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Friday, September 2, 2011

Occam's Razor and Little Green Men

To build the transmitter Andrea needed two lasers and a pair of small diamonds.I imagined she wanted me to fund construction, better yet, take her to Tiffany's.

But no, she did not ask me to fund research. This was a project she was working on slowly. The diamonds she needed were inexpensive, even the smallest industrial diamonds would do.

That evening Andrea told me she had been abducted by aliens, as just a child, and taken to a planet near Alpha Centauri somewhere, in a dusty corner of our galaxy. She met the inhabitants, and lived with them for two years.

The people I knew that spoke of aliens didn't know anything first hand, It was their fantasy. And yet here was someone willing to tell me something solid about it. I decided to suspend my disbelief, and went along.

She told me details of her life there. The food, the 'people', the beings, the way they moved about on their planet's surface. Ownership, leadership, the kind of society, how many digits did the greys have? Three fingers and a thumb.

When we know something we record it as the beginning of a wave, and when it begins to repeat we know the end of it. All segments of natural phenomena are be defined by  knowledge, and once that's done we can dial into that phenomena at any time. Just as we live off cycles of moon, sun and earth, something else lives off the modulations of us.

Any relationship is between student and subject is complex. The family dog lives by listening to his human family, and understanding what is going on. We may own fish, and while they may be habituated to our hands and various nets and items going in and out of their tank from time to time, it is safe to say they don't understand our conversations when overheard from another room. Not the way the dog does.

Similarly, like anthropologists studying primates in Africa, there will likely be species that will study us. If Andrea's reports meant I had to create a framework for study, so be it. Aliens have studied us for thousands of years she said.

They brought her back to Earth. She was ten years old. But according to Andrea her parents denied she was their daughter. A year shuttled around family service agencies, and she taken on by an elder couple from New Jersey. Andrea said they were very cold - she wondered why they had bothered.

Andrea's work on Earth was finished. She wanted to be picked up by her Alpha Centurion family, and taken home.

The Centurions travelled by way of Earth on their way to other places in the galaxy. She was trying to build a transmitter to signal to them that she was here, on Earth, and needed a ride.

They were different from Earthlings, a good bit smaller in stature, more intelligent, less emotional. One of the tribes was grey. Andrea's people were green. They lived on a planet which she called X. The 'people' on a neighboring planet, which she called Y, were grey. Andrea said that the aliens that have visited New Mexico so many times in the past few decades were grey.

The greys weren't very friendly.

"These people don't have feelings in the manner of most earthlings. " Andrea used the word 'people'. The greens had emotions, but emotionality was a multidimensional event and difficult to describe to an earthling. The greys were plain nasty, according to Andrea - they frightened her.

I had completed an evening of work with Andrea. She laid naked as an extra-terrestrial on a bed of white paper while I made drawings of her in dark ink. She was delightfully beautiful to look at, and possessed a head of brilliant dyed blond hair. Today Andrea is in her late twenties. She has Oriental features, and from a distance resembles Deborah Harry.

I wondered to myself, could the myth of the Alpha Centuri be a fiction, invented to assuage the pain loneliness while growing up? An Asian girl adopted into a Caucasian New Jersey family might have issues, particularly if the adopted parents were particularly insensitive.

I was fascinated by the completeness of Andrea's descriptions. It was rich in details. I could probe in any direction, ask anything I wanted and she would answer, in depth.

I asked her about the first time she had seen these people. She was awakened at night, and carried onto the alien ship. "Huge," she said, "but it never really landed. It just hovered." Some things she couldn't remember.

What about the transmitter?

"The laser pulses light simultaneously through two diamonds, and the signal is divided. It goes everywhere in the universe, and they have the means to pick it up."

I asked her about the electronic circuitry that modulated the laser pulses. She said it was a straight frequency, she even told me how many hertz the signal was, but that the secret was that one of the beams was modulated by her own body, passing some of the current from one hand to the other, through her heart and chest. A very small current, it nevertheless picked up the body's rhythms and was thus altered the output enough for her friends abroad to recognize the signal as coming from her.

It was a lovely concept. Two forlorn tiny diamonds pulsing out the message of her heart.

Andrea was clearly very lonely. Her incessant talking about subjects alien would have been off putting to most people so I took it as a challenge, to understand what she really meant. Was this myth disguising a much larger truth, about her own life? Or, could it even be true?

Human beings must be limited in their perceptions of the universe. After all, if we weren't limited, we would be as Gods, and to not be even slightly limited, we would need a godly perspective. We'd know all things, all places. We know only now that the universe is a billion trillion times larger than it was envisioned just fifty years ago. We know that our perception of reality changes constantly, therefor if it is indeed forever changing, any particular perception or model of reality is false.

Maybe it's all true. Maybe our perceptions make our reality.

Science modifies itself. So did alchemy, and astrology, the forerunners of chemistry and physics. They developed, for very long periods of history they were in fact useful.

From the lips of this lonely soul poured forth a vision that was lovely, complete, without hostility and rancor. She seemed isolated by her beliefs, and took comfort in my willingness to listen, and hear what she had to say.

I realized I simply did not possess the experiences necessary to rule out any possibilities, except that this seemed from my perspective, a beautiful fiction, created by someone so lonely, and alienated from the world, that all time had turned into an incessant wait for an impossibly expensive release from earthly bonds.

If indeed there are abductees who have been taken away by aliens, or if there ever are such people, how will they ever be believed here on earth? Reality is a construction, which we'll only modify in the case of a crisis, or extreme bit of facts. Einstein was a radical, but there were others like him and have been, throughout history. Yet Einstein had to wait until the end of his life for experimental confirmation of general relativity.

The limits to Andrea's desires were to be found in two straight beams of light - two lasers, and two diamonds. Diamonds are mythic symbols, crystals, ingredients linking her to an inner freedom, by sending a message home.

She longed to leave Earth. Yet she  was, by birth an earthling, even though she considered her foster parents on X her true parents, and X her true home.

I took her out for a late coffee. We ate a desert and took out one of the chessboards at the little Brooklyn cafe and started a game. I'm pleased to say she beat me rapidly twice before losing interest. I'm not an excellent chess player but I can play the game. I was impressed.

We wandered back towards my place, and on the way passed the entrance to Greenwood Cemetery. It was a fairly bright night, the moon was out, and so were the stars. Streetlights shined mysteriously into the dark reserve of graves.

On an impulse, we climbed over the fence and were inside in a split second. We wandered about the lanky shadows of limestone monuments and mossy sculptures of shady Death. She took my hand, and I thought, "How is a girl who has more friends in a distant galaxy than she does here on Earth, so easily able to reach out and grab a stranger's hand, at night, in a cemetery?"

Where does she find this trust? Her life story seemed a journal of mistrust transformed into unconscious dreaming, and myth.

We sat at the foot of an old New York family monument for an hour, as deep night fell over the city.

She talked about her obsessions, as I listened with rapt attention, and tried to understand her mythology, and come to an understanding of how it had arisen.

I'm always questioning truth, and able to suspend judgment. Myths, in the absence of facts, must serve in their place, as the truth. So I listened to what she said:

She entertained me for two hours with her command of the mathematics of light and lasers, and I must say she had a very good grasp of the same physics that I had studied in school. Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, she knew it all. By heart.. But in the same breath her little green men were in the grass next to us, sharing their reminiscences as she talked, since they never were far from her mind.

I thought, with her hair and lovely Asian complexion she would look so beautiful in green.

Where did we come up with this term 'little green men'? We call it a myth and laugh at it, yet we still talk about it, and know exactly what is meant when someone uses the phrase. Here was someone who was saying that little green men actually existed. She knew them by name. She described the ruler over there on her alien planet X. He was a tyrant, but the people there were in the process of revolting. How did she know? She had many ways of getting news from X, reading words on the margins of newspapers, and picking up discarded tickets at the racetrack.

Andrea was really out there.

And now I was sitting on the cold slab of an Earthling's tomb, in a dark cemetery, on Earth, listening to another Homo sapiens talk about what the people in faraway galaxies were actually like.

I was captivated. Andrea had childhood alien friends.

She did her best to describe them to me. So I abandoned my critical adult self, normally anxious to divide fact from fiction. I relaxed, became a child, to her child, and let her woo me with waves of her memory. She almost lulled me to sleep. I believed everything. She won me over. She told me of a revolution brewing on planet X.

"To understand X you have to first understand Y" and then she would go on for another twenty minutes about their neighbors. She spoke about the economy there, and what was driving their intergalactic exploration and colonization.

The Y's were not friendly.

I wish I had been taking notes. She had names for all the places they came from and all the places they visited. But I was too busy feeling the essence of her mind, to be bothered with spellings.

We laid back in the grass and looked up at the stars.

No longer was the Milky Way a bright disk of depopulated stars. It held creatures, all sizes and shapes, with names, and rulers, and economies with crises on their planets just as on Earth.

She spoke of ship captains running transport past Earth, and how gold was used in their space ships, and how they left agendas for our world leaders of what work they wanted done by the time they got back. One group of Y's held up our politicians for gold, and said we were actually under threat of extermination by some of them. These were not the ones she wanted to go home to. The people from X were good people.

The Egyptians came to Earth aboard their ships.

Andrea's words 'tied-in' to accepted knowledge. I tried finding a weak spot where reason could insert a wedge. But no. My knowledge was limited. I had no reason to disbelieve her, though she offered me nothing in way of proof.

I wanted to kiss her, and put a quiet end to her rattling on about transmitters and hitching a ride across the galaxy. I wanted to do anything to stop her anxiety, and enjoy the present. The here. The now. The night. The cool grass with dark shadows all around us.

Logos prevented our union. The underpinnings of my world view had been shaken. William of Ockham stated that the most plausible of any argument was the one requiring the fewest assumptions.


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