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

Scientific Evidence for ETI?

Dear Dr. SETI:
I was wondering what your strongest scientific argument would be for the possibility of the existence of extra terrestrial intelligence.

Peter P., via email

The Doctor Responds:
Although there are many promising indicators as to the abundance of extraterrestrial life, the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is highly speculative, to be sure. There is, as yet, no compelling evidence to suggest it; neither is there any scientific basis for ruling out the possibility. My justifications for a coordinated SETI effort: the search for ETI is a low-cost endeavor with a high potential payoff, and carrying out such a search affords us with significant opportunity for serendipitous discoveries in directions which we cannot begin to imagine. That makes it a no-lose scenario, even lacking strong scientific evidence to suggest eventual success.

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