I don’t know about you, dear reader, but when I was a kid I dreamed of becoming the first Georgian Cosmonaut and flying to space, and to be frank, I am still dreaming about it. In my childhood I had almost no chance, and not only for health reasons.
The Soviets had flown a few hundred men and women from many Soviet republics but no ethnic Georgian was ever granted a ticket. Most likely this was a political decision and not due to the fear that we may stay in space for good, as some Soviet Georgians were doing while visiting countries outside the Iron Curtain. Note to the reader: Since then there is one Georgian man, now a Russian cosmonaut, Mr. Fyodor Nikolayevich Yurchikhin of Greek descent, born and graduated from high school in Batumi, who took five spaceflights and spent 672 days in space.
As of today, there are over 570 civilians who have visited space and thanks to the development of commercial space tourism, this number will skyrocket in a decade and amature cosmonauts will dominate the list. Unless unexpected things happen, I hope to be one of them, or at least would try my best to join. Regardless, the question ”Is there a life outside of our planet?” will most likely remain unanswered for years to come. Until then we are, technically speaking, alone in the universe. Or perhaps there is some evidence that can change the almost universally accepted NO answer to this question? In 2001, to address this issue, we at GORBI decided to ask some questions to the general public using one of our nationwide surveys. While working on the actual wording of the survey question, we decided to measure public perceptions about meeting with space aliens as well; and after 18 years, we repeated the same questions and now can present the time trend data.
So, what do we Georgians think about the possibility of the existence of life outside of planet Earth, do we want to meet aliens and, even more strangely, have some of us ever met with an actual alien?
To start with, over the last 18 years, the majority of the Georgian public believed that we are not alone and life outside of our planet does exist. However, the number of believers in extraterrestrial life has grown a little from 2001 compared to 2019, 54% and 58% respectively. Still, who are these enthusiasts? Based on survey data, there are more males than females (64% vs 52%), they are younger and have higher educational attainment, are wealthier and are more frequent internet users. Surprisingly, more ethnic Georgians believe in aliens than the non-Georgian population (58% vs 45%). And of course, fewer married rather than single, 57% vs 64% respectively.
Graph 1 and 2: Believe and experience in extraterrestrial life (%)
Source: GORBI, 2001 and 2019 nationwide surveys in Georgia. (n=1,000 and n=1250 respectively)
While more than 50% of Georgians believe in life outside of planet earth, those who thought about meeting with aliens are a significantly smaller group - today every fourth person surveyed compared to every third respondents in 2001, 25% vs 32% respectively. The survey also revealed that demographically, alien hunters and believers in life outside of earth share similar patterns.
And here is the most interesting finding of these two-time trend surveys – a very tiny fraction of the population claimed that they have already met with aliens. In terms of percentage points it was 0.3% during both years. Statistically it is an insignificant number to report, but 0.3% is still a big deal if we are talking about large population and both surveys were representing the approximately 3 million adult people residing in Georgia. Hence, we are talking about up to 9000 persons who claim that they met with extraterrestrial life. This number identical in both surveys.
I am not going to make any conclusions based on these findings. Nevertheless, we are still talking about thousands of “eyewitnesses” and if this is true (I wish it was), Georgia can simply become a very attractive place for those who recently tried to raid Area 51 in Nevada in search of extraterrestrial life. Consequently, our tourism industry would increase and Russian sanctions will be less harmful. Well, truth be told, in order to mitigate Russian sanctions, some other ways must be found and the Georgian government should not only rely on extraterrestrial help.
GORBI is an exclusive member of the Gallup International research network and has more than two decades of experience in survey research ( gorbi.com ).