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A lecture given by SETI scientist, Dr. Jill Tarter at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia on Monday night October 27th saw some uncomfortable moments when an audience member confronted the celebrated astronomer with notions that the organization was involved in a cover-up of what he thought was the reality of an extraterrestrial presence on planet Earth. SETI is an acronym for a group of radio astronomers meaning: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.

The question, which was actually more of a statement offered by an audience member, follows:

Thank you very much Dr. Tarter for your presentation. What do you say about the proposition that, SETI as a large scale and serious scientific enterprise, producing scant and ambiguous evidence of intelligent life… is actually disregarding the mountain of factual evidence of contact that’s staring us in the face at every hand throughout time, across space. That SETI is actually, practically, even if unwittingly, an agent of disinformation.

Dr. Tarter responded:

Well, what I say to that is what I do actively and that is, I am on the board of the Center for Inquiry, and I take a look at data that are provided to me as potential evidence of this sort of contact that you’re talking about… and what I can say to you, is that throughout time, and in my experience, there are no data that stand up to the scrutiny that have the quality that a scientist requires for validation. And it’s the old Carl Sagan saying that ‘extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.’ And there are great stories out there, but what’s been missing today is the evidence. And so if you have some that you can show me, or my colleagues, we’re interested in what the answer to the question is, if that’s the way to find an answer then we’ll accept that, but, so far, that evidence does not justify the claims that you just made.

To read more and view the video, click here.