Finding extraterrestrial signals has been a dream for decades. But a researcher at the University of Cádiz in Spain says we shouldn’t search – because we’re not ready to find aliens reports to dailymail.co.uk Gabriel De la Torre revealed to MailOnline how his research with students showed the general level of ignorance and influence of religion would shock us if we made first contact.
Since 1984, the Search Institute for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti) has been looking for signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
But De la Torre, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cádiz and a participant in previous projects such as Esa’s Mars 500 (a simulated Mars mission on Earth), has carried out a study that he claims indicates that we are not ready to make contact.
In the study he sent a questionnaire to 116 students in Spain, the United States and Italy. De la Torre told MailOnline that he used students because they ‘will be the future politicians, scientists, the people in charge so I wanted to know what their knowledge was’. The questions were divided into five sections: religious beliefs, environment, spatial knowledge, their daily activities and their opinions on life issues.
‘In all these areas, I’ve defined a different type of question based on other studies that I think relate to Seti research,’ says De la Torre.
This included questions such as the probability that life existed on other planets in what year man first walked on the moon and which is the largest planet in the solar system.
The results were somewhat disconcerting for De la Torre. For example, only 82 percent of students knew that the first moon landing was in 1969.
‘The conclusions were that scientific knowledge especially space-related knowledge among university students is not good,’ he continues.
‘So I think that space agencies should increase education efforts.’
Another conclusion by De la Torre was that religious beliefs appear to be very strong in general. While it’s not necessarily a problem, he says it can influence the opinions of people facing important events in the future like first contact.
But ultimately it is our lack of appreciation for our own planet and our place in the universe that would be our undoing, he says.
“We are not ready to talk to extraterrestrials because global consciousness is not developed enough in the population”, he concludes. ‘People have everyday problems and the government doesn’t pay attention to global issues like the planet and the environment.
‘This makes us a species very focused on the problems of daily life we are not aware of what is around us.
‘It’s like when a meteor falls somewhere on the planet it’s big news. But this is a real normal possibility.
‘If we have a more global awareness about our situation on the planet as the planet is fragile maybe it is a step in the evolution of our consciousness as a species.
‘There could be other intelligent life out there and it could be very different from us physically, mentally, socially and even morally.
“They might not even be biological, they might be robots.
“Right now I don’t think as a species we’re ready.
‘Of course some people are ready, but as a species I think it would be a big shock.