It’s 12:47 A.M., on a Monday. I’m typing while watching an episode of Unsealed: Alien Files. The narrator has the gritty timbre and lower register of John B. Wells, a voice many would recognize from his weekend shifts on Coast to Coast AM. I glance at the TV; he’s talking over some old footage of Nixon and a bunch of transition shots of “classified” documents. It’s all supposed to be background to my writing, but sometimes you just have to let the late night cable current take you adrift.
I can only guess at how many of these shows and specials I’ve seen / heard, over the years: hundreds, perhaps thousands, even. Being a science fiction geek, extraterrestrial life has always captivated me. Often I’ll sit out on a starry night, staring at those pinholes of light, and wonder if someone else out there is looking toward me—thinking the same thoughts.
But I know I’m not alone in my quest and needn’t look further than my home province—which features an official UFO landing pad and a Star Trek museum. I think most of us, from the cynical rationalist to the crazy conspiracy theorist, start off with that same spark of desire to know the unknown. And although it fades for many, over time, a mysterious light in the night sky rarely fails to rekindle it.
When it comes to believing, I suck. I don’t want to believe; I want, nay, need to know. This doesn’t mean I require scientific proof, though. I’m too impatient for that. If I were born in another time, I would have been a Greek philosopher, maybe Zeno or Democritus. Probably not Aristotle, though; there is a limit with what I’m comfortable deducing.
Paranormal investigators will often claim to be completely convinced of whatever their particular elusive obsession happens to be. But what is it like to be truly convinced of something? Do you sit at home throwing objects up in the air to continually document evidence of gravity? They also claim their desire to continuously investigate has to do with providing evidence for others, including the scientific community.
But someone, maybe Einstein, once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Then again, the guys over at Cern ended up getting that different result after doing the same thing about a thousand trillion times. So maybe after a thousand trillion investigations, we’ll finally get good evidence of something. But I think that number would come down a bit if their methods were actually scientific.
If we are being visited by alien beings, they either are following something like Star Trek’s Prime Directive, or they don’t care about joining the public. I don’t blame them. As a fellow Earthling, most days I don’t want to join the public, either.
Really, I’m on nobody’s particular side when it comes to this. Sure, I’ll point out Chinese floating lanterns, reflections, balloons, and LED kites, but I won’t force a rational Mouse Trap (board game) type explanation, irrationally, or limit otherworldly technologies to our current limitations and theories. And I’ll never be one of those people who’ll argue for life being a rarity in the universe to go on to contradict it by stating the Earth wouldn’t be a worthwhile destination to visit. Let me tell you something, once you’ve been to one gas giant, you’ve been to them all.
I guess what I’m saying is, extraordinary claims don’t really require extraordinary evidence; they just require good, scientific evidence. The same kind that proved the Earth wasn’t flat and F = MA. Good evidence will stand up to all scrutiny and doesn’t need any gimmicks or sensationalism to compel. Are we being watched by aliens? Maybe. More importantly, should we be embarrassed? Most definitely.