From Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience:
A new study, one of very few of its kind, finds that people typically respond quite positively to the notion of life on other planets. The study investigated the possibility of finding microbial extraterrestrials, not intelligent E.T.s, so people’s responses might be a little different if they were told an armada of aliens were headed toward Earth, cautioned study author Michael Varnum, a psychologist at Arizona State University. Nevertheless, he noted, large portions of people believe that intelligent aliens do exist and that they’ve visited Earth; so even a more dramatic announcement might not ruffle feathers.
“I think there might be something sort of comforting about knowing that life wasn’t an accident that happened once here,” he said. “Maybe it makes us feel a little less fragile or a little less lonely in the expanse of space.”More.
It’s probably a waste of time to point this out but most people don’t actually think we are a lonely accident. And most don’t believe anything that would be directly contradicted by the existence of intelligent aliens. It’s good Varnum is doing the study though, just for the record.
See also: Would the discovery of ET change ethics? Much of this is pretty specialized but to the extent that basic morality is linked with reason, ETs smart enough to get here or get found were smart enough not to have all killed each other off first. 😉
Suzan Mazur: NASA, tax dollars, space aliens, and religion… Of course, it’s yet to be determined that most religious people have much invested in the matter one way or the other, relative to their irreligious neighbours.
But surely we can’t conjure an entire advanced civilization?
How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?