This is a subject that I find fascinating, especially since I’m a part-time science fiction writer in addition to being a full-time consultant and part-time blogger: 5 Reasons We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Aliens. Excerpt:
As we perhaps draw thrillingly/terrifyingly closer to discovering life elsewhere in the universe, the chorus of people warning us to be careful what we wish for is growing louder. Most famously, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has argued for hitting the brakes, reiterating as recently as 2016 his concern about seeking alien contact in his comments about possibly life on Gliese 832c: “One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this. But we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.” For example, European germs were deadly for the natives and some fear that could happen to us.
Astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell, however, disagrees with all of this. From his perspective, things are considerably less scary than many think. In an article recently published on Literary Hub, he offers a host of comfortingly solid arguments for why we should stop worrying.
The one argument you don’t see in the article is an obvious one: Intelligent life that arose on another planet is likely to be so wildly, unimaginably different than us as to make any kind of social interaction impossible.
That doesn’t make for good sci-fi, of course; my own first major work of science fiction centered around a first-contact scenario and a resulting interstellar conflict between humanity and an alien race. Now, in this scenario the two species were similar enough to make social interaction possible; bilateral, senses in the head, communication primarily through spoken language, same senses, similar home planets.
But as a sci-fi buff and a cosmology hobbyist – and a trained biologist – I knew I was using a massive amount of literary license.
If there are any intelligent, star-faring races in our immediate stellar neighborhood, it’s more likely that they are ignoring us either because we’re just too primitive to be interesting, or they are so biologically and socially… well, alien, that they might not even recognize us as life.
I’m not sure which scenario I find more interesting.