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Are we ready for contact with extraterrestrial intelligence?

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The SETI project scientists are known for tracking possible extraterrestrial signals, but now they are also considering sending messages from Earth telling of our position. A researcher from the University of Cádiz (Spain) questions this idea in view of the results from a survey taken by students, revealing the general level of ignorance about the cosmos and the influence of religion when tackling these matters.

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SINC | May 05 2014 09:34

The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project is an initiative that began in the 70s with funding from NASA, but that has evolved towards the collaboration of millions of Internet users for the processing of data from the Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico), where space tracking is carried out.

Now the members of this controversial project are trying to go further and not only search for extraterrestrial signs, but also actively send messages from Earth (Active SETI) to detect possible extraterrestrial civilisations. Astrophysicists, such as Stephen Hawking, have already warned of the risk that this implies for humanity, since it could favour the arrival of beings with more advanced technology and dubious intentions.

The ethical and sociological implications of this proposal have been analysed by the neuro-psychologist Gabriel G. de la Torre, professor at the University of Cádiz and participant in previous projects such as Mars 500 or space psychology topical team project financed by the European Space Agency, who wonders: “Can such a decision be taken on behalf of the whole planet? What would happen if it was successful and ‘someone’ received our signal? Are we prepared for this type of contact?”

To answer these questions, the professor sent a questionnaire to 116 American, Italian and Spanish university students. The survey assessed their knowledge of astronomy, their level of perception of the physical environment, their opinion on the place that things occupy in the cosmos, as well as religious questions – for example, “do you believe that God created the universe?” – or on the likelihood of contact with extraterrestrials.

The results, published in the journal ‘Acta Astronautica’, indicate that, as a species, humanity is still not ready for trying to actively contact a supposed extraterrestrial civilisation, since people lack knowledge and preparation. For this reason, SETI researchers are recommended in this study to look for alternative strategies.

“This pilot study demonstrates that the knowledge of the general public of a certain education level about the cosmos and our place within it is still poor. Therefore, a cosmic awareness must be further promoted – where our mind is increasingly conscious of the global reality that surrounds us – using the best tool available to us: education,” De la Torre emphasised. ”In this respect, we need a new Galileo to lead this journey”.

It was deduced from the questionnaires, which will soon be available to everyone on line, that university students and the rest of society lack awareness on many astronomical aspects, despite the enormous progress of science and technology. It also revealed that the majority of people consider these subjects according to their religious belief and that they would rely on politicians in the event of a huge global-scale crisis having to be resolved.

“Regarding our relation with a possible intelligent extraterrestrial life, we should not rely on moral reference points of thought, since they are heavily influenced by religion. Why should some more intelligent beings be ‘good’?,” added the researcher, who believes that this matter should not be monopolized by a handful of scientists: “In fact, it is a global matter with a strong ethical component in which we must all participate”.


Gabriel G. De la Torre. “Toward a new cosmic consciousness: Psychoeducational aspects of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations”. Acta Astronautica 94 (2): 577–583, 2014.

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Geographical area: International
Source: SINC


  • (22) Jimmy Swindell |Monday 27 October 2014 7:41:49 am

    It is more likely they have already found us, by tracking the thousand plus radioactive isotopes that have been released at Fukushima. From what I have observed, it appears we are being visited through a process of interdimensional physics. For the most part, there is no F involved with this new breed of UFOs. They simply appear, then they depart. The only flying I've been observing has been limited to that of peripheral support craft, and not at all from the primary host craft.

  • (22) Lisofby |Saturday 10 May 2014 11:27:25 am

    ThiIng is...all these comments above are from intelligent people, who care about decency and dare I say it, righteousness. Not in the religious sense. Don't let your eyes glaze over! Perhaps the plebs put there are not ready, ok definitely not! But they never will be! Like a mussel that will not open to let in the light. You may need a screw driver lol! But you guys sound more than ready to me, and are not alone!
    Seriously, I'm sure that aliens walk among us. In many forms. Some have come recently, others Hundreds or thousands of years ago, staying and reincarnating as earthlings, still others just the descendants thereof.
    The stupid thing is, if an intelligent life form comes from faraway, they have the technology and power to override government issue weapons. That is a given. Most likely the intellectual and emotional advancement to know better than to rape and pillage. Many assume violence on the part of " invaders" because of their own impure hearts.
    It's also prety presumptuous to think they want the same resources as are commodities here, and who is to say they are not using the slag left from what is mined for their own projects for example, or some aquatic algae as rocket fuel?
    It's stupid for earth dwellers to place the same petameters on another race that they themselves are limited to.
    I for one would welcome some intelligent, compassionate beings who could scare the shit out of those who think they can run roughshod over you, my cat, the environment and not have any consequences.
    Only one slight criticism carol, what makes you think ETs threaten Christians and Muslims etc? Have you not heard of the burning, bush, god in the sky clouds, the guiding star of Bethlehem, Mary's assumption?
    Lots of reference to aliens, IMO, in a lot of religious stories.

  • (22) Carol Drummond |Friday 09 May 2014 9:43:05 am

    The general population is not ready to communicate with extraterrestrials yet. We cannot communicate with each other without violent disagreement. We are far to primitive. A large proportion of the world still believes in Iron Age writings and myths. Can you imagine how Christian and Muslims would react to something so incredibly threatening to their belief that MAN is not the ultimate creation of THEIR particular deity...... The extraterrestrial would be a target for all the nutters out there!!! I am sure we will not be visited for many thousands of years until we are mentally and socially more developed.

  • (22) Kemal Gencay |Thursday 08 May 2014 10:58:26 am

    Maybe this will broaden the outlook

  • (22) Moedji Raharto |Thursday 08 May 2014 9:39:56 am

    To improve our readyness to contact with ETI, I agree through education, but it is also to improve our personality or character for better life due our population on the earth will be incease up to several billions in the coming several years. Our SETI project spend more time and resources which may compete with our basic need for a life. It will degrade our present situation into more chaotic situation. War and war again among the nation or group of society will be happen in near future.


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