Today we bring you the view from Bizarro World — an opinion about the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intellignce (SETI) from the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
The Discoveroids’ opinion on SETI is in a recent article by David Klinghoffer, upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” — i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist. His article is titled SETI Astronomer Says Life’s “Not All That Special” Even as His Own Program Suggests Otherwise. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and Klinghoffer’s links omitted:
A CNN.com video is making the rounds in which SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak hunches his eyebrows in a worldly-wise manner and shrugs off the possibility that there’s anything “special” about life: “Every time we learn something new about the universe, what we learn is that our situation doesn’t seem all that special. And that suggests that life is not all that special either.”
There’s a video at Klinghoffer’s post in which Seth Shostak says just that. He’s an astronomer with a physics degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology. Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid propagandist, considers himself qualified to critique Shostak’s opinions. His article continues:
Reporter John Zarrella, meanwhile, is all agog about the number of supposedly Earth-like planets being discovered and explains, “The body of evidence is growing that we are not alone.”
Well, we’re unlikely to be alone. We’ve written a few times about the increasing number of extra-solar planets that are being found. See Fifty More Extra-Solar Planets Discovered (“the team has found that about 40% of stars similar to the Sun have at least one planet lighter than Saturn.”). We also wrote about the Discoveroids’ reaction here — they’re in total rejection mode. Let’s read on in Klinghoffer’s article:
Here at ENV [the Discoveroids’ creationist think tank], we’ve touched on the premature nature of such celebratory pronouncements. Guillermo Gonzalez notes that “While these exoplanets are being discovered, astronomers are discovering additional constraints on the habitability of planetary systems.” The more planets we find, the more we realize how numerous, complicated, precarious and mutually dependent the conditions are that would be needed to support life.
Expelled! star Guillermo Gonzalez? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! He’s the Discoveroid “senior fellow” who failed to get tenure at Iowa State University and who now teaches at some bible college. He’s a co-author of the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. You know how that goes — everything on our little world is so perfectly arranged that it just couldn’t have happened naturally; there had to be some guiding intelligence who set the dials so it would all work out exactly as we see it. He’s the Discoveroids’ “expert” on extra-solar planets. We continue:
But never mind. Go back to Shostak’s comment and take his premise for granted. Let’s say it’s true that the more we learn the more it seems “our situation doesn’t seem all that special.” Yet the well-known fact is that SETI Institute has yet to detect any echo of extra-terrestial intelligence. That’s a big part of the reason that this year SETI had to shut down, for lack of funding, its Allen Telescope Array in Northern California, a $50 million ear trained to the sky, its 42 dishes listening for radio transmissions from elsewhere in the Milky Way. Simply stated, no results = no money.
Yet the Discoveroids continue to receive money from their generous patrons, and as all the world knows, they have no results to show for all their huffing and puffing about their magic designer. Here’s more:
If it were true that the conditions for life are common around the galaxy, yet no intelligent life has checked in with us so far, that would seem to suggest that life itself — as opposed to the conditions that might make it hypothetically sustainable somewhere — is very special indeed.
Not necessarily. But it does suggest that alien technological civilizations are rare, or that our instruments aren’t yet adequate to find them. Don’t forget, dear reader, that human civilization on earth existed for thousands of years, with technology not much more advanced that that possessed by the Greeks and Romans. Aliens who may have been looking for radio signals couldn’t have found the Roman Empire. Here’s Klinghoffer’s conclusion:
In the total absence of evidence for actual life out there, the more common those conditions are, the more special — i.e., not readily evolved by natural means alone — life must be. Does that not follow, Dr. Shostak?
Dr. Shostak can speak for himself, but we doubt that he’ll bother responding to the Discoveroids. Our own response is this: Hey, David — no, your conclusion doesn’t follow. It appears that there may be millions of earth-like planets in this galaxy alone. We’ve just begun to develop instruments to detect what’s out there. Soon, with better instruments, we’ll be looking at the chemistry of the atmosphere of extra-solar planets, which could indicate the presence of life, and eventually we’ll be looking for evidence that they use artificial light at night. Our adventure has just begun, David, but yours ended long ago.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.