Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
My collected thoughts flamed by hubris
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Is SETI Dangerous?

In this June 2011 issue of Scientific American, Michael Shermer takes on a comment made by Stephen Hawking about contacting aliens (page 89). In short, Hawking looks at historical culture clashes, like the European and American colonialism, as bad for the indigenous peoples, and inviting aliens for tea might be the end of Earth as we know it.

Of course, that assumes they can actually arrive here.

Any message that we send will take many years to arrive at a receptive destination, but by the time the aliens could physically follow, the Earth as we know it will have already expired. The best-case scenario (that is still possible) is that many, many years in the future, we'll receive a response. My guess, is that the response will not be decipherable, and the only meaning will be proof that someone was intelligent enough to respond. Most likely, we will simply notice that signs of life on possible, life-hospitable planets.

But I wonder more about how most people's philosophy would change with such knowledge.

Some think that this will prove that life arose sponanteously here and throughout the cosmos, and that life is an expected chemical reaction. They'd be wrong to assume that everyone would agree.

Life on multiple planets doesn't exclude intervention, for any external direction would persumably have the power to cross the galaxy as well. Sure, medieval churchmen assumed that Earth was unique, but Galileo's telescope only changed their details. Proof of life across the galaxy may change a bit of doctrine, it will not diminish human's ego-craving specialness.

In other words, don't kid yourself into thinking that humans will some day get to a point where we only accept what we can see and not pre-posit meaning. We just haven't evolve enough.

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