The Speculist: Aliens Are Stupid


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Aliens Are Stupid

I've thought about this for a long time, and I don't see any other way of interpreting the data. The recent Texas UFO sitings make this very clear. Consider the facts:

STEPHENVILLE, Texas - In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.

Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.

Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300 feet over a pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after reading similar accounts in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

"You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a different deal," Sorrells said. "It feels good to hear that other people saw something, because that means I'm not crazy."

Er, well, technically... But never mind. Go on with your story, there Rick:

Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifle's telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.

I know the aliens are like, way sophisticated and advanced and all, and their motives are hard for us to understand, but I'd like to suggest that surely one of the following must apply:

  1. They want to be seen.

  2. They don't want to be seen.

Assume either of these to be true, and the aliens come off looking pretty bad. If they want to be seen, why the few random sitings in semi-rural Texas (and other places, more on that later) from time to time? Forget the White House Lawn and by all means, forget Devil's Tower. Yes, DO the Close Encounters of the Third Kind thing, only pre-arrange it with some good publicists and have the mothership rise up from behind Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Now that is called being seen, class.

Okay, so let's say they don't want to be seen. They have starships and advanced materials technologies (whoah -- no rivets!) but their stealth technology is apparently about as lame as it can be. Just the other night, Stephen and Michael D. were talking about the defense department working on cloaking technology that approximates the invisibility technology used in the Predator movies. (Somebody throw me a link on that, if you have it.) [Link thrown - Stephen] If we are a few years out from that, and we still think it's a big deal going to the moon, my guess is that by the time we're buzzing the primitive planets in the local interstellar neighborhood looking for nubile women or rich mineral deposits or whatever it is that keeps bringing these losers back here, we'll be able to do it completely undetected.

I wonder if Ricky's rifle was loaded when he was scoping out the alien craft? With such poor cloaking at work, there's no reason to assume their shields are any good. He should have tried to take them down.

Anyway, it's not just me saying that aliens are stupid. Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter have a whole trilogy out devoted to that very theme. Of course, they leave it to the reader to figure out that the aliens are stupid, but I don't see what other possible conclusion one could come to.

In the new Time Odyssey series (I'm two books in) the First Born are back, playing a whole new set of pranks on hapless human kind. You'll remember from the Space Odyssey series that these aliens are an ancient race, who trace their roots back to the very early days of our universe. In the Space Odyssey books, they put big black rectangular things on the moon and out by Jupiter and then led us to our next stage in evolution. (There's more to the story, but we're on a tight schedule, here.) I think we were supposed to figure out that they were stupid in that original series of books, but Clarke was so subtle that we missed the point. So now he and his protege have given us three new books to drive the point home in no uncertain terms.

A few mild conceptual spoilers ahead, but I'm not saying who wins the war between Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan or anything.

In the new series, the First Born are very energy conscious. They don't want new civilizations coming along and using up the universe's precious resources which will only last a few more billion years, after all. So naturally, when they encounter a new upstart species like humanity, they re-build their entire planet -- apparently in a parallel universe -- making a temporal patchwork of that species' entire history.

It apparently never occurred to the First Born that if they have access to other universes, their little resource problem might be solved. On the other hand, it's possible that they're actually creating this new universe -- which strikes a primitive earthling like me as an awfully big expenditure of energy. I think even the First Born are a little shaky on that exercise. No coherent reason is given for it in Time's Eye, and by the time you get to Sun Storm, it's all but forgotten.

In the second book, the First Born forget all about temporal patchworks and awesome historical cage matches and get down to the serious work of destroying humanity. You would think that a civilization that can build a whole new planet earth stitched together from multiple eras of history would use some of that "indistinguishable from magic" technology of theirs just to make us, like, disappear.

But no. When it comes to destroying other civilizations, their technology becomes a lot more pedestrian. Basically, they hurl planets through interstellar space. Lucky for us, they don't deploy that technology the way you or I (or Scott Evil) would. They do something much more subtle and elaborate, something that Scott's dad would refer to as easily escapable (see second quote), which fortunately gives us the technology to have a fighting a chance against their attack.

Lucky for us, of course. But this doesn't reflect particularly well on them. I can't wait to read the third book in the series to find out just how stupid these aliens really are. As for the ones currently buzzing Texas, maybe in a few billion years they will be as stupid as the First Born. But they're really going to have to work at it.


I was in the area of Stephenville, TX a couple of years ago and I had just had to get a picture of me under this road sign. Unfortunately I didn't see anything unusual.

stephenville gordon small.JPG


3. They are hiding in plain sight.

Like the plot device in Men In Black- they are smart enough to know that flat out hiding won't work forever and would be really hard. They need to be here but don't want to deal with us. much. So they hide in plain sight- just enough sightings in the "right" place at the right time in front of the "right" people- and they are safely hidden.

Your sign is so fake!
And I promise, I'm not making fun of your stumpy little legs.


Try this link.

I considered using a body double, but I thought, nahh, these legs are sexy!

My priors against alien beings scouting the earth are so high that I discount that explanation for any UFO sighting. That said, you left out an option:

3. They don't care whether they are seen.

The misapplied law of the excluded middle strkes again!

Well, what MD and Clark aren't seeing is that:

1. Hiding in plain sight is a bad strategy. Thus the aliens are stupid.

2. Not caring about whether they are seen means that they are lazy and therefore slovenly and therfore almost certainly stupid.

SG- now that I've seen your link- that is creepy.

Phil- I get it: aliens are stoopid, and I'm acerbic. Just so we're clear.

I agree with Clark; but would like to elaborate. Just because they don't care if they are seen doesn't mean they are stupid. Are humans stupid for not using our vast wealth of knowlegde to hide from animals or insects when studying them? Of course not. We know that it doesn't matter if they see us. Just as they know it doesn't matter if we see them. As for any threat we may pose; we've "seen" their spacecraft (dimension craft?) move on tape and they can easily out run any ordinance we can throw at them. More importantly we don't even know where they come from, so we pose no threat to their civilization. Also if they are watching they have an understanding of our technological level. Therefore if we ever became a threat they could come here and annihilate us.

Any thoughts on Stanton Friedman's eyebrow stylings?

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