Former NASA Chief Historian and Director of the NASA History Office, Steven J. Dick, was also the NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. He discussed his fascination with cosmology and extraterrestrial life, as well as the wide and varied implications that disclosure would have on religion, culture, and society. He first became interested in the field of astrobiology and extraterrestrial life via science-fiction works from such authors as Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. Some of the best science-fiction opens up a lot of new ideas, and plays out scenarios involving the discovery of ET life, he commented.
While the Orson Welles' radio production of War of the Worlds indicated that people would panic in an alien encounter, modern historians have found that such panic was not as widespread as originally thought, and print media may have exaggerated the response. The effects of disclosure on religion might not be that dramatic, or it could lead to a new "cosmotheology," depending on the nature of the alien scenario, he remarked. At a Symposium Dick was involved in called Preparing for Discovery, a Jesuit priest spoke on the topic of baptizing ETs-- would he baptize one? "Only if it asked" was his response.
One possibility is that we'll find a post-biological universe, where cultures have gone beyond flesh and blood to invent artificial intelligence that has taken over for their biological bodies, he posited, adding that this could be a likely step if a civilization seeks to evolve and expand its intelligence. Dick said he testified before Congress last year on the topic of astrobiology, as they are trying to create or augment policies related to the discovery of life outside Earth.
Global Pecking Orders
First hour guest author Howard Bloom talked about global pecking orders, which we see in the animal kingdom, as well as nation states. The Obama administration miscalculated by pulling back from military engagements, and their lack of enforcement of peace lead to a scrambling in the pecking order, and the rise of groups like ISIS, he suggested. Addressing the power of the human spirit, he believes it to be the most essential thing in the capitalist system in that it uplifts and inspires people to engage with products, services, and entertainment.
News segment guest: Mish Shedlock