Astronomy

Alien Scepticism



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In Space, no-one can hear you scream, apparently.

Then again, for centuries, the "rational, enlightened" mind thought that in Space, there was nobody to hear you scream.

You see, the belief in extra-terrestrial beings has long been the preserve of the fruitcake, the celestial paranoiac dreamer beyond the edge of credibility. Leave Roswell to the Conspiracy Theorists was their clarion call, along with "praise god and pass the ammo" and "we must hallow the great, incorruptible authority, the Gubmint, which wants us to believe there ain't nobody here but us chicken-hawks". That's your mainstream, toe-the-line, lunacy that makes the job of premier as easy as pressing a shiny red button with the word "Nukular" written on it in friendly yellow. Why, no, officer, George W Bush had no hand in 9/11. All this about Osama bin Laden and he being bosom buddies from way back, and the fact that the Pentagon should have seen it coming - pure fiction. Get a grip!

Of course, now it's slipped out that, oops, 57 alien species have been catalogued, it makes it a little harder to make-believe the G-men have the interests of the citizenry at heart.

What's behind this sudden revelation, one wonders? If the previously nervous-as-a-space-hopper-in-a-minefield Government, keen to keep from its people news that could have them jumping about so much that they alter the orbit of our own celestial space-hopper, has suddenly had a change of heart to the extent that it lets slip the possibility of (gasp!) extra-terrestrials looking exactly the same as any one of us intermingling with special powers to tell the colour of an object in the dark by means of touch alone. This seems highly suspicious. Of course, it may be I am more of a cynic than Diogenes, but where so-called democracies are concerned, that's the correct attitude; can it really be a coincidence, after all, that both Diogenes and the first democracy are both Greek?

Now, it could well be that this Sergeant Stone is a renegade - a maverick out to enlighten the people. The problem is this: in Britain (which is my country a-la mode), the military and everyone officially charged with handling sensitive information has to sign the Official Secrets Act, under which such eccentricity will mean imprisonment and possibly worse. I don't, for one moment, doubt that the United States has similar legislation. Therefore, information of a sensitive nature would undoubtedly be confiscated on pain of being strung up by the proverbials with piano-wire. Ergo, we can safely assume that the Feds see him as a harmless eccentric nobody in the grip of Governmentality will possibly believe.

Then again, we must not discount the alternative hypothesis, that that ol' propaganda machine is chuntering away and, in geek-speak, this is the part of the output. After all, history is littered with examples of where Governments - and religions too, let us not forget - have so arranged matters as to pen their flock or herd or whatever ring-through-the-nose metaphor most closely fits, wherever they are required to be for the power of the controller to be most effective. Can we not therefore hypothesise that this "once a soldier, always a soldier" is still in the pay of the Pentagon, and seconded to the Feds for goodness knows what nefarious purpose?

Naturally, it could be my cynicism is misplaced and that, for once, the truth is out there. But quite honestly, you don't usually trust the person who burgled your house to fit an alarm system.

Plus ca change...

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More about this author: Tabitha Hergest

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