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Civilizations Beyond Earth: Extraterrestrial Life and Society Hardcover – September 15, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0857452115 ISBN-10: 0857452118

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Berghahn Books (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857452118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857452115
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,000,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"For years sections of the SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] community have bemoaned the fact that the social sciences are often sidelined in favour of the hard sciences when it comes to SETI discussion. Civilizations Beyond Earth starts to redress the balance, edited skillfully by Douglas Vakoch, the only sociologist on staff at the SETI Institute in California, and Albert Harrison, a psychologist from the University of California." * Astronomy " - a fascinating collection of essays examining how humanity might react to extraterrestrials - While [the book] is academically rigorous, it's also remains an essential introduction for anyone interested in SETI, xenobiology and UFOs." * ForteanTimes --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Douglas A. Vakoch is Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, as well as Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute. He serves as Chair of both the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Study Group on Interstellar Message Construction and the IAA Study Group on Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Scientific, Technical, Societal, and Legal Dimensions of Active SETI. His forthcoming books includeCommunication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI), Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective, and Ecofeminism and Rhetoric: Critical Perspectives on Sex, Technology, and Discourse. Albert A. Harrison is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Davis. In addition to researching the societal dimensions of astrobiology and SETI, he studies human adaptation to spaceflight and spaceflight-analogous environments. His books include After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life;Starstruck: Cosmic Visions in Science, Religion, and Folklore; Spacefaring: The Human Dimension; Living Aloft: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight; and From Antarctica to Outer Space: Life in Isolation and Confinement.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Doctor Moss on December 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of papers gathered under three large themes involved in contact with extraterrestrial civilizations. It has relatively little to say about the prospects for our discovering such civilizations (or their discovering us) and much more to say about what happens once we do make contact, with a strong multidisciplinary approach. The writing ranges from general audience-friendly to mildly technical -- I wouldn't say that any of the papers are specialist-only, in keeping with the multi-disciplinary approach.

The first section (Does Extraterrestrial Life Exist?) does take up the core debate, after a substantial introduction that lays the groundwork. Seth Shostak's paper discusses the current state and presents the Drake Equation. The other papers in the section focus in on the "L" factor in the equation -- how long-lived we can expect civilizations capable of communicating with us to be, usually taken to be the factor least well-known and probably most determinative of our chances of detecting alien civilizations. Perspectives from archaeology and biology are especially interesting, attempting to provide some grounding for thinking about a factor for which we have no strong data. One interesting point is that L partly depends on our own technology for detecting signals -- it may well be that there is a short window, even in a long-lived civilization, during which the type of signals we can detect -- electromagnetic signals -- can be expected, before a civilization moves on to some other technology now unknown to us.

Reactions to Discovering Life Beyond Earth takes up how we are likely to react to the news that we have detected an alien civilization.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harold A. Geller on November 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an edited volume that addresses three major issues in astrobiology and astrosociology. Part one addresses the questions regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life. Part two chapters focus on the "reaction to discovering life beyond Earth." There is an amusing chapter within this second portion which gives you an idea of the attitudes of Americans to extraterrestrials. Finally, the third major portion of the volume addresses the issues of communications with extraterrestrials. The contributors include an astronomer, biologist, sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist, chemist, and more.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Castrovinci on November 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I downloaded this book with some hesitation because I wasn't sure how readable it might be, but it was definitely interesting, informative and not overly technical. Among the highlights: Shostak's opening chapter presenting the latest data on the prevalence of ETI, Banbridge's chapters on the effect of religion on people's beliefs about ETs and contacting ETs via computer emulation, and Morris Jones on the media and SETI. Congrats to Vakoch and Harrison on a first-rate book about a subject that's getting a lot of attention these days.
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