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

Share
Related Topics

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.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Barista

£6 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This person must also have exceptional a...

Ashdown Group: Development Engineer - Slough - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Development Engineer/ Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Software Support Analyst - Level 2

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of financial software so...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a security software com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A memorial to the1982 war between Great Britain and Argentina in Buenos Aires  

Argentina poses no military threat to the Malvinas Islands. So why is the UK ratcheting up tension?

Alicia Castro
 

Daily catch-up: religion, politics and roads named after dictators

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?