Is SETI pseudoscientific?

Hello skeptical comrades,

Today I will be blogging about my thoughts on SETI, and where it falls on the science-pseudoscience spectrum, but first I will introduce SETI and what it does.

SETI, Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, searches for radio signals which may be from alien life forms as well as look out for earth sized planets which may be suitable for life. SETI uses radio telescopes positioned all over the earth to look for specific radio frequencies and patterns which may have been sent either intentionally or unintentionally by aliens on other planets. It also sends out radio signals on behalf of the human race to any possible aliens which may be out there. One might ask, how could an intelligent life form send out radio beams unintentionally? The answer is that most likely you are doing it right now, probably in more than one manner, because mobile phone towers, television broadcast towers, radio broadcast towers, WiFi, your microwave and Bluetooth all produce radio waves, and these could be picked up by alien life forms. You can test this for your self by tuning your television to a channel with bad reception or a channel with no reception, the white noise you see in just background from everything around you. (as well as the cosmic microwave background radiation.)

SETI is one of those in-betweeners in the pseudoscience spectrum along with naturopathy. SETI is essentially playing the lottery, because there is not really any harm in having a go at finding extra-terrestrial life, but the pay-out is huge if we do find other life out there. There is no proof that life could exist in other places in the universe other than ourselves and the genuinely massive numbers of the universe, but I think it is worth having a go. It falls under the fringe science category, but less fringe than cold-fusion.

SETI is different from ESP researchers which I blogged about recently in the way that SETI looks somewhere, doesn’t find anything, and then moves on, whereas ESP researchers have been sitting on the Ganzfeld experiments for 70 years, and have always come out with results of 0.25 for any rigorous, double-blinded experiment.

I will leave you with a quote from Metrodorus of Chios, “To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field sown with millet, only one grain will grow.” Metrodorus of Chios, a greek philosopher of some note.


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