Certainly, if you ask me if there I believe in alien life beyond Earth, I would respond with yes.  The possibility of extraterrestrial life is very likely considering the vastness of our Galaxy.  The announcement that there is life somewhere other than Earth would be very exciting to me and I would react in a very positive way.  Obviously, I would have some apprehensions about alien invasion, but the positive effects of finding life would out weigh the bad.

On I survey I took on February 28, 2018, I randomly selected 30 of my classmates and asked them if they believed if there was life beyond Earth.  The results were surprising.  26% of the students did not believe that there is life somewhere other than Earth.  This was higher than I expected because I expected more optimism.  Although a higher a number of people said “no” than expected, 74% of student believe that there is a life form somewhere in the Galaxy.  Those who did believe in life beyond Earth also expressed how they thought there was a possibility of aliens or other humans. These results show how optimistic and hopeful our generation is about extraterrestrial life.

Knowing the results of my study, I think its important to look at the effects finding alien life would have on our society.  Looking for extraterrestrials benefits society with new intellectual, societal and political opportunities.  The search for life beyond Earth with astrobiology is a powerful educational opportunity.  It would provide an important understanding to the timeline of life in the vastness of time where space exploration complements the cosmic perspective.  Prussian naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt said, “the most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world”.  By broadening the mind with cosmic and evolutionary perspectives with astrobiology it may make the world less fragmented and dangerous.  Important political implication of exploring life beyond earth is that humans are intelligent technological species that dominate the only know inhabited plant in the universe. We then have the responsibility to develop and manage the world we find ourselves in.

The benefits seem mostly all good but how would humanity react to this discovery?  Psychologists collaborating with The Washington Post studied how media covers extraterrestrial discoveries. Analyzing fifteen articles, they found that the written content use words with a positive effect more frequently than negative ones. Even though these words do not reveal anything monumental, they made predictions on how humans will react to alien life.  It is reported that Americans would react positively is NASA announced the discovery of alien life tomorrow.  It is cautioned that the rest of the world might not reflect the same reactions as Americans. Past research on extraterrestrial civilizations suggest the Americans view aliens more in black and white, the discovery would be all good or all bad, not both. The residents of China, where they are able to see the risks and the benefits.

This research opened my eyes to effects alien life would have on humanity.  It started to make me think of how this would affect my life.  Would society accept this discovery?  Research says yes, but there would be few that do not take it positively and those people could possibly be my loved ones.  Everyone’s life would change to this news.  Would this polarize our already polarized country?  There are many scenarios that are plausible when extraterrestrial life is found but my hope is that it benefits and makes society stronger.

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March 6, 2018 4:06 am

Hello Andrea,
I found this post fascinating. While I’ve explored the idea of extraterrestrial life, I’ve never looked into it. I too think it would be incredible to hear about the discovery of new life in the universe. I believe it is far more terrifying to believe we are alone in the universe than to believe there is other life, even if it is malevolent. I found an article about religion and space exploration you may find interesting.
It’s a little wacky, but it’s got some interesting points. Good luck with your research.

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