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The "Zoo Hypothesis" might explain why we have not seen space aliens



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By Seth Shostak

Ask your friends why scientists have not found extraterrestrials, and you I can be sure that at least one of them gives the following answer: Humans are not worthy.

We are flawed beings. We threaten ourselves regularly, not to mention other species and the environment. This does not sound very civilized and offers a plausible explanation for the lack of contact. Maybe the aliens know that we are here, but do not want to deal with us ̵

1; either through communication or through a visit.

This idea is endlessly appealing. It is also old. In 1973, MIT radio astronomer John Ball published a paper stating that the success in exposing cosmic companies was not due to a lack of extraterrestrials. It was because these alien spirits have agreed on a policy of release.

They have kept their distance, not because we are imperfect, but because of our right to pursue our own destiny. Diversity is something that is supposed to be of value to everyone in the cosmos, so the life-sustaining worlds should be left to their own evolutionary development.

It may occur to you that Ball's idea sounds like Star Trek's famous "main instruction" prohibiting members of the Federation in space from doing anything that could upset other cultures or civilizations, even if that interference was well intentioned. The MIT astronomer suggested that we did not make contact with extraterrestrials, not because we are unworthy, but because we are worthy – just like endangered eels.

Ball went on and suggested living in a metaphorical zoo – a kind of cosmic Eden. The aliens of the galaxy have arranged things somehow so that our planet is shielded by disposable bars in front of them: they can watch us, but we can not watch them.


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