Expect the Extraterrestrial
I found this review of Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb (On the Shelf, Summer 2021 Prism) very interesting. I thought Mr. Loeb’s argument that the cigar-shaped object that moved oddly could be indicative of a civilization out there to be plausible, though not conclusive. But more important, I found his comments, and the reviewer’s, about the attitude toward the possibility of extraterrestrial life even more significant. We know we are a young civilization and that there are probably millions of life-sustaining planets out there, most of which are far older than ours. Why would the accepted attitude be that there is no extraterrestrial intelligence other than our own? It seems to me that a more plausible default belief is that there is extraterrestrial intelligence and it will eventually manifest itself. This sounds like human hubris to me. Do we really think we are alone and that we will never be approached in some way? Surely SETI efforts, a direct visit, or other evidence of some kind will eventually lead to undeniable proof that we are not alone. Shouldn’t this be the default attitude and shouldn’t we be preparing for it rather than denying it?
University of Missouri