Research can take a lot of directions, but a group named METI chooses to focus on creating and transmitting interstellar messages to intelligent extraterrestrial life.

As you can imagine, there are some pretty unexpected ideas being shared at the events organized by these researchers. But one particular notion seemed to stand out among several others.

Apparently, we could all be in a galactic zoo, being watched closely by alien life.

Jean-Pierre Rospars, a research director, offered to shed some light on the matter during an interview with Forbes.

He claims that extraterrestrials have put us all under a “galactic quarantine” so that we do not learn about them. That, apparently, would disrupt our culture.

The research explained that there is absolutely no reason to believe that the ultimate form of intelligence exists on earth. As he explained, the conditions that resulted in both random and systematic intelligence here on earth could have existed elsewhere, leading for forms of intelligence that might very well exceed our own.

The president of METI, Douglas Vokach, echoed these claims. He suggested that it’s possible extraterrestrials were watching humans on earth just as humans watch animals in zoos.

Even stranger, he suggests we can challenge the extraterrestrials to respond and reveal their presence by transmitting powerful and intentional signals to nearby stars. He argued that if a zebra in a zoo pounded its hoof in a series of prime numbers, we would be curious and forced to respond. So, this is the very same thing they are doing by sending messages into space.

But not everyone agrees. Critics suggest that scientists are just finding theories to explain their failure to find extraterrestrial life after all those years of searching, a problem researchers have actually named “The Great Silence.”

We are yet to get in touch with alien life. And the idea that we could be in a zoo is not exactly new. It was first introduced in the 70s and is called the Zoo Hypothesis

An argument was posed as to why extraterrestrials might not want to get in touch. Apparently, based on past experience, the meeting of two civilizations ended up having catastrophic effects.

So, advanced species might understand these risks and seek to avoid contact altogether. Their concerns might range from technological differences to risk of transmission of diseases.

At the moment, METI focuses on nearby stars, and it sends messages that are of a scientific or mathematical nature. Sending messages is part of METI’s broader objective to search for extraterrestrial life.

NASA withdrew its funding for this project several years ago.