Why Here? Why There? Why Anywhere?

Alien Space Cup-N-Saucer Lands in British Columbia!

Only shaky cell phone images of object remain after encounter with object by tourists.

There are many stories of encounters with UFOs or Flying Saucers and other sorts of encounters with extraterrestrials. Some are more credible than others. We have many fictional stories as well throughout more modern times where they are actually described as extraterrestrial or where stories of yore are now attributed to such visitations.

UFO 2I think, when pondering such visitations that we have to ask the question “Why?” — meaning why are they visiting us? Many of the movies and books try to answer them and many answer “conquest!” whether for food, slaves, breeding population, or other nefarious purposes. I admit that answer makes for good cinema and great books because good conflict can make for great stories — for a great background for a great story anyway. You need more than a great background for a great story after all. (I know I have discovered that in trying to write the next great novel.)

A Pessimistic View

A good friend has put forward, a number of times, that we only have to look at how Native Americans have fared since their rediscovery by Columbus. (The aboriginal population after all knew they were there the whole time and there were others who came to North America before Columbus or who might have come.) When two populations meet that have never met before and there is a large difference in their technological level, it doesn’t bode well for the culture with the lesser level… I think perhaps that we only have to be looking at military technology — where technology might simply include how to produce large numbers of efficient killing machines quickly.

Tim's WorldA More Optimistic View

I think there is a lot of truth to that considering our past track record. But I wonder… knowing what we now know, would we, if we were in a different position, say if the Moon were Earth’s geophysical twin… or if Venus or Mars were so that we could hope to go there and discover indigenous people that were not technologically advanced or perhaps were neolithic or bronze age …would we treat them in the same way that the preColumbian peoples of the Americas were treated?

What I was getting at was — would a more advanced civilization from another planet be making the same mistakes we made? — or would we expect them to operate at a higher moral level.

That’s a question simply of what happens when two advanced cultures of different levels meet. (Assuming both cultures as advanced as our more advanced cultures or more advanced. There are also some cultures here that don’t seem to play nice with others yet.)

I think that there is a matter of how optimistic you are, how pessimistic, or how realistic-unrealistic. I am not a believer that optimistic = unrealistic or pessimistic = realistic. I think that always seeing life as one way or the other is unrealistic. I think being prepared is realistic however — being afraid is pointless.

When it comes to looking at alien visitations, since we can’t necessarily understand an alien perspective, we can only consider our own. Why do we travel to alien worlds? – why do we explore the universe?

Us As Aliens

UFOI mean we already explore alien worlds. We look at them, we land on them — both with manned and unmanned probes, we take samples of them and examine them destructively and non-destructively and take some of the samples home. We have samples from comets, meteors, asteroids, the Moon, and space dust that we have gone out and brought home. We also have some samples that have come to us of those same things and even Mars! (Some meteorites have been shown to be chunks of Mars blown into space by collisions of asteroids/meteoroids with Mars.)

Our probes have flown by and orbited almost all of the large bodies of our Solar System. They have landed on a large number or flown/dropped into their atmosphere successfully and unsuccessfully. We have landed on Venus, the Moon, Mars, Titan, and an asteroid. We have dropped probes into the atmospheres of Jupiter and a comet (I am not sure if we contacted the comet or not. I am not sure of the names of the asteroid or comet at the moment.)

There are over a 750 planets discovered outside our Solar System as well. (There are over a thousand which are not “confirmed”.)

We are already doing a bit of exploring… even “out there”.

Why do “We” go out there?

  • Intellectual curiosity? – Exploration — While there are other reasons, many simply seek knowledge. They have no thought of ever going to the places they explore or gaining any material gain from their exploration. This is especially true with remote exploration. If they were travelling to the places they were exploring, with the larger investments, this might still be so. What sort of payback did Charles Darwin expect from his voyages on The Beagle? I think he might have wanted his name in a few journals and to have his papers published, but I don’t think he wanted to take back species of new creatures and plants to exploit. When we send a probe to Mars, we go partly to simply find out more about Mars. A large part as well is to discover something about ourselves and see how Mars differs from ourselves.
  • Territory Marking – Honour — There is a certain amount of territory marking involved. That first footprint on the Moon meant or means a lot to a very many people. The whole “Space Race” was important and “Who” got into space first. Perhaps there isn’t quite as much an “Us vs Them” in the space industry as there was during the “Cold War” but, there is also an aspect of wanting to land probes on planets simply to be able to say we were there. I think there are people who want to land man on Mars simply so we can place a footprint there. There are also people who want to put a base on the Moon so we can say we have a base there. As impossible as it might be, I am sure there are people who want to land man on Venus as well. So there is a matter of Honour and Territory Marking involved in exploring and going “Out There”.
  • Expansion – Conquest – Manifest Destiny — There can be a feeling of duty to go out there and own a chunk of the Universe. The Human Race is intended to go out and expand to fill the Solar System to the best of its potential. That is an extension to a feeling that it is our destiny to expand to our potential as a right of being a part of the Universe. It is sort of an evolutionary imperative where continuation of the species is a mandate — expansion into new territory is a part of improving the species by expanding its scope. Conquering new territory or ecological zones proves how fit your species is by proving its flexibility — that is even if you push other species out. I think that is where other cultures have tended to lose out.
  • Exploitation — We are using up some of our resources and need to find replacement resources. Perhaps looking to other planets is not an answer for anything we are running out of, but it could conceivably be for others. On a planetary scale we do that. If you can’t find enough oil at home you look towards other lands. We get many important minerals and metals from other countries which if we didn’t would slow our high tech industries to a halt. What happens when we can’t find a few minerals crucial to our computer industry on Earth and recycling what we have just does not allow for growth? Well perhaps this is not a scenario for anything we have, but, we do explore for exploitation.
  • Survival of the Species — There are disasters that could happen that could render a land uninhabitable. If a species on Earth only inhabited one island and that island were destroyed, that species would be gone. If that species were to have been spread to other islands and other continents it would be much harder to make extinct, even if the island it originated on were destroyed. There are things that might render the Earth itself a wasteland if only for a thousand years. That is long enough if we only had the Earth to live on as a species. Even if only a million, a hundred-thousand, ten-thousand, or even possibly a thousand humans existed in a viable settlement somewhere else, the human race would survive — at least long enough to possibly repopulate the Earth or somewhere else. The more other places, the further away, the greater the chance of survival.

I think that we could look at alien species travelling to Earth having reasons similar to these if not others. I also likely have missed some of the reasons we travel away from the Earth or explore. These might be reasons that aliens come to the Earth.

Only One?

Nobody says when we go exploring or just “out there” that we only go for one reason, and in fact we do not go out there as a unified group. Right now we have different nations going into space with differing agendas. Even within nations there are different groups.

There are all sorts of divisions. Educational institutions have different programs supported by different groups from corporations to the military. Sometimes universities and colleges join together. Corporations sometimes form specifically to create a launch vehicle and sometimes to answer a challenge and win a prize. The military has it’s own program or programs and will ask for bids from corporations.

Each group going into space can be going for one or many reasons and they might join together or work at odds with each other.

I think that while perhaps alien cultures might be more unified — even great one minded space-faring insect races — they might have as many varied purposes and reasons as us and there might be many groups and races visiting us… or one race with many groups.

Looking at Why We Might Be Visited

So I think when we look at possible UFO sightings, I think we should ponder that when we investigate or try to make contact. We might look at making contact we might consider ourselves as primitives making contact with ourselves or even curious animals and how we would react to such. Perhaps we might learn a lot if we do so. Do we act like a terrified lab rat or violent savage? Or a tractable animal to the dissection lab? Or perhaps an aboriginal ready to make peaceful and constructive contact even if we are not at the same level in technology. We might still be worthy knowing as “people” rather than as curiosity.

About dwpenner

DWPenner has a broad education that is strong in the sciences and technology. He also has studied archeology and some history in his journey to "Now". DWPenner enjoys creating, whether sketching or writing. Creating computer graphics or web pages are equally satisfying and at one time he loved writing computer programs. Medieval heraldry has been a passion and currently he volunteers as one of the Directors of a heritage society.
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