A poll revealed last year that 48 percent of American adults are open to the idea that alien spacecraft are visiting earth to observe us.
Why they would want to observe us is a question that I’d count among life’s greatest mysteries. Perhaps it’s a little bit like not being able to take your eyes off of a situation that you know is going to be awful. Sometimes you just can’t look away.
Maybe at the end of each day, while they sit around their alien dinner tables absent-mindedly pushing their alien food around with their alien forks, one of them looks at one of his alien companions and says, “Man, I wish I could unsee what I saw today down on Earth.”
To a civilization that’s maybe millions of years ahead of ours, we must look like a mess. That is, in fact, one theory about why we’ve never been contacted by aliens-- we’re too primitive to bother with. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says he leans toward that theory.
UFOs are one of my guilty pleasures. When I’m not doing serious stuff like watching banjo videos or funny dog videos, I like to watch UFO videos. Almost all of them are either computer-generated imagery or barely discernable, shaky dots of light which were apparently filmed by someone who was simultaneously jumping on a pogo stick.
Still, I watch and hope, apparently just as many other Americans do. I just know if we could get those aliens to pay less attention to our wars, our environmental crimes and our political ineptitude, and pay more attention to our bluegrass music and our amusing dogs, why, they’d be landing on our lawns in no time.
Unless, of course, they ever saw the movie Deliverance.
This commentary originally aired during Morning Edition on 08/01/2014.