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60% Of U.S. Believe Life Exists On Other Planets 943

Posted by samzenpus
from the aliens-believe-in-us dept.
jangobongo writes "Does intelligent life exist anywhere besides Earth? Are regular churchgoers less likely to believe life has evolved on other planets? Do more Democrats or Republicans believe in extraterrestrials? And if alien life makes contact, what should we do? These questions were asked on a poll released last week that shows that two-thirds of Americans do believe that life exists on other planets, and of that group, 90% say if we receive a message from another planet we should reply. The poll was commissioned by the SETI Institute and the National Geographic Channel."
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60% Of U.S. Believe Life Exists On Other Planets

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  • Survey says, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FTL (112112) * <{slashdot} {at} {neil.fraser.name}> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:14PM (#12679738) Homepage
    Don't take these polls too seriously. I remember one I took a few years back which asked:

    Q. Do you believe UFOs exist?
    A. Yes. (Well duh, anything we see in the sky but can't immediately identify is a UFO. Was I supposed to answer 'No'?)

    Q. Do you believe aliens exist?
    A. Yes. (With billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars, it's a pretty safe guess that somewhere out there is another planet with life.)

    As a result, I'm recorded as just one more nut-job who believes that little green men are abducting our sheep. That particular survey was merely incompetent. Much more entertaining results can be obtained from surveys which are actively rigged.

    In this SETI-National Geographic poll they appeared to have asked people if they thought that life exists somewhere out there. They got a 60% yes. It would have been interesting to ask half of those people if they thought that we are the only life in the universe. My guess is that those opposite questions when added up wouldn't even come close to 100%.

    • by VoidWraith (797276) <void_wraith@NOSpAM.hotmail.com> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:26PM (#12679811)
      Q: Do you believe aliens exist? A: Yes, we get them from Mexico all the time.
    • Re:Survey says, (Score:2, Interesting)

      by negative3 (836451)
      I read somewhere (lost the link) that on some surveys more young people believe that aliens exist than that they will get anything from the social security system.
      • by Golias (176380) on Monday May 30, 2005 @09:22PM (#12680562)
        That's because absolute belief in aliens is only slightly irrational. You gotta be plum fucking loco to be under thirty and think you will ever see a dime of Social Security.

        Hope you're dumping lots of money into an IRA, kids. You'll thank yourselves later.
        • by Espectr0 (577637) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:10PM (#12680883) Journal
          That's because absolute belief in aliens is only slightly irrational

          Remember, only the Sith deal in absolutes
        • Re:Survey says, (Score:3, Interesting)

          by advocate_one (662832)
          Hope you're dumping lots of money into an IRA, kids. You'll thank yourselves later.

          and when they raid your IRA, what then??? people in the UK have completely lost faith in the pensions industry and the Labour government doing a raid (hitting them with a "Windfall Tax") on the pensions funds didn't do anyone any favours either...

    • They should also ask if the Earth if flat or the Sun revolves around the Earth. This would separate the science types who base their 'Yes' on sound scientific reasoning and the new-age type who will believe anything just so long as the government denies or refuses to comment on it.
    • frank drake (Score:3, Informative)

      by cryptoz (878581)
      anyone remember the good old drake equation [wikipedia.org]?
      • Re:frank drake (Score:5, Interesting)

        by grammar fascist (239789) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @02:55AM (#12682169) Homepage
        anyone remember the good old drake equation [wikipedia.org]?

        Yep. Too bad it's so often abused [crichton-official.com] by people who call the abuse "science." Crichton quote:

        This serious-looking equation gave SETI an serious footing as a legitimate intellectual inquiry. The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses. And guesses-just so we're clear-are merely expressions of prejudice. Nor can there be "informed guesses." If you need to state how many planets with life choose to communicate, there is simply no way to make an informed guess. It's simply prejudice.

        As a result, the Drake equation can have any value from "billions and billions" to zero. An expression that can mean anything means nothing. Speaking precisely, the Drake equation is literally meaningless, and has nothing to do with science. I take the hard view that science involves the creation of testable hypotheses. The Drake equation cannot be tested and therefore SETI is not science. SETI is unquestionably a religion.


        I can't disagree.
    • by fbform (723771) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:49PM (#12681428)
      Here's a scene from Yes, Prime Minister that analyzes the standard opinion poll. For those of you who don't understand British terminology, "National Service" is compulsory military service (ie, the draft).


      Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."
      Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."
      Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"
      Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."
      Bernard Woolley: "How?"
      Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."

    • Re:Survey says, (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orthogonal (588627)
      America, where at least a quarter of the population believe in :
      • UFOs (34%)
      • ghosts (also 34%)
      • astrology (29%)
      • reincarnation (25%)
      • witches (24%)
      • miracles (82%)
      • heaven (85%) and
      • god (92%) (Fox News poll, June 2004 [foxnews.com])

      And where

      • 44% believe civil liberties should be restricted for Muslims; and
      • 27% favor requiring Muslim Americans to register with the federal government.(Cornell Universdity poll, December 2004 [usatoday.com])

      And where

      • 55% (and 67% of Bush voters) beleive God created humans as we currently exist, without
  • by suso (153703) * on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:14PM (#12679739) Homepage Journal
    Meanwhile, only a resounding 5% of life on other planets believes that there is intelligent life on Earth.
  • I guess it must be true then
  • I certainly hope there is intelligent life somewhere else in space, but we got bollocks down here on Earth.
    May I have your liver then?
  • More polls (Score:3, Funny)

    by harris s newman (714436) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:16PM (#12679744)
    100% of the republicans polled believe that all the life on the other planets are christian.
    • by Walterk (124748) <{gro.mca} {ta} {telbud}> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:24PM (#12679794) Homepage Journal
      100% of the republicans polled believe that all the life on the other planets are christian.

      Or at the very least that it should be, and will be as soon as they find oil there.

      This will probably get modded down. Hint to mods: it's funny, laugh.
      • Re:More polls (Score:3, Insightful)

        by isorox (205688)

        Or at the very least that it should be, and will be as soon as they find oil there.


        I hope that's Funny, but I fear it's more Insightful.
    • Re:More polls (Score:3, Insightful)

      That doesn't really make any sense, even as a joke.
  • Yes, but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:16PM (#12679747) Homepage Journal
    the vast majority of people also believe in Astrology. A large percentage of people believe that earth has already been visited by aliens (in particular to help build the pyramids) and some people believe that aliens are studying earth right now.

    • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boomgopher (627124) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:32PM (#12679851) Journal
      Yeah, I think people have a hard time separating what they want to believe from what they have a reason to believe.

      Sure, life is certainly a lot more interesting thinking that magic, esp, ufos, auras, etc are real..
      that doesn't make it so though, sorry.

      On topic BTW, if anyone has vivid evidence of aliens, that does not involve hypnosis therapy, and other hocus pocus, please forward the info.
      • by 77Punker (673758) <<spencr04> <at> <highpoint.edu>> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:43PM (#12679935)
        I have stopped having experiences with aliens ever since I started using protection [stopabductions.com]!
      • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by porcupine8 (816071)
        You imply that these people don't REALLY believe these things, they just "want to" believe them. Because obviously no one would ever believe anything without hard, fast, scientific evidence, right?

        Just because someone's reason for believing something isn't enough to convince you, doesn't mean it isn't enough to convince them. Whether their reason for believing it is a book they read or a personal experience they've had or mountains of scientific data, it's still a reason that they have for believing it.

      • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arminw (717974)
        ...they want to believe from what they have a reason to believe...

        In order to have intelligent life on a planet, the conditions needed for life to develop must be met. One of these is the right temperature range. Because the laws of physics appear to operate uniformly throughout the Universe as far as we have observed until now, the only physical life allowed must be based on carbon, just like life on Earth. It is no accident that the internal temperature of warm blooded creatures is in the narrow range it
        • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @01:11AM (#12681812)

          I'm confused about how people seem to believe that "the conditions for life have to be equal to the conditions we've had here that might've lead to springing earths' life" as if there is just one magic mix for life which earth coïncidentally had. You just gave a definition of planet earth.

          It's a bit of a limited observation in my view; what if life could have another "life form"? We cannot perceive that cause our brains aren't able to visualize that; all we know is our planet and how things work around here. Everything is based on the influence and have evolved to the conditions in our solarsystem/planet.

          eg. our eyes pick up light; their use and evolution depends on a sun providing the ability to pick up a certain range of the spectrum of light which we use as orientation. Why would that be equal across the universe -if there would be another lifeform? (even on our puny planet we already have differences in the way creatures 'see'.) Without our type of gravity, why would one evolve into having legs or needing to walk? Earth is made for 75% out of water, no wonder our life has 'sprung from water'. Does that mean that life only can come forth out of water? Noone knows, but I think it's very likely there's life somewhere in our universe in a form we cannot comprehend.

          • by arminw (717974)
            ...it's very likely there's life somewhere in our universe in a form we cannot comprehend...

            I was talking about PHYSICAL life forms, limited to the laws of physics. These laws appear to operate uniformly throughout the known universe. The SETI project is endeavoring to find electromagnetic signals from some sort of intelligent life form. Electromagnetic signals are physical means of communication that have severe limitations for communications across the vast gulf of intergalactic space. Any physical life
            • Solaris (Score:3, Interesting)

              by TuringTest (533084)
              Any physical life forms, obeying the laws of physics as we know them cannot be too radically different from life on earth.

              That's a anthropocentric prejudice, similar to thinking that Earth is the center of the universe (isn't it obvious?). Also your phrase "Because the laws of physics appear to operate uniformly throughout the Universe as far as we have observed until now, the only physical life allowed must be based on carbon, just like life on Earth" is more a guess than an established fact.

              Have you s
    • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:38PM (#12679889)
      the vast majority of people also believe in Astrology. A large percentage of people believe that earth has already been visited by aliens (in particular to help build the pyramids) and some people believe that aliens are studying earth right now.

      Kinda makes you wonder the benefits of democracy, now doesn't it?
      • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Brandybuck (704397) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:31PM (#12680244) Homepage Journal
        One wierd thing about the last election is that now it's suddenly fashionable to doubt democracy. Eighteenth century elitist views that the common people can't possible govern themselves have been resurrected. I've got just two words for you naysayers:

        Bugger Off!

        The purpose of democracy is not to be infallible, omniscient or omnipotent. No one ever envisioned that it would usher in a utopia or paradise or terrestrial heaven. But what it was meant to do it does very well. Democracy has given humans the greatest amount of self-rule and self-determination ever in history.

        Those of you who want to take away democracy just because your candidate lost an election can kiss my hairy ass!
        • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:52PM (#12680365) Homepage Journal
          Well ya know, you shouldn't lock your mind into ancient alternatives to democracy. Why is it not acceptable to wish for something better? Democracy is just mob rule. Obviously suggesting that we should replace it with a dictatorship is a step backwards, but are there any steps forward? I personally think that for most every social issue there is a right and a wrong solution. I don't think democracy finds the right solution as often as it should (especially not the representative democracy under which us westerners live). The problem of course is that people don't agree. If we all agreed to live under a system of rules (a real system based on axioms, not case analysis) we could justify every action that our government makes mathematically. But how do you agree on the axioms? We come back to democracy.
        • "Democracy has given humans the greatest amount of self-rule and self-determination ever in history."

          Democracy lets majority take advantage of the minority. It lets large, organized groups plunder smaller, less organized groups through theft and redistribution. My views have never been represented by my "democratic representatives", so I fail to see how it has given me any self-rule or self-determination.

          Rather, what little self-rule and determination I have left exists in spite of what politicans 1000 ki
        • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by sgml4kids (56151) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:44PM (#12681406) Journal
          Ignoring the fact that this is straying way off topic...

          What's truly weird is how so many of us delude ourselves into believing that we live in democracies (ie. rule of the people) simply because we hold elections. The main function of an election is not to give the people a voice, but to periodically renew the governmental entity (congress, parliament, legislature, judiciary, whatever). It's a way of cleaning out the old and bringing in the new -- but it's always the same political parties in roughly the same mixture.

          Even here in Canada, in one election we wiped the Progressive Conservative party off the electoral map in 1993. But all of the Progressive Conservative policies remained intact (the GST, Free Trade, the public service cuts, low inflation policy, etc. etc). Elected governments rarely contradict or rescind the policies of the previous government. In Canada and the US after a legislative election, generally 80% to 90% of the incumbents win.

          Which is good for the people in power. It gives the illusion of listening to the voice of the people but doesn't disrupt the reign held on power by the parties, corporations and unions. Elections are, in fact, essential to ensuring that the powerful maintain a fresh, strong grip on power.

          True democracy is not about giving the people a choice: it's about giving the people a voice. If the powers-that-be simply give people a choice, they limit what power the people have and reserve the real power for themselves.

          What would a real democracy look like?

          Probably the most genuine democracy would draft their legislators at random (like juries are or mandatory military service) from all walks of life and force them to go to Washington or London or Ottawa and do their duty. Namely, if any laws need to be made, make them -- otherwise, don't. This would solve many problems such as the underrepresentation of minorities and women in government. They could even remain anonymous and we could make it a crime to reveal the identity of a legislator.

          Other things that would make democracy less illusionary:

          * Give the vote to every citizen above the age of zero (obviously until a child was able to claim the right to vote themselves, their parents would vote for them). In most places, there is no IQ pre-requisite to being an elector and children should have the right to be represented by their government. I suspect if kids could vote (or parents voting for them) education and health care would be a higher priority. If teenagers voted, maybe we'd actually get some movement on the environment. I wonder what promises a politician would make when visiting a high-school campus if the kids there could actually vote...

          * Make voting continuous -- not just once every 4 years or whatever. Register our votes and give every citizen the right to change their vote whenever they want to. Thus an incumbent could effectively be recalled any time his/her constituents lose confidence in him/her.

          But those are wishy-washy measures. As long as we have any form of voting, we dilute any power vested in the people.
      • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nickco3 (220146)
        Kinda makes you wonder the benefits of democracy, now doesn't it?

        It's well-known that democracy is the worst form of government (apart from all the other kinds)
    • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by earthman (12244) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:59PM (#12680039)
      I do hope aliens have been observing us for a long long time. That way, when we finally reach the stage where we can actually make contact with them (either because they find us developed enough, or we just develop far enough to find them), they can tell us what our history REALLY was like.
    • And all that does is lend credibility to the idea that there is no intelligent life here on Earth. :)
    • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by IdahoEv (195056) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:08PM (#12680093) Homepage
      A large percentage of people believe that earth has already been visited by aliens and some people believe that aliens are studying earth right now.

      Exactly how much evidence do you have to prove that these statements are not true?

      I don't believe them either, but I don't really concern myself with people believe things where there really isn't much evidence one way or the other. I'm a lot more worried about people believing things that are provably untrue, like, say, that the Earth is only 6000 years old...

      • Re:Yes, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'm a lot more worried about people believing things that are provably untrue, like, say, that the Earth is only 6000 years old...

        You should be careful with the word "prove" in all its conjugations. You can only ever prove something in an abstract system, given a set of initial, abstract premises. I can invent plenty of premises in which "the Earth is millions of years old" is untrue. Likewise, I can disagree with any of your premises and honestly not be convinced by your argument.

        Like it or not, any "pr
    • Depending on what you read, 50-70% of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for 911.

      Polls, gotta love 'em.
  • Only 60%? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zone-MR (631588) * <slashdot@[ ]e-mr.net ['zon' in gap]> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:17PM (#12679751) Homepage
    So 40% of the people in the US are arrogant enough to think that in an infinite universe they are alone?
    • The universe is not infinite well if the big bang/inflation theory is correct.
    • by OverlordQ (264228)
      Kinda how like 100% of the people think we give a shit about what they think about the US
    • Re:Only 60%? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NoseBag (243097) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:25PM (#12679808)
      Perhaps if you were better educated and less arrogant, you would realize that your assertion is not the only possibility that can be asserted from the data.

      Perhaps the other 40% adhere to the principle that Belief gets in the way of learning.

      (R.A. Heinlein - "Time Enough for Love")

    • Re:Only 60%? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@nOSpaM.barbara-hudson.com> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:43PM (#12679936) Journal
      So 40% of the people in the US are arrogant enough to think that in an infinite universe they are alone?
      There may be LOTS of life out there, but we could still be alone, if none of it is intelligent.

      So, how about Fermi's Paradox?

    • Re:Only 60%? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:52PM (#12680004) Journal
      I choose to base my beliefs on evidence. Theories about the origin of life are theories based upon a single data set -- that of planet Earth. Until we have a broader set of data, I will not believe in alien intelligence. I will also not believe in the absence of alien intelligence.

      Beliefs get in the way of science. At least when those beliefs are not grounded in facts.
      • Re:Only 60%? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Malor (3658) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:02PM (#12681196) Journal
        Well, there are two pretty compelling bits of evidence.

        1) Intelligence, such as it is, has evolved at least once.
        2) The Universe is unimaginably huge. Just our own galaxy is vast beyond the ability of humans to even imagine. One of the early Hubble Deep Field studies, looking at one of the darkest places in the sky, saw 40,000 GALAXIES in an area of the sky equivalent to a grain of sand held at arm's length.

        Given those two facts, doubting alien intelligence strikes me as profoundly stupid. However, unless it is extremely common (which I doubt), the chances of any of that intelligence being within a distance we could detect is pretty darn small.

        The probability of alien intelligence, in other words, is essentially indistinguishable from 1. Given the constraints of lightspeed, however, the chance that we could ever meet and TALK TO such aliens is probably very close to 0.
  • by Husgaard (858362) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:17PM (#12679753)
    We have investigated almost all of planet earth, and have found life in the most astonishing places.

    Why should be be astonished about finding life elsewhere?

  • Oh Yea? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rev_icon (97468) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:20PM (#12679768) Homepage
    Check out this guy who can summon UFOs on demand. Has a link to a news broadcast where they filmed him doing it. Shocked the hell out of the camera crew.

    http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ ID=44503 [worldnetdaily.com]

    Pretty cool.

    -Matt
    • As a WOW goblin would say...Hmmmm, interesting!
    • Now that's a good video. I'm assuming it's a ballon on an RC controlled plane. Good presentation!
    • Re:Oh Yea? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TekPolitik (147802)
      Ramon Watkins, also known as "Prophet Yahweh" agreed to meet with a reporter and camera crew of KTNV at a location of their choice and time.

      Now there's arrogance for you. Where most cult leaders claim to be the second coming of Christ, this one claims to be the Almighty himself.

  • ...did not see Star Wars Episode III yet.
  • by nystagman (603173) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:21PM (#12679771)
    ...so I am not necessarily impressed by majority rule.
  • 60% of US? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cartel (845256)
    That's only 60% of those that responded.
  • by ewg (158266) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:25PM (#12679804)

    What percent of Americans can prove life exists beyond the Earth? Surely, a more interesting statistic.

    • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:40PM (#12679905)
      It would be interesting to know how many Americans could competantly argue the existance of a statistical likelihood of such; counter the common objections (wrt the narrowness of the range of environments in which life as we know it is sustainable and the improbability of such environments being generated by chance); and otherwise take part in an intelligent discussion on the topic. Depressing, I expect, but interesting. (Actually, I wonder at the extent to which the intelligent design movement, for all of its faults, may have helped to educate folks about the improbability of randomly generating an environment where life as we know it can exist -- there's something to be said for having folks who can put up a competant counterargument).

      I don't anticipate that knowing how many Americans can prove life exists beyond Earth would be particularly interesting at all. (I presume you're excluding any life in human-generated artifacts, particularly those in orbit; and Americans posessing nonconclusive evidence [ie. those involved in studying the potential and/or evidence for present or former microbial life on Mars]? If not, perhaps I'm off by a bit).
      • Your study would be more interesting from an academic (and useful) standpoint but this study was run so that it "... Coincides with National Geographic Channel's World Premiere Special 'Extraterrestrial' meaning this is fur entertainment and publicity purposes only. Now National Geographic will trumpet how "relevant" their new show is, rambling on and on about how many people believe in extraterrestrial life. Pure entertainment folks... move along nothing to see here.
  • Which is better Emacs or Vi?
  • Just like us? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YoungHack (36385) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:27PM (#12679816)
    That 80% think it would be life like us is mind-boggling. I suppose it is the taint of science-fiction. It's hard to enjoy characters that are hard to fathom.

    But really, intelligent I could see. But like us? That just demonstrates a lack of imagination.
    • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xswl0931 (562013)
      I tend to believe that any intelligent alien life would likely be similar to us. There is a reason man evolved the way they did. 2 eyes and ears to see and hear in stereo. Hands to manipulate tools. Legs to move around. I believe there was a show on Discovery channel a long time ago where well known scientists explain why aliens would likely have a humanoid form.
  • by Mr. Bendy (814916) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:32PM (#12679848)
    I'm confused why only 46% of christians believe that aliens exist. Is it because then they might have to consider that a god might have more to think about than their petty affairs, and that the bible might just be pretty limited in galatic terms? I always think an alien visiting earth would just laugh at the primitive beliefs of our so called 'advanced' civilisations. Interested to hear what other religions think about aliens. Would Mohammed, Jesus etc have any relevance to someone from Alpha Centauri?
  • by Zangief (461457) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:35PM (#12679871) Homepage Journal
    There is life in other planets!

    Democracy at its finest!
  • 90% say if we receive a message from another planet we should reply

    Isn't there some theory that states that even if we did get a message from an advanced civilization, by the time we could reply they would have already destroyed themselves. In other words, by the time someone gets our messages, we'll have already nuked ourselves.
  • by pandymen (884006) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:41PM (#12679919) Homepage Journal
    Seriously though, 8 out of 10 believe that they would be more advanced than us? Yet...only 7 of 10 thought they would be able to communicate across deep space (something we can already do, to an extent). Those figures don't make any sense.

    Chances are we're just going to find living martian bacteria in the near future, not just the fossilized remains. I highly doubt we'll find a super-advanced civilization.
  • And if alien life makes contact, what should we do?

    We do the first thing we always do: Figure out how to kill it, if necessary.

    Then we sign it to a 3-picture deal in Hollywood.

  • by misleb (129952) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:48PM (#12679970)
    Personally, I think it is extremely likely that intelligent life would be in other parts of the universe, but there are a few qualifications that should be made:

    1) The chances of it being near us or even in our galaxy is not so good.

    2) The chance of it existing concurrently with our little blip of time is even smaller.

    -matthew
  • by Quirk (36086) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:51PM (#12679997) Homepage Journal
    We're barely out of the cradle in terms of our evolution. Our species, for the sake of argument, can be said to be ~100,000 years old. We are omnivoires, with a strong taste for meat. In a geological timeframe we've just finished dinning on the brains of the smaller tribe of our species we just decimated. In terms of extraterrestrials our fiction, in the majority of cases, portraits aliens as geocidal killers come to eradicate our species and plunder the planet. When we portrait aliens as allies they invariably team up with us to defeat other aliens. We're warring, tribal xenophobes and it's likely the old joke holds true: if there's intelligent, extraterrestrail, life their intelligence is demonstrated in their not having contacted us. It's not unlikely that interplanetary congress excludes violence and violent species. The "conquest" of space may require the efforts of all peoples of a planet working together and perhaps only by working together will we be ready to meet whatever advanced interplanetary culture travels space.

    just my $.01

    • I'll ante up my $.01 too.

      Yeah, or some day our technology will advance to the point that we can see in great detail across billions and billions of light years and we'll realize that we're sitting in a vast wasteland, a graveyard, of dead civilizations. All imploding on themselves.

      Why is it that we alwasy assume that more "advanced" extraterrestrial life has anything even close to our moral structure? What if other life had Hitlers who won? Or came from environments which were so sparsely populated wi
  • by Rick Zeman (15628) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:59PM (#12680041)
    Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
    --Calvin, to Hobbes
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:03PM (#12680066) Homepage Journal
    The chances of no life is pretty slim.

    However, the fact we are pretty late in the 'cosmic timeline' would lead one to think that most intelligent life has long since died out.

    But space is vast.. and anything is possible if you use large enough numbers..
    • "However, the fact we are pretty late in the 'cosmic timeline' would lead one to think that most intelligent life has long since died out."

      Your logic is flawed, and based on comparing the lifespan of "intelligent life" with the lifespan of human life.

      Just because we're (self-rated as) the most intelligent, advanced creatures on Earth, does not mean that same scale exists across the entire universe. We could be seen as after-dinner mints to some further advanced race of eating machines. Are we ready

  • I'm getting more and more convinced that polls can not be used as an accurate representation of a population's feelings towards something. And typically, I do my best to ignore them.

    First, because I don't believe the very small sample sizes can really fully show an accurate picture of the entire population's feelings. 1,000 out of 250+ million with only a ~3% margin of error? I'm sorry, but no. (I should note that my failure to trust in the accuracy of small sample sizes, no matter how much math you throw at it, made statistics a difficult course for me).

    Second, because I think polls are often constructed in such a way where questions manage to get worded so they don't really get after the original intent. I had the opportunity to work as an outside consultant a few years back for an IT build out imitative for a large public university system. As we were developing the guidelines for the build out, the powers that be brought in an polling firm. It turned out developing the questions for the survey became the most difficult and frustrating portion of the entire project. It also became very clear that the polling firm was "modifying" the intent of the questions to fit the agenda of the administration.

    For example, the subject came up about putting new computers in computer labs, and the age old debate of "should we buy PCs or Macs" started up (these were non-CS labs, and it was decided by everyone against something like Linux for a number of reasons I don't want to get into).. "Aha, we'll find that out in the poll" says the administration. The question submitted to the polling company was "While in campus computer labs, would you prefer to work on a PC or a Macintosh?" By the time it went through the administration, the question became "While on campus, do you normally use a PC or a Macintosh?" A subtle difference, but important.

    When the poll was finally administered, it turns out that the answer to that question reflected the percentage of PCs to Macintoshes currently on the school campuses (about 70% PC, 30% Mac). This is despite the fact that most students I spoke with would much prefer to use the PCs, but often just went to the Macs because the lines were always shorter in the Mac labs. Had the question been asked as it was written, most of us involved with the project expected we'd see more around an 85%-15%.

    When I hear about polls that make statements like "60% of Americans believe there is life on other planets", I always wonder what, exactly the question they asked was. Most polls don't say this, but thankfully this one had a link where you could see what the questions actually are. The first question, the big one read:

    Do you believe that there is life on other planets in the universe besides earth?
    With possible answers of "Yes, No, and I don't know".

    Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, not really. If I had been asked that question, I'd probably end up in the "I don't know" category. To me, the word "believe" implies certainty. I would say that it's highly likely that there is extraterrestrial life, but I really don't know for sure. Had there been an option of "Probably", or if the question was "Do you think it's likely that there is life on other planets in the universe besides Earth", I would have no problem saying yes, and I think the results would be different.

    I mean, if someone asked me "Do you believe the 101 Freeway will be congested tomorrow morning during rush hour?" and only give "Yes", "No" and "I don't know" as options, I'd answer I don't know, despite the fact that unless something very major was going on that I didn't know about I'm pretty much sure that the 101 is going to have heavy traffic.

    What gets me is I've been polled a few times by telephone, and ended up frustrating the pollsters because they often asked for "yes" or "no" answers to questions that needed better qualification. One I remember well was from a large alcohol company that made rum. After asking me about the fre
  • by eclectic4 (665330) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @12:43AM (#12681686)
    ...or at least we should [disclosureproject.org]. If "over 400 government, military, and intelligence community witnesses testifying to their direct, personal, first hand experience with UFOs, ETs, ET technology, and the cover-up that keeps this information secret" isn't good enough, then dismiss all of these [nuforc.org] as swamp gas while you are at it.
    • Well, I thank you for taking the honor this time around. By that I mean, every time a story about aliens comes up, someone makes a post like this. Unfortunately the history of ufology is an obscure one, long since rejected by science and subjected to incessant ridicule, very few people are willing to take the statements of people like this at face value, because they believe they are being made in a vacuum.

      The problem is compounded when you still have a few kooks mixed in with the credible people. Anytim
  • by Sheepdot (211478) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @12:44AM (#12681693) Journal
    I mean, seriously, how can you not believe in UFOs when they are so prevalent that the Illuminati can't keep them out of Google maps [google.com]?

    This isn't exactly news. Nor is it really news that Iran is ordering its military to shoot them down [unknowncountry.com].

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequilla. -- Mitch Ratcliffe

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