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ragingloli's avatar

What do you think are the greatesst conceptual flaws of SETI?

Asked by ragingloli (43794points) June 19th, 2009

I think the greatest flaw is that it assumes that potential Alien civilisations actually use radio waves for communication.
They could for example, send light pulses through artificial microwormholes. Or they might use techniques we can not even think of yet.
It is like an indian watching a modern city for smoke signs.

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13 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Global warming?

Oh. You mean SETI. I thought you had mispelled Yeti!

marinelife's avatar

Since radio waves are a natural phenomenon of their universe too, it seems like a good choice to me.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

You’ve got to start somewhere and radio waves would seem to be the most logical place to start. Either that or a giant megaphone.

kevbo's avatar

The presumption that we (i.e. certain gov’t agencies) haven’t already confirmed the existence of ETI.

Lightlyseared's avatar

That aliens exist and that spending a lot of money looking for them is a good idea.

Ivan's avatar


Spending a ton of money looking for other frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum that we didn’t even knew existed was stupid too.

<Pulls potato out of microwave oven>

Jayne's avatar

While it is probable that other life, even intelligent life, exists elsewhere, given the many billions of years that the universe has existed, and the chaotic nature of the processes that brought human life into existence (the slim chance of the earth forming, the convoluted path of evolution, etc.), it seems extremely unlikely that it would have come to exist, at a roughly comparable stage of development, within communicable range, such that the signals they send (assuming their psychology is even such that they would want to send signals) would arrive here precisely during the extremely narrow band of time that we are actually listening for them. The chance of us receiving a signal in a given year is astronomically small, yet the budget to listen for that signal, in that one year out of billions, is $4 million. Somehow, that cost/benefit ratio seems a little lopsided.

marinelife's avatar

@Jayne It’s sort of extraterrestrial lotto.

brettvdb's avatar

Everyone following this needs to read Carl Sagan – he has answered this question much better than any of us probably ever could.

@Marina has it right – radiowaves are natural phenomena of the universe – they are waves of electromagnetism that can pretty much travel forever through space. They are given off by all objects in the universe, and I would think that listening for the radio waves of other life forms is about as efficient a method of looking for extra terrestrial life as anyone could hope for.

I’m sure there are many people who would love to hear of a better idea if you have one.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

People all too often assume that because they won’t see the benefits of something during their own lifetime that by default is has no value. The SETI project is one of those.

The only way the human race advances is when they start to think about how their contributions to the world will benefit future generations of humans.

Jayne's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic, Unless the cost of monitoring for signals is going to decrease dramatically in the future, then the project will be of no more value in several generations than it is now.

WhatEvil's avatar

Not only are the odds of us receiving a signal in a given time period miniscule, but the Arecibo radio telescope only analyses a small area of the sky, and even if we were to find something, we don’t necessarily know what we’re looking for.

mattbrowne's avatar

Greatest flaw? Using earth-based receivers. We need space receivers using the sun as a gravitational lens thereby acting as an amplifier.

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