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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2005 > May > May 23

CI: The End of SETI As We Know It?

From: Mac Tonnies <macbot.nul>
Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 18:56:34 -0700 (PDT)
Fwd Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 08:41:56 -0400
Subject: CI: The End of SETI As We Know It?

The End of SETI As We Know It?

by Mac Tonnies


When I was doing radio spots promoting my book I was asked a lot
of dumb questions, mostly in keeping with the David
Bowie/Spiders from Mars theme. But I remember one particularly
good question, I think by a DJ in Dublin. Essentially, he wanted
to know what business I had writing a book on scientific
subjects since I had no formal scientific background. (Unlike
Richard Hoagland, who didn't graduate college, I can't claim
experience as a planetarium director or advisor to Walter
Cronkite, nor can I claim to have inspired NASA with the idea to
include messages on deep-space probes.)

The gist of my answer was: Who exactly is qualified to assess
candidate artifacts on the Martian surface? The stark truth is
that there are no experts. There are no "working teams"
exploring this possibility (with the exception of the Society
for Planetary SETI Research, of which I'm a member). There's no
grant money, no exo-archaeological funds on NASA's Mars
exploration budget. Unfortunately, what we do have are lots of
pseudoskeptics content to cling to dated "straw man" arguments
in order to keep the status quo afloat - even if that means
misrepresenting or ignoring contradictory data.

It's not just Mars, of course. We've allowed a handful of
people, foremost among them Seth Shostak and Jill Tarter of the
SETI Institute, to become veritable ambassadors for the aliens
they pretend to understand so well, despite a pronounced, utter
failure to provide the hard evidence they claim is so vital.

We're assured that aliens can't get here from there -
essentially because we have yet to get there from here using
primitive chemically fueled rocket technology. We're treated to
endless assurances that extraterrestrials will choose to
communicate via radio (for a host of anthropomorphic reasons too
numerable to explore in the available space).

Worse, SETI personalities tell us - again and again - that radio
contact with ETs in inevitable, even imminent... and when the
deadlines expire, the mainstream media dutifully forgets.
Consequently, we're subjected to an intellectually vacuous false
dichotomy between brash, self-proclaimed debunkers and equally
brash believers, typified by the already-infamous Peter Jennings
UFO special (which some commentators expected to break the UFO
documentary mold for reasons still unclear to me).

But the edifice is cracking under an onslaught of fresh ideas
and new discoveries. SETI's cult-like grip is slowly but
certainly weakening as scientists dare to suggest alternative
methods by which alien beings might contact us (assuming they
want to). From messages grafted into our DNA to communiques
wafted through space in the form of tangible artifacts (up to
and including autonomous robots capable of building copies of
themselves from raw materials), a chorus of vital new theories
and revised assumptions about our role in the Cosmos has
insinuated itself into the mainstream, posing a grave challenge
to SETI and rocking our existential foundations.

I think the scientific community, for all its jaded self-
assurance and adherence to brittle paradigms, is unconsciously
tiring of SETI's charade. And who wouldn't? We've managed,
against all odds, to grant a technocratic minority the right to
effectively speak on our behalf, to tell us what to expect, to
define the parameters of a universe we have yet to adequately
map. Almost unbelievably, we've allowed the consuming question
of extraterrestrial intelligence to become boring, the stuff of
ha-ha sound-bites and rote dismissals of anyone inclined to

But we have reached a turning point. And the assumed 'rules'
have been revealed to be unexpectedly pliant, suggesting a
galaxy vastly more colorful than that painted by SETI's

Mac Tonnies <macbot.nul>

Website: http://www.mactonnies.com
Posthuman Blues: http://posthumanblues.blogspot.com
Cydonian Imperative: http://cydonianimperative.blogspot.com

"After the Martian Apocalypse" available from Amazon!

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