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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Oh Really?

Former Head of SETI Says Aliens Totally Don’t Want To Eat Us. Well, In That Case…

Former SETI director Jill Tarter (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) has felt the need to go on the record and let the public know aliens don’t really want to eat us. That’s all well and good but how could this be when most overdramatized science-fiction tells us different? Is Tarter in league with an alien race?? Is she an alien??? All of these answers, as well as the real story, after the jump. 

Tarter has dedicated her life to the study and/or discovery of extraterrestrial life. Thirty-five years of her life to be exact. But in a recent press release in advance of SETI’s science and sci-fi SETIcon on June 22, Tarter felt the need to disagree with filmmakers and fellow scientist, Stephen Hawking when it comes to the nature of alien life.

“Often the aliens of science fiction say more about us than they do about themselves. While Sir Stephen Hawking warned that alien life might try to conquer or colonize Earth, I respectfully disagree,” she said. “If aliens were able to visit Earth that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food, or other planets. If aliens were to come here it would be simply to explore. Considering the age of the universe, we probably wouldn’t be their first extraterrestrial encounter, either.”

Tarter also mentioned recent and upcoming sci-fi films in her statement. “We should look at movies like Men in Black III, Prometheus and Battleship as great entertainment and metaphors for our own fears, but we should not consider them harbingers of alien visitation.”


“Think about it. If we detect a signal, we could learn about their past (because of the time their signal took to reach us) and the possibility of our future. Successful detection means that, on average, technologies last for a long time,” said Tartar. “Understanding that it is possible to find solutions to our terrestrial problems and to become a very old civilization, because someone else has managed to do just that, is hugely important! Knowing that there can be a future may motivate us to achieve it.”

Just because Tarter is stepping down as the head of the institute doesn’t mean she’s done helping. SETI currently runs on private donations only and she’s going to focus on finding them funding so their work can continue. By the by, SETIcon will feature talent and discussions from both Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica.

And I lied. I don’t have an answer as to whether or not she’s in league with aliens or is one herself. We’ll just have to wait and see…

(via, image via SETI)

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  • NoiTall

     Humans also don’t need a lot, just the same, they want more and more every day.  “Need” and “action” are not strictly related.  No earthling today “needs” to collect wealth worth millions of $$$.  Yet, some abuse the underclasses in the world to get there.  “Need” is not a particularly relevant word in the given context.  In short: I’m with Stephen Hawking.

  • Nikki Lincoln

    Maybe they don’t want to eat us, but I’m still for the belief that they want to kill us all and take our resources because they used up all of their own a la Independence Day

  • Null

    We could still have resources they don’t. Remember what happened to the Native Americans when they met Europeans?

  • Bill

    “If aliens were able to visit Earth, that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food or other planets.” Humans now have the technology to feed the world, but as a race we have not done so! Better technology has not translated to better ethics nor morality for the human race, so why would any intelligent human think that would necessarily be the case for more intelligent beings? Humans tend to abuse their power to control others, not benefit others.  At best, intelligent humans “looking” for Aliens and haven’t found them yet must not be lifting their heads up. At worst, intelligent humans “looking” for Aliens saying they haven’t found them yet are deceiving us, we who have put our trust and faith in them to provide the “scientific” answers.

  • Michael Peterson

    Good Lord folks – think for a minute!  A civilization capable of roaming the galaxy will have resources dwarfing anything we can even imagine.  Think of the contrast between us and bacteria or insects.  When you go walking in the woods, do you come across an anthill and consider taking their food?

    If they are biologically based (not likely) they would have bodies that evolved utterly unlike ours – our atmosphere would poison them, our water would be laced with “filth” and our culture and history paltry.  Although they might be interested in observing the birth of a “digital intelligence” or singularity (think of a self-aware Internet), our biological “resources” would be insignificant.With all due respect to Dr. Hawking, believing that they would pose a threat to us is more a reflection of the way we treat the creatures that share our planet.

  • Ashe

    Yeah, I found her statements a little odd.

    Just because they have technological capability doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have other needs that must be met. They could still be in dire need of certain resources. And…since when were slaves ever a need, especially on par with food? Either I’m reading this the wrong way, or that analogy is really off.

    And that’s assuming they have any marked similarity to human psychology and physiology in the first place.

    Nothing but speculation on both sides, but at least Stephen Hawking sounds reasonably concerned, whereas she’s just waxing contradictory and optimistic supposition.

  • Adam Whitley

    Assuming that an entire alien species thought like rich colonial europeans then yes they could try to do that to us.

  • Adam Whitley

    Education tends to democratize people and end abhorrent practices like slavery. Humankind as a whole true have not fixed every problem in the world but as nations develop they tend to look for nonviolent solutions and try to fix economic disparities and such. Theres varying degrees of success of course but I doubt an advanced race would display our shortcomings.

  • Adam Whitley

    I’m stealing that anthill analogy.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “Of course the aliens do not want to eat you hu-mans. I mean us hu-mans. What would they want with your supple, tender flesh, rich with nutrients and flavor? I mean our supple, tender flesh, rich with nutrients and flavor.”

  • Frodo Baggins

    Considering how completely unlike us they are in every way, you sure seem certain of their motives.

  • Michael Peterson

    Actually, I’m assuming the worst.  Let’s say that the aliens are as avaricious and greedy as our species and want power, wealth and, maybe caviar, good wine and beautiful women.

    With me so far?  Now imagine the sophistication and experience of a species that can travel throughout the galaxy at will.  They have seen the birth and death of suns, they’ve witnessed the violence of merging black holes and the glories of supernovas.

    What passing interest would they possibly have in a small, primitive, insignificant species that is still trying to figure out how to keep from poisoning their planet and killing themselves?

    I believe you have an exaggerated opinion of our importance – we are really not that interesting.

  • Frodo Baggins

    I’m just saying, you seem to have a very firm narrative in your head for what these entities beyond our very comprehension think and feel about humans.

  • Anonymous

    I think SETI is part of the problem. What if they are not just decoding public domain or creative commons messages, but actually cracking alien DRM? If the aliens have anything like our RIAA, we may find ourselves on the wrong side of an alien DMCA takedown notice.

  • Michael Peterson

    Frodo – perhaps all is not as it seems.