On Science 2.0, Hank Campbell interviews the folks from Lone Signal who plan to beam “messages to ET” starting on Monday, targeting signals at the Gliese 526 star system. Read their profit-and-ego-centered rationalizations, then scroll to the bottom and see the announcement of their opening party in New York City on June 17.
Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to get a flash mob to picket the event? New Yorkers, think about it, will you? Half-serious and half in jest? But aimed at getting real discussion going.
And you SF Bay Area street theater folk… there’s an opportunity for you too! (See below.)
For background from the “dissident” community, see what i09 says about it: New Project to Message Aliens is both Useless and Potentially Reckless, where George Dvorsky writes, “No one has given them permission to do this, nor have they consulted the larger community.” Nevertheless, “This is the perfect opportunity for people who don’t like their money,” to purchase credits to send messages to space.
… then go into greater depth via my own paper on METI, Should We Be Shouting at the Cosmos? — unveiling how many specious assumptions these guys make. Like the hoary old (but technically disproved) cliche that “the cat is already out of the bag and the horses have already left the barn” — because of past TV signals like “I love Lucy.” It is an old wives tale, refuted by real science.
Let’s be plain, this is not science and these are not scientists. They are pulling a stunt. They are willing to fundamentally alter one of our planet’s observable properties by orders of magnitude – a kind of deliberate pollution – while shrugging off and pooh-poohing any effort to get them to TALK about it first with scientific peers, before screaming “yoohoo” on our behalf. Those who refuse such discussion — shrugging aside any need or moral obligation to consult the rest of us — are the ones practicing censorship.
And point of fact, calm and openly collegial discussion is all we have asked! Dr. John Billingham of NASA’s SETI program, Senior U.S. diplomat Michael Michaud and astronomers like Dr. James Benford and me. Contrast our decades patiently working in this area with these people who are willing to throw dice with human destiny based on impulse, ego, and a profit motive, without ever bothering to converse with the wide array of real scientists who might offer useful insights about risk and benefits. Eager to gamble our posterity based on untested assumptions, these are not responsible persons. My deepest hope is that they will not someday be remembered the way La Malinche (look her up) is recalled by the native peoples of Mexico. But that precedent should be on our minds.
Those who wish to explore more deeply can find resources at: SETI: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
Look, I won’t convince most of you. But if some of you live happen to know some theatrical or vigorous types near Manhattan, who might want to let the press attending that “gala” opening know there are two sides? And you others who dwell in the San Francisco Bay area, it shouldn’t be hard to find the newly recommissioned Jamesburg Earth Station in Carmel Valley, CA and let them know how you feel on June 18, 2013. Call in press and get your faces on TV!
Even better, open public awareness to a new form of human generated “pollution” that – though unlikely – might (a slight but real risk) endanger our kids. Make clear that such endeavors merit discussion. All we have ever asked is to talk about it, first.
== And if you thought that was far out… ==
A couple of really creepy ones for the Predictions Registry! Or for the predictions wiki some of you keep, tracking my veracity. (Oh but am I proud to have predicted these?)
Another fan pointed out, “This link reminded me of your disturbing story “Piecework” – (one of my “ickier” tales!) – Woman wants to give birth to a shark! Ai Hasegawa envisions women giving birth to endangered species…or even to their own food. Eeek! I’m not sure I want credit for that prediction…
You can find both tales in Otherness.
==Other stuff of a sci-fi-ish bent==
A fun if slow-to-load graphic: Sci Fi characters who survived their planet’s destruction.
== And finally ==
My podcast radio appearance on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd can be accessed now! We start with transparency and secrecy and all that but go on the sci fi and SETI and other big picture talk-a-thon topics.
…and… a perfect one minute film that distills so much about relationships… and is hilarious as well.