Are Aliens Like Us?

Dr. Stephen Hawking certainly started a bru-hah-hah with his charged statements about advanced aliens on his TV show, ‘Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking.’ The good thing about it is that it has helped propel the subject into mainstream consciousness and has taken the stigma of ridicule off from it for a while.

Prominent thinkers such as Dr. Paul Davies and Lord Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, have commented on Hawking’s statements, usually counter arguments, but even these have helped push the meme of alien civilizations from the pages of science fiction into hard core scientific thought.

Below is a part of an interview of anthropologist Scott Littleton, professor emeritus of anthropology at Occidental College in Los Angeles. In it is a discussion about a period in his life he has kept secret for over sixty years:

You were eight years old and growing up in Hermosa Beach, when, in the early hours of Feb. 25, 1942, you witnessed what came to be known as the “Battle of Los Angeles.” What happened?

First, remember, this was soon after Pearl Harbor, and two days after the Elwood Oil installation off Santa Barbara had been shelled by a Japanese submarine that had surfaced there. Anyway, I’m sleeping, when suddenly I heard the anti-aircraft guns going. This was about 3:15 a.m. I noticed the sky was very bright, so I look out the window and I see searchlight beams and shells exploding overhead. Something crazy was going on. My father said, “I better see what is going on, this might be the real thing.” So he threw on his air warden gear and went out. My father soon ran back in and says, “Everybody get down in the bomb shelter.” So we all go into the basement, in these old cramped quarters. And my mother was there for about 30 seconds, then she hustles out this little door and I snuck out behind her and we saw practically overhead—and I swear to this day it was hovering—this lozenge-shaped object like an elongated silver bug directly overhead. And outlined by seven or eight searchlight beams. They had it pinpointed. But it was glowing in addition to the searchlight beams. And it was surrounded by exploding shells that were falling on the beach.

How long did you and your mother observe this thing?

We were outside for ten minutes or so. It was hovering directly overhead. Then it began to lose altitude and veered inland over Rodando Beach and we lost sight of it.

If, as some people have suggested, it was a barrage balloon that had drifted, these anti-aircraft shells would have torn it to pieces. My guess is that it was surrounded by a forcefield of some sort that protected it—like something out of Star Wars.

How long did it take you to start thinking of it as a UFO and not just an unexplained phenomenon?

Decades. Not until the late ’70s. Afterwards, Frank Knox, the secretary of the Navy, held a press conference and said it was a “false alarm” due to “war nerves.” To this day that is the official interpretation. [Editors note: A Long Beach Independenteditorial put it this way:”There is a mysterious reticence about the whole affair and it appears that some form of censorship is trying to halt discussion on the matter.”]

But there is not just that one dramatic sighting, there are scores and scores of such sightings. People see things flying around in the atmosphere. And you think these are objects that have come from somewhere else. As an anthropologist, what is your explanation for this?

I wish I had an explanation. The UFO phenomenon has been around for at least 10,000 years. A case can be made that our earliest ancestors noted them on cave walls in the Late or Upper Paleolithic.

Some people are convinced that the creatures who fly the things are responsible for bioengineering the human race. That’s ridiculous. You don’t need aliens to account for the evolution of homo sapiens.

I do think that they’re probes. At the beginning of the Ice Age, they discovered creatures who were intelligent but vastly more primitive than themselves. And—here I’m projecting my thoughts into their heads—they were curious and wanted to see what would happen to these creatures.

For all we know, these creatures and their craft are the equivalent of a mechanical rabbit at a dog track. We don’t know what’s being shown to us.

I see that, but I do think that you have to pay attention to the vast amount of anecdotal evidence. Nobody to my knowledge has a real picture of an alien. Nevertheless, there seem to be several varieties. And my hunch is—using the principle of parsimony, Occam’s razor—it’s better to assume that they originate in this universe and in this galaxy and probably in this corner of this galaxy. That is, within a several hundred light-year range.

If they’re using some type of technology that allows them to travel at light speed, then one has to think that at some point in the development of the universe some race developed this technology and at some point would have propagated it so that an intergalactic civilization would be not just a few thousand years ahead of us, but a million years ahead of us.

I understand that hypothesis. But if they’re vastly superior to us, why were they having so many crashes in the late ’40s and early ’50s? Somebody that far ahead, you wouldn’t expect to have operational failures. That’s what intrigues me.

Perhaps the crashes were “staged?”

As far as that is a potentially seriously charged and theoretical statement, I can not see why advanced, camouflaged craft would crash with regularity.

Prometheus Unbound?

Aliens Like Us

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