IS ANYONE OUT THERE? by Gerrit L. Verschuur


Personal Adventures in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
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Verschuur (The Invisible Universe: The Story of Radio Astronomy, 2015, etc.) discusses his experimental search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

As a professional radio astronomer, Verschuur began seeking signs of extraterrestrial intelligence by listening to the sky, hoping to hear an alien noise among the dissonance. Though the scientific jargon here may be a bit difficult for lay readers, Verschuur quickly moves on after concluding that this was like “looking for an alien needle in the cosmic haystack.” Discouraged by the odds of making meaningful contact through astronomy and disenchanted with the closed-minded, politically motivated limitations of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence group, he embarked on an unconventional journey. An admirer of 1960s dolphin communicator John Lilly, Verschuur posits that truth-seeking requires a suspension of one’s own disbeliefs as well as experiential experimentation. He concedes, however, that “in practice this is very difficult because we become so bound up in what we believe to be true that it is usually impossible to see another point of view.” Nonetheless, he proceeded in his search for truth, going from sensory deprivation tank sessions to meetings with a spiritual communicator to studying Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious. Verschuur suggests that perhaps extraterrestrial communication may be achieved through internal searches and forms of telepathy. Strictly objectively scientific–minded readers may find some of his illuminations difficult to process. Yet Verschuur is ever cognizant that, while his methods give him more freedom, they also put him inside the experiment and thus prevent him from looking at it objectively—bias he concedes. He nevertheless builds surprising bridges between seemingly disparate ideas, offering, for instance, that SETI scientists, dolphin researchers, and Christians are all using different methods but looking for the same thing—something beyond themselves/Earth/reality, i.e., truth, which they all agree is still out there. Results of his experiments are largely inconclusive but raise questions about human nature and the possible implications of extraterrestrial life.

Opens interesting doors and may inspire alternative ways of searching for truth, though the answers here leave something to be desired.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-1508646983
Page count: 396pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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