[This text is from the Associated Press, dated December 16, 1997.]
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most Americans believe there is life on other planets, and most of those who think that way say life out there probably is more intelligent than anything down here on Earth, according to a recent survey conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
Scientists promoting the effort to detect signals from outer space were quick to cheer these findings.
"I'm happy to hear that the mainstream and I have similar views," said Paul Horowitz, a professor of physics at Harvard who directs a project that operates a 250-million-channel receiver listening for signals from space.
"It could be that the American people are taking two and two and coming up with four," said Brian Welch, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The telephone survey of 935 adults was conducted Oct. 5-7. The results have a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Marist researchers first asked, "Do you think there is intelligent life on other planets?" Sixty percent of the respondents said yes; 40 percent said no.
Those who said yes were then asked if they thought life on other planets was "more, less, or about as intelligent as human life on Earth."
The aliens came out ahead, with 47 percent of those who believe in life on other plants saying they thought extraterrestrial life was more intelligent, 13 percent said less intelligent, and 40 percent said it was about the same.
By a margin of 86 to 14, people said they thought galactic neighbors are friendly rather than hostile.
Broken down by age, people from 18 through 60 were strongly supportive of the idea of life on other planets. But people older than 60 rejected the idea by a margin of 67 to 33.
Despite the positive expectation of otherwordly life, the survey found Americans divided on spending for the space program. Forty-seven percent said the government was spending too much, 43 percent said funding was about right and 10 percent said it was too low. Asked if they thought the space program was a good investment, 45 percent said yes and 55 percent said the money would be better spent on other programs.
Original file name: CNI - Survey.ETs Yes.final
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.