First Contact: A Short Study
When we think of first contact with a non-human civilisation, we imagine them either landing on the White House lawn, appearing over our cities in massive ships or sneaking into our bedrooms at night scaring the willies out of us. The question I'd like to investigate here is if it were the other way round i.e. it was US who were the advanced race making contact with a lesser alien civilisation, how would we do it?
Lessons from history.
Well, I couldn't write an article on this topic without mentioning Cortez and the Aztecs, or the early Americans and the Native Indians now could I? Our own history is full of similar situations. An advanced culture comes into contact with a less advanced culture and bang what happens? The lesser one usually ends up getting destroyed. But why is this? I think it has to do with the more advanced civilisations motives. What I mean by that is this. Cortez, the early Americans, the British, whoever we use as an example visited those areas of the world not for peace, not to spread knowledge and enlightenment, but to conquer, to acquire gold, wealth and resources and most importantly, to settle. So by extension, if we were to make first contact with a lesser civilisation, our actions and methods would depend on our motives.
Making first Contact
If we were there for genuinely peaceful purposes, we would naturally be very careful not to interfere with the civilisations societal structure and culture. We would not want to cause them panic. It would be important to study them for some time beforehand to understand their culture, to find some common ground to start from. It might also be important that the civilisation is a global one, not a local or regional one. It would be difficult making First Contact (meaning the whole planet knows of an alien presence, not just Governments) if a planet is divided up into tribal nation-states. They would presumably be in competition with one-another and would likely quarrel over access to technology and the benefits of First Contact. If we discovered and had to make First Contact early, before a civilisation was ready, we would have to keep it limited only to those responsible enough to handle it.
Making First Contact would have benefits for both parties, both culturally and scientifically. Were we to initiate contact with a lesser civilisation, it would be done not by Governments or politicians, but by scientists. It would be a meeting of scientists from both sides. This is advantageous because scientists generally are open-minded and not oppressed by religious dogma. This would be very important in establishing First Contact, as a person's religious/personal views could affect the meeting, possibly negatively.
Receiving first contact
Many people say that if aliens are here, buzzing round the heavens, why don't they just openly show themselves? Well, either they don't want to or we won't let them. It could be that they don't think we're ready for it, maybe they consider us too primitive to have a dialogue yet. There has been a massive increase in UFO sightings the past few years, so maybe now they're beginning the long arduous process of getting the population accustomed to their presence before revealing themselves. Some people also believe that it is our own governments are preventing them from revealing themselves. Aliens making First Contact with us would change everything. It would change the entire power structure on Earth and maybe those in power don't want that. I'm not a big fan of this argument however, as I'm sure any such visitors could do pretty much whatever they wanted and our governments could do very little about it.