I placed this thread here since it is astronomers I want to reach. Some of you are taking a risk that you do not have the right to take. Some astronomers through ignorance or hubris are deciding for the whole planet that its ok to shout out to the universe at large that we are here on earth.
Repeatedly, messages of various kinds, anything from words of friendship through to Beatles music have been sent to targets nearby in the hope of contacting ET. This MIGHT be a very, very bad idea.
I realise that even those who sent them didn't really think that they would contact anyone out there. I realise that the chances of communication (even if only one-way) are very slim. Further, that there is some reason to hope that if there _are_ ETs, they are not hostile... maybe even friendly.
But there is no certainty that ETs have the best of intentions. Do you have the right to bet Earth's future on it?
Please let me lay out what I am _not_ saying....
I am not saying that it is likely that there is life elsewhere.
I am not saying that it is likely that life elsewhere is intelligent.
I am not saying that it would be bad for our psyche to meet smarter beings.
I am not saying that they would want our women, our land, our water, or to anal probe us.
I am not saying that conflict with the OTHER is inevitable.
I am not saying that it is likely, in a universe as vast and as empty as ours, that we are ever to find that we are not alone.
Ok... so what AM I saying?
Firstly: If there are intelligent species out there (and anyone reasonable must admit the possibility at least exists) then we have no idea at all what they might be like in terms of behaviour, drives, morals(?), or capabilities.
Secondly: That no person, or group of people, has the right to speak for all of earth on this topic.
Thirdly: That in an alien environment the best strategy is caution.
What would I like? I would like us, as a species, to lay low till we know. I would like comms to deep space probes etc to be as narrow beam as possible. I would like to see a massive increase in the SETI program. I would like high intensity military radars to be banned... (that aint gonna happen )
We are either alone in a vast universe or we are not. If we are not alone then we might never know it anyway. But if it turns out that our galaxy has space faring species already.... then it is foolish in the extreme to think that a limited understanding of game theory and some anthropomorphic generalisations about 'advanced' behaviours will be enough to predict an aliens species (or individuals) behaviour.
I am aware of the Fermi paradox, I know that statistically it is unlikely that even if intelligence arises 'locally' it is not likely to be co-existent because of the enormous time periods involved. I know that many folk think its inevitable that a space faring species would be highly intelligent (or at least technologically advanced) and therefore benign. I disagree with that premise... but it doesn't matter.
We don't know... we should go slow. Maybe the reason that we don't hear others singing out is that _they_ are smart enough not to draw the wolves. I don't know.
But I do know that once a message is noticed it is too late... whoever sent it just took the fate of the whole planet into their hands. No one has that right.