I'm not saying it's aliens, but ...
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A big part of what it is to be human is the ability to make shit up. Be it a story, a lie, or a club sandwich. The mastery of our world exists only in our perception and manipulation of it. We cannot change the facts of the universe -- only how we perceive and operate within them.
It is easy to ascribe the decline of the American Empire to a fat, drunk and stupid citizenry. But the reality is more complex. Fat, drunk and stupid may be no way to go through life, but it's a lot easier than soberly watching the world burn.
In a constant battle between ego and evolution, humanity's challenge in a connected world is to find balance between personal individuation and societal progress.