Although it is becoming generally accepted that life exists elsewhere in the universe, there is no definitive proof that these aliens are visiting Earth, at least not that is available to the general public. If there were then the existence of extraterrestrial flying objects would no longer be a matter of debate! Given this lack of definitive evidence arguments for and against so-called flying saucers and their alien crews tend to be philosophical rather than scientific. After all, terms frequently thrown around in these arguments such as “Occam’s Razor” and “burden of proof” find their roots in the realm of philosophers and lawyers, not scientists. This means that after specific cases and incidents are cast aside, discussions about the validity of extraterrestrial visitations to our fair world often boil down to simply “could they” and “why would they bother” to come here? Although simply a matter of conjecture, I think that there are a few valid answers to these questions.
It seems to me that even the more scientific arguments over the possibility of alien visitations to Earth are decided by opinions instead of facts. The first question to answer is whether or not intelligent life has developed elsewhere. Although we have tools such as Drake’s Equation at our disposal to estimate the number of civilizations in the universe and a growing knowledge of actual planets existing outside of our solar system, this discussion still simply boils down to a matter of opinion. On the one hand, there are many, many systems being discovered with planets and the basic building blocks of life seem rather common. Most of the universe is also older than our part of the galaxy so sentient life has had plenty of time to evolve. On the other hand, though, we have no way to predict what the ratio will be of planets with life to those that actually develop sentient life. Although life may be abundant, intelligence may be unimaginably rare leaving us with a vast universe teeming with amoeba and tadpoles! It is also quite possible that the advanced age of our potential galactic neighbors works against the argument for their existence. It sadly may be that most, if not all, of the other sentient life has evolved and disappeared by now. As a compromise, I believe it is reasonable to theorize that there are at least a handful of alien civilizations in existence throughout the galaxy. While this cannot be proven it certainly cannot be disproven, either, so granting the presence of sentient life, but in very limited quantities seems to be a reasonable course of action.
The second common scientific argument centers on whether an alien civilization could even travel to our planet from their world. The speed of light is currently accepted as a kind of universal speed limit, suggesting that it may take hundreds or even thousands of years to travel between potential civilizations. This may be the case, or it could be that there are loopholes in physics that allow for faster travel. It could also be that other life forms are so long lived that these long flights are not the obstacles they would be to us. The huge distances involved between stars may make alien visitations to Earth difficult, but it does not make them impossible. Several physicists, including Dr. Michio Kaku no longer dismiss the notion (there is an interesting article on the subject on Dr. Kaku’s website at http://mkaku.org/home/?page_id=250). To be completely honest, very few people on either side of the UFO enigma are qualified to argue either of these questions. It requires an understanding of high level physics, astronomy, anthropology and other sciences in both theoretical and practical realms to adequately address the issues raised when exploring the possibilities of alien civilizations and travel among the stars. I personally think that it is best to accept that there are at least a few alien civilizations in existence and that it is possible, but difficult, to travel among the stars.
This leaves us with one question that is raised by those who do not believe that extraterrestrials visit Earth: Why? Why come to Earth? Although we are very fond of the place, Earth does not seem to be particularly interesting as planets go and our system seems to be a bit out of the way on the fringes of the galaxy. Why would any of civilization bother to come to Earth, especially if interstellar travel is difficult and the instances of sentient life are few and far between? Although I cannot definitely speak for extraterrestrial civilizations or, perhaps, even understand their motives, I can certainly theorize about what may attract cosmic visitors to our planet.
This leads us to the deceptively simple answer that we do not, and perhaps cannot, understand the motivations of an alien culture. Those arguing against the visitation of Earth by extraterrestrials will, no doubt, cry foul at this explanation as a dodge to avoid actually answering the question at hand. It is tempting to allow them this but I feel it is a valid consideration. One should consider that it is often difficult for the various cultures of Earth to understand the motivations and attitudes of their terrestrial neighbors. A quick visit to a website such as WTFJapanSeriously.com will illustrate how baffling the behavior of a culture may appear to a non-member. Separate the two cultures by centuries of technological development and the understanding gap may increase. Separate the cultures even more by developing on different planets, perhaps leaving them with very different biological needs, and the understanding gap may be incalculable. If one assumes that we can, however, understand the reasoning behind extraterrestrial visits to Earth then I propose there are several possible explanations.
It is possible that other civilizations come to Earth simply to study us. If one gives any credence to the stories of so-called alien abductions and/or cattle mutilations it seems fairly obvious that some type of study or experiment (or program of experiments) is being performed. Even without these stories it seems possible that extraterrestrials may study our planet. If there is nothing extraordinary about the composition of our planet or its inhabitants, as may be the case, we may still be worthy of study. Universities from Earth’s developed nations send scholars to study “primitive” societies and cultures for a variety of reasons. Alien linguists, anthropologists, sociologists and the like may be studying our world, as we develop to add to their overall knowledge of the evolution of societies and technology. It is also possible, though, that humans are being studied by visitors just as humans study apes or insects! It has been theorized by some that our entire species has been created as a giant, complex experiment by extraterrestrials. I do not personally subscribe to this theory, but it is certainly worthy of mention.
Of course, other civilizations may be studying our development for a non-scientific reason. Perhaps we are not being studied in a scientific way but instead have been placed under a form of surveillance. It could be that our planet is entering a phase of development that places travel beyond our own system within our grasp (at least in relative terms). As such, it could be that other civilizations feel the need to watch our progress simply because we are a potential threat. Stanton Friedman is fond of referring to humanity as a backward bunch whose major occupation is tribal warfare. It could be that this is indeed how the Earth is viewed by others. Of course, it is also possible that we are being watched in anticipation of something else, something more positive. Perhaps there is some type of Star Trek-like congress of developed civilizations and we are being watched by their agents as they wait for the day our social and/or technological development qualifies us for entry.
It could also be that our humble little planet and its handful of warring states are not being studied or watched as much as we are being quarantined. The unidentified flying objects that are seen in our skies may be patrols. Are they keeping us in or keeping someone else out? There is no way to know, of course. If there were a group actively working to keep another from visiting or interfering with Earth it could do much to explain the many stories of crashed discs. To my mind a craft from an space-faring civilization being shot down by a technological equal makes more sense than randomly crashing into the desert, being accidentally knocked out of the sky by radar or forced down by early generation jet fighters!
My final suggestion as to why we may be visited by extraterrestrial civilizations is that it is our rather unremarkable make up actually may be what makes us so attractive. Perhaps Earth is simply a convenient waystation or rest stop for weary space travelers. It could be that even incredibly advanced craft need to occasionally charge their batteries or fill their water tanks. There have, of course, been reports of craft being spotted near power lines or apparently drawing up water. Even though these resources are probably available elsewhere I think that a life-friendly planet could be the safest and easiest place to resupply a craft. It could even be that crews need to spend certain amounts of time in natural gravity. As we do not understand the workings of alien craft we can not be sure what there needs would be, but it seems reasonable to expect even alien life forms to require water and energy. Of course it could be some other characteristic of our system makes it an attractive rest stop. For example, perhaps our main draw is simply our location. It could be that we are near some important wormhole or located along a trade route. I think that this line of thought also lends an additional reason to think that we may be quarantined or watched over. Perhaps Earth’s location or value as a waystation is undeniable but intergalactic park rangers are necessary to keep visitors from feeding the locals!
In all seriousness, it is probably best to point out that I am not a scientist or UFO field researcher. I am simply a writer and, admittedly, one whose beliefs tend to fall on the side of the pendulum that finds the idea of alien civilizations visiting the Earth at least plausible. I have tried to keep my suggestions logical but at the heart of it I have to confess that I find the idea of an expansive universe without neighbors a bit lonely… And I will leave you with that somewhat emotional thought as a final explanation: if they are out there and they can get here, maybe they come just to visit. Maybe they do not want to be alone in the universe any more than I do. It is as good a reason as any other; after all, they are aliens and we might not understand what motivates their actions! ~ Michael Lauck