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Across the Universe: The Ethics of Extraterrestrials — 2 Comments

  1. “NASA decided a few years ago that the search for life was a winning strategy to get funding”

    How much do people support various sorts of space science because of that interest in extraterrestrial life? I have surveyed my students informally, and there is a significant fraction of them that would support sending a robotic mission to Mars if we think we might find life, but would not support such a mission if we know there is no life there but want to go to explore Martian geology.

    The track record regarding our expectations of life on other words vs. our results is truly bad:

    So we have this situation where life on other worlds is a winning strategy to get funding, but life on other worlds has such a bad track record!

    While the above column dates back a bit, I know Steve Dick well and he is still a busy scholar of the history of human thought on extraterrestrial life. We argue a bit about this subject. In fact, he offered commentary on my “Star Wars: On the Wrong Side of History & Science” series of posts. He does not agree with me! But of course, he is wrong! 🙂

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