If alien life, in its most basic, microbial form, would crash-land on Earth, how would humans react? Would they fear the discovery or be cheerful about it? It appears that most of us would welcome the notion of alien life with open arms, according to a report presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancements of Science.
Michael Varnum, a social psychologist at Arizona State University in Tempe, said that humans would “take the news rather well” if microbial life was discovered in our solar system.
To come to this conclusion, Varnum and his team conducted a survey which involved 500 US volunteers to describe how they would react if they learned that scientists discovered microbial alien life.
Varnum and his colleagues then analyzed each participant’s response using software that determined the number of words indicating a positive emotion, such as “nice”, or negative emotion like “worried”. The researcher’s algorithm also looked for reward- and risk-focused words including “benefit” and “danger”.
According to the report, most people used positive and reward-focused words to describe their potential reactions. The same results prevailed when the participants were asked how everyone else would react to the news.
Varnum and his team conducted another study where they asked another 500 US volunteers to read several newspaper articles. One of them was from 1996 and described the discovery of evidence for fossilized Martian microbes in a meteorite. Another article was from 2010 and was about the creation of a synthetic bacterial cell in a laboratory.
Both groups responded favorably to the articles, however, the most positive reactions were registered among those who read the Martian microbes article. According to Varnum, this would suggest that people are more inclined to discover the presence of alien life rather than the discovery of previously unknown-life forms on Earth.
Varnum, however, notes the small scale of the study as well as the specific population they surveyed. He and his colleagues now hope to perform a similar study on participants from different cultures, to find out if people across the world would react to the news of alien microbes.
Image Source: Pixabay
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