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After Contact [Hardcover]

Albert A. Harrison
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 21 1997
Albert Harrison examines in detail the psychological, sociological, political, and cultural dimensions of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. By so doing, he firmly establishes that the behavioral and social sciences are as integral to the search as are the physical and biological sciences that have dominated the field up to now. This book offers a useful conceptual framework for rational discussion of extraterrestrial life forms, and provides a detailed analysis of likely human reactions to the detection of extraterrestrial life. Among the many examples that Harrison develops are: how psychological, social, and cultural factors shape people's views about the likelihood of intelligent extraterrestrials and the value of undertaking the search; how our understanding of life on Earth provides a useful framework for thinking about life elsewhere in our galaxy; how historical precedents give us a basis for forecasting human response to "contact"; how agencies such as the CIA inadvertently strengthen the impression of "government cover-up"; and why there is little risk that we will run afoul of an "evil empire." Harrison sketches our responses to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence as individuals, as nations, and as humanity, and concludes that we have good reason for cautious optimism about the progress of the search and the aftermath of contact.

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"Thought-provoking...A social and cultural road map to help readers grapple with the possibility that humans are not alone in the universe." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Where did God go? Nov. 15 2002
I read this book simply for pleasure. I am a science teacher by eduaction so why not get a few fresh ideas about exo-biology.
The problem human searches for intelligence is we are seeing it around us everyday and disgrading it as life on Earth. For example how probable is it that molecules can conspire to generate a living system, then advance to a level where the molecules now build a complex living system ? How probable is it that the sum could so exceed its whole? A conscious being arises from a system of what we believe is dead and lifeless atoms.
We should behold the World about us, as it is as close as we will ever get to seeing what alien life is all about.
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4.0 out of 5 stars STOP! FOR GOD'S SAKE STOP! July 25 2001
A very good book but....consider this: Two workers are about to begin bulldozing. They notice a couple of ant hills. One comments,"Gee, they're clever little guys." The other agrees. Then, a few minutes later, they begin work and completely destroy the colony without a thought. By now, we all agree that the cosmos is downright filthy with intelligent life. A super-advanced intelligent life form would be all too aware of this. If their projects called for it, they would think nothing of eliminating far lesser life forms. They would be no more malcious or evil than the two workers mentioned above.Someday, we will indeed discover other intelligences.When we do let us assume the "Mother of all low-profiles" Contact,assuming we haven't \ been detected, is the LAST thing we want until after one incredibly profound investigation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating Book! June 28 2000
By A Customer
Professor Harrison's treatment of this topic was excellent and the book was really fun to read! As a psychology student I really enjoyed this book, not because I'm a fan of SciFi, (I am), but because Harrison's points are so well supported and tied in to existing research in psychology and many other fields. By the end of the book, you start to think you'd want Al Harrison to be on the team that made first contact with ET. (I wonder if the writers of the movie Sphere where aware of this book.) Harrison's After Contact made me consider many practical aspects of contact with intelligent life from another world. Even as a long time Star Trek and Sci Fi fan, this book was full of new and facinating ideas to consider, all the more facinating because the decisions outlined in the book that we'd need to make regarding contact are real. Bravo.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why Not Both? June 11 2000
No book review, merely a reply:
SETI research these days is supported almost entirely by private funds, companies and individuals. If Mr. Carlberg feels that's a problem, a more constructive solution might be for him to work towards finding funding for the projects he prefers. It's hardly as if greedy astronomers are somehow snatching public funds away from primate research, after all.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Why SETI? Why Not STI? Jan. 18 2000
If even 1% of the budget spent on SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) was redirected to cetacean, primate or elephant research, we'd already be talking to alien minds, right here on earth.
It's ludicrous.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best SETI book I've yet read April 27 1999
The reviews below say it all. If you wonder how we may react to the discovery of extraterrestrial life--especially intelligent life--there is no better place to start looking for ideas than this book.
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