great man of cognition Neil deGrasse
Are humans so dumb that aliens have written us off? Celebrated astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson seems to think that may be the case.
And then there’s the possibility that intelligent aliens might not simply ignore us but might harm us, just as humans sometimes harm what we consider lesser forms of life. As Tyson went on to say in the interview, “You don’t walk by the worm on the street and say, ‘Gee, I wonder what he’s thinking.’ No, you step on the worm.”
Tyson — director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and host of the radio program “Star Talk” — has said previously that, given the size of the universe, it would be surprising if no other intelligent life forms existed. In his book Death By Black Hole, Tyson wrote, “to declare that Earth must be the only planet with life in the universe would be inexcusably bigheaded of us.”
Some scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have said that humans would be smart to remain wary of extraterrestrial life. In 2010 Hawking opined that aliens might be “looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach.”
But Tyson has a different take.
“Hawking is all worried that aliens might suck our brains out,” Tyson said in the interview. “That concern comes from when any of us explored the world … and came upon a civilization less advanced, it was bad for the less-advanced civilization. They either were completely wiped out, or subjugated, or enslaved. … So I think his fear about aliens is a reflection of his actual knowledge about how humans treat each other, not real knowledge about how actual aliens would treat us.”
Another possibility is that aliens have already visited us and gone unnoticed. As Tyson joked in the interview, “[M]aybe they have visited us in Times Square but no one noticed, because everybody who hangs out in Times Square is a little crazy.”