31 October 2022


David Whitehouse, The Alien Perspective, Icon Books, 2022.

SETI research has spent decades using radio telescopes to search for signals from intelligent extraterrestrial civilisations. A few unusual blips have been detected but they have never been repeated or have been attributed to terrestrial interference or previously unknown celestial events.
We have even used radio telescopes to send out a few messages to the stars; the most famous being the Arecibo message that beamed towards the star cluster M13 in 1974 carrying information about our planet and humanity. The Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft have all carried messages on golden discs for aliens to translate and read. The discs indicate where we live, what we look like and our knowledge of science and mathematics.

Any alien message is expected to be in a similar vein, and is based on the assumption that they use similar technology to us and that we will be able to translate and understand alien communications.

The |American UFO writer Stanton Friedman was always dismissive about SETI and called it the Silly Effort To Investigate because it failed to acknowledge UFO research. Things have changed now and there is more openness to the possibility that UAPs could be of an extraterrestrial origin.

Whitehouse reviews the various so far unsuccessful attempts to discover alien communications and ideas to signal to them. He wonders if ‘they’ are far too advanced to bother with us or they are too ‘alien’ for us to detect or understand. Astronomers also note that there is no universally accepted protocol for communicating with aliens so anyone with a radio telescope can send whatever they like. This is a concern for those who think aliens could be outright hostile or at least a destabilising influence on humanity. Another danger is that producing a protocol would help legitimise the views of
UFO fanatics.

The UFO phenomenon and the work of Charles Fort is discussed in Chapter 9. Whitehouse gives a fair review of the UFO subject and points out the circular logic of SETI pioneer Frank Drake who stated
that if UFOs are real they must be ET craft but as interstellar travel is impossible then UFOs cannot exist.

A major problem with SETI research is that although it accepts we have to be aware that any alien message or visitation would be ‘alien’ its proponents have to keep within the bounds of scientific acceptability to be credible and to obtain funding. The stories of contactees and abductees and their ET messages are far too elusive and fantastic for scientific investigation, yet studying the Universe shows it is a vast, weird place where the incredible happens every moment. Could aliens really be seeping into our unconscious minds or is it that we are obsessed with imagining their presence in what seems a very lonely Universe?

How life evolved on Earth and how it might evolve on other planets is discussed and Whitehouse tells how our own Sun and the Universe will eventually die. In the next few billion years perhaps we will expand outwards into our galaxy, perhaps with the aid of advanced ET knowledge and technology, or perhaps we will die with our Sun?

The Alien Perspective is a helpful and thought provoking guide to SETI research and our place in the Universe.
  • Nigel Watson


Phil said...

Drake's logic isn't circular at all - it's syllogistic. Compare:

"When I bring my forefingers together in front of my eyes, I can see a floating sausage. This is either real or an optical illusion. I know it's impossible for sausages to float, therefore I know it's an optical illusion."

"UFOs are either physical craft of extra-terrestrial origin or they aren't. If they were physical craft of extra-terrestrial origin they would have to originate from at least four light years away and they would be constrained by light speed, meaning that they would have immense power requirements and immensely long journey times. I know that it is staggeringly unlikely that UFO sightings each represent an immense resource investment by an alien civilisation, therefore I know that it's staggeringly unlikely that UFOs are physical alien craft."

Anonymous said...

And it is staggeringly unlikely that ET craft would survive trillions of miles of interstellar travel yet keep crashing a la Rowswell as soon as they enter earth's atmosphere