Curiosity rover
Mystery light seen on Mars sparked an alien debate earlier this year.NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mankind is not ready to make contactedwithaliens, lacking knowledge and preparation for such an event, an expert has said.

Neuro-psychologist Gabriel G. de la Torre, professor at the University of Cádiz, has said scientists operating at organisations such as the Seti Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) should not be actively sending out messages to try to contact alien beings.

Seti scientists are sending messages from Earth to detect possible alien civilisations: "Can such a decision be taken on behalf of the whole planet? De la Torre said. "What would happen if it was successful and 'someone' received our signal? Are we prepared for this type of contact?"

De la Torre sent out questionnaires to American, Italian and Spanish university students, assessing their knowledge of astronomy, the physical environment, the cosmos and their religious beliefs.

The findings, published in the journal Acta Astronautica, found that humanity is not ready for alien life.

Beta Pictoris b
Artist's impression of exoplanet Beta Pictoris b.ESO L. Calçada/N. Risinger

"This pilot study demonstrates that the knowledge of the general public of a certain education level about the cosmos and our place within it is still poor," he said.

"Therefore, a cosmic awareness must be further promoted – where our mind is increasingly conscious of the global reality that surrounds us – using the best tool available to us: education. In this respect, we need a new Galileo to lead this journey."

The results showed that most people considered the subjects addressed in terms of their religious beliefs, and that they would rely on world governments if there was a huge global scale crisis.

De la Torre said: "Regarding our relation with a possible intelligent extraterrestrial life, we should not rely on moral reference points of thought, since they are heavily influenced by religion.

"Why should some more intelligent beings be 'good'? In fact, it is a global matter with a strong ethical component in which we must all participate," he said, warning that the potential contact with aliens should not be left to a handful of scientists.