What would happen if we were contacted by an alien race? There has always been and continues to be conversation on UFO web sites, forums, blogs, and scientific/political circles about this far-reaching subject.
It is certainly one that should be discussed; as such a disclosure would have a global impact on governments around the world, religions, stock markets, and most importantly you and me. What would happen depends on what type of contact is made; a verified signal from a distant location or an extemporaneous occurrence.
A Distant Signal
Let's just theorize that we have a definitive, verified message from an alien race. It would probably come to the United States, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. A message this important might be broadcast via some type of multi-language to all of the countries of the world simultaneously.
We might think that the United Nations would be in charge of handling an announcement. This makes sense, but then again, they don't represent all the peoples of the world. Should scientists be in charge? If so, which ones. What about politicians? Let's hope not. What about countries that muzzle their scientists? They would be left out of the loop.
Is There a Protocol?
I can see a multitude of problems in dealing with such an earth-shaking announcement. You might wonder, and would probably think that surely, some type of protocol has already been developed for such an important happening. You would be right to a point.
This would be arguably the most important event in the history of the world. So what would happen, assuming that the first contact is based on a verified, extraterrestrial signal?
There is one group that has developed a first contact protocol; SETI. Although it might seem to be slightly biased, SETI believes that an announcement of alien contact falls under the auspices of scientists, since this is the group that is working on discovering an alien signal. And they have set up guidelines to react to the scenario.
There are over 200 people working on the SETI Project in the United States alone. If SETI would receive the first signal, a likely probability, here are their guidelines.
Any individual, public or private research institution or governmental agency that believes it has detected a signal from or other evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence (the discoverer) should seek to verify that the most plausible explanation for the evidence is the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence rather than some other natural phenomenon or anthropogenic phenomenon before making any public announcement.
Verified Extraterrestrial Signal
Assuming that the signal is verified as being extraterrestrial, then:
Prior to making a public announcement that evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence has been detected, the discoverer should promptly inform all other observers or research organizations that are parties to this declaration, so that those other parties may seek to confirm the discovery by independent observations at other sites and so that a network can be established to enable continuous monitoring of the signal or phenomenon.
Parties to this declaration should not make any public announcement of this information until it is determined whether this information is or is not credible evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. The discoverer should inform his/her or its relevant national authorities.
After concluding that the discovery appears to be credible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, and after informing other parties to this declaration, the discoverer should inform observers throughout the world through the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union, and should inform the Secretary General of the United Nations in accordance with Article XI of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the moon and other bodies.
Continue with Part 2