The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies

At last – a book about the possibilities of alien intelligence without a crackpot bent to it.

Davies critically and scientifically examines the odds for life out in the universe with some surprising twists.  For starters, he is not convinced that there necessarily is life beyond earth. 

The author begins with a brief history and discussion of the SETI Institute and its drive to determine whether or not intelligent life is indeed out there and is trying to make contact with us.  He looks at the scientific community as a whole and how opinions differ within it.  He also takes into account popular depictions of extraterrestrial life and notes that they tend to be strongly human-centric, i.e. they assume that alien life is some variant of human.

On the whole, The Eerie Silence is highly readable, although it helps to have a strong interest in physics and other scientific disciplines.  The book is a welcome critical look at prevailing attitudes toward alien intelligence.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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