Playing the Indian Card

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Some years ago, Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Defense Minister and perennial leadership contender, made a bit of a splash by declaring UFOs to be real, and claiming an international coverup. I took little notice; sounded like a guy used to being in the public eye trying to attract attention one last time. In fact, Hellyer has always been like that.

A friend turned out to be a UFO buff. Again, I took little notice. He spoke of multiverses. My problem with that was Occam’s razor: it is the worst possible violation of Occam’s razor. It is much simpler to assume the existence of a spirit world.

Now Tucker Carlson on Fox News has apparently been won over to the idea that UFOs are real.

They might be. Certainly there are UFOs in the literal sense: unidentified flying objects. The only question is, what are they? Are they alien visitors?

I am skeptical for several reasons. First, the vast distances of space. The nearest planet with possible life, let alone intelligent life, let alone intelligent life with such advanced technology, has to be light-years away. I am under the impression that the laws of physics prohibit travel at faster than the speed of light. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps our present physics is wrong. But if not, that means it would have to take anyone years to get here. More likely hundred or thousands of years.

The obvious next question is, why would it be worth their while? What could be here for them that they could not get at home, and needed so badly?

I could see visiting out of curiosity, to have a look around. Fine; but then they surely would send robot craft, not come themselves. There would be no need for that, and it would be a big sacrifice. So perhaps that is what we are seeing.

I am also more skeptical than most about the inevitability of an intelligent life form developing such advanced technology. The fundamental belief that the physical world is real, and so worth paying much attention to, is rare among human cultures. It is pretty much a Judeo-Christian thing. You need that before you get very interested in physical technology. It seems to me that a non-human civilization could be highly intelligent, and last for many centuries, but concentrate more on issues of spiritual and emotional, not physical, well-being. And then, if they decide to concentrate on physical, I can see them focusing on things like eliminating disease and poverty rather than exploring space. The number of even highly intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations, if any exist, who would think it worthwhile to have a space program might be quite small.

If what we are seeing is robot visitors coming to look and study, it is not really an alarming or earth-threatening event. It is not as if, as Tucker Carlson or Paul Hellyer suggest, we need to develop some plan for defense against alien attack. The logic still holds that there is very unlikely to be anything here worth their while to come and get. If there were, somebody somewhere would have probably come and gotten it centuries ago, when we could only defend with longbows or assegais and were easy pickings.

Might it be possible for someone to invent a device like the old transporter in Star Trek, that immediately beams something to any distant place, by dissolving and re-forming them at a molecular level? There are a few problems with that concept. In Star Trek, the thing or person always dissolves at the point of departure, as it or he reforms at the destination. But that would obviously not be necessary: one could just as well create an exact duplicate while leaving the original intact.

Now we have a problem, if we are transporting sentient beings. Where would the consciousness reside, in the original or in the duplicate?

I think it has to be in the original. There is logically nothing in the act of recreation at the molecular level that would unplug the consciousness connection from one body, and insert in in the other. And if in the original when there are two, then also in the original if there is one. The consciousness would not be transferred. If conscious, the transported body would be a new and separate person. Meaning that any such transportation would mean death for the subject, subjectively speaking. Kind of unattractive.

Those who are religious have a possible alternative explanation: these lights in the sky are angels, or demons, or sprites. Yes, they are visible to the eye and to radar; but according to our ancient sources, angels and demons can be too, if they choose to be. And these craft do, after all, violate the known laws of physics. That might after all suggest something.

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