Originally posted by shetline
Actually, I did bring this up as being in the range of possibilities before, although more in the guise of divine interventionism rather than alien. In another context (not this particular thread) I've spoken before about the possibility of alien involvement.
Of course, the possiblility of alien involvement and the probability are two different things. Also, just like when you bring divine beings into the question, you have to ask what explanatory value aliens would add.
If you've dug up remains of very old, complex technological artifacts from well before the age of man, proposing aliens adds explanatory value. If you haven't, and you're simply proposing aliens because life seems too amazing or complex, so you're looking for a source of intelligence to create or direct that complexity, you're just moving the problem you're trying to answer, not solving it. Now you have to solve where the aliens came from and how the aliens reached their advanced state. More aliens that gave those aliens their start? Turtles all the way down?
I can think of speculative reasons to contemplate alien involvement. For example, let's take the assumption of natural biogenesis -- the chemical precursor to biological evolution -- but suppose that, although it can and has happened, it turns out to be so difficult and unlikely that it only occurs on one out of billions or trillions or more of worlds with suitable environments. If this is true, but life is still found on many worlds, then proposing alien assistance in establishing life on many of those worlds would have useful explanatory value.
But since we have no knowledge yet of the abundance of life or lack thereof outside of our own little planet, since (although I'm sure some Area 51 fans might disagree) we have no solid evidence of ancient or current intelligent alien life, and since we don't have any way to calculate the probability of spontaneous biogenesis -- throwing aliens into the picture, to use the wording of Occam's Razor, is simply a needless multiplication of entities.
One of the difficulties re. "have aliens been here, and are they still visiting" is the official public position of
disinterest, and ridicule in the subject. If a "UFO" landed in the middle of Central Park with thousands of witnesses, how would anyone know for sure it was the "real thing", whatever that may be (we have no idea), or an elaborate hoax? Many people witness things, often with radar conformation, that defy standard explanations. The US Govt's own surveys into this stuff found that some 95% of "sightings" could be explained normally, but there were always those pesky 5% that remain unknowns. This is a pretty consistent ratio with UFO sightings. However, these phenomena happen to "a few people at a time", not en masse. And...how can you study something in the moment that occurs at random times and places, out of our control? If the president suddenly announced to the American (and world's) people one evening in an address from the White House that "we are not alone" in the universe, with all the big media hoopla to go with it, would you believe him, and why? Would an pronouncement be more believable than the testimony of military and airline pilots?
In the 1950s, one reason stated to keep the subject "above top secret" was the fear of "mass panic and the collapse of traditional religious institutions". Why has this subject has been relegated to the bailiwick of loonytunes publications like the Weekly World News
etc., when the knowledge of "is there other life out there" is considered one of the holy grails of science? There is far too much circumstantial evidence to ignore it, or not to study this seriously.
I realize this is a little bit of a sidebar to the topic...but still relevant.http://www.mufon.com/fastfacts.htm