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The Case Against SETI

Written By: Jeff Behnke

Posted: 8/15/1999 12:00:00 AM   Reads: 971   Submitted By:jeff   Category: Space
 

As many of us are aware, the SETI@HOME program is used for everyone in the world to help scan the skies for evidence of intelligent life. At first I thought this was a relatively useful endeavor, so I visited SETI's website and was surprised at a number of things I found mentioned, and a number of things that were NOT mentioned, on their site. I decided then to email Seth Shostak for some answers to the questions that arose.

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July 16, 1999

1. What specific accepted scientific evidence has SETI agreed would prove the existence of extra terrestrials?

2. In the SETI FAQ, it is stated that personal accounts do not prove the existence of extra terrestrials because they do not provide physical evidence. What types of physical evidence are you referring to? Are "electromagnetic signals" considered physical evidence?

3. According to your declaration, SETI recognizes "that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is an integral part of space exploration and is being undertaken for peaceful purposes and for the common interest of all mankind." Therefore, what is the reason for SETI's negative reception of Joe Firmage?

4. IF SETI has never conducted an investigation of UFO sightings, then how has it come to the conclusion that, "there is no scientific evidence" which proves they exist?

In response, Seth wrote:

Yes, electromagnetic signals would constitute physical evidence for a very simple reason: they can be measured by instruments, but more importantly, they can be independently verified. If someone sees a light in the sky which they think is an alien ship, what can I, as a scientist do as an experiment to verify that? Talk to the person? That's like asking Newton "well, did that apple really fall on your head?" Science doesn't work that way. For scientists to believe the phenomenon (gravity, cold fusion, alien signals), they have to be able to do the experiment themselves and get the same result. With a signal, anyone with an antenna could verify its existence. Hundreds of researchers could find the SAME PHENOMENON. Not true with the UFO stories, and that's why you don't have thousands of academics working on this problem (and why you don't see displays of alien artifacts in the science museums!) For some reason, many members of the American public don't seem to understand how science works.

We have not been negative about Joe Firmage. I've talked to him personally, and find him reasonable and likeable. If he can find compelling evidence of alien visitation, great. But I don't need to personally look for Bigfoot or the Yeti to be able to say that there's still no convincing evidence for their existence.

Sincerely, Seth Shostak

[Note: I did not feel that the answers he gave me were adequate because he did not answer all of them and he seemed to be using some logical fallacies. Therefore, I conducted a follow up and asked again:]

July 26, 1999

1. What specific accepted scientific evidence has SETI agreed would prove the existence of extra terrestrials?

2. IF SETI has never conducted an investigation of UFO sightings, then how has it come to the conclusion that, "there is no scientific evidence" which proves they exist?

To which he replied:

1) Any signal that can be routinely confirmed by anyone else who can do an experiment (other radio observatories, for example) would convince us that the signal is real. The properties of the signal, for example narrow bandwidth, would indicate that it is of artificial origin.

2) SETI has also not conducted an investigation of claims that remote viewing works, either. But if it did, Las Vegas would be out of business, and missing persons would always be found. There would also be LOTS of university academics doing research in this area, and asking for grant monies to look into it. They're not.

[Note: once again, the second paragraph seems to be yet another logical fallacy, so it did not answer my question. I conducted yet another follow up, asking him to please remove the phrase on his website which says 'there is no scientific evidence that proves UFOs exist' since they don't investigate them, and he refused to do it, stating:]

I don't agree at all. We haven't investigated all sorts of phenomena, and we feel free to comment. For instance, the prevalence of extraterrestrial planets... We take the considered opinion of the scientific community on that. They publish papers and they convey their opinions. They've done the same about UFOs, and every single time they come to the same conclusion: there's simply no science in it. Not an iota of evidence that UFOs have anything to do with extraterrestrials. That's their opinion. They've said it. We listen and agree, in the same way that I agree about plate tectonics.

====================

Questions still remain. Why does MSNBC and other television programs pull out SETI scientists to dismiss Joe Firmage and any other claims of extraterrestrial visitation? Many SETI researchers, according to MSNBC 'roll their eyes' when they hear of lights seen in the sky and alien abduction. (http://www.msnbc.com/news/283948.asp). And it doesn't make a bit of business sense, considering that SETI relies on private donations, to belittle the very man who could provide the funding they need.

Concerning the scientific community, Seth writes "They've done the same about UFOs, and every single time they come to the same conclusion: there's simply no science in it," Come on. It is true that the scientific community, as a whole, does not accept UFOs as being extraterrestrial in origin, but there are many that do. Richard Hoagland, Stanton Friedman, Clark McClelland, countless USAF officials, and according to the Mars Mystery written by Graham Hancock, the list includes countless decorated ex-NASA employees. Just Visit (http://www.salonmagazine.com/books/it/1999/07/12/aliens/index.html) for an idea of the number of PhDs and retired professionals who are members of MUFON and express their belief in the UFO phenomena.

Another interesting fact is that many SETI scientists such as Jill Tarter originally came from NASA, who have a bit of a record when it comes to covering up evidence. NASA itself is headed by Daniel Goldin, a powerful boss who worked at TRW as a top secret defense contractor. The appointment to NASA was originally made by President George Bush, the former director of the CIA. And according to Dan Ecker, ever since Goldin has been in charge of the civilians in NASA, he has steadily been replacing regular NASA employees with former Department of Defense people. What for? And now that the government placed a ban on SETI working with NASA, a number of NASA employees are thus being sent to work with SETI. Interesting arrangement.

Here is a summary of the problems as I see them:

1. SETI does not research UFOs but they still can say there is no scientific evidence to prove they exist. But they don't investigate them so they would have no evidence! The phrase will stay on their website like a stab in the back to science.

2. According to Seth, remote viewing isn't real because casinos in Nevada are still functioning and missing persons would always be found. Is this the criteria he uses?

3. "UFOs aren't real because there would be lots of university academics doing research into the area." Well then couldn't we also say that extraterrestrial signals aren't there because there isn't thousands of research centers conducting satellite surveys of the skies? And it's false to claim that not many university academics are conducting research in the area.

4. "You don't have to look for Bigfoot to say that there is no scientific evidence for their existence." You can say whatever you want, but someone does have to do the research. And who would you believe, someone who investigated Bigfoot or someone who merely claimed that Bigfoot did not exist?

5. Who are the nameless scientists from which he draws his conclusions?

If there was a governmental coverup, which sometimes seems to be the case at NASA, what BETTER way to do it than to create a SETI@Home program which proves to the entire planet that there is nothing there? See for yourself. Download it. You could sit there for ages and see nothing. Is this intentional? Good questions. Few answers. As usual, you can listen to the 'experts' who use nameless sources as references, or you can investigate for yourself.



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