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Are Humans the Only Lifeform in the Universe? SWR Students Think: Probably Not

May 6, 2021

“The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”
– Carl Sagan, “Contact”

Part 1: Data

On December 8th, 2020, an interview of the former director of space programs for the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Haim Eshed, was published in The Jerusalem Post. In his interview, he unexpectedly claimed the existence of a “galactic federation” composed of various alien life forms that the now-former President Trump of the United States is aware of, as well as a secret underground base located on Mars.

According to Eshed, the extraterrestrial members of this “galactic federation” have requested that they remain a secret until humanity is ready to accept their existence in order to prevent a mass hysteria.

Digital artwork by Laura Marino.

While this information may appear groundbreaking, this is not the first time a qualified government official has alleged the existence of aliens to the public. Paul Hellyer, the 97-year-old former Minister of Defense of Canada and longest serving current member of the Privy Council of Canada, has long insisted on the authenticity of alien life, even testifying before six U.S. Representatives about their legitimacy. He has claimed that four different alien species have been visiting Earth for thousands of years and as many as 80 different species exist. According to Hellyer, advanced inventions such as microchips and Kevlar vests are the making of alien species and humans have simply adopted this technology.

Hellyer has purported the existence of a particular alien race known as “Nordic aliens” who are described as appearing almost 100% human, except they are all blond, blue eyed, Caucasian looking, about six to seven feet tall, beautiful and physically flawless. This hypothetical alien race has been reported by different alien abductees and witnesses.

Evidence of alien life has always fallen short of believable, but how do people in Shoreham and Wading River feel about the possibility of extraterrestrials? Additionally, how do people in Shoreham and Wading River feel about the possibility of paranormal entities, mythical creatures and cryptozoological beings?

I created a survey and recommended it to all my friends and shared it with others who live in Shoreham or Wading River. I received 51 responses from a pool of students, high school staff members, teachers, alumni and SWR residents.

I found that 78.4% of people believed in intelligent life forms from other planets, while 19.6% said ‘maybe.’ Only one person out of 51 said ‘no.’

When asked if they believed aliens have already made contact with Earth, 49% reported ‘maybe,’ 31.4% said ‘yes,’ and 19.6% replied ‘no.’

When asked if they believed that extraterrestrials will be discovered and become of public knowledge in their lifetime, the options ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’ both had a response of 37.3% of people. 25.5% selected ‘no.’

When asked if they believed that the government of the United States or another country may know more about extraterrestrial life than they are letting on, 72.5% of surveyees said ‘yes,’ 19.6% answered ‘maybe’ and 7.8% replied with ‘no.’

When asked if they believed aliens may secretly have control over the state of world affairs, a stark majority of 76.5% replied ‘no’, 15.7% said ‘maybe’ and only 7.8% said ‘yes.’

66.7% participants replied ‘yes’ when asked if they believed in the existence of ghosts, poltergeists, apparitions or doppelgangers, while eleven replied 21.6% and 11.8% replied ‘no.’

Digital artwork by Laura Marino.

86.1% participants would say that a doppelganger most closely matches the description of a benevolent, human look- alike with whom you are unrelated. 16.7% believed a doppelganger to be a ghostly entity that follows a person. One person believed that a doppelganger is a kindred spirit, and another participant believed it to be a ‘you’ from another plane of existence.

The most popular mythical creatures that surveyees claimed they believed existed were sea monsters, witches and wizards, although most said they believed in none.



The most popular cryptids that surveyees they believed existed were Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster, although most said they believed in none.

Anyone can scoff at the prospect of ghosts or mythical creatures. However, it’s hard to argue that there is no possibility of extraterrestrial life. The Milky Way is roughly 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometers in diameter and a tiny speck compared to the rest of the universe. Is it pragmatic to claim that humans are the sole remarkable intelligent life form in existence?

Part 2: Stories


I inquired whether or not any of my surveyees have spotted an alien before and collected several
accounts of unexplainable experiences believed to be caused by aliens.

“I have seen unexplained lights moving around several times. Once was last fall right outside the school one evening. It was a triangle of lights that hovered about and then took off. It executed several 90 degree turns that would be impossible for a terrestrial flight.”
– Anonymous surveyee

I received several stories of ghostly encounters from surveyees, but this one was the most sinister.

“I was in my house alone and I was about to go to the bathroom in my parents’ room when I got a really weird feeling that I was being watched. It felt like someone was standing behind me. I walked into the bathroom and quickly locked the door to take a shower. When I got out of the shower, I had two scratches on my lower right- side back and I know they weren’t from me.”
– Anonymous surveyee

Additionally, I interviewed two students and one teacher in depth about their alleged paranormal experiences.

“My dad worked for TCI Cable in Brookhaven around 1994, and was called to one of the first houses built in Strongs Neck to install cable TV for the first time in the house. When he arrived, he asked about the history of the house, and he found out that it was rolled with logs down a hill onto its current location in the 1900s. The electricity wasn’t installed until the 1960s. The woman who lived there grew up in the house and was assumed to be in about her 80s. She showed my dad down to the basement. The basement was a “Yankee basement”, meaning it was a circular brick wall surrounding a staircase that was intended for storing firewood.

There was a crawl space in the basement. The house was held together with its original wooden pegs from the 1700s. The cable needed to be installed in the basement and a hole had to be drilled through a beam, which my father reluctantly did. Before he began, the woman offered her assistance when needed. My father went through the crawl space, and he needed a light on so that he could drill. He asked aloud for the light to be turned on since he heard someone walking around in the basement. The light was turned on at his command and he said, ‘Thank you.’

When he was finished, he exited the crawl space and saw the woman hanging laundry outside the basement window. He was confused about how fast that occurred, considering that it was about a minute and a half between the light being turned on and him exiting the crawl space. He went outside to thank the woman for turning on the light. When he thanked her, she explained that she was not downstairs at the time and had no idea what he was talking about when he referred to the light.

He finished the job and left, and then met up with his co-worker. The co-worker lived nearby the house in Setauket, and explained to my dad that he visited the pond facing the house many times and watched what he believed to be people dancing in period clothing through the windows, even though the old woman was the only one who lived there.”

– Brendan King, 12th grade

“This happened when I was really young. This middle aged lady in the Afghan community was ‘possessed’ by a demon or a ‘jinn’, which is the proper terminology for it. She was screaming a lot and writhing on the floor, so her family brought her to see the religious leader in our community, and he had to perform a sort of ‘exorcism’ on her. He was reciting the Quran and she kept on screaming and crying. It was honestly sort of disturbing. Eventually, she exhausted herself and fainted and I was just there when it happened, and I never saw anything like it again. I heard that she didn’t remember anything after, and some people said she was really high on psychedelics. It scared me so much when I was little.”

– Yusra Rashidzada, 12th grade

“So we bought a house in Maine, three years ago (as of) yesterday. The house is located in a very large field that we think was used once as a hay field and there are a few houses built on it now. I’ve had on two occasions a friend of mine stay at the house, and in the early mornings when they’re sitting on the couch and there’s no lights on, she saw figures of people walking straight through the house. She says that she can see clear images of faces, they’re not looking at [her] but just walking through. This happened on two different occasions in two different years because they stay there every summer. I have not seen anything yet, but who knows? What it makes me think about is, what’s the history of this field that this house was built on? Is there any kind of remnant of any kind of memories that these people, these spirits or these ghosts might be walking through?”

– Mr. Caskie

Mr. Caskie’s house in Maine.

No one had a story of an experience with a mythical creature. One surveyee relayed a story of an alleged cryptid sighting witnessed by their mother.

“My mom thought she saw a chupacabra outside her old house window years ago. She said it was almost kangaroo/deer- like but walked on two feet and she’s never seen anything like it before and never did again. Happened in the Shoreham area.”

– Anonymous surveyee

I was surprised by this story. Out of any cryptic entity, I was least expecting a chupacabra sighting in Shoreham. I was prepared for a Bigfoot.

I was not expecting the number of reported unexplainable instances to be this high. People tend to refrain from sharing supernatural stories out of fear of being ridiculed.

I was expecting to receive more ghost stories than any other kind, and I was correct. Reasoning a creepy situation with the possibility of a metaphysical being is easier than believing a physically “real” entity, such as the Loch Ness monster or an extraterrestrial could have been responsible. The lack of evidence for ghosts and spirits doesn’t need to be explained because of the elusivity they are believed to possess.

You can’t search for a ghost’s footprints.

There is no scientific understanding of the properties of ghosts, so their existence technically cannot be proved or disproved. Therefore, more people have stories of ghosts and less stories of meeting the Mothman.

There are few themes of media more popular than aliens and superstitious creatures. Their mystery feeds our imagination and makes the audience reconsider what they think is impossible and what isn’t, what is possible to be falsified and what cannot be.

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