Then U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) (2nd L) and representatives of women's groups hold a rally to mark the 40th anniversary of congressional passage of the Equal Rights Ammendment (ERA) outside the U.S. Capitol March 22, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Getty Images)
If you thought members of Congress waste time when they're in office, just wait til you hear what they get up to when they leave.
Former Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who retired after last year's election, has evidently found a new issue to crusade on now that her 20 year stint as one of the more liberal members of Congress is over: the idea that extraterrestrial life (i.e. aliens) not only exist but have been living among humans here on earth. Woolsey, along with other former legislators including former Senator (and longshot presidential candidate) Mike Gravel and a bipartisan group of four other lawmakers, is set to preside over a mock "hearing" on the idea of extraterrestrials living among us on April 29 at Washington's National Press Club. The guests are each being paid $20,000 plus expenses for their time.
What do the sponsors of this odd event hope to get out of it? The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports:
The $600,000 event, put on by the Bethesda, Md.-based Paradigm Research Group, will offer — and film for a future documentary — 30 hours of congressional-style hearings devoted to the premise of an ET-like presence “engaging the human race.”
“This event is a milestone; this has never been done before,” said Stephen Bassett, executive director of Paradigm, a lobbying organization formed in 1996.
More than 30 witnesses will testify over five days during the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, focusing on what Bassett's group calls “the most important issue of this or any other time.”
The event's international spokesman is Edgar Mitchell, a former Apollo astronaut and moonwalker who asserts that alien visits to Earth include the 1947 crash at Roswell, N.M.
One of the witnesses, Chinese scientist Sun Shili, believes that extraterrestrials live on Earth and could hold keys to research on high-speed travel, renewable energy and fast-growing crops, according to the hearing's website.[...]
Bassett said the six-figure cost of the event is being covered by a backer who will be identified later. The backer is “someone who wants to see this issue resolved,” Bassett said.[...]
The hearing and Bassett's group are intent on exposing what he calls the “Truth Embargo,” a decades-long government campaign to not only deny the existence of extraterrestrials but to discredit believers.
“It's no longer about lights in the sky; it's about lies on the ground,” Paradigm Research Group's website says.
Along with this odd mock "hearing," the Paradigm Research Group is also behind a number of other interesting ventures. For instance, they have posted several petitions at petitions.whitehouse.gov. These petitions, which have acquired a combined total of over 17,000 signatures, ask the Obama administration to acknowledge extraterrestrial life as currently having made contact with human beings.
What is even stranger? The administration has responded:
Thank you for signing the petition asking the Obama Administration to acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.
The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye.
However, that doesn't mean the subject of life outside our planet isn't being discussed or explored. In fact, there are a number of projects working toward the goal of understanding if life can or does exist off Earth. Here are a few examples:
- SETI—the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence—was originally stood up with help from NASA, but has since been moved to other sources of private funding. SETI's main purpose is to act as a giant ear on behalf of the human race, pointing an array of ground-based telescopes towards space to listen for any signal from another world.
- Kepler is a NASA spacecraft in orbit that's main goal is to search for Earth-like planets. Such a planet would be located in the "Goldilocks" zone of a distant solar system—not too hot and not too cold—and could potentially be habitable by life as we know it. The Kepler mission is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover Earth-sized, rocky planets in or near the habitable zone of the star (sun) they orbit.
- The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, is an automobile-sized rover that NASA is launching soon. The rover's onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and other geology in an effort to detect the chemical building blocks of life (e.g., forms of carbon) on Mars and will assess what the Martian environment was like in the past to see if it could have harbored life.
A last point: Many scientists and mathematicians have looked with a statistical mindset at the question of whether life likely exists beyond Earth and have come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life.
Many have also noted, however, that the odds of us making contact with any of them—especially any intelligent ones—are extremely small, given the distances involved.
But that's all statistics and speculation. The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.
So even if one might find it tempting to snigger at the efforts of the Paradigm Research Group, the White House itself appears not to be laughing, at least not openly, and nor are former members of Congress. Whether investigating evidence of extraterrestrial life is a good use of those members of Congress' time, however, is another story entirely.