You have two options for your discussion assignment this week. Choose just one of the two numbered options below, but be sure to answer all questions included in your chosen option.
1) Like other popular media, the World Wide Web is full of claims of the existence of “extraterrestrial intelligence”—namely, UFO sightings and alien abductions. There are two parts to this question, and you must answer both if you choose this option:
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(A) choose a website of this kind and analyze its content using the idea of Occam’s razor, the principle that if there is more than one viable explanation for a phenomenon, one should choose the simplest explanation that fits all the observed facts.
(B) read what a skeptical website has to say about UFO sightings. A good example is the website of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, or CSICOP. After considering what you have read on both sides of the UFO debate, discuss your opinions about whether aliens really have landed on Earth.
2) Imagine that astronomers have discovered intelligent life in a nearby star system. Imagine you are part of a group submitting a proposal for who on Earth should speak for the planet and what message should be conveyed. Be sure to answer all three questions below, if you choose this option.
(A) Who should speak for Earth and why?
(B) What should this person say?
(C) Why is this message the most important compared to other things that could be said?
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