Dissed closure

Dissed closure

Dissed closure

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 1 2006 4:06 PM

Dissed closure

Once again, from my bud Chris Pirillo, comes this story that Steven Greer, head of the Disclosure Project (which claims the gummint is hiding UFO aliens etc. etc.), was on the Coast to Coast AM radio show the other night claiming that SETI -- the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a scientific group looking for radio signals from space-- is covering up a big signal they detected. Greer claims to have a mole inside SETI telling him this, and that if the C2C audience heard the mole's name they'd know who he is-- and he claims there are actually two people inside SETI who confirmed this.

Well, I know a few SETI folks. On the C2C program, Greer says specifically the mole is not my friend Seth Shostak, who must be "out of the loop" according to Greer. That's a funny claim, since Seth is listed as a Senior Astronomer on the Leadership team. If SETI found a signal of any kind, he'd know within seconds.

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


Seth has his own radio show, sponsored by SETI, called "Are We Alone". I do a monthly segment on it called Brains on Vacation, and Greer's claim may be featured in our next one. Frankly, I wouldn't let Dr. Greer remove a splinter from my finger, let alone trust him when he goes on the radio with Art Bell and makes confusing and somewhat self-contradictory claims based on hearsay. He also mentions lots of people who have talked to him -- never by name of course, but he claims they are household names -- and then leaps into huge conspiracy theories and other silliness about this. If he had this kind of evidence, with solid backing, why doesn't he just go public with it instead of sly sideways references?

Greer also claims that these scientists who slip him info are worried for their careers. That right there is enough for me to know that Greer's claims are hollow. A scientist working under threat of suppression wouldn't work for long. An astronomer who works for SETI isn't doing it to make a lot of cash, they're doing it because they love it, and know it's important work-- they've been through too much trauma to do this kind of work because it's just a paycheck. Plus, I know that if I were a scientist who had rock-solid evidence of any of this, I'd find some way to get it out and go public immediately. Career? Working under a jack-booted heel is no career, and money would hardly be an issue to the scientist who holds this information. They'd be turning down million dollar book deals every day.

So Greer's claims are just so much hot air. Less even. They're vacuum.

Incidentally, I'll note that we do detect intelligent signals from space all the time-- ours. Military satellites, space probes, weather satellites, etc. If SETI did pick up a signal from a secret military satellite, then it would make sense that the government might intervene. I am not saying that Greer is even within a glancing blow of reality, but I am saying that even if what he claims is correct, then it may not have anything to do with aliens at all.

Seth just informed me that he'll be on C2C tonight (Tuesday August 1) at 10:00 Pacific time to talk about this. I'll be listening. That should be fun.

The people at SETI are trying to do something quite extraordinary-- see if intelligent radio signals from space are reaching Earth. Again, I have to ask-- isn't this exciting enough? Can't we let the scales fall from our eyes and see the Universe as it really is, and not have to make so much crap up about it?