The Contact Paradox

Challenging our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

The Contact Paradox

In 1974 a message was beamed towards the stars by the giant Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, a brief blast of radio waves designed to alert extraterrestrial civilisations to our existence. Of course, we don't know if such civilisations really exist. For the past six decades a small cadre of researchers have been on a quest to find out, as part of SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. So far, SETI has found no evidence of extraterrestrial life, but with more than a hundred billion stars in our Galaxy alone to search, the odds of quick success are stacked against us. The silence from the stars is prompting some researchers, inspired by the Arecibo transmission, to transmit more messages into space, in an effort to provoke a response from any civilisations out there that might otherwise be staying quiet. However, the act of transmitting raises troubling questions about the process of contact. We look for qualities such as altruism and intelligence in extraterrestrial life, but what do these mean to humankind? Can civilisations survive in the Universe long enough for us to detect them, and what can their existence, or lack thereof, reveal to us about our future prospects? Can we learn something about our own history when we explore what happens when two civilisations come into contact? Finally, do the answers tell us that it is safe to transmit, even though we know nothing about extraterrestrial life, or as Stephen Hawking argued, are we placing humanity in jeopardy by doing so? In The Contact Paradox, author Keith Cooper looks at how far SETI has come since its modest beginnings, and where it is going, by speaking to the leading names in the field and beyond. SETI forces us to confront our nature in a way that we seldom have before – where did we come from, where are we going, and who are we in the cosmic context of things? This book considers the assumptions that we make in our search for extraterrestrial life, and explores how those assumptions can teach us about ourselves.

Time Travel

Probability and Impossibility

Time Travel

There are various arguments for the metaphysical impossibility of time travel. Is it impossible because objects could then be in two places at once? Or is it impossible because some objects could bring about their own existence? In this book, Nikk Effingham contends that no such argument is sound and that time travel is metaphysically possible. His main focus is on the Grandfather Paradox: the position that time travel is impossible because someone could not go back in time and kill their own grandfather before he met their grandmother. In such a case, Effingham argues that the time traveller would have the ability to do the impossible (so they could kill their grandfather) even though those impossibilities will never come about (so they won't kill their grandfather). He then explores the ramifications of this view, discussing issues in probability and decision theory. The book ends by laying out the dangers of time travel and why, even though no time machines currently exist, we should pay extra special care ensuring that nothing, no matter how small or microscopic, ever travels in time.

Multiculturalism, Social Cohesion and Immigration

Shifting Conceptions in the UK

Multiculturalism, Social Cohesion and Immigration

Multiculturalism, Social Cohesion and Immigration brings together original research that addresses key facets of the changing dynamics of race, multiculturalism and immigration in contemporary British society. The various chapters in this volume tackle important social and political issues such as ethnic diversity and segregation, post-race politics, contact and threat hypotheses, national identity, anti-racist mobilisation and whiteness. It provides an important insight into the dynamics of contemporary British society. This book was originally published as a special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Wild, Unforgettable Philosophy

In Early Works of Walter Benjamin

Wild, Unforgettable Philosophy

Through reading the early work of Walter Benjamin—up to and including the Trauerspiel, author Monad Rrenban elicits a cohesive conception of the wild, inforgettable form, philosophy, as inherent in everything. This book, distinct in its analysis and depth of analysis, elaborates the wild, unforgettable form—philosophy in relation to language, the discipline and the practice of philosophy, criticism, and the politics of death.

Dynamics and Bifurcations of Non-Smooth Mechanical Systems

Dynamics and Bifurcations of Non-Smooth Mechanical Systems

This monograph combines the knowledge of both the field of nonlinear dynamics and non-smooth mechanics, presenting a framework for a class of non-smooth mechanical systems using techniques from both fields. The book reviews recent developments, and opens the field to the nonlinear dynamics community. This book addresses researchers and graduate students in engineering and mathematics interested in the modelling, simulation and dynamics of non-smooth systems and nonlinear dynamics.

Contact Lens Practice

Contact Lens Practice


The Uses of Paradox

Religion, Self-Transformation, and the Absurd

The Uses of Paradox

In this groundbreaking comparative study, Matthew Bagger investigates the role of paradox in Western and Asian religious discourse. Drawing on both philosophy and social scientific theory, he offers a naturalistic explanation of religion's oft-noted propensity to sublime paradox and argues that religious thinkers employ intractable paradoxes as the basis for various techniques of self-transformation. Considering the writings of Kierkegaard, Pseudo-Dionysus, St. John of the Cross, N?g?rjuna, and Chuang-tzu, among others, Bagger identifies two religious uses of paradox: cognitive asceticism, which wields the psychological discomfort of paradox as an instrument of self-transformation, and mysticism, which seeks to transform the self through an alleged extraordinary cognition that ineffably comprehends paradox. Bagger contrasts these techniques of self-transformation with skepticism, which cultivates the appearance of contradiction in order to divest a person of beliefs altogether. Bagger further contends that a thinker's social attitudes determine his or her response to paradox. Attitudes concerning crossing the boundary of a social group prefigure attitudes concerning supposed truths that lie beyond the boundaries of understanding. Individuals who fear crossing the boundary of their social group and would prohibit them tend to use paradox ascetically, while individuals who find the controlled incorporation of outsiders enriching commonly find paradox revelatory. Although scholars have long noted that religious discourse seems to cultivate and perpetuate paradox, their scholarship tends to ratify religious attitudes toward paradox instead of explaining the unusual reaction paradox provokes. A vital contribution to discussions of mystical experience, The Uses of Paradox reveals how much this experience relies on social attitudes and cosmological speculation.

The Paradox of Diversity

Why does Interethnic Contact in Voluntary Organizations not lead to Generalized Trust?

The Paradox of Diversity

This book is about ethnic diversity in voluntary organizations and seeks to explain whether intergroup contact contributes to the development of generalized trust. It relies on a novel multilevel design and data from Amsterdam in which 40 voluntary organizations and 463 participants have been sampled. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this book argues that cognitive processes are contributing more toward the evaluation of strangers or generalized trust than interethnic contact. Since trusting unknown people is essentially a risky endeavor, this suggests that participants of both association types who report trusting strangers can afford to do so, because they are better educated, have a more positive worldview, and have had fewer negative life experiences. That is to say, they are socially more successful and view their future as more promising. Previous findings are inconclusive since most studies that conclude diversity has led to less generalized trust do not include interethnic contact directly in their analyses. These studies also downplay the importance of cognitive processes, which may shape generalized trust. What is more, people join ethnically diverse civic groups, because they already have more trustful attitudes, rather than learning to trust through interethnic contact. Despite the recent multiculturalist backlash, this book demonstrates that participation in ethno-national organizations does not pose a threat to social cohesion. The analysis in this book serves to build a general theory of trust that moves beyond emphasizing interaction between people who are different from each other, but one that includes the importance of cognition.

The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox

An Interpretation and Refinement of the Theological Apologetic of Cornelius Van Til

The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox

The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox grapples with the question of how one may hold together the ideals of systematic theology, apologetic proof, and theological paradox by building on the insights of Cornelius Van Til. Van Til developed an apologetic where one presupposes that the triune God exists, and then proves this Christian presupposition by demonstrating that philosophies that deny it are self-defeating in the specific sense that they rely on principles that only the Trinity, as the ultimate harmony of unity and diversity, can furnish. A question raised by Van Til's trademark procedure is how he can evade the charge that the apparent contradictions of the Christian faith render it equally self-defeating as non-Christian alternatives. This text argues that for Van Til, Christian paradoxes can be differentiated from genuine contradictions by the way that their apparently opposing elements discernibly require one another, even as they present our minds with an irresolvable conflict. And yet, Van Til failed to sufficiently vindicate the central Christian paradox--the doctrine of the Trinity--along the lines required by his system. Hence, the present text offers a unique proof that God can only exist as the pinnacle of unity-in-diversity, and as the ground of a coherent Christian system, if He exists as three, and only three, divine Persons.