I love science fiction so I think about aliens a lot, both in fiction and the real world. A great podcast I listen to, Mysterious Universe, frequently talks about aliens and UFOs (along with ghosts, bigfoot and other mysterious things), and when I get bored at work with nothing to pass the time but my web browser, I often find myself enjoying the silliness of the Above Top Secret forums. The following should be viewed more as a science fiction brainstorm than a scientific thought experiment.
The way I see it there are three main possibilities as far as real life intelligent extraterrestrial life goes.
1. We have never been visited by ETs because there are no intelligent ETs anywhere near us, and interstellar travel is unfeasible even at the highest level of technology.
2. There are intelligent ETs near us and/or interstellar travel is feasible at some level of technology, and they have already visited us.
3. There are intelligent ETs near us and/or interstellar travel is feasible at some level of technology, but no alien civilizations have discovered us yet, or they just don’t find it worthwhile to even bother.
I do believe that intelligent ETs exist, they have to. The real question for me is can a civilization last long enough to create the technology required to visit other worlds, and if so, do those civilizations have any reason to visit Earth?
One theory that’s popular with most of the folks on the History series Ancient Aliens is that aliens gave us the jumpstart we needed to thrive as a civilization by teaching us the secrets of agriculture, animal domestication, medicine, etc. For a moment, let’s suppose that were true. Clearly the aliens learned all that stuff for themselves hundreds of thousands of years before they had the capability of visiting Earth, so where did the aliens learn how to do it? “Well, we taught those apes on Earth how to do it,” says one of the aliens to his friend, “So some other aliens must have taught us!”
If aliens capable of interstellar space travel came to earth thousands of years ago to teach us how to plant corn, why didn’t they teach us something more advanced? Maybe our ancestors just couldn’t catch on to anything else the tried. The aliens probably started with some kind of technology even we wouldn’t understand today, and worked their way backwards to something their pets could do.
Another possibility is that early humans (pre-10,000 BC) were far more advanced than we realize (whether or not aliens were responsible), but something happened to most of them and the survivors didn’t understand how all the really cool stuff worked. Just like today, if something happened without warning to wipe out most of us, the small percentage who survived wouldn’t necessarily understand how computer processors work, and would be even less likely to have access to the resources to build them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that just like how the oceans are as mysterious as outer space, we don’t even necessarily know everything about our own species, let alone alien civilizations.
I’ve gotten a bit ramble-ey, so back to the original three points. If interstellar travel is possible, and we’re interesting enough to be worthy of attention, then we must have already had contact with intelligent ETs. Are we being run by a shadow government of reptilians? Or are greys abducting people for fertility experiments on behalf of the nordics? Probably not, but that’s what they would want you to think!