Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials

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Springer Science & Business Media, May 5, 2010 - Science - 466 pages
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The proper study of mankind is not merely Man, but Intelligence. 1 —Arthur C. Clarke, 1951 In the long-running television series “The X-Files,” the original Deep Throat said to FBI Special Agent Mulder that “there are those like yourself who believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life.” Ah, but that’s not the question. If extraterrestrial life exists, most of it may be in simpler forms comparable to the one-celled organisms of Earth biology. Finding such life would be fascinating for scientists, but may be of only passing interest to the general public. What intrigues the average citizen is the possibility of contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. We want to communicate with other sentient beings, learning what they know and telling them about ourselves. We want to ? nd out how they are like us and how they are different. Microorganisms don’t have a lot to say. There is another implication of contact that underlies this book: Intel- gent extraterrestrials might have an impact on our future. The information they send us—if any—might change our cultures. They could have c- scious intentions toward us, and possibly the technologies to reach us directly. Their intentions may be benign—or not. Our interest in alien minds is not new. The idea that intelligent beings exist beyond the Earth has been part of the Western intellectual tradition for more than 2000 years. Sometimes this belief was widespread; at other times, it was out of fashion.
 

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User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

It's a shame that this comprehensive and meticulously documented tome tends to get shelved next to such trash as books on UFOs and books on alien abductions. It seems to mention every possible consideration and opinion about ET intelligence; some of these, annoyingly, pertain to religion. Read full review

Contents

A Belief in Other Minds
9
A New Era
25
Searching for Intelligence
33
Sending Our Own Signals
49
Probabilities
54
The Astronomical Factors
58
Life
68
Intelligence
77
The Consequences of Contact
208
Hopes
219
Fears
232
Dangers
241
Mixed Emotions
248
Some Assumptions Examined
259
Before Contact
260
After Contact
279

Civilization Technology and Science
89
Longevity
94
The Drake Equation Take Two
111
Should We Continue the Search?
113
Direct Contact
122
The UFO Controversy
143
The Drake Equation Take Three
162
Why Dont We See Them?
164
Reformulating the Problem
180
Thinking Outside the Box
190
SETI and Religion
202
The Drake Equation Take Four
324
What Is Missing
325
Some Conclusions Drawn
333
Paradigm Shifts
343
The Human Role
347
Preparing
358
About the Author
377
References
378
Index
450
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About the author (2010)

Michael Michaud served as Director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Advanced Technology and as Counselor for Science, Technology, and Environment at the American embassies in Paris and Tokyo. He led the negotiation of international agreements, played an active role in reviving U.S.-Soviet space cooperation, represented foreign policy interests in interagency discussions of U.S. space policy, and testified before Congress on space-related issues. He has published thirty articles and papers on the implications of contact, as well as sixty articles on other subjects and the book, Reaching for the High Frontier: The American Pro-Space Movement, 1972-1984.

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