"The aliens are in touch. Whenever I use my computer, they underline certain strange words on the screen ... It's a message."
That's an email received by Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, a scientific organization seeking evidence of life beyond Earth. I'm thrilled that Seth will be speaking at Boing Boing: Ingenuity, our live theatrical experience taking place in San Francisco on August 18! (You'll have another chance to win tickets tomorrow, Thursday 8/8!) The SETI Institute are the ones listening for a phone call from ET. Seth is a delightful happy mutant, keeping an open mind and sense of humor about what it means to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, in the hope of better understanding the origin of life in the universe and our place in it. The email above is just one example of the inquiries he responds to daily. Seth's humility, patience, and warmth, even when presented with the deeply strange, is inspiring to me.
"I try to answer every one of these mails and phone calls because, after all, it's not a violation of physics to travel from one star system to another," he writes in a new essay. "Difficult as it is, I resist the temptation to become so hardened in my skepticism that I erect a shield against considering possible new evidence… Indeed, an inflexible mind-set is one of the two principal arguments made by the UFO community to explain why mainstream scientists are doubtful of their claims: They lament that pointy-headed scientists just won't look at the evidence. So I take that as a caution."
Don't miss Seth's essay, including an FAQ "for those who would call or write with extraordinary claims."
"Contact With Aliens? Think Before You Call." (HuffPo)
Boing Boing: Ingenuity in partnership with Ford C-Max.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.