The plan to "storm Area 51" was a joke. Maybe.

In the movie Independence Day, Will Smith’s character rocks up to the gates of Area 51 in a pickup truck with a captured space alien in the back. He’s leading a massive caravan of RVs and other vehicles with thousands of people fleeing the aliens who are blowing up the Earth. The guards take one look at the alien and wave them all through.

That, of course, was a work of science fiction. But in case you haven’t seen the story yet, there are allegedly hundreds of thousands of people planning to show up at the real Area 51 and “storm the base” in September, demanding to see the extraterrestrial spacecraft and alien bodies they believe are stored there. This incredibly bad idea started, of course, on Facebook. USA Today)

If you’ve ever wondered whether we’re alone in the galaxy, you’re no space oddity.

Over 379,000 people have signed on to a Facebook event pledging to raid Area 51 in southern Nevada in an effort to “see them aliens.” An additional 396,000 respondents marked themselves as “interested” on the event page as of Thursday night.

“If we [N]aruto run, we can move faster than their bullets,” the event description says, making a humorous reference to a Japanese manga character known for running with his arms stretched out backward and his head forward.

But as it turns out, the guy who started this is claiming that the government shouldn’t come and arrest him because it was all a joke.

“Hello US government, this is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan,” wrote a Facebook user named Jackson Barnes.

“I’m not responsible if people decide to actually storm area (sic) 51,” he said.

He may be saying it’s a joke, but checking in on a few of the usual social media sites, a lot of other people think this is serious. And they want to do it.

Allow me to take just a moment and suggest that the fundamental theory underlying the entire “plan” is not sound and this is a really terrible idea. Despite all of the jokes you hear about it, Area 51 is actually a real base and that’s its name. (The government finally confirmed this in 2013, providing no other details.) And the government really, really, really hates having people hanging around near there.

The “storm troopers” are counting on two premises, assuming they’re dumb enough to try this. The first is that there aren’t enough troops to stop tens of thousands of people if they all show up at once. And the second is that the government wouldn’t dare open fire on them. The first assumption is probably true. The second is almost certainly not.

If you doubt that, look no further than the family of a man named Robert Frost. No, not the poet. Mr. Frost was one of the only people ever confirmed to have been a worker at Area 51. He, along with many other workers, was exposed to toxic smoke and gases from open-air pits where the military burned all of their trash, toxic chemicals, and God only knows what else. He grew sick and died without doctors being able to pin down exactly which of the many chemicals they found in his system had killed them.

His wife sued the government in an effort to get answers as to how her husband died and to seek justice. She wasn’t asking for details of stealth programs, flying saucers or pictures of dead aliens. Just the details of the toxic chemicals used and their disposal methods. Bill Clinton could have ordered that information released by executive order. Instead, he covered everything to do with those records under the Military States Secrets Act and basically told Frost’s widow to go pack sand.

Would the military there actively kill anyone? A lot of people go missing in that desert. Sure, some probably get lost or die of exposure, but the entire fence around the Groom Lake facility is covered in huge signs saying that they will shoot you if you trespass. Personally, I think they’re serious.

It seems clear to me that this probably isn’t really going to happen (or at least I hope not). But just remember that the base is covered in fighter jets and all manner of weaponry. And if thousands of people suddenly broke through the perimeter, I honestly don’t doubt for a moment that they would scramble the ready fighters, come in low and hot and start strafing the crowds with 20 mm cannon. So, just in case anyone thought the “plan” was serious and you’ve already booked your vacation for September 20th in Nevada, give that plan a second look.