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The Contact Paradox: Challenging Our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Inside the difficult questions about humanity's search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

What will happen if humanity makes contact with another civilization on a different planet? In The Contact Paradox, space journalist Keith Cooper tackles some of the myths and assumptions that underlie SETI--the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

In 1974 a message was beamed tow
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Bloomsbury SIGMA
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Raechel The back of the book says:
Keith Cooper is a freelance science journalist and editor. Since 2006, Keith has been the Editor of Astronomy Now, and he ha…more
The back of the book says:
Keith Cooper is a freelance science journalist and editor. Since 2006, Keith has been the Editor of Astronomy Now, and he has also been the Editor of Astrobiology Magazine. In addition he has written for Centauri Dreams, New Scientist, Physics World and Sky and Telescope. He holds a BSc in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Manchester.(less)

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Manuel Antão
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Sheep in the Fields: "Contact Paradox, The: Challenging our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" by Keith Cooper

The search for life beyond Earth...are we ready for what we will find...

Yes. Because there is fuck all.

Until of course we decide to go back there.

It could be that our destiny is to makes other planets habitable and then populate them.

Or even that we were introduced here ourselves maybe by a more advanc
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, ufos, science
Should we be search for ET? What if they don't know we're here and we alert a non-altruistic race?

"The essence of “The Contact Paradox” is that if aliens do come calling, and if they’re anything like us, humanity is in trouble. The encounter would likely not go well, if history is any guide. First contacts between wildly varying human societies have frequently been characterized by violence, exploitation, slavery, and sometimes genocide."

This is the most comprehensive book on this topic and cove
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting, very well researched book about the possibility of making contact with an intelligent alien civilization. The author not only takes us down the path of what humans would need to do scientifically to try and make contact (it's a lot) but he also spends a good portion of the book walking us through the broader issue of "Is it even a good idea?"

He discusses what exactly does "intelligence" encompass and is altruism solely a human trait- kind of an important topic wouldn't you sa
Peter Pereira
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Excellent book. This could be the very best book on the search of extraterrestrial intelligence out there. One of the few books that really puts the difficulty in finding/contacting in perspective. While the author could have turned this into a SETI fan-book, he didn't. Everything is well researched, with a wide base of knowledge outlined before tackling the problem at hand. Worth reading. ...more
Chad Guarino
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
The Contact Paradox is an interesting take in SETI's search for extraterrestrial life in the universe, detailing not only the agency's efforts and new discoveries, but also the inherent problems humanity would face as a species if we were to find something and be unprepared for how to handle it on a cultural level. The books covers a large variety of topics, including Dyson Spheres, Earth like planets, extinction events, and the science of black holes.

While this is a highly scientific book, I w
Doctor Moss
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a book that I think is very good at what it does, but it just doesn’t do what I was looking for.

The premise — examining assumptions behind our search for extraterrestrial intelligence — really appeals to me. I had found Jim Al-Khalili’s collection of scientific and speculative articles on the same subject (Aliens: The World’s Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life) terrific in its questioning of some of those assumptions. So I was looking to get more perspectives and
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was written to cover a technical topic but in a manner that was understandable and not too dense and in the weeds with terms or math that would lose the reader. I saw a preview copy with layout, typos, etc, but adjusting for that and assuming that those issues will be edited in final copy, I see the writing style, grammar etc as very good. In fact In several places I liked the writers ability to eloquently and elegantly present ideas that helped visualizing co ...more
Allen Adams
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it

Are we alone in the universe?

Simple math would seem to indicate that we are not; what are the odds that Earth is alone among an infinite number of planets in producing intelligent life? And yet, we have yet to encounter these other intelligences in any verifiable way.

So … where is everyone?

That’s part of the question being tackled by Keith Cooper’s new book “The Contact Paradox: Challenging our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.”
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Contact Paradox: Challenging Our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Keith Cooper is a fresh look at this interesting topic.

I’ve read SETI books before and those that have tried to answer the Fermi paradox. It asks, if the universe is full of alien intelligences, where are they? This new book was published recently (2019) so after it touched on the history of SETI of which I was familiar with, it goes on to question many of our modern assumptions in this field.

Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Science writing at its BEST


“[A]ll to often SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] concerns itself with just the technical aspects of the search. Vital as these are, they are only on side of the coin. In [this book], we’re going to flip that coin and explore the other side too.

We’re going to cross the borders between disciplines and embrace the social sciences.

What will follow [in this book] will…blow your mind. It will be quite a ride as you [the reader] embark on a journe
Stacy Mintzer
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely mind blowing. I have rarely read anything so fascinating. Most of us spend our lives thinking about the most mundane activities. Meanwhile, a handful of people contemplate larger ideas. Cooper's book is about the people who look up at the starts and keep looking. He brings us questions we should we all be pondering. Are we alone in the universe? If we are, why not? If we aren't, why haven't other civilizations contacted us yet?

As the author reminds us, a million or even a hundred mil
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A dense work ... I'm not sure why this surprised me because a book on SETI by an author who is serious about astrophysics & the like was bound to be. Maybe because I'm used to much lighter pop-science fare? Maybe because there can be no definitive answer on this unless we actually find intelligent aliens -- at which point, if it happens, this entire debate will be a curiosity at best. Until and unless that happens, it's impossible to prove a no from lack of evidence. The best one could manage wo ...more
John Folk-Williams
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Keith Cooper’s The Contact Paradox is a brilliant probing of the motives and technologies behind the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). If you’re like me, you might know that SETI has been going on for sixty years and that no signals have turned up pointing to an advanced civilization. And not much more. You probably remember Carl Sagan’s Contact, or more likely the film version, with its unforgettable image of Jodie Foster listening with headphones to a radio telescope signal. Thi ...more
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Normally I would stop reading a disappointing book early on, however I kept at this one all the way through, making me question what kept me driving forward. In all honesty though, I was skimming my the end of it. Here and there are some useful bits of information but the book is too long and goes on a tangent too easily. It also lacks clear conclusions or sometimes fails to provide clear definitions of questions that we don't have an answer to yet. Often it goes off on a tangent and either over ...more
Feb 16, 2021 rated it liked it
I feel conflicted about this one, because although there were some really fascinating findings throughout (some things that really made me think and look at our universe in a way I haven't before), ultimately these tidbits are swamped with technicalities, jargon, and scientific tangents. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn't help but feel like I was reading a textbook, which made for a tough read. Now I understand that any nonfiction astronomy book needs to be backed up by hard data and fac ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
A great book about the many potential scenarios involved with first contact with aliens. You can tell that a lot of time and effort went into researching and writing this; every part of this book gives the science of whatever is being talked about, along with plenty of examples and comparisons to help make it easy for people who – like me – struggle to understand the sciences. There are moments of humor and heart, and I think that this would have been that much better if there had been more of i ...more
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book that scratches all my science nerd itches.

Evolutionary biology!
Star Trek references!
An appreciation for sci-fi and how it often looks ahead to where actual science will eventually be!

But for real, awesome book that's very informative and interesting and you learn so much while not being bombarded with too much information. I'm honestly surprised more people haven't read this.
Scott Kardel
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: astronomy
Keith Cooper's The Contact Paradox is a good look at the current status of SETI (the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) that explores the issues and implications of both listening for possible signals and the issues of whether we should be broadcasting or not. ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable read. Stuffed with interesting scientific detail, views from various framings, and so well written in an understandable manner, with useful references. Highly recommended book covering unusual and contentious topic.
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting take on all aspects related to alien life & the difficulties involved with communication. Would also recommend "The Eerie Silence" by Paul Davies also related to Aliens & SETI.
Feb 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Assumes no contact has been made, but then does an exceptional job of explaining the science behind possible extraterrestrial worlds, intelligence, and life.
Gillian Sullivan
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent scientific overview. Would have liked to see some coverage of "consciousness", which we humans have, and which science has yet to understand. It may be a clue to what's out there. ...more
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A polymath's delight. Physics, biology, astronomy, geology, sociology, pop culture -- the scope of the discussion in this book is great and tickles several spots in the brain. ...more
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it
It was ok, but I'm just sad that the aliens that we find are going to be a cool as all the movies have lead me to believe... ...more
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