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Heptapod alien from the movie Arrival

Alien Intelligence: Stranger Than We Can Imagine?

“To search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture-bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant.” Ever since I first grokked this insight from Terence McKenna, I’ve made it a mission to try and think outside the anthropomorphic box when it comes to the question of what intelligent aliens might be like.

So I thought the Aeon video below was worth posting, along with the asking for your thoughts on what form ETI might take?

When we look for aliens, why do we always find ourselves staring back?

Humans have long imagined beings in other worlds or on other planets whose emotions, motivations and physiologies closely mirror our own. Science fiction in its many forms tends toward a human-inflected conception of non-human life out in the Universe. This view of aliens as rather like us is fine for ancient myths and Hollywood blockbusters, but even modern scientists can’t seem to shake the notion that extraterrestrials’ decisions and behaviour would follow logic and patterns akin to our own. Many of the major scientific projects seeking life elsewhere in the cosmos still rely on assumptions that reflect, above all, ideas about how we would do something if we were aliens.

We in fact already know what non-primate intelligence, of varying degrees, looks like: corvids, cetaceans, horses, even bees.

But what does it take to become an interplanetary species? A major topic, I think, has to be the ability to get yourself off the planet. Is it necessary to be able to construct complex devices, as we have with rockets? Or are there other ways – for example constructing hardy lightweight ‘transports’, such as mushroom spores, that could escape the planet on the explosion caused by an asteroid impact? Or are we even so primitive that we think interstellar travel requires fighting against the power of our gravity well, when advanced species simply transfer their consciousness or slip between dimensions?

Is this a question you’ve pondered? Would love to hear your ideas for what form an interplanetary alien species might be like, and what their transport technology they might use to travel.

  1. Gigantic Topic
    The idea of an “interplanetary species” is consistent with a view of existence — reality — as being physically based.

    Many teachers have long taught that this is not so, some offering ways to validate their teachings, methods that are distinct from our materialist sciences, with their somewhat hidden biases, foundational assumptions, etc.

    Even so, we do perceive (some would say create) a physical reality.

    Within that perception, there will be “interplanetary species;” this can be extended into “intergalactic species.”

    As far as I know, I’ve yet to meet any physically embodied visitors from far away, but there is evidence for their existence, as anyone who has ever delved into the topic knows, although a great deal of it is second-hand or anecdotal.

    One small example of a great many:

    When you get into non-physically embodied visitors (some able to manipulate what one of my favorite teachers describes as “camouflage reality” — the apparent physical reality we seem to walk around in, imagining ourselves as entirely separate and distinct beings, delineated by our skins) now you begin to deal with a vast and generally unexplored area, one that touches upon endless “fringe” areas and one that is rife with confusion and, possibly, some of the deliberate misinformation that definitely exists in the area of physically embodied visitors.

    I have actually encountered a being of this nature — human sized and shaped, transparent, and seemingly constructed of a deep, golden brown light. I was alone in the middle of the woods, late at night during this encounter — no other witnesses, no camera with me. I did not stick around to inquire where this being came from, whether some place far away, physically, or some other dimension, reality, or “plane.”

    I’d say, from what very little I believe I know (and I tend to take just about all information I come across with at least a small grain of salt) that, collectively, we are consciously incredibly ignorant. The vast majority of our media, official educational establishments, and so on tend to reinforce this situation. Some teachers suggest this has to do with beliefs — one partial antidote is to carefully examine our beliefs and see what happens when we change one or more of our beliefs. The belief in an objective physical reality in which universal laws govern is one example. There are alternative explanations, but these are very difficult to “prove,” as most standards of proof include embedded materialist beliefs. More personal beliefs about ourselves are more easily examined and replaced.

    I used the word “consciously.” It’s possible, without too much difficulty, to expand that which we are conscious of, including into what, in our civilization, is referred to as the “subconscious” and “unconscious” mind. Here the situation is very different but, once again, you soon get yourself into disreputable fringe areas.

    I could continue indefinitely; others could, as well. As I said, this is a gigantic topic.

    1. Dimentions (no mistake)
      I tend to agree here, and our scientist cardinals are fully stuck in materialism, many not even acknowledging consciousness can exist outside the body, i guess they are too preoccupied with their perceived superior brain. For a developed alien species this puts us in the primitive category, busy destroying each other and the planet that sustains us. As for physical aliens dropping by i’m sure there’s interesting things to research. How they manege to find us and get here in this defacto infinite universe should be an important question. I would say it’s our consciousness that gave us away not on this 3D level but because we exist on ‘higher’ levels where time and distance are of a different order. These travelling aliens manege to move around there with spaceships in order to be able to drop onto 3D territory. Obviously aliens without such spaceships can have a look in here, as some of us can too, but physical interaction would not be possible as our bodies normally have a field protecting us from disembodied spirits.

  2. alien shape
    I did always find it interesting how Hollywood makes aliens humanoid. Similar how we may personify God looking like an old man. However this view is changing.

  3. radio
    I stil say that even with a copy of our technilogy,the time window of massive radio emissions is pretty short. More low power and focused communication is already taking over here. And then the radio waves are likely to be past us, or have not reached us yet.

    Then there is the likelyhood that some intelligent species develop under water. There are intelligent molluscs even on our planet. Much of intelligent life won’t make it off the planet, because it won’t make it out of the ocean.

    I know I know, very materialistic and nothing esotoric about it. But hey, it is not just words 😛


      “American quantum physicist David Bohm was perhaps the first to realize that seas of electrons making up plasma environments act in a manner that might be described as cell-like in behaviour, in other words they mimicked the actions of cellular life. He posited that some form of proto intelligence existing under normal circumstances in a deeper level of reality might be able to interpenetrate plasma environments for the duration of their existence. Such ideas have been examined more closely in recent years by plasma physicists such as Vadim N. Tsytovich of the General Physics Institute at the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow, working alongside colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, and the University of Sydney, Australia. Tsytovich is convinced that cell-like life forms existing in plasma environments might have helped kick start life on this planet, or that it might exist quite separate to biological life. In fact, he proposes that plasma life might exist in space, and that SETI like initiatives might pay better dividends if they were to search for signs of intelligence within the plasma environments that make up as much as 95 percent of the universe as we know it.”

      With all the anecdotes about ball lightning at times appearing to have intent or intelligence in its movements I have always wondered if it is the case that plasmas become “vessels” for the thoughts of nearby observers.

      1. stranger
        I think that some other life is probably stranger than we can imagine. We can speculate about many things, but there probably is some life form that is beyaond our speculation.

        I’m reasonably certain that life similar to ours is also pretty common. Intelligent life may be rare, comparatively speaking. And then, life like ours is probably not detractable for very long, especially with radio. Once we move past the broadcast radio stage, we will be very hard to detect too.
        Broadcast radio is a waste of energy, and being able to detect it is a disadvantage too.

        I am sort of crfitical of the “pure thought” as life faction. To me, that presumes that the “pure thought” life has thougt like we do, just without bodies. That is still very similar to how we are. Sort of like a homan with only 1 leg. THe concept is still based on our experience.

        1. “‘Pure Thought’ Life”
          Embodied or not (and whether physically embodied or in some other “body” or form) we have a certain sense of identity; this deals with a kind of separation. Others may not share this at all; they may have no such separation-based identity whatsoever, whether as part of some larger “organism” or of some vast overall gestalt.

          Twice, in on-line group trance sessions* participants encountered “lifeforms” of this nature. Somewhere, I may have transcripts, but the two non-physical “lifeforms” were quite different from each other, as different as each was from us. One was connected to some kind of automated “watcher” that alerted it when a group such as this achieved sufficient intensity of consciousness, focused in a particular way. It supplied instructions should we ever wish to contact it again (we did not).

          I’m much hazier about the other contact, but like the first, the being or beings in question lacked the sense of individuation that we have — this presents very basic difficulties in communication, as our thought processes and language are based on this. Even so, we did achieve a kind of primitive communication (in a trance session, this amounts to a kind of translation, not that different from so called “channelling” or even traditional mediumship; each perceives the “energy” requiring translation differently — some as imagery, others as thought, others still as changing magnetic shapes, etc., that are more “felt” than “seen.” Some, too, are not even conscious of the translation process — for them, it simply takes place).

          Some are much better at this “translation” than others, in the same way that some musicians or artists — or even diplomatic translators — are much better than others. I’ve been fortunate to have known a number of folks quite gifted in this area but I remain a rank amateur, although over the years I’ve had a few good moments when attempting this).

          *We were in separate physical locations, using “chat” software — this was not an uncommon type of exploration in the small circles I belonged to 15-20+ years ago; each person entered a light trance condition, all looking occasionally, in trance, at the words on their monitor, some occasionally typing. This was well before Skype existed — Skype and similar software offers some advantages in this area. Using it with headsets/microphones, for example, no video, enables similar activities but without any need to open one’s eyes after a session is initiated. (The trance condition is similar to a meditative state — if you meditate, imagine how opening your eyes to look at a monitor can be disruptive.) Unfortunately, those circles no longer exist, while it would be difficult to replicate the circumstances that led to their creation, when access to the Internet was new, relatively few using it — on-line “culture” has of course long moved on since those long ago days.

          1. interesting
            Certainly the identification with an individual mind, or rather the lack of such identification, is interesting. But again we are familiar with that – an ant doesn’t have intelligence to speak of, but an anthill acts with purpose. So in a sense, a swarm intelogence or shared intelligence is something we have observed here.

            It is probably too much to ask of us to imagine something we cannot imagine. But I suspect we will be surprised when (if ever) they decide to communicate with us. Perhaps they are trying already, and we can’t listen. Of course right now I am doing precisely what I am sccusing the philosophers of doing – I am just talking 🙂

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