The Corner

Space Out

Today’s NRO podcast is with Paul Davies, author of The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence. (It doesn’t violate the Star Trek ban technically, but it may violate it in spirit.) We discuss whether Davies believes there’s anybody out there, why he thinks the “silence” is “eerie” rather that reassuring, and whether extraterrestrial intelligence poses a special threat to Christianity (Davis is not only a physicist, but also a recipient of the Templeton Prize). We also talk about the public policy of alien intelligence, such as exactly what would happen if SETI listeners were to receive a message from the stars. Interestingly, there is almost universal agreement among researchers not to disclose the location of the source. Finally, Davies expresses frustration with the fact that politicians are completely uninterested in SETI. It’s not that he wants public funding, but that he’d like to draw upon their political expertise to prepare for the possibility of a time when a radio telescope picks up the voice of a little green man who says “take me to your leader.” Elected officials want nothing to do with SETI. This is understandable: Just imagine the negative ads. But ex-officials have avoided SETI as well. This is perhaps more puzzling. Anyway, it’s an intriguing subject and Davis is an excellent interview. I’ve posted a little more on my website.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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