The consequences of contact: Views of the scientific community and the science media Chapter uri icon


  • Information is drawn from a 1989 survey of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) community and the international science media as to the anticipated consequences of a successful outcome to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The evidence indicates that both groups expect intense public interest and excitement about the announcement of a discovery. Public fear and shock associated with an announced discovery are anticipated to be of low to moderate intensity, but the possibility of angry or even violent reactions among some extremist groups is believed possible by both the media and the science community. Rumor, confusion, and disbelief are expected to be significant problems related to an announced discovery. The study indicates that any agency established by the SETI community to verify an announced discovery should explore what its role should be in relation to public attempts to exploit and perhaps distort the facts of the discovery. This study indicates that such a verification agency would be desirable to ensure the orderly and accurate dissemination of information and to avert undesirable and perhaps dangerous consequences of an extraterrestrial intelligence discovery.

author list (cited authors)

  • Tarter, D. E., & Peacock, W. G.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Tarter, DE||Peacock, WG

editor list (cited editors)

  • Heidmann, J., & Klein, M. J.

Book Title

  • Bioastronomy: The Search for Extraterrestrial Live -- The Exploration Broadens. Lecture Notes in Physics, vol 390

publication date

  • January 1991