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Maybe The Aliens Are Just Morons
The assumption that an advanced civilization would behave rationally isn't supported by human history
By now you’ve probably heard about the big UFO story earlier this week. Just in case you haven’t been following it, here’s a one-paragraph summary of the story so far:
David Grusch, a 16-year intelligence industry veteran, is alleging that the U.S. has recovered around 12-15 crashed alien spacecraft over the last 80 years. A few Very Serious People are vouching for his credibility, and the story comes from two of the three people who wrote the 2017 New York Times story about the UAP task force. The New York Times and Politico passed on this story, and the Washington Post was probably going to, apparently because of concerns about the sourcing, so the authors had to take it to a previously little-known website called The Debrief, which publishes a lot of good science news and also a tremendous amount of UFO content, albeit usually written with a healthy amount of skepticism. Congress has decided to hold a hearing on it.
A wide variety of experts, government insiders, bloggers and Twitter personalities were quick to dismiss the story. They pointed out that it’s improbable that such a conspiracy could stay secret for so long, or that we could apparently have failed to reverse-engineer much if any new technology from them for 80 years. Also, everything Grusch says is just hearsay from people who are themselves mostly telling him hearsay, or at most claiming to have seen some photos of what they thought were spacecraft. Also, history has shown that intelligence officials who seem credible on paper can still be total cranks sometimes.
But most of all, they observed that the aliens in question would have to be really, extremely stupid to spend nearly a century buzzing around Earth for no clear reason, crashing their highly advanced spaceships every few years, and apparently never learning anything from the experience. And they further opined that this pretty well proves that the aliens aren’t real.
I agree that such a conspiracy would be really hard to keep secret. I agree that the aliens would have to be incredibly stupid to do all of that. However, I disagree with their conclusion that this proves that it isn’t happening.
Consider our own government– in addition to the aforementioned psychic espionage program, it also passes environmental bills that encourage urban sprawl and prevent clean energy projects from being built. Large parts of the government think it’s good for the economy when housing, a basic human necessity, gets more expensive. And up until not that long ago, the government even sent people to prison for being gay.
But we also shouldn’t assume that these visitors are part of any alien government or scientific organization. For all we know, flying saucers are the high-tech equivalent of cars, and any middle-class alien can take a quick sightseeing flight to Earth if they want to. Hell, maybe they’re the equivalent of consumer drones– little more than toys. The aliens could be anyone, really.
What I’m saying is, we should seriously consider the possibility the aliens are real, they’re here, and they’re a bunch of colossal dolts. We’re talking utter weapons-grade idiots here.
Here are eight ways that could be true.
They’re flying drunk, or something like that
Let’s start with the theory represented by the header image: the UFOs aren’t part of a unified program, but just a bunch of unconnected individuals piloting their personal vehicles, and they’re driving while impaired in some way.
They could be drunk, but let’s be honest: a starfaring civilization is bound to have way better intoxicants than alcohol. I’m talking about drugs that makes cocaine and LSD look like purple drank. With pharmaceutical technology that advanced, how could an alien civilization not have a massive drug problem?
Or maybe they’re just driving distracted. Forget cell phones– they might be flying while watching holo-shows on their augmented reality glasses, or even experiencing stuff via simsense like in Strange Days.
Or maybe it’s just road head. Or space head, I guess. Earth could be the local-cluster equivalent of a long and boring stretch of highway where it feels safe to get some quick action, but what you don’t realize is there’s some ice coming up. Or maybe it’s more like that spot outside town where teens go to make out and give each other shitty, somewhat painful handjobs.
In other words, the aliens who came to earth may be their society’s equivalent of Florida Man. Orion Arm Man?
The Earth Visitation Program is a Pork Barrel Project
The first possibility that comes to mind is that all these UFOs are a waste of money, and the aliens are wasting money for precisely the main reason our government does: to throw easy money to a constituent group.
Maybe these Earth visits had some scientific value back in the 40’s and 50’s. At this point though, it might just be a giveaway to Big Flying Saucer.
On top of that, maybe the alien legislative process makes it too hard to cancel existing programs. Maybe cancelling the Earth visitation process requires an 80% majority, or maybe the one alien whose planet produces most of the flying saucers keeps filibustering any attempt to kill the program.
They’re buzzing Earth as a viral stunt
Maybe most of our extraterrestrial visitors are just young aspiring social media influencers, and buzzing the earth is some kind of dumb meme.
Remember planking? Remember how certain people started trying to one-up each other by planking in the most improbable or even dangerous places they could think of? Remember that one kid who managed to die planking?
The aliens who crash are that kid.
They’re making NFTs of Earth and humanity
Maybe aliens are flying around the Earth, either with manned or drone spacecraft, to take photos– or videos, or holo-trideos, or simsense recordings or whatever– so they can turn those recordings into NFTs. NFTs of Earth might be valuable precisely because they’re scarce– Earth is really out of the way, it’s dangerous to visit, etc. In this case it’s not actually the aliens visiting Earth who are stupid– mostly– but the people back home who buy that crap.
Of course, a highly advanced civilization would have highly advanced financial bullshit, so what they’re actually making is probably one step further removed from anything that has actual value than NFTs are. Options on NFTs? NFT default swaps? Loans that use NFTs as collateral? The mere idea of owning an NFT? It could even some unholy combination of all of the above.
It’s all some dumb sport, and Earth is the playing field
It could be something like rally car racing, where part of the course requires dipping into Earth’s atmosphere and slingshotting around the planet. Maybe some courses even require landing on Earth, grabbing a quick souvenir, and taking off again.
Or maybe it’s something more like BattleBots or a demolition derby– something that very explicitly requires craft to be disabled or destroyed. That could certainly explain all the crashes.
Actually, this one sounds kind of cool. Also kind of dumb, I mean humans wouldn’t (hopefully) plot a rally car race through the territory of an uncontacted tribe. But all three of the sports I just used as analogies are kind of cool, so maybe this one isn’t entirely stupid.
It’s like Predator, but for anal probing
The Predator movies are about aliens who hunt humans for sport. For those who don’t know the full backstory, Predator society is matriarchal, and all of the Predators who go out hunting are males. The best hunters earn social status and the right to mate with the females back home– since the women are in charge, they delight in making the men go on a bunch of weird, dangerous, murderous quests to impress them.
So maybe alien abductions are like that, except instead of hunting, status in alien society comes from anal probing. The goal might be to probe the mightiest prey, or the smartest, or the most high-status. Or maybe just the one with the best anus, however aliens determine that.
Then again, maybe it’s more of a Pokemon, gotta probe’em all situation, and victory is more about racking up a wide variety of anal probings.
The aliens are an entire race of idiots
Maybe it’s not just their reason for visiting earth that’s stupid. Maybe the aliens are actually stupid all around. I know it seems unlikely that a race that developed interstellar travel could be stupid, but there are plenty of options here.
We don’t know how long it took them to invent warp drives. For all we know, it took a hundred times longer than it’s going to take us, but they’re just barely smart enough to have gotten there eventually.
Or it could be an Idiocracy situation, in which the aliens used to be smarter, but after they got about as advanced as we are, the average IQ started gradually declining simply because the less intelligent aliens reproduced more, and they never really found a solution to that. Or they did find one, but thought it was unethical– like forcing people to get genetically modified to be smarter– so they didn’t do it.
The aliens might also have acquired their advanced technology from some other race instead of making it themselves. Maybe that other race ascended to technological godhood, or nirvana, or escaped The Matrix, and left their advanced technology behind. Maybe that other race created them and died off. Or maybe the aliens visiting us are a race of dumb jocks who enslaved a much smarter, wimpier race of nerds and made the nerds invent spaceships for them so they could joyride around the galaxy like the slack-jawed hillbilly idiots they are.
The most interesting possibility, though, is that intelligence just doesn’t work the way we think it does. The sort of intelligence that lets you perform scientific research and invent technology and the sort of intelligence that lets you make good decisions are highly correlated. So much so that we often think of them as the same thing and just call it intelligence.
But maybe that’s just a fluke. Maybe if you looked at a lot of different intelligent races, you’d find no correlation between those two things. Somewhere in the galaxy there are races of wise aliens who nevertheless haven’t invented space flight, as well as wise aliens who have invented space flight.
And then there are the aliens who actually come to Earth. They’re the kind of people who get straight A’s in all of their honors science classes, then you see in the news that they died taking the Tide Pod challenge.
UFOs are malfunctioning Von Neumann probes
A Von Neumann probe is a concept for a self-replicating interstellar probe that could rapidly explore the entire galaxy. Rapidly in slower-than-light interstellar travel terms that is; depending on how powerful their engines are, they could explore the entire galaxy in as little as half a million years, or it might take more like ten million years.
The idea here is that the probe travels to another solar system, sets down on a large asteroid, and starts mining it for materials. It then uses those materials to build two types of other probes: copies of itself which immediately head off to other solar systems to repeat the process all over again, and a variety of smaller interplanetary probes to explore the solar system it’s in. In this scenario, what we’re seeing are the interplanetary probes, and the Von Neumann probe that made them is hiding somewhere in our solar system.
One potential issue with Von Neumann probes is that over a very long period of time, their programming could become corrupted, similar to how biological organisms develop gene mutations over time. Eventually this might start to seriously affect their performance, causing them to make sub-par decisions, fly poorly, or suffer mechanical breakdowns to to either software issues or errors in the physical design of the craft.
This probably requires ignoring all claims that alien bodies have been recovered, unless you think that the probes also create biological crew for the probes, which maybe they do. If they do, those could become corrupted over time too.
In any case, what this would mean is that all of the craft we’re seeing are probably drones– unless they’re being piloted by clones grown in our solar system– and their software is extremely buggy, and possibly their physical designs are full of defects too. And these shitty drones are being continually produced and flung at us by some annoying robotic factory out in the Kuiper Belt or whatever. Maybe more than one factory– multiple Von Neumann probes could easily have come to our solar system from different neighboring systems.
If this is the case, we’ll never be rid of the damned things. Even if we destroy the Von Neumann probes in our solar system, more will come. Every other solar system we ever visit will be full of these self-replicating, shitty robots, flying sloppily all over the place and generally getting up in our business. They’re like the cockroaches of the galaxy; they’re annoying as hell, we can never wipe them out, and they’ll be here– and everywhere else– long after we’re gone.
So, hopefully it isn’t that.