1. There is life in this galaxy other than ours.
2. At least some of these beings are more advanced than we are.
3. At least some of these more advanced beings want to make some form of contact with us.
If these things are true, then which one of the following scenarios is more likely (as told by an alien named Zorg)?
Greetings, Earth people - my name is Zorg. My species was buzzing about your part of the galaxy in our spaceships - you know, the one that looks remarkably like something out of a 1930s science fiction pulp magazine - and we noticed your interesting little world. Now, my species really isn't that much more advanced than you are, technologically speaking, so we have to be pretty careful when we get to planets like yours, because your radar might cause us to crash (similarly, thunderstorms, your fighter jets, swarms of bugs, watching an episode of Two and a Half Men... all sorts of things might make us crash - hey, stuff happens). Anyway, we wanted to make find out more about your species, so we decided to borrow a couple of you, and run some experiments. Unfortunately, our medical technology is really no more advanced than yours, so the experience is pretty horrifying, I'm afraid. That's why when we send you back, we erase your memory of it all (plus, we're kind of worried that you might remember our technology, manage to duplicate it, and then attack us or something). Alas, some of you have figured out that you can recover those memories through hypnosis, which was probably inevitable, as we decided a couple of your decades ago that a small sample wouldn't work, so we've been "borrowing" people by the thousands (we've taken so many, we've actually lost count). Well, the point is that we're really sorry about it all - but despite the fact that my species has developed super technology that allows us to travel between the stars, everything else about us is pretty much the same as you guys, which is really crazy when you think about it, but there it is. It's almost as if you invented us! Furthermore, despite the fact that all sorts of things can make our spaceships crash (note: I'm not the only one from my planet here doing these things - there's Zarg, and Zirg, and Zurg...), including your pesky fighter jets and WWII-era radar, your governments can't actually do anything about us "borrowing" you guys. Like I said, it's weird, but I guess that's just the way the universe works. However, you can rest assured that we're not here to take all of your resources and enslave your women. Honest. We're just curious, mostly. Heck, you never know - our technology is so similar, we might actually learn something from you! Plus, you're really tasty... whoops! I've said too much!
Hello. While my species doesn't really have "names" as you comprehend them, you may call me "Zorg". We find your species very interesting, at least from an anthropological point of view, so we decided to make contact, many thousand of your "years" ago (memo to Earthlings - your linear concept of time is extremely quaint, but then you're an extremely quaint species, which is why we like you). We have found it best to present ourselves in ways that fit in with the cultural norms of your time. Accordingly, we've actually been known by many names over the time we've been in contact with you, and we have appeared in many forms (the burning bush was my favourite, with the UFO meme a close second). We do this using a technology that is far, far beyond your comprehension. Your species is still confined to your physical reality, or at least what you perceive as "reality", but we operate on different "levels". I guess the best way to explain it to you is that when we make contact, we don't do it in what you would consider the literal sense, but rather in a more figurative way, using what you call dreams, and the subconscious, and... well, it all gets rather complicated, I'm afraid. Suffice it to say, we're far more interested in the mind and spirit than the body (that's what happens when you get to this level of development as a species), and so that's where we make contact. In a sense, we "speak" to you, across the vastness of space. The great thing about this form of communication is that it allows us to participate in your development, and slowly help guide you to a greater level of understanding, not about technology, but about yourselves. When you've been around as long as we have, that's what really matters. I have to admit that it's been a rough haul, but some of you seem to "get it" from time to time (two of my favourites have been Henry Alline and Hildegard of Bingen), and as a result we haven't abandoned the effort. After all, we have the "time" (some of you will know what I mean by that). Someday, our hope is that all of you will be able to understand and accept us, but that day is far in the future.
Now, which one of these two scenarios makes the most sense?
The first one represents the "alien abduction / nuts-and-bolts flying saucer" meme that has been prevalent for the past sixty years (abductions for a somewhat shorter time period).
The second one represents, to some degree at least, the "contactee" version of events, placed within the context of long-term interaction by humans with an advanced, non-human, probably extraterrestrial intelligence.
To me, the "abductee / flying saucer" scenario is the result of a "pre-Copernican" way of thinking that places us at the center of events, and imagines any advanced intelligence we may encounter as more or less us, with slightly better technology. The "contactee" scenario is far more likely, in my opinion - indeed, of the two, it is the only one that I believe might actually have happened. It takes into account the wide range of described encounters with a non-human intelligence throughout human history, and provides a reasonable narrative by way of explanation. It makes us part of the story, but not the center of the story. It may be true, or it may not be true, but it is a better fit for the evidence than the first scenario.
This is why I am convinced that there is more to be learned from studying the "contactee" scenario of "alien" interaction with humanity, than the "abduction" scenario. When done within the context of a bigger picture, which includes all forms of possible encounters, the contactees might actually provide clues to the nature of any non-human intelligence we could be dealing with. By contrast, the alien abduction / flying saucer meme, as an answer in and of itself (which is how it is presented by its proponents), has not, and will not, provide anything other than fodder for B-grade science fiction films and novels.