July 31, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

What’s SETI Got to Do With It?

The science news outlets are all posting a story from Space.com about how you can adopt a scientist.  Mark Showalter is an interesting guy – astronomer, scuba diver, amateur naturalist, award-winning photographer, and specialist in planetary rings.  But why was this story posted in the SETI column?
    There doesn’t seem to be anything Mark has done to find intelligent life in space.  It appears that the SETI Institute, with its “Adopt a Scientist” program, hopes that getting people to follow a scientist around will end up transferring his passion for science onto the search for life in space.  “When you adopt a scientist, you help lead the way towards answering profound questions regarding our place in the universe,” the article says.
    Another story from Live Science talks about a cave explorer adventuring in Chile who is also a member of the SETI Institute (see previous entry).  His work is aimed at comparing habitats on Earth that might compare to those on Mars where life might be found.  Again, though, the search for microbes has nothing to do with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

This is an example of the propaganda tactic of transfer or association.  The positive vibes you receive by getting to know an interesting person are supposed to transfer over into making you think that SETI is science, not religion.  Anybody can play the association game.  Mark is a nice guy with a lot of abilities and interests, but his personality does not put SETI in the Science column.  Science needs data.  SETI will become a science when Mark finds an alien in his viewfinder, on his next dive, or in the rings of Saturn.  Good luck.

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Categories: SETI, Solar System

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