The Obama White House created a “We The People” feature on its website, inviting Americans to submit petition questions, encourage the public to vote on which questions they most want to see answered, and have administration officials give a detailed response. It’s always struck me as a worthwhile project.

Some of the most popular questions, though, can be just a little outside the mainstream. For example, two separate petitions demanding the administration “formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence” on Earth drew a combined 17,465 signatures, which for this project, is an awful lot.

And if that’s what folks want to talk about, that’s apparently what the president’s team will talk about. Today, Phil Larson, who works on space policy and communications at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, released an official White House response.

The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.

However, that doesn’t mean the subject of life outside our planet isn’t being discussed or explored. In fact, there are a number of projects working toward the goal of understanding if life can or does exist off Earth.

Larson sketched out the basics on SETI, Kepler, and the Mars Science Laboratory, before explaining the mathematical odds of humans making contact with life that may exist beyond earth. “The fact is,” he concluded, “we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.”

And I can only assume that those who believe without evidence that the government is hiding the facts will reply, “Yeah, that’s just what they want us to think.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.