Talk:Search for extraterrestrial intelligence

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What happens if we find alien life?[edit]

Okay, imagine SETI found definitive proof of alien life tomorrow. Has SETI ever said what they would do if they did? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:36, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

We need an article called First contact, which would be about scientific speculation about humankinds first contact with an intelligent species other than our own. This is different than fictional first contacts, or anthropological first contacts. (talk) 06:58, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
I've written one already: it's called "Cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact". Now we just need to add a summary of it into this article....Wer900 talkessay on the definition of consensus 00:49, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Fermi paradox[edit]

It seems there is an important explanation missing from this section, which is that most scientists probably wouldn't consider the Fermi paradox a paradox at all. Even the abundant existence of intelligent life in the universe wouldn't mean it is abundant in the small neighborhood in which we are capable of communicating. Plus, communication would require not just technological advancement, but types of communication technology complementary to our own. Intelligent, multicellular beings wouldn't necessarily be into long range radio, for example. They might be a few hundred years away from discovering it, they might have abandoned it millenia ago and replaced it with something better, or they simply may have other things on their alien minds. SETI efforts are shots in the dark, so to suggest that their failure to hit anything contradict the idea that extraterrestrial intelligence exists is a bit odd. It's like saying, "I didn't catch any fish in the pond in my back yard, which is weird because I know aquatic creatures exist in the world. What a paradox!" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:49, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Huge Failure[edit]

SETI has never found any life in space, i.e. "ET".(news at Eleven) (talk) 00:43, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

The article mentions Gregorian radio dishes but links to Gregorian telescope, which only talks about a type of optical telescope. What is a Gregorian radio dish?  Stepho  talk  05:59, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

A Gregorian radio telescope does with radio wavelengths what a Gregorian optical telescope does with optical wavelengths. An example is the Arecibo radio telescope on Puerto Rico. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:03, 16 October 2015 (UTC)

Rio Scale[edit]

"Rio Scale" directs here, but this article links to "Rio Scale" which... A section defining "Rio Scale" needs to be assembled. Kortoso (talk) 17:15, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Apologies. I have found a safer link: Kortoso (talk) 20:24, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Malware Link Removal[edit]

--Gary Dee 18:42, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Religious Question[edit]

Just curious why this article is not part of the Wiki Religion Portal? Presidentbalut (talk) 16:29, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

I can see no reason why it should. Please explain. Regards, David J Johnson (talk) 19:43, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
A suggestion that this should be in the religions portal merely relegates the scientific SETI to Presidentbalut's definition of "religion" as something that is unsubstantiated. More than likely Presidentbalut is one of those "no ET in teh umiverze" people, who has not seen a lot of the theoretical and observational evidence that points to the existence of extraterrestrial life. Wer900talk 18:07, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
There is no theoretical evidence. A theory is either validated or refuted -by- evidence; it is not evidence per se. And, if you know of observational evidence, then you ought to let everyone in on it. Observational evidence of extraterrestrial life is the very thing which the SETI Institute covets. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:56, 15 October 2015 (UTC)
Searching for ET is not religion - it's a search to see *if* they exist. If someone firmly believe ETs exist, then that could count as religion. But that's not this article. LouScheffer (talk) 18:45, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Even "believing firmly that they exist" is not "religion", by Presidentbalut's own apparent definition of "something unsubstantiated" anyway. About 15% of planets (100b total, low end) in our galaxy are likely to be habitable, and evidence is abundant that life would easily take hold on a large percentage (33%, for instance) of these planets. If even a small percentage (0.01%) of those planets host intelligent life there are at least thousands of civilizations. So no, it's not "religious"—or, more accurately, an expression of blind faith completely unsubstantiated by fact—to firmly vouch for the existence of intelligent extraterrestrials. Wer900talk 20:50, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
"Searching for ET is not religion - it's a search to see *if* they exist. If someone firmly believe ETs exist, then that could count as religion" One can also search to confirm that they don't exist, and by your logic search for exotic particles that haven't been detected yet, would be religion as well.Anyway-a dead topic.--MyMoloboaccount (talk) 22:25, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
"Believing that ET exists regardless of evidence" would be religious-like behavior. "Searching for extraterrestrial signals", however, is asking a question and looking for evidence to answer the question: this is science. EngineeringIsFun (talk) 20:07, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

What do Gamma ray bursts have to do with this article?[edit]

These are astrophysical/cosmological phenomenon with no apparent relation to the topic of this article. If there is one, it should be made clear. Otherwise the content should be resected. The implication is that GRBs could be artificially produced and I don't that's credible/even suggested, so the appearance here is ... . (talk) 20:25, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Gamma-ray bursts have been commented on as a possible source of ET communication. The cite that is in there right now, is in the form of a postscript (.ps) file and is not viewable to most readers. Robert Zubrin thinks that gamma ray bursts may be evidence of ET propulsion:
-Kortoso (talk) 16:39, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Space archaeology[edit]

The current linked article has to do with human artifacts, not those from aliens. It doesn't belong here. Kortoso (talk) 17:34, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

The risk of fraudulent claims[edit]

The words 'fraud' and 'fraudulent' don't appear in our article. They should.

Here is a Harvard paper partly on the topic, which may have to do for starters:

However, it's not very satisfactory because it seemingly takes it for granted that the fraud risk comes from amateurs. But SETI is basically a religion in which priests get well paid for looking for gods in the sky, but where their funding is constantly at risk. In such circumstances priesthoods can generally be relied on to resort to fraudulent claims if thought necessary to protect their financial security. (And that's to be added on top of all the more traditional motives for scientific fraud). So it is to be hoped that any fraud section should also be able to say something about the risk of fraud from the pros. However that requires finding one or more RSs that deal with the topic, and I'm not sufficiently interested to look (the world is full of false claims about deities so I find it hard to worry too much about the risk of a few more, at least compared to other far greater risks currently facing humankind). But the article would be improved if such an RS could be found and used. So I'm leaving the suggestion here in case it stimulates others to look.

Incidentally, logically the 1977 Wow! signal may or may not be a case of fraud, though as usual the word fraud and fraudulent does not appear in its article, and I don't know whether any RS discusses the possibility. (I am NOT suggesting any named person perpetrated a fraud; if a fraudster created the signal he or she would presumably have hidden his/her tracks). Also the motive for fraud (here and elsewhere) need not even be financial - it seemingly wasn't in the famous case of Piltdown Man, which is currently seen mainly as a search for recognition and status. Tlhslobus (talk) 09:23, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for your "point of view" claims above. Pure speculation has no place here. David J Johnson (talk) 11:35, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
Also, given the emotion-laden baggage that belongs to the word "fraud", I'd suggest choosing a definition for it before throwing it around. The press, for instance, can exaggerate the claims of the most responsible scientist; is that fraud? One researcher may prefer less restrictive definitions for a ET signal; is that fraud as well? Kortoso (talk) 23:45, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
My point is simply that the above quoted academic paper is seemingly proposing measures to protect against fraudulent SETI claims (among other things), and it seems that topic needs to be addressed in the article. (Incidentally, "fraud" and/or "fraudulent claims" are the terms used in the article - that's how Google found it for me - there were many other Google entries too, but I'm not sufficiently interested to look them up, as distinct from suggesting that others might be interested to look them up). I have also suggested some rather obvious reasons why that particular paper seems inadequate, and why in consequence looking for other RSs on the topic would thus also be likely to improve the article. Assertions that concerns about fraud have no place in the article are POV and seemingly contradicted by the above-quoted academic paper, and probably much else besides (as per the above-mentioned Google search) if somebody could be bothered to look for RSs on the matter. Personally, I suspect such concerns are a fairly large part of the reason for the 'underfunding' of SETI (though 'underfunding' is of course a POV word), which might hugely benefit from attempts to address them, though obviously that view can only go into the article if somebody finds RSs saying as much. Similarly I would see assertions that there's nothing to worry about as being part of the problem, being an insult to the intelligence of anybody with a bit of common sense and/or a vague acquaintance with the history of religious and/or scientific fraud, though once again obviously that view can only go into the article if somebody finds RSs saying as much; and obviously the same also applies to any contrary views. I'm planning to take a long break from Wikipedia, as it's proving too much of a distraction from more important things, so I (hopefully) won't be taking any further part in this discussion, but before leaving I am simply pointing out here one way in which others might be able to improve the article, as indicated above (and possibly also the WOW! signal article, if any RSs discuss the possibility of fraud (or a hoax or a practical joke or any other word one might prefer) in that context, which need not be the case, but would not hugely surprise me given that common sense suggests it's at least a possible cause of the signal, and thus RSs seem likely to address it, even if only to reject the possibility - in which case that too belongs in that article, and any similar dismissals by RSs in this case and/or more hypothetical ones presumably also belong in the current article). Goodbye. Tlhslobus (talk) 05:16, 7 October 2014 (UTC)
With particular reference to the Wow! signal, this has been discussed in many learned papers and at least one book. The author of the article that Tlhslobus has quoted - has himself stated:- "Either the Wow! signal was the intercepted radiation from another civilization, or it's a previously undiscovered astrophysical phenomenon. Either possibility is mind-boggling". See The Extraterrestrial Encylopedia, by David Darling, published by Three Rivers Press, 2000. See also Robert H. Gray's book "The Elusive Wow", Palmer Square Press, 2011. As far as I am aware no expert, including the discoverer of the signal - Jerry Ehman, and my friends at the SETI Institute has ever mentioned fraud. Frankly the question is a non-starter, especially from an "editor" raising the subject and then bailing-out. David J Johnson (talk) 09:27, 7 October 2014 (UTC)
There's a very practical reason that fraud is not a major concern - the claim is so extraordinary that no-one will believe it without independent verification. So the possible gain from fraud is very small - perhaps an entry on a list of potential SETI detections that cannot be reproduced (such as the Wow! signal). And contrary to the statement above, there other, more prosaic explanations - in particular, emissions from military satellites or other equipment cannot be ruled out. Furthermore, unlike Cold fusion or Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, everyone (media, journals, and the scientific community) knows that independent verification is needed. So a scientist reporting a fraudulent detection would achieve at most minor notice, and probably opprobrium for premature publication, and if the fraud is discovered they would be hounded from the profession. So fraud is unlikely to be tried, unlikely to succeed even in the short run, and guaranteed to fail in the long run. It's not a major concern. LouScheffer (talk) 13:53, 7 October 2014 (UTC)
You'd have to prove intent in order to use the word "fraud". Mere gullibility alone, as common as it is, will not be sufficient. Kortoso (talk) 23:05, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

New Horizons[edit]

It looks like NASA will load a digital message onto New Horizons spacecraft addressed to any intelligent aliens that may find it in the future. Not sure where to add this info. Source: Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:46, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Scientific discoveries derived from SETI data or SETI instruments[edit]

This article lacks a section about sientific discoveries non related to the search of alien intelligence.

The huge load of data collected, and the telescopes build for SETI also have other scientific applications out of SETI.

Then they should have their own article, not in a SETI page. Please sign your contribution. David J Johnson (talk) 13:04, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

That's a good idea, and should be present on this article (or at least a reference to other articles), because it would inform that SETI investigation is fruitful outside of pure SETI research. I do not know about, but the search for (previously unexplained) natural causes for anomalies on radio data is on itself a scientific advance. --

Someone please add it to the article or create a new one - e.g. named "SETI spin-off technologies and scientific discoveries" (akin to NASA spin-off technologies). --Fixuture (talk) 19:10, 15 December 2015 (UTC)

Yuri Millner's fund for SETI[edit]

I don't see where anyone has mentioned this here. Stephen Hawking is promoting it, perhaps with the intent of blocking any attempts at Active SETI by proponents Jill Tarter and Seth Shostak. Stay tuned, I'm getting some popcorn. Kortoso (talk)

But it's right in the lead already?:

More recently, Stephen Hawking, British physicist, and Yuri Milner, Russian billionaire, along with the SETI Institute, announced a well-funded effort, called the Breakthrough Initiatives, to expand efforts to search for extraterrestrial life.

--Fixuture (talk) 23:43, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

Making a "History of SETI" main page[edit]

In response to the tag for excessive detail, I would like to make a "History of SETI" main page and move much of the technical detail and complex stories of now-finished SETI searches to there, so that this page can focus more on present and future SETI projects. The "History of SETI" section would contain a summary of the history, with a link to the main page for those who want to follow it up in more detail. I have had a go at creating such a summary, which can be found at This summary condenses the previous 1780 words into 414 words, which I feel is more appropriate for the history section of this article. Please let me know what you think of this, and feel free to add/suggest any content which should be added to this summary. Nren4237 (talk) 11:33, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

After this was put forward and reverted, some comments. I agree with Isambard Kingdom that the history should stay here but I see needed modifications. The led def citation and this put SETI start as second half of the 20th century or 1959 to be exact. The article misses that point. The Mars stuff: Tesla/Guglielmo Marconi/Lord Kelvin/David Peck Todd/"National Radio Silence Day" seem to be unrelated to SETI as defined and should probably be shortened to one sentence linked to the Mars section covering that.
Allot of sections in this article link to Main articles of their own and some are just as long as the article they link. These shouldn't be here and should be shortened to summaries with most of the content being at their Main article per Wikipedia:Summary style. My two cents. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 15:46, 4 August 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for these constructive comments, I agree with the need to shorten articles which already have their own main page. The problem I was trying to address with these edits was the dual-readership of articles like this. Most readers would not have a technical grounding in the subject, and would be confused by the highly specific and often technical discussion of historical projects. However, some readers (and some wikipedia editors) find these technical and detailed points to be a necessary part of SETI. I felt that the only way to keep both of these audiences happy was to have a summary here, with in-depth facts elsewhere. I have a feeling that even if we were to delete overly-specific information from the main page, it would not take long for a technically-minded editor to see the omission as a paucity of information and add the information back again. Nren4237 (talk) 23:51, 4 August 2015 (UTC)

Theory and hypotheses[edit]

I'd like to start a section on the theory that underpins SETI and the empirical hypotheses that are being tested. This is something that I think many readers come to Wikipedia for, but are not really getting in the article at present. As I understand it, the theory is that intelligence can express itself through electromagnetic radiation across interstellar space. The hypothesis that most resources are being devoted to testing is that one or more alien civilization has sent a signal using such radiation in our direction. It's my impression that the theory says that only an intentional signal would be detectable, at least with our current technology.

I recently found an old paper by Jill Tarter ("SETI Strategies" in Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience, edited by Finney and Jones, 1985) in which these signals are described as proverbial "needles" in a "cosmic haystack". I think it would be great if the Wikipedia article helped readers get their minds around the probabilities that this haystack implies. Interestingly, Tarter says that since single, brief signals would be pointless to transmit (the likelihood of their being detected would be essentially nil), we are looking for signals with a long "duty cycle". Indeed, she says that SETI has "chosen to neglect time in [its] depiction of the cosmic haystack" (p. 320, my emphasis). Maybe I'm reading that wrong, but it seems to me that she's saying that, as an empirical hypothesis, SETI is the search for signals that are being transmitted to us forever, i.e., the duty cycle is not taken into consideration when framing the hypothesis.

This helps to explain why contact is considered somewhat probable. Consider: it is theoretically possible (indeed, I think highly probable) that a million civilizations intelligent enough to communicate using EMR might evolve in our galaxy. That seems like a lot. But I think the received view is that the first of them could have emerged as early as 5 billion years ago and some of them might not emerge for another 5 billion years.Even if we imagine that every one of them at some point decides to aim a beacon at us with a duty cycle of, say, 1000 years, the odds of it hitting during the next 10 years (to allude to Breakthrough Listen) or even the next 1000 years (if we imagine we are as patient listeners as they are signalers) are really, really low. (If someone can work out the actual odds, I'd be grateful: we're talking about a million needless, each 1000 light years long, shot across space of up to 100,000 light years, over a period of 10 billion years. We want to know the odds of something hitting us within the coming 10 and 1000 years.) If you hypothesize that each signal is as old as the universe and increase the duty cycle of signal to infinity (i.e., eternity, i.e., "neglect time" as Tarter puts it) the odds improve. Needless to say, it would also improve the odds considerably if SETI's duty cycle were infinite. And that raises a funding issue.

I think these sorts of considerations should go into the article in, like I say, a "theory" section, which also spells out some testable hypotheses. It's a science article, after all, not just a popular culture article. I'd love to hear what people who've been working on this article think.--Thomas B (talk) 16:24, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

I've gone ahead and added a section. It needs some sources (I was going to add that 1985 Tarter chapter, but there's no citation template for book chapters. Does anyone know how to fix this?) Most of the points are rather commmonplace I think, and can easily be sourced to Sagan, or Drake, or the Cyclops Report, or more recent writings by Shostak and Tarter. Looking forward to hearing what you all think.--Thomas B (talk) 14:58, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

I have reverted the addition. It was unreferenced and read like personal analysis (see WP:PSTS), including WP:TONE "we" and use of WP:WEASEL "Most scientists", "some researchers". Wikipedia simply does not contain personal essays such as this. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 17:18, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
OK. I've taken another whack at it. Let me know what you think.--Thomas B (talk) 10:34, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
I think your aim leans toward an overview of the subject. I suggest you define what you want to include and why. The views on the subject are varied, so there is no single "theory". BatteryIncluded (talk) 12:24, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
I'm trying to clarify the basic idea. Leaving aside the imponderable nature of the civilizations in question, what's the physical object that SETI is trying to find? (Compare: what's an exoplanet?) The answer is that they are looking for an EMR signal, and in most cases one that must have been produced by a high duty-cycle beacon. This is made explicit in the sources I cited. These signals are physical objects hurtling through space (just as everything from solar flares to cosmic background radiation are physical objects.)
I mean "theory" a bit like we had a theories about relativistic bending of starlight around our sun, black holes and gravity waves before we had observational evidence of these things. The theories helped us to understand what we were looking for, even before we found it.
The important question of the "duty cycle" (which isn't in this article anywhere else) goes to how "big" the objects are, i.e., how much of the space between us and the source they occupy, and therefore how likely we are to detect them within the next few years. This information is important for anyone who wants to understand the subject.--Thomas B (talk) 12:36, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
PS. The "no single theory" idea is a bit misleading. There is clearly a dominant paradigm: radio waves (though lasers are fast becoming more popular). SETI researchers are adamant that their work isn't merely speculative, but empirical. They have hypotheses that derive from theories and they test these hypotheses. The section I'm proposing is only an attempt to make that theory explicit. It's soemething I found to be missing from the article when I turned to it for information about this subject. I then found out for myself, and I'm proposing to add what I've learned to the article.--Thomas B (talk) 13:12, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
Thomas Basboll, there are many problems with the text you are adding. Your opening line is: The empirical problem of finding extraterrestrial intelligence is sometimes likened to finding a needle in a haystack. This is biased, as it indicates that the messages ARE there, and we just have to figure how to find them. Most of your assay hinges on this false premise. The references you cite are speculations and thought experiments, yet you have a slant that suggests a scientific consensus. I sense significant WP:synthesis in your assay too. I am not comfortable at all with the information introduced. Correcting your text represents a larger job than writing a new section correctly and with the correct WP:Manual of Style. In addition, the meaning of "theory" is different from the colloquial use of that word. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 20:32, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for your input. I'm happy to listen to whatever suggestions you have. I think if we describe the theoretical basis of SETI in terms that, say, Jill Tarter would recognize, then we're not being biased. I thought it was pretty clear in the text as is that the existence of the signals is a hypothesis, not a premise, but I'll keep plugging away at it.--Thomas B (talk) 20:44, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

It did not take me long to uncover that you have a long history of contentious editing and administrators had to enforce several punitive measures on you along the years. You are not here to improve this encyclopedia, and sure as hell I will not entertain your disruptions. BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:33, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Ah, I didn't realize that was your approach to my contributions. (I think "several" and "punitive" are both exaggerations, but it's in any case long in the past.) I've left a note on your talk page to propose seeking community input.--Thomas B (talk) 08:16, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Cosmic Haystack[edit]

In recognition of BI's concerns above, I've added a synthesis tag to the section. I figure this way we can discuss how the Haystack can best be presented in the article. Let me hear a little more about what you think the problem is.--Thomas B (talk) 20:51, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

It looks like we're going to need dispute resolution. Here[1] is the disputed section. Let's discuss it.--Thomas B (talk) 07:28, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Never mind. This isn't going to be worth the effort, I suspect. Happy editing--Thomas B (talk) 20:50, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Drake Equation also missing[edit]

The lack of information about the Haystack seems to be part of a larger problem. There's no information about the underlying reasoning behind SETI (except as it turns up in the history of SETI and the individual projects). This rationale is normally introduced using the Drake equation, a summary of which would be a fitting first section. Classically, it tries to capture the factors that (would, if they were known) let us compute "the number of potentially detectable civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy". On this background, the "Cosmic Haystack" might make more sense. Please note that these are not the same question; the number of detectable civilizations does not equal the number of signals ("needles") presently arriving on Earth, except on a very narrow definition of "detectable".--Thomas B (talk) 07:57, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Tarter's TED prize acceptance speech remarks?[edit]

I've just removed this from the article (my bolding):

When awarded the 2009 TED Prize, SETI Institute's Jill Tarter outlined the organisation's "post detection protocol".[95] During NASA's funding of the project, an administrator would be first informed with the intention of informing the United States executive government. The current protocol for SETI Institute is to first internally investigate the signal, seeking independent verification and confirmation. During the process, the organisation's private financiers would be secretly informed. Once a signal has been verified, a telegram would be sent via the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. Following this process, Tarter says that the organisation will hold a press conference with the aim of broadcasting to the public. SETI Institute's Seth Shostak has claimed that knowledge of the discovery would likely leak as early as the verification process.[96]

The first ref had no information to help locate the text of the speech. And I wasn't able to find any report of what she actually said. My main concern was with the claim that the SETI Institute would inform its private backers "secretly", which I'm pretty sure Tarter would not have said. Shostaks remarks don't really make sense taken out of the context of Tarter's, and were in any case made off-the-cuff in a radio interview, so I removed them too. If someone does have an official transcript of Tarter's acceptance speech, I guess we can talk about including it. But I was not able to find SI's "protocol" anywhere either. I really don't think they have one.--Thomas B (talk) 21:43, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

Update: The declaration that SI has signed can be found here[2]; it doesn't match Tarter's supposed remarks very closely.--Thomas B (talk) 08:26, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

What should we do about the "excessive detail" tag?[edit]

I agree that the article needs to spin out some of the detailed sections, in which I'm finding some weird claims (e.g., the Tarter speech) and some outdated information. One of the problems with stuffing too much information into an article is that no one keeps an eye on whether it's still current. (Geoff Marcy is no longer heading up an optical SETI search, for example.) I think it would be a good idea to establish separate pages for each major SETI project, and then to link to them from this one in summary form. That will make it easier to make sure that this one is clear, informative and up-to-date.--Thomas B (talk) 21:57, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

Thanks to the author(s) from the Tatar Wikipedia participants[edit]

Thank you, the author(s) of this article. We translated your article into the Tatar language.--A.Khamidullin (talk) 12:47, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

Debate vs. critisism[edit]

There are two separate sections named Debate and Criticism. Both deal with the same topics, the thoughts on the danger, uselessness or benefits of open invitations. I think they should be blended and condensed. Your thoughts? BatteryIncluded (talk) 23:40, 15 December 2017 (UTC)

Oppose. Criticism Section says:

For criticism of Active SETI, see Search for extraterrestrial intelligence#Debate.

IMO it is correct to clearly split criticism of shouting to aliens (active SETI) and merely listening to them. On the other hand I do agree separate sections create a possibility of confusion and misplacing the additions. Therefore IMO a proper approach would be to connect them hierarchically:

Criticism of Active SETI

Or some other title headings. Staszek Lem (talk) 01:34, 16 December 2017 (UTC)

Thanks, Staszek Lem. That used to be approximately the case (actually it was Criticism with a subsection called Active Seti), though it was changed some time ago. I haven't checked the reasons for the change given at the time, partly because it would take some time for me to find the relevant edits, but mainly because I think the entire 'criticism of Active Seti' section should be merged with the 'Potential Dangers' section in the Active SETI article, which is where it seemingly belongs. That might involve a fair amount of work by somebody (possibly but not necessarily me), so I have added wikilinks between the sections as a temporary fix, as I think I mentioned in at least some of the relevant edit descriptions at the time - though having it now mentioned here in Talk is very useful, as it gives the issue more of the visibility that it deserves (hence also my bolding the relevant half-sentence above). However first I want to do some more work on the existing Criticism section (a check for possible Rare Earth hypothesis criticisms, of which the current Trotman sentence sounds like a possible example, a possibly difficult paragraph on Ufologists' criticisms, with replies, and then perhaps another look at the two CNs) before I even consider whether to work on merging the above-mentioned two Active SETI sections myself, so if somebody else wants to try their hand at merging them that would get it done more quickly. Tlhslobus (talk) 10:38, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
Meanwhile if necessary we could always change the current section names from Criticism to Criticism of Passive SETI and from Debate to Active SETI Debate. But I probably won't be trying it myself, as I fear that change risks wasting more time in discussion than it's worth (especially as the phrase Passive SETI might need RS backing and might make it a bit harder for readers to locate Crticism of Active SETI from the Table of Contents, while Active SETI Debate might be seen as unnecessarily duplicating the higher-level Section name, etc).Tlhslobus (talk) 10:58, 16 December 2017 (UTC)

Incidentally we might also want to merge the other two Active SETI subsections into the Active SETI article as well, to discourage people from placing further Active SETI edits in the current article. The existing single introductory sentence may suffice for this article, possibly with another sentence or two briefly summarising the stuff we'll be transferring. SETI and Active SETI don't have all that much in common anyway, partly because the S in Active SETI is arguably a misnomer (shouting 'We are here' is arguably not a 'Search' - hence the alternative name METI).Tlhslobus (talk) 11:16, 16 December 2017 (UTC)

I don't feel strongly about these issues and I will work with the main editors. The other subject I want to address is the UFOlogy. For example, astrobiology, a related field, "[...] concerns itself with interpretation of existing scientific data, and although speculation is entertained to give context, astrobiology concerns itself primarily with hypotheses that fit firmly into existing scientific theories." Astrobiology by no means is considered pseudoscience or UFOlogy. This too is the case for SETI in the 21st century, so I would state the distinction, and simply mention and offer a link to that pseudoscientific article. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:02, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
I don't want to violate WP:NOTCENSORED on UFOs, but I'm also mindful of WP:UNDUE and WP:FRINGE, so I've given 2 citations for a Ufologist critic of SETI, and then, mostly copying the wording and sources from the Ufology article (with a few relevant extra words such as 'unlike SETI'), I've added 5 sources saying mainstream opinion mostly sees Ufology as rubbish - one sentence in all, which seems about right to me (plus I've wikilinked his bio article to that sentence). I'll hopefully be checking for possible criticisms from supporters of the thoroughly scientific Rare Earth Hypothesis next, before hopefully finishing with this section by looking at the 2 CNs, though that will probably all have to wait until I've bought, wrapped, and posted all my Xmas presents.Tlhslobus (talk) 08:17, 17 December 2017 (UTC)

External links modified (January 2018)[edit]

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The archive changes were correct, and I marked them as TRUE. The dead link was indeed dead, and I replaced it with a link to the journal article on the same topic, which also took care of the 'citation needed' in the next sentence.

What should we do about the silliness of Trotman's argument?[edit]

Critic Clive Trotman says it would be "futile" for ETs to send targeted beams to solar systems that "will have moved out of the way or disintegrated" by the time the signal gets there. The word he should have used was 'may', not 'will', and suddenly the beams are no longer 'futile' (and even 'may' rather implausibly assumes that no advanced ETs can calculate the future motion of target solar systems, etc). As Trotman was already there (though unclear and hard to verify online) I didn't want to remove him, per WP:NOTCENSORED, so I decided to add the bit of his anti-SETI argument that is checkable online. But my concern is that less intelligent or careless readers may not notice its silliness despite the sillier bits being in quotes (as seems legitimate - we don't want to present his stranger opinions as if they were unarguable fact rather than just us quoting him) because it would be illegal WP:OR of us to spell out his silliness explicitly unless a Reliable Source can be found that does it for us (which seems a bit unlikely to me). Anybody got any suggestions about what we should do? Tlhslobus (talk) 07:38, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

Totally agree with Tlhslobus comments above. David J Johnson (talk) 10:26, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
Thanks, David J Johnson. The question remains what we should do about it. What I'm thinking of doing later is, for the benefit of our less intelligent and/or less alert readers, adding a sentence such as "However even we humans already have at least a limited ability to detect the movement of stars, and thus predict their future positions.", backed by one or more suitable citations and/or wikilinks (and justified if necessary by WP:IAR and WP:5P5, and/or any more specific rules if available, such as WP:NPOV which arguably requires us to give both sides of an argument). Would you by any chance happen to know of any such citations already, and/or of any suitable bit(s) of Wikipedia to which to wikilink? Tlhslobus (talk) 16:58, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
Nope. Arguments against Trotman must be taken from sources, otherwise it is original research of WP:SYNTH type. Since no third party discussed this argument and Clive N. A. Trotman (biologist) is not a recognized expert in SETI, the proper solution is to remove this text, taken from a pop-sci book per WP:UNDUE as demonstrably questionable (we cannot do "original reasearch", but we do have rights for editorial decisions of this type (evaluation of sources)). Staszek Lem (talk) 20:36, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
Apologies for the delay in replying, but I've had a very busy day. My view is that Trotman is not a reliable or recognised "expert" of SETI and the text should be deleted as WP:UNDUE. Regards, David J Johnson (talk) 20:56, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
Done, and thanks to both of you for your feedbacks. Tlhslobus (talk) 22:32, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

VASCO & magic[edit]

An IP keeps spamming a blog on a fringe theory apparently from Erik Zackrisson ([3]). The address originates at the Upsalla University, where Erik Zackrisson happens to work. So there are two immediate issues: 1) self-promotion (WP:CONFLICT); 2) WP:FRINGE. Those are the two main reasons the content is being deleted. For "magic" tricks to be equated with SETI, you would need to show it is not fringe, it has been peer-reviewed and/or show references from a third party. Please see WP:Identifying reliable sources. Thank you. BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:09, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

The IP has again inserted exactly the same WP:FRINGE and possible self promotional content WP:CONFLICT for the third time today, although each time using a different IP number, but in exactly the same area, Upsalla. I have already reverted these changes twice, would another editor take this on? If this continues they will be reported. David J Johnson (talk) 20:18, 5 February 2018 (UTC)
The third edit warring had been reverted by XLinkBot. David J Johnson (talk) 20:41, 5 February 2018 (UTC)
So, a Dyson sphere is built around a star, so now you see it, now you don't. It would be a gradual process, and it is false that astronomers today would call it "magic". No new info and is misleading. Besides, any explanation involving natural causes will have more weight than god/ET/Magic man. BatteryIncluded (talk) 22:25, 5 February 2018 (UTC)
@David J Johnson: @BatteryIncluded: The VASCO stuff fails WP:RS, so the edit gets reverted for that reason by XLinkBot. But are we also saying that the cited 2016 paper by Villarroel et al (full text here)), which has been accepted by a reputable Astronomical journal,[1] should also be omitted, and if so why? If it is not FRINGE or CONFLICT, etc, it could easily be included as a sentence or paragraph in the Technosignatures section, and there is no real need to include Arthur C Clarke's Third Law with it (tho as it is quoted in the Villarroel paper, there may or may not be a case for mentioning it in the Technosignature article, a question which should then be debated there rather than here). But I'm not sure that Villarroel et al isn't something like WP:UNDUE (tho it looks fine to me, at least at first glance), and even if it isn't UNDUE (or whatever) it may be better to add it to the Technosignature article, arguably along with much of what we already have and which arguably should be cut to a much shorter summary of that article. (Similarly we probably need to briefly mention the SETI efforts to find out whether the recent extrasolar asteroid was an alien spacecraft, as mentioned in the asteroid's article ʻOumuamua (and others such as Breakthrough Listen), but again that may be better mentioned in the Technosignature article instead of here). Tlhslobus (talk) 06:27, 6 February 2018 (UTC)
The research paper hinges on the hypothetical construction of a Dyson sphere. A single sentence in the "technosignatures" section (second paragraph) would suffice AND omitting "magic" and fictitious laws. Certainly omit the blog. BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:20, 6 February 2018 (UTC)
Further reason for deletion - research papers are primary sources, they are not acceptable unless there is secondary source coverage of them per WP:PST. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 16:52, 6 February 2018 (UTC)
Apologies for the delay in replying, but it is a very busy day for me. All I can say is both BatteryIncluded and Fountains of Bryn Mawr make make very relevant points. The original insertion of "magic" and totally fictitious "laws" in what is basically a blog, per WP:RS. I also agree that the research papers(?) are primary sources, with no secondary sources, per WP:PST. Let us also remember that there has been edit warring, on at least 3 occasions and without explanation, from the same source. They have been lucky not to have been blocked for this alone. I also agree with Tlhslobus comment regarding the recent discovery of the extrasolar asteroid. In haste and regards to all, David J Johnson (talk) 19:14, 6 February 2018 (UTC)
No need to apologize, David, and thanks to everybody for your replies. I'll probably eventually put something about SETI and the extrasolar asteroid into the Technosignature article if nobody else has done so by then. And if I eventually decide to give more thought to Villarroel et al, I'll first check for any secondary sources, and I'll probably add it to the Technosignature article if I find any (and if I don't find any, I may or may not then give some thought to whether or not I should add there a single purely factual 'non-interpretive' sentence (and with no exceptional claims) as allowed by WP:PST, though I may well not bother). Either way, I don't expect to be making any related changes to this article here, unless I eventually decide to try to change our Technosignature section into a much shorter summary of the Technosignature article, tho that's currently very low on my To Do list. Tlhslobus (talk) 05:13, 7 February 2018 (UTC)
Meanwhile should somebody ask a suitable admin to temporarily semi-protect this article against anonymous edits, and take any other appropriate action against the anonymous editor(s) from Uppsala (and now also from Stockholm)? Tlhslobus (talk) 05:13, 7 February 2018 (UTC)
  1. ^ Villarroel, Beatriz; et al. (2015). "Our Sky now and then -- searches for lost stars and impossible effects as probes of advanced extra-terrestrial civilisations". The Astronomical Journal. 152: 76. arXiv:1606.08992Freely accessible. doi:10.3847/0004-6256/152/3/76.