Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is the collective name for a number of activities to detect intelligent extraterrestrial life. The general approach of SETI prourvey the sky to detect the existence of transmissions from a civilization on a distant planet – an approach widely endorsed by the scientific community as hard science.

Some weeks ago I came across a story in which it was mentioned that a noted scientist had classified SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) as a religion. There was also a rebuttal by a SETI astronomer to the effect that SETI was indeed a serious scientific endeavor. Neither argument was convincing.

I asked ancient astronaut expert Morten St. George about this. Is SETI a religion?

He did not respond with a direct yes or no. He merely spoke of a psychological concept known as the collective unconscious. I understood this to be a type of mental archetype that lies deep and hidden in the minds of humankind, causing people to make mistakes on purpose. According to Morten, a specific archetype is at play here and it can be described as follows: God created man in his own image—therefore humankind is the only intelligent life form in the universe.

Morten said that the collective unconscious affects the SETI astronomers just like the rest of humankind. The SETI astronomers consciously want to make contact with extraterrestrials but unconsciously, or subconsciously, they do not want to. The result is that the collective unconscious has led the conscious efforts of the SETI astronomers to perpetual failure.

He Gave Me a Few Examples

1. SETI astronomers have looked closely at nearby stars for extraterrestrial intelligence. Beyond all doubt, it has become obvious that intelligent life does not evolve on every planet. Why in the world should we believe we would find it on a nearby planet? The chances of that are so remote it is not worth a drop of effort. Yet enormous time and effort have been lost searching nearby stars, time and effort that could have been much better spent looking in places likely to be more productive. This is a classic example of the collective unconscious causing failure for SETI.

2. SETI astronomers have undertaken blanket surveys of the entire sky. Why would any rational scientist want to waste limited resources searching aloof sections of the sky with low star density when those resources could be better spent searching areas with high star density and correspondingly higher chances of finding an alien communication? Or why not search areas of the galaxy where dark clouds might have protected an evolving civilization from deadly cosmic rays, making those areas a more likely place for a civilization to have had the time to achieve technology? It’s another classic example of the collective unconscious contributing to SETI failure.

3. SETI astronomers tend to ignore all ancient astronaut and UFOlogy claims. Perhaps they want to be considered as respectful scientists by the world community? The fact of the matter is, that on a galactic timescale, it does not take very long to explore the galaxy. The arguments for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence and equally the justification for SETI efforts imply that the galaxy is already fully explored. Even if there is enormous quackery in this area, every claim needs to be checked out. An alien visit at some point in the past is more likely than not, and it could provide clues to where to find them. Wholly ignoring this area is still another example of the collective unconscious desiring failure.

4. SETI astronomers tend to assume that the extraterrestrials think like humans, employ human technology, and communicate at the wavelengths suggested by the collective unconscious. Logic dictates that if there is another technological civilization out there, it has to be far more advanced than us, since humans have possessed technology for not even a split second on a galactic time scale. So why would an advanced civilization want to communicate at a frequency that has lots of galactic background noise rather than a frequency that has little or no static? Once again the collective unconscious controls SETI thinking, leading to certain failure.

Sky-wide searches at ridiculous wavelengths will never produce results. Morten thinks the collective unconscious has incapacitated the SETI astronomers, leaving them wholly unable to ascertain genuinely good targets and then perform concentrated, multi-faceted, multi-bandwidth searches on those targets. Instead, they blindly turn their telescopes around and around, merrily, subconsciously, knowing that they will never pick up a signal. Thus, the argument that SETI is a religion is a strong one, and religion, not a lack of extraterrestrial intelligence, accounts for SETI’s overall failure to date.

Morten has the following recommendations for SETI astronomers who find themselves able to break away from the impediments of the collective unconscious.

Stop, think, and regroup. The objective is extraterrestrial intelligence and the only road to finding it is to make use of human intelligence. One must consider the probabilities. The most likely scenario is as follows: at least one alien civilization is widely dispersed throughout the galaxy and that alien civilization a) possesses extremely advanced technology, b) knows that we are here, and c) is not sending us any messages.

What can SETI astronomers do in such circumstances?

Recognize what they are up against and try to outsmart the aliens. Probe dark clouds along the galactic plane, search for energy trails deposited by their near speed-of-light spaceships, search for potential artificially-created energy sources and concentrate searches in those areas, read science fiction books for ideas about futuristic space communication technologies, and try to detect and intercept communications that use those technologies. It is time to elevate the dignity of our species and demonstrate our ingenuity in a cat and mouse game.