Natalie Haynes: Secretly, we long for an alien invasion

Notebook: The idea that we might be alone in the universe with just seven billion other people for company is clearly too horrifying

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The Independent Online

Unwrap your foil hats: this weekend was the 65th anniversary of the Roswell landings, and it seems like a vast number of people still believe the US government is concealing information about UFO landings in New Mexico. Since there is still no evidence for any kind of alien invasion, it must be in this one field – hushing up ET and Dr Who – that government employees have been completely successful. It seems kind of a shame they didn't save that infallibility for running the economy, but never mind. In my house, we like to celebrate the Roswell aliens' sad deaths by watching Alien, or Mars Attacks! (right), and reminding ourselves that every year the aliens don't invade is another victory.

It has always baffled me that conspiracy theorists long for alien life to be confirmed, when our imaginings of aliens are so rarely the messianic suffering figure (ET) or the friendly mentor (Chocky), but are so frequently the blow-us-to-kingdom-come kind (the Tripods, the Vogons, the Body Snatchers). We'd clearly be better off if we were the only form of intelligent life, but many of us long to be in contact with the very aliens we fear. The idea that we might be alone in the universe with just seven billion other people for company is clearly too horrifying. And in the real world, we're much more hopeful about the humanity of the non-human than we are in our fiction: shooting phonograph records into space in the hopes that an alien will find them, listen to them, and think that any planet which created Beethoven and Blind Willie Johnson can't be all bad. Surely, we would be better off keeping schtum, and hoping they invade Mars instead?

Yet the numbers persist: 36 per cent of Americans surveyed by National Geographic this year said they thought aliens had visited the earth. Forty-eight per cent weren't sure. But 79 per cent of them believed the US government has kept information about UFOs secret. So even those who aren't sure whether aliens have landed still think their government is lying about it. But the good news is that a massive 65 per cent of Americans think Barack Obama would be better suited to deal with an alien invasion than Mitt Romney would be, my favourite statistic of the year so far. I like to think it's because Obama looks more like Will Smith than Mitt Romney looks like Tommy Lee Jones. Because when the aliens do come, that's who we want in charge.

The climate, so contrary

Those of you who canoed into work today will be relieved to know that the hosepipe ban has finally been lifted by the four remaining water companies who had watched a month's rain fall in 24 hours – several times – and still thought it might be a bit dry out there.

As weather forecasting remains an inexact science, I would like to reveal my sure-fire guaranteed long-range prediction system. The weather is always pretty much the same, until you challenge it. Declare a rise in flooding and you will receive the driest winters on record. Declare a drought, and it will chuck it down for three months solid. Our climate isn't temperate any more, it's petulant.