November 2, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

SETI: A Fact-Free Occult Cult with Money

The science behind SETI is just window dressing. Believers obsess on space aliens with religious zeal, not evidence.

Aliens could be purple, new study says (Fox News Science from Live Science). Sure, they could be purple. They could be pink. Perhaps they are yellow, or lime green. When you have no facts, you can say space aliens “could be” any color or shape. Why, even the Earth “could” have been purple before there were observers to prove it. The absence of facts doesn’t shame writer Stephanie Pappas, who gets rewarded with prime internet real estate on a science news site to engage in fact-free speculation. Why? Because it comports with Darwinism.

Credit: Illustra Media

Breakthrough Listen To Incorporate The Meerkat Array in Search for Technosignatures (Astrobiology Magazine). This is another pet project of Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who breathed new life into SETI by pumping some of his millions into the search. The MeerKAT array of radio telescopes in South Africa will search a thousand more objects than previous attempts. Its method will be to look for “technosignatures” of stars. Are they allowed to use intelligent design principles to infer intelligent design? Don’t you dare say that phrase! See also Mike Wall’s article on this. And wherever you hear the word “alien” around, you can be sure Astrobiology Magazine reporters will come running.

Could ‘Oumuamua be an extraterrestrial solar sail? (Astronomy Today via Matt Williams looks at a burned-out comet that whizzed past Earth last year and imagines alien technology. Maybe the cigar-shaped rock was a spacecraft that used light energy for sailing the cosmos. Williams got help from “astronomers” thinking about this. But were they doing scientific astronomy when they turned off fact-gathering, and turned on their imaginations?

Interestingly enough, there has also been some speculation that based on its shape, ‘Oumuamua might actually be an interstellar spacecraft (Breakthrough Listen even monitored it for signs of radio signals!). A new study by a pair of astronomers from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has taken it a step further, suggesting that ‘Oumuamua may actually be a light sail of extra-terrestrial origin.

Sure, it “could” or “might” or “may” be anything if you are willing to red-line your perhapsimaybecouldness index. As the saying goes, if pigs had wings, they could fly.

Universe’s mysterious dark force could lead to life (Fox News Science). Our headline calls SETI “a cult with money.” That’s a play on words; it also sounds like “Occult with Money.” This article begins with a play on words, too:

Nothing is important. We’re almost sure it’s there. But we don’t know what it is. But this nothing could control the fate of the universe. And there may even be entire solar systems made of it.

Physicists have been grappling with dark matter — and dark energy — for decades.

It’s where many of our laws of physics disappear in a puff of smoke.

But nothing “could lead to life.” Yes, and there goes science in a puff of smoke, too.

Bayesian approach to SETI PNAS). Let’s get serious. People at the National Academy of Sciences are serious, aren’t they? With a little Bayesian inference (a popular scientific reasoning method), they can speculate without any evidence at all.

Ongoing and future initiatives in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) will explore the Galaxy on an unprecedented scale to find evidence of communicating civilizations beyond Earth. Here, we construct a Bayesian formulation of SETI to infer the posterior probability of the mean number of radio signals crossing Earth, given a positive or a null outcome of all-sky searches for nonnatural radio emissions. We show that not detecting signals within ∼40 kly from Earth is compatible with the absence in the entire Galaxy of detectable emitters of a wide range of radiated power. The discovery of even a single emission within ∼1 kly implies instead that over 100 signals typically cross our planet from the Milky Way.

Now, there’s only one little problem to mop up: finding that “single emission.” Interesting phrase they use: “nonnatural radio emissions” — aren’t most SETI believers naturalists? Don’t philosophical naturalists believe that nature is all there is?

Science Daily‘s entry on this paper doesn’t answer that question. The French cultists make the argument that if we don’t find them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Logically, that’s true. But try that argument on SGI, the search for ghost intelligence.

Astronomer Jill Tarter discusses the search for intelligent life ( Jill Tarter, one of the queens of SETI, was given royal treatment in a Harvard interview. The interviewer could have asked some hard questions, but one never treats royalty that way.

For me, after millennia of asking priests and philosophers what we should believe, I just thought it was very exciting that right then in the middle of the 20th century we were beginning to have some tools—telescopes and computers—that allowed scientists and engineers to try to figure out what is, and not have to take somebody’s belief system. I thought that was really important and I got hooked.

Without realizing, she was being treated as a priestess herself. She created a belief system with no evidence. The interviewer was now asking her what we should believe. Tarter had inspired a movie, but has produced not a single point of data to confirm her childhood imagination: “It just always seemed to me that probably walking along the beach on some other world there was some other creature with their father, looking and seeing our sun as a star in their sky.”

To Jjill Tarter, pretending to be a scientist but having no data doesn’t matter. “Even not finding it but trying to find it is important because it helps to give people a more cosmic perspective.” That’s a faith quest. It also ignores many theists who have a ‘cosmic perspective’ without ascribing to her cult based on her feelings about what “just always seemed to me.”

Imagine a world without facts (Science Magazine). Who lacks facts? Jeremy Berg undoubtedly had his usual bogeymen in mind, the ones who dare criticize the scientific consensus, or totalitarian science, as John West calls it (Evolution News). It’s hard to disagree with his generalities:

To avoid sliding further into a world without facts, we must articulate and defend the processes of evidence generation, evaluation, and integration. This includes not only clear statements of conclusions, but also clear understanding of the underlying evidence with recognition that some propositions have been well established, whereas others are associated with substantial remaining uncertainty. We should acknowledge and accept responsibility for, but not exaggerate, challenges within the scientific enterprise. At the same time, we should continue to call out statements put forward that are factually incorrect with reference to the most pertinent evidence. Without taking these steps forcefully, we risk living in a world where many things do not work as well as we need them to.

Berg need look no further than his materialist friends in the SETI cult to imagine a world without facts. And they get away with it. Big Science loves those fact-free imagineers.

Most reasonable people love facts. Acts & Facts Magazine at ICR loves facts. ICR has a film series called That’s a Fact. Where are the facts in SETI? The facts about pulsars, neutron star mergers and radio frequencies are interesting, but they do not bear on the question at hand: do space aliens exist? For that, there are no facts at all. Why do the SETI cultists get a pass? The same people who will scream at theists, demanding “evidence” for God, will let the occult cult of SETI get by with no facts – not even a single fact by which one could infer their presence indirectly, like a “technosignature” or an artifact incapable of natural formation.

“We are looking for signals at some frequency, some wavelength that don’t look like what Mother Nature produces,” Jill Tarter said in 2014.

The SETI cultists are incapable of seeing their hypocrisy. They use the exact same reasoning to intelligent causes employed by the Intelligent Design movement, but they don’t get the message, even when it is explained to them. They insist on calling ID religion, but what they do “science.” Case in point: at JPL, when my boss accused me of “pushing religion” with intelligent design DVDs I would occasionally share with co-workers, he shouted at me “Intelligent design is religion!” In response, I asked him point-blank about SETI. I asked him, “What about SETI? Aren’t they using intelligent design to infer intelligent causes from radio signals?” I couldn’t even finish the sentence before he interrupted me. He said, “That’s different. The scientific community has determined that SETI is science.”

Go figure.

This shows that my boss, who grew up believing the Bible but junked it in college, did not really leave religion behind. He just exchanged one religion founded on historical, verifiable facts for another religion with no facts: an occult religion—a cult religion. Its god is Darwin; its angels are space aliens, and its altar is a radio dish. This cult, moreover, turns its devotees into totalitarian bigots. Don’t believe it? SETI fakery gets a complete pass in the media, but intelligent design material is vigorously censored. And look how vehement my boss got when I tried to use logic and reason with him. Darwin bigots cannot tolerate anyone disagreeing with their religion. They will fight anyone who tries to share material pointing out their lack of facts. In my case, it cost me a lucrative career.

Note: if the intellectual world falls for a cult, it is still a cult. If intelligent people fall for a cult, it is still a cult. And if the cult must rely on dark forces no one can detect, it is still occult.




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