When is extraterrestrial life proven?

This is how humanity would react to extraterrestrial life

Aliens and extraterrestrial life only exist in science fiction films? American researchers have now looked at this topic scientifically and examined how people would actually react to the news that we are not alone in space

Many experts are now convinced that there is still more life in the universe. But concrete, scientific evidence for this is still pending. Nevertheless, the contingency of these forms of life now became a scientific component. The research team led by psychologist Michael Varnum from Arizona State University investigated the question: How would humanity react if one day life were discovered far from our planet?

The study

For their study, the psychologists examined media reports from renowned newspapers that dealt with the possible discovery of extraterrestrial life - for example the discovery of earth-like planets or microorganisms on a comet. But also texts about pulsars, which were initially interpreted as extraterrestrial radio messages, and articles about an asteroid, the shape of which was reminiscent of that of a spaceship and therefore mistakenly mistaken for a UFO by humans.

In a second step, the scientists also asked 500 randomly selected people to write down how they would probably react if extraterrestrial microbes were actually discovered.

A special text analysis software then examined the written texts of the test subjects as well as those of the newspapers in order to derive emotions from the words used. The result of the researchers: Both the media reports and the reactions of the 500 respondents to extraterrestrial life were optimistic and full of expectation.

In the third step, the researchers again asked 500 test subjects, who they divided into two groups, to write a short report. The first group was asked to write their opinion on an article about the discovery of microbes on a Martian meteorite. The members of the second group were asked to describe what they would think of creating artificial life from the laboratory researched by genetic engineering pioneer Craig Venter.

Once again it turned out that the respondents were extremely optimistic about the discovery of extraterrestrial life. The artificially created life from the laboratory was also received positively, but not as euphorically as the extraterrestrial life.

The result: positive!

Overall, people's fascination with the possible risks and fears that a discovery of extraterrestrial life could bring with it outweighs. However, the articles and reports referred only to microcells or organisms on other planets and not to potential alien or UFO sightings.

The psychologist Michael Varnum states that his study is mainly based on the self-assessment of the test subjects and that it certainly plays a role what form the newly discovered extraterrestrial life has - and whether it encounters us peacefully or not.

Of course we would "not be totally thrilled if we found out that a bunch of large alien battleships is on their way to Earth," Michael Varnum told ScientificAmerican magazine.

More information about the study

The scientists at Arizona State University published their study under the title "How Will We React to the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life?" in the magazine "Frontiers in Psychology" (January 2018 issue).

More on the topic at GEO.de