The popular film District 9 that appeared in theaters last year, in addition to being a brilliant sci-fi story, also became well known for its social commentary on living conditions in the very real District Six during apartheid-era South Africa. In the film, a gang of alien “refugees” (called “prawns” by humans) appear in a gigantic spacecraft hovering over Johannesburg, stranded without a leader or a command module able to pilot the massive craft. In spite of their advanced technological weaponry and spacecraft, the aliens are rather subordinate to

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Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at

One Reply to “If Aliens Are Like Us, Should We Worry?”

  1. I fail to see why Professor Conway-Morris believes that extraterrestrials would be human-like. Although the animals that humans interact with on earth most frequently tend to be human-like, there is such a vast variety of life on earth alone (and some of it improbably intelligent — slime mold colonies can be trained with operant conditioning, and crows are on par with some of the great apes in our standard nonhuman intelligence tests) that it is conceivable that there might exist a form of intelligence on earth (permanent or merely passing through) so alien that not only do we not recognize it as being intelligent, but we do not recognize it at all. Imagine, for instance, that perhaps all the e. coli bacteria in the world were actually a single colony, communicating quickly through some as-yet unknown mechanism, and forming a kind of universal stomach-acid-eating-bacteria-meta-mind. The alien intelligence would be in our gut, and we would never know, nor would it ever know us. There are no means of communication aside from heart burn and antacids. We would be at constant war with this organism despite never knowing that it was an organism. I’m not suggesting we all give up our antacids, mind you — this is a thought experiment, strongly in invisible pink horse territory — but it gives a precedent for a nonhuman intelligence so extremely alien that it could coexist constantly and tightly (in fact, inside) humanity without being contacted.

    Keel at one point suggested that ultraterrestrials might be as native to earth as we are (he suggested this more strongly than Vallee, who kept more agnosis as to the origin), and (like in the Lovecraft story wherein a mad inventor uses a machine to fine-tune the narrator’s pineal gland to see parts of the electromagnetic spectrum his eyes were not accustomed to) we might pass through them daily without noticing. We might not be able to see them without their explicit help.

    This of course stretches credulity somewhat, and I am more comfortable with hypotheses in Jung’s vein. That things might exist solely in the collective mind of man does not counter their existence, nor make them entirely irrelevant — money, government, marriage, and justice are all terribly relevant things that as far as we know are unique to man and entirely socially generated and enforced.

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