Post Scriptum: Extraterrestrial intelligence as an interdisciplinary challenge
"UFOs and extraterrestrials" are quite an arguable subject, which has occupied scientists and amateur researchers since decades. While UFO-
In contrast to the above concept of science we will follow the approach, that science as a process depending on historic, cultural and philosophical assumptions is rather constructing facts than discovering them. For example the Greek philosopher Aristarchus of Samos concluded from observations of the planets that the earth is going around the sun. However, in his time there was no need for alternative world views and so his considerations did not rise any attention. A modern example for the cultural influence on scientific observations took place in the 19th century, when numerous astronomers observed canals on Mars, which were supposed to be created by a Martian civilisation. These observations have been evoked by a zeitgeist, shaped by the new genre of science fiction literature. Thanks to modern telescopes and space probes today we know that canals on Mars have never existed.
That means that facts do not objectively exist, but they are rather constructed by an observer. From this perspective, science is not a process producing an unambiguous kind of truth, but it is rather a continuous way of correcting errors (see chapter 3 of the book). This is particularly true for such an enigmatic subject as extraterrestrials, which can not be accessed in a strictly controlled manner -
(1) SETI, SETA: Attempts to identify ET artefacts against noise.
(3) Sceptical argument is biased against the ETH in order to protect an orthodox order or worldview.
(5) Humans as 'non-
(7) Number of habitable exoplanets. Timescales available for development of civilisations.
(9) All knowledge is based on hypothesis. The ETH is a hypothesis. ("Anything goes.")
(2) Ufology: Attempts to match observations with established concepts of reality.
(4) The ETH is representing a heterodox worldview. The social purpose of such alternative worldviews is to challenge an existing order.
(6) Extraterrestrials as a modern myth: Things like UFOs are a manifestation of spiritual longing in a disenchanted world
(8) Distance of interstellar travel. Timescales to survive by civilisations.
(10) The ETH is not falsifiable. Occam's razor prefers conventional explanation against the ETH.
The above table is making no claim to be complete. Additional columns could be added for psychology or biology, for example. Arguments, which are not clearly routed in a particular discipline, are not contained in the table. For example the practical argument that extraterrestrials would have contacted us for ages, if they were visiting our planet and the counter-
Some readers may be surprised by the classification of Ufology in the row of sceptical argument. We are aware that some proponents in this field are intending to provide supporting argument. However, the table is not regarding individual intentions, but rather the logical structure of the argument. And the logic of Ufology is rather conservative: In order to identify something, we have to compare it to something that is already known. It is impossible to learn anything new that way: If something is identified, existing knowledge is confirmed; if something is not identified, the scientific process stops. In order to make the extraterrestrial hypotheses valuable for science, we have to allow to consider this hypothesis at first. Particularly, the humanities could benefit from such kind of paradigm shift. The uneasiness we are experiencing in the notional confrontation with the radical different, is allowing interesting conclusions about our cultural and anthropological constitution.
But also the natural sciences have produced some remarkable data and observations in recent decades, such as the famous Wow!-