Extraterrestrials, Darwin, and the UN

Aliens! A job for the UN?

The news is getting stranger all the time. In the UK’s Daily Telegraph we read Aliens might not be friendly, warns astronomer.

Shocking headline! The sub-title gives us another clue:

Scientists searching for alien life should get governments and the UN involved lest we unwittingly contact hostile extraterrestrials, a British astronomer has warned.

The UN? Has the whole world gone mad? Judge for yourself, dear reader. Here are some excerpts from the Telegraph, with bold added by us:

Mr Marek Kukula, public astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, said: “Part of me is with the enthusiasts and I would like us to try to make proactive contact with a wiser, more peaceful civilisation.”

But he warned: “We might like to assume that if there is intelligent life out there it is wise and benevolent, but of course we have no evidence for this.

Clearly we’re reading the words of a deep thinker. Wikipedia doesn’t have much to tell us about Marek Kukula, so we’ll have to judge him by what we see in the newspaper. Let’s read on:

“Given the consequences of contact may not be what we initially hoped for, then we need governments and the UN to get involved in any discussions,” he told The Sunday Times.

Brilliant! Buy why stop there? Why not also put the Post Office, the Food Stamp clerks, and the IRS in charge of alien contact? That’ll really impress the aliens.

We continue:

This week a two-day conference is being held at the Royal Society in London, titled, ‘The detection of extraterrestrial life and the consequences for science and society.’

There is also an astrobiology conference in Texas in April at which new methods of detecting aliens will be discussed.

Wow! After this “put the UN in charge” session in London, they’ll be moving on to Texas — the hotbed of creationism! Here’s more:

Professor Simon Conway Morris, a Cambridge University evolutionary biologist, will be talking at the Royal Society on ‘Predicting what extraterrestrial life will be like – and preparing for the worst.”

Preparing for the worst? Why?

He thought that, given that the principles of Darwinian evolution should be universal, it was “inevitable” that intelligent life would have developed elsewhere in the universe given the right environmental conditions.

Gasp! There’s evolution going on out there!

Okay, one final excerpt:

Some scientists are puzzled as to why no messages have been sent back even though humans have been transmitting radio and television signals for the last century.

Prof Conway Morris reasoned that if he were in their shoes “I’m not sure I’d answer the telephone.”

What’s wrong with those guys? Look — we’re the new species in the galaxy. All the aliens are likely to be millions of years ahead of us technologically. How things go after contact will be their decision, not ours.

If we follow the advice of those guys in London, contact will result in either all-out interstellar war — which won’t end well for us — or galactic isolation forever. And the latter option may be what we’re experiencing right now.

Don’t blame ET. Imagine, dear reader, that you’re a member of some alien species and you get one of those annoying automated messages that starts out: “Hi, this is the United Nations. Would you like to chat with a lonely young species?”

[Related post: Creationist Wisdom #109: SETI.]

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Extraterrestrials, Darwin, and the UN

  1. Curmudgeon: “Brilliant! Buy why stop there? Why not also put the Post Office, the Food Stamp clerks, and the IRS in charge of alien contact? That’ll really impress the aliens.”

    The IRS already is in charge. Why do you think they keep staying away? ;-)

  2. Considering that the fastest we can reach out to any extraterrestrials is controlled by the speed of light (Curse you, Einstein!) and assuming that the closest habitable planet is Gliese 581 C (20.5 light years away), it would take 20.5 + however long to interpret our message = at least 20.5 years before they’d hear us. Then they’d have to get here. Since we’re on a “let’s assume equivalency” kick, let’s assume they can’t travel at the speed o’ light, but only 1/10 of that speed. So we’re looking at, what, 225.5 years (at least) from the time we send a message before they could get here? Yup, this is truly a serious problem. Get the UN on it right away!

  3. Gary says: “Yup, this is truly a serious problem. Get the UN on it right away!”

    The UN needs another life-long, unproductive, but lucrative career path. There probably aren’t too many jobs available in the Middle East Peace Process.

  4. Obviously, any ill-intentioned extra-terrestrials would do any mischief, not by dangerous, slow and expensive traveling in space ships, but by using radio transmissions to interfere with the web and other media.

  5. TomS says: “… but by using radio transmissions to interfere with the web and other media.”

    I’ve always suspected that creationist websites are beamed at us from Uranus.

  6. If you put the UN in charge of contacting space aliens, the only sure thing will be a budget increase of a $100 billion per year so they prepare and transmit “Esperanto in Ten Easy Lessons” from Arecibo every Saturday night.

    Any creature on the receiving end of that message would rightfully conclude that there is “no evidence of intelligent life on earth.”

  7. Longie says:

    Any creature on the receiving end of that message would rightfully conclude that there is “no evidence of intelligent life on earth.”

    But Longie, it’s gotta be the UN. We need to make a good impression on the aliens.

  8. Well, this ought to impress the hell out of them:

    http://mindprod.com/esperanto/dirty.html

    [Warning: the link is not Safe for Work (NSFW)]

  9. Warning: the previous link is “NSFW”

  10. Curmudgeon: “I’ve always suspected that creationist websites are beamed at us from Uranus.”

    So that’s why they picked Ben Stein (he played the nerdy science teacher on “The Wonder Years” who kept saying “Uraaaanus”). Wonder if he’s going to have a cable installed and have the rubes pay for their fixes? ;-)

  11. Frank J says: ?So that’s why they picked Ben Stein …”

    It’s very odd that whenever the Seventh Planet is mentioned, someone is certain to think of Ben Stein.

  12. What’s even more peculiar is every time the Seventh Planet is mentioned, the Sensuous Curmudgeon is always lurking nearby……

    Coincidence? I think not…..

  13. retiredsciguy

    TomS says aliens would interfere with the web and other media.

    Ah! This would explain the TimeCube.

  14. Mr Marek Kukula states: “We might like to assume that if there is intelligent life out there it is wise and benevolent, but of course we have no evidence for this.”

    There is intelligent life out there and plenty of it — just listen to what NASA astronauts have observed, including Apollo 11 astronauts. Our species, Homo sapiens, is 200,000 years old, evolved from Homo heidelbergensis in east Africa. ET astronauts who visit us are from other civilizations in the Milky Way and are far older than that. Are they wise and benevolent peoples? Some are benevolent but others are decidedly not.

    Mr. Darwin’s view was that life evolved by a series of chance upon chance mutations over millions and millions of years. If ET life exists (as it does), the existence of other peoples from other worlds convincingly refutes Darwin’s theory of origins. What we need is more and better science and exploration, not reliance on 19th century conjecture. The theory of common descent is proved by the convergence of the sciences. But Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the impetus for origin of species remains unsubstantiated and in fact is refuted by modern microbiology.

  15. John Umana, if Kukula said that, he doesn’t belong at a scientific conference.

  16. John Umana says, “…the existence of other peoples from other worlds convincingly refutes Darwin’s theory of origins.”

    Oh? In what way?

    This sounds like the same John Umana who wrote “Creation: Towards a Theory of All Things” (see http://www.amazon.com/Creation-Towards-Theory-All-Things/dp/1419605909/ref=cm_pdp_imgs_itm_title_1 ).

    In other words, another nut case.

  17. The Curmudgeon, “John Umana, if Kukula said that, he doesn’t belong at a scientific conference.”

    All Mr. Kukula said was, “We might like to assume that if there is intelligent life out there it is wise and benevolent, but of course we have no evidence for this.”

    The rest was from Mr. Umana. I think you missed the close quote on Kukula’s statement which is reasonable.

  18. RogerE says: “The rest was from Mr. Umana.”

    Ah, got it. That post of his needs some formatting. I’ll see to it.