These are my short responses to three prompts after watching the movie "Contact" staring Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey.
Taking into consideration the movie, when it was written and adapted into a movie, much has changed within science, and still is occurring. For starters, the person who would go into space should go through extensive psychological surveillance to determine whether they are delusional or not. This person should be obviously very knowledgeable and well-rounded, but with a higher level of education in science. Somebody who is stable, wondrous and curious, but not too spacey (no pun intended) and must communicate effective. They must not be skeptical and simply play devils advocate and must be able to articulate themselves in three ways: In terms of Science, to the media during the press tour before and after the mission (assuming they survive) and when relating to others they encounter in outer space.
However, this is made under the assumption that whatever we humans contacted have the same body messages as human’s on earth. It makes one wonder. Will it be like communicating with someone who speaks a different language, like people do on a regular basis.They must also have the ability to communicate what they encounter within the bounds of science or compare it using science. Additionally, without their intrapersonal skills being honed, their interpersonal skills lack much. That must be assessed in various ways, such as in the film through questioning, but in my version, using in various settings and forums. With that being said, their ability to be left alone must be tested as well. Will they become “crazy” while being strapped in the chair and alone on the flight there and back. But then it also makes me wonder. Although in the movie one person was sent, should another person be sent on a different (or even in the same) contraption? One person can see something, but not know if they are seeing things. Whereas, if someone is with near, you can confirm your sightings during your voyage. The communication, confirmation and mutual respect must be at a high level among the two sent.
In my opinion, Dr. Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster did have some sort of interpersonal experience with an alien. She longs for an interpersonal experience, but doesn’t expect it to come from a star Vega that is 26 light years away. Nobody publicly believes her and when reason fails, she uses faith to back up her claims. In a turning point in the film, she does acknowledge that she merely might have hallucinated, but also says he had a life changing experience and that will hold a spot in her life forever. In private, two of the board members discuss the confidential government file, revealing they believe she may have encountered something. She wasn't gone for long, before the apparent malfunction of the contraption; but according to the recording device she wore recorded nothing but 18 hours of static, which correlates to her account of being gone for the same amount of time.
Humanity at times fails to acknowledge that we are not superior and we certainly are not the only people in this universe. Whether it be somewhere else (perhaps even Vega) they are watching the same movie, with a reversed plot, where “aliens” contact humans and an alien is sent to experience Earth. This adds to the earlier thought, all that Ellie Arroway yearns for is interpersonal communication with others, whether it is in the form of the scientific community, love or friends. It is particularly touching and very true when Dr. Arroway says:
“Because I can't. I... had an experience... I can't prove it, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever... A vision... of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how... rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone! I wish... I... could share that... I wish, that everyone, if only for one... moment, could feel... that awe, and humility, and hope. But... That continues to be my wish.”
It is a very touching sentiment and splendid way to wrap the movie up, without Foster’s portrayal of the character and her vulnerability, the script might have fallen on it’s face. It takes the simple thought that we as human seek out interpersonal communication and complicates it using science giving it a layer of meaning that puts this movie on pedestal that most movies are not on.
The film has an issue with faith and science, but scientific faith can exist. Unlike religion, of course, science is not content with mystery and seeks to unravel the secrets behind all the wonders of the world. Science is constantly seeking out explanations for the unknown or hypothesising and faith as a general entity doesn't like to question. In fact, science is always conducting experiments to prove, disprove, or amend the research of others. Within a specific faith, there usually isn’t any doubt or questioning, albeit an individual person can question their own faith and subsequently, faith and science can co-exist for an individual person, but not within another society.
It is a humankind idea that we are enthralled by something and then we want to tear it to shreds and find out how it functions. One of the biggest moments in the movie where diverging thoughts deter and ultimately completely derail any chances she has of going on the mission derives from a questions asked whether she believes in God. Scientists can have faith, but once science turns the conviction...it can not be reversed.