NASA has undertaken an enthusiastic search for alien life, and, according to the hacker collective Anonymous, the agency is “on the verge” of confirming its existence.
In a viral video published Tuesday, a YouTube channel claiming allegiance to the chaotic hacktivist collective Anonymous announced that NASA possesses secret evidence of intelligent alien life in space.
It sounds too good to be true — and, likely, it is.
Though NASA is definitely interested in aliens, this 12-minute YouTube argument is more conspiracy theory than reporting. It’s filled with red flags that should have your bullshit detector lighting up like, well, a UFO — and besides, Anonymous isn’t exactly known for its fact-checking.
So what’s real and what’s not? Here’s what we know.
There’s no real proof NASA is holding out on us.
The Anonymous video cites Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. During testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in April, Zurbuchen explained the many ways the space agency is looking for extraterrestrial life — but he never claimed NASA had already discovered it.
“With all of this activity related to the search for life, in so many different areas, we are on the verge of one of the most profound discoveries ever,” he said.
That still doesn’t mean NASA is hiding intel from the people. There’s little evidence that the government would have a reason to keep aliens a secret, should NASA ever find them.
Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, told the committee he’s often asked whether the government would shut him up if he received signals from aliens.
“If I tell people, you know, what I do for a living, they’ll frequently ask, ‘Well, if you found a signal, you wouldn’t tell us. The government would shut you down, right?'” Shostak said. “I said, ‘The government doesn’t even know what we’re doing. I don’t think they would shut us down.'”
There have been some exciting recent findings, however.
Though there’s no evidence NASA has found alien life, such a discovery could still happen in the future. The space agency is already deepening our understanding of where aliens could live.
On Tuesday, for instance, NASA announced 219 new possible planets, 10 of which were similar in size to Earth. Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist at the SETI Institute, implied at a press conference that these planet candidates could someday help humans track down intelligent life.
“We’re going to determine how common other planets are. Are there other places we could live in the galaxy that we don’t yet call home?” she said.
Point being: We don’t know what’s out there — but that’s all the more reason to stay skeptical. Never blindly trust a robotic voice behind a mask.