House Committee Hearing on Alien Life

  • Print
 

House Committee alien life extraterrestrialOn December 4th 2013, the House Science Committee held a two-hour hearing about scientific approaches to identifying extraterrestrial life. The meeting had the title ‘Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond’ and the U.S. House of Representatives had invited three expert witnesses to sit on the panel:

•    Mary Voytek, Senior Scientist for Astrobiology in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters.
•    Sara Seager, Professor of Physics and of Planetary Science at M.I.T.
•    Steven J. Dick, Baruch S. Blumberg Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress.

Several topics were on the agenda: primarily biosignatures but also funding of research as well as the question of how to motivate young people to engage in the search for extraterrestrial life.

 

The panel spent some time promoting the idea of increasing funding for astrobiological research, SETI, and space telescopes. The latter can be used for discovering biosignatures in atmospheres of exoplanets.

 

The question of whether there is intelligent life in space was also touched upon. Representative Ralph M. Hall from Texas asked the panel, ‘do you think there's life out there, and are they studying us?’  to which Dr. Sara  Seager responded, ‘the question is: is there life near here, in our neighborhood of stars? … We think the chances are good.’


Ralph HallRepresentative Bill Posey concluded, ‘you've pretty much indicated [that the discovery of] life on other planets is inevitable.... It's just a matter of time and funding.’

 

We applaud such hearings. Great initiative! One of our goals is to push the topic of extraterrestrial life onto the political stage.

 

But having said that, we consider broader and more extensive hearings within the political system about a possible extraterrestrial presence on earth long overdue in the United States, the UN, the EU, Denmark as well as many other countries.

 

It verges on the ludicrous and irresponsible only to focus on deep space without paying the slightest attention to our own backyard, i.e. our own planet.

Dr. Sera Seager

The study of exoplanets and their atmospheres is of course interesting, important and a legitimate field of research. However, it so happens that there are many former high ranking employees within the armed forces and other government organisations - from several different countries – who are willing to testify, under oath, to the presence of extremely advanced and unknown aviation technology. So is it not about time that we let the natural sciences take a tactful step back, thus making room for more nuanced and interdisciplinary hearings and investigations? The inclusion of other traditions of science and research as well as alternative ways of reasoning could very likely result in valuable and perhaps surprising information. But the job of discovering intelligent life in the universe has for a long time - and rather unimaginatively - been left to the technical and natural sciences.

 

Did Dr. Seager in fact, at one point, insinuate that the study of UFOs is not a legitimate science: ‘it is a legitimate science now…[astrobiology and the search for  earth-like planets but] we are not searching for UFOs and aliens.’

 

We would like to hear her elaborate on that point of view. Is it her personal opinion? Or is she referring to the opinion of others? Does she not find the study of UFOs by astronomers like J. Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallée legitimate? Is the study of UFOs in China not a legitimate science?

 

We are of the opinion that it is very likely that intelligent life from space is visiting earth. We think that the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) is a good hypothesis. Extraterrestrial visitation could very well be a part of the explanation for the percentage of UFO-observations, which cannot be explained, including numerous sightings in the proximity of nuclear missile sites and nuclear weapon storage areas during the cold war. Not to mention the apparent tampering with the nukes themselves in some cases. We hope that the US and other governments will invite these former military employees to testify in hearings about their involvement and their observations. And soon please! These witnesses will not live forever.

 

During the hearing Dr. Seager also stated:

 

‘A hundred or a thousand years from now people will look back at us collectively as those people who first found the earthlike worlds. It could be our greatest legacy’.

 

But is it not possible that future generations will see us as the ones who failed to seek the answers that were right under our noses? The ones who were too busy either looking in the wrong direction or burying our heads in the sand like ostriches.

 

What a legacy.

 

In the light of The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure (CHD) in Washington DC in 2013, our response to Dr. Seager’s answer to the question posed by Ralph Hall (please see above) is as follows:

 

No! The question we should be asking is rather: is intelligent life from the universe visiting us, on earth, right now?!

 

Chris Stewart Extraterrestrial life

The most interesting and bold comment during the hearing did not come from the panel. It came from former Major and acting Representative Chris Stewart from Utah. We wonder if anybody in the room noticed his passing remark:

 

‘That would be interesting wouldn't it? .... if some people knew and others didn't!’ [that intelligent life in space exists], and he added:


‘The more fun conversation is: what happens after that? And what do we do with that information?’

 

The values of boldness and curiosity were highlighted several times during the hearing. However, tracing either of these qualities in the panel’s statements, apart from examples of technological creativity and innovation, proved rather difficult. In other words, the hearing was ‘natural science business’ as usual. Not much thinking-out-of-the-box there.

 

Furthermore, the panel did not exactly demonstrate a sense and appreciation of the idea that the discovery of intelligent life in space could be accomplished through methods other than the ones in the natural science toolbox. Organisational social interests, psychological factors, and geopolitical power dynamics are just a few of the themes that were not touched upon. But to be fair, time was limited and these topics are not the panel members’ areas of expertise and indeed, neither were they invited to talk about them. However, having said that, it would have suited the panel well to just briefly at least have recognized that significant answers could perhaps also come from fields other than their own, e.g. from ufology, the social sciences, and the humanities.

 

2013 now stands as the year with two interesting, important, and very different hearings on alien life: ‘The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure’ and ‘Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond’.

 

The two events are examples of ‘what to do, and what not to do’. Perhaps they can be viewed as probes and valuable lessons, which can be used when planning future hearings. The hearings certainly contained positive elements, but both ‘models’ definitely need tweaking.

 

The scientists who were present at the astrobiology discussion will have to adopt a broader perspective and should to some extent be made to address the extraterrestrial hypothesis and the implications of alien visitation. They should not be allowed to hide behind remarks like ‘we don’t have a political agenda as scientists’. (Stated by Dr. Seager during the hearing but in another context). We are aware that the issue of values and ethics in science is difficult and complex, however in our opinion, they do, to some degree, belong there, as long as the audience is made explicitly aware of them and how they might influence the research.

 

Scientists partaking in hearings must also take some sort of responsibility. The existence of extremely advanced and unknown aviation technology that apparently does not run on fossil fuels would be A VERY BIG DEAL! It cannot be emphasized enough how important this revelation could be for our civilization. The implementation of alien technology in our society could perhaps dramatically address the financial, environmental, and poverty issues that the world is currently struggling with. Almost all aspects of human life could be influenced by the discovery of alien visitation and technology.

 

Organisers of events like The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, on the other hand, should consider narrowing their foci. If official hearings are to be held in Washington and other political systems, they need to be more conservative. We suggest that the more exotic UFO-cases – even though they may well have some validity – are left out to begin with. Those hosting hearings should be very aware of how mainstream science works if skeptical scientists are to be invited along with witnesses from The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure for example. 

Press conference UFOs and Nukes National Press Club 2010We propose that the process be initiated with the topic of ‘UFOs and nuclear weapons’ since it is a field with highly credible military witnesses and very obvious national security dimensions. If a new hearing is limited to a subject like this, mainstream scientists will hopefully not view the meeting as a can of worms that would compromise their careers.

 

Several fields of research must find ways of working together if any real progress is to be made within the area of discovering extraterrestrial life and if the future of our planet and society is to stand a chance.

 

Read more about the House Science Committee hearing on The Guardian's website. Watch the hearing below.

 

 


The Hearing:
Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond


News piece about
The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure


News piece about
UFOs and nuclear weapons