Civilizations Beyond Earth: Extraterrestrial Life and Society

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Douglas A. Vakoch, Albert A.
Berghahn Books, Sep 1, 2011 - Social Science - 240 pages
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Astronomers around the world are pointing their telescopes toward the heavens, searching for signs of intelligent life. If they make contact with an advanced alien civilization, how will humankind respond? In thinking about first contact, the contributors to this volume present new empirical and theoretical research on the societal dimensions of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Archaeologists and astronomers explore the likelihood that extraterrestrial intelligence exists, using scientific insights to estimate such elusive factors as the longevity of technological societies. Sociologists present the latest findings of novel surveys, tapping into the publicís attitudes about life beyond Earth to show how religion and education influence beliefs about extraterrestrials. Scholars from such diverse disciplines as mathematics, chemistry, journalism, and religious studies offer innovative solutions for bridging the cultural gap between human and extraterrestrial civilizations, while recognizing the tremendous challenges of communicating at interstellar distances. At a time when new planets are being discovered around other stars at an unprecedented rate, this collection provides a much needed guide to the human impact of discovering we are not alone in the universe.

  

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
DOES EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE EXIST?
29
ARE WE ALONE?
31
ENCOUNTERING ALTERNATIVE INTELLIGENCES
43
THE LIFETIMES OF SCIENTIFIC CIVILIZATIONS AND THE GENETIC EVOLUTION OF THE BRAIN
60
L ON EARTH
74
REACTIONS TO DISCOVERING LIFE BEYOND EARTH
85
CAN SETI FULFILL THE VALUE AGENDA OF CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY?
87
COMMUNICATION WITH EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE
157
CULTURAL ASPECTS OF INTERSTELLAR COMMUNICATION
159
COSMIC STORYTELLING
170
DIRECT CONTACT WITH EXTRATERRESTRIALS VIA COMPUTER EMULATION
191
THE INSCRUTABLE NAMES OF GOD
203
ET PHONE DARWIN
214
A JOURNALISTIC PERSPECTIVE ON SETIRELATED MESSAGE COMPOSITION
226
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
236

AMERICAN ATTITUDES ABOUT LIFE BEYOND EARTH
102
CULTURAL BELIEFS ABOUT EXTRATERRESTRIALS
118
THE SCIENCE AND POLITICS OF SETI
141

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About the author (2011)

Douglas A. Vakoch is Professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, as well as Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute. He serves as Chair of both the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Study Group on Interstellar Message Construction and the IAA Study Group on Active SETI: Scientific, Technical, Societal, and Legal Dimensions. His books include Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI), Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective, and Ecofeminism and Rhetoric: Critical Perspectives on Sex, Technology, and Discourse.

Albert A. Harrison is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Davis. In addition to researching the societal dimensions of astrobiology and SETI, he studies human adaptation to spaceflight and spaceflight-analogous environments. His books include After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life; Starstruck: Cosmic Visions in Science, Religion, and Folklore; Spacefaring: The Human Dimension; Living Aloft: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight; and From Antarctica to Outer Space: Life in Isolation and Confinement.

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