posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 01:38 AM
A lot will depend on how first contact happens.
It may well be covert: extraterrestrials revealing themselves only to a person or persons of their choice. They may select powerful or influential
figures (political leaders, scientists, the creators of South Park) or folk of no great significance in human society. It seems logical to us
that they should first make themselves known to the movers and shakers of our world, but then, who knows how an alien will think? Maybe their agenda
impels them to get in touch with Earthsister, the ATS member who believes she is visited at home by not one, but 218 different species of
Many people, not just Earthsister, believe that contact of this kind has happened already, or that is happening on an ongoing basis. Speaking
personally, I do not share their belief. In any case, this kind of contact implies no response from humanity as a whole. It is only if the revelation
is public, or made public, that a widespread reaction can be expected.
I imagine this reaction would be comprised in large measure of panic, fear and violence. It certainly will be if world leaders, or the
extraterrestrials themselves, don't take matters in hand somehow. In any case the offworlders will face an enormous amount of hostility. People whose
rigid belief and value systems are shattered by the alien advent -- the fiercely religious, the permanent revolutionaries, the security-obsessed, the
psychos, the xenophobes -- will be spitting feathers and up for anything that will allow them to get a bit of their own back. Things may get even
nastier if we discover (as we are more or less bound to) that elements of the aliens' science, philosophy, ethical systems, social or sexual
behaviour are repugnant or in some way threatening to our cherished preconceptions and 'way of life'.
The worst thing of all (short of a Mars Attacks-type scenario) would be a miles-long alien starship unexpectedly appearing in parking orbit
about Planet Earth, clearly visible to all below, just sitting there doing nothing or, worse still, doing just enough to make it unambiguously clear
that it was the creation of real, live, intelligent beings from Out There. Can you imagine the reaction that would cause? The scrambled jets,
the ABMs? The hysteria on TV, the talking heads foaming at the mouth, the TV preachers yelling themselves hoarse -- Apocalypse, Apocalypse!?
Can you visualize the mobs and looting in the inner cities, the paralysis of our leaders, the collapse of authority, the military hotheads champing at
the bit and finally, when they can't stand it any more, just having a go on their own?
And that's just the reaction in rich countries, which is likely to be relatively subdued. Imagine how the news will go down among the huddled,
repressed masses of the Third World: the mass hysteria, the lemming hordes of suicides, the turning on traditional scapegoats with pogroms and
massacres? The anathemas called down upon the visitors by mullahs and bonzes, the blood sacrifices and exorcisms, the breast-beating wails of monks
The extraterrestrials may be able to bring about the collapse of humanity just by sitting there.
But if you and I can foresee this, it is beyond doubt that governments, especially in the rich world, have foreseen it too, and have devised
contingency plans to deal with such a visitation. How useful are those plans likely to be? Probably no use at all. Still, anyone can see that one way
to minimize the impact of first contact is to prepare people for it. One way to do that, I suppose, would be to get people used to the idea of aliens
by making them familiar elements of popular culture. Of course, they are elements in popular culture -- since at least the 1950s in America,
somewhat later elsewhere. By now, the public has been exposed to a number of contact scenarios in this manner.
Again, lots of people on ATS's UFO/alien forums believe humanity really is being 'prepped' deliberately in this way. It's a hypothesis that
becomes less persuasive when you know a bit about the historical development of science fiction and 'aliens' in popular culture, but there's still
an outside chance that some governments encourage this thing as a matter of policy -- though judging by the evidently spontaneous popularity of things
like Star Wars and The Matrix, it's not as if they really needed to.
The least traumatic of all first contact scenarios is, to my mind, the one proposed in Carl Sagan's novel Contact, and the movie based on it:
a message, preferably emanating from a distant (but not-too-distant) star system, which is taken at first for some kind of astronomical phenomenon
before finally, after much scientific controversy, being accepted for what it is, namely a calling-card from ET. This leads to a conversation, one
that is necessarily prolonged for generation or two while the messages go back and forth across the light-years, giving everybody time to get used to
the idea. Finally, after perhaps half a century (or more), a visit: they come to us, or better still, we go to them. Zeta Reticuli, anybody?