While debunking alien sightings on Earth in Part 1 of this article, Satyen K. Bordoloi contends that we might have conclusive proof of life on other planets within a decade while outlining the philosophical and cultural underpinning that make us believe in E.T.

The hilarious 2011 comedy Paul is a parody of alien films, especially Steven Spielbergs. In one of its funniest scenes a woman who believes in god and hence disbelieves evolution says, “Nothing that you can say or do can shake my belief or faith in the sure and certain knowledge that God made heaven and earth and created us all in His image.” The green-skinned, lizard-eyed alien Paul, who had been debating while farting inside a toilet, emerges and asks, “How do you explain me?”

Like this film is a parody of the alien-industrial complex while being part of it, this scene could be taken as a parody of alien believers: nothing that anyone can say or do can shake their beliefs that aliens walk the planet amidst us. Unlike the woman in the film, these alien faithers are most probably correct except for the walking on the planet bit. Because the actual proof of alien life will not come from a creature like Paul as they are expecting but will be a far more run-of-the-mill affair.

The first interaction between a religious, anti-evolution woman and the alien Paul is one of the funniest in the film.


After decades of speculation, the Perseverance rover finally gave us proof that Mars once had an atmosphere conducive to life including overflowing rivers. The extremities of temperature on its surface today have wiped out any life there, but scientists are hopeful that by digging a little inside the Marian surface – as we can on Earth – we would find traces of life that existed there in the past. This is what the MSR or Mars Sample Return Mission hopes to accomplish.

The plan is simple, but execution is extremely complicated. The Mars Perseverance rover is loitering on the surface of Mars doing science experiments. One of its missions is to dig the surface of Mars, collect soil samples and deposit these cylinders near the Jezero Crater which will be collected by a craft planned for 2027 and a lander in 2028 with the sample finally expected to arrive on Earth by 2033. Thus, in a decade, it is likely that we will have conclusive proof of life outside Earth for Mars is the most likely candidate for it. But this won’t accompany any Spielbergian E.T. moment. Instead, all we might get, are signs of life that existed thousands, maybe millions of years ago but are dead now.

The proof of alien life will most likely be brought home by the Perseverance rover galivanting across Mars.

We may not even have to wait a decade. Indeed, just a day before the Mexico one and two before NASA press conference about extraterrestrial life i.e. on September 12, NASA researchers – three of whom are of Indian origin – had announced that the James Webb Space Telescope might just have found proof of life on another planet. On a planet it was studying, JWST detected a potential signature of life in a molecule, dimethyl sulfide. In our solar system, as far as we have seen, this molecule is produced only by living organisms. So, chances are even on that planet – whose other factors seem to coincide to Earth’s – life might just exist. Researchers are calling this a tentative detection and would need another year to confirm if it is fully accurate. The only issue is that this planet is 120 light years away, so even if it has life, it is unlikely that we will see any soon in our lifetimes. Unless, of course, they are so advanced that they have figured out how to bend even the laws of quantum physics. You can read that paper here.

That does not mean conspiracy theorists will stop believing in aliens that have already landed on Earth on flying saucers. What they don’t realise is that their beliefs could be dangerous.

The right-wing media ecosystem across the world – including in India – as this screengrab shows, has lapped up the Mexico aliens on a platter.


I have been on the alien trail for nearly a decade. However, almost every evidence provided for the existence of UAP as NASA reported, has been debunked with a little sleuthing. Yet, looking at the people who support these claims, it is clear that there is a pattern. Most of these people are either disenfranchised by the system or feel let down by it. They are also generally anti-science – even though they try to bring science to bear on the ‘evidence’ they provide. And almost certainly, most of these people are believers in god and encompass the right wing in their nations. This is particularly true of the USA as most of these people are MAGA Trump supporters and feel let down by or angry at the system. Except for the Pastafarians and their flying spaghetti monster, the other religious groups believe in actual aliens.

Even in India, the ones supporting alien theories next to their propagation of ancient Indian myths as facts, have come mostly from the right-wing media ecosystem. As the screen grab of a Google search shows, most Indian right-wing ecosystems with portals like OpIndia, Wion, Swarajya etc. have taken a positive approach – if not outright acceptance – of the alien findings from Mexico, rather than a sceptical approach that all other media outlets have.

The belief is dangerous because faith in aliens is married to the disbelief and distrust of the system. In the US – the birthplace of most alien conspiracy theories – this alien belief directly corresponds to the disbelief in the system and being anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. These are people who think the system is out to get them and their freedoms.

Besides Earth, Mars, Europa and Enceladus are the most likely places in the Solar System to find life.
(Image Credit: Wikipedia)


The harrowing truth about life on the planet if you remove all religions, myths and philosophies, is that there seems to be no purpose to life on the planet. Despite our innate intelligence and amazing power to transform both living and non-living matter, every single one of us is eventually a speck of dust in the infinity of time and space, that does not make even a blip individually – no matter our achievements – in the scales of the universe. Yet, here we are. We suffer. We experience pleasure and a host of other emotions. All these experiences and feelings must mean something, we have wondered for hundreds of thousands of years. It is this will to meaning that makes us create ideas that can give meaning to that speak of nothingness we call our life and living.

Whether god created us is in doubt, but what isn’t is we humans created gods – have been creating them since we developed intelligence and began differentiating ourselves from the rest of life on the planet. Perhaps this belief in the myth of aliens is an extension of that. Like the creation of god in our image gives us a purpose, a meaning to our existence, the possibility of life elsewhere provides us with the same sense of desire to explore. And live. Nothing will invigorate humanity more than finding conclusive proof that life exists elsewhere. It will lead to profound shifts in our thinking and action.

Or would it?

Like the Green Bank Telescope being one of the radio telescopes used by the Breakthrough Listen project to search for alien communications, there are many across the world keeping their ears open for any sign of communication from a life out there. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)


The problem with humans is that novelty wears off quickly. Most of us are prone to despondency about our existence. We are living in a world that even the first science fiction writers couldn’t fantasize about. And the way science is progressing, this isn’t even the beginning. Yet, the problem is, that we get used to things. You’ll spend crores buying a sea-facing house, but a month living in it, and most people don’t even notice the wonderful view from their balconies.

I fear that even if we do discover intelligent aliens much like ourselves – unless it is the Dark Forest scenario of paranoia and fear (please Google it) – after a few years of exchange and excitement, we will get used to it. Of course, the scientists of both species will have a field day, but the rest of us will get about our business accepting the most unusual as normal in a short time. I suspect it will be much like in the underrated film District 9 where after an alien ship crash lands on Earth, within a few years the aliens and humans intermingle and just go about the business of survival.

The fear is that like in the film District 9, the novelty of encountering alien life will soon be replaced by the boring familiarity of daily survival. (Image Credit: Blu-ray)

I believe, as many astrobiologists will tell you, that life exists or will exist elsewhere in the universe. Among the trillions of stars and planets out there, situations conducive to life must have existed elsewhere. But my money is not on these humanoid alien believers. I place my bet on Perseverance finding proof of some sort of life on Mars at some time because scientifically speaking, a few billion years ago when the sun was hotter, Mars could have had a period where the fluctuation of temperature would have been in the tolerable spectrum for the emergence of life like on Earth now. With the presence of water and atmosphere – remnants of both of which have been confirmed – some form of life must have grown on the planet whose proof we will find in a decade.

Arthur C. Clarke said, “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

The alien Paul in the film of the same name is funny because living on Earth, he becomes very much like us despite clearly having an alien form. That is one of its unintended messages: alien or no alien, come to Earth and you will become like earthlings – warts and all. That indeed, is quite terrifying to consider.

In case you missed:

Satyen is an award-winning scriptwriter, journalist based in Mumbai. He loves to let his pen roam the intersection of artificial intelligence, consciousness, and quantum mechanics. His written words have appeared in many Indian and foreign publications.

Leave A Reply

© Copyright Sify Technologies Ltd, 1998-2022. All rights reserved