How advisable is it to make contact with ET? Credit: José Antonio Peñas/SINC

How advisable is it to make contact with ET?
Credit: José Antonio Peñas/SINC

A new study suggests that we Earthlings are not ready for dropping a line to an extraterrestrial civilization.

The study results are published in the journal Acta Astronautica, suggesting that, as a species, humanity is still not ready for trying to actively contact any ETs out there.

This dialogue regarding issues related to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is being prompted by renewed interest to not only search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence – but also aggressively send messages from Earth, dubbed “Active SETI.”

Astrophysicists, such as Stephen Hawking, have already warned of the risk that this implies for humanity, “since it could favor the arrival of beings with more advanced technology and dubious intentions,” according to a press statement from the Information and Scientific News Service (SINC) in Spain.

Implications

The ethical and sociological implications of this proposal have been analyzed by the neuro-psychologist, Gabriel G. de la Torre, a professor at the University of Cádiz in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain.

De la Torre wonders: Can such Active SETI decisions be taken on behalf of the whole planet?

What would happen if they are successful and “someone” received our signal?

Indeed, are we prepared for this type of contact?

Questionnaire

To answer these questions, the professor sent a questionnaire to 116 American, Italian and Spanish university students. The survey assessed such items as their knowledge of astronomy, their level of perception of the physical environment, and their opinion on the place that things occupy in the cosmos.

“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,” De la Torre explains. “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 observes. ”In this respect, we need a new Galileo to lead this journey.”

It's a big Universe - anybody out there? Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute

It’s a big Universe – anybody out there?
Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute

SETI monopoly?

De la Torre adds that, regarding our relationship with a possible intelligent life elsewhere, “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’?”

The professor 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,” he concludes.

Note: For more information of this research, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009457651300341X

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