Though the White House maintains that there has not yet been credible evidence that suggests the presence of extra terrestrial life, a new volume of an official NASA e-book released this week details the hunt for such evidence by the space agency and other organizations and even suggests that unusual patterns cut into rock actually “might have been made by aliens.”
The book edited by Dr. Douglas Vakoch, the director of Interstellar Message Composition at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence organization, includes ”incisive critique with hope that there is a response to the skepticism behind these critiques.” Vakoch, according to his profile on SETI’s website, “researches ways that different civilizations might create messages that could be transmitted across interstellar space, allowing communication between humans and extraterrestrials even without face-to-face contact.”
“Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication” has contributors that “raise questions that may have been overlooked by physical scientists about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence.”
Vakoch wrote in the book’s introduction that is a challenge for scientists to actually “recognize manifestations of extraterrestrial intelligence, even when they resemble a naturally occurring phenomenon.” He points out archaeologist Paul Wason’s argument that there needs to be an “intellectual context” for researchers to even o identify signs of intelligence.
“Only when people took seriously the possibility that chipped rocks might be prehistoric tools were they predisposed to look for them,” Vakoch wrote, giving an earthly example of this context. “Until then, this core piece of evidence for reconstructing extinct civilizations was simply overlooked by archaeologists doing fieldwork in Europe.”
A chapter in the book also takes up thousand-year old “rock art.”
“Consider again, therefore, the desirability of establishing symbolic/linguistic communication with [Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence],” a chapter about constraints on communication with extraterrestrial life by William Edmondson, a computer science professor working on a program to find “extraterrestrial intelligences through their attempted communications with other intelligences,” wrote. “It is helpful to review some parallels from human existence that pose problems for us today. One of these is ‘rock art,’ which consists of patterns or shapes cut into rock many thousands of years ago. Such ancient stone carvings can be found in many countries.
“We can say little, if anything, about what these patterns signify, why they were cut into rocks, or who created them. For all intents and purposes, they might have been made by aliens. Unless we find a readable exegesis of them produced at the time they were made, we will never be able to say with certainty what the patterns mean.”
NASA, in introducing the new volume of the book Monday, wrote that “drawing on issues at the core of contemporary archaeology and anthropology, we can be much better prepared for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, should that day ever come.”
Jesus Diaz wrote for Gizmodo said that ”it’s comforting that NASA is thinking about human-alien communication under a new focus, one that is not purely based on the physical sciences of planetary research or exobiology, but that ties it with our current experience in trying to decipher our own archaeological and anthropological past.”