Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Contact With Aliens? Think Before You Call

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Seth Shostak
The Huffington Post

     My e-mail is frequently larded with interesting nuggets, such as this revelation:

"The aliens are in touch. Whenever I use my computer, they underline certain strange words on the screen ... It's a message."

Possibly. Then again, perhaps the correspondent should turn off the spell-check on his word processor.

It's as predictable as a low-grade sitcom, but every day I arrive at my office knowing that before quitting time, I will get at least one phone call or e-mail from someone who has news so startling, it should rock the world like Mick Jagger on tour. Generally, these folks are ringing or writing to report something strange in the sky or an oddity in a photo. Occasionally they inform me that smooth-skinned beings from another world, clearly overstepping the bounds of polite behavior, have abducted them for a few hours of malicious molestation.

These correspondents, all of whom are patently sincere, mostly wish to share incontrovertible proof of alien presence or influence. A few claim to have developed a breathtaking theory of physics that renders all graduate-level courses in the subject obsolete.

Either would be knowledge of a high order. Either would alter the future trajectory of humankind. I should feel flattered that someone wants me to be among the first to know.

Over the years, I've dealt with thousands of such communications, and I suppose it's inevitable that I've become slightly jaded by the stories -- which are largely repetitive. It's hardly a secret that I'm skeptical of declarations that the aliens are out and about on our planet.

Still, I try to answer every one of these mails and phone calls because, after all, it's not a violation of physics to travel from one star system to another. . . .

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