The other evening I found myself in a situation which is all too common: me on the one side, defending my opinion on aliens and unknown creatures, and my friends on one side, attacking me with their full-force, largely ignorant-of-any-research-or-knowledge attitude. Their argument, though riddled with holes and generally resorting to the weakest form of reasoning, was, much to my irritation, a good one. One that has stalled seasoned experts in their tracks and left them sweating: “you don’t know anything for sure, so shut up!”
These kind of arguments are unsurprisingly common when you’ve just published a novel on Amazon which is very much about Cryptozoological animals and the unknown (as well as being a comedy with great feedback so far from a wide range of ages, if you didn’t know!). Due to my enthusiasm for all things unknown-and-alien-related, I have to endure at least one argument every week, sometimes more. It’s a hard life when you’re fighting what feels like an entire planet of disbelievers…
My problem is I never learn. I always resort to the same points. I’ve said them so many times, in fact, that now all I have to do is open my mouth and it all comes tumbling out.
(And yes, I know I’ve probably single-handedly stopped my very-infant career as a novelist in its tracks, but that’s a risk I am willing to take. It’s an easily calculated risk when your book sales will likely never allow you to buy more than one decent meal every month, right?)
So, the main points I always resort to. Oh, and before we go any further I should say that this isn’t really the conclusive post on alien existence and the unknown. I just wrote that to get your attention, and you have to admit it worked, don’t you?
My goodness I feel smug right now after writing that sentence. You should try it sometime.
So, the points I always bring up:
1) The universe is really quite big. End of point one.
2) We are just a collection of what we call ‘brains’ in bodies. These brains, incredible and fantastic as they are, see things in a certain way. What we see is not necessarily all of what is there, though (and I say this without any scientific evidence to back it up). It may, in fact, only be a fraction of what is there, or a large amount of what is there. The problem is, we can’t see what we can’t see. We’d need someone else to conclusively tell us, and even if they did we probably wouldn’t trust that someone (or something). But then again, it wouldn’t be our fault. It’d probably be a large slimy creature.
3) Our technology is powerful, wonderful, astonishing, but it’s a long way off from being good enough to examine large bodies of water with any real conviction: this point always causes a huge-argument-flair-up. I quite like it actually. But think about it: Loch Ness, for example, is freakishly enormous. It is 23 miles long, 1 mile wide at its most, 600 feet deep or thereabouts, and has a surface area of21.8 square miles. In other words, it’s a bit of a whopper. Now, forget your opinion on the actual Nessie sightings over the years, and let’s look at this logically. If you wanted to scan that amount of water for a creature the length of a couple of cars, say, where would you begin? You could start at one end and go slowly, hoping you uncover something in the murky green waters that resembles a creature, but would that be a wise idea? Unlikely. It’d take you a hell of a long time — it has taken a number of researchers a hell of a long time already, as you probably already know — and you’d almost certainly turn up nothing. Does this mean that the Loch is not home to some kind of large creature? Of course not. Just remember: your house is full of spiders which you will never see, but that doesn’t mean they’re not actually there.
4) “If I don’t see it with my own eyes, I won’t believe it.” I always love this one. It has to be possibly the stupidest thing anyone has ever said, apart from “I do love getting out of bed early in the morning”, “I love a bit of cabbage” or “Who is Led Zeppelin?” (I once met a man in Germany who had never heard of Led Zeppelin. And yes, I am being serious.)
Now, I haven’t seen Africa, or the first episode of Coronation Street, but I know that Africa exists, and that that first episode was indeed shot. I also haven’t seen the dog that walks around our village which my friend Dave says has a “human-looking backside”, but I know with reasonable certainty that this dog does indeed have a human arse (Dave doesn’t lie about things like that; and yes, why he was looking at a dog’s bum so much is highly questionable and I do try and stay away from him as much as possible, less I get infected).
…Or do I know these things? Well, in all likelihood, no, not if we’re going by the stupid rule that opened point 3 — I just have always assumed Africa must exist because there are flights there, and…well, it’s Africa! This is, of course, what makes it so difficult to work out whether we believe something abstract like a creature dwelling in a lake.
The fourth part of this point is imagine manipulation. Once anything is recorded — either digitally or in any other way — it becomes information, not proof. What this means is that anyone can video or photograph anything and then it’s perfectly understandable that someone else will stand up and say “That can’t be true, it’s been manipulated”.
Really, you can never know if anything is actually for sure, can you? Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and decide whether you believe something.
4) Politics: you can disagree with me if you like, but I think that it all comes down to politics. Everything. The whole human-world is dominated by all kinds of people who want very different things. The knock-on effect of this is that one decision can make one person rich or another quite poor. Take looking for the Yeti as a good example. Yeti’s have allegedly been seen in the highest places in the world, such as the Himalaya (the original name, as opposed to the westernized one which adds an s). Unfortunately, though, looking for Yeti’s in the highest places in the world is tough for two very good reasons, and nothing like a leisurely tramp in the countryside: 1) the mountains border a number of countries –Nepal and Tibet to name but two out of six — and all the countries have different rules and regulations, and basically hate each other. Even now many of them don’t allow expeditions into places where sightings have occurred, and, if they do, they tend to have such strict policies enforced that finding anything of any use is close to impossible. 2) the terrain where sightings have occurred is extremely inhospitable — to the point where climbing it at such a high level would be suicide. This means that very often tracks can’t be seen, or if tracks are made — by any animal — they vanish before any evidence can be obtained.
Don’t get me wrong: I think that 98% of what’s claimed to be evidence of extra-terrestrial life / evidence of unknown animals is a lie. I just don’t think we can or should rule out that unknown 2%, do you?