In the past few months, there have been some dire warnings about humans attempting to contact aliens. Stephen Hawking, for example, is against the whole concept. He’s very good at math, I always listen to people like him.
Then Seth Shostak, the director of the Center for SETI Research in Mountain View, wrote a piece in The New York Times last Sunday, noting the debate about the active Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and the argument that “aliens could very well be out there. ... Therefore, betraying our existence might prompt aggressive action from space.”
As I personally find the concept of aliens to be scary enough, the notion that we would go out of our way to contact them seems especially perilous. I’ve seen how so many space movies end, and it usually isn’t with them showing us how to use their laser weapons.
For years, mankind has been sending out all sorts of deliberate and inadvertent signals to aliens anyway. All radio and television waves go right out into space for any alien to hear, and they don’t even need to subscribe to Sirius or Netflix, let alone Comcast or what’s left of commercial radio. And if they did, they’d probably blow up our planet just for the bandwidth speed on Netflix alone. So we’re toast.
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Let’s say there are aliens, and one of the estimated billions of habitable planets in our galaxy hosted one of their societies. What would it be like? “The Jetsons,” but with slime? I don’t know. But I wonder what the first callback from aliens would be like.
“This is the aliens.”
“Actually, it would be ‘These are the aliens,’ but go ahead.”
“Yeah. We got all your radio and television signals, and we are very, very unhappy.”
“Don’t blame you a bit. Season 3 of ‘House of Cards’ was pretty disappointing.”
“You’re not getting this. Like, we are seriously unhappy. We don’t want OxyClean commercials, bass fishing tournaments, C-SPAN coverage of the House of Representatives, and a lot of other junk that’s clogging up our airwaves.”
“Those were a mistake. Did you read the Voyager spacecraft plaque with the little human figures? And I think we sent out a 12-inch golden phonograph record with it.”
“No. We got the Beta video machine-thing, and the tape is all over the floor and jammed in the capstans.”
“Sorry. Glad to hear from you, though. Can you tell us what you’re like?”
“Well, we are similar to you in some ways: two arms, two legs, and we worry about excess hair and drug side effects like dizziness, rashes and things lasting more than four hours. We’re grumpy and testy. Like a planet of Vladimir Putins and Benjamin Netanyahus.”
“Dang. We’ve already got one each of those, and that’s plenty.”
“Look. We are upset. So we’re coming to check out your planet.”
“When will you be here?”
“We’ll be there in seven seconds. We’re 450 years ahead of you.”
“Will this just be a social visit?”
“Well, if you call vaporizing all your cable boxes, iPhones, satellites, YouTube cat videos and morning call-in shows a social visit.”
“Hmmm. OK. Well. I guess sending you all that info was a mistake. I mean, we meant no harm.”
“Right. Well, I’d call ‘Joanie Loves Chachi’ and ‘Duck Dynasty’ an act of aggression at the very least, wouldn’t you?”
“Look. I get it. We are very, very sorry. We’ll put you on the National Do Not Call Registry, and call it good.”
“That doesn’t work, but OK. Listen. Let us at least come out and visit your doctors. We want to know how to get rid of these side effects. We’re tired of the moment being right all the time, and we actually reproduce with asexual buds.”
“Yeah. The season finale of ‘Breaking Bad’ got garbled. Can we get the box set?”
“Sure. Can you put us in touch with a friendlier society?”
“Yeah. I’ll patch you through to Rigel 34. They’re 53 years behind you, and they can’t get their rabbit ears to bring in ‘Mr. Ed.’”