There’s one thing people obsess over with some regularity: aliens. By “aliens” I don’t mean existence of extraterrestrial life in general, but, specifically, flying saucers or UFOs being alien spacecraft secretly monitoring us, and, as a step further, American government having access to alien technology, either by having recovered wrecked alien craft, or by secretly cooperating with aliens in secret facilities. As “evidence” for that, American stealth aircraft are usually presented – originally, the fighter jets looked nothing like that, and then “something” happened and the Americans suddenly started developing “invisible” aeroplanes. It is strongly hinted that this happened because they gained access to alien technology, and incorporated it into their new weapons designs.
Well, “something” happened alright; a Soviet scientist by the name of Pyotr Yakovlevich Ufimtsev developed the theory behind it and published it in a Soviet scientific journal, but the Soviet military saw no utility in it, unlike the Americans, who promptly translated his work and developed upon it further. To quote Wikipedia:
“Pyotr Yakovlevich Ufimtsev (sometimes also Petr; Russian: Пётр Яковлевич Уфимцев) (born 1931 in Ust-Charyshskaya Pristan, West Siberian Krai, now Altai Krai) is a Soviet/Russian physicist and mathematician, considered the seminal force behind modern stealth aircraft technology. In the 1960s he began developing equations for predicting the reflection of electromagnetic waves from simple two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects.
Much of Ufimtsev’s work was translated into English, and in the 1970s American Lockheed engineers began to expand upon some of his theories to create the concept of aircraft with reduced radar signatures.”
Basically, attributing obscure technology to aliens seems to be a popular thing among the fake sources, but it’s also something that makes it quite easy to debunk said fakes once you learn the truth. It’s similar to claiming to have learned some secret shit in Tibet or India from a secret guru or in a secret monastery. It worked best while those places were unknown by most and thought to be the end of the Earth, but less so today.
This brings us to the reason why I don’t care about the aliens: they don’t matter. If the aliens did in fact influence technological development in some country on Earth, and this changed the geopolitical situation here to their advantage, that would be a serious matter and I would change my opinion, but from what I can see, nothing of the sort exists. Furthermore, if the aliens indeed are behind the flying saucer phenomenon, and they monitor us for the better part of a century, and they never revealed themselves to us, this is not very different from the situation we would have if the aliens didn’t exist at all – they have zero effect on us. If something doesn’t have any effect on anything, I honestly couldn’t care about it. It’s like bacteria found in core samples from some extremely deep bore hole; yes, they exist, but they don’t influence absolutely anything I care about, and as a result I don’t care about them. They exist, they don’t do anything important, and I don’t care. Likewise, the aliens might not exist, or they exist and they don’t influence anything I care about. In both cases, I don’t care. If they revealed themselves and started influencing things I care about, my position might change, but until then, I don’t really give even a slightest bit of fuck.
Now someone will start about the Drake equation and the immensely low probability that we’re alone in the Universe, and I’ll just roll my eyes and ask what that has to do with anything. Furthermore, when I was younger I firmly believed in the existence of alien visits to Earth, based mostly on what seemed to be ancient cargo cults influenced by the aliens. My position changed with time, mostly due to my better understanding of the evolution of life. I used to think that the main problem with life was the development of DNA and cellular replication, and that this took billions of years, and after that point, everything was easy. It turned out that life on Earth started merrily replicating while the core wasn’t even properly solidified. It took basically no time to develop, which means it came here on comets or other interstellar debris, and complex molecules that form the basis of life were indeed found there, so it’s more of a case of “mix this with water and wait five minutes”, rather than waiting for electric discharge, chemistry in the primordial oceans and what not causing random combinations of molecules. The problem is, the life that was originally created was much simpler that what we have today; basically, you had single-cell replication, but it took enormously huge amounts of time, and a very few singular cases of what appears to be incredible luck, in order for life to get past the phase of self-replicating molecules, and into the phase where a eukaryote cell has a separate core, mitochondria, ribosomes and chloroplasts. Basically, the earliest fossils are 4 billion years old, right at the upper edge of Hadean epoch, when the Earth’s crust was still smoking orange. It took two billion years of vibrant evolution of life to create the first multicellular life, and only after that the things start conforming to my expectations of what evolution looked like – basically, it took another billion and a half years for life to develop to the point of the Cambrian explosion, and that’s the part of the history of life everybody seems to be familiar with.
So, the issue isn’t whether there’s life somewhere. I expect there to be some kind of life on at least five solar system bodies; basically, if life could develop on the early Earth, which was by all accounts the most terrible hellhole one can imagine, it can develop almost anywhere. However, I expect it to be of the kind we had during the first two billion of years of development of life on Earth, because it still would have been there if not for several very lucky events one wouldn’t have the time for if, for instance, his planet lost its magnetic field and its oceans evaporated into space. Life on such a planet would have quite an opportunity to continue developing underground, like it does deep in the Earth’s crust, and evolve into very resistant extremophiles, but you would never have anything like the Cambrian explosion, or even the eukaryotes. But let’s imagine you indeed get multi-cellular life somewhere, but there’s no ozone layer, or the land is for some reason perfectly hostile to life; for instance, life develops around the hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean, on some cold moon of Saturn. Let’s imagine life developing to the point of some octopus, which is quite intelligent, but remains an evolutionary dead end forever. This is not at all a far-fetched conclusion; in fact, this is how most successful Earth animals exist; they become very successful in their evolutionary niche, and change very little for millions or even hundreds of millions of years. In fact, some single-celled organisms probably didn’t change for billions of years, and I don’t really see why they would, if they are extremely successful in their environment. Furthermore, the more stable the environment, the less reason and opportunity one would have to evolve, for the evolutionary niches are inhabited by super-successful organisms that make it impossible for anything new to evolve, because evolution implies half-assed attempts stumbling along for long enough to eventually mutate into something that can resist even the slightest bit of pressure, which precludes functional competition, and this explains why new forms of life on Earth flourished only when some disaster wiped out the masters of the previously established evolutionary niches. We had human evolution in the Pleistocene, where the climate is so chaotic that it routinely wiped out anything static, and started disproportionally favouring adaptability and intelligence. Basically, the birds had to evolve seasonal migration, the mammals needed to evolve hibernation, and the humans needed to evolve enough of a brain to start using tools, making fire, wearing clothes and building shelters in order to survive the seasonal extremes. However, when we add the incredible length of time necessary for life to evolve from replicating RNA to eukaryotes, and I mean incredible as in “enough time for a star to grow old”, and that’s with Universe giving you a head start by providing the almost-living chemicals on comets, probably created in the aftermath of a supernova, it is not unreasonable to assume that in most places where life managed to take hold, it either found the conditions too unfavourable to continue, it evolved at a slower pace because of the conditions (for instance, being limited to a narrow space around a hydrothermal vent on Europa, and then having the hydrothermal vent move and everything freeze every now and then, or oceans on Mars evaporating, or soil containing reactive chemicals that inhibit life past the extremophile phase, or radiation inhibiting complexity past the tardigrade phase), or it just died out, or reached one of a billion possible dead ends. When you combine the likelihood of bad luck, such as having an asteroid wipe everything out every now and then, or having a very active star that produces a CMA of great power every now and then and sterilizes the planets around it, with necessity of having several instances of extremely good luck that were necessary to create the Earth as we know it, for instance the Theia impact that created the Moon, which is responsible for Earth’s incredibly strong magnetic shield, and also for stability of its axis of rotation and probably several other important things, or hundreds of other things that could’ve gone the slightest bit of a margin differently and we wouldn’t be here, the fact that our star has been incredibly well behaved for immense percentage of its life, and so on; earlier, I thought that the Universe was just too big for us to be the only intelligent species, but with everything I now know, it might be that the Universe is too small for this to be repeated anywhere else. I don’t know if that is indeed the case, but for all we know, Jupiter, Venus and Mars might be the rule for how the planets turn out. Basically, they either don’t develop a magnetic field, or they lose it, and then it’s all over; or they have a significant magnetic field, but they are gas giants, and maybe the conditions on their moons are more favourable for the development of life than on the inner planets, because of the tidal forces influencing the moons’ cores and creating geothermal activity that favours life – maybe, but we have no evidence yet, and we especially have no evidence that this life isn’t permanently stunted by its environment. In any case, the Universe outside Earth looks like a barren wasteland, incredibly hostile to life. The conditions on Earth look like something that required too much luck for it to be a normal or expected thing, and perhaps too much luck not to have been created backwards, by setting the desired outcome and then creating the conditions that allow that to work, which is basically what I think happened.
In any case, my current opinion about the existence of aliens, in the sense of an intelligent space-faring extraterrestrial species that visited Earth in the past and does so in the present, without revealing themselves to our public, is that something that doesn’t reveal itself and doesn’t influence anything for all intents and purposes doesn’t matter, and might as well not exist for the degree of importance it has to all the things that matter to me in any way or form. Will aliens help me in any way? No. Will they hinder my plans in any way? No. In any case, I already spent an inordinate amount of time and effort thinking about the implications and probabilities, and there’s obviously a limit as to what resources I will dedicate to completely impractical matters.
Sure, you can define aliens in ways that include non-physical beings, such as God, angels and demons, and re-define “other worlds” to mean non-physical realms, but that’s not what most people mean by aliens – beings that occupy and have originated in this physical Universe, only on places other than Earth. If you need to enter the sphere of theology and redefine aliens in order to make them relevant, you basically accept my reasoning as to why aliens don’t matter, you just phrase it as “physical aliens don’t matter”.