This question is focused on what one man could do without the implicit resources on a larger scale.

The year is 1980. Paul is a 17-year-old farmer in Iowa, with nothing really to his name besides his pickup. Late one evening as he's driving down the road a Handwavium bolt of psionic energy hits him. The Handwavium bolt accomplishes the following:

  • Over the next 36 months his abilities will develop as listed:
    • He gains a 'genius level' intellect
    • He can think faster (complex though and simple reactions), and focus harder than the vast majority of people
    • He gains military knowledge on tactical, strategic, and logistic levels the envy of modern military commanders
    • He gains extensive knowledge of chemical, electromechanical, and computer engineering on the level of accomplished professionals in these fields (all limited to the technology and research in this era)
    • His body approaches (but doesn't reach) olympian levels at a variety of activities
    • His body overall is extraordinarily healthy
  • Most importantly he gains a vision that, in exactly, to-the-day, 25 years from that night there will be an alien invasion

He knows few details about the invasion (he recalls a fleet of saucer UFOs, various machines landing on the surface of the planet, and humanoid aliens walking about), but he knows with absolute certainty that it's coming.

Well, Paul knows he can't just walk to the police station and say that aliens are coming as he'd rather not be thrown in the looney bin. As he has no way he can think of of creating proof, he'll have to keep this all to himself.

Paul wants to help the world to prepare for the invasion. Paul wants to consider every possible option--every possible path he could take--and figure out how best he can ready Earth for this invasion. The threat of extermination is so concerning to Paul, that Paul is willing to do absolutely anything to accomplish these goals.

The question is not about what character actions Paul might take, but what Paul can do given that he only has direct command over himself as a resource.

What is Paul's best plan forward?

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    $\begingroup$ I love this paradox: person gets vision of future alien invasion -> tells other people -> other people send signal looking for aliens -> aliens detect signal -> aliens invade. So if the person never told anyone, would the invasion still happen? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ I think he should wait 'till the “genius” phase hits, and then start planning. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder what would happen if the spark of genius happens to be separated into the vision and the enhancements... while Paul gets the vision, his puppy Mr.Spock at the other seat of the car get the genius (and the grumpy tomcat hiking at the pickups cargo-ramp gets the muscles). Now that would be interesting....but it totally sounds like a children story that way. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre: The real question is, would wearing tin hats had prevented it at all? $\endgroup$
    – Zaibis
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ Why are you asking us? Paul is the genius military expert superscientist! He should know what to do better than any of us! $\endgroup$
    – komodosp
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 9:29

19 Answers 19


There are a couple good answers already about how Paul can help the world prepare by sharing knowledge, or advancing technology. But if he is really prepared to consider any option, to take any action, there are at least a couple more options he should consider, whether or not he actually decides on using them.

Take up Super-villainy

Honestly, there is very little that pressurizes R&D and advances technology like a real, genuine, threat. While it is possible that he can take advantage of existing tensions to market his new & improved defense technology, it isn't guaranteed - especially if the discrepancy between the incoming aliens and Earth is significantly greater than the discrepancy between what a nation can do with what Paul-advanced tech is capable of, and what the next most powerful nation can come up with in the intervening time. It is quite possible - if one nation gets too far ahead, or if (kinda like nukes) the tech becomes sufficiently dangerous that no one wants to use it on their own planet/people - it can stall out with either that one nation suppressing others and not needing more or better weapons, or with a Mutually Assured Destruction pact, which prevents the tech from being used/developed more - potentially before it reaches the levels needed to defend against the aliens.

So, Paul might consider becoming a super-villain. As an individual, he can become a threat, to his specified level, and and spark innovation that way. Better yet, if he plans well enough, he can unite the best minds into working together against him, instead of against each other - and he might make strategies that develop piecemeal the tech he wants (better targeting systems to foil this scheme, now tighter focus to fix that, and preventing this kind of target jamming, how to avoid overloads) which can happen to be pieced together into the super-effective weapons and systems needed when the aliens come (as targeted as he can make it), instead of being halted as not-needed, if it was not-needed against purely human threats.

He might not decide that is the right path to take - if nothing else, it will make his life miserable, paint a target his family and hometown, and if he fails at all (is caught, is out-developed, is killed) he will fail totally since no one will believe him after he makes himself that level of threat (or nuisance). But if he's honestly willing to look at all the possibilities, he should at least plan it out and see how it stacks up against other plans, to see which offers the best chances. Of course, since part of this idea's problem is how it will ruin his own life and credibility, he might try a related solution instead.

Make a Super-villain (hoax)

Hey, if he doesn't want the job, why not give it to someone else - preferably someone entirely imaginary, since then they won't get out of control. Probably. Hopefully.

Anyway, he will need to plan some kind of background story for this villain, including a pretend-goal, and some kinda logic for how his actions will serve that goal. He will need some remote disguise, so it isn't clear he's imaginary - maybe a robot, or a costume, some signature effect, a signed note, whatever works - so people will know who this is supposed to be. Also, he will need to pre-develop some fairly advanced tech (again, as close to the alien tactics as possible) so he can have a "head start" on the rest of the world, and be a viable enough threat to the rest of the world to get the weapons up to par.

As a bonus, this way he can be on the side of angels as long as the hoax doesn't get revealed - collaborating with them, influencing the direction of their inventions (and using that knowledge to keep the Villain's threat relevant). And, if he develops counters and counter-counters at the same time, he can get into a technology race with himself, and "release" technology upgrades targeted towards fighting the aliens from both sides, with a bonus of whatever the other human weapons developers come up with to make it better.

It is possible, if he manages the threat level vs actual damage well enough, and has a good enough rapport with people he has been collaborating with - he might be (kinda) listened to even if the hoax is discovered. If they believe he at least believes in that level of threat, if he has made the villain frightening but not directly caused that much damage (via "last minute saves" by himself or various deus-ex-machina)... they might be willing to develop the tech just in case, even if the hoax costs him their trust otherwise, and possibly his freedom and/or future. And wouldn't it be worth it, for the whole world?

Make an Alien (hoax)

Well, maybe he doesn't want to cause that much damage, even if it does get everyone working together and the right sorts of directions to nullify the threat. But, having already had the idea of a hoax - can he try a different one? Make up some "alien refugees" (or possibly just the one) - maybe they can even be "advanced warning" of the alien threat, having barely survived the same species' advances (and possibly "lost their own planet" in the bargain).

This will be similar to the "super-villain hoax", since Paul will want to avoid any scientific experimentation (including simple bio-analysis) that can prove it's a hoax. On the other hand, any actual alien refugee would also want to avoid being experimented on, especially if they saw some of our storybooks and alien treatment in them, first. So, having the refugee(s) openly state their "reasons" for hiding will help. Gifts of advanced technology (developed by Paul, of course) can be given - preferably to multiple governments simultaneously, and with carefully leaked media exposure - along with the warning of the alien fleet, its estimated arrival timeline, and the potential fate of earth, based on the "fate" of the hoax-alien planet, if the alien fleet isn't resisted.

Obviously, it's best if the technology was a boost in the right direction. Possibly the information is "fragmented" or partial, openly attributed to the hoax-aliens laws about advanced tech or limited by what they "could scavenge", or what "they" (Paul) thinks is safe to give humans, and which actually depends on what Paul can actually come up with and what time-frame he is willing to give to his own tech development vs the world's response time. Human scientists can go over the data and develop ways to fill the gaps on their own.

He may want to stack the deck of his hoax with media exposure, his tech or robots or whatever proxies publicly offering help in disaster scenarios, using their "advanced tech" to give warnings or open aid, kinda working the superhero trope and giving concern about human reaction as a reason for not coming forward openly. As long as everything is done through proxies, it will be hard to prove it's a hoax - especially if the tech involved can really be developed by Paul. And this way it will be possible to openly warn the world about the alien threat - nobody will be surprised or doubt that space aliens believe in and/or know about a space alien fleet!

Again, it is possible that if even if the hoax is discovered, he might be able to convince the discoverers that he has a genuine belief in the coming fleet - he has proven his intelligence with developing all that tech and the hoax itself, yeah? And at least in this hoax, Paul and his "refugees" have been helpful and not caused damage, not acted as a threat, gifted technology and weaponry (to multiple nations, no less). So they might continue developing the technology just in case it's true - or even let the hoax continue, with people not in the know innovating in the meantime, until the invasion happens (or doesn't), thinking they can decide what information to release then.

Start a religion (hoax)

Actually, if he's already figuring out what to do to make villain or alien hoaxes work, why not check into what it would take to make a religious and/or cult hoax? As a bonus, he can even do this openly after a reasonable set-up period. He needs s good understanding of religion, psychology, and cults - both sincere and scams - to make it work, but he's intelligent enough to figure something out.

So, Paul has been blessed. Really, he has been - and he can prove it, with all his shiny gifts of physical, mental, and educational enhancements! Let him gain some money, build some influence, look at dominant religions and what suits his needs, and see if he can't build a cult out of it. He can (as in other approaches), develop advanced tech to make the cult dangerous, powerful, able to meddle according to their creed. He might not want to start with alien-fleet threats (unless he's really sure he can get enough believers) - but powerful, and armed, and willing to develop some dangerous technology will get attention.

Depending on the substance of his cult-message, some of that advanced tech can be used to "make miracles" via robots, remote tech, all kinds of things. Otherwise, the ability to develop so easily can be, er, given the question maybe that should be "actually is" a gifted miracle in its own right - if and when he has enough people, enough influence, enough trust, to undergo whatever testing to prove his various blessings. He can, again, develop and give away technology to various nations or interests (in accordance to his stated creed). He can give warnings about a coming menace - especially once he's bought influence with his tech and has some followers, he might actually be listened to. He can inspire generous or beneficial actions in his followers, to gain influence - or ambiguous or dangerous actions, to create a threat to work against.

Paul has to start small, and build a network of followers, a cache of technology, and some serious influence before he can come out and talk about the alien threat - but unlike some other methods, he can talk about it. He can claim his enhancements openly, give the real backstory - with a study of psychology and history, he can figure out how to persuade people quite well. And, he can use advanced tech to "fill in the gaps" of his cult's beliefs, creating miracles, goodwill, or "supernatural" threats to get people prepared for the alien invasion.

or Just buy the technology!

Paul, with his intelligence and insta-knowledge, can probably come up with some ways to get rich, fast. And between wealth and intelligence, he's going to get influence. Have him offer (conditional) grants in scientific fields he believes useful to R&D, have him invest in weapons companies, communications and jamming, anything that might help when the day-of comes. He can get pretty far capitalizing on just the human-level threats, between national interests - and get a good tech-boost out of it, especially if he invests himself and his intellect along with the money.

The difference here is, as he is gaining influence and attention - he can quietly take carefully chosen people into his confidence about the reason why. Wealth and influence will shield him from a lot, obvious intelligence will shield him from some more of the consequences if someone doesn't believe him - not all of them, not by a long-shot, but enough he doesn't have to worry about being dragged off to the loony bin, and he can let people sniggering at him go. People buying the weapons systems won't really care if they're getting lasers instead of missiles because their backer believes in aliens, they will care that the lasers are powerful and precise and destructive enough to replace the missiles as the go-to weapon.

And while he might be able to convince people along the way, enough to avoid leveling off of tech or de-prioritizing weapons R&D because they think the weapons they have are good enough - even if he can't convince them or doesn't try, he can plow cash into research piecemeal that happens to work together - this bit of software helps the target systems, that has to do with increasing power, that little thing helps efficiency - so that when it's time, the pieces just need to be assembled to get your weapons and systems designed to be effective against the alien tech.

This is pretty much the same work Paul was doing in the last couple options - what tech, and what tweaks, will steer people in a direction effective against the alien fleet, and what human tech can be developed around or between these requirements. In this case, he just uses grants to buy the individual research pieces originally (which might not even look like anything dangerous till assembly-time), and only pitches the weaponization of the systems and parts once the background, theoretical research is done.

Again, some of these possibilities are more pleasant than others. But if Paul is serious about the threat and his need to get people ready, he should at least consider them - even if he ends up not using them in favor of a different plan.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer. The villain thing reminds me of the movie Unbreakable (m.imdb.com/title/tt0217869) where the "bad" guy's goal is actually to make the hero aware of his power. $\endgroup$
    – algiogia
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ @algiogia Trying to avoid posting spoilers, as this is one of the greatest superhero movies that most people have never heard of, but... I'm pretty sure that the villain's goal wasn't to help the hero, but rather to help himself secure a certain peace of mind... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Like these options, high risk, high reward ideas. Really hope he doesn't choose the religion option though because he does posess abilities above other people and that could lead to some long lasting problems, especially if he dies a martyr. $\endgroup$
    – Necessity
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Necessity - Exactly, high risk to high reward. Religion does have extra risks, for changing over time, taking on its own life - but I'm hoping against the super-villain ones, myself, the collateral damage will be too high for my tastes. Its one of the reasons I am emphasizing that he can decide against them, just - I think he has to think of them first even if he doesn't pick them. Although, it can be quite a story-idea for someone to stumble across the old planning-work for discarded ideas (including these), after his actual plan is underway... mwahaha $\endgroup$
    – Megha
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ I love these ideas, especially becoming a supervillain! I'd even take that one step further by hiding proof that the entire time, you've been working solely to prepare the world for the invasion, that is revealed shortly before the actual invasion. Then, you go from supervillain fighting the world, to one of the worlds most powerful allies against an even bigger threat $\endgroup$
    – Taegost
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 13:17

Assuming that the object is to protect earth, and not just hide away when the aliens come...

Join the Department of Extraterrestrial Defense

The Department was founded in the sixties, at the same time as the project to create a psychic supersoldier using LSD. Currently it consists of one insane bearded guy, in the 22nd basement level of the Pentagon.

However Paul the supergenius, right after he collects his advanced degrees, decides to join it, and singlehandedly rehabilitates it - not because anyone takes the threat seriously, but because the research he does turns out to have wonderful practical applications. Strangely it all seems to relate to some kind of defense against a hypothetical and unbelievable alien invasion, but the by-products are fantastic. Good research will attract more people, who want to join not because they think invasion is coming but because the work is exciting.

Being such a genius he also manages to siphon off some of the research funding for building prototypes of the hardware that will be needed when the aliens come. Justified by the scientific and technical by-products of course.

As well as, or instead of, the above...

Write books and movies about alien invasion

Pure fiction, of course. Make them strangely specific about the threat and where it comes from. Include some 'hypothetical ideas' about how mankind might repel the invaders. Get people ready for the idea.

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    $\begingroup$ Your second idea, utilizing fiction, is absolutely genius. Not only can he make good, accurate, hard-science suggestions via his books (which might inspire some real science and/or policy or contingency planning) - if he can manage to catch the public interest, he can get people half-serious about preparations... just look at zombie survival kits. Alien invasion survival kits may become a thing, and if pre-planned well, might actually be useful. Ish. $\endgroup$
    – Megha
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Megha the budget for zombie survival kit is in the hundreds of dollars (I can spend it as a hobby), the budget for interplanetary warfare is in the trillions. $\endgroup$
    – Davidmh
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 11:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Davidmh: The vision was of aliens landing on the surface, not dropping high-speed impactors that produce an extinction event. Guerrilla warfare will be a thing. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Megha One of my favorite parts of Niven/Pournelle's Footfall was when the government sequestered sci. fi. writers as "experts" to help figure out anything they could use against the alien invaders... $\endgroup$
    – Ghotir
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ As part of his "write books and movies" plot he should also create a StackExchange site for generating ideas. Call it WorldBuilding or something like that. (Wait a minute... WTF?) $\endgroup$
    – Tonny
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 12:35

Stealing a little from @DJClayworth's answer, this answer is probably too self-insert-fan-fiction-y to make a good story, but it is exactly what I would do:

Tell Carl Sagan

On September 28, 1980, PBS aired the first episode of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. It quickly became the most-watched American television program of all time for a decade until it was overtaken in 1990 by Ken Burns' The Civil War. After the completion of Cosmos, Carl Sagan wrote - and then published, in 1985 - Contact, a novel about first contact with an alien species. Sagan would be the perfect person to, erm, contact.

Our hero - Paul - makes a visit to Ithaca, NY, to share his experience with Sagan, and, if nothing else, impress him with Paul's encyclopedic knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and so on. Paul backs up every assertion with precise mathematical proofs, and it becomes increasingly difficult to believe the 17-year old is - without any alien intervention - nothing more than a genius unmatched in human history and has spent his entire life researching cutting-edge science while finding enough time to perfect an Olympian physique. Sagan comes to trust Paul and helps him access the right people in the right places. Maybe they're even able to retrace his steps on that desolate Iowa road and uncover some evidence about the aliens, who they are, where they're from, and so on. Perhaps they can also diagnose the causes of changes in Paul's body to rule out other options.

With enough evidence in tow, Carl Sagan helps Paul Protagonist get a hearing in front of the U.S. Congress on live television. Whether the government officials are convinced or not, the media suddenly informs the world that top, respected scientists - and an unprecedentedly brilliant Iowan teenager - are adamantly united in evidence of extraterrestrial activity and an imminent invasion threat.

At that point, the fate of the world is largely out of Paul's hands. Even if he had taken the get-rich-and-powerful route as other answers here suggested, without the global support of all of humanity, there is very, very little he could do to stop such powerful aliens, even with a net worth of, say, $50 billion dollars (most of which would have to be tied up in assets to avoid taxation), let alone how much precious time it would take him to get there.

  • $\begingroup$ I didn't think the OP mentioned that the bolt of psionic energy was originated by the aliens (though it could be read that way) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 16:48

Since he got such an intelect as to become an honoris causa engineer and scientist in many different fields, he can use his free time and knowledge to design novel weapons for the military and fill in applications for patents.

In time he'll be noticed by companies such as Lockheed Martin or its competitors. He's bound to have a good job, which will grant him access to their labs and a good networking with pros from the area and the Pentagon.

He may just keep inventing better and better weapons without needing any better justification than fighting whatever enemy the USA are fighting at the moment - Hussein, Bin Laden etc.

When the aliens come, everyone is just going to think "wow, we are so lucky to have had Paul designing all this stuff for us in the last couple decades!"

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    $\begingroup$ A 50,000 km range high energy particle beam would certainly show those terrorists who's boss. I like it. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ So..... Batman? Or Iron Man? $\endgroup$
    – Geobits
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 0:08
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    $\begingroup$ Now just imagine, that the Aliens arrive, and are able to instantly appropriate the technology and turn it on us - due to them implanting the knowledge/power in unsuspecting Paul's head! $\endgroup$
    – SeanR
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ Or: the aliens come and discover a barren planet, on which, however, there is evidence, that superior technology existed just 5 years ago, before the mysterious Hu-mans used it to destroy each other! $\endgroup$
    – Ludi
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 23:10

Getting people to believe in aliens has been pretty well played out. So don't try.

Also the first round of the invasion going to go to the guys with the high ground, and it isn't us. So don't try too hard stopping the invasion.

Sooner or later we'll have to take the fight to them, which probably means shipping a lot of stuff into space. It'd be nice if it was a lot cheaper to do that. (in progress --SpaceX)

Our energy infrastructure is probably not going to out last very long, so it'd be nice if we had a huge number of really nice large batteries all over the place. (in progress --Tesla)

It's be nice if everyone had radios and cameras so that anything anyone learns that might help can be shared with whole world rapidly. (check)

What else might you need?

Insurgency. If he goes this way he'll want money and the US political connections that brings. Let's assume he gets them, as I have no idea how to.

How to make an effective insurgency? Have caches of secret weapons and/or the means to make them all over the place and plenty of fighting men ready to use them. How do you encourage that? (Since you really don't want to even indirectly be on the losing side of a war)

Have a powerful government throw their weight around, but don't bother crushing non-active opposition. Maybe lots of talk about banning guns but have little effective enforcement. (check)

Cause real insurgencies, this lets a lot of people on both sides learn the lessons in a way that will stick. Maybe invade some countries that can't fight pitched battles but have a good history of not being conquered. (check)

Increase the numbers of combat ready people not in the military or at least on military bases. Maybe promote better armed and trained police forces or fluctuate the number of soldiers in the military. (check)

Hmmm... I'm sure I should go outside, but not sure if need I need fresh air or tinfoil.


The current structures of power in the more advanced nations of the world are difficult to infiltrate quickly and a lot of the world is indoctrinated into notions like democracy or patriotism that are hard to turn around in even a timeframe of the likes of 25 years. No one person could unite the world through politics and I also doubt an Alexander the Great-type figure could unify and maintain that unification of the world through conquest.

Paul's main way to power in the modern world is through corporations. Money talks and Paul is more than capable of starting up businesses and creating profitable ventures in a realm that nobody would question or be able to significantly oppose a rapid rise. Once his organization reaches international levels, he can dictate policy and use his influence to shape things in the direction he feels things need to go. As to the types of business his companies engage in, there's no reason that he can't acquire R&D and work on defense tech (also a good way to get in tight with various states). There's also opportunities to form private military companies that could be prepared to double as a defense force in 25 years.

Given Paul is the adept person that he is, there's also no reason that he cannot secretly engage in some of the other activities mentioned by other answers. The right approach is to have many eggs in many baskets, so he shouldn't just start one cult, he should start many. Alien hoaxes would be a great way to galvanize defense spending that can be spent on his companies, while media influence could subtly prepare people for invasion.

One of biggest opportunities others seem to have missed, however, is attempting to duplicate himself. If others were to have the same Handwavium experience, we can assume we would be creating instant allies with similar capabilities. Even without the vision, having more people on his level could do more to overcome the resource problem he has as one man.

All that said, I don't think Paul's chances are all that good- we already have plenty of olympians and geniuses and excellent thinkers in our time and yet the world is in the state that it is. Paul's new capabilities alone will not be enough to make the difference he desires- when the aliens come, Paul is going to need some luck to turn things around.


Things you can do when you're absolutely certain about the future:

Buy insurance. With enough money and a narrow enough definition you can get pretty good odds.

Start a cult. You don't care about seeming nuts. You care about getting people to do things.

Be careful to tease apart what you know and what you assume. UFO's, saucers, and humanoid aliens walking about are all that have been foretold. Not our extinction. It may be that what you really need to do is prevent earth becoming a tourist trap.

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    $\begingroup$ Ha ha! I remember the novella from the 1970's where paradise did become an interstellar tourist trap; almost. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 22:11

Paul's a genius and can work really hard.

The first thing Paul needs to do is to get rich. Money is the lever that lets him do lots of things.

He can work multiple jobs, use his knowledge of science and engineering to get several BS degrees in a short period of time, and then get a good job with a defense contractor or a think tank like RAND. This is 1980, the cold war is still on, there are plenty of opportunities for that.


Mechanical engineers build weapons, civil engineers build targets

He doesn't actually need to convince people that aliens are coming, he just needs to convince them to buy the weapons and system he develops that just happen to capable of putting the planet on an even combat footing when the aliens come.

Should anyone question why he happened to go into this particular career he can just laugh and say "because aliens". He may suffer a downside from his particular place of origin for saying this, but in most environments people will just take it as a joke and carry on.

  • $\begingroup$ I know those Iowans love their guns but will they really buy loads of intergalactic superlasers based on some joke? $\endgroup$
    – komodosp
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ @colmde, that's just his reason for going into the arms trade. The arms trade is big and there are people who will buy heavy anti armour weapons if they work, regardless of the inventor's reason for building them. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 11:21

Get himself checked out for mental illness

Very simply put: the smarter you are, the less you trust your senses and your own conclusions, especially if those conclusions are way out of the ordinary.

So at some point, Paul will realize "This is just plain nuts... it does not make any sense at all". He will assume that it is possible he has gone absolutely bonkers. He suddenly thinks himself smarter, fitter, better than others... and he thinks the world is about to suffer some great disaster.

First suspicion is that he has become like the loonies on The Crazy Part Of The Internet that babble about chem-trails, Moon landing hoaxes and that the president was behind 9/11. He knows he cannot trust his own senses, so he gets a second opinion, preferably at a place where they are used to dealing with loonies like this.

That will then turn out that everyone seems to say "No, you are not crazy, you are in fact very healthy, and admirably clear in the noogin'".

Ok then, that is that taken care of. He is at least not completely bonkers.

...then: find the evidence

But there is still the fact about the impending invasion. How can he trust that knowledge? He cannot. He needs evidence. He knows — just like you did now — that unless he can come up with a really good piece of evidence, then he is just as likely to be delusional. Smart and athletic, but with with a screw loose.

So that is when he starts looking for it. Where are the signs that are not just in his head? Where is the stuff that tells not just him but that others that something foul is afoot?

Here is where you as the writer can take several paths of how much evidence he find. Everything from "none at all" to "undisputable and more solid than the ten commandments", and everything in between. What do you — the author — want to happen here?

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    $\begingroup$ "...the smarter you are, the less you trust your senses and your own conclusions...." This is the most abject nonsense. Since when have geniuses made ordinary conclusions? Since when have extraordinary achievers done what is "reasonable"? Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Ghandi...none of these people made ordinary or "reasonable" conclusions or perceived the world as mundane. $\endgroup$
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Wildcard Was there a point in that comment? All I see is rambling. I do not think you understood the post at all. Also I think you hsve confused charisma / fame with intellect and intelligence. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Wildcard No, it is a direct consequence of what you just said. The less smart person is overconfident in their conclusions. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 9:45
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose I am reading the question differently from you: "knows with absolute certainty" that the invasion is coming, means he would doubt it no more than he would doubt having a head. He has the certainty which accompanies clear observation. He would not doubt this knowledge, by definition of the question itself. (If I say something outlandish to you, you know you heard it; will you distrust your ears and eyes, or take your own observation as a certain fact, although outlandish, and proceed from there?) $\endgroup$
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 9:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Wildcard there are people that "know with absolute certainty" that mankind did not land on the Moon, that god(s) exist, that 9/11 was actually GW Bush's plan. A smart person knows that a conviction does not become reality on conviction alone. And when the conviction is in this case supernatural, then he would seek evidence for it. As put by Laplace "The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness". Or as put in more digestable form by people such as Carl Sagan and Christopher Hitchens. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 10:53

Tony Stark Mode

  • Year 1 : Start a company in electronics & entertainment business.
  • Year 2-4 : Step up into weapons manufacturing.

Bruce Wane Mode

  • Year 6 : Start ET Research & Try to get proof (10% of Profit).
  • Year 8 : Invest on share market (10% Profit).
  • Year 10 : Step up into future weapons research (50% of Profit).
  • Year 14 : Increase future weapons research into (75% of Profit).
  • Year 15 : Stop ET Research.
  • Year 18 : Stop share market investment.
  • Year 18 : Increase future weapons research into (95% of Profit).
  • Year 24 : Get ready for imminent attack.

If Paul in this story is an American and super intellegent... Why not run for President of the United States and fix the problem that way?

  • $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Magic-Mouse actually it isn't bad answer, even if a short one $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg click the "From review" link you will see that it has been flagged by someone, It also states that 2 person Hohmannfan reviewed this 46 mins ago: Recommend Deletion Magic-Mouse reviewed this 1 hour ago: Recommend Deletion Has recommended deletion" because it was more like a comment than an answer. In the meta (i cannot find it) there is a section describing that people with too little points to comment should be encouraged to participate till they have enough points and the answer should be deleted, you are welcome to vote against it or open a meta about it. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Magic-Mouse I see. Agree at some point, it would make nice comment. In that case it's good enough, a little bit editing, few words about how president affects nation and about secret president book - and voila, nice answer ready. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ I think this could be a good answer if you elaborate on what Paul does once he is president. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:49

Well the first year should be spent by using his abundent knowledge, improving physique and sharp reactions to steal a large sum of money. Increasing his social network by interacting with intellectual and influential people. Consolidating his knowledge by writing the most comprehensive books ever written about those subjects.

Then he should use some his money to gift those books to experts in those fields. While offering to sell that at reasonably low prices(because free things are unlikely to be good) to other people and instutes. This will hopefully increase the developement of knowledge in these fields and also increase your reputation. If he continues to know the new things those professionals find out, this could create a positive loop. The people of the planet are a resource that he shouldn't waste.

At this point he should have grabbed the attention of a large number of influential people around the world. He could possibly be offered a number of goverment adviser positions from multiple countries. Hopefully he can cause many countries to be on more friendly terms with each other by using mutual benifits. He should also during this union creation mention that if an alien race invades in 20 or so (hopefully he can get to this point in less than 5 years) that he would lead the forces of all countries (which they should all agree to as it sounds lika a crazy joke).

He should then advise those countries to focus on research into electronic communication and weaponry (especially anti-air), while giving them other ideas on where to focus research. Then he should research into theses areas himself, supervising and advising projects that pique his interest, while advising the countries in other sectors to try yo keep the union more harmonious. Hopefully he can pull in more countries before the attack.

This type of stratergy would have alot of risk (as a lot of really talented people fall by people who are afraid of them climbing over there head and a multiple of other reasons), however with high risk comes with high reward as without the contribution of a majority he will be highly unlikely to repulse the alien race.

This is in my opinion the best plan of action. Though it is hard to determine if he could do everthing in 25 years and if a genius level intelligence is enough, personally I call whoever can do all this a monster.


The big problem is getting people prepared to fight back (i.e., train them to be soldiers in the upcoming war) without telling them that they're training for this upcoming war. Training is hard, and takes a lot of dedication over a long period of time. How do you get a large segment of the population to dedicate large periods of time to this activity on a continuing basis for the next 25 years? Build a continuing series of viral video games.

With the various types of expertise he's going to gain over the next 3 years, he will have the skills to create such a series of games that will train people in strategy and tactics, and use of appropriate weapons, without them realizing why they're doing it. As we've seen over and over, people will dedicate massive amounts of time to playing addictive games, and this can be maintained over long periods if you make the games intricate and engaging enough, and continually present players with new and novel challenges.

You can also make ungodly amounts of money off the games, which you could use to design and build remotely-operated weapons systems (some of which you could sell to the military to gain even more money) that exactly mimic those in your video game, so that at the end of the remaining 22 years, you have an arsenal of weapons and a global army with over 20 years of experience in using them them against invading alien forces, without anyone ever knowing what you were doing. Sort of a spin on the Battle School from Ender's Game, except in this case no one would know that they were training to fight real aliens.


I would like to add to Megha answer.

I don't think it is feasible to become a supervilain to trigger arm race between countries to defeat yourself.

Pragmatic approach:

Paul needs to go to country like Columbia or some war torn African country. Paul needs to make a lot of money with drugs/blood diamonds/etc and build his own private army. With money he can also build research facilities and then hire/kidnap other scientists to help with a weapons research. Threaten them to get him results (worked quite well in Soviet Union).

Get some advanced weaponry researched.

Buy/bribe/threaten/blackmail politicians in rich countries.

Make legitimate weapon research facilities in those countries.

Sell advanced weapons and technology to everybody so they have it and want more, keep the last generation for yourself to always have a carrot to sell and a stick to defend against nosy and greedy.

When the time comes: Paul has improved weapons technology for the whole globe. Paul has an army with the most advanced weaponry available. Since Paul doesn't have to abide to norms of ethics he can try to create genetically modified super soldiers, he can brainwash them to make them puppets and sacrifice them in the initial wave of alien attack to give Earth governments more time to prepare for war. He can conquer a couple of nearby countries just before the invasion and conscript their populations (like literally all healthy enough men and women from 10 to 50 years old) to wage war against aliens.


Star Wars

Initially, in 1980 he uses his newfound genius to blackmail his way into Reagan's sphere of influence. He then convinces Reagan to begin work on the "Star Wars" project. This project is visibly about defending from the Russian threat, but in reality is about ensuring that enough aeronautic military advancements are made to defend enough of the alien missile bombardment for our counterattack to begin.

The Internet

At the same time, using his newfound influence, the protagonist makes connections at DARPA and starts work on creating the distributed global communications network that we will use to coordinate our counterattack. contributing his work to others he creates Usenet and writes the Ethernet standard. He will later directly influence the creation of TCP/IP, SMTP and DNS, which ultimately become the backbone of the internet.

Gulf War

Forseeing the inevitability of the collapse of the Soviet Union, our protagonist realises that the US defence force is going to be the only well funded defence force in the world. Our protagonist convinces Bush Snr to go to war in the middle east, ensuring that the military has experience with waging war in a logistically challenging environment. Unfortunately the pressures of being at war grate on the US public who prematurely call for the end of the war and elect Clinton. Our protagonist is unable to convince Clinton to continue the war in the middle east. He is able to convince Clinton to maintain high levels of military expenditure. Much of it is into black projects that our protagonist has started - stealth planes/submarines, smart weapons, drone technology and AI work.

With the fall of the Berlin wall, a mostly peaceful world, and the internet well and truly breaking out, our protagonist realises the need for more military spending. He also realises that more than just the USA needs to be armed. The whole world needs to be alert and battle ready. Realising that we have key weaknesses in our transportation and logistics infrastructure worldwide, our protagonist, through spies in Pakistan, convinces Bin Laden to mastermind the September 11 attack.

September 11

Our protagonist convinces Bush Jnr to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, sharpening and strengthening the US' defence forces. Trillions of dollars are spent on the war, most of which is used to fund more covert research projects.

Our protagonist uses the Iraq war to convince a wave of instability in the middle east, which is used as a human laboratory for testing our worldwide resilience to invasion. Some of the newer technology is tested during this war.

Here you could cut to the invasion. The US has record military spending which is being tested in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, if the invasion is postponed to modern days...

The 2010s

The internet is heavily upgraded worldwide and advanced viruses are introduced to devices worldwide to strengthen the world's immunity to cyber-attack. Our protagonist works closely with the development of Google and facebook. These companies are used as a front to gather the largest collection of data so as to identify alien spy threats and intrusion into our global internet.

ISIS is the culmination of decades of work into creating cheap, decentralised military forces which will be effective at stopping the invasion. Work begins on preparing to implement ISIS-style military cells worldwide in the event that conventional defence forces are unable to repel the invasion.

Then, in 2017, 37 years after his initial vision, the invasion begins...


The answer is already embedded in your question.

Isn't it obvious? Defect to the USSR and work to ensure their stability until 2005.

Okay, maybe that's not obvious...

The best preparation for war is Cold War. There was no greater motivator for military technological advances in the past 50 years than the cold war itself. Outright war does more harm than good. Two superpowers with massive resources available to them are already doing all they can to develop weapons and defense technology. Other than what Paul can contribute personally, there's not much more he can do. The collapse of either superpower or outright war are the two scenarios that will hurt our ability to defend ourselves as a world.

As we near 2005, he can work to increase communication and relations between the two powers or even escalate the conflict (though he risks one misunderstanding the aliens as a creation of their enemy).

He can be working on scientific advances during this time, of course, but with the entire support of a superpower.


  • One may ask: why would the Russians believe him?

Well, why did the USA welcome and support dozens of German and Russian scientists? What they had to offer was too tempting.

  • How does he know the USSR will be the one that needs help to survive until 2005?

A fair objection. Paul's a genius though so I'm sure he can figure it out.

Unless Paul can create technology so far advanced by himself that he doesn't need political help, this is the best way to ensure the planet is ready for a fight in 2005.


Artificial Intelligence

Quickly make a lot of money - which shouldn't be hard given his genius. Then start a business devoted to artificial intelligence. Since the aliens aren't super-natural then anything they can do is physically possible - all we need to do is learn what is physically possible and do it. Even if he can't conceive of it the ASI can.

The aliens will be no match for the offensive and defensive weapons the ASI and his team devise.


A deeply cynical answer. Paul is the spearhead of the Alien's attack.

What they have implanted in his head is all sorts of things calculated to cause us to do damage to ourselves. After all, look at where endogenous paranoia and belief systems and technological advances so nearly landed us during the cold war.

One way or another, if Paul fails to think hard and deep about who delivered that bolt of revelation to him, and with what intent, he will (with the best of intentions) cause our civilisation to destroy itself. And he won't. Self-doubt has been erased from his brain at the same time as the rest of the stuff was planted.

Actually the aliens are not interested in attack. Rather they are scared that we might discover the secrets of superluminal travel and get out there and attack them. They need to knock our sudden technological advances of the last 100 years off the rails to give their human-domestication project time to succeed. If they merely wanted to destroy us they would just spark WW3. That's their plan B, but they have morals and are trying something less genocidal as plan A. We are still a few decades away from the big secrets.


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