From the BBC Science World Report
The threat of meteorites entering the Earth is legendary.
The shock waves and earthquakes triggered by these miniature celestial bodies are less obvious to explain.
But global climate scientists have come up with a new explanation: People believe the earth’s natural disaster event, the tsunami, is an alien spaceship.
Researchers from the United States studied responses from young teenagers to a questionnaire.
They looked at whether the idea – popularised by conspiracy theorist Gary Larson – that asteroids are in fact space craft, was a group belief or an alternative explanation.
We found 55 per cent of the teenagers considered that the earth was actually on another planet, and most believe the world is changing due to an alien invasion or an unknown natural disaster.
Some 60 per cent said the earth had been selected as a cosmic babysitter because it is inhabited by intelligent beings and have learned to control human beings.
And almost half believe the earth is slowly dying out because we have become too good at everything, and make too much intelligent and brilliant things, leading to doom and destruction.
Of the 93 million teenage girls who took part in the study, 52 per cent said they believed “planets at large” are intelligent, while just 7 per cent of males made this assertion.
But whether it is the real thing or not, some teen girls do believe in flying saucers.
The survey also found that three in four teenagers believed there were aliens in the air.
Among men, the number rose to over 80 per cent, and there was a striking gender gap when it came to how young men and women thought the Earth had been selected as a cosmic babysitter.
A majority of men (58 per cent) and female teenagers (57 per cent) believed their planet was chosen by intelligent beings.
Men were also more likely to believe these intelligent beings had been the first human beings in the universe.
But the teenage girls surveyed were in the minority when it came to most people in society.
It doesn’t appear that alien civilizations have been discovered, because these theories are based on the perceived “presence” of extraterrestrial beings in the earth’s immediate environment.
The BBC Science World Report is on air every Sunday afternoon from 1700 GMT on BBC Radio 4 and the programme is also available on iPlayer.
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