In this earlier post, I elaborated on a recent Marist Poll on the existence of intelligent life on other planets. They conducted this poll in both May of 2005 and February of 2018. They asked American adults, “Do you think there is intelligent life on other planets?” In May of 2005, 52% responded “Yes.” In February of 2018, 68% responded “Yes.” They asked the people who responded “Yes” to this question, a follow-up question. I wish to examine that response.
We might be an utterly average world
I believe that some people looked at the response to the first question and had a thought. The thought was, “It must have been a particular subgroup that raised the Yes response from 52% to 68%.” I surmise from the following image that this is not the case.
The age, ethnicity or gender of the respondents doesn’t seem to matter. There is no one particularly credulous subgroup, except possibly young adults aged 18-29. There is no one particularly skeptical subgroup, except possibly those who identify as Republicans. For better or for worse, the idea that there is intelligent life on other planets has been embraced by American adults.
We might be an utterly average world. The follow-up question was, “Do you think life on other planets is more, less, or about as intelligent as human life on earth?” I confess to not liking this question very much. The word “intelligent” has multiple connotations. I sometimes think of intelligence as adaptability, the power to respond to challenges and take advantage of opportunities. I consider the question to mean “advanced” when the word “intelligent” is used. It could mean “possessing a richer history and body of experience.”
There is a significant plurality who think there are more advanced civilizations in the universe. I don’t consider this to be particularly shocking. Roughly fifty years ago, the crew of the Enterprise on Star Trek encountered more advanced races. They encountered the Metrons (TOS episode “Arena”) and the Organians (TOS episode “Errand of Mercy”). I am unclear as to the worldview of those who answered “Less.” Do they consider Earth to be the pinnacle of intelligent life in the universe?
The 52% who answered yes in 2005, offered an opinion as to the level of advancement of intelligent life. Forty million American adults changed their minds about intelligent extraterrestrials between May of 2005 and February of 2018. They considered Earth’s place in the universe as roughly the same as the 52% from 2005. I’m not sure what to make of this. I think it says we are open to the possibility that we might be an utterly average world.
The New Message from God teaches that there are more advanced races in the universe. Furthermore, there are more advanced races in the relatively nearby neighborhood. Consider this passage from “Who Are the Allies of Humanity?” This is a chapter from the book “The Greater Community.”
“Humanity is not alone in the universe, for the universe you will encounter is full of intelligent life. Living in a well-inhabited and long-established region of space, your world will find itself in a greater neighborhood.
“Within this neighborhood are many powerful nations that have created vast networks of trade and commerce that are tightly governed. And most nations in this region of space are dependent upon these networks for the essential resources they need to support their technology and, in some cases, essential resources just to provide the basic requirements of life.”
In the image at the top, 10 members of the Blackfoot Confederacy visited New York City in 1913. I wonder how they would have answered the questions of this poll. I don’t know what they experienced in New York City. All I know is that before too long, the people of Earth will have a similar experience.
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