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Scientists fear ‘first contact’ with aliens because indigenous people usually lose

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Scientists sparred at a conference in California over whether humans should actively attempt to contact intelligent life on other planets – and, if so, what we should say.

Researchers at the SETI Institute have been listening with radio telescopes for signals from outer space for more than three decades, but so far have found no evidence of extraterrestrial life.

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They took part in a conference this week in San Jose, California, organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

SETI director Seth Shostak argued that earthlings must do more than listen for other life forms.

“Some of us at the institute are interested in ‘active SETI,’ not just listening but broadcasting something to some nearby stars, because maybe there is some chance that if you wake somebody up you’ll get a response,” Shostak said.

Shostak and other “active SETI” advocates want to send repeated signals from the world’s largest radio transmitter in Puerto Rico toward hundreds of stars within about 82 light-years of Earth.

However, he admits that some scientists — including physicist Stephen Hawking — oppose “active SETI” as potentially dangerous.

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David Brin, the scientist and science fiction writer, argued during the conference against active attempts to contact alien life forms.

“Historians will tell you that first contact between industrial civilizations and indigenous people does not go well,” he told the BBC.

Brin accused Shostak and others of “railroading the public” toward sending messages into space without addressing the potential cultural impact.

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The likelihood of contact is extremely low, he said, but he argued that the risks are extremely high.

“The arrogance of shouting into the cosmos without any proper risk assessment defies belief,” Brin said. “It is a course that would put our grandchildren at risk.”

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Shostak understands the concerns, even if he does not share them.

“It is like shouting in the jungle,” Shostak said later in a BBC interview. “You don’t know what is out there — you better not do it. If you incite the aliens to obliterate the planet, you wouldn’t want that on your tombstone, right?”

However, he can’t imagine what incentive extraterrestrials would have to destroy Earth and its inhabitants – who he said have made less-focused attempts to send messages into space and “leaked” television, radar, and radio signals for more than 70 years.

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“Any society that could come here and ruin our whole day by incinerating the planet already knows we are here,” Shostak said.


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WATCH: Seth Meyers goes after ‘sociopath’ Jared Kushner for America’s coronavirus failures

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The host of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" on NBC harshly criticized senior White House advisor Jared Kushner for America's COVID-19 testing failures.

"More than 155,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus pandemic," Meyers noted. "Cases are rising in more than 20 states. The U.S. now accounts for one-quarter of all coronavirus deaths in the world."

"And in some parts of the country, people are waiting as long as two-weeks to get their test results -- which is insane. The whole point of testing is to find cases, isolate them and trace their contacts. If it takes two weeks, it's pointless."

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Joy Reid medical expert blasts the president’s lies on coronavirus: ‘Trump needs to stay in his lane’

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MSNBC anchor Joy Reid interviewed Dr. Bernard B. Ashby about the latest coming from the White House on the coronavirus pandemic.

"If, for instance, you did not test for pregnancy, does it mean you are not pregnant?" Reid asked.

Ashby, a cardiologist from Miami, praised the anchor on her new primetime show, "The ReidOut," but did not directly answer the question.

"And in terms of the whole discourse, the fact that I'm having to respond to Trump about clinical medicine is ridiculous," Dr. Ashby explained.

"Trump needs to stay in his lane. Like, we went to medical school for a long time, we did training for a long time to speak on exactly what ... we have the expertise to speak on and the fact that Trump is asserting himself in academic medicine, into clinical medicine is ridiculous," he explained.

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2020 Election

‘One whopper after another’: CNN’s Acosta tears into Trump for lying the Postal Service can’t deliver enough ballots

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On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta slammed President Donald Trump's litany of lies about mail-in voting at the day's coronavirus press briefing.

"Right at the end of that press conference, the president was just telling one whopper after another about mail-in voting, at one point saying that he doesn't believe that the U.S. Postal Service has the ability to deal with mail-in balloting at election time," said Acosta. "We just need to point out, the U.S. Postal Service put out a statement late this afternoon that says, 'the Postal Service has ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected election and political mail volume, including any additional volume that may result as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.'"

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