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Our Alien Stalkers
Sam Quirk was ten years old. While on a field trip, his bus had paused at a rest stop, and Sam was sitting in a bathroom stall. From the next stall over, he heard clearly but quietly, “Sam Quirk, ask your parents about ‘royal propriety’”. By the time he could check the next stall, it was empty.
Back at home, Sam asked his parents. They looked grave, and told him that something similar had happened to them roughly every ten years for their entire lives. Except that after the first time, all they heard was just the phrase “royal propriety”. Now they told Sam what their parents had told them: “We are royalty.”
Sam’s dad was descended from a rich and powerful line of royalty that was famous for its being very secretive. Hardly anything was known about them, including where any of them lived. The lawyer who represented them issued rare press releases, which said little.
Long ago, a representative of this royal org had contacted Sam’s great granddad, and explained to him how very important it was that no one from their line ever appear in the public eye. To demonstrate their determination, they promised to give these personal once-a-decade “royal propriety” reminders. The message: they are still around, and still care.
They also hinted at dire consequences for any violations of this rule. So far their family had always complied. And as far as anyone in the family knows, this royal org has never helped them in any way, nor suggested that it ever would.
Should Sam feel lucky to be part of such a rich illustrious royal family? Or unlucky to have such a powerful and hostile family stalker?
I offer this story as an allegory of my best guess of humanity’s situation if some UFOs are in fact aliens. Remember that I don’t claim that they are. Only that I find it hard to see honest mistakes as explaining our strongest most dramatic UFO reports, that due to my grabby aliens work I am something of an expert on the prior for this some-UFOs-are-aliens hypothesis, and also on its social implications, and I thus feel obligated to resist the usual taboos to give my best estimate on both these topics.
Many suggest that UFOs-as-aliens would put us in a position of radical uncertainty, wherein we’d have almost no idea who are these aliens, how many others are out there, or what any of them want. In contrast, I think we can actually say quite a lot. Alas, it is not a pretty picture.
The most likely scenario that I can find consistent with some UFOs being aliens starts with life appearing ~9Gya on a one-in-a-million-galaxies-rare planet Eden somewhere in our galaxy. Then ~5Gya life was transferred via panspermia to many of the ~1000 newborn stars in our Sun’s stellar nursery. Life continued to evolve on those stars, until >~0.1Gya one of them gave rise to an advanced alien civilization.
Civilizations that allow interstellar colonization probably cannot maintain civ-wide governance to regulate, prevent war, and prevent their descendants from evolving into strangeness. For this or other reasons, this particular alien civilization chose to prevent any part of itself from leaving its home system to colonize the universe. However, it made rare exceptions for expeditions to stellar siblings that could be seen in telescopes as hosting life, and thus at risk of birthing another advanced civilization. The main motive was to prevent such a “panspermia sibling” civilization from violating their rule against expansion. But they’d rather achieve this via persuasion, rather than extermination.
As each expedition risked violating their rule by going rogue, home authorities wanted a simple robust strategy; they didn’t trust expeditions to exercise much discretion. While alien visitors to Earth could have remained completely invisible, or become very obvious, they instead chose a third way. Their strategy was this: hang out on Earth at the periphery of our vision, act peacefully, show very impressive abilities, but reveal little else about themselves.
Why? Social animals consistently have status hierarchies, and we humans have consistently domesticated other animals (and ourselves) by putting ourselves at the top of their status hierarchies. So the aliens hoped to do this with us. However, they also guessed that if they revealed too many details about themselves, we’d likely find something to hate, spoiling this status effect.
Thus the plan: if we didn’t come to hate them, then once we became convinced that they really exist, we could figure out their agenda by ourselves without their saying a word. And then we had a decent chance of going along with it; after all, most today who believe that some UFOs are aliens also seem to trust aliens more than their local authorities. If we didn’t go along, they would at some point have to intervene.
So this is our fate if some UFOs are aliens. We will either go along with their no-expansion rule, or become more directly controlled, or exterminated. In the coming centuries they will probably tell us no more about themselves, nor help us in any other way, and we will not figure out much on our own. Not even the location of their local base. Maybe we will identify their home world via telescope. And maybe they have hidden messages in the details of their frequent displays, but probably not.
We should be quite impressed by the fact that these aliens not only managed to keep their civilization going for over 100My, but they’ve also managed to enforce their no-expansion rule for that whole time. After all, it would have taken just one tiny successful rebel slipping away unseen to end it. But we should also wonder how much their abilities may have decayed and rotted over that long period. With enough rot, we might just have a long-shot chance of developing ems or AIs and then slipping them off to colonize the universe unnoticed. But probably not.
Which seems to me much like Sam’s situation. So, do you feel lucky punk?