Space, Life, Science and Stories – our recurring interest in the possibility of cosmic visitors.


Carl L. DeVito

Carl L. DeVito is a member of the Emeritus faculty of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Arizona. Here he discusses his new book “Space, Life, Science and Stories: Our Recurring Interest in the Possibility of Cosmic Visitors”.

Some time ago an unusual book sold over 70 million copies and was translated to 28 languages. It claimed that aliens had come here and greatly influenced the development of humanity. This was just one of a number of surges of public interest in the possibility of our having cosmic visitors. Unfortunately, the scientific community rarely addresses the stories behind these surges and, when pressed, some among them respond with ridicule.

This leaves many in the general public confused, unsure of what to believe. Some become suspicious of science and lose respect for the profession. Those with these views become easy prey for scam artists of all sorts and, since they vote, have an impact on the kind of people we put into office.

In this book we discuss the stories behind these surges and the relevant science. The presentation is relaxed and conversational avoiding, dogmatic pronouncements and acknowledging the limits of our knowledge. The reader is invited to compare the advances in our understanding of reality made by the rigorous application of scientific principles with the glib assertions of those who denigrate those advances and would replace them with fanciful pseudoscience.

Science has taken us a long way from our childlike ideas about our place in the cosmos to our current understanding of the philosopher’s question: Where are we? There is still much that we don’t know and a lot we have yet to understand. There is room for speculation and fanciful ideas. But we must never allow ourselves to be seduced into believing something just because it makes for a good story, or some physically attractive or politically prominent says it is so.