SETI: Run by charlatans or fools?

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

  1. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Some of the Sponsorship SETI currently receives:


    Institute projects have been sponsored by:

    NASA Ames Research Center
    NASA Headquarters
    National Science Foundation
    Department of Energy
    US Geological Survey
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
    International Astronomical Union
    Argonne National Laboratory
    Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
    David & Lucile Packard Foundation
    Paul G. Allen Foundation
    Gordon and Betty Moore
    Universities Space Research Association (USRA)
    Pacific Science Center
    Foundation for Microbiology
    Sun Microsystems
    Hewlett Packard Company
    William and Rosemary Hewlett
    Bernard M. Oliver
    And many others

    As mentioned the main benefits of SETI are more philosophical then practical at this time.......Are we alone??? Our place in the Universe?? As it is with other Astronomical programs, it is rather shallow to be looking at short term gains, or the favourite rally cry of the pessimist, about economics.
    While Kepler and other probes can find Earth like planets in comfy zones, their distances do not reveal if ETI does exist there...We need them to shout at us and those shouts are possibly then picked up by SETI.

    It is also quite obvious to most [not all sadly] that SETI has in many ways advanced computer power and such disciplines connected with computers and such.

    There are also procedures that astronomers would instigate to make known any potential ETI revelation. They would of course obtain confirmation of the signal from other astronomers, simarilly as was undertaken in the movie "CONTACT"
    I'm sure there would be nothing to gain for individual radio astronomers to even attempt to conspire to keep the find from the public.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    SETI research is also carried out in other countries and Australia is one of those. The grand Parkes Radio Telescope, which I happened to visit around 6 months ago, regularly undertakes searches for SETI-AUSTRALIA.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Balerion Banned Banned

  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. pmb Banned Banned

  8. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Oh yeah. I think I've been caught mistaking them before. It must have gotten planted in my mind as a kid, as there is IMO some resemblance between Heston & Rennie. But you piqued my interest, so I ended up watching both versions back to back just for kicks.

    As in Ronald Ray-gun? I wonder if Reagan himself speculated that his Star Wars defense projects could have produced such a weapon as Gort's visor ray. At least it comports with his (the military's) interest in high energy lasers.

    You know there's a lot of historical social content to what you said. If you consider the fact the original was made even before the testing at Bimini and Bikini, before McCarthyism and the antidisestablishmentarianism (biggest word of that era) that began to permeate Republicans of the 60s, whoa. Then the environmental goals of Keanu Reeves' character form a 'liberal' link to the anti-nuke goals of Rennie's Klaatu. Both themes run contrary to the right-winger ideology even though 50 years have passed. Of course that just proves that Hollywood screen-writers and directors are all just a bunk of yellow bellied pinko socialist wusses, so go figure. Give this movie to some fundie church as a project, and they'd have Heston in there for sure, parting the Red Sea while Gort vaporizes chariots and sends a plague of metallic nano locusts to work dismantling all of the corrupt world, starting with all of the idols and mammon etc. And no doubt the reanimation of the dead Klaatu would take place on the third day, after a considerable mistreatment at a place like Abu Ghraib. Now there's a movie worth making. Not as screwy as Spaceballs, but more cynical towards stupidity. Something suitable for, say, Michael Moore.

    Yeah we need a centrist Gort that will vaporize the Right and leave the Middle & Left to sort out the pickings. That's probably a subliminal fear among fundies as well - that science is on the verge of gaining some of his superpowers, by some ill defined means, and somehow will use it to shut down religion once and for all. But Gort was effective in the theatrical sense - for such minimal devices (the flexible metal body, the visor and ray-gun eye) he conveyed all the power of an impersonal avenging God.

    Oh yeah what better way to illustrate a superior being than to have him mastering what the best minds of contemporary science are puzzled by? Of course the right-wingers in the audience would have immediately picked up on this (scientific expertise is respectable), despite their shallow pretense (I mean modern right-wingers) that it's merely the product of brainwashing and/or a pact with the devil. (Of course that comes from getting their views on science from noticing how much Leslie discredits Sheldon.)
  9. Boris2 Valued Senior Member

    yes, i think the funds are more directed at specific science experiments etc than at the actual searches which this thread is mainly about, and to which my answer was aimed.
  10. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Read-Only: Did you consider the inverse square law?
    The type of signal you are describing would not be noticeable 4 or more light years from its source & certainly not if directed toward more distant solar systems.
  11. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Why don't you point that out to SETI if its factual?
    The point is, you do not know what you are talking about, full stop.
  12. brucep Valued Senior Member

    Get a clue. If that was the case we wouldn't receive any signals [all electromagnetic signals, even light! Duh.] from any source > 4 light years. You probably think the SETI signal looses energy over distance.
  13. brucep Valued Senior Member

    I love reading your posts. You seem to have a 'bead' on everything. I especially enjoy the way you put 'stuff' into historical context. You should write a book. Maybe you have. I can't believe you watched both. Wow.
  14. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    From my Post #50
    The above relates to a signal sent in a precise direction. From a distance of 4 or more light years, a directed signal is likely to miss a planet & would almost certainly miss the SETI receivers, which are much smaller than a planet. Of course, the problem is worse for solar systems more distant than Proxima Centauri.

    In Post #129, I quoted the above & added the following remarks.
    Post # 133 by Read-Only
    To the above, I mentioned the inverse square law applicable to signals which are radiated as an expanding cone. At distances of 4 or more light years, such signals would be too weak to be picked up by receivers.

    In post #149, BruceP replied to the above as follows.
    He seems to have forgotten the difference in energy output between a stellar source & a broadcast from a technological culture. Even if a technological culture could produce signals strong enough to be detectable at interstellar distances, why would they?

    Brucep: I hope you understand that the signals SETI is attempting to receive are broadcasts from a technological culture, not stellar radiation.

    The above indicates that neither directed nor expanding cone type signals are at all likely to be received by us from sources 4 or more light years distant.

    Nothing posted so far has convinced me that the SETI folks are motivated by expectation of success. They are not fools & realize the formidable technological difficulties. They are surely motivated by the desire for funding to provide them with jobs & interesting technological toys to play with. Another motive might be the Publish or Perish syndrome common in academic environments.
  15. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    And I don't expect anything posted by anyone would convince you of its merits and practicability.
    One thing you are correct in though...They are motivated by desire...the desire to gain more knowledge of the Universe and our place within. And of course your purposely provocative insulting title, actually says more about yourself then any folk at SETI.
    And your empty words and claims will make no difference to the true capabilities of their equipement and their dedication and will and hope to eventually find something.

    The following data has been obtained at.... .....and gives a more realistic picture of SETI, its aims, its capabilities, and the true meaning of why it was initiated and continues to this day.

    In terrestrial radio practice, narrow-band signals are often called “carriers.” They pack a lot of energy into a small amount of spectral space, and consequently are the easiest type of signal to find for any given power level. If E.T. intentionally sends us a signal, those signals may well have at least one narrow-band component to get our attention.

    If E.T.’s electric bills are high (as on Earth) and his received signals are therefore relatively weak, we may have to build far larger instruments to look for the modulation. Fortunately, once a detection is made, we expect the money will become available to do so.

    But even though this information is limited, the detection of alien intelligence will be an enormously big story. We’ll be aware that we’re neither alone nor the smartest things in the universe. And of course there will be a clamor to build the big dishes that would allow us to pick up E.T.’s message.

    If the signal is strong enough, it might be detected with ordinary SETI equipment, although weak broadcasts will be missed. Since 2011, the SETI Institute has been expanding its search to discover these other types of communications. Nonetheless, it’s good to keep in mind that any civilization will realize that narrow-band broadcasts are among the most efficient in terms of producing a detectable signal at the receiving end. If they wish to get in touch or, for example, simply have high-powered radars for finding incoming comets, they will generate the type of signals our experiments can find.

    To date, the SETI Institute has conducted only passive experiments, designed to listen for signals, not to send them. However, humankind has been unintentionally transmitting signals into space – primarily high-frequency radio, television, and radar – for more than sixty years. Our earliest TV broadcasts have reached several thousand nearby stars, although any alien viewers would have to build a very large antenna to detect them.

    Optical SETI programs – which search for very brief (nanosecond) flashes of light – are being conducted at the University of California Berkeley’s Leuschner Observatory (Project SEVENDIP) and at Harvard University.
    Because it has the ability to study many areas on the sky at once, and is continually being upgraded with improved receivers and spectral analyzers
  16. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    SETI is operating for all mankind, including the charlatans or fools that deride it, and as the previous post/link indicate, is supported by many orginisations and most scientists.
    That just about says it all.
  17. Boris2 Valued Senior Member

    i think there is some confusion here. directed signals are not governed by the inverse square law. even though the signal would be cone shaped. the inverse square law applies to non-directed signals that are transmitted in a spherical pattern.

    added as errata: a directed signal that was a segment of a cone in pattern would be governed by the inverse square law.

    it doesn't need to be directed specifically at us, seeing that "they" probably don't know we are here, but as part of a program that targets various parts of the sky that have, maybe, been chosen because of extrasolar system density, the "right" stars etc. we would purely be in the right place to receive this signal.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2013
  18. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    As mentioned in my Posts #50 & 129, it is almost impossible for SETI to receive a precisely directed signal from an ET culture. Due to inverse square law degradation, an expanding cone type of signal would not survive to be detected after traveling an interstellar distance. A poster supplied a link to the SETI Site ( )
    I agree with the bolded (by me) part of the above.

    The history of the Earth strongly supports the notion that extraterrestrial life not only exists, but is common.

    I disagree with the notion that technological cultures are common. I expect many galaxies to have no technological cultures & very few (if any) to have more than one. In various Threads, I posted remarks like the following to support my POV (paraphrases, not actual quotes).
    As remarked by me in various other Threads, I do not expect SETI to receive a signal from ET & I do not think they expect to. I still think that they are motivated by the desire for funding, allowing them to have jobs & access to interesting technological toys. The academic Publish or Perish syndrome might also be a motive.
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    You've been wrong in the past and wrong again.
    The aspersions you cast on reputable people, because they happen to violate what you see as right and proper, says a lot about yourself.It's your own motive that needs to be questioned.

    SETI continues because of the innovation and Imagination of a few good scientists, and because they all realise that their chances of contact are real.
    As long as there is a chance, they'll continue as they should.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  20. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

    Is it a bad thing for an individual to be motivated in this way to do a job?
    Those motivators (having a job, access to interesting technological toys) both feature strongly in my motivation to work in medicine.
    And it will often be the case that I perform or prescribe treatment that I do not expect to make a difference for that individual patient (because the patient judges that the small chance of benefit outweighs the costs).

    Does that make me a charlatan?
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    No, but you're not doing anything dishonestly.
  22. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Neither is/was Sagan, Tarter or Shostak and company.
    Nothing really dishonest about doing fair dinkum science.
    In fact they are benefiting and helping mankind, including the real charlatans and fools.
  23. Balerion Banned Banned

    They're lying about contact probabilities to receive funding. Nothing they do makes any contribution to science or society.

Share This Page