Looking At Ourselves

–A comment by an astronomer becomes a catalyst for thinking about looking at our culture–Frank Drake is a 79 year-old astronomer and astrophysicist, founder of the SETI project that looks for extraterrestrial transmissions, someone who approaches his field academically and not prone to some of the notions usually associated with ET seekers. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel Drake said that daytime television might be aliens’ first taste of life on earth and that he found that scary. Aliens or anyone looking for us in space are likely to first see the soaps because the transmitted signals go into space first before they reach one’s TV set. The idea of those soaps and the notion they would give a scary image of who we are is provocative. We usually think of finding aliens, speculate on who they would be, but give little or no thought to what they might think of us. Extending that further, how often do we think of the image our culture projects? Are we as superficial as the image of daytime soap operas would indicate? Is that a picture of who we want to be? What would be a symbol of our culture? We watch so much reality TV would that be a better or worse image of who we are? And taking this exercise a step further, what is the idea of humanity we ought to cultivate and move towards?