It's the future, Jim, but not as we know it...

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22C+ is all about Deep Futures, futures that matter. Welcome to futures fantastic, unexpected, profound, but most of all deeply meaningful...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What would you say to ET? (and how?)

When the aliens contact us, what should the first communication to them be? This was the subject of an interesting article in The South China Morning Posts’ Post Magazine, today. The article consisted of an interview by the writer Jon Ronson, with famous physicist Paul Davies. Besides being a scientist and academic, Davies is the fairly famous author of many best-selling books, including The Mind of God. He also just happens to be chair of Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), which uses radio telescopes to scan the cosmos for signals from other worlds with intelligent life. Seti was instigated by Frank Drake some 50 years ago. Drake calculated what he thought to be the number of intelligent civilisations there are in the galaxy, given all the variables that might contribute to the development as life as we know it. He came up with an answer of 10 000. That’s an awful lot of ETs getting around up there.

Like most mainstream scientists, Davies dismisses popular UFO culture, and ridicules reports of cattle mutilations and alien abductions. He says that if there are aliens out there, it is statistically very unlikely that they are just a few years ahead of us in terms of technology. It’s an interesting point.
One of the ways we know that UFO witnesses are lying or delusional, Davies says, is that the descriptions of the aliens and their craft are so unimaginative. Here is where Davies shows some lack of understanding himself.
Not all descriptions of “UFOs” involve little grey men or flying saucers. In the prelude of my book Sage of Synchronicity, I describe two UFOs I witnessed in the one evening – one a great ball of glowing light which moved silently, and the other a series of red circles travelling in triangle formation.
Some Other reports are far more interesting than mine. In one of his audios, The Infinite Self, mystic Stuart Wilde describes encountering a life-form which he perceived to be a kind of beautiful, geometric configuration (he had trouble describing it). He said he watched it for a few minutes before it vanished.
Clearly then, not all UFO reports fit sci-fi movie stereotypes.
Returning to Seti, what should the first message to our alien friends be, and who should send it?
Paul Davies, predictably, believes that there should be a team of professional scientists who gather together for this precise task. In fact the group already exists. The Post-Detection Task Group has been around some 14 years. It is comprised of “30 Seti-friendly scientists, writers and engineers.”
Davies says that after the Seti message has been confirmed, the next step would be to create “some sort of science parliament”, whose job it will be to check a draft message to be sent to the aliens. And what message would that be? Davies, unsurprisingly, says
 “…we should send something about our level of scientific understanding of how the world works. Some fundamental physics. Maybe some biology. But primarily physics and astronomy… the theory of relativity is impressive and will surely be understood by them…”
Davies isn’t so keen on art or music though, as these are tied to or specific cognitive structures.
I think Davies might be missing something. Some experiments have indicated that certain kinds of music positively affect even plants, suggesting that music might also transcend human cognition.
Professor Davies doesn’t completely dismiss the rest of the human race from having say. After the important scientific stuff, other groups can chime in. This includes, according to Davies, “all sorts of bizarre and incoherent babble that (the aliens) must treat with some discretion.”
That’s good news, as it gives hope to lesser mortals like us getting a say. Hell, maybe even something from this blog might make it through.
That is, once we get around the tiny problem that the only common language we will share is mathematics - according to Davies.
So, what do you think of Seti and Paul Davies? I respect Paul Davies, and in many ways he is one of the most open-minded scientists getting about. But on numerous fronts I think that he is dead wrong, and Seti deeply flawed... as I shall detail in tomorrow's blog.

Ronson, Jon.“Welcome to my world”. Postmagazine, (Sunday Morning Post), Hong Kong 11.04.10


  1. I disagree with Davies. Abductees are experiencing something;daily, there are thousands of sightings reported worldwide. Maybe they aren't all alien crafts, but they aren't all weather balloons, either. Personally, I think the whole phenomenon is a lot more complex and mysterious than any of us suspect.

  2. If you go way back to the first post I made here, you will find out! Marcus

  3. I have a fondness for Davies even though he's a scientist.I find it deeply worrying to think scientists are planning contact in this way, how often they stuff things up with their closed minds.

  4. As for alien abduction, I too think something is probably happening in at least some of the cases, as I suggest in the follow up case to this one. I've also met people who I am pretty sure were delusional about it.

    I had my own kind of "alien" abduction experience about ten years ago. Perhaps I'll write about it soon. I guess it has no more chance of getting me fired from my day job than any of the other stuff that I write about!

  5. Von,

    I like Davies too, always have. He's actually pretty brave to tackle some of the issues that he has. Mainstream science can be a "battle field", to quote Rupert Sheldrake, a man who knows all about it.

  6. Sheldrake really does know all about it.
    Now I'm going back to tht first post to decode 22c+

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