SETI For Walt et al: An Apologium

Robert Owen (
Sun, 26 Sep 1999 16:48:27 -0400 wrote:

> The only thing I see that relates this post to Searching for
> ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI), is the arrogant and
> naive' presumption that other ETI are associated with planets
> similar to our Earth or in solar systems. Beyond that, of what
> interest is it to a SETI list?
> I like the posts if they have relevance to SETI. Though lately
> there has been little if anything related to RADIO Astronomy
> SETI or any other form of ETI search. It seems that NASA is not
> looking for ETI, nor are astronomers.

Hello Walt,

I sometimes forward messages like the Huygens' quotation to
various SETI lists with no intention of contributing technical
information. From my own experience, the practice of "amateur"
(i.e. "unpaid") science, SETI or otherwise, requires not merely
intellectual curiosity but reinforcement of the original emotional
investment that got and keeps one going despite family criticism,
expense, fatigue, inadequate time and seemingly intractable
technical difficulties.

In each such case, the quotation has provided emotional stimu-
lation and inspiration that helps refresh the original commitment.
It is my hope that in sharing them with others, they will also
prove inspirational. Usually, what is involved is the "Eureka"
feeling, the excitement of discovery, and the experience of
joyful enthusiasm in the practice of science.

In the majority of cases, the many newgroups and mailing lists
to which I post messages of this type have registered no overt
objection. But perhaps <> is an exception; if a
number of members write me and ask me to discontinue such
posts, I will be glad to cooperate. It's just a matter of sharing,
not any personally felt necessity.

Best wishes,


P.S. Huygens was not being ethnocentric nor anthropomorphic;
the Dutch term he uses, translated as "earths", simply means
to him "inhabited worlds" as it did to Bruno, Lucretius and many
other historical figures who shared our interest in exobiology and
Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA

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