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

Justifying the Investment

Dear Dr. SETI:
If you invest so much effort in looking for ETI, it seems to me that you must already know about their existence. So, what your purpose in continuing the search?

Rafael (Argentina)

The Doctor Responds:
A very valid question, Rafael. First off, SETI in general is a very inexpensive science, and The SETI League's Project Argus all-sky survey in particular is probably the world's least costly SETI program. So, the investment (in both effort and funding) is mimimal -- and easily justified, given the tremendous opportunity for positive returns, should Contact be made.

As for knowing about the existence of ETI: there is ample circumstantial evidence to suggest a Universe teeming with intelligent life, but it is by no means definitive. Many of us in the SETI community strongly believe in the existence of ETI, but that is a matter of faith, and science demands fact. In fact, we demand duplicable, reproducible evidence, that can be scrutinized by multiple investigators. Otherwise, we run the risk of fooling ourselves into finding what we want to find. Hopefully, The SETI League, with the wide range of talents and interests available among its 1500 members, provides us with the kind of objective analysis necessary for credible science.

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