How Many People Do the Aliens Need, Anyway?

Seems fishy to me.

Seems fishy to me.

I have been playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown recently (great game, by the way – and damn you, Will, for addicting me to it!). It features your standard UFOs and bulbous-headed aliens invading Earth and abducting people willy-nilly from all over the globe, and it got me thinking about the whole ‘UFO’ thing again, specifically the idea of alien abduction.

First off, let’s get one thing straight:

  1. I find it unlikely that we have actually been visited by aliens from another planet.
  2. I find it extraordinarily unlikely that, even if we have been visited, that said visitors have actually abducted much of anyone.
  3. I find it even more extraordinarily unlikely that, even if we have been visited by aliens and even if they have abducted people, that the government knows anything about it, has anything to do with it, and has any plans to combat it. At all.

I have made these determinations with the liberal application of Occam’s Razor and my knowledge of how government works.

Just for the hell of it, though, let’s pretend that alien abductions are a real thing. If so, I’ve got a question:

What the Hell is Up With This?

Okay, so you’re your average, run-of-the-mill bobble-headed alien. You’ve got yourself this spiffy spaceship, complete with light-tractor-beam thingy and a whole suite of stealth technology. You find yourself in orbit around planet Earth and you figure to yourself “what the hell, let’s steal me a human.” Now, to my mind, there can only be three plausible reasons to do this:

#1: The Safari Theorem

The aliens are studying us in the same way as we are wont to study elephants and dolphins. Capture a few, perform some tests, observe, tag-and-release, dissect a couple here and there, etc. This, to some extent, makes perfect sense – I very much doubt there’s so much intelligent life out there in the vastness of space that a whole planet chock full of it wouldn’t be damned interesting to study. Hell, if our positions were reversed, I could see humans capturing and studying a whole range of little green men if the opportunity arises.

Meh, screw this one. It looks like it speaks Spanish.

“Meh, screw this one. It looks like it speaks Spanish.”

The thing is, though, that if this theory is true, then it doesn’t jive with the MO of our average alien abduction. For one thing, how many damned humans do you actually need to abduct, anyway? If Wikipedia is any guide (and I would think UFO enthusiasts would be keen on editing Wikipedia – just a hunch), then anywhere from 1400 to 5% of the total population have been abducted. That is an absolute shitload of specimens. Way more, actually, than they’d ever plausibly need in order to make a full study of humans. Hell, that’s more than enough to start your own little human community in your very own space-zoo. Seems excessive to me.

Plus, if they are performing a responsible study of the human race, then why are the vast majority of abductions purported to occur in English speaking countries? What, does their universal translator only work on English? Do they really need to talk to you, anyway, if all they want to do is pull out your digestive system and give it a good mapping? How will they know if the brown ones work the same as the pink ones if they don’t catch both in equal quantities?

Furthermore, a lot of reports insist that aliens have been kidnapping us since ancient times (flip on the History channel – I’m sure they’re showing a ‘documentary’ about it right now). How long does it really take to get a good idea of how humans work? Do you really need to nab hicks out of their pickup trucks on a regular basis to get a finger on the pulse of humanity. Hell, we beam half our culture into space, anyway. They could just watch cable like the rest of us.

#2: Invasion!

The other possibility is that the aliens are prepping us for invasion somehow, and that these abductions are part of their plan. If so, then I really have to question the sanity of the alien plan. Presumably the idea would be to kidnap people and either replace them with aliens or somehow mess with them so that, when the aliens arrive, these people welcome them with open arms or otherwise inhibit their fellow humans’ ability to resist. If this were so, then, it would seem that they aren’t kidnapping enough people. Granted, 5% of the population ain’t hay, but it also isn’t exactly overwhelming numbers. Furthermore, consider who they’re kidnapping. It isn’t exactly a who’s who list of the influential, powerful, and competent. It reads more like a list of the disaffected, the run-of-the-mill, and the unstable. These are not really the allies you want or need during any kind of invasion.

I suppose we could say ‘but those are only the ones you know about!’, but, well, that sounds a bit crazy. Besides, if you’re going to go to all the trouble to kidnap a quarter of a billion people or more, aren’t you getting to the point where you should just invade already. You’re putting a lot of man-hours into this thing, Martians – shit or get off the pot.

#3: It’s a Cookbook!

Maybe, though, they aren’t here to study us or invade us or anything – maybe they just think it’s fun. Maybe some part of us is a delicacy. Maybe capturing us is a sport! Maybe they have these cyclical tournaments where one flying saucer sees how may goofballs they can suck up inside their ship and mess with within a certain timespan. They probably show it on alien pay-per-view. Hell, I’d watch that show. Of all the theories, this one sounds the most likely. Assuming, you know, that any of this is likely at all. Which it isn’t.

Personally, I think our first contact with an alien species is going to be a much more straightforward and much more confusing affair than a series of sneaky UFOs snatching cows and terrorizing rural truck stops. It’s going to be something large and loud and incomprehensible, something that makes the world stand still with wonder and no government on this Earth is going to be able to cover it up with some weather balloon story. Besides, we’re assuming that they’ll find us before we’ll find them – a bit pessimistic, don’t you think? I prefer to imagine it will be us beaming down, not being beamed up. That, however, is just me; I’m an optimist like that.

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About aahabershaw

Writer, teacher, gaming enthusiast, and storyteller. I write stories, novels, and occasional rants.

Posted on April 1, 2013, in Critiques, Theories, and Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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