Terry H. Schwadron
June 7, 2021
Disclosures that the U.S. government can’t decide whether all these skittish UFO movements reported by Navy pilots reflect the unannounced arrival of aliens from other planets are just bringing up all those sci-fi movies we loved over the years.
Men in Black or The Day the Earth Stood Still, Independence Day and others were entertaining, of course, but they also challenged us with the question of whether we could overcome our Earthly rivalries to face a common threat. Maybe rather than letting Sen. Mario Rubio, R-Fla, hold hearings about what the government knew and when, we should just have a film festival.
It might help underscore just how far we’re letting the divisions take us, not only in this country, but around the world. Why human tribalism, corporate negligence towards the environment, spreading disease and hunger are more important than fixing what ails us always comes to light more easily in these fictionalized accounts than in the grudging politics of our daily world.
The Twilight Zone’s How to Serve Man still serves as a pretty good marker for recognizing that interstellar self-serving lying could be just as prevalent as our own terrestrial versions. Of course, the realizations come late in the episode that we’re about to be farmed and harvested as dinner for a hungry planet out there.
The wacky alien characters in Men in Black posing as humans would go a long way to explain the craziest characters in our political landscape, left or right. Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and the My Pillow guy could all easily be space worms in disguise, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., already has identified herself as seeing Jewish space lasers causing forest fires, putting her squarely in the group waiting to be unmasked. I’m sure that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would have us see chief virologist Anthony Fauci as an interstellar visitor here to make his life miserable.
That might still leave Donald Trump as a human artifact rather than explaining away his genius for creating instant, fictionalized explanations of reality for personal gain.
Officially, we’re still awaiting a de-classified version of the UFO report at the end of the month. But the fascinating disclosures to date in The New York Times and 60 Minutes are enough to persuade that something is going on, even if we can’t pin it down after decades of sightings.
The insistence of the human brain to come up with rational explanations — in this case weather phenomena or hyperspeed aircraft in development by the Other Guys or errant balloon — is a standard research topic in philosophy of science (here’s a sample research paper).
How many stories have you seen where someone has to come up with a rational explanation for ghosts?
Back to the ancient Greeks, who first wrote about it, humanity seeks “proto-scientific explanations of the natural world.” With a preference for Reason came new questions of how we live, believe and think. Even a child learns quickly to ask “Why.”
The Exodus story gave us 10 plagues to explain a morality tale, though there have been attempts over the years to match each with an existing outbreak of volcanic eruption (darkness) or locusts in the Middle East of ancient lore.
Even when little, daily irritations bother us, we seek explanation, an article in The Guardian described. There is a theory called “region-beta paradox” first described a decade ago in The Peculiar Longevity of Things Not So Bad that suggests that when truly bad things happen, they cross a threshold, triggering mechanisms that help us to recover. Conversely and weirdly, when things are really awful, like war, the explanations are obvious.
We’re not exactly sure where UFO sightings land on this kind of scale. Either they are curiosities or peaceful scientific forays or existential threats from would-be alien spaceships. But, for sure, our impatient human brains seemingly must come up with rational explanations.
The alternative would force us to admit we’re not in charge of the universe. And then what?
But what if the best explanation is the obvious one: They’re real.
The Joe Biden reaction will be to endlessly seek bipartisan negotiation with alien representatives. The Donald Trump approach will be to angrily deny spaceships the right to enter only American space, and send them to China, which, after all, spread pandemic.
The UN Security Council will meet and do nothing, after first listening to braying from North Korea, Iran and the Palestinian representatives about how this is all the fault of the United States.
Democrats will blame Republican tax cuts for years of having avoided the needed science research, and Republicans will insist that science was wrong, and there are no threats from aliens that should interfere in the marketplace — and that no alien should influence U.S. policy.
The Russians and Chinese will blame American military plotting rather than recognize an interstellar threat, the Japanese will recall that its own film tradition should force it to recall an Earth-friendly Godzilla from the deep to do battle with invaders, and Tom Cruise will suggest that the visits are a reflection of Scientology’s long-term predictions.
As for the visiting aliens, they have two choices. They can eat us all, or take a look at a planet that would kill itself and simply decide to turn around and go home.
Or as Michael Rennie would tell the robot warrior Gort, Klaatu Barata Niktu.