This past week I attended a lecture given to an Astronomy Club by Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute at Mountain View, California. SETI, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence was founded by astronomer, astrophysicist, Frank Drake.
Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, funded the SETI Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, Northern California near Lassen National Park, and 290 miles north of San Francisco. Construction began in 2005 and in 2007 had completed phase one and installed forty-two working antennas. At completion of the third phase there will be three hundred fifty antennas. ATA is a joint effort of the SETI Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, Radio Astronomy Laboratory. ATA is dedicated to cutting-edge astronomical research and a simultaneous search for signals of intelligent, extraterrestrial origins.
Dr. Shostak gave an interesting and informative talk laced with humor. He had made the statement that eighty percent of Americans believe we are being visited by extraterrestrials. And it was about that percentage of the attendees of the lecture that fell into that number. But...near the end of his talk, Dr. Shostak told the audience he was not among the eighty percent, and was very skeptical that we have ever been visited and even that we might be. Nor does he believe there is any government cover-up. He does believe there could be radio contact within the next twenty years. HUH? With who?
It was so interesting that his comments changed the body language of many in the room, myself, included, and even though I had won the door prize—a DVD of the movie Contact. Any of us who have had UFO credible sightings know we are not alone and are being visited, and also may believe that earth has been visited by extraterrestrials for centuries. And for most, it is very apparent that our government has and does cover-up. Shostak added there is no evidence of extraterrestrial visits. Well, obviously as a scientist with an apparent case of denial one wonders why he sits watching a computer monitor, with radio signals moving up and down and across. Maybe one of these days when he is driving between Mountain View and Mount Lassen, he will discover extraterrestrial intelligence beyond his wildest dreams...or denials...right there in front of him. That can make a believer, even out of a scientist.
A recent appearance and skeptical comments made on a Larry King Show by Dr. Shostak apparently irritated a lot of viewers of the show and he mentioned he received a lot of feedback, calling it hate mail. I’m not surprised as he really did put down UFO witnesses, denied any cover-up by the government, and really attacked the intelligence of people on the show and even at his lecture by making the sort of comments he makes. His humor seems to lose value when his skepticism comes into play, and what I found, was that his skepticism didn’t seem sincere.
“This isn't a person-to-person call. You can't possibly think that a civilization sending this kind of message would intend it just for Americans.” -Jodie Foster as Dr. Ellie Arroway, Contact