Humans have been obsessing over extraterrestrial life since ancient and medieval times. From mythologizing in religious scriptures to romanticizing in modern art and literature to aggrandizing in Hollywood blockbusters, aliens have always been part of our examinations. Yet, the fundamental question still remains: are we alone in the universe?
When MSNBC host Chris Hayes posed this question to the universally-loved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, he had a rather atypical answer. Tyson believed that humans might be too stupid for aliens to notice.
“My great fear is that we’ve in fact been visited by intelligent aliens,” he said to Hayes. “But they chose not to make contact, on the conclusion that there’s no sign of intelligent life on Earth. How’s that for measures of intelligence?”
The fundamental problem, according to Tyson, is how human beings define intelligence. What is intelligence? Is it what we think it is? How relative is the notion of intelligence compared to other species including, and especially, aliens. He explains his views to Richard Dawkins in this interview:
Regarding the means of communication, Tyson believed we might have been involuntarily sending signals to any form of life out there through radio waves since the inception of radio and TV. “They will learn how men and women treat each other by watching The Honeymooners,” he joked. ‘To the moon, Alice!’ And people used to laugh at that.”