Civilizations Beyond Earth: Extraterrestrial Life and Society

Civilizations Beyond Earth: Extraterrestrial Life and Society


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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 public's 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781782383154
Publisher: Berghahn Books, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/01/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Introduction: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence as an Interdisciplinary Effort

Albert A. Harrison and Douglas A. Vakoch


Chapter 1. Are We Alone? Estimating the Prevalence of Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Seth Shostak

Chapter 2. Encountering Alternative Intelligences: Cognitive Archaeology and SETI

Paul K. Wason

Chapter 3. The Lifetimes of Scientific Civilizations and the Genetic Evolution of the Brain

Alan J. Penny

Chapter 4. ' L ' on Earth

Kathryn Denning


Chapter 5. Can SETI Fulfill the Value Agenda of Cultural Anthropology?

Donald E. Tarter

Chapter 6. American Attitudes about Life beyond Earth: Beliefs, Concerns, and the Role of Education and Religion in Shaping Public Perceptions

George Pettinico

Chapter 7. Cultural Beliefs about Extraterrestrials: A Questionnaire Study

William Sims Bainbridge

Chapter 8. The Science and Politics of SETI: How to Succeed in an Era of Make Believe History and Pseudoscience

Albert A. Harrison


Chapter 9. Cultural Aspects of Interstellar Communication

Carl L. DeVito

Chapter 10. Cosmic Storytelling: Primitive Observables as Rosetta Analogies

Harry Letaw, Jr.

Chapter 11. Direct Contact with Extraterrestrials via Computer Emulation

William Sims Bainbridge

Chapter 12. The Inscrutable Names of God: The Jesuit Missions of New France as a Model for SETI-Related Spiritual Questions

Jason T. Kuznicki

Chapter 13. ET Phone Darwin: What Can an Evolutionary Understanding of Animal Communication and Art Contribute to Our Understanding of Methods for Interstellar Communication?

Kathryn Coe, Craig T. Palmer, and Christina Pomianek

Chapter 14. A Journalistic Perspective on SETI-Related Message Composition

Morris Jones

Notes on Contributors

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