SETI's New Look

This website is an outgrowth of a symposium paper delivered in 1994, explaining how the classical approach to "the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (SETI) - the radio search for distant beacons - is fundamentally flawed in its logic, is not taken seriously by scientists in any field, and is conducted more as a means of promoting interest in a modern mythology than as a serious search for anything. Yes, instruments were used and the sky was "searched", but success was never expected.

An early version of Open SETI went online in 1995, and over the years since then, the story ramified but the SETI idea did not change. The SETI@Home screensaver was released, captivating hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts and their PCs. Media and industry alliances were formed, SETI-related websites exploded. Meanwhile, Open SETI was refined, its arguments were sharpened, much more material was added, and promising new kinds of studies were described.

It is not easy to know the extent to which the Open SETI pages influenced activities of the mainstream SETI community. But whether it was in part due to the arguments developed here and taken into the community by readers of this website, or if it was just a lack of patience with the strict old SETI paradigm, the SETI community is expanding its horizons.

SETI never acknowledged its errors. It simply began embracing something new, in hopes that the public would have a short memory and forget the old SETI axioms. SETI has decided there is paydirt in the burgeoning field of astrobiology. I use the term advisedly.

SETI has always been concerned with public perceptions - at times molding them and at times being shaped by them in return. In that, SETI has been immersed in the mass dream that is described in the opening pages of Open SETI. The new big thing in the dream is a primitive aspect of panspermia. SETI now recognizes that basic biological materials are probably widespread throughout the galaxy or the universe. This has become a popular idea, and as such there is much more in it for SETI than the marginalized radio search of past decades.

Observe the following two images (from the SETI Institute website):

Old SETI Institute logo New SETI Institute logo

They differ profoundly, the one depicting a peering into the heavens for the distant target, and the other a kind of case of measles; the earth immersed in spots and covered with same.

SETI has caught the measles in the form of a low-grade panspermia. The spots are there, but they are only spots. They are a low order of life. SETI buys into - and supports - the current fad: the simple molecules of life are widespread. But the higher-level evolved forms are still as far from us as ever believed before. If SETI recognizes the dramatic effect that even this kind of panspermia has on their Drake Equation, they are not "going there".

But there is much more in panspermia than they accept. For example, SETI and astrobiology have never considered the possibility that the DNA molecule, let alone living creatures, could be traveling throughout the cosmos and seeding life on myriads of planetary bodies.

This website contains references indicating that DNA travels, is the common encoding mechanism for life everywhere, contains instructions for environmental engineering and expressing appropriate life forms in synch with the engineered enviroment, is far more ancient than our scientists believe the universe itself to be, and even has a consciousness and intention of its own. Some South American tribes and one courageous anthropologist know how to converse with that serpent and it is a teacher. It knows where it came from and it knows what it is doing. This is one reason why I say on these pages that contact with ETI could occur in "our most intimate space". (See APPENDIX 2 / Challenges to Darwinism: Panspermia and Theories of Guided Evolution.)

The "New Look" of SETI has tended to overshadow its classical roots. Although SETI has not disavowed the reasoning that formed the basis for its radio searches, it seems to want to play in the new paradigm of widespread life suggested by the kind of panspermia that is gaining acceptance today. As a reminder that differences in paradigms need to be addressed, Open SETI retains its discussion of the fundamental assumptions underlying SETI, in a series of pages designated "Classical SETI".

And now, please read on. Take your time and explore these pages. This website is heavily hyperlinked and filled with surprising ideas and resources. And since Open SETI begins and ends with dream, myth, and consciousness, even while providing you with the engineering and the historical data you need for your own research, Open SETI will always embrace the day-to-day changes in the SETI field.