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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 30, Issue 1, 2002

Elling Ulvestad
Pages 283-291

Biosemiotic knowledge — a prerequisite for valid explorations of extraterrestrial intelligent life

The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligent life is probably one of the most ambitious projects ever taken in biology. The article discusses methodological problems associated with the search. It is emphasized that investigators of extraterrestrial intelligence, in contrast to investigators of terrestrial matters, have no valid pre-understanding of their subject matter. In this barren setting, utilization of semiotic knowledge is shown to be a prerequisite for achievement of valid data. Owing to methodological shortcomings, it is concluded that the NASA funded project SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has little if any relevance for the detection of intelligent life in other worlds.

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