We might live in a zoo for aliens, Neil deGrasse Tyson says, and that’s why Brexit and 'weird politics' are happening

But probably not – even though it would make everything a lot simpler

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 29 June 2016 15:02
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson interacts with Pepper, a social humanoid robot
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson interacts with Pepper, a social humanoid robot

Our planet could be a zoo created by aliens who want to watch stupid humans, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Humanity’s alien keepers could even be inflicting our “weird politics” – the ongoing crisis of Brexit and the American election – onto us as a way of keeping themselves entertained, according to the famous astrophysicist.

Mr Tyson said that he is sceptical that humanity will ever be able to make contact with intelligent life. But we might already have done so – and rather than choosing to destroy us, as many scientists expect, they might have just shut us away without our knowing it.

Talking about whether he feared our destruction at the hands of super-intelligent aliens – the future that thinkers including Stephen Hawking have warned about – he said that he didn’t necessarily worry about it because the aliens might create a place for us to live in happiness.

“Maybe I don’t fear it, I just hope that all they would do for us is create a zoo where we are happy. And maybe that is what they call Earth.”

But Mr Tyson said it was still unlikely that any aliens would care about us enough even to put us in a giant hamster cage.

“A sufficiently intelligent civilisation would have positively no interest in us at all," he said at the Starmus Conference in Spain, reported Wired. "In the same way as when you’re walking down a street and there’s a worm there.”

And they might not even have got that far – humans might be so stupid in the scale of the universe that aliens might pass by Earth without noticing that there’s any life there at all. We only think of ourselves as clever because we also decide what counts as clever, he said.

Peake would return to space

“The microbes in our lower gut would think of humans as dark, anaerobic pockets of faecal matter in the service of their life. That’s the purpose of human life to them.”

But what Mr Tyson is sure of is that many alien civilisation is undoubtedly far more intelligent than ours. He pointed to the tiny difference between a chimp and a human – one that leads to huge apparent differences in intelligence, but ones that are probably unnoticeable at a bigger level.

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