Despite all the space alien invasion movies, television series and books, the close encounters depicted in them, and all the YouTube videos posted by UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists proclaiming to anyone who will watch and listen that extraterrestrials are either already here or headed our way, there does not seem to be an established first contact protocol in place should aliens suddenly drop by our planet. There's no international accord outlining steps to be taken, nor does there seem to be a procedural protocol readily at hand for the United States government (at least not publicly acknowledged). In fact, according to the SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) Institute's senior astronomer, says he would be "surprised if there is one."
Space.com, running with the idea presented in the Paramount/Sony film "Arrival" of how humanity might react with an alien species if they suddenly showed up on day, spoke with Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, who says, as far as he is aware, there exists no protocol, both federally or internationally, that is designed to administer to the actions that should be taken in the event aliens arrive -- unexpectedly or with forewarning -- on Earth.
"I don't know of any protocol if they land. I've never heard of any such thing, and I'd be surprised if there was one," Shostak told Space.com. "But who knows what's in the bowels of the Pentagon?"
The U.S. government just might have a first contact contingency plan, one that has yet to reach the public domain. As Space.com points out, it is known that the government actually has a plan for the invasion of Canada should the United States go to war again with the United Kingdom. And it became public knowledge in 2014 when CNN and other media outlets reported that the Pentagon actually had a battle plan for dealing with a "zombie apocalypse" scenario.
Regardless, Shostak insisted that even if there was a first contact protocol in place for hostile and/or predatory beings to offer direction, it would likely fail to address immediate concerns. Besides, extraterrestrials with the ability to travel between stars would be far more technologically advanced than humans. He compared a possible confrontation with such aliens as akin to the Romans taking on the U.S. Air Force.
Shostak also noted that the idea that a first contact, or the appearance of an imminent hostile attack by aliens, would be the one thing that might unify the entire planet, a popular device in fictional and theatrical accounts, probably would never occur.
"I just don't see it," the astronomer said. "Nothing else has ever prompted that kind of a reaction. Nuclear weaponry is an existential threat, too, and I haven't noticed a lot of worldwide thinking that, 'We've all got to get together and stop this.'"
He believes it would be even worse if the aliens appear to be friendly or cooperative, or if SETI itself happened to detect the presence of aliens.
"There's immediately going to be competition — 'Well, these guys are in touch with the aliens. We've got to get in there. Who knows what sort of good stuff the aliens might be telling them?'" Shostak said.
And protocols are only as good as its adherents. As Space.com points out, the SETI Institute has a detection protocol, which includes double-checking the data to exclude a false alarm, disseminating the detection information to other researchers and the United Nations, and not broadcasting a signal to the detected source without "international consultation." A breakdown in said protocol happened recently, as was covered by the Inquisitr, when Russian scientists announced that they may have detected a strong signal from a star about 95 light years away.
"We know from experience — from what happens when there's a false alarm, like this Russian signal of a couple of months ago — what really happens is that the protocols aren't even looked at," Shostak recounted. He added, "Nobody cares. What really happens is the media start calling up the scientists."
And even false alarms don't seem to provide much in the way of reaction, the senior astronomer pointed out, which could indicate the way the public might react to news of an alien detection -- or arrival, for that matter. He predicted mass hysteria would not likely be a problem.
"People aren't rioting in the streets" following false alarms, he asserted.
But false alarms and an actual close encounter or first contact with an alien race are dissimilar. Take, for instance, the mass hysteria that ensued in 1938 when a dramatized radio broadcast of the popular novel War of the Worlds, re-imagined as a real-time Martian invasion that begins in New Jersey, sent thousands of panicked Americans into the streets, according to History.com, and clogged up the highways for miles in New Jersey and New York. It is believed that over a million people believed that an actual invasion from Mars was taking place.
So what will actually happen if extraterrestrials actually arrive? It is a probable eventuality that is difficult to predict.
But at least one thing has been learned in the eight decades since that famous 1938 radio broadcast: Humanity does not require battle plans or first contact protocols against an invasion by aliens from Mars.
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