A Stranger Universe: Our Bias Affects Our Theories for Extraterrestrials
I take issue with think pieces that use scare mongering and bias when it comes to thinking about the possibility for extraterrestrial life. Keep in mind I’m a science fiction writer with a science background, but also I have common sense.
The idea that “oh, we haven’t found anything because maybe potential alien species killed everything and everyone else off and left only hunters and/or robots” is both too simplistic and also somehow over-the-top at the same time. The problem is we look at the possibility for alien civilizations through only a human lens and all that bias.
And because we do, we may miss or misinterpret the rest of the universe. We tend to anthropomorphize everything because we can’t help it. We define what is life and what is civilization by what we know. And we only know…us.
We can’t even fully appreciate, understand, or perhaps even find all the species in our oceans yet. Our world is covered with about 70% ocean, and yet we have only mapped about 35% of it. And that’s just its topography: that’s not even its species.
We can speculate all we want about what’s out in the universe and whether or not anything would even CARE about US.
One thing that is true? We don’t know what we don’t know. There surely are far stranger phenomena we can’t even detect at this point. We’ve barely even started reaching out. So to think that anything outside our purview must be hostile automatically introduces our own bias.
It’s fun to speculate. It’s what I do. But I also know science and how quickly even one discovery can change things instantly. We don’t know what’s out there, what it might or might not want. We should find out because that’s who we are: discoverers.
And as I’ve said before, in our fiction, we need to be thinking a lot more strangely…
Keep looking. But not in our own circles.
J. Dianne Dotson is the author of the space opera series THE QUESTRISON SAGA and numerous short stories across several genres, as well as a science writer.