READERS DIGEST EXCULSIVE POLL- (Australian Edition July 2005)
Who think we're alone? Not many of us according to RD's survey asking Australians about intelligent life beyond planet Earth.
This much we already know. Earth is part of the Milky Way- one galaxy among two hundred billion galaxies in the Universe. And each galaxy contains an average of four hundred billion stars. Our closest star, the sun provides the light and heat to support life as we know it. So is it so far-fetched to believe intelligence has developed elsewhere in space, within the glow of at least one star? It's a question that intrigues and confounds.
Without a definitive answer, how many of us choose to believe in aliens? To find out, we polled 750 adults nationwide*, posing a range of questions about aliens, UFOs, encounters and the openness of authorities to tell all they know. This is what we uncovered.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE OF US BELIEVE ALIENS EXIST
"Do you think there are other forms of intelligent life in the universe?" Eighty-one percent said yes. Of these around six in ten believe aliens are already monitoring what we do on Earth. Older people (50-59 years) are more likely than 18-29-year-olds to believe we're being watched.
(The above text is next to a picture of a crop circle, with the following: Calling cards in the crops? More than a third of us think aliens are behind patterns such as this one in the US.)
Of those who believe in aliens, 83 per cent think other life forms have already dropped by. Around one in five maintain they (or someone they know) has seen a UFO, and around twice as many believe out-of-this-world life forces are responsible for crop circles. More than half suspect that humans have been abducted by aliens. And seven per cent told us they, or an acquaintance, may have already had a close encounter with an alien.
Some of our respondents go one step further, believing that extraterrestrials may be living among us. One in ten answered yes to the question: Have you ever thought someone you know may be an alien?
Two-thirds of our overall sample- and a whopping 84 per cent of believers - told us that aliens are more likely to be our friends than foes. In fact, around half the believers feel so enamoured of extraterrestrial life forms that they would like the chance to meet one. And men are more likely than women to desire such an encounter.
asked what aliens might look like, around half the believers said "humans."
Other responses included "invisible forces" (12 per cent), ET
(11 per cent) and Star Trek weirdos
(nine per cent). Younger respondents were more likely to have fanciful
perceptions like ET and little green men. A significant proportion of
our sample- 16 per cent- couldnŐt even hazard a guess about the appearance
of an extraterrestrial.
THREE-QUARTERS SAY THERE'S A COVER-UP
Regardless of our belief about aliens, most Australians feel that the authorities are withholding information on this topic. Almost three-quarters of our overall sample answered no to the question: Do you think authorities are telling us all they know about alien encounters? Among believers, this suspicion jumped to a staggering 93 per cent.
Suspicion didn't end there: several of our poll group queried why we were asking!
of Area 51- not really sure- it looks industrial!-with the text,
"Do places such as the Area 51 testing facility in the US harbour
secrets governments are keen to suppress?" Seems most of us think
DOWN TO EARTH OPINIONS
one-fifth of our sample stated categorically that they do not believe
in the existence of aliens. Yet they don't necessarily think the believers
are crazy. When we asked the sceptics to describe people who believe in
UFOs and aliens, the top response (42 per cent) was "open-minded,"
followed closely by "gullible" (35 per cent). Only eight per
cent of the sceptics described believers as "bonkers."
* Market-research company The Leading Edge conducted this online survey on behalf of Readers Digest on April 14 and 15, 2005.