MSNBC Asks: When the aliens call, who'll answer?

cosmiclog.msnbc A new poll suggests that 77 percent of Americans think there's evidence that aliens have already visited Earth. The same poll suggests most Americans think President Barack Obama would do a better job than presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney if we had to fight off an alien invasion. And if we have to rely on a superhero to save us, they'd rather go with the Hulk than Batman.

That somewhat silly survey was conducted to tout a "Chasing UFOs" TV series on the National Geographic Channel, but the results raise a serious question: If an alien civilization does get in touch with us, who's in charge of figuring out what to do?

"Nobody's in charge," says Seth Shostak, who is senior astronomer at the California-based SETI Institute as well as the chairman of the International Academy of Astronautics' SETI Permanent Study Group. Shostak and I talked about SETI — the search for extraterrestrial intelligence — as well as its serious and silly implications tonight on "Virtually Speaking Science." The hourlong talk show is archived as a podcast on the Web and on iTunes.

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