One of my first jobs out of college was washing glassware for a biotech research firm. It was a job suitable for a trained monkey, except that the monkeys had a better union than I did. However, one of the best things about the job (aside from the huge vats of hydrochloric acid) was being surrounded by scientists all day long.
You might think that their conversations were smarter than those of non-Ph.D.s. Well, if they were talking about something in their field, then yes—they were erudite and insightful about the latest breakthroughs, machines, and scientific possibilities related to biotechnology and pharmacology. But for the most part, their conversations might have been held by any random people in the country. They talked about their children, griped about the latest software updates, shared stories of their pets, and trumpeted their fanatical dedication to their favorite teams.
When discussing “normal” topics, there was only one way these scientists differed from everyone else: they loved to pooh-pooh ideas they saw as un-scientific. Good for them: there are plenty of idiotic misconceptions common among the larger population that aren’t fit to drop down an outhouse hole. For example, the idea that vaccinations cause autism. Or the notion of teaching creationism in biology classes. Or that the Seattle Mariners could ever win the world series.
But there was one diatribe I had to disagree with: the claim that alien visitors were a scientific impossibility.
Now, I’m not a big conspiracy theorist about aliens, but I think these biologists were lacking some key pieces of reasoning.
Full disclosure: I want aliens to be real. Every time I hear a story about a UFO sighting in New Mexico or crop circles in Europe, a part of me really wants it to be the harbinger of first contact. But I also acknowledge that the universe doesn’t always give me what I want. If it did, I’d be writing this from the deck of the Tardis on a laptop I borrowed from Gandalf. Wanting it doesn’t make it happen, and wanting aliens isn’t the same thing as having aliens.
The discussion in the lab that day wasn’t about evidence, it was about possibility, and the main claim intended to negate the possibility was that even if intelligent life exists, they could never reach us because it would take too much energy to accelerate a craft to near-light speeds. That was the only reason given, end of discussion.
I haven’t got a Ph.D. in anything other than being awesome (and my doctorate didn’t even come from an accredited awesomeness program), but I begged to differ. In my next post I’ll explain why.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think. Is it possible? Could “they” be observing us or even walking among us or do the cow-dissections and trailer-park abductions exist nowhere but in the minds of misguided people?