The SETI League, Inc., a membership-supported, non-profit {501(c)(3)}, educational and scientific organization Searching for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

Ask Dr. SETI ®

Chapter 3: Philosophy

Do You Support Active SETI?

Dear Dr. SETI:
The SETI League's animated logo, on your website, appears to implicitly endorse the idea of an Active Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. I thought The SETI League only supported Passive Searching. Are you now endorsing Active SETI?

Miguel, Venezuela

The Doctor Responds:
Thank you for noticing our logo, Miguel. Please take a closer look at that animated GIF. You will see that the direction of wave motion is inward, toward the antenna. Thus, it depicts a distant message being received, not one being transmitted from Earth.

In its original form, as first drawn in 1994 (the year The SETI League was founded), our logo was of course static. Thus, there was no way to tell that the logo didn't represent a transmission from Earth. Because our respected colleagues at the SETI Institute are indeed committed primarily to passive SETI, one of their scientists politely declined to join The SETI League until we clarified our logo. I am pleased to report that once we produced the animated version, clearly depicting reception, she became a SETI League member and ardent supporter.

It is true that The SETI League's primary research project is indeed a passive all-sky survey. Nevertheless, The SETI League is certainly open to the possibility of Active SETI experiments, as long as they are within the guidelines of internationally adopted protocols. Please see the Protocols section of the website of the SETI Permanent Study Group, International Academy of Astronautics, at, for further clarification on this controversial issue.

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