16

In "The Woman Who Fell to Earth (S11 E1)" the Doctor is found on a train after an alien appearance. When she suggests that the creature that fell through the roof of the train (not her) was an alien, Graham says "Don't be daft, there's no such thing as aliens."

However, at this point, there have been several major alien events on Earth, and by this point I thought aliens were common knowledge (though not many people know much about them). As I recall, just last season alien pyramids were landing on Earth. On the other hand, it's possible that one of the various reboots or time messes changed on Earth changed the situation.

Given the events of the previous season, why would this man be skeptical of the existence of aliens?

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    "Whenever there’s a new Doctor we get a “soft reset” of the show, but it was striking that Graham doesn’t believe in aliens. He can’t have been paying much attention to the numerous alien invasions that have happened since 2005, then! There’s no reason everyone should be treating the notion of aliens as so implausible, so I guess we’ll just have to accept that mankind’s forgotten what’s been happening just lately? Sure, I can live with that." - Source. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 10 '18 at 9:17
  • Just a quote that agrees with your query as well and makes a guess as to what could have happened. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 10 '18 at 9:19
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    I live in the United States. Sadly, I can believe that someone wouldn't believe something that was true. – RDFozz Oct 10 '18 at 16:26
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    @RDFozz - There's a reason why climate change denial is much more popular than round Earth denial, and gravity denial almost non-existent. All are true, but people have much more personal experience with some than others. Alien invasions on Doctor Who fall somewhere between gravity and the Earth being round. – Adamant Oct 10 '18 at 16:45
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    @Adamant - I'm not so sure. There were plenty of documented encounters with aliens in the UNIT era (the original series, say 1970-1978 or so), without any solid evidence of the public being aware. One assumes there's a level of cover-up involved. I tend to credit the idea that the general public views claims of alien encounters as sheer bunk, while a number of people in various specific organizations, as well as individuals, may know better. That said, most of them have little incentive to publicize their knowledge (again, the general public won't believe them). – RDFozz Oct 10 '18 at 17:41
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Not taking into account the various reboots and changes in the timeline, there are two things that can explain why Graham didn't believed in aliens:

  • First thing: a lot of the aliens encounters are erased from memory, either by the aliens themselves or some other force.

For example, you forget the Silence as soon as you look away from them. The Monks, the owners of the pyramids seen last season, erased themselves from memory.

From Lie of the Land:

(Sitting on the pedestal of a now-destroyed Monk statue, just the inner metal support sticking up.)

BILL: This is exciting, isn't it? You know, kind of, it's like a turning point.

(The Doctor is pouring a drink from a thermos.)

BILL: Humans have learned that they can overthrow dictators and stuff, they just have to band together.

DOCTOR: Well, it's not quite as simple as that. You, Appalling Hair.

(A passing student looks up from her 'smart' phone.)

DOCTOR: This thing that we're sitting on. What is it?

STUDENT: Er, we thought they were just like filming something here or something?

DOCTOR: Thank you. Very helpful. Now go away, or something. You see? The Monks have erased themselves. Humanity's doomed to never learn from its mistakes.

BILL: Well, I guess that's part of our charm.

DOCTOR: No, it's really quite annoying. Anyway, I mustn't keep you. Three thousand words. The Mechanics of Free Will. Now six months overdue.

  • Second thing, and perhaps the most important, most of the humans do not care about any strange happenings, little or big, and wouldn't believe it anyway.

The Doctor says it clearly in Journey's End:

SYLVIA: But the whole world's talking about it. We travelled across space.

DOCTOR: It'll just be a story. One of those Donna Noble stories, where she missed it all again.

Donna noble, after having her memory erased in the same episode, wouldn't believe it when her friend on phone told her about the aliens that kidnapped Earth and the incredible sight of so many other planets in the sky.

DONNA: My phone's gone mad. Thirty two texts. Veena's gone barmy. She's saying planets in the sky. What have I missed now? Nice to meet you.

[...]

(Donna is on the phone.)

DONNA: How thick do you think I am? Planets. Tell you what that was, dumbo. That's those two for one lagers you gets down the offy because you fancy that little man in there with the goatee. Ha ha! Yes, you do. I've seen you.

DOCTOR: Donna? I was just going.

DONNA: Yeah, see you. I tell you what though, you're wasting your time with that one, because Susie Mair, she went on that dating site, and she saw him. No, no, no, no. Listen, listen, this is important. Susie Mair wouldn't lie. Not unless it was about calories. Ha ha ha!

Or, on a less dramatic scale of events, nobody notices or care that an out-of-date blue police box suddenly appears in one of the major places in Cardiff, right in front of the Welsh government building if I'm not mistaken, and stays there for some time before vanishing without a trace, all of this in broad daylight. As said in Boom Town:

MICKEY: Wait, the Tardis, we can't just leave it. Doesn't it get noticed?

JACK: Yeah, what's with the police box? Why does it look like that?

ROSE: It's a cloaking device.

DOCTOR: It's called a chameleon circuit. The Tardis is meant to disguise itself wherever it lands, like if this was Ancient Rome, it'd be a statue on a plinth or something. But I landed in the 1960s, it disguised itself as a police box, and the circuit got stuck.

MICKEY: So it copied a real thing? There actually was police boxes?

DOCTOR: Yeah, on street corners. Phone for help before they had radios and mobiles. If they arrested someone, they could shove them inside till help came, like a little prison cell.

JACK: Why don't you just fix the circuit?

DOCTOR: I like it, don't you?

ROSE: I love it.

MICKEY: But that's what I meant. There's no police boxes anymore, so doesn't it get noticed?

DOCTOR: Ricky, let me tell you something about the human race. You put a mysterious blue box slap bang in the middle of town, what do they do? Walk past it. Now, stop your nagging. Let's go and explore.

4

It happens all the time in Doctor Who. Humankind forgets, and as the 12th Doctor put it, it's its super power:

(From Series 8 "In The Forest of the Night" after the Forest comes out of nowhere to save the planet from a solar flare)

CLARA: That is amazing. How will they explain this tomorrow?

DOCTOR: You'll all forget it ever happened.

CLARA: We are not going to forget an overnight forest.

DOCTOR: You forgot the last time. You remembered the fear and you put it into fairy stories. It's a human superpower, forgetting. If you remembered how things felt, you'd have stopped having wars. And stopped having babies.

So I assume Graham just forgot. Or chose to forget.

  • Sure, I've heard this stuff, but this doesn't make a lot of sense. People didn't have much trouble remembering many of the other events. – Adamant Oct 10 '18 at 16:29
  • There are lots of examples of people not remembering those events. The Doctor being baffled at Amy not recognizing the Daleks comes to mind. – tilley31 Oct 10 '18 at 16:50
  • I agree, but as many examples of the opposite, of people remembering it. – Adamant Oct 10 '18 at 18:50
  • Besides, if this is an actual feature of human psychology in the series, literally universally forgetting huge, obvious events that they've personally experienced (and not just the Doctor being condescending), it almost makes the "humans" seem more alien than the Time Lords! (Compare Harry Potter). – Adamant Oct 10 '18 at 18:55
  • I'm not downvoting because they really do say this stuff on the show, apparently, but it doesn't look like great writing. – Adamant Oct 10 '18 at 19:00
4

Graham was the most skeptical of all the new companions about the existence of aliens. The fact that the others accepted it more readily flies in the face of other answers suggesting that widely reported alien encounters of previous stories have been forgotten. Something is different about Graham to make him this way, either his inherent personality or something from his backstory.

Towards the end of the episode Graham revealed that he had previously had cancer and was now in remission. Little else is known about him at this point. It is possible that his illness made him less aware of what was going on at that time. He may have been unable to follow the news, or just been too preoccupied with his treatment or recovery to notice.

Also, in real-life some people who have been through a very serious life-threatening illness report a change in beliefs or attitude to life. A change in focus to what he now considers most important in life may have stopped him from listening to such matters. Being close to death may have made him become more sceptical, so perhaps he just ceased to believe in aliens despite the new reports. Or perhaps he had a belief system that conflicted with the idea of aliens - Other people in that situation though turn to a belief system - we did see that his wife had a church funeral.

With only one episode in the series at the time of writing and very little of any depth known about the characters it may be a little soon to speculate on these things.

Out-of-universe, Doctor Who companions are generally written as "everyman" characters with whom the audience can more easily identify. The more popular companions tend to be the more "ordinary" people. The new "Tardis team" as they have been referred to seem to tick a lot of boxes between them - we have both genders, a disability, old and young, someone with a lot of confidence and authority, someone apparently lacking confidence... there is a lot for viewers to identify with. Perhaps Graham is just the skeptic of the group, written to be as such?

  • Do you have anything to support your point? Information in-universe or out-of-universe to suggest that this is what happened? – Sava Oct 10 '18 at 15:06
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    @Sava I've added a link to support my out-of-universe suggestion, but really we know so little about this character at this stage I don't think any answer to this question can be more than speculation. I suspect the downvotes are not people dismissing my answer because it is speculative, rather they probably don't like the possible suggestions about his character. All the new companions are very much "everyman" characters, and people will have projected their own beliefs and ideas onto them. – Astralbee Oct 10 '18 at 15:13

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