Mulder, Are You Seriously Suggesting
"Jimmy Carter saw a UFO but it was Venus. Atmospheric phenomena, meteors,
ball lightning, swamp gas."
Siduri: So, is there—I know it doesn't have anything to do with you, but when
we first started talking, we were talking about all the calls you get from
people who believe that there are aliens on Earth. Is there any serious
research that's gone into investigating these claims?
Seth: Yeah, the whole UFO phone. Well, the bottom line is that half of America
believes that—the most recent poll is only 38 percent, but usually it's
fifty to fifty-five percent—roughly half of all Americans believe there's
evidence for aliens visiting the planet. It's not just one percent of people;
half the population believes it. So of course there have been plenty of
investigations in the past.
In the early days, they would have these commissions composed of academics and
so forth looking into it. The Air Force had various projects looking into it.
Of course, I don't think the Air Force ever seriously thought that these
lights in the sky were really aliens, but they may have thought that they were
Russian aircraft that they didn't know about. And they were interested in
Illustration of Jimmy Carter's swamp
gas sighting by Paul Vortex
Anyhow, commission after commission would look at all these things, and they
would look at the evidence, and they always decided the same thing: 90
percent of them we can explain, here's a whole list of phenomena that causes
these—airplanes, balloons—Jimmy Carter saw a UFO but it was Venus.
Atmospheric phenomena, meteors, ball lightning, swamp gas. There's all this
stuff. And ten percent of them we can't explain, but those are usually the
ones where there's only one witness. There's very little data.
And if you say, "Ha! Those are aliens!" Well, maybe you can't explain it, but
you can only solve 80 percent of the murders up in San Francisco. What about
the other 20 percent? Maybe they're committed by aliens. It's possible; it's
just a pretty extreme assumption, just because there's some percentage you
haven't worked out.
So all that was done. But of course the people who like to think that aliens
are visiting figure that the lack of compelling evidence—because there is
no compelling evidence: all that they'd have to do is walk into this room with
a tailpipe from a UFO. "Here it is!" Put it on the table, and you check it out—
"my god, this is an alloy that we've never tried," all that sort of stuff.
It should be pretty obvious. If you went back to Neanderthal times and you
gave them a cell radio, they would know Zorg did not make this. You can just
tell. It doesn't take terribly sophisticated analysis.
So the question is why haven't you ever had that? And the answer that is given
is, one, the government has covered it all up. Which presupposes that the
government has managed to collect all the evidence, and to cover it up,
neither of which seems very likely, given our government. But even if you
think our government has done that, you also have to assume that every
government has done this. Otherwise the aliens must prefer the US, but you
know, maybe they occasionally land in Canada. The Canadian government has
covered it up; maybe the Iraqis have also covered it up; the Brazilians, and
the Argentinians, the Israelis, and everybody else. I find that rather hard to
believe. They don't cover everything else up.
So that's one explanation, that the governments have covered it up. Nefarious
governments have collected all the evidence and managed to keep it secret for
54 years. They couldn't keep Anita Hill quiet for two weeks, but they kept
this secret for 54 years. I just find that beyond the pale.
The second argument that's usually made...
Siduri: ...Is that the aliens don't want us to have all this advanced technology?
Is there that one, the one where they're studying us and they're...
Seth: Well, no, that's sometimes offered as an explanation for the Fermi
paradox—why you don't see them. But if you do see them...
Mark: Following the Prime Directive.
Siduri: Right. Exactly.
TCS: Following the Prime Directive, in Star Trek.
Seth: Yeah, the Prime Directive. How many times has human civilization
followed the Prime Directive? Never! Forget this. The only prime directive is
to get close to Kirk.
Siduri: [laughing] That's true.
Seth: The only Prime Directive humans follow is to go to the Angus House of
Beef and have a steak. That's the prime directive for humans. The second thing
is, yes, that scientists are not open to this idea. That they are close-minded
and they're not willing to look into this.
Mark: Have you looked into that idea?
Seth: No, I don't even deign to consider it. In fact, I find that just about
as bizarre as the first explanation. Because scientists, sure, they have their
own view of the world. But if there's any group of people that does consider
new ideas on a regular basis, it's science! Not all of the time, right, but if
you're working on a problem and you see that, hey, there's a big discovery to
made in this area, you don't say "well, I'm not going to do that." I mean,
that's not what you do. They'd be laboring away on their own time or their own
money if they thought there was any chance that some of this was right. I
really do think that's true.
Siduri: I read a quote of yours on the web that I liked a lot, that said if there
was even a one percent chance that aliens were among us, that's what you would
spend 100 percent of your time working on.
Seth: Yeah. And I think that's true for a lot of people. I mean, a lot of
people would be doing that, of course. Gosh, if you really want to go to
Stockholm, all you have to do is prove that the aliens are here.
Mark: There are some people who have looked the religions throughout the history
of the world, and seen certain patterns in their deity worship that they think
fit more closely with the patterns that you would see in a civilization
reacting to a visitor, rather than reacting to a phenomenon. I wonder if you
could talk about that.
Seth: I have to say I'm not conversant with all the specifics. I've seen these
arguments and I can make some very superficial comments. You don't know a heck
of a lot about, maybe, some of these ancient cultures. And so that's one
possible explanation—that they were entertaining visitors from another
world. Another possible explanation is that they were entertaining visitors
from the next hill over. Right? I mean, you have to use Occam's razor, and
say, well, what requires less extreme assumptions?
Just consider some of the practices in our own religions. Imagine sort of
stepping back, looking at these things 10,000 years from now. "These guys,
they would take infants and they would dump them in water," and so forth. "So
why were they doing that?" Out of context, sometimes these things aren't so
clear. So I don't find that very convincing.
What would be convincing—it's easy, you see—is if you're digging through
the rubble of somebody's cave and you come across an alien cellphone. It would
last 10,000 years. Something would last. You never find that. What you find
are bones of animals, things like that. We have to—let's think of this. We
haven't done all the archaeology. I don't think we've been visited in historic
times because we would have real evidence. But maybe the aliens visited
300,000,000 years ago. That evidence might be very hard to find. Unless they
were widespread: if you found [unintelligible] everywhere at a certain level
below ground. If they just—if a ship landed and took a few samples and flew
off again, you would never know. You can't rule that out, but all I can say is
that the evidence that we're being visited now is not very good.