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Paper: Anthropological Contributions to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Volume: 420, Bioastronomy 2007: Molecules, Microbes and Extraterrestrial Life
Page: 421
Authors: Vakoch, D. A.
Abstract: Three recent annual conferences of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) have included symposia on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). This paper reviews these symposia, which dealt with themes associated with the overarching AAA conference themes for each year: in 2004, the SETI session addressed Anthropology, Archaeology, and Interstellar Communication: Science and the Knowledge of Distant Worlds; in 2005, it dealt with Historical Perspectives on Anthropology and SETI; and in 2006, the session examined Culture, Anthropology, and SETI. Among the topics considered in these symposia were analogues for contact with extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), examining anthropologists’ experience in the field encountering other cultures-past and present. Similarly, the methodologies of archaeologists provide analogies for making contact with temporally distant civilizations, based on reconstructions from fragmentary information. Case studies helped make such analogies concrete in the symposia. The challenges of comprehending intelligences with different mental worlds was explored through a study of the meetings of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, for example, while the decryption of Mayan hieroglyphics provided lessons on understanding others of own species.
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