Barack Obama on honesty, nihilism, and ALIENS

Ezra Klein recently interviewed former POTUS Barack Obama, “Obama Explains How America Went From ‘Yes We Can’ to ‘MAGA,’New York Times, June 1, 2021.

Regarding honesty, he noted:

“There’s a psychic cost to not always just telling the truth. And I think there were times where supporters of mine would get frustrated if I wasn’t being as forthright about certain things as I might otherwise be. Then there are also just institutional constraints that I think every president has to follow on some of these issues. And it was sort of on a case-by-case basis where you try to make decisions.”

Another issue with “not always just telling the truth” is that, as the Babylonia Talmud puts it: the punishment for a liar is that even when they tell the truth, no one will believe them—the old’ boy who cried “Wolf!” syndrome.

He was asked, “If it came out that they were alien, if we got an undeniable proof of that, how would that change your politics, or your theory about where humanity should be going?”

Obama replied, “It’s interesting. It wouldn’t change my politics at all. Because my entire politics is premised on the fact that we are these tiny organisms on this little speck floating in the middle of space.”

This can be understood on various levels.

For one, sure, we technically are “tiny organisms on this little speck floating in the middle of space.” But the issue is what is the premise for that and to what does it lead? For example, it can be read nihilistically and leads to that ergo, all things are permissible.

He ties it to life elsewhere in the universe which would be more “tiny organisms on” a different “little speck floating in the middle of space.”

He continued with that “When we were going through tough political times, and I’d try to cheer my staff up, I’d tell them a statistic that John Holdren, my science adviser, told me, which was that there are more stars in the known universe than there are grains of sand on the planet Earth.”

This is the same point raised by Carl Sagan in his pale blue dot dictum which basically comes down to that we live on this tiny pale blue dot-little speck so why can’t we all just get along? The issue is that it is a non sequitur since one could just as easily—even more easily actually—argue that we live on this tiny pale blue dot-little speck so why not just get your kicks, take advantage of people to get what you want, conquer, oppress, etc.?

Obama also repeated words to the effect of the Ronald Reagan statement about the world coming together if aliens menaced us, “I would hope that the knowledge that there were aliens out there would solidify people’s sense that what we have in common is a little more important.”

Yet, human nature being what it is—the fallen thing that it is—we can also turn this right around, can’t we? We are these tiny organisms and so are aliens—even if they are subjectively not tiny—inevitably, some would oppose any alien presence and/or intervention on Earth and some would accept them as some sort of universal saviors, as Obama put it, “New religions would pop up.”

For more alien related info, see my relevant books.

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