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Alien Life

by on December 31, 2018

Alien Life

by Marco M. Pardi

Another circumstance tormented me in those days: that no one resembled me and that I resembled no one else. ‘I am alone and they are every one,’ I thought – and pondered.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 1821-1881. Notes from the underground. 1864.

All comments are greatly appreciated and will receive a response.

When Armstrong stepped onto the Moon it was indeed a “great leap for Mankind.” Apparently, it was also a great leap for social science. A few years after that historic landing I was attending yet another national social science conference where I was a featured speaker. Looking at the Program for other talks I might find interesting I saw one to be presented by a well known sociologist who, for this event anyway, billed himself as an “Exo-Sociologist” I wondered, What in the world is that? (I couldn’t resist that) Unfortunately, our presentations were concurrent so I missed his. But, having wrestled with the linguistics issue of communicating with off-world visitors I long since wondered how anyone could seriously propose an ethnology/ethnography of an off-world species, especially one capable of visiting us.

Of course, the interest in such adventures was nothing new. Science fiction from the 1940’s onward was dominated by imaginative literature characterizing alien civilizations, usually as a means of highlighting faults in our own. In the ’50’s I was a fan of Flash Gordon, usually sympathizing with the Emperor Ming over Gordon and his mundane companions. The film industry was not far behind, usually depicting aliens as creatures far too clumsy and brutish to have developed, much less piloted inter-stellar craft.

Respectable” literature also got in on the action. Life Magazine and its competitors occasionally published articles on “alien life” heavily illustrated with “artists’ renderings” of what we might encounter on other planets. No matter the renderings looked like Aubrey Beardsley met H. P. Lovecraft. They were there to sell magazines. One evening when I was at dinner with the heir to the Coles Newspaper Empire, including Look Magazine (his young bride was a friend of mine), I asked about their coverage. “It sells”.

More recently we are treated to ongoing television series such as Ancient Aliens, proposing that Humanity arose not through Natural Selection among higher Primates, but from deliberate manipulation of Primate genes by highly advanced space visitors. These programs take advantage of a fundamental principle in logic: Proving something didn’t happen is usually far more difficult than proving something did. Therefore, the shows continually pose ideas in the form of questions, not factual statements, and answer their own questions with “researchers think so”. The term “researcher” is presumed to carry infallibility among us pedestrians.

I am not at all against the idea that alien life exists. In fact, I think the conceit that our planet’s life forms are the only ones in the universe is untenable. But then, what of these other forms? For too long we assumed that life elsewhere had to model life here. This meant presumptively ruling out planets without environments which match ours. Then we began to discover the life forms we never thought possible, extremophiles which exist here in abundance in places so toxic, or so hot, or so cold as to almost instantly kill the life forms we see daily around us. We are only now aware of the thick bacterial blanket surrounding the Earth in the highest reaches of the atmosphere.

But skeptics would challenge the presence of intelligence within these species, holding fast to the self awarded title Homo sapiens – Man the wise. Yet even our definition of intelligence, and who or what can or cannot have it is changing. I have earlier written that Ray Kurzweil, a leader in the growing A.I. – Artificial Intelligence — movement, told us years ago the Singularity, the threshold beyond which no human mind can refute or verify a conclusion reached by a computer, is near. I would say, for me it’s already here. And I’m just using a desktop.

The growing awareness of A.I. has given new strength to the decades old position that life can also be silicon based, not just carbon based as we have known it. I’ve known several women who were largely silicone based, though I don’t think that’s what A.I. science had in mind. At least two of these women suffered bilateral implant encapsulation. The tissue surrounding the implants seized and hardened, leaving them looking like the front bumpers on a 1950’s Cadillac, and feeling the same way. Did I say, largely? When the poor dears tried sleeping face down their heads swung freely.

The issue re-surfacing with A.I. is that for all our scientific history we have been married to the idea of evolution as biological, and biological as carbon based. Now, as we go through our daily routines wearing Smartwatches with more computing power than the massive computer banks which sent Armstrong to the Moon, we are forced to reevaluate our concept of intelligence and who or what can carry it. Yes, computers can replicate themselves, and have been able to for years: Reproduction? Yes, computers can take in new information and purge outdated or useless information: Respiration? And now computers can process information and produce never before seen outcomes: Creativity? We are seeing the ability of computers to produce “offspring” which can exceed the parent generation’s capabilities on the order of several magnitudes: Evolution?

Again, the skeptics speak up saying these acts are not acts of volition; there is no personhood devising and driving them. Unsaid, however, is the unresolved issue of what constitutes personhood. No one has yet explained consciousness. And only a fool takes the road marked Free Will. Quantum computers already exist, leaving us to guess at their motivation just as we look at someone’s actions and joke about the “Darwin Awards”.

In one of his recent books the physicist Michio Kaku proposed a series of graduated stages for the development of intelligent life capable of inter-stellar travel and therefore contact with us. Of course, the existence of life forms with such intelligence and the willingness to visit us do not necessarily go together. But, to be kind, let’s assume for the moment some such adventurers, on a Jurassic Park like vacation, do visit us. I suspect they would view us much as we view roaches: an example of evolutionary success but with the built in limitations attendant upon being the most self-destructive species while at the same time being the Apex Parasite on the planet. Our attempt to develop an ethnology/ethnography of our visitors would parallel a roach’s attempt to understand why we stomped it.

Does intelligence have to appear in a human form for us to accept it as intelligence? Apparently. We still are taught that humans stand apart from “dumb animals”. I’ve written much on that so will not reprise it here. By the way, if the reader falls back on “dumb” as meaning without speech I would point to the recent decades of realization that many other species of non-humans, even plants, have sophisticated communications systems even at dialectical levels. It’s we who have long been too dumb to perceive them.

Does intelligence have to have feelings in order to function? Can a purely intelligent being act in ethical ways, or are ethics the expressions of loosely defined sentiments?

But here’s an open secret. Open because it’s all around us and always has been. Secret because even though in plain sight many people neither see nor understand it. Alien life is all around us. This is increasingly apparent since the rise of “populism”, the old wine in new bottles, to twist a saying. It is the world wide rise of Fascism disguised as what the people want. In the 1950’s a popular tobacco advertising theme was something like “100.000 people can’t be wrong”. Eventually, we came to realize 100,000 people can be wrong.

Especially in the recent United States, but also spreading through Europe human societies are fracturing into competing tribes. Adjust the focal length of the microscope and see that this phenomenon extends down to the familial level as well. Americans remembered the Civil War as “brother against brother” and swore to never let it happen again. I’m not asking for a show of hands, but I’m guessing some readers have found themselves in never-before-so-tense familial gatherings over the recent holidays, if they attended those gatherings at all. And so we now look at each other and see carbon based biological units in human form, therefore presumably intelligent, and wonder if this other thinks and feels like us, or is so unintelligent as to value all those things we know to be absolutely and fundamentally wrong.

My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”¹

Is this the statement of an intelligent being? 

Talking recently with someone who frequently visits along the U.S./Mexican border they cited an area in the U.S. and said it was full of illegal aliens. I asked, “How do you know they are illegal? By their looks?” No answer.

Well, Dear Reader, I hope you have been stimulated to comment. Now I need to step into the bathroom and comment to the alien life in the mirror. In the immortal words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

1. The gut quote above is by Donald Trump. But, you knew that.

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12 Comments
  1. Civilians think of war as killing people. Professionals think of war as killing capabilities. Several countries have the capacity to kill our capabilities to perform even the most mundane daily functions: EMP, electro-magnetic pulse weapons, such as nuclear warheads, can bring to a dead standstill the vast bulk of our electrical grid, including our banking system, utilities, and computers. Killer satellites, such as the Russians apparently now have, can kill our GPS systems entirely, rendering us totally blind to navigation. How dependent have we become on our A.I.?

  2. What a marvelous article; interesting, well written, and easy to read. Evolution, whether biological or social, is a fascinating subject. One would have to be massively conceited to believe humankind is the only intelligent life form in the universe, and it is common conjecture to question whether a long ago visit from some other far away alpha being might have been the genetic donation which lead to our “missing link”. The question for me remains not whether they could visit, but why they would.

    I am sorry it has taken so long for me to answer this post, but my own personal piece of AI decided to be contrary last night, and simply would not allow me more than one letter at a time. It was a fight I did not have the patience to win. I simply don’t “get” electronics; my phone is one of the few remaining “dumb” ones, and even my computer is hopelessly out dated. What I have is a great toy and a useful tool, but I am in no hurry to update; anything more than this will make me feel stupid, and that is by far my least favorite mental state.

    It’s funny, but I assign human qualities to my computer. It is often stubborn and contrary, deciding what I am allowed to read by refusing to open links or articles of which it does not approve. I know how silly that sounds, but it honestly seems loathe to open anything critical of our tweeter-in-chief. I have even accused it of being republican LOL. It is also useful and entertaining, and my one and only real link to the world. The destruction of which we are currently capable makes this a frightening world in which to live. My husband believes he would like to go back to a more primitive way of living, but I wonder whether he really knows what that would entail. Let’s hope we never have to find out.

    • Thank you so much, Rose. My work is of a different order than your marvelous thoughts and stories on your site. (I will append your site in these comments as soon as I can). But I am so glad we share the interests and perspectives that we do.

      I’m fairly capable of keeping my computer up to date, but have had to replace it a few times. Anyone within earshot knows I lecture and berate it frequently. I should take a lesson from its ability to shrug off criticism. More later. Marco

  3. foodfaerie | A topnotch WordPress.com site

    As promised, here’s the site. I strongly recommend this site to everyone. The writing is excellent and the thought process is beyond equal. Marco

  4. Happy New Year Marco! I love the way you perceive the world as there are so many times when I read your blog articles and feel this amazing connection and validation with your thoughts like no one I have ever known, in particular your ability to explain in words – I think I have said this before but need to say this again. It’s very validating for me.

    Ah the topic of Alien life – from a very young girl I was completely obsessed with this subject, I can remember reading about Project Blue book, men in black etc and to this day the possibilities of what is real around sightings, Area 51 etc still intrigues me. In fact not long after I was married, about 1988 my husband and I returned from grocery shopping about 9pm at night and we couldn’t believe what we saw – a massive silver circular object silently and slowly moving above our house heading west. We contacted different services to try and find out what it was but to no avail. The next day at work I saw in the newspaper about the 3rd page about lots of people reporting this, however they said it was either weather balloon or shadow of the moon – which was ridiculous – in fact I remember clearly that it was moving in the opposite direction of the clouds that were moving in the sky. I suspect that there is information the public does not get access to in relation to this subject.

    I like your parallel to the roach as think you may be onto something there, my mind has thought the same thing. Noting that other species of animals have different communication systems is something that amazes me having watched different animal documentaries and feel “dumb” is very subjective. Some of the most intelligent people can also be considered “dumb” in other ways. I believe humans can learn so much from animals. Humans have so many barriers generally be it status, emotional, education etc and over complicate life – I know I can over complicate things at times 😏

    As for Donald Trump’s quote – I would have to agree as learning to trust your gut/intuition can take you far and be very positive in life.

    I look forward to your next entry, Julie 😍

  5. Thank you, Julie. I assure you the affinity is mutual. Your experience with the massive object is instructive, and the newspaper coverage validates your observation in the sense that many other people saw it as well. Of course, because most of those other people have no way of interaction with each other they are – conveniently – left doubting themselves.

    While I accept that some extra-terrestrial life forms may have developed the ability for inter-stellar travel, I tend more toward the co-existent multi-dimensional concept. Thus, picture yourself lying at the bottom of a pond when someone skips a stone across the surface. You see the underside of the stone only as it hits the water and then, when airborne again, it disappears only to reappear quickly somewhere else. Perhaps we live in such a pond, but fully enveloped instead of just up and down. This also suggests the validity of “apparitions” of other kinds.

    So, this is great fun and I can think of nothing more pleasing than sitting with you for long talks. I hope you are well. Marco

  6. Thank you for your explanation with the pond, great way to explain it, haven’t heard an explanation like that before- brilliant! I also feel this theory is the most likely too.

    I think you are familiar with the Seth material as I think I recall you mentioning it in an interview with Jamie Butler I saw on YouTube. I find this material very interesting and follow an author on Facebook Lynda Madden Dahl who has extensively studied the material and written several books. I mention this because feel that a lot of what is revealed through Jane Roberts chanellling are “answers” to life. Although my brain can only absorb and perceive so much of this material I find the daily snippets that Lynda posts on Facebook engaging and she has an interesting group of Facebook followers with great discussion. Maybe you might be interested in joining this group Marco? Lynda is a positive helpful lady that dilengently replies to a lot of comments and clarifies them too which is really helpful.

    • Thank you, Julie. Your memory is quite good. I did reference the SETH material, and I have many of the Jane Roberts books. I think her best is, The Nature of Personal Reality. Having seen some wannabe’s and some outright frauds, I was apprehensive about “channeling”. But Jane clearly imparted sophisticated concepts in advanced physics her limited education could not have provided.

      I will look for the Dahl material, but I simply do not engage on Facebook as I find it quite untrustworthy.

  7. Julie. I signed on to follow Lynda Dahl. I hope it doesn’t flood my Facebook page. Maybe I’ll get in on the discussions. Marco

    • Julie permalink

      That’s great Marco! I think you may get something out of it like I do. Keep me in the loop as to your thoughts and I’ll keep an eye out for you 🖒

  8. From Ray: Marco – usual problem with WordPress – but loved it -very stimulating – I too used to love Flash – and agree about the conceit that we think we’re the only ones… take me to your ladder, I’ll meet your leader later…..

  9. Thanks, Ray. I am still unable to resolve the problem with your connection to WordPress, but will keep at it.

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