Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson offers us a “fascinatingly disturbing thought”:
Not only does he remind us that our perception of intelligence is laughably flawed, but he reminds us that any superior race out there (e.g. the kind that could achieve interstellar travel) would likely look at us as if we were chimps. Like we look at monkeys in the zoo, such a superior race would probably do the same, meaning they may not stop by our planet to look at the animals.
The last few years has seen an incredible jump in the interest of scanning our universe. Despite continuing drastic budget cuts to our space program, which includes looking for things like asteroids that pose a risk to our planet as well as distant planets that may support life. Fortunately for us, searching for these planets requires at least one satellite, and interested parties that can crowdsource the effort. Hopefully, by the end of the year, the scientific community will get a huge boost in capability, making the search even better.
In the meantime, anyone with a few spare minutes, interest, and curiosity can help the effort. The Kepler team has set up a web site called Planet Hunters, that lets anyone participate. As time permits, you use their guide and classify stars. Each one may be just another star, or it may show signs that an exoplanet is lurking about. No shit, some random citizen just poking at this web site could be the next person to identify an exoplanet that is capable of sustaining life. If that isn’t scientific power at your fingertips, I don’t know what is.