiar fault lines in the wake of First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. However, those fault lines could resonate and grow in new and unexpected directions. In the same way that geologists track changes in the earth’s crust to detect the probability of earthquakes, social scientists, governments and institutions will need to track public perception and opinion. Notice that I mention perception first. We're used to gauging public opinion and perhaps not so used to evaluating perception. The difference, as I see it, is depth of analysis and context. Humans will need active and sustained research to inform world leaders and the public at large. Collectively, we will need to hold up a thoughtful mirror to humanity and carefully evaluate how we are reacting to First Contact. Communication and decision-making should follow from a close examination of that human reaction. The danger After First Contact will come in knee-jerk responses and in a failure to predict where things will go next.

What should we be looking for?






-Signs of extremism leading to violence

This monitoring of public perception can lead to a better response by scientists, the media and governments in informing the public of the facts and clearing up confusion. 

The world news media will be especially important partners in this process. They will have to be cautious and deliberate in their response to new information and in the coverage of events After First Contact.  Media outlets will likely be the first organizations confronted with misinformation and rumors. Weeding out the truth will be incredibly important. It will be the duty of dedicated journalists to work with knowledgeable and trusted scientists. News organizations will need to strengthen filters to sort out bad information and prevent themselves from hurtling head-first into questionable stories. This won't be easy. Competition will be fierce and public desire for new information intense. The most important news organizations in this process may be the ones currently most susceptible to hype and rumor: the 24 hour TV news networks. If they fail us, the entire media structure could collapse into a squalor of stupidity. Here's looking at you CNN, Fox News, Sky, BBC, CNC, RT, DD, France 24, Deutsche Welle and MSNBC. Will you lead or will you fail? If you fail, then the public will need to turn you off and seek sober coverage.

Ultimately, the monitoring of public perception can inform us, so that we can make decisions on how to move forward. Many concerns and worries will be quite legitimate. Humanity won’t come up with the answers for how to move forward immediately After First Contact. It will be a process of discussion, debate and revision. That will involve listening to the world public- each and every nation; people from many religions and cultural backgrounds. This isn’t a process reserved for the most wealthy of nations, particular blocs of nations or the so-called “free world.” This is a process for all of humanity.

Concerns, worries, rumors, misinformation and confusion can turn into fear if not addressed. Fear can lead to civil unrest. Concerns and worries can also be used by individuals and groups in the promotion of agendas that are ultimately more about grabbing power, than the actual concerns or worries.
Humans will be humans.  We will need to listen. We will need to respond.

Have I missed something that we would also need to track After First Contact? Join in the discussion on the Alien First Contact Facebook page.

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