ETH Ethics

By Martin Kottmeyer


Is the existence of ufos a question that should be asked?
Is it moral to search after aliens who wish their activities to be secret and who do not seek open relations? Is the search for truth an absolutist enterprise which demands no exceptions whatever the ultimate consequences might be?
Premise: Earth is being visited by extraterrestrials that have chosen to conceal their presence by a programme of furtive operations and deliberate deception and chosen not to communicate their reasons. Is it ethical for a ufologist to attempt to subvert such a programme?
We may infer interstellar travellers necessarily possess some form of intelligence and cooperative skills or they would not have developed the extensive body of scientific knowledge and technological know-how necessary to construct space vessels. Their concealment is probably not capricious, but reasoned and guided by principles acceptable to a population of beings bound by mutual interests. What is their logic likely to be? We will consider three possibilities.
1) It is done for our own good. They are sparing us the trauma of knowing superior beings exist, knowing we are powerless before them, knowing we are inferior in so profound a sense that concourse with them would only result in our collective humiliation. Interaction with their culture might prove harmful to us for a variety of reasons. One that any reasoning exo-sociologist of earthling mass behavior might predict is that politicians would use the existence of aliens as a scapegoat for this or that problem, foment a collective delusion about their their relative immorality, and lead humanity into a futile war. They understand too well to get involved with us.
If this correct, where is the ethics in ufologists trying to prove they exist? A knowledge of their existence would only cause needless suffering. If their reality were accepted and politicians behaved as predicted, resources would be drained into building up military weaponry. If war happened, the destruction of much humanity would be obliged in their self-defense. As Aime Michel once warned, our inferior ethic might lead them to cause our total extinction to prevent us
from being a menace to the peace of the rest of the galaxy.
2) It is done because they are studying us and interaction or excessive belief might ruin the value of the investigation. Results would be dismissed as experimenter effects. Belief would yield cults which would change our history in undesirable ways.
If this is correct, then the attempt of ufologists to make all or most of believe in the existence of aliens would be a crime against universal science. They are diminishing our value to the rest of life in the universe as an uncontaminated sample.
Additionally, there is a risk that if belief levels get too high it may become evident the experiment has become useless and they will have to start over again. What will happen to us? They might, so to speak, sterilize the planet or chuck us down the lab drain. Where is the ethics of promoting ufo belief if this scenario has even a remote chance of being correct?
3) It is done because they are malicious and evil. Perhaps they are collectively self-interested and are exploiting the planet or humanity for nefarious purposes. They require our bodily essences, organs, memories, emotions, our capacity to live and experience joy or ecstasy. They conceal themselves because they don't want the hassle of our preaching against them, saying bad things about them, resisting them, or fighting them with weapons.
What is gained if ufologists prove them real? We would inevitably resist. Inevitably, because they have an immense technological advantage, we would be destroyed. Or, if we are too valuable to them alive, we would be put under a greater degree of control. The truth of their reality would be gained at the cost of a vast curtailment of freedom.
A pleasant corollary to this argument is that debunkers are in a no-lose situation here. If ufos are real, they are heroes to humanity because they are contributing to our survival and well-being or increasing knowledge for the larger good of universal science. If ufos are not real, they are heroes by helping free mankind of error and collective delusion.
Premise: There are no extraterrestrials and the beliefs of ufologists are false. Such beliefs exist because they serve some purpose. Is it ethical for debunkers to subvert this programme? Consider two possibilities:
1) Ufo beliefs are a form of paranoia. If true, it serves the individual by being an ego defence. It allows a degree of moral piety and superiority to an individual otherwise prone to a sense of shame and inferiority. He knows a transcendental power exists greater than not just himself, but others more powerful than him. When others agree, all are equally inferior. When others disagree, they inferior because of their stupidity or cupidity.
When paranoia is successfully combatted, depression is the standard outcome. There is an increased risk of suicide. To fight the self-loathing, new defenses are sought. The individual will probably latch onto a new delusion and this one may potentially, even likely, be more political and harmful than ufo belief ever is. Think here of various extremist beliefs having paranoid slants, intense religious fanaticisms, and medical crankery. Ufo belief has low risk consequences to society as a whole compared to these behaviors. If ufo beliefs divert just one megalomaniac from the reigns of power, its value to the course of freedom and the common good would be immense.
2) Ufo beliefs are theatre. There is clear evidence such beliefs amuse some people and provide escapism. Like all art, it lifts people out of periods of banal existence and helps them waste time in less destructive ways than violent sports, getting drunk, or interfering in other people's lives.
The debunker might try to justify his efforts by saying he might be steering occasional gullible non-paranoids away into more useful venues for their talents thus providing a useful service for society as a whole, but how can we weigh these meager benefits against the potentially greater costs of disbelief? Where is the ethics in fighting against human happiness and steering people into more dangerous pursuits? It would probably be wise no debunking than to risk success.
CONCLUSION: If ufos exist, we should not believe in them. If ufos do not exist, we should believe in them.
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