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60% Of U.S. Believe Life Exists On Other Planets

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the aliens-believe-in-us dept.

Space 943

jangobongo writes "Does intelligent life exist anywhere besides Earth? Are regular churchgoers less likely to believe life has evolved on other planets? Do more Democrats or Republicans believe in extraterrestrials? And if alien life makes contact, what should we do? These questions were asked on a poll released last week that shows that two-thirds of Americans do believe that life exists on other planets, and of that group, 90% say if we receive a message from another planet we should reply. The poll was commissioned by the SETI Institute and the National Geographic Channel."

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943 comments

Survey says, (5, Insightful)

FTL (112112) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679738)

Don't take these polls too seriously. I remember one I took a few years back which asked:

Q. Do you believe UFOs exist?
A. Yes. (Well duh, anything we see in the sky but can't immediately identify is a UFO. Was I supposed to answer 'No'?)

Q. Do you believe aliens exist?
A. Yes. (With billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars, it's a pretty safe guess that somewhere out there is another planet with life.)

As a result, I'm recorded as just one more nut-job who believes that little green men are abducting our sheep. That particular survey was merely incompetent. Much more entertaining results can be obtained from surveys which are actively rigged.

In this SETI-National Geographic poll they appeared to have asked people if they thought that life exists somewhere out there. They got a 60% yes. It would have been interesting to ask half of those people if they thought that we are the only life in the universe. My guess is that those opposite questions when added up wouldn't even come close to 100%.

Re:Survey says, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679872)

No matter what the people who were polled think, it will be the government that will make all the decisions about contacting aliens and/or attacking them.

We all get to sit back and suffer the consequences.

Re:Survey says, (2, Interesting)

negative3 (836451) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679882)

I read somewhere (lost the link) that on some surveys more young people believe that aliens exist than that they will get anything from the social security system.

In other galactic news.. (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679739)

Meanwhile, only a resounding 5% of life on other planets believes that there is intelligent life on Earth.

Re:In other galactic news.. (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679775)

... seeing as we've already replied ... after all, any alien civilization within 50 lightyears has heard Ricky Ricardo and Lucy fighting, and Ralph Cramden going "To the moon, Alice ... to the moon!" as he get ready to belt her.

They've also been subjected to 40 years of soap operas. We've already seen the brain damage they can inflict on native species here on earth - it would be ironic if aliens find our trash entertainment so offensive they decide to remove the whole damn planet to make room for a hyperspatial autoroute. \Hey, maybe that's why marvin is so depressed - no more soaps.

Re:In other galactic news.. (5, Funny)

ReverendRyan (582497) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679829)

Meanwhile, only a resounding 5% of life on other planets believes that there is intelligent life on Earth.
And we'd like to remind the viewers that this poll has a 5% margin for error.

Re:In other galactic news.. (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679840)

Those 5% are the "whackos" who believe that dolphins are only pretending to be slightly more intelligent than crows. Humans of course have been written off as less intelligent than the now-in-hiding Dodo bird.

I am not a script, but I had to type "cjqqnirc" to prove it. Obligatory translation of "cjqqnirc" - "Can jenny's quiet quell internet relay chat?"

Mandatory Python quote (2, Funny)

multi-flavor-geek (586005) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679742)

I certainly hope there is intelligent life somewhere else in space, but we got bollocks down here on Earth.
May I have your liver then?

Re:Mandatory Python quote (1)

alfredo (18243) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679810)

It really doesn't matter if you think about it.

Always look on the bright side of life

Re:Mandatory Python quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679842)

> but we got bollocks down here on Earth

I believe that "bugger all" was the original quote.

More polls (3, Funny)

harris s newman (714436) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679744)

100% of the republicans polled believe that all the life on the other planets are christian.

Re:More polls (5, Funny)

Walterk (124748) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679794)

100% of the republicans polled believe that all the life on the other planets are christian.

Or at the very least that it should be, and will be as soon as they find oil there.

This will probably get modded down. Hint to mods: it's funny, laugh.

It does... (0)

ActionJesus (803475) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679745)

Im pretty sure that life has already been seen on the moon and mars (bacterium attached to the various space probes we keep sending up there). So 60% are right.

Yes, but.. (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679747)

the vast majority of people also believe in Astrology. A large percentage of people believe that earth has already been visited by aliens (in particular to help build the pyramids) and some people believe that aliens are studying earth right now.

Re:Yes, but.. (4, Insightful)

boomgopher (627124) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679851)

Yeah, I think people have a hard time separating what they want to believe from what they have a reason to believe.

Sure, life is certainly a lot more interesting thinking that magic, esp, ufos, auras, etc are real..
that doesn't make it so though, sorry.

On topic BTW, if anyone has vivid evidence of aliens, that does not involve hypnosis therapy, and other hocus pocus, please forward the info.

Re:Yes, but.. (3, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679889)

the vast majority of people also believe in Astrology. A large percentage of people believe that earth has already been visited by aliens (in particular to help build the pyramids) and some people believe that aliens are studying earth right now.

Kinda makes you wonder the benefits of democracy, now doesn't it?

Trolls? (0, Offtopic)

_merlin (160982) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679750)

Do 20% of Internet trolls believe there is life outside of Slashdot?

Re:Trolls? (1)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679868)

Do 20% of Internet trolls believe there is life outside of Slashdot?
As a /. troll have to say no. Really, there is absolutely no scientific proof of life outside /. so why should I believe such a claim?

Only 60%? (4, Funny)

Zone-MR (631588) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679751)

So 40% of the people in the US are arrogant enough to think that in an infinite universe they are alone?

Re:Only 60%? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679781)

HeyHeyHey, no one said anything about an infinite universe!

Re:Only 60%? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679782)

So 40% of the people in the US are arrogant enough to think that in an infinite universe they are alone?
That's not so hard to believe. 48% of the people in the US were dumb enough to vote for John Kerry.

Re:Only 60%? (1)

VoidWraith (797276) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679850)

95% of people in the US are dumb enough to vote based on whether they ticked of D or R on their voter registrations.

Re:Only 60%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679930)

Right, like 95% of Americans vote...

Re:Only 60%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679898)

Oh yeah... after all we're doing SO much better with the other guy....

Re:Only 60%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679909)

Haha you are so funny! How come all the retards in the US that think the world is only 6000 years old voted for the Republican Bourgeois Imperialist, then!?

Re:Only 60%? (4, Interesting)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679808)

Perhaps if you were better educated and less arrogant, you would realize that your assertion is not the only possibility that can be asserted from the data.

Perhaps the other 40% adhere to the principle that Belief gets in the way of learning.

(R.A. Heinlein - "Time Enough for Love")

Re:Only 60%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679892)

and you're critising someone ELSE for being arrogant?

Re:Only 60%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679815)

around 40% are arrogant enough to believe that they know the ultimate absolute truth and meaning of life, amen, and anyone who disagrees is a priori wrong.

The saddest part is that the percentage of people who think that seems to be even higher in certain other countries.

Of course, they're all suckers... the REAL ultimate truth is that the universe was sneezed out of the nose of the Great Green Arkleseizure. Fnord.

Re:Only 60%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679860)

You haven't figured it out by now from the insistance that other nations follow US law unquestionably, give up their resources on command, be Good Christians (TM), and let the US militarily do as it damn well pleases? ...not even from the "We have the right and the obligation to run the world!" rhetoric?

Re:Only 60%? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679901)

A relevant and interesting quote:

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering. -Arthur C. Clarke

Re:Only 60%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679912)

I thought an infinite universe where we are alone is extreamly improbably as well; until I read this http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?pr intable=1 [kurzweilai.net]

If life existed elsewhere in the universe (more advanced then us), it would likely be millions of years ahead of us. Imagine what we will be like in a million years at the current rate of progress, then take into account that the current rate of progress is growing at an exponential rate. If we survive for the next few thousand years we will colonize the galaxy and spread out into the universe at the speed of light (or faster?).

So either we are the most advanced species in our galaxy or they are delibirately hiding from us (or their civilization is outside our light-cone, eg. they are in a galaxy far, far away and the light from their early radio civilization hasn't even reached us yet). Either way it's not looking too good for finding ET any time soon.

Re:Only 60%? (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679936)

So 40% of the people in the US are arrogant enough to think that in an infinite universe they are alone?
There may be LOTS of life out there, but we could still be alone, if none of it is intelligent.

So, how about Fermi's Paradox?

Based on past experience (4, Insightful)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679753)

We have investigated almost all of planet earth, and have found life in the most astonishing places.

Why should be be astonished about finding life elsewhere?

Re:Based on past experience (1)

bryan8m (863211) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679838)

All life on Earth has a common origin, so anyplace suitable for life will eventually be inhabited by it. But, given a few billion years, maybe life could spring up on another planet under the right conditions.

Says something about education? (1, Insightful)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679759)

I mean, seriously, why would anyone believe that the only planet in the universe that supports life is this one?

The only reason I can imagine is religiously encouraged ignorance and America has that by the bushel. Metric fuckton. Imperial assload.

Yeah yeah, troll, flamebait, whatever. Its true.

Re:Says something about education? (4, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679876)

"I mean, seriously, why would anyone believe that the only planet in the universe that supports life is this one?"

The same reason a lot of people don't believe there is a god. No proof.

Re:Says something about education? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679954)

That's not a fair comparison, though it is a common one. There are in fact no evidence of ANY gods, but there ARE evidence of life in the universe; us.

But life on this planet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679762)

... in the rest of the world does not matter!

US presidential election (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679766)

blah blah blah, Americans are dumb, blah blah, fill in the blanks, someone was elected president, badum dum. Ha ha, hoo hoo, how funny.

I don't think it's funny either. Here's to hoping that posting this early will cut down on the funny jokes later.

Re:US presidential election (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679820)

Wow, somebody's got a guilty conscience about the banana republic he lives in??

Oh Yea? (5, Interesting)

rev_icon (97468) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679768)

Check out this guy who can summon UFOs on demand. Has a link to a news broadcast where they filmed him doing it. Shocked the hell out of the camera crew.

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ ID=44503 [worldnetdaily.com]

Pretty cool.

-Matt

In news just to hand... (1)

Elitist_Phoenix (808424) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679777)

100% of people from Redmond said they believed, however results were discounted because it was found that they had nothing to compare intellegent to.

Re:In news just to hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679803)

unfunny

Re:In news just to hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679821)

And 'intelligent' misspelled, too.

Of course life exists on other planets (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679789)

The question is, does sentient life exist on other planets.

"It's life Jim, but not as we know it."

Belief? (1)

moehoward (668736) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679791)

I'm torn on this question. Belief is a weird thing. Belief in "god". No. Belief in a plausible scientific theory? Yes.

I do not "believe" in god. I do "believe" that there is enough science to show that there MAY be life on other planets. Whether that life be some simple RNA/DNA replicating structure... I don't konw.

Anyway, long story short, the aliens have got a leg up on the god thing with me at this point.

Actually, it would be far more interesting to know (1, Interesting)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679796)

...what percentage of the US believes in life after death.

I thought this was a 'news for nerds' site... (0, Troll)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679841)

who the hell gave the Christian Coalition mod points?

What percent can prove it? (2, Funny)

ewg (158266) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679804)

What percent of Americans can prove life exists beyond the Earth? Surely, a more interesting statistic.

Re:What percent can prove it? (4, Interesting)

cduffy (652) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679905)

It would be interesting to know how many Americans could competantly argue the existance of a statistical likelihood of such; counter the common objections (wrt the narrowness of the range of environments in which life as we know it is sustainable and the improbability of such environments being generated by chance); and otherwise take part in an intelligent discussion on the topic. Depressing, I expect, but interesting. (Actually, I wonder at the extent to which the intelligent design movement, for all of its faults, may have helped to educate folks about the improbability of randomly generating an environment where life as we know it can exist -- there's something to be said for having folks who can put up a competant counterargument).

I don't anticipate that knowing how many Americans can prove life exists beyond Earth would be particularly interesting at all. (I presume you're excluding any life in human-generated artifacts, particularly those in orbit; and Americans posessing nonconclusive evidence [ie. those involved in studying the potential and/or evidence for present or former microbial life on Mars]? If not, perhaps I'm off by a bit).

Of people abducted by aliens.... (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679805)

10% enjoy anal probes

Re:Of people abducted by aliens.... (1)

mbrewthx (693182) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679917)

What's the big deal with the Alien abductions and the anal probes. I don't have any problems with them. Everytime I'm abducted the Aliens leave me a little note that reads "You colon is clean"

Thank you Alien Overlords!!!!!!

it may be 60/40 but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679806)

but they should do a poll on how many people believe that there is intelligent Life on Earth

First question for alien intelligence . . . (1, Offtopic)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679807)

Which is better Emacs or Vi?

Re:First question for alien intelligence . . . (2, Funny)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679849)

I use VS.net. Its editor is uber-sweet. Every time I want to, say, edit my modules.conf file I upload it to a remote FTP-able location, reboot into Windows, edit the file, save it again, reboot into Linux, and replace the file.

Re:First question for alien intelligence . . . (5, Insightful)

rdwald (831442) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679918)

Which is better Emacs or Vi?

...And if they answer, "There's no way you'll get me started on that debate," you'll know they're truly intelligent.

Just like us? (4, Insightful)

YoungHack (36385) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679816)

That 80% think it would be life like us is mind-boggling. I suppose it is the taint of science-fiction. It's hard to enjoy characters that are hard to fathom.

But really, intelligent I could see. But like us? That just demonstrates a lack of imagination.

Fantasy element. (1)

Foktip (736679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679835)

Wait, wait a second here... What percentage of Americans are religeous... and dont most of those religeons deny the possibility of Aliens? This doesnt make sense! I sense an overlap here, one that either questions religeous beliefs, or implies gullability... i think this is just people wanting to believe in exotic ideas: fantasy. And, of course, in a society lacking mainstream fantasy entertainment, it makes sense for them to try to scrape fantasy elements off the bottom of the barrel... in a vain attempt at satisfaction. Aliens are boring - I believe in mah shjo!! W00YEAH!

Do they know how old the universe is? (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679846)

7 out of 10 Americans think the intelligent life forms on other planets would be similar to humans

Given the age of the universe, intelligent life on other planets would be thousands or even millions of years more (or less) advanced than on earth.

Less advanced life might be similar to humans (cell based, certain symmetries in cellular organization such as two eyes, etc.) but more advanced life wouldn't even be recognized as intelligent life by most people - for example, patterns of energy experiencing pure happiness.

Why do Christians not want to believe in aliens? (5, Interesting)

Mr. Bendy (814916) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679848)

I'm confused why only 46% of christians believe that aliens exist. Is it because then they might have to consider that a god might have more to think about than their petty affairs, and that the bible might just be pretty limited in galatic terms? I always think an alien visiting earth would just laugh at the primitive beliefs of our so called 'advanced' civilisations. Interested to hear what other religions think about aliens. Would Mohammed, Jesus etc have any relevance to someone from Alpha Centauri?

Re:Why do Christians not want to believe in aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679865)

One Bible teacher I heard tried to argue that in order for aliens to exist on other planets, Jesus would have had to go and die for their sins. ....

Yes, I kid you not.

Martian Jesus (1)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679945)

One Bible teacher I heard tried to argue that in order for aliens to exist on other planets, Jesus would have had to go and die for their sins.

It's okay. Squeeple Gorb III, the green blob lifeform on their own planet, already died for their sins.

Seriously, Jesus would have been an Arabic-looking guy. But go to Europe or the US, and you get a very distinctive Anglo-Saxon brown beard and hair that looks kind of like a non-pudgy Stallman wearing a pure white robe. We've gotten so used to it that we don't notice it.

If you go to Mexico, you'll see pictures of a Mexican Jesus, and to China pictures of a Chinese Jesus. Very unsettling. It really drives home the scamminess of the whole thing.

Re:Why do Christians not want to believe in aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679888)

I'm more confused as to why christians believe that God exists!

Not Suprised (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679856)

People beleive in the man in the sky that made everything, why not aliens...

Um... No... (1)

N1ghtFalcon (884555) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679858)

If 60% of people believed life exists on other planets, Bush wouldn't be president right now. This smells like a sad attempt by SETI to prove that they have a useful purpose - most of the people believe life exists on other planets, so we're working on finding that life. I'm all for their research, and I'm also in that "60%" I suppose, but it would've been a lot nicer if they didn't play the politics and just stuck to doing good science.

And don't talk to me about democrat and republican "no difference" crap. First count up the numbers between those who go to church every Sunday and those who don't, and then figure out how many of those so called "democrats" have never voted for a democratic candidate. I rest my case.

Re:Um... No... (1)

Senor_Programmer (876714) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679946)

I know plenty of democrats who go to church every Sunday, or Saturday. I know plentyb of non-democrats who only set foot in a church as the lesser of two evils. Wrath or Wife OR spending a half a day at a wedding.

But I guess I don't 'believe' that life on earth is so simply described by

party
kingdom
class ...
individual

Faith in the unknown... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679861)

I would like to find extra-planetary life just like I'd like to find some interesting self awareness and tools to play with after I croak.

But I don't 'Believe' I will.

I've got some faith in the possibility that the extra-life and extra terrestrial stuff is there.

But until I see it, I'm not gonna believe it and maybe not even then!

People Change (1)

AAeyers (857625) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679867)

90% say if we receive a message from another planet we should reply.

I would like to see how that number would compare to the same survey taken after the War of the Worlds movie comes out.

Or again if/when we actually do recieve a message.

War of the Worlds? Naaah. (1)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679899)

I would like to see how that number would compare to the same survey taken after the War of the Worlds movie comes out.

You mean we might invade their homeland to take their natural resources?

C'mon, we wouldn't do something like that to someone else. We're the good guys!

THIS JUST IN ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679884)

60% percent of mac users like anul secks!!!

see http://www.macslash.org/ [macslash.org] for proof ,,,

Slashdot requires you to wait 2 minutes between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

It's been 16 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

Chances are, you're behind a firewall or proxy, or clicked the Back button to accidentally reuse a form. Please try again. If the problem persists, and all other options have been tried, contact the site administrator.

zficbkz

Self Destruction Theory? (1, Interesting)

0kComputer (872064) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679890)

90% say if we receive a message from another planet we should reply

Isn't there some theory that states that even if we did get a message from an advanced civilization, by the time we could reply they would have already destroyed themselves. In other words, by the time someone gets our messages, we'll have already nuked ourselves.

have they been saved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679900)

yes, but have the accepted Jesus as their lord and savior?

Americans watch too much Sci-Fi (4, Insightful)

pandymen (884006) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679919)

Seriously though, 8 out of 10 believe that they would be more advanced than us? Yet...only 7 of 10 thought they would be able to communicate across deep space (something we can already do, to an extent). Those figures don't make any sense.

Chances are we're just going to find living martian bacteria in the near future, not just the fossilized remains. I highly doubt we'll find a super-advanced civilization.

We Do The First Thing We Always Do... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679926)

And if alien life makes contact, what should we do?

We do the first thing we always do: Figure out how to kill it, if necessary.

Then we sign it to a 3-picture deal in Hollywood.

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679929)

...how many on other planets believe that life exists here?

Panther (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12679931)

Ron Burgundy: Brian, I'm gonna be quite honest, that smells like pure gasoline.
Brian Fantana: They've done studies, you know. 60 percent of the time, it works every time.
Ron Burgundy: That doesn't make sense.

Intelligent Designs (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679937)

"People who are regular churchgoers are less-likely to believe in life on other planets compared to non-churchgoers, 46% vs. 70%"

Yet they apparently believe in an invisible monster who loves them, but sends them to hell for eternity if they don't play by rules they don't understand.

What is a more likely "Intelligent Designer": a mythical spirit which used to do miracles all the time, before recording could corroborate it, or an alien intelligence, different from us in that it is adapted to live outside the Earth's environment?

When the aliens land, all those churchgoers are going to bow down before the "angels", with their "miraculous" technology. And they're going to hand over the science-believers, who think these aliens are just the competition, for burning as witches. Just as they always have, when their priests have had control, and were threatened by independent thinkers.

Interesting numbers... (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12679957)

I wonder how many people believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus or Al Gore making another presidential run in 2008? I bet the numbers will be high (except maybe the last one).
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