Every so often the people searching for extraterrestrial life that just never seems to turn up need a pep talk. It often takes the form of “You know, we could be on the wrong track”:
Studying the universe largely unshackled from theory is not only a legitimate scientific endeavour – it’s a crucial one. The tendency to describe exploratory science disparagingly as “fishing expeditions” is likely to harm scientific progress. Under-explored areas need exploring, and we can’t know in advance what we will find.
In the search for extraterrestrial life, scientists must be thoroughly open-minded. And this means a certain amount of encouragement for non-mainstream ideas and techniques. Examples from past science (including very recent ones) show that non-mainstream ideas can sometimes be strongly held back. Space agencies such as NASA must learn from such cases if they truly believe that, in the search for alien life, we should “expect the unexpected”.Peter Vickers, “Alien life is out there, but our theories are probably steering us away from it” at The Conversation
See also: Tales of an invented god: The most important characteristic of an AI cult is that its gods (Godbots?) will be created by the AI developers and not the other way around