Aliens are too Nice to Exist!

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.

4 Responses to “Aliens are too Nice to Exist!”

  1. I do think the idea of them being aggressive could carry some weight, after all they would most likely be top of the food chain in terms of intelligence and hunting.

    But we only have the working model of earth to base that assumption on, it doesn’t mean it will translate to be the same for other potential civilisations out in space.

    I guess we just wait with baited breath.

    • Of course an aggressive alien civilization might destroy itself before it was able to traverse stellar distances.

      • Absolutely yeah. I’d like to hope that if they were aggressive that by the time they reached the point in their evolution where they could travel between large distances that they would be more civilised.

        How do you feel about us as a planet sending signals as to where we are? Should we continue pointing to Earth or should we be cautious?

      • We’ve done very little of that actively. We currently have no such programs. Officially. Of course, we do a lot of it passively through all the radio signals. And unless you want to shut down all the TV, cell, and radio towers not much we can do about that.

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