These researchers are not just ego-tripping—they point out that if civilizations way older than ours existed they would have started broadcasting radio signals into space thousands of years ago, and we would certainly be able to tune in to advanced alien versions of Dr. Pimple Popper and My 600 Pound Alien Life, were any being produced.
We can’t, though, and there’s a deeper reason for that other than the fact that 600 pounds might be a perfectly average weight for an advanced alien. That reason is called the Fermi Paradox. The FP, briefly summarized, is that any beings advanced enough to invent technology will eventually destroy themselves, going extinct or at least degenerating into packs of leather-clad savages chasing each other around the barren landscape in dune buggies armed with machine guns.
The Fermi Paradox is named after Enrico Fermi, who after developing this theory that we are all eventually doomed, invented the atomic bomb to assist the process. You can’t make this stuff up.
Anyway, the paradox states that any critters smart enough to discover how to use fire will eventually cease to exist, nuking or global-warming themselves out of existence. Just consider the human race—you’ll nod and say, “Hell, yeah, we could do that.”
That’s what happened to any alien civilization that developed before us. They grew wealthy and populous, dominating their planet, sucking up all its resources while sitting around eating salty snacks and watching reality TV, until they started a world war with hydrogen bombs, cooked themselves in their own swill, or invented Terminators. All those alien signals from Too Many Tentacles for the Dress and Housewives of Arcturus swept past the Earth years ago, while our ancestors were sitting in prehistoric mud, and are heading out to the other galaxies, where other life-forms will blow themselves up before they can receive them.
The aliens don't exist then, at least contemporaneously. Many people will be disappointed by this, especially people that make aliens the centerpiece of science fiction features or who have been kidnapped by them.
But the Fermi Paradox can now be summed up much more succinctly, and Orwellianly. How about this?
All intelligence is stupid.
How's that for words to live by?