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by George Basalla
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Astronomy & Space Science
  • Author:
    George Basalla
  • ISBN:
    0195171810
  • ISBN13:
    978-0195171815
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Oxford University Press (January 19, 2006)
  • Pages:
    248 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Astronomy & Space Science
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1754 kb
  • ePUB format
    1786 kb
  • DJVU format
    1702 kb
  • Rating:
    4.1
  • Votes:
    386
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Basalla traces the influence of one speculation on the next, showing an unbroken but twisting chain of ideas passed from one scientist to the next, and from science to popular culture. He even traces the influence of popular culture on science-Sagan always admitted how much E. R. Burroughs' Martian novels influenced his speculations about Mars.

Home Browse Books Book details, Civilized Life in the Universe: Scientists o. .Civilization implies the existence of intelligent creatures who create complex social and cultural institutions and cultivate science and technology. Over 14 million journal, magazine, and newspaper articles.

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George Basalla-н бичсэн электрон ном- Civilized Life in the Universe: Scientists on.

Энэ номыг Google Play Ном аппыг ашиглан компьютер, андройд, iOS төхөөрөмжөөрөө уншаарай. He questions the common modern scientific reasoning that life converges on intelligence, and intelligence converges on one science valid everywhere.

Most modern astronomers wouldn’t admit it in so many words, but Basalla says their hope that aliens from older and wiser worlds might save us from war, pollution and disease is based more on blind faith than on science.

This book is a selective and fascinating history of scientific speculation about intelligent extraterrestrial life. From Plutarch to Stephen Hawking, some of the most prominent western scientists have had quite detailed perceptions and misperceptions about alien civilizations: Johannes Kepler, fresh from transforming astronomy with his work on the shape of planetary orbits, was quite sure alien engineers on the moon were excavating circular pits to provide shelter; Christiaan Huygens, the most prominent physical scientist between Galileo and Newton, dismissed Kepler's speculations, but used the laws of probability to prove that "planetarians" on other worlds are much like humans, and had developed a sense of the visual arts; Carl Sagan sees clearly that Huygens is a biological chauvinist, but doesn't see as clearly that he, Sagan, may be a cultural/technological chauvinist when he assumes aliens have highly developed technology like ours, but better. Basalla traces the influence of one speculation on the next, showing an unbroken but twisting chain of ideas passed from one scientist to the next, and from science to popular culture. He even traces the influence of popular culture on science--Sagan always admitted how much E. R. Burroughs' Martian novels influenced his speculations about Mars. Throughout, Basalla weaves his theme that scientific belief in and search for extraterrestrial civilizations is a complex impulse, part secularized-religious, and part anthropomorphic. He questions the common modern scientific reasoning that life converges on intelligence, and intelligence converges on one science valid everywhere. He ends the book by agreeing with Stephen Hawking (usually a safe bet) that intelligence is overrated for survival in the universe, and that we are most likely alone.

Anayaron
Basalla has produced an absolutely fantastic overview of the history of speculation about life on other worlds and the scientific quest to communicate with intelligent aliens. He manages to top himself by collecting a series of devastating arguments that reveal the anthropomorphism that has always tainted, and continues to taint, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. (Aliens are trying to reach us with radio telescope technology? Really? Why, what a convenient coincidence-that's same technology we're using to try to talk to them!) In a scant 200 pages, Basalla manages to place the search for E.T. in unvarnished perspective as the quasi-theological longing it is. This book should be required reading for all SETI buffs.
Felolv
Arrived as described and on time. THANKS! AAA+++
Gelgen
Author George Basalla's history of extraterrestrial life in human thought is well written, interesting, and maddeningly cynical. In his view, the proponents of extraterrestrial life are all looking for surrogate deities, their theorizing is hopelessly marred by anthropomorphism and Victorian-era notions of progress, communication with another civilization is effectively impossible, and every cent spent on SETI-related study has been wasted. As I read, I repeatedly got the impression that he was misrepresenting his intellectual opponents, especially when he painted some of their more speculative ideas as things they believed with a great deal of certainty.

Carl Sagan is Basalla's favorite target. In his telling, Sagan constantly pressed a pro-E.T. agenda in the face of his scientific betters both inside and outside NASA. He has irresponsibly inflated the expectations of the wider public and consistently pushed flights of fancy as though they were fact. Though he grudgingly admits that Sagan was less dogmatic than his supposed intellectual forerunner, Percival Lowell (the man who popularized the Martian canals, even when evidence had turned entirely against him), you couldn't tell from his depiction that Sagan ever showed real skepticism about anything beyond UFOs and the "face" on Mars.

Basalla also tries to insinuate that Sagan's expectations about Mars were heavily influenced by the Martian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's one thing to say that science fiction sparked Sagan's passion for astronomy, and quite another to suggest that Sagan was actually expecting to find Burroughs' Barsoom.

The most frustrating aspect of the book was the author's apparent lack of imagination when he discussed the pitfalls of anthropocentrism. When he says something along the lines of "why should alien X bear any resemblance to terrestrial X?" the question seems intended to be rhetorical, unarguable. He raises the same question regarding physics, mathematics, science, and technology. But his attempts to justify his suspicions are usually unconvincing. Truth be told, he didn't seem to try very hard, especially in the realms of mathematics and fundamental science. A better argument can be made for broad differences in the development of technology, which is more influenced by cultural constraints and the distribution of natural resources.

He's especially scornful of the anthropocentric bias inherent in the idea that other civilizations are likely to communicate using radio waves. I think it's a perfectly reasonable assumption. According to the principle of mediocrity, if we're using RF, then they're probably a good solution to the problem of communicating over long distances. Also, if it turns out that there is a fundamentally better way of solving the problem (maybe quantum entangled particles, or gravity waves, or something else that we're lousy at detecting right now), they're still likely to have had past experience using RF, and might nevertheless still put some effort into sending and receiving signals.

Why am I so certain that another technologically advanced civilization would have RF experience? Wouldn't it be possible for life and civilization to emerge deep underwater, or beneath an opaque atmosphere? Such creatures would never develop eyesight, so the entire EM spectrum might be unfamiliar to them. Setting aside the question of what powers their ecology if there isn't any light to be had, it seems clear to me that, so long as the creatures had a desire to explore and access to the resources to make their studies, they'd eventually run into some phenomenon that can only be explained by the influence of EM radiation, and probably sooner rather than later. Just as we can create pictures describing the workings of invisible phenomena, it seems certain that other creatures would figure out how to translate the information from EM radiation into a form appropriate to their senses. It might be consistently understudied in relation to other things more familiar to them, yet it seems likely that another intelligent species would figure out that EM radiation was good at conveying information quickly across long distances, and that by detecting the light from distant stars, they could learn a lot about the universe.

Basalla's discussion about what constitutes a civilization and how long they last is interesting, but he makes conclusions far beyond what is scientifically justifiable (even as he accuses SETI supporters of doing the same). He argues that simple things tend to last longer than complex things. Compare the success of the lowly cockroach to the relatively precarious position of bigger, more complex organisms. The same principle goes for societies. Simple hunter-gatherer societies have managed to exist for millions of years. More complex agricultural societies have only been around for a few tens of thousands of years. We have no idea how long we can make our high-tech civilization last.

I'm sympathetic to the argument, but I don't think you can draw too many conclusions from the correlation between complexity and fragility. It's certainly possible to make any system more fragile by throwing in more and more complexity. But it's also possible to make a system more complex in a way that increases its robustness. I don't think that collapse is inevitable, and one of the fundamental properties of intelligence is the ability to remember the past and draw conclusions about the future from it. So when Basalla argues that past societal collapses should refute the notion that spacefaring civilizations can last a long time, I'm not inclined to believe him.

There is lots of food for thought, but be wary of making this author's conclusions yoru own.
Amerikan_Volga
The author, a professor of history, makes a valid complaint about pro-SETI astronomers and biochemists who are ignorant of evolution and social science, but he shows his own lack of physical science background in such oxymoronic terms as "high resolution microwaves." He finds SETI's proponents -- notably Percival Lowell (who insisted on a Mars populated with canal-builders) and his "successor" Carl Sagan -- guilty of parochial if not delusional thinking. While perhaps a necessary corrective to Sagan's over-enthusiasm, this book swings the pendulum to the other side with its insistence that even if "they" were "out there," we would never be able to communicate with them. How can we know for sure without a thorough search?
Molotok
Skeptics?
Believer?
That is the question.
And the question is answered in this book.
Science versus Ufology.
Science versu aliens.
Ufology and your beliefs.

All are here in this book.

S. Mahdi, Cairo, Egypt