SETI: A Critical History: Contents

SETI: A Critical History is a copy of the following PhD thesis, reproduced here with permission:


SETI's Scope
How the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Became Disconnected from New Ideas About Extraterrestrials


by Mark A. Sheridan
Drew University
May 2009


© 2009 by Mark A. Sheridan
All rights reserved






Opening quote


Some important events in the history of SETI


1. Introduction


Part I. Constructing SETI


2. SETI science


    Intelligent life in the Universe
    The principle of mediocrity
   SETI constructed within the boundaries of the traditional ETI discourse


3. SETI as popular science


    ETI portraiture as a rhetorical site
    Popular expositions of ETI science
    SETI and the scientific community


Part II. Expanding the ETI discourse


4. The rehabilitation of "mind"


5. The Soviet critique of SETI


    Differences in attitudes toward ETIs
    Differences in temperament
    Differences in intellectual traditions


6. The evolutionists' critique of SETI


    Dueling improbabilities
    "New" evolutionists
    Eiseley: the possibility of non-humanoid ETIs
    Simpson: making SETI's assumptions overt
    Talking the talk
    Byurakan-II: deepening the evolutionists' critique and expanding SETI's response
    Dobzhansky: deterministic thinking

7. The philosophers' critique of SETI


8. Plausible non-humanoid ETIs


    ETIs with non-humanoid sensorial
    Neutron star beings
    Superconductor ETIs


Part III. Implications of the expanded ETI discourse for SETI


9. Reactions to the "nature"-based critiques


    Project Cyclops
    The Morrison workshops
    Name change


10. Inflection


    SETI's standing in the scientific community
    Pascal's wager
    Signs of wearying
    Commission 51
    The inflection point in popular culture
    Giving up the ghost


11. Evanescence


    1993: annus horribilis
    SETI in the popular culture


12. Conclusion


Bibliographical essay




SETI: Primary and secondary sources
The ETI discourse: Secondary sources
The ETI discourse: Primary sources
Texts that directly discuss ETIs
Popular expositions of ETI science
"Hard" science fiction featuring ETIs
ETI portraiture in American film and television