What If?

Like many Americans, I’ve been semi-obsessed with the plane that disappeared over Malaysia. Apparently, it just vanished without a trace. As the days go by with absolutely no good information, the mystery grows.

In the absence of real data, a science-fiction devotee (I plead guilty) can let her mind run wild.

What if?

What if the aircraft was snatched from the skies by aliens from another planet? And what if, after examining the passengers and crew, the aliens returned them all unharmed and proceeded to make their existence—and the existence of many other inhabited planets—known?

How would we quarrelsome, primitive Earthlings react to the knowledge that we are (a) not alone; (b) not superior; and (c) vulnerable?

How would the clerics and high priests of Earth’s multiple religions incorporate this new information into their theologies? What measures would our “We’re number One!!” politicians advocate? (John McCain and Dick Cheney would probably go on Fox News, blame Obama, and urge a nuclear attack; Putin might actually put his shirt back on. Who knows?)

And what about all of our unhappy, modernity-rejecting bigots? The Aryan Nation, KKK and other white supremacists, the assorted “pro-family” homophobes, the good “Christians” who think all Muslims are terrorists, their Taliban counterparts, the anti-Semites and innumerable others who see Earth as an assortment of tribes forever divided between “us” and “them”? Faced with a new “them,” would they be able to adjust their definition of “us” to include all of humanity?

How would the civic, religious, intellectual and political life of our planet change if we had to confront irrefutable evidence that we are not alone, not unique, and not the Center of the Universe?


  1. Sheila; being a science-fiction devotee you must have watched many of the same science-fiction movies I have through the years. I believe humans would meet such confrontations with violence – as we saw in those many movies. Being a believer in science and evolution, it worries me that scientists continue to debunk anything they cannot explain as being impossible rather than admitting they just don’t know the answer. We are seeing conjecture rather than facts regarding what happened to the Malaysian plane carrying 239 people. Your supposition is as good as any for an explanation:) Maybe these passengers are all with those who disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle, Glen Miller and other pilots who disappeared over the years and will return when the mother ship feels safe enough to land among humans somewhere on this planet.

  2. Ha ha, you made me chuckle out loud. That’s rare lately.
    I know exactly how sane Americans would react and then the rest of the world would walk around us, our jaw dropped at the site of an alien and ‘the others’ (on this planet) would invite them for tea. The so called conservatives would shoot first and then speculate later who they were and why they wanted to come here. Because of their trigger happy reactions, we’d never know.

  3. Good one, Sheila! I think we’re all astounded that Fox Noise and their ilk have not yet blamed President Obama or the Affordable Care Act for the mystery in the skies (and likely the seas) around Malaysia.

  4. They would have to be highly intelligent in order to navigate the vast spaces between stars. Upon encountering mankind, they would naturally exterminate them as no more than destructive weeds on a fertile planet.

  5. “How would the civic, religious, intellectual and political life of our planet change if we had to confront irrefutable evidence that we are not alone, not unique, and not the Center of the Universe?”

    We do know the human reaction to this question. The Viking encounter with Native Americans was not a peaceful one. The encounter between Europeans and Native Americans was not peaceful either. We may try to consign these encounters to the past, but I still read about logging companies and mineral companies driving the “natives” off their land often violently. I suspect we would employ transference, that is we would transfer our own beliefs to the Aliens. Thus, they would be a threat on several levels.

    Since Cosmos 2.0 is now out, it brought back memories of Cosmos 1.0 with Carl Sagan. There is a part in Sagan’s book “Encylopaedia Galactia” where he mentions the probability and possibility that Advanced Civilizations might destroy themselves. The world today is not divided as it was in Sagan’s day between the Soviet Block and the West. However, we have some people today talking about a Military response and saber rattling to the Russian-Ukrainian Situation.

    My own opinion is we would view, considering human history, any visit by an Advanced Alien Civilization as threat.

    There were three events I did not think I would see in my lifetime: 1. The Fall of the Soviet Union, 2. The reason why the dinosaurs suddenly died out, 3. The discovery of an advanced alien civilization. Numbers 1 and 2 have been answered or happened. I am waiting hopefully for Number 3.

  6. I have long believed aliens have been here. I also believe they’ve left us alone because Earth humans as a species, are too stupid, too self-centered and too dogmatic to accept them.

  7. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s current Cosmos is amazing! I watch him as I did Carl Sagan, both of whom could explain things in everyday language. I googled Tyson recently to find some amazing quotes from him.

    The first quote listed is my favorite: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

    Read more at http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/12855.Neil_deGrasse_Tyson/

  8. You touched a nerve the “We’re Number One” comments. I’ve been amused and amazed that in commenting on the situation in Ukraine, Cheney, McCain and other partisans have “blamed America first” (Obama) for Putin’s aggression even though they considered any criticism of Dubya’s foreign policy to be unpatriotic.

    Dictators around the world attack their citizens who seek self-government. Partisan attacks here and elsewhere descend to silliness. Some folks poison the earth with toxic chemicals and practices. As outsiders looking in, aliens might well wonder why anyone would want to get involved with earthlings.

  9. “How would the civic, religious, intellectual and political life of our planet change if we had to confront irrefutable evidence that we are not alone, not unique, and not the Center of the Universe?”

    “Beam me up, Scotty!” would be the rallying cry of all believers.

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