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Reading the stars


Beware aliens. If humankind ever encounters extra terrestrial intelligence, their super-advanced beliefs and lifestyle may catastrophically demoralise us, causing the collapse of human society.  

This is one of the warnings contained in a report by academics from NASA and Pennsylvania State University. 'Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit of Harm Humanity?: A scenario analysis' was published in Acta Astronautica.

As for benefits, they suggest that merely detecting life elsewhere, even if we cannot contact it, would broaden our horizons. If we make contact, they may solve poverty and disease for us. The fact that they have sustained their own civilization long enough to reach ours, the authors argue is good reason to hope they may be naturally cooperative.

Alternatively, less enlightened aliens may 'eat or enslave us', either, in the latter case, for commercial, entertainment or evangelistic purposes. Even enlightened civilizations may want to destroy us, either to make room for more enlightened civilizations, or just because they don't like us.

Their recommendations are that we stop sending information into space that could be used against us, and stop global warming which doesn't impress anyone.