“Tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are. Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.” – Journalist Ned Scott character in “The Thing from Another World” (1951).
ROLLING FORK — I don’t know who’s the bigger fan of what lots of folks would think of as the bad Grade B science fiction movies of the 1950s and 60s, my dear old friend Jim Townsend in Clarksdale, or me. But we’ve both seen most, if not all of them more than once and both of us will tell you that the ones dealing with what was at that time the real life fascination with “flying saucers” almost unanimously contained a common life lesson – our space visitors are not our friends.
(Ironically, the exception which leaps to mind, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” might have been the best of the films, but that’s an argument for another day.)
In fact, if you take out Steven Spielberg’s two epic forays into the genre, with their creamed potato plateaus and flying bicycles, the movie-making concept of space aliens has been a lot more like “Independence Day” than “E.T.”
And with what is the government’s new real or attempt to appear such interest in strange things flying in our skies, I think I would like to go on record as suggesting that if there really is extraterrestrial life behind what appears to be the extraterrestrial-quality technology of what has been whizzing around up there for some time now, then trying to make contact with it might not be the best of ideas.
Because the old movie makers might be right.
In April 2020. the Defense Dept. released some rather remarkable videos taken by infrared cameras on Navy aircraft depicting the planes’ interactions with what the military in its love for acronyms is now calling UAP, or unidentified aerial phenomenon. I guess they had denied the existence of UFOs for so long they had to think up a new acronym since there are videos of the things practically winning games of “tag” with our best fighters.
And later this month the government says it is going to publish another (whitewash?) report, allegedly telling us what they know. That, I doubt, but according to (strategic?) leaks, that report will claim no evidence of extraterrestrial activity, but an inability to rule it out, either.
In other words, a new report stating anew exactly what has been the case since the first “foo fighters” were seen by another generation of fighter planes over Europe in WWII or a private pilot named Kenneth Arnold captured the world’s attention in 1947 when he told “Look” magazine he had seen nine round metallic objects in formation near Mount Ranier, Wash. “flying like saucers skipping over water.”
The first column I ever wrote was on this subject, some 44 years ago (In retrospect, it was really bad), and now having attained the ripe ole age of 70, I find myself a lot more skeptical of anything the government has to say about what are still the unidentified flying objects in our skies than I am about their existence – that they are “something,” even if we don’t know what.
Everybody that has seen the things is not crazy and every bit of film is not faked and I really think that the idea of our continued trying to reach out and touch them could be a very bad, maybe even very dangerous idea.
For 60 years now, scientists at the SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) program have been listening with radio telescopes for possible signals and now there is a push for a bolder plan to send powerful messages toward other stars – to cosmically scream “here we are.”
But what if silence is golden?
A key plot element of all Jim’s and my old movies is that the alien civilization is older and more advanced than ours, and it is not absent logic simply because most stars in our galaxy are much older than our sun and should life have evolved on any of their satellites it would more likely than not be older and more advanced.
But older doesn’t mean friendlier and more advanced doesn’t mean peaceful.
There exists something called the Fermi Paradox that posits the question of why we have not yet seen, made contact with such alien life. It offers a number of possible resolutions ranging from there is no more life to all civilizations eventually end up killing themselves.
But there is another alarming one: Suppose alien civilizations are keeping quiet because they have learned sending out signals can be mighty risky should the wrong crowd intercept them. Maybe our interstellar neighbors have learned to lay low because exposing themselves is an invitation to be preyed upon?
After all, the history of the beings we call man on this planet provides a great many examples of what happens when two civilizations, one more advanced than the other, meet – more often than not, the technologically more advanced one has done one of two things, destroyed or enslaved the other.
Wasted worry? Maybe. But remember the old “Twilight Zone” episode when the “friendly” aliens arrive with a document titled “To Serve Man?” And remember that it turned out to be a cookbook.