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How Do You Greet an Extraterrestrial? 803

The LA Times is running a story about Earth Speaks, a companion project to SETI, which focuses on how we would communicate with intelligent extraterrestrial life, should we happen to discover it. Far more effort has been devoted to searching for signals or a means to communicate than the question of what we might say once contact is established, and the folks at SETI have set up a website to gather opinions on what the best questions and statements are. "So far, the messages break down into a few distinct categories. Some people want to throw a block party to welcome the aliens to the neighborhood. Others, less trusting, would warn the aliens that we've got guns and know how to use them. Another group, possibly influenced by having seen too many movies, would have us hide under the bed until they go away. 'If we discover intelligent life beyond Earth, we should not reply — we should freeze and play dead,' wrote one contributor." What would you say first to an alien?

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