You could be forgiven for thinking that I had a personal grudge against scientists. Allow me to rush to assure you that this is not the case. While I do not condone their ridiculous beliefs, I have no problem with their holding them (missus), I just don’t want to have bizarre dogma presented to me as if it were indisputable truth. I sat through double physics on a Monday morning in a drab laboratory, listening to the improbable rantings of sundry believers, and never once did it occur to me to doubt what they were saying. Fortunately, I paid so little attention that I managed to spend the next 40 years or so without having to apply what little I remembered from those bleak lessons.
I say this as a preface to this little dissertation on the words of Mr Stephen Hawking. The professor is one of the more famous of his ilk, mainly because of his struggling against debilitating illness. This does not mean that he should be treated with any more respect than any other of these odd people who would have us believe in dark matter or Higgs Bosons.
In order to drum up some interest in a forthcoming series on the airwave filler channel on the electric television, Stevie has declared that there probably is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, but that contacting it presents a risk too great to make such contact sensible. They might, he warns, view the Earth as a depository of resources to be plundered, and cites the example of the unfortunate consequences to the existing population of Senor Columbus pitching up in East Earwax, South Carolina.
I can comprehend the possibility, indeed the likelihood, of there being intelligent life in other parts of the universe. I can understand that it might be possible for some life to have developed technology well in advance of ours that allows them to travel the vast distances involved to get here. I can conceive of these beings not necessarily having a benign attitude towards us. What I cannot imagine is that evolution has produced a strain of life that is more capable of fucking up our planet than we are. What are they going to do, introduce the concepts of war, needless famine, industrial pollution, greed, selfishness and Thatcher? As far as I am concerned, a period of sensible dictatorship would do us no harm at all, as long as it did not interrupt the cricket season or cause a shortage of spinach. They are welcome to share some of our stuff. Fill your seven stomachs with as much sweetcorn as you can carry. Pass those long evenings traversing the Milky Way by taking all of our country and western singers and their music. A bit of decoration needed? Take Stonehenge. Need some nuclear waste to fuel your starship? We’ve got it! How about Jeremy Clarkson? Francis Wheen? Graham Gooch?
No, I am afraid that Prof. Hawking is wrong, again. The chances are that spaceships have been getting as close as half a light year away for several centuries, studied us for half an hour, and buggered off at warp factor 18 in fear of chronic stupidity being contagious.