Cryptids: Stephen Hawking’s Alien Invasion Theory

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There was some scuttlebutt—not quite a brouhaha—this weekend when Stephen Hawking said the following during his new Into the Universe series on the Discovery Channel:

“If aliens visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.”

The theory is that if Earth were to be visited by a particular race of aliens, it’d be because they would have used up all the resources on their own planet and they’d take what they needed from us. They would essentially be living as “nomads,” according to Hawking. The idea is presented in a clip from the show found here.

I’m not here to argue against what Hawking said. He’s a famous scientist, I’m just a guy with a keyboard. But let’s run through some possible scenarios.

Scenario #1: There’s No Such Thing As Aliens

Pretty boring, but that belief is out there. If the only intelligent life in the entire universe is found on Earth, which is basically located quite a stretch off the beaten path as far as our knowledge of the universe goes, then we can all just get back to our spreadsheets.

Scenario #2: Aliens Have Been Here Before

This is a more interesting scenario, in my opinion. Who’s to say that aliens haven’t been here yet? The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. If you subscribe to the idea that “Homo sapiens first arose in the Earth between 400 and 250 thousand years ago,” that still leaves a whole lot of time that hasn’t been accounted for yet.

Ancient Astronaut Theory posits that we’ve indeed been visited by aliens in the distant past and that these visitations accounted for such mysteries as megalithic structures like Stonehenge, Easter Island, and the Great Pyramids as well as “the sudden appearance of a technologically advanced human civilization,” according to author William Saylor.

So we’ve got the possibility that aliens came here long before we were around, took what they needed, and left, or the possibility that they came here while we were already around, gave us a bunch of advanced technology and built a lot of cool stuff, then left. Or maybe they stayed…

Scenario #3: Aliens Are Here Right Now

Building upon the previous scenario, perhaps aliens never left or they make routine return trips to keep an eye on everything. According to, a site that documents UFO sightings, “At least several hundred thousand (estimated) UFO sightings have been documented over the last 50 years, and the total number of UFO sightings is estimated to be in the millions.” And while it’s quite possible that some, even many, of these sightings are misidentifications of known objects or aircraft being developed in secret by various government agencies, consider that an alien civilization that’s been around for much longer than we have would have technology advanced enough to keep us in the dark.

Scenario #4: Hawking Is Right

Let’s consider that Hawking is right. Aliens haven’t visited us yet and if they do, they’re not going to be friendly. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords and I suggest you do the same. Introduce yourself if you’re presented with the opportunity, let them know what you do for a living and how you might be able to contribute to their nefarious plans, and end with something like, “If you’re going to kill me I’d prefer that you make it swift, although I’ll leave that up to your discretion, of course.”

Torturing me isn’t going to be a good use of their time. “Okay, take my 26-inch TV! Take anything you want! I rent this apartment but you can have it! The landlord lives next door and he’s very good about fixing things promptly!”

The one area I don’t quite see as plausible when it comes to Hawking’s theory is the idea that Earth has the “resources” that these nomadic aliens may want to extract. What do we have that they could possibly want? Gasoline? Coal? These aliens have figured out how to cross galaxies in record time. We probably don’t have anything that would power their ships or we’d build our own and go start plundering other habitable worlds.

Scenario #5: Aliens Mean Us No Harm

Yes, stories of abductions are scary. But imagine what your dog would tell the other dogs if he could convey what a trip to the vet was like. If aliens have been here before or are here now, they might just be studying us. To think that, as a civilization, we’re collectively interesting enough to study from afar is one thing but to think that each of us is individually interesting enough for an alien to want to make contact with us reeks of arrogance.

“Look, Zagbar! Specimen Aamoth is writing a ‘blog post’ about us. My how their internet has advanced. Just years ago, people wrote ‘blog posts’ for fun and nobody read them. Now, Specimen Aamoth gets paid to write ‘blog posts’ that nobody reads. Perhaps we should converse with him.”

Let’s get over ourselves for a minute here. Does anyone think a civilization advanced enough to visit Earth would give a damn about trying to communicate with us? “Hey, we have Twitter. Do you guys have Twitter?”

And it’s not like they’d just arbitrarily kill us. Do you step on ants for no reason? You might kill an ant that was crawling all over you but you’re cool with the ones that are just working on their spreadsheets, right?

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