The late Apollo moonwalker Edgar Mitchell was pretty sure that aliens had visited the Earth and that possibly world governments know this and are keeping it a secret. Fellow lunar astronaut and renowned artist Alan Bean begs to disagree. While he certainly believes that alien civilizations exist, he does not conclude that they have paid Earth a visit. He bases this supposition on logic.

Bean believes that advanced civilizations capable of interstellar flight are by necessity benign and altruistic. The theory is that any culture that is overly aggressive would have destroyed itself before getting to the stars.

If aliens had contacted Earth, Bean says, they would have done so openly and in friendship, even offering to share their technology. They would certainly not be sneaking onto the planet in secret, abducting hapless humans to perform rude experiments on. The aliens would also not try to openly conquer us. The universe is so filled with resources, why go to the bother of taking them from primitive planets.

Therefore, Bean concludes, Aliens have not visited the Earth.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Earth is not under observation, but with the aliens concealing themselves, perhaps because of a real life prime directive in which they do not interfere with the natural development of primitive civilizations.

Relatively primitive cultures on Earth have generally suffered when contacted by more advanced nations, even when the explorers have benign intention. Culture shock can devastate a culture just as much as invaders with guns.

On the other hand, maybe aliens will have a better knowledge of sociology and history than we do and would be able to contact Earth without ruining us.

The idea of an advanced civilization uplifting Earth and allowing us to join their community is certainly a beguiling one.

This is not to say that Mitchell or Bean are wrong or right where aliens are concerned. We can hope that Bean is correct about the right intentions of alien civilizations and they will not try to conquer us, destroy us, or, in the fashion of the Borg from “Star Trek,” assimilate us. And maybe when we do meet aliens, it will be as equal, out there, among the stars.