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Old 15th Nov 2012, 07:03   #21
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Originally Posted by Nexxo View Post

--Contact[/I]

But that's a work of fiction, and Carl Sagan didn't know what effect it will have any more than you, or I do.

We explore and find new things. It's what we do, and this is no different. For every suit, manager, bean counter and pragmatist out there, there's also a visionary who doesn't really give a crap about all that and just wants to invent, innovate, explore, and discover.. just because they're wired that way. I for one am glad of that.
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Old 15th Nov 2012, 07:38   #22
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So am I, but Gallileo got threatened, Darwin got hostility, the Suffragettes got bullied and Semmelweis got ridiculed. Jesus got crucified. Gandhi and Martin Luther King got shot. So was Malala Yousefzai, a fourteen-year old girl, for insisting that girls should be able to go to school. Buzz Aldrin was accused, to his face, of faking the moon landing. Every visionary meets with resistance and often outright hostility. That should not stop us but we have to be prepared for that. And we do know this, actually, because we see it time and again in history. Heck, I see it in my work every day. People invest heavily in their worldview and beliefs for lots of important reasons and really hate it when these get threatened.

Every work of fiction is speculative, but based on how things work in reality. Carl Sagan thought really hard about how people would react to a First Contact. In fact, the book and the film are mostly about that rather than the contact itself. In the end, only a few indivisuals' lives are changed; the rest of humanity just cannot (yet) accept what has happened.

Gene Roodenberry also gave it some thought from the alien's perspective with his notion of the Prime Directive: non-interference in civilisations that have not yet developed interstellar space travel. Why? Because they are not ready to deal with the implications yet. More speculation perhaps, but one that really resonates given how popular Star Trek has become. History again shows time and again that when two civilisations make contact, even with the best intentions, one of them (usually the less aggressive or less technological one) suffers and perishes. There is a reason why South American rainforest tribes tend to kill strangers on sight. There is a reason why Japan for most of its existence has led an isolationist policy. There is a reason why we have the Great Wall of China.

I think you interpret this as my saying that we should not bother at all. I'm not saying that; I'm saying that you have to be prepared for it to take a long time before people can take new ideas on board. You can't bring democracy to Afghanistan or Iraq in a few years, can you? We're finding that out the hard way. Small moves, Pookey, small moves.
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Last edited by Nexxo; 15th Nov 2012 at 08:09.
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Old 15th Nov 2012, 08:44   #23
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Originally Posted by Ending Credits View Post
Could you elaborate more on the psychology aspect?
In order to function and survive in the world, we have to be able to predict and manipulate it. This in turn means that we have to have a sort of simulation in our head of how the world works. This can be viewed as a set of rules (pragmatic cause-and-effect ones but also social and moral ones), knowledge and beliefs that we start learning as soon as we are born. Initial beliefs are most simple and most fundamental and, because we learned them as very small children, mostly pre-verbal instincts rather inaccessible to adult rational thought. These form the foundations of ever more sophisticated and fine-grained assumption, beliefs and hypotheses which are increasingly verbal and rational. Of course this depends on just how verbal and rational you are as an adult. Language development is very important in this (which literacy can be a reflection of), as is emotional and intellectual intelligence.

Our brain does not strive for accuracy as much as for coherence. If we had to change our beliefs, rules etc. every instance that they are challenged by experience, we would live in cognitive chaos. Hence they would have to be disproved frequently and repeatedly. We will hang on to our beliefs; by and large they allow us to function and survive, they were hard-won, they make sense of our world, our life, ourselves and they give structure, comfort and protect our fragile ego. We don't give them up easily because we don't like to be in cognitive free fall. So we will generally only perceive what fits our beliefs, not what contradicts them, and of course most beliefs we hold will in effect be self-fulfilling prophecies: they cause us to behave in ways that result in outcomes that reinforces them (beliefs, or memes, follow the rules of natural selection too).

This makes good sense: even science demands the replicability of results before a hypothesis is accepted. But it also means that changing beliefs is hard work, even if they don't work so well (for a given value of not working so well --people invest in suffering too, if it makes sense to them). People will find it hard to integrate an idea that requires a radical change in their core beliefs, and get quite discomfited and even upset and angry when they have to. We see a grieving process: shock, denial, disbelief; then anger and hostility; them bargaining and negotiation; then a spell of despondency and despair ("all that I believed is untrue! Life is devoid of meaning now!"); then finally acceptance and integration. Add acute or post-traumatic stress reactions according to flavour. This grieving process can take days, months, years; move back and forth and even get firmly stuck.

We may think the idea of alien life is seriously cool because we are predisposed to the idea; it fits our worldview (and indeed would be a comforting notion), but other people out there have deep investment in a whole set of important spiritual and philosophical beliefs that predicate that we are the only ones, at the centre of the universe, or God's unique creation. Others perceive the world to end at the borders of their village and would find any other notion too overwhelming, or rather academic to their very real daily life struggle for survival. They don't understand and hence don't care; they mentally filter it out. Others project their existing beliefs on it so don't change their worldwiew; they just reinforce it. Mess with their worldview and they get irked.
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Last edited by Nexxo; 15th Nov 2012 at 13:12.
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Old 15th Nov 2012, 16:14   #24
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A mate has been doing SETI@home for years, He has a pulsar named after him. tbh I reckon they have as much chance of finding intelligent life ( it's hard enough to find it on earth ) as folding@home does of finding a cure for cancer. Mind more people make money from folding@home than they do from SETI@home

Last edited by Teelzebub; 15th Nov 2012 at 16:26.
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Old 15th Nov 2012, 20:19   #25
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I think Folding@Home will not find a cure for cancer, but may stumble across another interesting range of discoveries.

Of course I will always hope that SETI@Home does find something, even if I don't expect it to change the world.
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Old 4th Dec 2012, 19:59   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemaher205 View Post
how come space study never grabbed the attention?
It has, it pioneered the way for distributed computing, enabling things like F@H.
How long did SETI run before F@H started? A decade?
F@H is "the new thing".
...also, they pay you, SETI didn't.
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