Seth Shostak, in a recent column on AOL news, provides an odd argument for the nonexistence of aliens: They too nice. It seems, according to Shostak, if aliens actually existed they’d be much more violent:
It comes down to this: In the 16th century, the Americas were invaded by Europeans. If, at the time, you had asked the natives to list the consequences of this incursion, they would surely mention such noteworthy items as enslavement, decimation of the population by disease, [and] being driven off their lands …
As far as I can tell, the only unambiguous consequence of the claimed invasion of Earth by beings from another star system has been a nonstop torrent of TV specials.
In short, because aliens haven’t left a trail of destruction in their wake, they must not exist. Why? Because that’s what happened when Europeans invaded the Americas. Logic and Mr. Shostak aren’t close companions.
He also feels the aliens should be bad pilots:
All those sighted craft must be driving air traffic controllers crazy, right? Well, ask yourself how often your flight to Des Moines has been delayed because alien spacecraft are flying around without filing an FAA flight plan.
We understand the need of skeptics to come up with ways of ridiculing believers. But too often, as Shostak does here, their debunking just doesn’t work. He expects us to believe aliens would be as violent as 16th century Europeans. And as clueless as a pilot who hasn’t filed a flight plan. Shostak himself provides the counter argument to his claims:
Any beings advanced enough to traverse interstellar distances are at least a thousand years beyond our technical level.
True. So they wouldn’t need to be as blood thirsty as the conquistadors. And they wouldn’t need to file flight plans to avoid causing problems in our airways. Thanks, Seth, for making our argument for us.
We’re all for intelligent skepticism. It’s essential. We practice it ourselves. But this just isn’t that. Seth may be a very accomplished physicist and astronomer. And we applaud his work with SETI. But as a logician he leaves a lot to be desired.