Finding extraterrestrial signals has been dreamed about for decades. But a researcher from the University of Cádiz in Spain says we shouldn’t be looking – because we’re not ready to meet aliens, reports dailymail.co.uk.
Gabriel De la Torre revealed to MailOnline how his survey of students showed the general level of ignorance and influence of religion would leave us shocked if we made first contact.
Since 1984 the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti) Institute has been looking for signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
But De la Torre, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cádiz and participant in previous projects such as Esa’s Mars 500 (a simulated mission to Mars on Earth), has carried out a study that he claims indicates we are not ready to make contact.
In the study, he sent a questionnaire to 116 students in Spain, the US and Italy. De la Torre tells MailOnline he used students because they ‘will be the future politicians, scientists, the people in charge, so I wanted to know what their knowledge was.’
The questions were split into five sections: religious beliefs, the environment, space-related knowledge, their daily activities and their opinions on life issues.
‘In all those areas I defined a different type of question based on other studies that I think related to Seti research,’ De la Torre says.
These included questions such as how likely they thought life was to exist on other planets, what year man first walked on the moon and what the largest planet in the solar system is.
The results were somewhat disconcerting for De la Torre. For example only 82 per cent of the students knew the first moon landing was in 1969.
‘The conclusions were that scientific knowledge, especially the knowledge related to space among college students, is not good,’ he continues.
‘So I think space agencies should increase education efforts.’
Another conclusion by De la Torre was that religious beliefs seem to be very strong in general. While not necessarily a problem, he says this may influence the opinions of people facing major events in future such as making first contact.
But ultimately it is our lack of appreciation for our own planet and our place in the universe that would be our downfall, he says.
‘We’re not ready to talk to extraterrestrials because global consciousness is not developed enough in the population,’ he concludes.
‘People have daily life problems and the government doesn’t pay attention to global issues like the planet and the environment.
‘That makes us a species too focused on daily life problems, we don’t have an awareness of our surroundings.
‘It’s like when a meteor falls in some place on the planet, it’s big news. But that’s a regular real possibility.
‘If we have a more global consciousness about our situation on the planet, how fragile the planet is, maybe that’s a step in the evolution of our consciousness as a species.
‘There could be other intelligent life out there and it could be really different from us physically, mentally, socially and even morally.
‘They could maybe not even be biological, they could be robots.
‘Right now I don’t think as a species we are ready.
‘Of course some people are ready, but as a species I think it would be a big shock.’