SETI: Run by charlatans or fools?

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by Dinosaur, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. Balerion Banned Banned

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    But you haven't. So far, the only thing anyone has said (short of loud, vague proclamations) is that it has benefits and advantages. Nowhere has anyone actually said what they are.

    Case in point. Without actually saying what they are, you still say "Therein lie its advantages."

    And again, we equate SETI with its neighboring sciences. Let me remind you that SETI does not do anything but listen for signals. It doesn't explore, it doesn't learn anything new, it simply listens. Much like the misleading article linked to earlier in the thread in which SETI was mentioned as being part of the astrobiology field, and then the benefits of astrobiological research were listed as though they were benefits of SETI in spite of SETI having no impact on that field whatsoever, you're attempting to lump this program in with other disciplines that actually do something. It's a sign of weakness that you can't be forthright and simply say something like, "It's the scientific version of playing the lottery."
     
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  3. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

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    Haven't you ever learned anything new by listening?

    SETI has learned of a whole lot of times at directions at which there were no detectable signals being received from space.
    Is this null result an advantage?
    Maybe not. But, we do many things not because of their expected advantage, but because of their potential advantage, and a science experiment that finds the absence of a hypothesized phenomenon is still a successful experiment.

    Any lottery in particular?

    SETI is a gamble.
    Most decisions we make are gambles.
    This does not mean they are foolish.
    Making an affordable bet on a horse at long odds is not foolish if the horse's chance of winning is better than the odds paid.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
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  5. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Well said Pete. People like Balerion thought Columbus was foolish sailing across the Atlantic too. Because they all knew he would fall off the planet.
     
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  7. pmb Banned Banned

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    Oh contraire, we did so, many times. The reason you didn’t see it is that you’re expecting something very different than how we actually benefit by it. You seem to think that an advantage to be something (using an example from perhaps another field of research) like We found what we set out to look for in our research experiment and we used what we learned to make faster computers … , or something like that. We’ve been explaining to you that this is not the way that science works in all cases. Benefits come in a myriad of ways. We reap benefits in various ways too.

    Like myself, many people love the feeling of knowing that we're actively seeking for intelligent life in the universe. It's a wonderful feeling to be part of a society that isn't as petty and overly utilitarian as to worry about it not finding ET after the first week of looking. Your comments have inherent in them that SETI will not find any sign of life when in fact they did have a hit as I said before. According to your perspective that shouldn't have happened. To mine I think its wonderous! It lights up the imagination! Far too many pragamtists simply don't care about things like this and that's a shame. But there is a huge number of people in the human race who do want to know this whether you approve of the search or not.

    One thing we perceive as an advantage that you wouldn’t (and won’t) recognize as such is the fact that we as a species are exploring and it’s the act of exploration itself that is a benefit to the human race. The act of exploration itself elevates us above animals. Another benefit is that we haven’t found anything where we were looking for so we’ve learned where not to look. That itself is valuable information; again something you wouldn’t recognize but we would. Then there’s the message that we send to our children through this act of exploration, i.e. we, your ancestors, took it upon ourselves and started the search for life in the universe for you and in doing such we acknowledge that this is something important for us as a species to do. It has also acted to inspire children all over the world in ways you seem to be totally blind to.

    However, from everything I’ve read of what you’ve posted tells me that you don’t have the heart and mind of this kind of scientist, i.e. the explorer type. I suspect that if this was the 60’s that you’d think that the act of going to the moon had no advantage other than the technology we created to get there and back. The main benefit to the human race of the Apollo program, not the one which it was designed for however, was to inspire the human race. I know that as a child watching the moon launches was the greatest experience of my entire life and I’ll be forever grateful to the universe for letting me be born at a time when I was watching the manned exploration of the moon as a child, through childlike eyes. It was awesome!

    And this is why you don’t get it! You don’t think like the rest of us scientific explorers. You just don't seem to have the heart for it.

    Think of it like this - What advantage is the actual act of gambling to someone who likes to gamble? I'm not talking about the payoff when/if it happens. I'm talking about the actual act of gambling.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  8. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    My Post #50 mentioned that I am optimistic relating to the existence of life elsewhere, while being pessimistic relating to the number of technological cultures in the universe. My analysis led me to believe many galaxies with no technological cultures & few (if any) with more than one.

    Paddoboy: in Post #3 merely mentions the huge number of stars in the universe without further analysis of the likelihood of intelligent life.
    While I might have been wrong in claiming inverse square law degradation, at least Buddah 12 in his post #8 agrees with me.
    Furthermore, my Post #50 provides cogent reasons supporting my claim that it is unreasonable for SETI to expect to receive a signal from a technological culture.

    I am sure that the SETI folks are circa as knowledgeable as I am & do not really expect to receive a signal. The best explanation for their activities is that they want the funding which provides them an income & some wonderful Tech-Toys to play with. The Publish or Perish context of major universities is also a possible motive.

    BTW: Nobody seems interested in refuting the remarks from my Post #50, particularly the following.
     
  9. pmb Banned Banned

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    That's all too easy to refute
    No race would want to use that much unnecessary energy since the energy doesn’t need to be perfectly directed since there is a non-zero finite divergence of all practical beams of radiation. It merely needs to be highly directed (if at all), like the beam coming out of a laser. That beam only looks collimated, but it’s really not. The beam has a slight divergence. Take a simple HeNe laser and shine it on the wall. The footprint of the light will have an area about the size of the head of a ballpoint pen. Now walk away from the wall another 5 more feet. The footprint will have barely changed. However if you were to shine it across a parking lot then it would be the size of a baseball. Imagine what it would be like by the time it hit the moon! Imagine how big it would be by the time the beam is reflected off the reflectors left on the surface of the moon by Apollo 11 and comes back to Earth! Haven’t you ever wondered how Nasa could bounce a laser off the moon and measure the return time? How would you aim that accurately at the plate on the moon’s surface? The answer is that you don’t have to. You only need the general area.

    We don’t have to be precise, just approximate for the above reasons.

    Even smarter because they know much more about scenarios such as this than others.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  10. brucep Valued Senior Member

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    All you do is show how ignorant you are about this type of experiment. Subsequently your opinion why it's conducted is bullshit crank nonsense.

    Let's ask a simple question. What type of signal would the scientific team choose to broadcast. A single pulse or a pulse followed by a specific interval followed by another pulse ............? Duh. I think you can find Contact on NFLX.
     
  11. brucep Valued Senior Member

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    4,098
    How about the basic advantage science creates jobs. When scientific research is conducted jobs are created. Basic as it gets. Guess what the results are documented in the scientific literature for all of us to use. Free of charge. Personally I like the idea there's a segment of society which isn't overly populated by ignorance.
     
  12. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    I sometime wonder about the audacity and arrogance of some that prefer to sit back in their arm-chairs, and sanctimoniously criticise science including SETI, proclaiming the money could be better spent elsewhere, or that they in their vast infinite knowledge, no better then reputable people such as Sagan Tarter and Shostack, and proclaim that no benefit at all can ever hope to be gained. Yet the same sanctimonious individuals are roundly accepting our present technology and progress, much of which has directly arose from the space age, Satellites, and other Astronomical endeavours, including SETI.
    The knowledge of who we are, what our place is in the Universe, and finding irrefutable evidence that we are not alone just does not register with these brain-dead people.

    My hypothesis is that in reality they have other reasons for dismissing SETI and other endeavours out of hand, and stupidly labelling reputable people as charlatans and crooks.
    Most, probably are harbouring some inner fear of evidence that we are not alone, probably brought on by watching too many B grade Sci/Fi movies. Others just don't believe there is any other life out there, despite the near infinite nature of the Universe and near infinite numbers involved, plus of course the stuff of life being everywhere we look.
    More stars in our observable Universe then grains of sands on all the beaches, is a fair and reasonable comparison.
    Please note, we are only referring to the Observable Universe.
    Others have religious reasons, still believing Earth and us on it, hold a privilege position in this vast Universe...you know, similar to the Ptolemic beliefs of the distant past. They of course do not want to upset the Apple cart either.
    Then we have the anti science groupies in general....those that oppose for opposition sake. And finally a few scientists, who see any funding to any other disciplines other then their own, as depriving them of funds that should have gone there way.

    I was fascinated as a kid, one evening in 1957 starring up on a spring evening, looking for that little blue dot moving across the sky that the USSR had just sent aloft, which was Sputnik of course.
    That awe and fascination continued during the space race on both sides, and continues to this very day.
    I often invite friends round and show them the ISS 250 miles above, [another awesome scientific effort of which there is much criticism from the likes of which I have described] Again many benefits from this awesome man made construction, most of which would be dismissed by the same sanctimonious bleeding hearts I am referring to.

    Personaly, I can rest in the comfort that there will always be those that see the need to do what man has not done before, to go where he has not gone before, and to search the Universe in the hope of one day finding that mind blowing, humanity changing evidence that we are certainly not alone.
    Being an old bastard now, I can deservedly sit back and bask in that glorious search, knowing that I have personally contributed to its great scientific endeavour.
     
  13. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Of course SETI is related to neighboring sciences...why wouldn't it be???
    SETI only looks for signals???? Sure, just as most scientific theories start of with some Imaginative hypothesis, then we experiment, observe, and voila!!!, we then have a scientific theory!
    In other words it is as much a part of science as robotic probes, the ISS, and the HST.
    The misleading article you referred to, actually is quite factual and right on the mark...It though certainly does not align with your own preconceived notions.
    It's actually a sign of weakness that you are unable to recognise SETI for what they are and what they do, and what knowledge we do gain from it. It's also a probable sign you probably are burdened with other preconceived baggage that blinkers you from the truth and reality.
     
  14. brucep Valued Senior Member

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    Nice post. We saw all those movies. I remember seeing this movie called 'The Claw' [I think that's what it's called] and it scared the crap out of me. Nice post again.
     
  15. Boris2 Valued Senior Member

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    Balerion. Pete's response which i commented on, was to this quote by Dinosaur.

    and not the one you posted...

     
  16. Boris2 Valued Senior Member

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    the giant claw? a 50s b-grade sci-fi movie?
     
  17. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

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    People Thought Columbus foolish not because they thought the Earth was flat, but because they rightly thought that Asia was much further away than Columbus did. Columbus thought that Asia was less than 4000km from the Canary Islands, instead of nearly 20,000.

    Also, Columbus might have been a real asshole - http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day
     
  18. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Fail.
     
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks....

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


    I saw them all...some were good for a laugh, like the original Japanese Godzila. The one that scared me shitless was the original "The Thing"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6tG_f2317w
    But unlike a few others, I did grow up and realise that the chances of Aliens being aggressive arseholes, would be non existant, if they had the technology to visit us.
    I don't believe we have any worries re SETI. Plenty with enough vision to keep it rolling.
     
  20. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    It's also worth mentioning at this time that the infamous "WOW" signal cannot be 100% written off.


    And I believe it's time to remember this and the speakers ties with SETI although at the same time, being a noted critic of the many ratbag claims of UFOs



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M
     
  21. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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  22. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I never said it wouldn't, only that the benefits of related sciences shouldn't be considered benefits of SETI, since SETI as of yet has provided no benefit whatsoever.

    Yes, it only looks for signals.

    Except probes, ISS, and HST can all provide real, concrete, practical benefits to society. Knowing for certain that there is intelligent alien life beyond our planet isn't going to do anything but affirm what we already strongly suspect. But as I said, I'm open to having my mind changed, so why don't you go ahead and give me a list of the ways my life will change for the better if and when SETI accomplishes its goal?

    No, it's not. It frames SETI as being one of the projects that brings these benefits, but it hasn't done any of that yet.

    If it's a weakness, it's one I've tried to rectify by asking you directly to tell me what those gains are. And after repeating the question numerous times, you've still failed to even suggest one benefit to society.

    I think the preconceived baggage you speak of is all on your side. You seem to be able to do nothing else but attack my character, while avoiding every opportunity to actually defend the program with sound arguments. Your zeal for this program borders on the religious. Emotional appeals and ad hominem attacks and all.
     
  23. Boris2 Valued Senior Member

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    if ever we do receive a signal then it will depend on its content whether it will be "interesting". just a signal basically saying "here we are", wont be enough. sure it will be nice to know but if that is all there is then i can't see the interest lasting very long. look how long the interest in apollo lasted as a case in point. i also can't see the signal containing the equivalent to our "Wikipedia", signal degradation and bandwidth issues, being received either. like i said earlier, good someone is looking and in the scheme of things it's pretty cheap.
     

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