THE BLOG
04/28/2009 08:29 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

UFOs, Aliens and Astronauts

Fifteen years ago I spent a good chunk of time writing a novel I've yet to publish. The title is Truckstop Earth, the subject is alien visitation, and the premise is that not only are we being visited, but we're being visited a lot. During the course of researching the book I read countless recently declassified government documents, attended conventions, interviewed self-proclaimed alien abductees, and of course read a whole lot of science fiction. Some of the folks I talked to claimed to have not only been scooped up out of their bedrooms but to have had the sort of things done to them that we do to lab animals--and some terrible stuff we wouldn't dream of doing. I was not then and am not now in a position to judge whether these abductions are a fact, but the "victims" are certain they happened, don't enjoy the publicity they received on account of these alleged violations, and are genuinely embarrassed and traumatized.

That got me thinking pretty hard about a lot of things, from religious ideas to mathematical odds. Sooner or later I came to the conclusion that if some divine intelligence had created us there was no particular reason why that same entity could not have created other worlds, other dimensions, realities our limited human brains cannot possibly comprehend. Trying to wrap my head around the gigantic number of stars out there in a huge array of galaxies, I began to wonder about the odds of there being other planets that might support life. All the planetery discoveries in the last few years strengthen the notion that no matter how unlikely the spark of life, the sheer odds are that it has been struck other places. More, carbon isn't the only possible building block for life, DNA isn't the only recipe for molecular combination or the storage and replication of information, and oxygen isn't the only gas worth breathing. Even on this planet a wide variety of creatures use existing resources in different ways, from worms that live at the mouth of scalding hot submarine steam vents to bacteria that eat plastic.

This talk is not new. There are entire organizations devoted to the pursuit of the truth about aliens and alien visitation. You wouldn't believe the list for these groups in the US alone. The real possibility of life on other planets--and visitors coming here from them--has seeped gradually into our culture to such an extent that a recent AOL poll with a sample size in the hundreds of thousands reveals (last time I checked) that 73% of us believe extraterrestrials have visited Earth, 24% of us have seen a UFO(!) and 76% believe that the government is covering up the existence of extraterrestrial life. To those who say that if aliens are real they would reveal themselves, I say one in four is such a big number that perhaps they already have!

How did we get so comfortable with this kind of talk? Well, there are those who contend that Star Wars, Independence Day, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Star Trek, The Day The Earth Stood Still and others Hollywood products have been the government's way of gradually getting us used that aliens are real. This slow desensitization would help us avoid global panic, because the challenge to orthodox religious beliefs and the notion that our governments are powerless to protect us in the face of far superior technology might very well upset and frighten vast swaths of the population. It's an intriguing idea, this programmed desensitization, although it begs the question who might have such a broad and longterm view as to be able to orchestrate such a program, and how could they keep their lips zipped for so long? Maybe the aliens are helping.

Famed sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." How would aliens transport themselves across the vast distances of space? The answer might be wormholes, shortcuts through space and time, but they also might be that they don't travel in a conventional sense. New thinking, in concert with advances in quantum physics, string theory and the like, has the universe rife with multiple universes. It's a mindbender all this, but basically when it comes to aliens it may mean that they're living right next door or under the couch, but in another dimension. They may even be us, but just not from here, or now. I've been listening to Jim Harold's Paranormal Podcast lately and there are guests on that show, authors, scientists, investigators, who propose cross dimensional theory as well as other mind expanding ideas.

Of course you don't have to go that far from the mainstream to find folks who believe in alien visitation. Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper claims to have had documented alien company when he was up in space, and despite the fact that Earth Day was last week, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell feels that the real action is elsewhere. He grew up in Roswell, New Mexico, and claims to have been told things as a boy by people who witnessed perhaps the most famous UFO event of our time. "Our destiny," Mitchell says, "in my opinion, and we might as well get started with it, is [to] become a part of the planetary community. ... We should be ready to reach out beyond our planet and beyond our solar system to find out what is really going on out there."

They guy's an astronaut. He's been out there. I can't help but wonder what he actually knows. How about you? Do you think we're being visited? Have you been visited yourself? Have you seen something you can't explain in the sky, something that leaves with the feeling there really is something going on up there? If this means we are really being visited and the government is covering it up, how do you think life on earth would change if the news emerged? How do you think politics and governance might change in the face of such a major paradigm shift? Do you think we would instantly have world peace because we would know beings superior to us in technology and wisdom were watching? Do you think these beings would continue to watch us stumble and bumble along after their big announcement, torturing and killing each other and the planet, or would they guide us, help us, give us answers to eternal questions? What do you think those answers might be?