I am super-rich person with a net worth of 32 billion US dollars. Part of my business is being contractor for NASA and SpaceX (so I have knowledge about space technology).

I already own my island and have people working for me, willing to fulfill any of my wishes. After I realized that killing everyone would be too pricy I decided to convince everyone about my truth about the aliens.

How much does it cost to fake alien contact?

I have the technology to put a space station of Skylab size into standard Earth orbit for 62 days, and I can keep three people there.
(Nothing is in orbit yet).

The goal: Convince people that aliens are real and make as many people as possible believe it.

Plus points: Make powerful governments publicly confess that aliens are real (In this trope, I am convinced that powerful states are already in contact with aliens).

By "powerful" I mean USA, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom - i.e. the United Nations Security Council

Do I have enough money to do it?

What steps should I make to convince people about the aliens?

I want to start with it "tomorrow" (Earth current day technology)

  • $\begingroup$ By 'contact' what do you want your aliens to do? Send a message? Appear in the sky? Step out their space ship ala ST:First Contact? $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2015 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ @ScottDowney that is one of "undecided" - I want to do whatever what convincves people about aliens and powerful to confess. But I have to be able to do it in a way which is believable. I think that sending message will be safest $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2015 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ Media (tv news/radio/newspaper/internet/etc) is very powerful then you buy over Hollywood for the special effects and acting plus celebrity/famous scientists for endorsement, with all of this I'm sure your money is well spent... I'll throw in a discount if we have a deal. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Apr 28, 2015 at 9:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Here is a classic low-budget engineering student prank involving faked alien landings from the 1960s - not serious, but well worth reading about: deceptology.com/2011/03/… $\endgroup$
    – glenatron
    Apr 28, 2015 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ I recall the Watchmen solution is to breed a giant psychic monster and teleport it to New York. And I didn't realize just how implausible that is until I just typed it... $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2015 at 14:05

4 Answers 4


"Discover" a Voyager-2 style alien craft.

Have your secret labs develop alternate technologies, e.g. semiconductors not based on silicon, prepare a message/plate that is a counterpart of our "golden disc", use materials obtained with unmanned probes from the Moon, possibly have your biological division create several fake (dead) bacteria with (fake) alternate biology.

Send out a probe to Mars; something rather large, like Curiosity. Officially, the probe "encounters" the craft flying through space, somewhere around Mars orbit. Unofficially, it deploys the craft shedding the rover disguise; later it has a critical failure during Mars orbital injection, crashing, so that not a trace of the missing rover is left.

So, the craft (which appears to be only the end stage of something much, much bigger) is floating through the Solar System. It will take good several years, looping around the planets, before it crashes somewhere (into the Sun?). Your probe captured some signals. You forward the data to the scientists and let the governments manage the capture of the probe. They aim their radiotelescopes and capture the signal broadcast by the craft. They contact it, and it turns the antennas to Earth. Bidirectional communication is established as they discover the protocol - the craft responds to commands but doesn't have any AI. Still, it provides a bunch of data on the alien civilization and information about the alien artifacts it carries on board.

Let them worry about retrieving these artifacts.

Oh, and if you want more flexibility, claim the craft was an earlier, slower probe. You have managed to find a later but faster probe; a lander - that overtook the simple one and landed on Earth a couple centuries/millennia ago.


Begin by considering what you are engineering: You need to create a belief, you need to create it in enough people and they need to be the right people. You can put unambiguous evidence in front of some people and they will still refuse to believe it ( consider any of the current anti-scientific movements ) but most of those people are not the same ones who are in the upper echelons of power. Those need to be your first audience, they will carry more of the people with them.

Rational people tend to build up beliefs through a steady build up of evidence and your character's endeavour may be more persuasive if rather than a single event they had already warmed people up to the idea and created a narrative around it- our brains are irresistibly drawn towards stories, so this could work well.

So we might start by asking what aliens would do that would result in a first contact event. That also needs us to consider what or who the aliens are.

Our budget probably doesn't stretch to a full-on landing, so perhaps the aliens are just passing through ( Rama style ) or investigating Earth in some way, either in a way that would incorporate direct contact with humans or not. Alternatively they may be doing something entirely inscrutable, which requires some very original thinking before one can suitably design it. There is a lot to be said for the latter case as we can create a series of unconnected and unexplained events, which people will draw their own conclusions from and build up connections.

Elements that could be useful:

  • Satellites capable of transmitting radio signals - if you want interactivity then these might be your messengers, if not then they could be broadcasting "communications" with unknown entities on the planet.
  • A technology that allows you to do much of what can be done electronically without electronics. This is a tricky one as you either need something mechanical- for example circuitry based on magnetic rather than electrical induction, entirely analogue computation or something that behaves like a biological system, using proteins for data storage, communication and so on. You might find that evolvable hardware might help create weird designs. The thing about implementing a technology like this is that to get it sufficiently advanced to be credible for a space-faring species you probably need to get it very sophisticated and then the temptation to make yourself even richer with a vast portfolio of crazy patents would be difficult to resist, although this could be part of your post-event plan where you could claim to be analysing it. Anything of this kind must be carefully synthesized in a way that favours materials that do not occur on earth. This is your representative among humans so it must be very detailed.
  • Communications that are totally weird. Are they meaningful or not? Ideally you might want to go for something reminiscent of the Voynich Manuscript which appears to be meaningful but may not be. For extra points avoid binary logic- encoding it through an analogue process or using a logic that operates in an unusual base.
  • A way of ensuring your technology gets to do its thing noticeably. If you have your own island then a good way of deploying it would be from a couple of stealthed-up submarines. In fact if we were to see the visitors as aquatic then they might not even be interested in the surface and the drones above would be more like fish. The oceans are vast and little explored, so an aquatic alien would be hard to find if they were smart and unwilling to be found. Ensuring a few drones turn up in fishing nets would start to draw attention to them.

With these in place, you might choose to start by waiting until a noticeably large meteor hits the sea- this happens a lot but for extra points you might just begin the endeavour during one of the big meteor showers. Pick a starting point in the sea and release a big old burst of your weirdly encoded transmission. Have the satellites mirror it very briefly ( perhaps for maximum effect the satellites are positioned so that they can "animate" a moving signal source across the sky.

After a few months of silence, another burst of encoded data from another location. People may be listening for it by now, and finding it will certainly draw them in.

Then, the first drone is found in a fishing net somewhere. For maximum effect you might give it a form and swimming mechanism that is entirely different from any terrestrial creature.

A few more drones turn up - they need to appear in different places at similar times, to create a clear impression of worldwide spread. Some of them will be getting analysed and questions will be asked everywhere, but it is inevitable that some will be encountered by regular people and videos will be out online fairly quickly. A few different varieties of drone would help to create interest.

From time to time drones emit a short burst of inscrutable data. Once they are out of the water ( or out of salt water ) this takes on a standard pattern.

Once everyone is talking about this mystery, it's time for your grand finale. Now I don't have a clear picture of what this should be, but follow it up by a sequential and dramatic destruction of the signal satellites, designed to create the impression of something powering itself around the planet and away in a series of explosive bursts. Ideally all drones "die" at this point. The aliens have gone, you just have to clean up all evidence of their creation.

The biggest risk is that the more people are involved in a conspiracy the sooner it fails, so you need to have a very dedicated pranking crew behind you and you can't expect the story to hold forever. You almost certainly can however, with the right resources, persuade major powers of extra-terrestrial visits at least temporarily and create a mystery that will fascinate across generations.


Keep in mind what the original question told us about this billionaire. If he had less money, we'd call him delusional. As it is, the polite term is eccentric. This person believes that the key governments are already in contact with aliens, and wants them to "come clear" because they believe the cover is already blown.

We can assume that the first step was a network of telescopes and radars to try and catch the aliens. Obviously the sensors found no evidence that was good enough to go public. So the billionaire believes that the major governments know that the aliens have science-fiction-style stardrives which leave no trace on present-day sensors. Any fake with incoming signals or sublight ships or probes might convince the public, but it won't convince those governments "in the know."

The billionaire has to convince the major governments that their deal with the aliens is slipping, and that they have to "come clear" now rather than later to preserve their own credibility.

  • Make it look as if the aliens are cutting new deals with other governments or with transnational corporations. How those hints look depends on what the billionaire believes about the original deals. Disappearing cows in the Amazon? Crop circles in India?
  • Make it look as if independent journalists or whistleblowers are prepared to make a disclosure. Have journalists on the fringe of those independents ask for background interviews about Roswell and Tunguska and prime them with a few "facts" which the billionaire believes to be true.
  • Generate a rash of "bigfoot sightings" which happen to look like the aliens. For extra credibility, have the witnesses insist that they're dealing with cryptids rather than aliens.

Alternatively, the billionaire might believe that the governments don't "come clear" because they think mankind "is not ready." So convince them that mankind can deal with the relevation, but without antics or "facts" which contradict what the governments "know". Again no fake signals. Fund research in exobiology and linguistics. Fund our own probes or signals to talk to aliens. Have credible scientists predict first contact in our lifetimes.

And last but not least, how expensive would it be to win an election in France or the UK? Cheaper than the US, for sure.


Edit: sorry, I probably misunderstood the lore, I thought you'd like to fake a new alien contact (which would probably quickly hidden by governments) instead of giving a glaring evidence to everyone. My bad; I guess my answer is not quite relevant in your case. (Should I delete it?)

To make governments actually believe that they deal with aliens, imho, sending a message would work much better than crafting alien artifacts.
Government would retrieve the alien artifacts at any cost, and would be very interested in cracking them. Alien technology could give an ultimate scientific and military advantage, so they would put a lot of resources in studying it. You could hire a bunch of scientists and artists to create something absolutely unbelievable for commoners; but I doubt it would fool topmost research labs and military departments.
The signal seem to be way easier. If you'd like, it could even be meaningful, like the messages that humanity have transmitted: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_interstellar_radio_messages (imho, Arecibo message is the most impressive example from this list). Sure, you'd still need artists and cryptologists, but it seems easier anyway.
The main issue with the signal is that they should be unable to track its source. I guess, you'd need a bunch of small transmitters, far away in space. Their signal should be only caught briefly and rarely, it should barely differ from a usual space noise - earlier or later, someone would notice it anyway. (yep, that coverage is sort of naive, but it's the best I can think of).

  • $\begingroup$ They would secretly study an alien object but they can't hide a signal which is being received worldwide. $\endgroup$
    – Ángel
    Jun 13, 2015 at 22:42

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