Nearly half of Earthlings believe that we aren’t alone in the universe — and want to make contact with alien life, according to a new study.
Researchers say the results help to explain the lasting popularity of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise 40 years after the first movie was screened.
But making contact could be dangerous for humanity. Physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has previously warned if aliens discovered us, it could ‘end life on Earth’.
Researchers published findings that 47 percent of more than 26,000 respondents believe ‘in the existence of intelligent alien civilizations in the universe’.
An even greater 61 per cent said ‘yes’ when asked if they believe in ‘some form of life on other planets’, researchers at Amsterdam-based research program Glocalities found.
Roughly a quarter said they do not believe intelligent life exists beyond Earth, they found.
This is not the first survey to collect views on extraterrestrial beings – questionnaires in Germany, Britain and the United States have found similar rates – but researchers said this was the largest poll of its kind with such global reach.
‘The high score on the belief in the existence of intelligent alien civilisations and the distinct profile of these people partly explains the immense popularity of space movies such as Star Wars,’ said research director Martijn Lampert.
‘People who believe in the existence of intelligent alien civilisations are not a marginal minority,’ he said.
The most believers in intelligent alien life were in Russia, at 68 per cent, trailed closely by Mexico and China, with the down-to-earth Dutch bottoming out the list at 28 per cent, the poll found.
The interviews were conducted in 15 languages between December 2015 and February 2016 in countries representing 62 per cent of the world’s population and 80 per cent of the global economy.
However, some experts believe we should be extremely wary about answering alien signals.
If there are any intelligent alien life forms out there Professor Hawking thinks we’re playing a dangerous game by trying to contact them.
The physicist believes if aliens discovered Earth, they are likely to want to conquer and colonise our planet.
‘If aliens visit us, the outcome could be much like when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,’ he said in an interview.
Last week psychologists also revealed that if we did discover alien life most people would still be happy about it.
Michael Varnum, a psychologist at Arizona State University was trying to anticipate how humans would react if a discovery like this came back positive.
The paper looked at the psychological reactions to extraterrestrial life in a ‘systematic, careful way’.
In the first experiment Dr Varnum and his colleagues looked at five key events; the discovery of pulsars in 1967; the detection of the ‘Wow!’ radio signal in 1977; the announcement of fossilised microbes on a Martian meteorite in 1996; the behaviour of Tabby’s Star in 2005 and the discovery of exoplanets within the Goldilocks zone in 2017.
‘The reaction seemed to be much more positive than negative,’ found Dr Varnum.
Researchers also got 500 people to describe how they would feel if aliens were discovered and how they thought people more generally would react.
Participants said they themselves would feel positive but felt most people would not be so excited about the discovery.