You can’t trust SETI about Aliens

As the US military’s report is about to land and leaks about what’s in it have surfaced, it has been surprising that many people from SETI and the scientific community are coming out and making claims that there are no aliens on Earth.

I would have assumed that as good scientists, they would know that you can’t prove a negative. I believe they would all admit that they are putting zero effort into looking for them, so is it really surprising that they haven’t found them?

I believe that SETI as an institution has lost all credibility on this subject and is instead trying to do damage control over its budget and fundraising capabilities.

From SETI’s latest statement:

“The potential damage is to the very real, very challenging, very cutting-edge science being conducted around the world that seeks to identify actual signs of actual extraterrestrial life in the cosmos, or at least to know what to look for when we have space telescopes and instruments with the necessary power.”

Ahh, so here we have the real motivation. Mr. Kaufan is concerned that the sensationalism of finding that alien probes are hopping around in our backyard will take away from the funding that SETI needs to purchase radio telescope time to do “real science.” Attention is shifting, and you don’t need astronomers, physicists, and radio telescopes to look for them here. You need broad radar coverage, fast responding aircraft, and hi-def cameras. 

The more I’ve dug into what actual data we have, the more I’m disturbed about SETI and how they portray their work.

“They are indeed scientists, using radio astronomy to identify narrow-band transmissions from other planets that are clearly not natural. They have also begun searches for laser-like beams. In more than 60 years of observing, however, no signs of intelligent life have been detected.”

This statement would lead the layperson to believe that SETI is doing a reasonably exhaustive search and that if there were anything out there, they would have found it. 

There is also this statement from the same author about SETI’s capabilities to search for laser communications. 

“The initiative is also carrying out the deepest and broadest ever search for optical laser transmissions. These spectroscopic searches are 1000 times more effective at finding laser signals than ordinary visible light surveys. They could detect a 100-watt laser (the energy of a normal household bulb) from 25 trillion miles away.”

The small detail that they’re obscuring with this statement is that 25 trillion miles is 4.3 light-years or about the distance to the next nearest star (Alpha Centauri). It just doesn’t sound as amazing to say that they’re looking for life in the galaxy, and they could detect it if the aliens live 1 star away, but beyond that, things get more challenging. 

I started doing some research into what could we detect out there in space? We’ve all seen the beginning of the movie Contact, where they show the wavefront of radio waves emanating from the Earth and traveling out through the galaxy. However, the 100-200 light-years out that these would have propagated is minuscule compared to the size of the Milky Way (105,000 light-year diameter).

The blue dot in the magnified area shows the extent of our 200 years of radio emissions through the Milky Way.

The next question is, given the amount of radiation we’re giving off, how far away could it be detected? The answer is it depends, but most of it would be undetectable beyond 10-100 light-years. 

I went to SETIs own website, where they describe their work, and in the FAQ, they have the most critical question: 

If an extraterrestrial civilization has a SETI project similar to our own, could they detect signals from Earth?

“In general, no. Most earthly transmissions are too weak to be found by equipment similar to ours at the distance of even the nearest star. But there are some important exceptions. High-powered radars and the Arecibo broadcast of 1974 (which lasted for only three minutes) could be detected at distances of tens to hundreds of light-years with a setup similar to our best SETI experiments.”

So, the answer is that we could have a civilization identical to us living in our very own neighborhood of the Milky Way, and we’d never detect them with our current capabilities. This puts an entirely different slant on their statements that they’ve been listening and haven’t heard anything.

What are they listening for? They assume that some advanced lifeform out there will make a beacon to let us know that they’re there. But the beacon would have to be powerful enough to create a signal on the level of astronomical events for us to detect it. 

All the talk of the Drake equation and the possibility of life developing somewhere else, and SETI can’t even search for what that equation implies. They’re searching for a civilization advanced enough to create signals on par with stars colliding just to announce that they exist. All of SETI’s listening makes the HUGE assumption that such a civilization would choose to do that. 

Wouldn’t it be FAR more economical and practical to develop a Von Neuman Probe and send them off through the galaxy? You could have probes stationed on every planet in the Milky Way within ~100,000 years just waiting for something interesting to happen without requiring faster than light travel. 

I’m surprised that so many scientists dismiss this possibility out of hand because I believe there is a near 100% probability that within the next 100 years, we’ll achieve the technological developments required. Then we’ll launch our probes through the galaxy, and we’ll be the ones waiting for new life to develop on distant planets. There wouldn’t be any green men (or humans) running around, but there would be a system capable of producing research probes out of local materials with an AI to monitor and send back data. 

Non-SETI scientists keep saying that they can’t do anything without data. This is an issue, but the US military has high-quality data. Instead of just shrugging and walking away, we should be pushing the military to release the raw hi-def footage and radar data that they have so that it can be independently examined. The only thing blocking this is that some of the data gathering systems are classified.

I’ve also listened to several conversations with National Security folks that feel very certain that Russia and China don’t have the capabilities to be behind this. The US government says it wasn’t them. So that leaves us with the remaining possibilities. 

  • The US government is intentionally lying and creating this all as some performance. 
  • The source of the probe is not from an Earth government. 

I’m open to any other plausible explanation, but I think we’re well beyond the theory that it was a camera artifact and multiple pilots and camera / FLIR / radar systems all mistook a balloon floating over the water. 

In my opinion if SETI was truly interested in finding extra terrestrial intelligence, they should be picking up the investigation of these probes instead of being dogmatic about only looking through telescopes.