The title of this chapter is
somewhat ambiguous. One wag of my
acquaintance assumed that I would be speculating on ETs future financial
prospects. In fact I intend only to suggest
something far more modest: namely, that
my day job - SETI - is not wasting its time.
I will opine that there is good reason to believe that the implications
of Professor DeVores views - that we will never hear an alien transmitter
because intelligence is rare - are wrong.
I am sanguine about the outlook
for cosmic sentience, and I note that the public shares my view. Indeed, the public is more sanguine. Surveys taken since the 1960s have
repeatedly demonstrated that a large fraction of the American populace not only
believes that the aliens are out there, but that theyre here as well, buzzing
the countryside or occasionally abducting unsuspecting folk for salacious
experiments. There are many reports
that bolster this belief, including fifty years of UFO sightings, abductions, implants,
and the bizarre phenomenon known as crop circles. The last are particularly intriguing, not only because some
people continue to believe in their extraterrestrial nature even after a pair
of British gentlemen admitted to having constructed the first circles with
boards and ropes, but also in the light of the extraordinary motivation
required of aliens to indulge in such agrarian graffiti projects.
But the point is that, if the
public is to be believed, I could have settled this debate by bringing a few
alien bodies to the conference. The
general populace might regard that as both obvious and easy (although it would
probably incur the wrath of the feds).
But lets admit that the present debate will not be settled by popular
vote. The public may believe that proof
of alien intelligence has been freeze-dried and stacked up by nefarious
government agents. Few scientists would
agree, and in any case, I have no cosmic cadavers at hand.
Contributed by: Dr. Seth Shostak