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Are we ready to happily welcome alien life on Earth?

Humans would be upbeat and positive about news of alien life in the universe, says a new study.

health Updated: Feb 19, 2018 09:25 IST
Indo Asian News Service
Scientist Stephen Hawking thinks aliens will not like being contacted by humans.(Shutterstock)

Have you wondered how people would react if scientists ever detect alien life in the universe? Humans would be “pretty upbeat” and welcome the news, finds a study. Various studies have in the past speculated about how humans might respond to this kind of news, but until now, there has been almost no systematic empirical research.

In a pilot study, scientists at the Arizona State University, analysed various media reports of “alien announcements”, including the appearance of the “alien” interstellar asteroid Oumuamua, that suggest the potential for alien life in our solar system.

Language in the coverage of these events showed significantly more positive than negative emotions. “If we came face to face with life outside of Earth, we would actually be pretty upbeat about it,” said assistant professor Michael Varnum.

The results are in stark contrast to the warnings from scientist Stephen Hawking who thinks aliens will not like being contacted by humans and that if we ever try to contact them, they could kill humans. In two separate studies, nearly 1,000 people were asked to write about their hypothetical reactions to an announcement that alien microbial life had been discovered, as well as to write about their reactions on past news coverage of scientific discoveries.

Participants’ responses showed significantly more positive than negative emotions, both when contemplating their own reactions and those of humanity as a whole. The positive effect was stronger in response to reading about extraterrestrial life than human made synthetic life.

The studies suggest that “if we find out we’re not alone, we’ll take the news rather well”, Varnum said. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas.

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First Published: Feb 19, 2018 09:25 IST