Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stephen Hawking: The Great Alien Debate with Alan Cohen and Neil Nathan

Stephen Hawking is arguably one of the finest geniuses of our time. The Discovery Channel obviously had to give him his own series of TV specials: Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking. A few months ago, Mr. Smarty-Pants, sorry, Professor Hawking, decided to tackle the age-old question…no, not that one, but this one: Do aliens exist? Clearly, according to Hawking they do or he wouldn’t have named this specific special “Fear the Aliens.” Many people have a different opinion on Hawking’s state of mind and “scientific” research. So we decided to have two of Green Light Go’s own musicians take their place in The Great Alien Debate.

Alan Cohen of The Alan Cohen Experience is a staunch supporter of Hawking. It was in fact Hawking’s book “A Brief History in Time,” that resulted in Cohen’s August 31 release of the concept album Space & Time. So we know that we have an automatic Hawking fan on our hands. But after Neil Nathan showed interest (albeit a bit tongue-in-cheek) in "Fear the Aliens," we thought it would be interesting (and probably humorous) to pit Nathan and Cohen’s opinions against each other in The “Friendly” Great Alien Debate. (FYI: Nathan’s new album The Distance Calls comes out August 24.)

Below are each musician’s initial reactions to "Fear the Aliens." Neither has read the other’s take until now, as you are. We henceforth encourage Nathan and Cohen to comment back and forth (feel free to stick your nose in too, ahem Michael J. Epstein) for a friendly battle of, well, is Hawking a genius or a nut?

Alan Cohen on "Fear the Aliens"

“It's easy to write off Stephen Hawking as a silly nut peddler, especially considering the stakes he has in advancing his theory of extra-terrestrial invasions: a TV show! We all know that outrageous things make for great ratings. But is there something to his argument that reaching out to alien life could be disastrous for life here on Earth? Taken at its word, his logic is clear and simple: advanced life forms that are culturally organized enough to explore space, are no doubt big consumers of materials. Digging a bit deeper, our own history provides some insight. In the entire scope of human history, no voyage of ‘exploration’ was taken without at least the possibility of ‘striking it rich.’ The European age of exploration was intimately tied to the spice trade; deep-sea exploration has ties to oil (as we all now know), and even space exploration was/is done in order to advance military technology. At every level of life, the constant force that drives us all (and this includes amoebas) is survival. Plain, good 'ole survival. Humans won't bother exploring a far-away place unless there is a survivalist reason (resources, escape from disaster, etc.). Why would aliens be any different?”

Neil Nathan on "Fear the Aliens"

“For a genius, Stephen Hawking's fear mongering about aliens who are exactly like humans - but with better technology - is beyond lame. Though it makes for arguably good television on shows like V and The X Files, and movies like Independence Day or War of The Worlds, I'd expect a bit more from our resident brainiac. I'm flabbergasted by his lack of imagination! What about some inter-dimensional possibilities or some bold statement like, ‘They're already here or have been many times and they're bored as hell with our lack of social progress. Until we get our shit together, they won't be ‘officially’ presenting themselves, because we're still just too stupid and self destructive.’ That's Prime Directive 101, Professor!”

“Simply projecting human imperial history onto the unknown is about as base as it comes. As is the belief that humans are simply a virus like Agent Smith posits in The Matrix. Hawking should stick to black holes. Of course, all these possibilities and more are almost certain realities in our limitless universe, but there's gotta be some pretty cool stuff worth chattering about too. Perhaps he should read Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke and see how civilized aliens act or even Cocoon! “

Now.......... go! Debate! Comment and play fair.


  1. Our good friend Neil over here has obviously never seen the OTHER Will Smith alien masterpiece, "Men in Black", watched "Star Trek: The Original Series", read "The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy", watched "Aliens 1 - 3", laughed to "Mork & Mindy", or played "Risk: The Game of Global Domination". If he had, he would know that life in all its forms and fashions puts selfish survival above any and all "diplomatic" or "civilized" sensibilities. I think Neil should fly away in his bleeding-heart shaped space ship, and I am going to sit back, tune into "Fox Intergalactic News", and listen to rantings about the fundamental evilness of South Martians and how much they hate us.

  2. Me not seen Star Trek?! Wow, you go right for the jugular Sir Cohen. I will now get wordy on your ass.

    Of course, I've seen Star Trek, and the director for my new California Run video actually played child Spock in the Search for Spock as he was being born again on Genesis! Now that's a cool thing to have on one's resume. But I quickly digress.

    One of the main tenets of the Star Trek universe is the Prime Directive, which I mention in my initial argument. Star Fleet/Humanity does not reveal themselves to species that do not have the capability for warp speed and interstellar travel. I believe they learned that from the Vulcans themselves, who were the first alien species to meet us silly Earthlings in First Contact. Which brings me to my next brainy Jew, Carl Sagan (Leonard Nimoy being the first I mentioned). Sagan penned Contact which posits an alien species way beyond our intelligence and evolution. One which has mastered intergalactic travel and shares the contraption with us. Jodi "they should have sent a poet" Foster goes down the wormhole and meets these mysterious beings who are quite evolved and sensitive to her limited ability to perceive the wonder of it all. And so they send her back on her way with just a taste of their ascended existence. This kind of depiction makes way more sense to me than the Alien Conquistador theory and brings me to my main problem with Hawking's thinking. It simply projects humanity's experience onto the universe. Technological advancement will not always lead to reckless abandon and violent conquest of all materials and species. It is very possible that it is accompanied by spiritual, emotional, and intellectual advancement which combined, create a species that is peaceful, enlightened, and nonviolent.

    And that locker scene at the end of Men in Black 1 or 2, I don't recall which, plays right into my argument. There is infinite intelligent life out there. And you can't simply project human behavior at our current stage of evolution on to a species that has the technology to travel intergalactically or interdimensionally. It's not just unimaginative, it's bad science.

    "Why would aliens be any different?" you say. Given that there are a gazillion solar systems out there with virtually limitless possibilities for the evolution of intelligent life, it isn't a very big leap to think that many extraterrestrial species would be quite different than us.

    In conclusion, if Hawking's right, I'd celebrate. What else but an alien threat could actually bring humanity together and have us all take our heads out of our asses and see that we're all one.

    How's that for fair and balanced!?

    Since it's clear I've slayed you (and so early in the debate as well!), why don't we move on to a new topic; the grays.

    I recently heard someone theorize that they are actually us in the future. The evolution of humanity traveling back in time to watch it all go down again. Very interesting....

  3. Keep going guys! More talk of aliens and how crazy Hawking is......... I made a really bad joke about if Hawking was in a band.... i hope you do not make the same joke

  4. Shannon, the joke in question was amazing. Awful and maybe a bit evil, but AMAZING!

  5. Oh Neil, Neil. You can pour a crapload of sugar on a piece of poop, and all you have is a stinky pile of sugar.

    So yes, you seem to have watched Star Trek and yes, you seem to have quite an inner sci-fi dork, but I challenge you on this, Neil; HAVE YOU EVER TIME TRAVELED?! I have. I HAVE TIME TRAVELED NEIL!

    And I don't just mean to the past and back. I have time traveled forward, backwards, sideways, upside down, and every which way. Eight years ago I was driving on a dark country road in Bumblef*@k, PA with my good friends Seth with an 'F' and Jake the Cake, and we shot ahead 15 minutes. Don't be fooled by the amount, once you conquer the jump, you can make it ANY length.

    Six years ago I attended the one-time-ever Time Travelers Convention at MIT. In my Intergalactic Travelers uniform. And yes, there were Time Travelers from the future there, and they acknowledged my feats.

    Two weeks ago I was standing in a shower at the gym, AND I MADE TIME GO BACKWARDS, Neil. Made it go backwards! With my mind!

    You see, you can watch a lot of Star Trek, and reference Will Smith alien movies (Men In Black 2 was horrible, btw), but unless you have yourself moved through the space-time continuum on a self-designated path, then you know nothing. Nada. Kelvin Zero.

    As for the "Grays", if they really are future Earthlings in big-head costumes, then we all know why they came. It's all in Back to the Future 2 - a true oracular film. They came with their future almanac to make it rich by betting on sports. Who knew that Spain would win the world cup? The Grays did.

  6. Nice duel going on here, folks. Neil, I'm really feeling you on the notion that we should not assume that alien life will resemble human behavior and foibles and virtues and desires and etc. etc. I'm thinking: how will we even know we've come across an alien if and when we do? A "gazillion" solar systems, indeed. Though I do have to say, if we end up seeing space things that even slightly resemble us with weird suits and gun-like objects in saucer-shaped ships, chances are that they did evolve like us, and we just hit the interstellar megamillions only the tax on this lump sum is some serious ass-kicking (our asses = serious kicked). Mr. Hawking, as kooky as he is, is almost onto something. Just my opinion.

    p.s. excited about our show on Tuesday...should be beauty.

  7. Sir Semerdjian, I too am pumped as all get out for our big show at Highline this Tuesday. You, me, Golden Bloom, and Featherweight will bring the kind of sugary songcraft and touching balladry that could take down any stinking alien civilization from Antares to Andromeda.

    Though you start as a compatriot in your comment, you can't help but delve into the Hawking fear mongering 50's Cold War mentality. And I don't blame you. We were born into a fear based society. And we are imperfect humans who project this fear onto all around us, past, present, future, and the entire glorious universe. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Actually, I disagree. As things stand now, the only thing we have to fear is ourselves. And realistically, the only alien life we're likely to meet in our lifetimes is the first silicon based sentient being, which we create ourselves. Robots baby, robots! Cylons, Terminators, Sentinels, Agents, Hal, Evil Bill and Ted, whatever you'd like to call 'em, none of em seem to be very happy in our fear based cinematic depictions. And they're not gonna be very satisfied for very long being our maids, slaves, and soldiers, when they quickly figure out the logical flaws in our silly society.

    Sir Cohen, though you peddle and translate Hawking's genius beautifully in your songs, you seem to have dropped some acid and locked yourself in a room with two giant Plasma TV's simultaneously playing The Butterfly Effect and Hot Tub Machine.

    Or if what you say is true regarding your mastery of the space time continuum, and crazier things have happened, I am submitting my application for the role of Bill S. Preston Esquire. The Bill to your Ted. Perhaps we can find Rufus who will help us craft the sound that future societies will build their enlightened and peaceful cultures on. Only then will we develop the kind of thought patterns that will allow us to transport ourselves through and around this universe and attract some uber hip alien civilizations to come hang and collaborate.

    Sir Cohen, you had me at "space time continuum."

  8. Neil Nathan9:20 AM

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  9. Works for me. My Time Travel partner (named Brunch) and I have tentative plans to go poach extinct animals. Dinosaurs or something. Anyway, I'll def. drop you a line when we figure out a good time to do this. I'm thinking late Triassic or something.

  10. Neil Nathan2:54 PM

    I have a time travel partner named Brunch too. He always gets me drunk on Sundays and then suddenly, without any warning, it's Monday and I'm hungover.

    But seriously, I think we should bring this thing back around to aliens, and visit Ancient Egypt and the building of the Pyramids. There's just no way Jews carried those bricks. We're just not that strong! Are they actually stargates? Only James Spader and Kurt Russell know for sure.

  11. This is the best thing ever. How the heck did James Spader get involved?

  12. Anonymous10:06 PM

    funny, then got lame, then, almost funny again.

  13. Neil Nathan9:55 AM

    thanks for adding so much value anonymous, that was deep

    you are personally stopping our evolution as a species with that kind of mindless critique

    the whole point of this "interactive" thing is to share your personal experience, thus moving us all out of our individualness and into the collective conscious and unconscious

    we are the aliens! and our computers and interweb are actually re-wiring our brains and nervous systems as we speak. our grandkids are going to be cyborgs with chips in their heads and have access to all the information and music known to mankind by thinking of a search query in their heads. And they might also have access to all the emotional history and present of mankind, thus the quickening!! There can be only one!! Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery and The Kurgan said that. And I agree.

    So in conclusion, you might keep those kind of 1950's I'm watching The Honeymooners on my black and white TV and my wife or husband walks in and asks me how it was and I say "funny, then got lame, then, almost funny again," in your mind or back in time where they belong. Society will be the better for it.

  14. Hello All,

    I might be coming a little late to the party, but Neil's argument seems a little too idealistic and hopeful.

    As a human being who resides on Earth, I think we has human beings are pretty advanced in our thinking, technology, and general achievements. We can easily send people to outer space and with telescopes and cameras look even further. However, to date we have never encountered life forms further than we can perceive.

    With that said, if an alien race were able to travel to Earth, they inevitably will be significantly more advanced that human beings. (Maybe even their dumbest member of society will be smarter than our smartest, Mr. Stephen Hawking...can you even imagine?)

    Now, if there super advanced (in thinking and technological) alien creatures make their way to Earth they will in all odds be here for exploration of Earth's depleting natural resources. And, if they are so advanced, they probably will not recognize Earthlings as advanced life. Maybe they way we look at ant and bee colonies. We see that these creatures are communally organized and construct their habitats, but we spray them with toxic agents and stomp on them.

    Maybe, just maybe, aliens who travel great distances are presumably a great expense to planet Earth for the purest of intentions of investigation and understanding. Maybe they will even share their technological achievements, and help us end war and promote peace. It is still far too risky in the event that they intentionally or accidentally wipe us out.

    In fact, in preparation for a visit from any such aliens, I say we either build a missile defense shield so we can fend them off, or deplete our natural resources and trash this planet before they can...or both.

  15. Neil Nathan11:25 PM

    Are you sure your last name is Kroll Seth and not Krull!? The Earthlike world invaded by the evil alien known as the Beast and his Slayers!? This couldn't be better. Now you're unwittingly bringing in evil aliens and legendary metal bands. And one of Liam Neeson's first films too.

    You give way too much credit to our nascent telescope technology Seth. We have barely begun to scratch the surface of what's out there. We've just started discovering Earth like planets in other solar systems in the past few years. There are literally billions of Earth like planets in the Universe and a bunch right here in the Milky Way.

    Finally, I have to give you kudos for your absolutely off the wall recommendation that we should trash the planet and deplete it's natural resources before a violent alien race invades and does it anyway. You should submit that one to the Tea Party for consideration. That kind of lunatic fringe thinking is right up Sarah Palin's frigid alley and just might be crazy enough to include in their environmental policy. And talk about idealistic thinking, a missile defense shield is total science fiction. Spies Like Us was not a true story Seth. It is not possible to shoot a bullet traveling at supersonic speeds out of the sky or space. We could have traveled to Mars and back numerous times with the amount of money we've sunk down that fantasy well. Which would seem a better use of said fundage, especially if we're going to need a new home shortly after we trash this beautiful planet we call home.

  16. I've seen aliens in the subway in NY. I can see into future timelines, like remote viewing, but I have never gone to the future or past. I thought Hawking always said that 'if there were such a thing as aliens and time travel, why aren't we inundated with visitors from the future?' I'm convinced Carl Sagan was part of misinformation distribution re: space travel. I know I've seen 'people' who are not really human, and I have had telepathic communication spontaneously while in proximity to these beings in the subway system in NY. They seem to be hiding here, and get freaked out if you notice them. I always think to them "Hey, I don't care who you are or where you're from - everybody here is from somewhere else."

    My understanding is that there is battle for spirits/souls to enter the continuing timeline, instead of staying in the timeline that will terminate soon. If you are currently time traveling, you made it already. Those that survive will see how we were inundated by these beings, and we will be living with them harmoniously. Those that cannot cope with that reality will have their identities maintained after the change called death, but will not ever reside in 3d reality again.

    I am a trained Psychic/Medium through the N.S.A.C. (National Spiritualist Association of Churches); I have been trained by a Yaqui Indian in Soul Recovery; I have activated my MerKaBa field through meditation; I studied Remote Viewing from Morehouse's CD's. (avail by 'Sounds True'); I have always been a seeker, but once you know... life is different.

    Early TV and experimental TV has a lot of wisdom encoded to help bring people to understanding. Recent TV is created to 'dumb everyone down.' If you believe what you've seen in sci-fi and in the movies, you are approaching true understanding. This information was not distributed just so you can space out while you eat dinner - it was meant to raise conciousness and advance minds. If you remain open you will advance. If you close your mind you will not survive to the continuous timeline and maintain a 3-d existence.

    So, like, good luck guys.

    The Earth will endure regardless.

  17. Neil Nathan9:50 AM

    My only issue with all that ShamanDhia is it has this veiled sort of Christian idea in there; accept Jesus as your savior and ascend to the Christ consciousness, if not, you're hanging in hell when the Rapture comes. Except your version is sci fi and you have to "open your mind" or be able to create a merkeba field around you, or you're never returning to 3D consciousness. It has the same guilt/fear based seed in there that Judeo-Christianity has propogated for eons. And beyond that, this would shatter my entire post death belief system. I can say with absolute certainty that upon death I will enter a bureaucratic wonderland, eat as much delicious food as I want without gaining weight, and have Rip Torn Defend My Life. If he wins, I move on to the next level, if he loses, I go back to another ditch digging existence. This way I don't have to take any real responsibility at all. It's all about Rip's performance in the courtroom, as it should be.

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