Why is it that on the one hand there have been loads of claimed sightings of alien craft over the decades; and yet the extensive monitoring of the skies for radio signals showing signs of intelligent life has yielded not a sausage in 50 years?
SETI (search for extra-terrestrial intelligence) researchers have just had a conference called The Sound of Silence to discuss the problem of the sky yielding no signals. Some said that it’s not enough to sit and listen, we need to be putting signals out to other universes so that in 20 or 30 years we might get a response. What if aliens also have the same attitude and are just sitting and listening for messages, with no-one actually putting them out there?
There is another problem, however, which is that if another race turned out to be hostile, it would give them helpful information in order to attack us. So there is a security issue. But Seth Shostack at the SETI institute is not worried: “It’s quite paranoid, given that the one thing we know about aliens – if they do exist – is that they are very, very far away.” He notes that we have been announcing our presence for decades: “Military radar signals have already penetrated deep into space, and early broadcasts of Star Trek and I Love Lucy are washing over one star system a day,” says Shostak. “If they’re listening, they already know we’re here.”
Which still for me leaves the problem of alien spacecraft (which doesn’t seem to have been part of SETI’s agenda). I’ve never seen one, but there are too many documented sightings to dismiss the phenomenon. Many sane people do see these things, and they have been photographed. I tend to think they are fully real, but not real in the same way that, say, a fridge is real. I think there is a lot in what Jung said when he claimed that sightings of flying saucers are projections of the collective unconscious that fit the way modern people look at the universe. I guess hundreds of years ago someone might have met the Virgin Mary or something like that. As I say, these experiences are no less real, and have no less objective content, than ordinary experiences. They are not ‘just’ projections. And they really are communications from another dimension.
I read a book called Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur about 10 years ago, and he makes the same sort of point around all sorts of unusual experiences which are real, but which can never seem to be finally pinned down and proven in the way that the existence of a fridge can be. And he showed how people’s experiences of aliens had changed over the decades since World War II, and how this could be seen as a reflection of general changes in the culture, including science fiction writing.
So as I say, I think this dimension is fully real, but quite possibly not in the normal sense. I guess I’m tempting fate here, and I’m going to find myself beamed up one night!
Pluto has still got a little more work to do in Sagittarius this year. It makes it an appropriate time for the SETI conference, and perhaps also for an indisputable visitation from aliens. Especially as Pluto is also still near the Galactic Centre.