Gertz really doesn’t like METI

I feel the need to write about Gertz since I didn’t last time, even though his 2016 paper is still my favourite from this class, due to its excessive amounts of sass.  This paper is (unfortunately) less sassy, but still fairly well written. Gertz is arguing for adding and improving regulations to METI. He goes through the current legislation that technically bans or limits METI, and also motivates his call with current events.

For the most part, I agree with Gertz, especially his line “Actions undertaken post-detection, apart from confirmatory observations, are not science, but matters of vital public policy,” because it is completely true and well worded. I would also go to extend this, as Gertz does, that preemptive communication efforts are also policy. I agree that since there is risk to it, and essentially no risk to SETI, that METI should not be done in general, and certainly should not be done without the consent of everyone who can be affected, which is all of mankind. While it is idealist in thinking that we could get everyone in the UN into agreeing to even talk about METI, it should still be put in place that random groups of people with money shouldn’t just be allowed to spew words into space, especially since these words (unfortunately) represent mankind.

What I don’t agree with about Gertz’s paper is his cited motivation for this paper. He mentions numerous times that China has just entered the field of SETI, and that they might not share any information with the world, but instead keep it secret. He states that Russia or the US, upon receiving a signal, might also mark it as Top Secret and refuse to share it with their nation or other nations. He also numerous times mentions Kim Jong Un and adds in ISIS and “religious groups” as individuals that should not be allowed to represent humanity by sending messages. While I agree with this, I think that these examples are too specific and finger-pointy (for lack of a better phrase). They not only date his paper, but also make it seem fairly whiny, conspiratorial, and just yellow the legitimacy of his claims and this call for action. He could have made the same points by saying “countries,” “groups,” or “leaders,” that would have made the paper still relevant in a few years time.