It was the autumn of 1988 and the campaign for the US presidency was in full swing. I remember an attack ad by the Bush campaign showing Dukakis atop a tank claiming he was weak on national defense and Dana Carvey immortalizing Bush’s “thousand points of light” in a satirical debate. It was an affront to my nine year old sensibilities. The only thing grownups wanted to talk about was the election and to make matters worse they constantly had the TV or radio tuned into to campaign coverage. It reminded me of my younger days when I wanted to watch cartoons and my father would make me sit through adult shows like Hogan’s Hero’s or Mash. I didn’t understand and it was boring.
It was a cold foggy drizzly afternoon when I took refuge in the living room from the droning political discussion going on in the kitchen. “Dukakis blah blah blah… Bush is a snake blah blah blah Reagan Blah blah. I plopped onto the couch and stared out the window.. A copy of The Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz my uncle had given me several months ago sat untouched on the coffee table. With a sigh I picked it up and started reading. I was instantly hooked. The grey drizzly day took on an air of mystery and intrigue. I sat for hours reading and on several occasion had to stop and strain my ears to make sure the adults were still talking politics and hadn’t been sucked into an inter-dimensional vortex. I became obsessed with the book and read it several times. Taking notes on the most interesting topics, which I’d then research in my World Book Encyclopedias. When I ran out of things to research I drove my bicycle down to the local library where I rifled through the card catalog in search of new books.
By the next spring George Bush was the president of the United States and I was in the grips of E.T. fever; everything I read, listened to or watched was somehow related to E.T.s. It was that same spring that I formed the Alien Research Network, made up of my younger brother Jonathan, and our mutual best friend from down-the-street, Randy. We’d hop on our bikes, cruise down to the library and scour the stacks for anything related to E.T.’s; The Philadelphia Experiment, Roswell, Atlantis, time travel, ancient astronauts, inter-dimensional portals, the New Jersey Parallelogram, UFOs in classical art and so on. Other than summarizing and discussing the books we’d read we made cassette tapes of us interviewing one another.
“So Randy, we know earth is being visited by E.T.s can you tell us about the different types or races of E.T.s and what their intentions may be?”
“Well Joshua, that’s an interesting question and there is some debate about that….”
“No fair whens it my turn!”(Jonathan complaining because he wanted to hold the microphone. He was only seven at the time.)
It was a heady summer spent with our hearts, minds and eyes turned skyward. One of the books we’d read suggested that E.T.s could be contacted through telepathy. You were supposed be in a peaceful place by yourself and concentrate on sending a message out to E.T.s that you weren’t afraid and wanted to make contact. We tried laying under the stars in the field behind my parent’s house to beam our messages into cosmos but after dusk set in we always got spooked and ran home. Two things brought the Alien Research Network to an end. The first was the betrayal and loss of one third of our membership. It was the day we’d all dreamed about, it didn’t seem real at first. Randy phoned me up and told me he had to speak with my brother and I immediately. Minutes later he was skidding his bike out in my driveway and dashing towards my front door. We ran upstairs to the research center, my room for the time being, although we had plans to get a proper research center once our research got some funding ,and Randy dropped the bomb.. “Ok guys I made contact. I made a special little shrine like the book said and I was sending telepathic messages when it appeared.”
Randy went on to tell us he had seen a hologram like figure that had asked him to prepare the members of the Alien Research Network for a meeting in three day’s time and that we would be taken aboard an alien craft. My brother and I made him retell the story at least ten times picking his brain for the details. After that we had a very serious discussion on the motives of this E.T. and the possible dangers we could face. “Now what if it’s not an Alien at all but some kind of demon or monster trying to trick us? I think we have to take that into account….” When the time came Randy said the aliens had rescheduled the visit. After several more “reschedulings” Randy stopped answering phone calls and received some angry messages from the Director of the Alien Research Network. “Yes hello Randy this is Joshua Lorenzo Newett, Director of the Alien research network, it’s imperative that you return our calls immediately.” I went into denial and got angry when I thought maybe Randy was out there zipping around on an alien craft without me. After all we’ve been through together how could he turn his back on the Alien Research Network! How selfish! I bet he’s going to use this to get funding and start his own alien research group and he’ll have proper funding. I’ll be a laughing stock in the alien research community. I cursed Randy and the information packet I requested on federal grants. If only it had arrived in time maybe this could have been avoided we could have had a proper research facility and avoided Randy’s defection! I sat and leafed through my information packet on cheap land in Montana trying to cheer myself up. Well three hundred bucks an acre not too shabby. Maybe I can own a few acres by the time I’m in fifth grade. I’ll have to convince my brother to donate his allowance to the cause.
Randy finally admitted what I knew but wouldn’t face; it was a hoax. He was kicked out of A.R.N. and Jonathan and I tried to carry on for a time but with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Jonathan’s distraction with Transformers and Lillian Ho-his first pseudo girlfriend- my interests shifted and E.T.’s were replaced by the Cold War and land speculation in the Western US.
From then until now my E.T. interest hadn’t resurfaced until last week when I stumbled upon an article at The Huffington Post on Paul Hellyer, the Ex-Canadian defense minister who not only said he has proof E.T.s having been visiting earth for thousands of years but that there are four different races we’re in contact with and at least two E.T.s are employed by the U.S. government. I spent the rest of the day reading articles on different websites, some less credible than others, about how almost all astronauts had seen UFO’s on their missions and how Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong allegedly reported being observed by UFO’s during the moon landing.
I also came across the Drake Equation which according to Wikiapedia is :
a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation was written in 1961 by Frank Drake not for purposes of quantifying the number of civilizations, but intended as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue at the world's first SETI meeting, in Green Bank, West Virginia. The equation summarizes the main factors which scientists must contemplate when considering the question of other radio-communicative life. The Drake equation has proved controversial since several of its factors are currently unknown, and estimates of their values span a very wide range. This has led critics to label the equation a guesstimate, or even meaningless.
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space
It makes one wonder if there is a high probability that life exists elsewhere in the Universe then why are people like Paul Hellyer ridiculed when then try to speak about E.T.s? It seems like serious academics don’t want to touch the subject with a ten foot pole. Maybe it’s the result of conspiracy theorist, the mentally ill and hoaxers who have claimed false contact but there is the possibility that maybe there really is a cover-up going on. I’m not saying I believe it but it is possible. One of Paul Hellyer’s talking points was that it’s time for transparency and society at large is at a stage where we can handle the truth about the existence E.T’s. One of the most interesting things he said was there are still at least two things he knows of which the general public isn’t ready to know and couldn’t handle. What could those two things possibly be? What is bigger and scarier than the fact that four races of E.T.s have been visiting Earth for thousands of years and at least two E.T.s are working for the U.S. government? Maybe it’s time to call Randy and Jonathan and fire up the Alien Research Network. I think my parents would let us use my old bedroom until we got funding for a real facility….
Columnist Joshua Lorenzo Newett is a novelist, entrepreneur, and English professor at The Korean Naval Academy in Jinhae, South Korea. Saving Bill Murray, his second novel, was recently published here.
Aliens Invade image courtesy of Shutterstock