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Space means no-one can hear you scream so let’s keep quiet

I am with Stephen Hawkins.

The famed British cosmologist thinks making contact with aliens is dangerous.

For what it’s worth I think it’s also stupid and more than just a bit egotistical.

We are assuming that aliens are going to be like us, perhaps more generous and less violent, just like the movies.

But the notion that any creature from space will be even remotely like us in any way is fantastically absurd, and if they exist all at they might just as likely eat or enslave us.

Who’d feel silly then?

The probability that it was humans that rose to (temporary) prominence on earth was hugely unlikely in itself.

It was only a few hundred thousand years ago that we were monkeys.

Aliens may well have come here countless times over the last million years waiting for us to evolve and just got sick of it.

“Wonder if those ape things on the blue planet are any less selfish and violent?”

Aliens, if they exist, could have evolved trillions of years in front of us.

It would be like a microbe meeting us, or a seahorse.

Or the aliens themselves might be microbes, in which case the billions of dollars spent to book a date with galactic destiny will be reduced to a rather awkward few minutes.

Hawkins says any intelligent alien life-forms might be entirely indifferent to our approaches, which would hurt our feelings, or aggressive and predatory, which could well hurt our body.

Now that might be just the ape in him talking, but I think he’s implying that the risk is they might kill us and take our stuff.

Why not, that’s how we behave – the civilisations of the past that prospered in our memories are those that were shockingly violent and energetic looters.

Richard the Lionheart’s obscure relative, Ermine the Pissant, has been totally erased from history.

To continue with earthly examples, how many indigenous peoples have fond memories of being discovered by more technologically advanced Europeans?

Or how about after all our efforts, we arrange to meet and the mystery date turns out to be the ET equivalent of a saltwater crocodile or a cape buffalo wielding a meat cleaver?

Or the alien lifeform carries a virus so toxic that our entire planet is reduced to decaying carbon lumps in a nanosecond.

The whole search-for-intelligent-life idea speaks to our simian ego, and finds comparisons in celebrity worship, where fans trying to contact their idols, or stalk their houses in the belief the affection is reciprocated, only to be seized by security and thrown down the stairs.

Why in creation would any thriving culture in a far off galaxy have any interest in talking footy and traffic with us?

How would we even communicate, if they are a ball of leathered snot 12 kilometres tall that uses gas emissions of varying intensity to communicate once every 200,000 years, while we use warmed air through our larynx, amplified in our nasal cavity.

We can’t communicate with most of our own species in anything resembling a common tongue, let alone the creature prowling the air-duct in the “Alien” movie.

We’re pretty chuffed with the ape qualities we have shrugged off entirely – like the body hair, menacing incisors and sloped forehead – or have worked to control, like the chest-beating and faeces hurling.

But there’s still a lot of ape hanging around in us: the shocking tribal violence, a curious obsession with buttocks and an enduring affection for fructose.

It is unlikely a civilised space visitor will be impressed that we don’t eat with our hands anymore to the extent that they are willing to overlook the bombing of Syrian children in hospital.

We have such an unimaginative, homocentric worldview - even our gods are humanoids - that we can’t picture how badly alien contact could be for humanity.

Unless they are friendly and just like ET, in which case we could kill them and take their stuff.