Extraterrestrial Contact: Astrosociology
I’ve lamented for some time that there are not enough social scientists involved in the consideration of First Contact and life After First Contact. There is an effort to change that with the Journal of Astrosociology, founded by Dr. Jim Pass in 2015. The late Dr. Albert Harrison, who I have mentioned many times in this blog as a pioneering scientist in this area, was instrumental in the effort to examine public reaction to extraterrestrial life. He wrote an article in the inaugural issue of the journal and explains Astrosociology as:
He also compiled what is perhaps the most comprehensive publication about social science and First Contact: “When SETI Succeeds: The Impact of High-InformationContact.”
I highlighted the publication in this blog back in 2011.
Perhaps the biggest insight that I gained from Dr. Tough is the idea that the human Internet would be an important tool for visiting extraterrestrials. He realized this in 1995, as the Internet was just coming into public perception. Many scientists propose that if extraterrestrial civilizations exist, they are far off, so far away that travel and communication would be quite difficult. Perhaps so, but given enough time and wherewithal, there is no doubt a probe could reach us from a far off civilization. Even with our limited technology we have already sent probes that are currently outside of our solar system. The best way to study human civilization would be through the Internet. Hopefully, aliens would spend some time doing that before they contacted humans. They could learn our languages and achieve a basic understanding of our biology, history and society. But even if visiting aliens did their homework, we human would not want to rely on those aliens to develop a plan for a relationship with humanity. That would be our responsibility. We would need to consider the impact of such a relationship on our current society and for future generations. That will require the work of academics who are not afraid to explore other disciplines beyond their focus. This will be an important need After First Contact- people who can consider human challenges from a variety of viewpoints, using information from multiple disciplines. It is not how scientists commonly work.