SETI: An American Enterprise?

Seth Shostak laments:

A widespread and popular impression of SETI is that it’s a worldwide enterprise. Well, it’s not, and there’s something modestly puzzling in that.

The idea of communicating between worlds is at least 150 years old. Victorian scientists Karl Friedrich Gauss and Joseph von Littrow are both reputed to have concocted schemes to establish rapport with Moon-men or Martians by signaling them with light. Gauss was a German, and von Littrow was Austrian. But within a century, the important ideas about getting in touch with aliens were coming from the western side of the Atlantic. The fundamental concepts for radio SETI were first incubated and hatched in America.

For three decades following Frank Drake’s first modern SETI experiment in 1960, the American efforts had a strong and fertile counterpart in the Soviet Union. The Soviet SETI work was frequently brilliant, occasionally nutty, and pursued by researchers who were active and enthused.

That all ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse. And for the last two decades, the large majority of all SETI effort has taken place in the U.S. Yes, there have been commendable experiments in Australia, Argentina, India, and Italy. But only the Italians are active today.

So what’s the story? Why is SETI nearly exclusively an American game?

Actually, ol’ Uncle Seth has a point, why is SETI almost purely an American venture?

It could be because of our Puritan and ‘Lewis and Clark’ heritage, the push to find our own ‘space’ to do what we what without interference.  Maybe if we contact aliens, we could gain insight on how we can get by our ‘times of troubles’ (messianic rescue us complex) and survive to once more ‘find our own individual freedom and space’.

Why Don’t They Do SETI?


At the other end of the SETI spectrum, author and Fortean Mac Tonnies puts forward the theory that UFOs (as related to SETI) is tied to our cultural (American) archetypes and consciousness:

…If the UFO phenomenon has a purpose, perhaps it’s to challenge entrenched ideas about our role as sentient observers. The ever-colorful “space visitors” encountered since 1947 could be the vanguards of an unknown manifestation of consciousness. (Far from invalidating the UFO inquiry, such a discovery would likely propel a new era of scientific understanding. If so, would our collective unconscious adopt some new disguise and cease to provide us with novel visitors and resplendent “craft”?)

Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Mack once described alien abductions as an example of “reified metaphor.” While he believed his patients’ accounts of sexually charged encounters with apparent aliens were sincere, he was reluctant to accept them literally. In “Passport to the Cosmos,” he mused that activities endured during “abductions” might herald a sort of cosmic wake-up call–real enough, but only as real as scenes in a stage play. Like self-professed abductee Whitley Strieber, Mack seemed intrigued by the idea that the mind, subjected to a sufficiently foreign stimulus, could produce imagery culled from myth or even pop culture. (Extraterrestrials, big-headed and bug-eyed, seem like suitable candidates for a population weaned on science fiction.)

Of course, that begs the question of where the archetypal “Gray” originated in the first place. British researcher Albert Budden, a strident critic of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), suggests that the minimal physique ascribed to the Grays of abduction infamy might have a basis in neuro-anatomy. If he’s right, that still leaves us to sort out cases with physical effects…

The common thread between Shostak and Tonnies’ opinions is how we, as a culture, perform the function of being observers and the effects thereof.

Is SETI and the possible contact of alien intelligence a manifestation of American culture and will?

Or are we just being delusional about the true nature of the Universe?

UFOs, Aliens and Consciousness

6 responses

  1. The Highwayman | Reply

    I think society as a whole is plainly ignorant, given the fact that the NWO (though plainly and openly acknowledged by the elitists, themselves) is still considered tinfoil, or it is simply a case of denial. Like you’ve said, yourself, people don’t want their little ‘reality’ upset.

    Alien visitation, to me, is an alternative to religious adventism. (I can’t remember the proper term) It is the status quo, politically-correct way to view the fact there is other life in the cosmos, and that it interacts with humanity. LIke Christianity, secular adherents are promised a return of “intergalactic policemen” (Von Daniken term) to straighten us problem children out. The NWO promoters use this to their advantage in helping bring in strict totalitarian laws. Anything to keep man from realizing his true heritage and destiny, in my view, is essential to keep the tyranny in place.

    At any rate, we will be ‘visited’ by someone, promising great light and spiritual understanding, and the ‘answers’ for all of our problems.

    It will be the start of even more problems for humanity.

  2. Oddly enough, Europeans don’t seem to share the American ‘messianic’ vision (aliens, Jesus, Mohammed, AntiChrist) quite so much, even though we share Western culture. They seem to be more agnostic about ‘superior’ creatures.

    Given that, another odd anomaly is that a large amount of Europeans support full disclosure about UFOs, with France releasing a large amount of once secret documents.

    Maybe Europeans look upon ETs as just ‘people’ instead of ‘saviors’?

  3. Hi dad2059…

    Europeans are also fiscal conservatives when it comes to wasting large amounts of money chasing ghosts etc. They also aren’t grossly in debt like the U.S. that’s virtually frittered away its national solvency waging endless wars resulting in a failed attempt in establishing a corporatist based world empire.

    I consider SETI to be another science-based welfare program at this point. It’s recently been stated by radio engineers and astrophysicists that any energy leaving earth completely dissipates within two light years, leaving whatever modulated intelligence products unintelligible to a distant receiver.

    There’s no way we can establish two way communications with any race of beings many light years distant unless they were extremely close which is unlikely since we are the closest technological civilization that we know of at this time. It’s unlikely that the galaxy is teeming with high order lifeforms although there may be many planets at various stages of bioform evolution just as the earth in the past.

    So Seth has a great job with no doubt a fat salary, great benefits and a nice locale in which to work; ie., no nasty, smog-ridden commute in the mountains of Puerto Rico… ; )

    On another note, the NWO crowd might be planning on staging a phony landing in order to facilitate a world-based system of martial law U.N. style while they, our ‘protectors’ negotiate a truce with the aliens. Of course new draconian guidelines as to how rationing and the dissolution of property rights for the benefit of the greater good will be laid out in order for mankind to live in peace…not!

    That’s why I think we are witnessing more mainstream programs discussing UFO’s lately because its possibly the runup to such a scenario. Larry King has hosted a few shows along this line and there seems to be a “push” to give credibility to UFO’s. There may be genuine UFO’s, but possibly also faux UFO’s of the NWO. Most folks are afraid of just about anything so they’ll no doubt be easily controlled if such a scenario should arise.

    In these interesting times “trust no one”…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. There’s been a rumor going around the tinfoil circuit for years about a false alien attack, or more recently a staged ‘Rapture’ using black-op and HAARP technology to trigger earthquakes, false solar and lunar eclipses and other ‘Four Horsemen’ events.

    Word has it that the Rockefellers are pushing that idea. The Rothschilds like the faux alien attack idea.

  5. But on the other hand, there is a real phenomenon that is happening and they all could be tied together, i.e., UFOs, aliens, demons, angels. Some of this could be ETI, but most could be visitations by other dimensional things we can only partially perceive because of our limited five senses/three dimensional universe perceptions.

    We’re like ants on a flat sheet of construction paper trying to observe Saturn with our little two dimensional paper telescope!

  6. I hearya Dad…It looks like you are going into Dr. Who territory where time is a dimension that is only used as a point of reference, by some higher lifeforms, while they live in a timeless existence. From our viewpoint we will experience or witness no evidence of life on this level because we are caught in such a small speck of time and space.

    We know for sure that there are more primitive life forms than ourselves, which logically indicates that there are more advanced life forms than ourselves. Like you say, we’re like ants on a flat sheet of paper trying to observe Saturn with our little two dimensional telescope. There is no doubt that there are limits on how primitive or advanced life forms become, just as there are limits on the behaviour of waveforms and vibrations. Being somewhat egocentric, I would guess that we are somewhere near the middle of all this, but relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things…G:

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