SETI and the Historian – Methodological Problems in an Interdisciplinary Approach
D. Sivier (2000), JBIS, 53, 23-25
Most discussions of SETI use analogies from human societies and history to illuminate the problems of the emergence of intelligence in the cosmos and assess possible first contact scenarios. These approaches may be flawed due to the radically different approaches traditional scientists and historians have adopted to their subjects and the possibility that human society and consciousness is the product of humanity’s unique biological constitution. Traditional historical reasoning provides the necessary caveat that historical outcomes are not inevitable, and that technological development is by no means certain, even when scientific preconditions for it have been fulfilled. Nevertheless, the consilience offered by sociobiology on the one hand and a more speculative approach by historians to their subject on the other means that a fertile cross-pollination between the humanities and sciences is underway which may give greater insights into both the human condition and the nature and likelihood of ETI.