Voyager space probes are further from Earth than any human-made object ever built. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Voyager space probes are further from Earth than any human-made object ever built. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For ages, humans have looked to the night sky to gain a better understanding of themselves, the world and beyond. Also today astronomers, astrophysicists – perceived as the philosophers among scientists – look beyond the limits of our own existence.

Fine and dandy, but why reach for the stars to find another Earth?

Is it all about saying “howdy” to another species from outer space, only to get to know if we are alone? I doubt it.

Is it all about resources, only to find “new worlds” to ruin – as governmental and private funding make astrophysicists the Columbuses of our times in discovering exploitable planets and precious resources, followed by conquerors and settlers again? I doubt it.

Is it all about humankind’s future evacuation from a dying planet that is becoming uninhabitable, assuming everyone would be rescued and humankind would behave differently on Earth 2, unlike today, where only the wealthy few enjoy getting evacuated, while most of humankind is left to die; the many pay the bill for the world’s systematic exploitation, while the well-off get uber-rich? I doubt it.

Is it all about the astronomers’, astrophysicists’ and entrepreneurs’ very own way to project themselves away, into space mentally, to long for faraway space objects, to leave all their earthly problems behind, or experts’ cry for help to be absent for another place, away from their fellow species? I doubt it.

Or is it all about the personal gain, thrill, pastime, curiosity or even vanity of astronomers and astrophysicists naming discovered space objects after themselves – unaware of the French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal’s (1623-1662) quote: “Curiosity is only vanity. We usually only want to know something so that we can talk about it”? I doubt it.

Why I am doubting all that? Presumably, it’s not one single reason, but all combined building the impetus for the search for Earth 2, for precious resources and other worlds. In other words, astronomers, astrophysicists and entrepreneurs strive to conquer the last frontier: space exploration.

Ours is a complex world led by many characters driven by mental issues – “complexes” Swiss psychiatrist C G Jung described – modern-day conquerors overcompensating and not shying away from seeking opportunities to make their issues an issue for this world and beyond.

Aren’t scientists’ “best intentions” and “best inventions” worthless, when not all of us benefit but only the wealthy few infamously known for their unwillingness to share?

Our world is in trouble, only worsened, amplified by us becoming many. No worries! Earth will survive us. But will we Earthlings survive, considering our treatment of ourselves, others and nature?

Let’s do a thought experiment: If there were intelligent life in outer space with knowledge of humankind, willing to communicate, we might already have heard from them. Since those presumed aliens have not approached us – prominently, for everyone to see – obviously those intelligent beings don’t wish to be detected by us or to interact – probably because of being intelligent enough to stay invisible …

How so? Despite advancements in brain science, even for everyone with half a brain it makes sense: Humankind is out for trouble in outer space. Our history of violence until today proves this best. Psychologically speaking, humankind obviously projects, externalizes and exports its internal struggles and issues to the environment, even to outer space.

So assuming the existence of intelligent life in space, of alien civilizations far more advanced than us – why not, amid countless galaxies in the vastness of the universe – those presumed aliens might have no appetite for making contact with a species that still espouses the idea that the whole universe exists for us alone, narcissistically considering ourselves the only intelligent life in the universe.

In short: When they are detected by us, it will only mean trouble. Frankly, if I were one of those far-advanced aliens, I would try my best not to be detected by humans (telescopes, observatories, screens). So why not leave those aliens alone, as they obviously do not wish to be bothered by us?

On the other hand, if the presumed aliens in outer space are uncivilized and technically on our level, we have even more reason to stop making them aware of us through space exploration, as we would only be heading into an arms race with them, and eventually into war with another “self-acclaimed civilization” at our “level of development.”

And if those presumed aliens – not civilized at all, only “self-acclaimed as civilized” – have outreached our technological development but for some obscure reason have not detected us yet, we might be better off keeping a low profile for ages, hoping, praying those “advanced barbarians” will never detect us or our interstellar probes – naively dispatched – because once they do, we’re done for, we are toast.

We will be fair game when those “self-acclaimed civilized” aliens come for us, to exploit us … me, you and planet blue.

So, when truly civilized alien civilizations wish to disclose themselves to us, they will do so and will inform us. No need to rush at their fences. Meanwhile, we had best remain invisible. Also, aliens who are technologically “less developed” than us are best off not being detected by us, because “first contact” would mean falling prey to our “best practice” of exploiting others.

After ages of observing the night sky for gaining a better understanding of ourselves, the world and beyond, today humankind is a long way from doing so, still not acting wisely but led into social Darwinism by those considering themselves advanced … developed … intelligent … smart … whose best argument for asteroids crossing Earth’s trajectory is the same as that toward hostile aliens: “Let’s nuke the hell out of them!”

So, wouldn’t it be wise to reconsider space exploration, first for protecting ourselves from ourselves, from our own curiosity and vanity getting us into deep trouble in deep space, leading us into war with presumed aliens or into exploitation, secondly for protecting presumed aliens from being bothered or exploited by us, given humankind’s “mature” behavior toward others and treatment of nature? Frankly, wisdom never was a mass phenomenon – at all times affecting a minority only.

Let me conclude with a wink: There’s a reason so many desperately search for intelligent life in outer space. “There’s got to be one out there,” they might think, who meanwhile assume there’s something going on in Area 51.

Immanuel Fruhmann

Dr. Dr. phil. Immanuel Fruhmann is an Austrian philosopher and educationist specialized in philosophy of science and language, cultural and social philosophy, as well as adult education, with years of experience in analysis of geopolitics and giving philosophical and educational insights to the public. He is psychotherapist in training and works as coach and consultant as well as writer. Fruhmann is a Knight of the Order of St George, a European Order of the Imperial House of Habsburg-Lorraine,...

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