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SETI at 50

NATURE|Vol 461|17 September 2009

Despite the long odds against success, the search
for extraterrestrial intelligence has come a long way.

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), a research
discipline that celebrates the 50th anniversary of its inaugural
publication this week (see page 345), has always sat at the
edge of mainstream astronomy. This is partly because, no matter how
scientifically rigorous its practitioners try to be, SETI can’t escape an
association with UFO believers and other such crackpots. But it is also
because SETI is arguably not a falsifiable experiment.

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10 Responses to SETI at 50

  1. I think design is a fact. However, even the best designer(s) need a site or place to test his/her/their designs. I infer that it’s not possible to simply throw designs into the earth (i.e. an eagle) without testing them first in a controlled environment.

    In computer language, this kind of site is called “sandbox”. See more about the definition of sandbox here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....velopment)

    Where is the sandbox for all the life on earth? …or maybe we are the sandbox?

  2. Sorry, let me complete the last paragraph:

    Where is the sandbox for all the life on earth? …or maybe we are the sandbox for life on another planet…

  3. rprado the best designer? Maybe. An all knowing designer? not at all.

    For your thinking to work you have to assume the designer needed to learn by mistakes as we do.

  4. This is a TE concept not ID:

    designer=god

    universe=production environment

    modus operandi=RM+NS

    earth=sandbox

    rprado=test subject

  5. Earth Materialists may decide it does they do not want to open its shut their mouths, but it would be foolish wise to cover its ears open their eyes.

    There. Fixed that for them.

  6. The only “enormous implication” to finding “other thinking creatures like ourselves” on “other Earths” would be that we now have the ultimate proof of a Mind greater than ourselves, and a signed death certificate for all galactical evolutionists, as the odds of consciousness as we know it appearing more than once in the universe would carry odds far beyond belief.

    We can’t even recognize intelligence and information in our own backyard when it’s under a microscope (can anyone spell DNA?), it’s hard to believe we would be able to figure out what the signature or fingerprint of any “thinking creatures” would look like.

    But wait, do they still have Eleanor Arroway working there at SETI? She seemed to know what an intelligent pattern looks like.

  7. Lopez: “But it is also because SETI is arguably not a falsifiable experiment.”

    You dont falsify an experiment. You falsify an hypothesis.

    If your hypothesis is, “There are no extra-terrestrial intelligences” it can be falsfied by finding one.

    If your hypothesis is, “There are extraterrestrial intelligences” it may be confirmed by finding one, but it can’t be falsified by not finding one unless you can do an exhaustive search.

  8. #3 IRQ Conflict said:

    “For your thinking to work you have to assume the designer needed to learn by mistakes as we do.”

    First, I don’t think there is only one designer, or “God”. The universe or system we live in is too complicated to have been designed by only one agent alone, no matter how powerful or intelligent he/she/? is.

    All system designers must test their designs in a controlled or “local” environment before puting them online. Mistakes are dealt with on the sandbox.

    Take for example the bald eagle, one of my favorite birds.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bald_eagle

    Now, think as a designer. Would you put this incredible animal on earth without testing that it can fly, glide and dive correctly, just to mention one example?

    The sandbox should be on another place or planet similar to earth, near or far away from our planet.

  9. The Fermi paradox. If life is common in the universe, where are all the ETs? Even at 10% of the speed of light in “slowboat” interstellar voyages a technological civilization could colonize the galaxy in no longer than a million years or so. Some possible explanations:

    1. Life is exceedingly rare or completely unique to Earth. Earth has the first and only intelligent(?) life to appear in the galaxy.
    2. Primitive life is common, but intelligent life is exceedingly rare (Ward & Brownlee’s Rare Earth).
    3. Intelligent life is common, but always destroys itself before achieving interstellar travel technology.
    4. Intelligent life is common, but a predator race wipes out all nascent high technology races before they can threaten it. We’re next.

    I would vote for (1).

  10. rprado,

    “The universe or system we live in is too complicated to have been designed by only one agent alone, no matter how powerful or intelligent he/she/? is.”

    You should prefer one designer over many as that is a simpler explanation. Secondly, an all powerful designer by definition does not need help.

    “Now, think as a designer. Would you put this incredible [bald eagle] on earth without testing that it can fly, glide and dive correctly, just to mention one example?”

    A being capable of creating a bald eagle from a design in his own consciousness by exertion of will, essentially transforming that energy into matter, would have an infinite amount of time to work out all the details in his own mind prior to the creating act. This powerful designer is also the one responsible for all the laws of physics and there is nothing that is going to surprise him.

    There is absolutely no need to test it in a material environment.

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