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There's No Such Thing As Aliens
November 6, 2011 8:29 AM   Subscribe

You asked, The White House answered: "The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race"
posted by The Whelk (105 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course they'd say that. A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it!
posted by edguardo at 8:31 AM on November 6, 2011 [27 favorites]


Yeah, right.
posted by monospace at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's get this straight "I" didn't ask, and the "White House" can't talk...
posted by HuronBob at 8:34 AM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sure. Next, you're going to tell us we really went to the moon.
posted by bicyclefish at 8:35 AM on November 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


What would be awesome is if they CONFIRMED that they've had contact with aliens and quietly stuck all the details on the White House website.
posted by Huck500 at 8:35 AM on November 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


Excellency - the Human fools still do not know of our existence. But we are ready to strike at your command!
posted by JtJ at 8:36 AM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence. Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth.

I wonder if the people in question are now willing to prove that they can handle the truth by believing that they were totally wrong?

Also, did they poll me when I was drunk? Because that would explain those statistics.
posted by Secretariat at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


Now please step this way, as we provide you with our final test: an eye exam....
posted by zarq at 8:39 AM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


While it would be kind of fun to believe that there is actually a conspiracy at the highest levels of American government to hide ongoing contact with aliens, the main thing that strikes me about this response is how much more fundamentally sane and reasonable it is than the one on marijuana.
posted by brennen at 8:44 AM on November 6, 2011 [21 favorites]


I don't think saying there's no evidence is the same as saying they don't exist. I'd be surprised if they didn't exist but much more surprised if they actually visited in our lifetimes.
posted by hypersloth at 8:46 AM on November 6, 2011


Then how else do you explain Herman Cain?
posted by jonmc at 8:47 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and the "White House" can't talk...

Well, not without the back-engineered alien technology, it can't.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:51 AM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


What would you expect our Babylonian Brother in Chief to say? Who do you think controls the Grand Unifying Conspiracy?
posted by MikeMc at 8:52 AM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Way to pick your battles, White House.
posted by box at 8:53 AM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, they're out there. The "sky" that we watch is just a clever curtain to keep us isolated from the rest of the universe. They're there. Watching. As the world becomes more civilized - the wars end - everyone on the planet has as much food as they desire. Then the curtain will rise and a hundred thousand populated planets will be revealed. A representative from the thousands will be sent to Earth carrying a book. The guidebook to the future of our race. To Serve Man.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:54 AM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


AH! They didn't say anything about hyper-advanced mole people or underwater creatures from Earth's future who have spaceships. They still would be terrestrial in origin. Finally, real non-disclosure disclosure!

Read all about it in my new book I'll be talking about on the next Coast to Coast AM!
posted by chambers at 8:55 AM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't really understand the point of this. Unless you're going to engage in a point-by-point rebuttal of all the various conspiracy theories about Groom Lake, the Roswell incident, the Dulce base, etc.—which, don't get me wrong, would be futile—then what's accomplished by simply saying, "Nope, not true"?

I'm sure it wasn't an especially high-level staffer who wrote this. Still, I'm equally sure there were far more deserving tasks that he could have been working on.
posted by cribcage at 8:56 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What would you expect our Babylonian Brother in Chief to say? Who do you think controls the Grand Unifying Conspiracy?

You know, I've heard various references to the lizard-people-control-the-world thing, but this is the first I've actually come across the oeuvre of David Icke. I have to be careful here or I'm going to spend the rest of the day on Wikipedia and eventually come to at around 3am reading 15-year-old Usenet conspiracy posts.
posted by brennen at 8:58 AM on November 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


If nothing else, this will provide me with 20 minutes of entertainment, as Richard C. Hoagland breathlessly explains to George Noory what this really means.
posted by davebush at 8:58 AM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I cannot find a denial anywhere on the White House site about the existence of Mole Men.

Hmm.
posted by mazola at 9:00 AM on November 6, 2011


Our govt always tells us what is what. But there is this brief story:
Some time ago I camne across a piece, I believe it was an interview with Jimmy Carter, who not yet president, said that he knew for a fact there were aliens out there and he had seen a UFO himself. If elected, he said. He would open all govt files having anything to do with the subject. He got elected. That ended that. I wrote him at his home when he was no longer in office and asked about this story. He did not answer me.
posted by Postroad at 9:04 AM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Still, I'm equally sure there were far more deserving tasks that he could have been working on.

My guess is that either some staffer lost a bet or it's some sort of funny punishment for an office gaff or prank. "Oh, so you'd thought it would be funny to cover my office in tin foil, huh? Well, since you're so into tin foil jokes, have I got an statement for you to write..." I'm surprised something like this wasn't a subplot on an old episode of The West Wing.
posted by chambers at 9:06 AM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"The aliens will contact us when they can make money by doing so." -- David Byrne
posted by neuron at 9:06 AM on November 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is weird.

It's like, after reading the marijuana petition, the WH was all, 'damn, maybe herb is A-OK,' got totally baked, and then was like 'HA HA ALIENS YEAH FUCK THAT"S HILARIOUS' and did this.

Just imagine if this is how Obama sublimates his despair at the state of affairs. 'Hffffffffft fuck these mornoic teabaggers let's write some crazy shit'
posted by angrycat at 9:09 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We demand a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition.

Since these petitions are ignored apart from an occasional patronizing and inane political statement amounting to nothing more than a condescending pat on the head, we the signers would enjoy having the illusion of success. Since no other outcome to this process seems possible, we demand that the White House immediately assign a junior staffer to compose a tame and vapid response to this petition, and never attempt to take any meaningful action on this or any other issue. We would also like a cookie.



3,292 signatures so far.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 9:14 AM on November 6, 2011 [26 favorites]


Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening

Although the ability to submit petitions directly to the White House is a noble and welcome new feature of the current administration, the first round of responses makes blatantly clear the White House intends to just support its current stances and explain them with responses everyone who has done any research already knows.

An online petition is not meant as a replacement for using a search box in a web browser. We the People, those who grant you the power to govern in the first place, are requesting changes in policy directly, circumventing legislators who already do not listen to us. We the People request you govern FOR us, which means actually listening to us and actually acting in our interests instead of special interests.

You are not above us. You ARE us. Govern accordingly.


12,771 signatures.


I might be detecting a theme here...
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 9:17 AM on November 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


Take petitions seriously.

If you are going to create a public petition system, then take the petitions seriously.

Dismissing the top petitions with canned responses invalidates the whole exercise.


3,988 signatures.


Yep, there's definitely some discontent about the program. Stirling success in democracy and all that.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 9:19 AM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet"

Thing is, they do. They have evidence that life can be supported outside of earth, they have evidence that life on earth was likely seeded by comet strikes, and so on and so on. They may not have direct evidence of extraterrestrial life, but they certainly have plenty to support conjecture, and--to parahrase Lionel Hutz--conjecture is a kind of evidence.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:19 AM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


cribcage: "I don't really understand the point of this. Unless you're going to engage in a point-by-point rebuttal of all the various conspiracy theories about Groom Lake, the Roswell incident, the Dulce base, etc.—which, don't get me wrong, would be futile—then what's accomplished by simply saying, "Nope, not true"?"

The goal is not to get trapped in a morass of details about what is and isn't true. An answer like this establishes a baseline and serves as something the White House can point to in the future when and if the question is raised. "We covered this already. The situation hasn't changed, we'll let you know if it does. Next question?" This is how the WH has handled several other 'out there' issues, like the President's birth certificate. A general answer which covers many specific situations.

Conspiracy theories tend to appeal to anti-authoritarians and anti-intellectuals, two trends which have been on the rise in the US over the last 10-20 years. (They tend to cycle, ebb and flow.) To answer every conspiracy theory about alien encounters is a rabbit hole that once entered, they'd never be able to crawl out of. It's too deep and let's face it, not worth the effort. But by establishing an official position on the issue, they can answer similar queries quickly and efficiently.
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coming up next : Santa Claus is not real, nor is the Easter Bunny,nor the Tooth Fairy.
This is just as much a time and money-waster as In God We Trust legislation.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:29 AM on November 6, 2011


Ideefixe: "Coming up next : Santa Claus is not real, nor is the Easter Bunny,nor the Tooth Fairy."

Well sure, not Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, but the Tooth Fairy is totally real. I saw that movie!
posted by zarq at 9:30 AM on November 6, 2011


You saw that movie?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 AM on November 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


My favorite thing about alien conspiracy theories is the level of narcissism involved.

The aliens are supposed to have technology that allows them to not only cross the massive distances in reasonable times, but also to hide any and all things that would give them away... and yet, they have to secretly control ALL of the world governments (including North Korea, because North Korea would totally not reveal aliens just to piss people off), because?

Oh, because a world that can't barely get off the ground to make satellites to provide porn and sexting to the world might somehow suddenly pose a threat and resist (?) our invisible control because Independence Day.

The common factor I see in conspiracy theories is the abnegation of responsibility. The inability to see that the shitty things we do as humans are, in fact, the result of what we do collectively. No needs to aim heat rays at the polar caps, or make politicians into callous robot bastards, and no one else will help us get out of that situation, either. The flip-side is also cutting off the ability to recognize all the awesome things we're capable of too - building pyramids, stem cell technology, etc.

Of course, it's easier to think of the world's problems as a singular plan rather than an intersection of multitudes of ignorance, greed and hate combined.
posted by yeloson at 9:47 AM on November 6, 2011 [25 favorites]


shakespeherian: "You saw that movie?"

Well, I saw the trailer. That was all my poor brain could handle.
posted by zarq at 9:53 AM on November 6, 2011


If there's extraterrestrial life capable of crossing the mind-numbing distances involved in interstellar/intergalactic travel, it comforts me to think they mostly chuckle at humans; there's literally nothing we have they could want.
posted by Mooski at 9:58 AM on November 6, 2011


That is just exactly what they want you to believe.
posted by tommasz at 10:03 AM on November 6, 2011


there's literally nothing we have they could want.

Tasty proteins?
posted by Mcable at 10:09 AM on November 6, 2011


You know that episode of The Office where Michael leaves Jim in control for a bit? And then you as the viewer are all "Oh, of course, sensible likable everyman protagonist Jim is going to do the right thing and we'll see what the office is like without Michael's games and antics." And then of course Jim does try to do the sensible thing, but somehow it starts to go wrong anyway. And gradually you start to realize that despite appearances, the crazy from the top isn't just from the top, it's a reaction of sorts, and there's a reason why they can't have nice things...
posted by weston at 10:14 AM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Tasty proteins?

Hell, even if they had a physical makeup that permitted them to find proteins tasty, they'd have driven by enough of the things on their way here to make the pitiful dusting of organic matter on this planet seem like going to pluto for a Mexi-Melt.
posted by Mooski at 10:19 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


By saying something, it moves the discussion from "OF COURSE THEY CAN'T ANSWER THIS BECAUSE THEY'D HAVE TO TELL US IT'S TRUE" to "OF COURSE THEY SAID THIS BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO LIE ABOUT IT."

Totally an improvement.

This country is full of people who think the world is less than 7000 years old and that there was a guy named noah and a boat and why the hell didn't the aquatic dinosaurs live thru the flood but I digress. Of *course* it's also full of people who think that aliens have visited and somehow look a lot like humans.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:21 AM on November 6, 2011


Mooski: "If there's extraterrestrial life capable of crossing the mind-numbing distances involved in interstellar/intergalactic travel, it comforts me to think they mostly chuckle at humans; there's literally nothing we have they could want."

Slave labor. Prey to hunt. Future Zoo/Museum exhibits. Fodder, including various species and other unique-to-the-planet foodstuffs and goods. Muppets. Planet-as-real Estate. Intellectual works.

Plus... you know... we have cameras.
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on November 6, 2011


Why shouldn't Obama say this? What has he got to lose? He long ago lost the crackpot vote.... And maybe he's trying to bait the loony wing of the Republicans into responding by claiming they were abducted and anally probed.
posted by tommyD at 10:23 AM on November 6, 2011


Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon.

Wait, that means at least 30% of people don't believe there is an extraterrestrial presence but do believe the government is lying about it?
posted by hattifattener at 10:24 AM on November 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am embarking on a mission to watch all the x-files on dvd starting with the pilot from 1993. I was under the mistaken impression that it wouldnt be so fun because its not like the government is going to issue some kind of public memorandum on extraterrestrials.

Fuck that shit.

Today i have a date with 250M year old parasitic organism that causes its host to fuck up other people...especially other infected hosts.

Its like 18 years later, but man is that shit still relevant.

Trustno1
posted by hal_c_on at 10:28 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


there's literally nothing we have they could want.

What about our wimmin'?
posted by porpoise at 10:30 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm an alien agnostic because I don't know if they exist and am not much bothered by it. I can't see why they'd be mucking around with us anyway.

Cynical me said that if they did have evidence of extraterrestrial life, they'd never disclose it because either people would go nuts and do something stupid or because people would band together and focus on problems larger than their individual countries and neither of those is good for the government.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:32 AM on November 6, 2011


there's literally nothing we have they could want

I just want to point out to our overlords that I have no idea who that guy is, but I'm sure he'd make a great egg incubator.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on November 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


If they're going to respond to fucking petitions about aliens then they aren't taking this seriously.

Here's what I would do. "Let's see... I've got five petitions I can answer today. OH! Here's one about aliens ten people signed." Ka-thunk. "Circular file that. Okay next one. Oh, good. One about foreign policy and our role in the world."

A bunch of morons who watch Ancient Aliens and think aliens built the pyramids, because, you know, no human could stack rocks in a desert, sign some worthless online petition and you're going to answer it? Come on.

Hell, what's the White House's stance on ghosts? Or Santa. Or Spring-heeled Jack? Or {insert obviously non-existant thing here}?
posted by CarlRossi at 11:00 AM on November 6, 2011


If humanity ever makes it to the stars, I'm sure the aliens will be in disbelief that we could want anything from them.
posted by trogdole at 11:00 AM on November 6, 2011


I always end up chiming in on these UFO-type threads as a "skeptic to the skeptics" but I only have a few minutes here today.

Let me first say here that while there isn't any hard evidence that the government has covered up actual contact with technological civilizations, there's plenty of strong evidence that the government has encouraged the "UFO == extraterrestrial civilization" with their left hand because a lot of UFO sightings are actually of secret military craft. The Stealth bomber is the most glaring example of this; in the last five or ten years, it seems pretty obvious to me from news reports that they've been testing some sort of technology to create false blips on radar, and tested it in Mexico and then in Iran.

I also find the idea that some UFO sightings are technological creatures in spaceships from planets around other stars zipping around our skies quite implausible for the reasons specified above - either we'd never see them, or they'd appear on the White House lawn if they wanted to.

And of course the majority of UFO sightings are accurate descriptions of rare atmospheric phenomena (or in some cases, not-so-rare - Venus often gets reported as a UFO on nights without a full moon when the sky is very clear...)

There are a small number of sightings left which are inconclusive and well-documented. Occam's Razor leads you believe that these few sightings probably don't represent world-changing events in reality... my money would be on more military stuff.

In the off-case that something paranormal were really happening, my money would be on some sort of other intelligent beings sharing our planet or solar system with us already, likely in plasma or gas form. The physics of the interaction between plasma and electromagnetism still isn't well understood - it wasn't very long ago in my lifetime that science claimed that ball lighting didn't exist at all (despite the fact that it was commonly observed) - and such things have a geographical correlation to geomagnetic activity, which is also correlated with paranormal phenomena like UFOs and observations of ghosts.

I'd give that a very small probability - on the very rough order of 1% - but you can't rule it out.

Regardless, this petition is pointless. The government almost certainly doesn't know anything about extraterrestrial civilizations, and in the tiny chance it did, it certainly wouldn't tell you based on a petition.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:04 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any alien civilization advanced enough to traverse the distances from wherever-they-came to here will also have adequate stealth technology to remain totally undetectable by us unless they consider us worthy of contact. Do you REALLY think we're worthy of contact?

Your Occam has been shaved.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:10 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


there's literally nothing we have they could want."

Slave labor. Prey to hunt. Future Zoo/Museum exhibits. Fodder, including various species and other unique-to-the-planet foodstuffs and goods. Muppets. Planet-as-real Estate. Intellectual works.


blah blah blah. As always, we frivolously skip the obvious because to accept it would be to accept the kind of horror that drives small minds immediately mad. They want our vril. They NEED our vril. They will stop at nothing to get our vril, including White House infiltration.
posted by philip-random at 11:15 AM on November 6, 2011


Do you REALLY think we're worthy of contact?

f*** yeah. See above.
posted by philip-random at 11:16 AM on November 6, 2011


I think the government's hand in UFOs is completely made up by 'believers.'

Basically the dialog goes like this:

CLETUS: "There was a light in the sky."
GOVT: "It was (logical explanation with evidence). Thank you."
CLETUS: "They're hidin' something!"

Or:

CLETUS: "They don't want us to see Area 51! They's got spaceships!"
GOVT: "We test planes there. Sometimes you can see them, not much we can do about it. Heh."
CLETUS: "It must be spaceships!"

Or:

GOVT: "If we knew about aliens or alien civilizations, we would tell you."
CLETUS: "No you wouldn't! You don't think we can handle it!"
GOVT: "Actually, if we found out your life wouldn't change, you would still have to go to work tomorrow. Us too."
CLETUS: "You're lyin'! You do too have information!"

So I think most of the time the government would rather get back to work than argue with crackpots. And even if confronted with common sense, crackpots dig in and believe you're one of the ones who doesn't want to 'wake up'. Even if you're the one waiting for real evidence instead of assumption piled on assumption.
posted by CarlRossi at 11:18 AM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some time ago I camne across a piece, I believe it was an interview with Jimmy Carter, who not yet president, said that he knew for a fact there were aliens out there and he had seen a UFO himself. If elected, he said. He would open all govt files having anything to do with the subject. He got elected. That ended that. I wrote him at his home when he was no longer in office and asked about this story. He did not answer me.

Perhaps if you hadn't written him in all caps in black Sharpie, a few words at a time on old hamburger wrappers, you would have gotten some sort of response. "Please" and "Thank You" aslo work wonders in this context.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:27 AM on November 6, 2011


I also find the idea that some UFO sightings are technological creatures in spaceships from planets around other stars zipping around our skies quite implausible for the reasons specified above - either we'd never see them, or they'd appear on the White House lawn if they wanted to.

That logic sort of assumes that an extraterrestrial capable of traveling to Earth is capable of doing it flawlessly, totally clandestine, etc., and I'm not sure that squares with our own technological experiences. We have developed the ability to do all kinds of amazing, incredible, heretofore unimaginable things yet we constantly screw them up in myriad ways that sometimes we don't even really understand. Heck, the Internet is cool but my browser just crashed an hour ago.

I don't have much trouble imagining that aliens who could travel to Earth could also be spotted. To be honest, it's a lot easier to imagine the latter part than the "travel to Earth" in the first place.
posted by cribcage at 11:33 AM on November 6, 2011


Further proof that the guvvimint mas been taken over by wily aliens. I'll be in the bunker; call me for dinner, please.
posted by theora55 at 11:38 AM on November 6, 2011


there's also the Hitchhiker's Guide logic that we get invaded by aliens all the time. They just get the scale wrong and show up smaller than bacteria and end up getting eaten by moths or whatever.
posted by philip-random at 11:44 AM on November 6, 2011


Some time ago I camne across a piece, I believe it was an interview with Jimmy Carter, who not yet president, said that he knew for a fact there were aliens out there and he had seen a UFO himself...

Actually, Carter has talked about both his "UFO" experience and later investigations. And he did ask various military and intelligence departments to look into it: probably the best and most relevant piece is this extended podcast interview he did with The Skeptics Guide To The Universe a few years ago. In summary: he and some buddies saw something in the sky (most researchers bets are on a Venus halo) that he couldn't explain. Carter became president and asked around in a limited fashion, and to his knowledge no department of the government was hiding any information about UFOs.

I've talked previously on the reasons why UFOs-as-signs-ofextraterrestrial-intelligence are bunkum, so I'll leave that alone, and will only add that human beings are very, very bad at identifying things in the sky, where the sense of scale and distance, and the combination of weather effects with astronomical phenomena, can produce some really amazing sights.

The mistake is making the jump from "I saw something in the sky I couldn't explain" - a perfectly reasonable response - to "Aliens are amoung us! I saw their craft!"
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:50 AM on November 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


The first rule of Alien Club is: you do not talk about Alien Club.
posted by fairmettle at 11:53 AM on November 6, 2011


I just... forget it.
posted by dbiedny at 11:55 AM on November 6, 2011


relevant mashup
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on November 6, 2011


"The first rule of Alien Club is: you do not talk about Alien Club.

Well, somebody seems to think that rule doesn't apply to them now don't they?
posted by MikeMc at 12:00 PM on November 6, 2011


I'm kind of surprised by how many of you think aliens wouldn't be interested in contacting us. No matter what our flaws are, sentient life is going to be pretty rare in the universe, and it's hard for me to imagine that they would just pass us by without getting to know more about us, unless they just evolved an extreme lack of curiosity--in which case, what are they doing in space, anyway?

Besides, even if we aren't worthy, they might want to talk to the whales and dolphins.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:02 PM on November 6, 2011


You are not above us. You ARE us. Govern accordingly.

That's what they want you to think. You'll notice Obama never agreed to a DNA text to prove he's human....
posted by happyroach at 12:07 PM on November 6, 2011


I'm always amazed that significant numbers of people think massive global conspiracies, involving governments and hundreds or even thousands of people, actually exist.
posted by davebush at 12:09 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know what: if the aliens have any sense, they'd avoid us like the plague. We are a species that thousands of years later, a good portion of us still have major problems with members of our species that have a slightly different shade of skin or boink a different gender than expected. Our base nature seems to be "It's different from us? Then KILL IT!" While yeah, there's a significant portion of geeks out there who would totally love to get to know an alien civilization, they would be outnumbered by the religious fundies who would immediately move to nuke them all. There's no fucking way our species as a whole could deal with anything as intelligent as us or more, but with tentacles.

So aliens: stay away. It'd be cool to meet you, but our species is crazy. Save yourselves.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:19 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I'm always amazed that significant numbers of people think massive global conspiracies, involving governments and hundreds or even thousands of people, actually exist.

There are lots of well-known conspiracies involving at least one government and hundreds of people that were successful for decades - the Tuskegee experiments, for example.

Bush and Blair secretly worked together to use information that they knew was false to lead the United States and the UK into a ruinous war - and they got away with it for years, heck, they got away with it forever because it came out and nothing happen to them. By any definition of a "conspiracy" you can find, that was it. And hundreds of people had to know that that information was false.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:22 PM on November 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm always amazed that significant numbers of people think massive global conspiracies, involving governments and hundreds or even thousands of people, actually exist.

Really? I mean, aliens and secret reptilian overlords aside, didn't the United States just kind of spend the better part of a decade embroiled in a war effort begun under false pretenses...

On preview, yeah, that.

Your average conspiracy theorist gets a lot of things about human psychology and the realities of power quite wrong. The mindset seeks to simplify and unify and ascribe vasty deeps of intention where reality is messy and hard to build a coherent narrative around and the notion of a Grand Plan is more than a little absurd. But the history of official power is fairly riddled with behavior that offers a pretty reasonable point of departure for thinking that all is not what it seems and that you can tell when the folks in charge are lying because their lips are moving.
posted by brennen at 12:29 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


jenfullmoon: " So aliens: stay away. It'd be cool to meet you, but our species is crazy. Save yourselves."

Now, now, let's not be hasty. Let's see how they taste in hoisin sauce first....
posted by zarq at 12:30 PM on November 6, 2011


There is a difference between conspiracy theories and shitty foreign policy. I marched in DC to protest the imminent Iraq war. How could it be a conspiracy if I -- and millions of others around the world -- knew it was a terrible idea at the time? What were we protesting if it was the product of a SUPAR SEKRIT conspiracy?

The world is a big, oft-scary and complex place. Conspiracy thinking is wishful thinking in that it simplifies. I understand the appeal but when you go putting the likelihood of aliens among us at even 1% you have fallen off the edge of reasonable discourse so far as I am concerned.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:40 PM on November 6, 2011


Why don't they also comment on the existence of Santa? Because the US never funded any investigations of Santa sightings. The problem with the UFO/US Gov't conspiracy is that there was at one time a government sponsored program researching extraterrestrials and UFOs - Project Blue Book.
posted by double bubble at 12:58 PM on November 6, 2011


involving governments and hundreds or even thousands of people

I'm referring to the idea that a massive amount of people are knowingly and silently participating collectively in something deceptive. Obviously, it happens all the time with small groups (and I think the Iraq war was initiated by a relatively small group of men).
posted by davebush at 1:00 PM on November 6, 2011


double bubble: "Why don't they also comment on the existence of Santa? Because the US never funded any investigations of Santa sightings."

Sure they have. They've set up a website which tracks his movements over US airspace.

So far so good, but if those reindeer set one hoof out of line, it's venison steaks for the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles.
posted by zarq at 1:07 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is a difference between conspiracy theories and shitty foreign policy.

Sure. I just think that the reality of (for example) a whole lot of shitty foreign policy enacted almost exclusively for the benefit of wealthy elites with the collusion of media, military, industry, etc. - well, it tends to offer fertile ground for conspiracy theory. I can't really be surprised that a lot of people think they're being lied to. I mean, we all know we're being lied to, more or less. It's just that most of us can conceptualize that without deciding that George W. Bush is probably a secret gecko or whatever. But I feel ok admitting that maintaining any sense of proportionality about all of this can be tricky, and I'm not really surprised that people yield to the temptations of conspiracy theorizing any more than I'm surprised that they yield to the temptations of religion.

The sense that you are seeing through to some bedrock reality is a really powerful drug, especially in such a tortuously complex and bastard-laden context as the modern geopolitical scene.
posted by brennen at 1:23 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


blah blah blah. As always, we frivolously skip the obvious because to accept it would be to accept the kind of horror that drives small minds immediately mad. They want our vril. They NEED our vril. They will stop at nothing to get our vril, including White House infiltration.
posted by philip-random

vril. pfft. Orgone. That's what they're after. Your best bet is to get yourself an accumulator. One that's no social integrator but a one man isolator and a back brain stimulator and a cerebral vibrator to those energy stimulators that turn your eyeballs into craters when you use an Orgone Accumulator it's a superman creator.

That's what they're after.
posted by Sailormom at 1:33 PM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


“Pro bono proctologists from other star systems are not making unannounced, free house calls in our homes."

Terrence Mckenna
posted by pianomover at 1:51 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Terrence M. is a pro bono proctologist from another star system?

This I can believe.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:09 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see the same admirable rationality applied to the existence or not of that other fabrication, God.
posted by anothermug at 2:14 PM on November 6, 2011


The reason they haven't made themselves overtly known to us is because of the Prime Directive.

Obviously.
posted by Flunkie at 2:16 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


either we'd never see them, or they'd appear on the White House lawn if they wanted to.

It is my theory that we are the trailer park of the galaxy and the various anal probings and crop circles are the space-faring equivalent of mailbox baseball and parking lot burnouts.

In other words, they haven't landed on the White House lawn because we're being visited by bored teenagers from Alpha Centauri.
posted by madajb at 2:24 PM on November 6, 2011


I still have a tough time figuring out why the skeptics are always the ones front and centre referring to "aliens", "spacecraft" and also the impossibly large distances between our galaxy and the next (especially during holiday season).

The term is UFO - unidentified flying object. Note not "identified flying object" or "we-know-what-you-really-mean-when-you-say-UFO flying object".

When I see footage or photos of strange apparently unexplainable things in the sky I don't point at it and go "Ah, clearly an Arcturian R-Class Mothership under the command of General Zog".
posted by panboi at 2:25 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm always amazed that significant numbers of people think massive global conspiracies, involving governments and hundreds or even thousands of people, actually exist.

Wait. Are you're talking about the global kleptocracy? I thought we were talking about UFOs.
posted by loquacious at 2:31 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFiler: An Arcturian R-Class Mothership under the command of General Zog.
posted by loquacious at 2:32 PM on November 6, 2011


Edit: -'re. You're fired. -ed.
posted by loquacious at 2:33 PM on November 6, 2011


I think probably it's in the best interests of the united states, economically and militarily, to determine if, in fact, there is an ancient, all powerful being out there watching out every move who is planning on killing everyone on earth and transporting them to another dimension.

Because if it's true, that seems like it's something you'd want to know.
posted by empath at 2:33 PM on November 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh god empath I'm going to have to Geas you so hard for that.
posted by The Whelk at 2:45 PM on November 6, 2011


The ET hypothesis, which was the dominant folk explanation for UFOs in the United States for a while, seems to have lost a lot of steam in the last decade. Strieber and Icke used to be major advocates of a world-wide conspiracy of alien buggery, but have kicked back in recent years to say that aliens are an inter-dimensional and spiritual phenomenon. And compared to murdering 2,996 people in order to start a war for oil in the Middle East, ET's and MiB sharing a conspiracy to invade my butthole isn't as dire.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:20 PM on November 6, 2011


Finished Peter Watts' Blindsight this morning, and just want to mention here that its extremely alien aliens are so well done they'll change the way you feel about aliens.

When Visitors arrive in our sector, it's a good bet the White House will not be getting advance warning ahead of the rest of us.
posted by mediareport at 3:31 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me govern that for you.
posted by srboisvert at 3:34 PM on November 6, 2011


I moved to this backwater planet because it has a business friendly regulatory environment, low taxes and my metabolism is biocompatible with a broad range of proteins found in the native life forms. I think it is best that I avoid your customs as immigration people. Also I suspect the IRS would try to hit me with a bill for my undeclared off planet income.
posted by humanfont at 4:51 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm referring to the idea that a massive amount of people are knowingly and silently participating collectively in something deceptive

Looks like somebody needs to google "Manhattan Project"...
posted by c13 at 5:05 PM on November 6, 2011


Who is this lying Phil Larson, and what will it take to get him to talk turkey?
posted by Twang at 6:43 PM on November 6, 2011


Last month, at 100 Year Starship Symposium, at the closing day gathering of all attendees, track chairs, and DARPA/NASA organizers, I want to share an interesting moment.

It was during the Communicating The Vision panel. Moderated by Dr Harry Kloor. On the panel was none other than Douglas Trumbell. Yes, the Douglass Trumbell.

He was talking about making 2001, Silent Running, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Out of the 700 or so people in the room, pretty much everyone was hanging on his every word. After all, this is a room full of NASA engineers, rocket scientists, and quantum physicists. Geeks-before-geek-was-cool geeks. Stewart Brand. Kevin Kelly. Pete Worden.

SO in the middle of his running down why Silent Running got made and what led to working on Close Encounters, Mr Trumbell mentions that he believes that aliens are here, they they live among us, and that they have been here with us for a very, very long time.

It was like a collective lifting of eyebrows. And then all at once pretty much the whole room turned to one another and mouthed or whispered, "wait...what?"

It pretty much flipped the hyper-focused hive-mind of the entire room right out on its collective ear.

That—along with having dinner with Charles Stross and Robert Sawyer—was a memorable highlight from The Single Best Expenditure of federal money I have ever seen in my lifetime
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:43 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Belief in extraterrestrial intelligences seems predicated on the assumption that we are in some sense a 'younger race' in the Universe. Aliens, with their advanced technology, are almost always presented as 'older children' in the great family of life forms. This itself strikes me as a longing in the human mind for a parent/older sibling figure; someone to dispell our fears of the unknown and lift the great weight of self-responsibility from our shoulders - to explain the world and show us what to do. In this sense, belief in aliens and belief in a Divine Creator serve similar functions.

If you consider, however, that in a Universe 14 billion years old, life on Earth began forming around 4.5 billion years ago, our primordial ancestors have been around since what may be the earliest stages of Time. Someone has to be first - maybe its us. I think the human race could benefit from taking up a greater sense of responsibility and independence, and casting off childish longings for guiding older figures.
posted by jet_manifesto at 7:49 PM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mr Trumbell mentions that he believes that aliens are here...the entire room right out on its collective ear.

I'd like to know more about the reaction and how the audience discussed it afterwards. Was it more positive or negative? Were they more shocked that he believed that, or was it that he actually voiced that belief?

I can understand it being a little surprising to hear in this fashion especially for scientists at a gathering like this, as I have heard from friends and elsewhere that just voicing opinions such as that (or stating support in other, more out-there topics that can label one 'kooky') in a public forum, not to mention publishing it, has the possibility to negatively affect one's scientific career significantly. I know he's not a scientist and has nothing to lose by stating his beliefs, but he is speaking to scientists at a scientific symposium, and I could see how the reaction is more of a faux-pas as far as expectations are concerned.

I'm really curious to know what the small-talk was in the aftermath of that panel discussion.
posted by chambers at 10:52 PM on November 6, 2011


And maybe he's trying to bait the loony wing of the Republicans into responding by claiming they were abducted and anally probed.

It is my theory that we are the trailer park of the galaxy and the various anal probings and crop circles are the space-faring equivalent of mailbox baseball and parking lot burnouts.


I always used to think that, like everyone else, anal probings were merely evidence of the batshitinsane character of the the individuals reporting the abduction. But, without giving any credence to any such reports (because frankly I don't believe them), there is actually a good scientific reason for why an inquisitive alien would put something up the anus of a test subject: Temperature control.

When researchers perform live imaging experiments on laboratory rodents, it is essential to keep the core temperature of the animal (usually a mouse) at 37oC. All experiments are performed while the mouse is under anaesthesia, but this causes body temperature to drop, which can in turn disrupt the physiological processes under examination. One of the easiest ways to maintain the right temperature is to use a rectal probe coupled to a heating pad, such that body temp is regulated by a simple feedback between the probe and pad.

If I were an alien with the means to sedate and study an unusual creature non-invasively (and hence non-terminally), then out of convenience I would put my temperature probe into the biggest orifice I could find. Since putting the probe in the mouth would compromise breathing, that really only leaves the ass.
posted by kisch mokusch at 1:50 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tasty proteins?

Not likely.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:41 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think lupus_yonderboy is onto something. I used to live in Nevada, and every so often I would encounter someone who worked at Area 51. They were all under sworn oath not to talk about it. One day I half-jokingly asked a woman who had worked there about the "aliens." She replied that she couldn't talk about it, and I said "it's probably pretty convenient for the military testing out all their new stuff for the public to believe it's just aliens." She looked at me mischievously, laughed, and complimented my intelligence. So there you go.
posted by xenophile at 9:08 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how the White House ranks "popular" petitions. Here is their Most Popular List.

#1, crack down on puppy mills, has 31,015 signatures and was created September 23, 2011.

Unranked, Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol, has 74,169 signatures and was created September 22, 2011.

What's up?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:15 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I don't understand how the White House ranks "popular" petitions. Here is their Most Popular List."

It looks like it is a ranking of most popular unanswered petitions
posted by Blasdelb at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2011


"I don't understand how the White House ranks "popular" petitions. Here is their Most Popular List."

It looks like it is a ranking of most popular unanswered petitions


So I eventually surmised.

It's a flawed system that devalues petitions with responses. Petitions are "open" until they get a (bullshit) response, and then they are "closed." Problem solved!

What they've offered is a system for Q&A with "the White House." What they imply is that it's a system for direct public referendum, when it's far from it.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:33 PM on November 7, 2011


"The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet"

It's a bit late for them to try to cover up the existence of the International Space Station.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:37 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pro bono proctologists from other star systems

Keep your pinko socialized tentacles away from my ass lawn.
posted by arcticseal at 12:37 AM on November 8, 2011


If I were an alien with the means to sedate and study an unusual creature non-invasively (and hence non-terminally), then out of convenience I would put my temperature probe into the biggest orifice I could find. Since putting the probe in the mouth would compromise breathing, that really only leaves the ass.

This needs a petition, or at least a Straight Dope thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:22 AM on November 8, 2011


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