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  • A critical examination of factors that might encourage secrecy

    Paper ID



    • A. Tough


    Ontario b Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto






    If a signal is detected someday from extraterrestrial intelligence, several factors might encourage complete and immediate secrecy. As a result, all data might be restricted to the receiving facility or nation instead of being shared promptly with SETI scientists around the world. Seven factors seem particularly likely to encourage secrecy: (1) the belief that people may panic; (2) the fear of a negative impact on religion, science, and culture; (3) embarrassment; (4) the individual and national competitive urge; (5) avoiding a harmful premature reply; (6) a national trade or military advantage; and (7) the fear of a Trojan Horse. Three steps might alleviate the particularly difficult factors (numbers 4, 5, 6): an international treaty for immediate sharing of possible signals with SETI scientists in several other countries; implementation and frequent use of an actual network of scientists for such sharing; and further study of the possible need for partial restriction of data about the location and channel of a suspected signal.