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

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

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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears