From The American Book of the Dead (said by the Dick Cheney character): “Do you really think SETI sits around all day listening to silence? Of course not.”
I think Seth Shostak is just doing his job. Either they hired someone who would be a devout debunker no matter what the evidence, or it’s actually his job description to debunk UFOs whatever the evidence. Because the unseriousness with which he approaches this issue suggests that he actively wants the issue to be unserious. It’s not as though disclosure would put him out of a job – he would likely be a go-to media resource if there was first contact. So that’s not it – it’s got to be something else. Because the UFO issue is too important to be so dismissive of it – especially for someone whose job it is to understand this issue implicitly.
Here’s a good takedown of the recent interview with Leslie Kean, which was predictably frustrating, and is not only dismissive of her reasoned approach to the issue, but actually censors what she said. There’s got to be a method to that madness. That, or Shostak just isn’t very bright.
What made the session noteworthy was its invitation to Kean, whose skillfully presented UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record confronts debunkers with their most formidable challenge in recent memory. But it became immediately clear that Shostak (“I have an open mind”) not only wasn’t interested in evidence, he probably hadn’t bothered to read the book.
In his subsequent discussion with Radford, Shostak stated: “The other argument that’s frequently made is that scientists simply dismiss this phenomenon out of hand, that they won’t look, and this is one of the arguments in the new book by Leslie Kean … that there may be something real here and nobody will look at it …”
“Well, there’s a couple of errors right there,” Radford replied. “First of all, UFO sightings have been investigated. The claim that the U.S. government has never looked into these things is patently false. They have looked into these things …”
Whoa, time out. Kean mentioned Project Blue Book, the USAF study, in On the Record. Who claimed Uncle Sam “has never looked into these things”? Nobody. Except maybe Radford. Shostak, who didn’t bother to correct him, is a clever guy who really knows how to bait the hook. Here’s how he opened the Q&A with Radford:
“Ben, in your long career as someone who has investigated UFOs and sorted through the evidence, has there ever been a case that convinced you that aliens have visited the planet?”
Who said anything about aliens? Kean’s book dealt with an extraterrestrial hypothesis — the hypothesis that keeps SETI in business — but as she told Shostak earlier on the show, “I’m not even willing to assume that these are aliens.” On the Record deals with radar data, military reports, analysis of plant and soil damage, photo analysis, etc. Reviewing the data doesn’t amount to endorsing aliens. Shostak knows that. And yet, his tortured contortions to avoid said evidence are becoming cartoonish.
In short, debunkers unwillingness to take a serious look at this issue is as mysterious as UFOs themselves.