Re: SETI If ET Were Visiting Earth

Larry Klaes (
Sun, 11 Jul 1999 21:18:27 -0400

Though I look at Star Trek as some of our first modern
myths in regards to exploring space (just as the ancients
made myths about sea adventures and where existence came
from), I think of the episodes where the ETI did not even
recognize humans as an intelligent life form, or even a
life form at all. ST films 1 (V'Ger and the Carbon Units)
and 4 (Whales) come to mind here.


At 11:03 AM 07/11/1999 -7, Dr. Eric W. Davis wrote:

>Because of the incommensurability problem (or cognitive mismatch),
>Walt: re: your questions below!
>ETI will not have a common frame of reference with us with which to
>make a determination as to whether and with whom they are to contact
>on Earth. Their different biology (and primary sensory modalities),
>social culture, models of nature (science), psychology, etc. would
>force them to spend years covertly surveilling Earth to find and
>catalogue the various Earth species, study their (us) biology
>(primary sensory modalities), social cultures, models of nature, etc.
>to understand them (us) before deciding on and attempting contact.
>This is exactly what primate anthropologists like Jane Goodall did
>for years before they (she) ever attempted to contact ape cultures
>and make their (her) way to gaining their acceptance into their
>culture. Goodall meticulously studied the apes remotely and
>covertly before she began to make brief but infrequent periods of
>exposure of her presence to them, and she did not contact any
>specific individual as representing the group. When she identified
>the group leader, she was forced (by incommensurability between her
>and the apes) to behave like a group member and follow their social
>rules in gaining the leader's acceptance. Apes have the same
>primary sensory modalities as humans, which define the cognitive
>learning process (such as learning through sight and sound), so
>Goodall was able to exploit that commonality when making contact.
>ETI would have to determine how to contact us and what our
>social rules are given the different sensory modalities and cognitive
>mismatch between them and us. It won't be as easy for them as it was
>for Goodall. The process ETI follow will be entirely different from
>hers since evolution in an extrasolar environment is not guaranteed
>to result in sensory modalities and cognition similar to our own
>(human or other Earth species).
>Eric W. Davis, Ph.D., FBIS
>Aerospace Physics & Astrophysics
>Nat'l Inst. for Discovery Science
>> From:
>> To:
>> Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 20:52:13 -0800
>> Subject: SETI: If ET Were Visiting....
>> Reply-to:
>> Hello All,
>> If ET were visiting would they contact us? How would they know
>> who to contact? Is our world unified to the extent that anyone
>> body could be recognized as voice for all? Would ET know this?
>> (this presumes that visitors rationalize the same as we)
>> Comments are invited.
>> Walt Williams, 99.07.10

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