Re: SETI sci.astro.seti newsgroup created

Robert J. Bradbury (
Mon, 1 Nov 1999 18:23:37 -0800 (PST)

On Mon, 1 Nov 1999, Steve C. Dotson wrote:

> He never explained exactly what use we are to "them" though.

Exactly, if you can't come up with a plausible explanation for the "interventions" then you are on swampy ground. The two I've been able to provide are:
(a) an experiment (though this is iffy because you should be able

to simulate it with a large enough computer) (b) an attempt to increase the diversity of evolved superintelligent species

(in which case you want to watch but interfere as little as possible).

> I don't subscribe to this way of thinking, but I must admit I am reminded
> of this book every time one of our Mars probes blinks off or behaves
> incorrectly. (and there have been how many now?) :-)

Don't look at the Mars missions, look at the loss of the WIRE infrared survey. No matter how clever they are, if they have anything big in our vicinity it is going to have an infrared signature. The biggest threat to discovery is infrared surveys. If we lose SIRTF to some accident then I would say we have a real smoking gun.

> I think it is unfortunate that those most qualified to study these
> subjects risk committing academic suicide by investigating these
> fringe areas. There seems to be an artifical schism between "approved"
> research and "beyond-the-pale" research, and I wonder if anyone's
> interests are served by this.

You can attribute it to a pendulum effect -- we once "believed" "anything" (when we were a younger species or as children). Once you develop (as a race or individual) critical, rational approaches to discovery of "reality" one is reluctant to relax them. It is easier to reject complexity rather than develop accept it. But if you look at the evolution of physics we have gone from 4 elements to 92 elements, from 1 "indivisible" atom to dozens of subatomic particles. So complexity evolves until it can explain the unexplained phenomena. So long as we have unexplained phenomena, I'm pretty confident that we haven't got it quite right yet and it might well be more complex than we imagine.