The call for disclosure is often heard from the ranks of UFO believers. On the surface it certainly seems like a reasonable demand. If the governments of the world (or worse yet, a single government) has knowledge of civilizations from elsewhere, what right do they have to keep this information from the rest of the world? It certainly seems as if information that important should be given to the citizens of the world and not kept a secret among some power elite.
The general assumption seems to be that this knowledge is kept from the masses in an attempt to keep the general population under control and, perhaps, even profit from it. However there may actually be quite legitimate reasons to keep this knowledge secret. It could actually be that disclosure would be the worst thing to possibly happen to the Earth. Often this is suggested along with the assumption that a general knowledge of alien contact would cause riots or a sudden lack of confidence in the world’s religions. This assertion is also accompanied with arguments, often quite good ones, that such things would not occur. What if disclosure actually has much worse consequences than riots and the spread of atheism? Is it possible that disclosure could actually lead to the end of our world, at least as we know it? Is it not possible, then, that keeping the knowledge of alien contact secret is justifiable?
Disclosure could actually occur in different ways and each general scenario represents a different level of threat. There are three broad categories to address: disclosure without contact, disclosure with limited contact and disclosure with full contact between Earth and some type of extraterrestrial civilization. For purposes of discussion, any culture other than those known to be part of today’s Earth, whether from another planet, another dimension or even from our own past, future or interior, will be referred to as extraterrestrial. No matter what the origin of a civilization behind the UFO phenomenon, they will be very different from today’s humans as well as being much more technologically advanced.
The least harmful type of disclosure would be that without contact. This could happen in a number of ways and could even happen without admitting that the UFOs spotted in our skies are actually from an extraterrestrial civilization. The easiest way to initiate disclosure without contact would be to admit that some alien signal had been detected but the source is so far away that the message is centuries old. Although the people of Earth would finally know that there have been other sentient beings in the universe we would still be unable to communicate with them. This could also be accomplished by finding some ancient sign of intelligence on Mars or some moon in our solar system. Our planet could reap the benefits that such knowledge brings, such as a renewed push to develop the technology to explore the worlds around us, without the consequences of meeting a technologically superior species.
It may also be possible to disclose the existence of extraterrestrials while maintaining a limited amount of contact. One way this could happen would be to discover an alien signal from a fairly close source, something near enough to allow us to know that the broadcasts were a couple of decades old at best. Our species could probably communicate, although meaningful conversation could literally take a lifetime. Of course, this disclosure with limited contact scenario would also allow for the governments of Earth to fully disclose a knowledge of extraterrestrial life but without a way to communicate. For example, it could be revealed that crashed extraterrestrial vehicles had been recovered in the past but their technology was simply too damaged or too alien to allow humans to use it to converse with other extraterrestrials. This could inspire the masses to push towards the advanced technologies that the crashed vehicles represent but it could also
reinforce the notion that there are other beings around us with much more power, in the form of advanced technologies, than wielded by the citizens of Earth. Even more potentially disruptive is the scenario formed by disclosure, whether by our own governments or he extraterrestrials, without contact because the extraterrestrials simply do not allow it. If this was to be the case, whether because we are somehow quarantined or simply being ignored, it does a great deal to reinforce the fact that contact between our planet and others is conducted at the whim of the others. This feeling of powerlessness could be disruptive and dangerous to the peoples of Earth.
The final scenario is probably the most dangerous, and that is disclosure accompanied by contact. This could come in the form of the “saucers landing on the White House lawn” or simply an admission by the Earth elite that we are in contact with extraterrestrials. On the surface it may appear that the only real danger would be if the aliens are hostile. After all, any civilization that can travel among the stars will have sufficient military technology to overwhelm any planetbound culture. If this is the case, sadly, there is precious little we would be able to do about it. However, a hostile civilization could have easily asserted their will at any time so it seems plausible (whether or not it is likely) that the extraterrestrials are peaceful. This still presents a major problem to the people of Earth.
The sad fact of the matter is that from all available evidence we must draw the conclusion that when two cultures meet the most technologically advanced dominates while the other is lucky to even survive. Granted, we only have our own planet’s history, dark as it often is, as an example but it does give us a good indication to at least how Earth will react. Even in the best of circumstances there is a good possibility that many Earth cultures would be lost among the influx of new ideas and technologies from off world.
Consider for a moment the expansion of Europe across our globe and its devastating effects on the cultures they met. From the smaller nomadic tribes of Africa and North America to large empires such as the Aztecs, Mughal and Maratha Empires and even China, contact with technologically superior Europeans changed the cultures and destinies of nations. Often the contact came in the form of colonization and conquest which causes obvious cultural damage, but even when it did not damage was done. China is a particularly good example of this scenario. Even though China was never directly conquered by the West the contact with the weapons, merchandise and science of Europe shook the very foundations of the empire. No longer could they consider themselves the center of the world, for example. It also became obvious that in many ways China was a much weaker nation. Even though gunpowder had been invented in China the Europeans had used it to create superior
weapons (such as firearms and artillery) and build a more effective military around the technology. China had once fielded a mighty navy (circumnavigating the globe before Magellan) and even invented the printing press (both fixed and movable type) before Europeans the contact led to a general decline as reactionary views clashed with those who embraced European technologies and ideas. Or consider the North American Indians; even those who cooperated with the new country of the United States of America such as the Crow nation have found their culture slowly drowning among the influence of he non-Crow. Language is lost, traditional music gives way to rock and roll and hop hop, old ways are abandoned for foreign textiles and foods… even though the Crow were never conquered or formally subjugated by the United States.
Even in the best possible scenario that sees benevolent extraterrestrials revealing themselves to the people of the Earth without malice, the Earth finds itself in a tremendous disadvantage. The best and brightest of our planet are currently diligently working on problems that will have been already solved by our new friends. While we try to figure out better ways to launch payloads into orbit or maybe colonize our moon, they will come calling in some type of transdimensional or faster than light ships powered by technologies that dwarf the outputs of our most impressive powerplants. Unfortunately, we will not be able to simply assimilate this new technology. Yes, if freely given the people of Earth will no doubt be able to quickly utilize these technologies but using them is a far cry from truly understanding them. Our best and brightest will now find their educations woefully inadequate and primitive in the face of the extraterrestrial marvels. How
long will it take for the people of Earth to truly comprehend the science presented to them? A generation? Two? Then how long until we are able to truly contribute and innovate? Until then what do we have to offer the extraterrestrials? Our culture? As we have been broadcasting our culture into space for the last 100 years so we have already freely given this to the universe. We have little to offer but our resources, our raw materials… Even if the extraterrestrials are so benevolent and advanced that they treat us as equals in every way will we truly feel equal? Will the collective human ego allow us to feel equals in the light of this very unequal exchange?
Already we can see that there are people, like the cargo cults of World War II who begged for the metal bird gods to return, who build religion and pseudo-religion about extraterrestrials. There are those that have already decided to ascribe motivations to alien cultures and even worse, there are those among us who already pin their hopes for the future on the intervention of these aliens. What will happen when the existence of advanced extraterrestrials is no longer a matter of belief but demonstrable fact? What of the rigid skeptics who place all of their faith in science? What will they do when such advanced science is placed in front of them? Of course one may point out that these are two polarized extremes of the populace. How will the everyday people react? Perhaps they will take it all in stride and it will do little to change their everyday lives but it is also likely that the sudden introduction of new technologies will cause massive disruption to the world’s economy. If Earth benefits from amazing new energy production devices, for example, then what happens to those employed by the fossil fuel companies? This is only one of many now outmoded technologies that will impact the world’s economies. In fact, the very economy of Earth will most probably find itself trying to adapt to a new and very alien financial model. As previously mentioned, Earth will have little to offer except for raw materials. Using our own history as an example, this suggests that Earth will be in a various precarious position.
Given all of these considerations, perhaps there is a legitimate reason for the governments of Earth to avoid disclosure. It really could be that careful consideration has been to the matter and non-disclosure is the best course of action at this time. Of course, it could be that the decision is simply not ours to make. It could be that the governments of Earth have made some contact with extraterrestrials and have been convinced (or forced) not to disclose the contact. It could be that our planet and peoples need to meet some milestone before disclosure is allowed so that we are able to interact with the rest of the universe on a more equal footing. There will be those who continue to call for full disclosure of all our governments know about extraterrestrial life but it is possible that there are very sound reasons for such knowledge to be withheld from the public.