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Archive for December, 2016

The Future’s Most Important Possibility — Contact With Extraterrestrial Life

Posted on December 20th, 2016 · Posted in Disclosure, future, science, technology, truth

Forget Bad ETs — What If They Are the Good Guys?

As a kid raised on science fiction shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Space:1999, I have always taken it for granted that contact with extraterrestrial life is looming on the horizon for humanity. As an optimist, I tend to see this as something that would be full of possibility, and indeed the very thing we need, rather than something to fear.

The Drake equation postulates several things, and in doing so, predicts the possibility of extraterrestrial life contacting us.

The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to arrive at an estimate of the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The number of such civilizations, N, is assumed to be equal to the mathematical product of (i) the average rate of star formation, R, in our galaxy, (ii) the fraction of formed stars, f, that have planets, (iii) the average number of planets per star that has planets, n, that can potentially support life, (iv) the fraction of those planets, f, that actually develop life, (v) the fraction of planets bearing life on which intelligent, civilized life, f, has developed, (vi) the fraction of these civilizations that have developed communications, f, i.e., technologies that release detectable signs into space, and (vii) the length of time, L, over which such civilizations release detectable signals. (Wikipedia)

The Drake equation also considers broadcasting ‘detectable’ signals to be paramount to our ability to hear from ET. However, we tend to privilege radio frequency signals over all other possibilities, despite the knowledge that we live in a multiverse with different dimensional possibilities. The equation assumes that ET occupies 3D/4D reality (3 spatial dimensions and one dimension of time), but that is not necessarily the case. String/M theory makes it clear we live in a multiverse. What if ET is inter-dimensional? How do we measure ‘them’ and conduct repeatable experiments if they operate according to physical laws we can’t adequately observe? What if the phenomena we do observe (UFOs, crop circles, etc.) are ET poking through the veils that separate our dimensions? Are those phenomena then observable and measurable according to our scientific method? For one thing we can’t run controlled experiments, because we aren’t in control.

https://medium.com/media/f82940784e34e7980ae93e3130748924/href

In my mind, the most important part of this equation is (v), the fraction of planets bearing life on which intelligent, civilized life has developed. This is important because war and violence tend to stifle civilization growth over the long-term, and a focus on war and violence re-allocates resources that could be used for scientific discovery, infrastructure, exploration, and other endeavors beyond a planet. Despite all of the alien invasion movies and shows that dominate popular culture, logic would suggest that extraterrestrial motivations to visit other planets are more likely to be benign rather than aggressive.

Another important part of this debate is what is typically referred to as the Fermi Paradox — if there are so many extraterrestrial species in our observable universe, then why haven’t any traveled to Earth already? I would argue that we don’t know that they haven’t. We also tend to overlook the ramifications of multiverse theory in our analysis — we say that other habitable planets are so far away that we can’t get there, and neither can ET get here. However, I think it is logical to consider other means of transport, many of which we might not be able to fathom. I postulate that ET is probably inter-dimensional and might use wormhole technology (wormholes that they create while tapping into free or zero-point energy sources) in order to explore the cosmos. That takes the ‘it would take light years for any of us to reach each other’ problem out of the equation.

So let’s imagine for a moment that ET can get to us. That maybe they have had that ability for an aeon of our time. Why might advanced ET life might be interested in us? I run across far too many well-meaning people who say that there is nothing interesting about us to ET, unless they are here to exploit or destroy us, but I see things differently. Advanced species are highly likely to have left aggression and destruction behind in order to evolve — so what then could be there interest in us? Well, maybe they are here to help.

Observing a Volatile Species

This is what ET: The Extraterrestrial was doing on Earth. He was a botanist, collecting botanical samples, who accidentally got left behind. As scientists, observation is core to understanding, and we ourselves engage in a lot of observation of other species ourselves. If so, it should be looked upon as a potentially benign phenomenon that ETs might be observing us and might have been for quite some time. It’s likely that they observe a lot of rapidly advancing civilizations who tend to accept violence and pollution as acceptable ways to exist. In the fabric of space/time, some of the things we do might have further reaching effects than we think. If we can pollute our planet, we can pollute the space around it, and that could be a problem for neighbors of ours. If we show aggressive, expansionist tendencies on our own planet, we are likely to expand those practices beyond our planet. It’s understandable then, that they might want to keep an eye on us.

Civilization Building

It has been suggested that extraterrestrials aren’t new to Planet Earth, but have been involved in our development for millennia, at least. Civilization as we know it (with advanced knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, architecture, etc.) did appear to spring up out of nowhere, including Sumer/Mesopotamia, China, and Mesoamerica and the cosmological myths in many areas are full of ‘beings from the stars’. As advanced species themselves, ET might view it as mentorship. We are at a crossroads and they might want to lend a guiding hand, so we can also one day be an advanced species. Otherwise we might be at the risk of extinction, or perhaps even worse, we might destroy others.

Humanitarian Aid

Anyone paying attention to the news knows that we have many intractable problems. The daily suffering on this planet is probably anathema to benevolent extraterrestrials and they might feel compelled to do something, just as we feel compelled to intervene when we see disaster and genocide occurring. Advanced species are likely to have advanced technologies, which could go a long way towards helping humanity, dealing with the energy crisis, and cleaning up the planet. They might feel a responsibility to help less advanced civilizations in peril.

Intervention

This theme was explored in the two films (original and re-make), The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which an advanced ET visits Earth to intervene in humankind’s bad decision-making. For instance, if they think we are on track towards total climate destruction, nuclear war, or some other self-inflicted destruction (which most of humanity of course doesn’t want), they might feel the need to intervene. We might only be one planet, but we are part of a whole.

These are just a few of the reasons that come to mind; the reality if probably much more complicated. But as we continue to discover that we have neighbors closer and closer, and as the malevolent alien invasion has not yet come, perhaps its time to explore other explanations. First or open contact with altruistic extraterrestrial life could be the most important and yes, positive thing, to ever happen to humanity.

The Visit is a documentary thought experiment into what first or open contact could look like (full version is on Hulu):

https://medium.com/media/08e196aae1c8b4bba0175cd9e2652b1a/href

About Lisa Galarneau, Ph.D: I am a socio-cultural anthropologist, futurist, and US Army Veteran. I am also a #Disclosure activist. Please support our efforts!

More Reading:


The Future’s Most Important Possibility — Contact With Extraterrestrial Life was originally published in Community of the Exoconscious — The Institute for Exoconsciousness on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How Science Closes Minds — The Extraterrestrial Phenomenon

Posted on December 18th, 2016 · Posted in culture, future, science, technology, truth

Our Adherence to the Scientific Method Limits Rational Discourse

I spent most of a week in 2013 watching the live webcast of the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure (Citizen Hearing), a five day event bringing together former congress members and forty international researchers in the area of UFO and extraterrestrial phenomena.

I paid particular interest to mainstream (e.g. Believe in UFOs? Highlights of the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure) and alternative press coverage of the event, and followed comments on the various social media sites.

https://medium.com/media/1ad1790d256cfd935025916bbc86ad9b/href

Themes from the news coverage:

  • Congress members were paid $20,000 each for their participation. (can’t we spend our money on something better?!)
  • The UFO crazies are at it again.
  • Conspiracy theory is a religion
  • Maybe there is something to it? (but as a rational journalist, I will not say so and will make sure to include some derisive comments to make sure my stance of ridicule is well understood).
  • I ‘know’ this is all just BS.
  • There is no evidence.

I’m a social scientist. And while I am familiar with the precepts associated with [hard] scientific methodologies, my research never stops there. For one, I am always evaluating and re-evaluating available evidence. I challenge assumptions. I embrace subjective experience in addition to objective truth. I attempt to maintain an open mind, while being simultaneously skeptical and rational. I know that there is always much we don’t know, and not every phenomenon can be measured experimentally (as we must be able to control said phenomenon in order to predict and measure). I also know to dig deep into taboos and stigmas and the UFO/ET phenomenon is one of the fastest ways to get its supporters (really just interested parties) labelled crazy and stupid.

But why? Based on what we know about even just the observable universe — isn’t it unbelievably arrogant and short-sighted of us to assume that we are alone? So why can’t we talk about it? Why do so many people claim there is no evidence, when clearly there is?

Let’s think about the mandates associated with the scientific method for a minute. Phenomena must be:

  • Repeatably observable
  • Subject to experimental conditions
  • Predictable
  • Controllable
  • Objective
  • Rational

Graham Hancock shed some light on the subject in his (banned) TED talk:

https://medium.com/media/eb388601e358def133ca05b36d1e7775/href

Science’s infractions are subtler but equally damaging to the human spirit. During an enlightening lecture in 2000 by religion scholar Huston Smith, I began to appreciate how science infringes on religion’s domain. Smith thoughtfully distinguished science from scientism. The former is an investigative protocol; the latter is a religion, complete with dogma. Science is a formalized procedure for making sense of the world by studying its material properties, perceived through the awareness of the senses, albeit senses heightened by modern marvels such as the electron microscope, the Hubble Space Telescope or the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Scientism (or scientific materialism), on the other hand, adds to science a statement of faith: The universe is only material. Moreover, given the spectacular successes of science over the past three centuries, it is more than fair to acknowledge that science represents a powerful way to learn about the world. But scientism ups the ante: Science is the best (or only) way to make sense of the world. In short, scientism is to science what fundamentalism is to religion: cocksure and inflexible.

Rupert Sheldrake’s talk on the ‘Science Delusion’ was also banned from TED.

https://medium.com/media/774d4943659d0ca1e8380b56b6b0a7c6/href

Why? It is because we are in vehement disagreement about what constitutes evidence.

So what constitutes evidence?

There is a strange phenomenon, even among some qualitatively minded individuals, to not take seriously anything that could be perceived as anecdotal or informal. I am a bit the opposite; quite often nuggets of truth emerge in these places, where there is smoke there is usually fire, and you just have to be willing to roll with ambiguity. Most people aren’t.

In anthropology we call it participant observation, and it is our core research method: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Par…. In it, we the researchers become the instrument of research and are therefore free to incorporate any artifacts that improve our view of the culture in question. The goal is inside-out understanding, rather than the outside-in approaches taken by many scientific methods (I personally think the best approach is a hybrid one).

In the participant observation model, any input is relevant if the researcher deems it so. Even if a piece of information ends up being untrue, that is also interesting. However it’s typically just one bit of a huge melange of data that needs to eventually agree with itself in order to be valid. This is still too messy for many scientists.

Rational skepticism:

Precepts of the rational skeptic:

  • Because there have been some hoaxes and mis-identification over the years, all reported UFOs must be hoaxes or other explainable terrestrial phenomena. One guy made a crop circle with a rope and board and therefore all crop circles are guys with ropes and boards.
  • Because some ‘believers’ are open to a range of phenomena and explanations, all believers must be discredited for not taking a purely [hard] scientific view.
  • Our five primary senses are all we acknowledge, and all scientific inquiry must rely on ‘objective’ evidence confirmed by our five senses.
  • Because we don’t have indisputable evidence, and have not had widespread acceptance from bastions of power, the whole topic must be derided.
  • Because a creator or creative force is not readily apparent through current scientific means (other than perhaps our very existence), we must reject ideas that suggest we live in a created or architected universe (indeed, cosmos).
  • Anyone who is open to phenomena not scientifically validated through experimental conditions based on the five senses is automatically suspect.
  • Anyone who suggests spiritual explanations for any phenomena is suspect.
  • The terrestrial phenomena explanation must be privileged over any other.
  • Photos/videos are possibly Photoshopped or created using CG methods, therefore none should be considered.
  • Anecdotes and witness testimonies are subject to human flaws and biases and therefore must be discounted.
  • Any extraterrestrial hypotheses are flawed hyperbole.

This despite various scientific and observable possibilities that present themselves:

In a follow-up discussion on Quora, I asked a simple question:

Why do people say there is no scientific evidence in support of UFOs/extraterrestrial visitation?

And I received the following response:

“I’m curious what, if anything, could sway someone” Those are words of someone who is interested in manipulating the truth to fit their own ends. A properly scientific approach would not be about trying to “sway someone” it would involve critically examining the evidence, and seeing where that evidence leads.

“We see things that are inexplicable and try to explain them?” In science we don’t ever say that anything is inexplicable. You’re trying to replace scientific ideas with religious ones. One of the most annoying things about talking to creationists is that any time science doesn’t yet explain something, the creationists will insert their personal god. This is called the “god of the gaps” argument, and it’s exactly the same as concluding that anything which is unexplained must be aliens.

My response:

I think you misunderstand me. When I say ‘sway’, I mean opening a closed mind. Otherwise it’s impossible to have a conversation. I stand by my statement about science explaining the (previously) inexplicable. I never said anything about religion. I’m not religious, in fact. But I am extremely curious about the universe and how/why we are here.

I’m bewildered by the responses of people who don’t really know the information re: available evidence re: UFOs, etc.. There’s a lot of rhetoric thrown around to muddy the waters and make seekers seem not credible. Pat responses are given (often perpetuating misinformation) and real conversations and rational discourse are stymied or ridiculed.

Sure, a couple of scientists have suggested that we consent to collective delusions, or all angels and aliens are figments of imagination easily explained away by a theory that refuses to consider other realities. Or all near death experiences are just an oxygen-deprived brain. We have a god particle. I read all of that stuff and find it interesting.

There is certainly a lot of confusing information and a huge variety of hoaxes, so I never rely on just one piece of information in making my assessment. And the whole story is constantly unfolding, so incorporating new evidence and points of view is important.

My current perspective: extraterrestrials are a possible explanation for some things in our experience. Lots of scientists and scholars think/thought so (including Frank Drake, Carl Sagan, Frances Crick, Michio Kaku). There is a hypothesis that proposes ETs as a possible explanation for some things:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ext…

I want to know more, and I want to stop having to fight with people every time I want to have a simple conversation about it. That’s why I am wondering how to open people’s minds. Not with fabricated or manipulated truth, but with actual truths that might make sense to them, or that provide a useful lens for them.

Honestly, I don’t care what you believe. I just find it sad when people close their minds to possibilities because it has become fashionable to do so. Even more sad is accusing truth seekers of manipulating truth when we are just interested in shedding light on truth.

It is clear to me that many skeptics’ minds are already made up. It doesn’t matter what evidence is presented, it will be discredited or marginalized one way or another.

So again, my question is… what evidence would be compelling? Whose opinions matter? What authority needs to say, ‘yes, let’s consider this’?

I think we are doing science and humanity a disservice by closing the door on any possibility that doesn’t tidily fit the modern scientific frame: the rational world-view. Didn’t we know without a doubt at one point that the Earth was flat, and that we were the center of the cosmos? How rational is it to close the door on a phenomenon, just because we can’t currently adequately observe or understand it?

In short, what would it take to satisfy science? I think that’s a very appropriate question. In the meantime, we need some cultural change to help science balance its own dogmas. We may live in a purely material universe, but we might not. The former view is a limiting one, the latter replete with possibilities.

Despite the demise of most of its once-sacred cows, science remains alive and well, implying that the assumptions abandoned were never essential. Unwarranted assumptions — blinders, really — may have been necessary to the methodical progress of science, but ultimately they squelch open inquiry. Indeed, all of science may rest upon a single inviolate assumption: The same physical laws apply throughout the cosmos. Why not leave it there (at least for now)? Science’s Sacred Cows (Part 1)

NASA has recently acknowledged that extraterrestrial life in the cosmos is highly probable and are finding new Earth-like planets all the time. First (or open) contact could be just around the corner. Doesn’t it make sense for us to prepare ourselves for the enormity of the changes that could be on our way?

About Lisa Galarneau, Ph.D: I am a socio-cultural anthropologist, futurist, and US Army Veteran. I am also a #Disclosure activist. Please support our efforts!

https://medium.com/media/331c7229c9af270de44501048c855659/href

More Reading:

I explained my position on all of this more here, in response to one of the comments:


How Science Closes Minds — The Extraterrestrial Phenomenon was originally published in Community of the Exoconscious — The Institute for Exoconsciousness on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.