The Brookings Report 1960

The Brookings Report, Aliens, ET, EBE, UFO, Cover up

Proposed Studies
on the
Implications of Peaceful Space Activities

“Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs”

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The implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life

Page 215 / 216
Recent publicity given to efforts to detect extraterrestrial messages via radio
telescope has popularized — and legitimized — speculations about the impact
of such a discovery on human, values. 33/ It is conceivable that there is semiintelligent
life in some part of our solar system or highly intelligent life which is not technologically

oriented,and many cosmologists and
astronomers think It very likely that there is intelligent life in many other
solar systems. While face-to-face meetings with it will. not occur within the
next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours,
qualifying it to visit earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these ‘life
forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon,
Mars, or Venus. If there is any contact to be made during the next twenty
years it would most likely be by radio — which would indicate that these
beings had at least equaled our own technological level.
An individual’s reactions to such a radio contact would in part depend on his
cultural, religious, and social background, as well as on the actions of those he
considered authorities and leaders and their behavior, in turn would in part
depend on their cultural, social, and religious environment. 34/ The
discovery would certainly be front-page news everywhere; the degree of
political or social repercussion would probably depend on leadership’s
interpretation of (1) its own role, (2) threats to that role, and (3) national and
personal opportunities to take advantage of the disruption or reinforcement
of the attitudes and values of others. Since leadership itself might have great
need to gauge the direction and intensity of public attitudes, to strengthen its
own morale and for decision making purposes, it would be most
advantageous to have more to go on than personal opinions about the
opinions of the public and other leadership groups.
The knowledge that life existed in other parts of the universe might lead to a
greater unity of men on earth, based on the oneness of man or on the age-old
assumption that any stranger is threatening Much would depend on what, if
anything, was communicated between man and the other beings: since after
the discovery there will be years of silence (because even the closest stars are
several light years away, an exchange of radio communication would take
twice-the number of light years separating our sun from theirs),the fact that
such beings existed might become simply one of the facts of life but probably
not one calling for action. 35/ Whether earthmen would be inspired to all-out
space efforts by such a discovery is a moot question. Anthropological files
contain many examples of societies, sure of their place in the universe, which
have disintegrated when they have had to associate with previously
unfamiliar societies espousing different ideas and different life ways; others
that survived such an experience usually did so by paying the price of changes
in values and attitudes and behavior.
Since intelligent life might be discovered at any time via the radio telescope
research presently under way, and since the consequences of such a discovery
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are presently unpredictable because of our limited knowledge of behavior
under even an approximation of such dramatic circumstances, two research
areas can be recommended:
• Continuing studies to determine emotional and intellectual
understanding and attitudes — and successive alterations of them if
any — regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering
intelligent extraterrestrial life. 36/ **
• Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their
leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or
social pressures. 37/ Such studies might help to provide programs for
meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery,
Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include:
How might such information, under what circumstances, be
presented to or withheld from the public for what ends? What might
be the role of the discovering scientists and other decision makers
regarding release of the fact of discovery?



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