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Extraterrestrial life

Americans Open Their Minds to the Possibility of Extraterrestrial Life

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A Huffington Post / YouGov poll has revealed that half of Americans believe that life exists on other planets and as many as a quarter believe that extraterrestrials have already visited Earth. While a third of Americans are still undecided on the issue, only 17 percent have made up their minds that the extraterrestrial life is unlikely.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted earlier this month with a sample of 1,000 adults which closely resembled national demographics according to age, race, gender, education, religion, marital status and other factors.  Some differences were observed according to these demographics, for example, older participants were more likely to believe that extraterrestrials have visited Earth than younger ones. Also, those with higher levels of education were more likely to believe that some form of life exists outside our planet.

However, in general, respondents were much more open to the idea of some form of life existing on other planets as opposed to an intelligent extraterrestrial life form.  Twenty-one percent were sceptical about intelligent life, forty-two percent were unsure and thirty-eight percent believed there is intelligent life.

Amongst the well-known believers is physicist Stephen Hawking, who has publicly expressed his view that intelligent life is likely to exist on other planets.   Scientists with the SETI Institute have been searching for extraterrestrial intelligence since the 1960s using microwave radio to try to detect communication from other solar systems.  More recently, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has been hunting for exoplanets that are capable of supporting life and private companies have launched METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to send out signals from Earth. 

There are many who believe that Government’s around the world are gradually preparing citizens for an announcement about the existence of intelligent life forms.  The Vatican, for example, made a recent statement that the discovery of intelligent life would not conflict with the Catholic religion, and an increase in media attention, movies and documentaries may be slowly getting people used to the idea that we are not alone in the universe.

By April Holloway

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