The book is Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth
In some ways, Loeb sees the argument around ‘Oumuamua as a proxy for a larger debate about the scientific process. Of his colleagues, he thinks: where are the progressive, exciting ideas? Where are the scientists making bold hypotheses without worrying they might damage their careers? He is convinced conservatism is ruining science, to the point where a hypothesis can now be dismissed outright just because it seems silly or outlandish or unfashionable, even when it is as theoretically plausible as any other theory available. Of ‘Oumuamua, he says: “The only reason I was courageous enough to come out was because people privately told me, ‘Yes, this object is something quite unusual.’ They say it privately because they’re afraid to make a public statement. But I’m not afraid. What should I be afraid of?”Alex Moshakis, “Professor Avi Loeb: ‘It would be arrogant to think we’re alone in the universe’” at The Guardian
Reporters flocked to his door. I was not one of them, because I thought the claim was clever and bold, but far-fetched, and I still do, much as I wish it were true. Few of his scientific colleagues agree with him, as Loeb will be the first to tell you in his new book, “Extraterrestrial,” which is part graceful memoir and part plea for keeping an open mind about the possibilities of what is out there in the universe — in particular, life. Otherwise, he says, we might miss something amazing, like the church officials in the 17th century who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.
“Are we, both scientists and lay people, ready?” he asks in his introduction. “Is human civilization ready to confront what follows our accepting the plausible conclusion, arrived at through evidence-backed hypotheses, that terrestrial life isn’t unique and perhaps not even particularly impressive? I fear the answer is no, and that prevailing prejudice is a cause for concern.” Dennis Overbye, “Did an Alien Life-Form Do a Drive-By of Our Solar System in 2017?” at New York Times
(Loeb, in interview) It’s a very different type of evidence than in the past. We searched for radio signals. This is very different. It’s like a message in a bottle, a physical object that we trace that is artificially produced. The moral of the story is that even though we didn’t get enough evidence on this object to get an image of it, or be sure that it’s artificial, it is sufficiently intriguing. We should continue to search the sky for similar objects.Eve Peyser, “Let This Harvard Professor Convince You That Aliens Exist” at New York Magazine[publication]
Some of us still think Loeb is way off the beam about Oumuamua but at least he is talking about how you would know that something is designed. If anyone is interested, it is called the design inference.
See also: Avi Loeb talks to Sean Carroll At Preposterous Universe about why he thinks Oumuamua represents extraterrestrials