I'd like to ask about the following report's title:

"Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs"

The report is mentioned in "The Mars Mystery" by Graham Hancock.

I believe the knowledge of the language begins with attempts of finding the shades of true meanings in indirect, necessarily imprecise, ambiguous sentences like that.

The reports itself is about 200 pages long and I didn't have the strength to read it thoroughly through. It is even better for the sake of my question. I perceive the title(to put it bluntly) as "The peaceful space exploration is dangerous". My question could be put thus: is that alluded (by me) meaning is utterly wrong and isn't supported by English grammar and words' meaning at all or the opposite worth being taken into account?


2 Answers 2


I think that language is inherently imprecise, particularly when dealing with truth. I don't see the meaning you derive, to me it simply means what it says on its face. Perhaps you could explain why you see it as a statement of the dangers of space exploration, and we could then explore that.

Generally, English can be imprecise, more precise and even at times, with enough effort, clear, precise and unambiguous. Grammar allows for all sorts of constructions that would be technically correct or acceptable but still rather ambiguous in terms of meaning; in other words they are open to a range of interpretation, and perhaps far out of the typical native speaker's syntax, which I suppose is the actual syntax for English. Any sentence that is open to interpretation could hardly be said to be truthful. Understanding sentences includes seeing the ambiguity; if it's intentional then perhaps that is the art of writing at work, if not, it's just sloppy. But it can be equally artful, and perhaps more so, to write precisely.

  • And by the way, the title of the article is not a sentence. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 7:22
  • That was the essence of the question. I checked my 'English intuition' and it proved wrong. Mainly because that implication word (IMHO) in the context sounds menacing. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 8:33

From the following description, the report is a straightforward research project by what was then the major U.S. think-tank, and my judgment would be that there is no ulterior motive or irony in the title; it simply means what it says. Its grammar provides no suggestion otherwise, nor does the historical context of the research. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had only been in office for three months and had not yet announced his plans for going to the moon--that speech came September 12, 1961. (The report itself was publicly available, or at least it findings announced, by December 1960, well before he took office.

From Wikipedia, in an article titled "Brookings Report"

Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs, often referred to as "the Brookings Report", was a 1960 report commissioned by NASA and created by the Brookings Institution in collaboration with NASA's Committee on Long-Range Studies. It was submitted to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics of the United States House of Representatives in the 87th United States Congress on April 18, 1961.[1] It was entered into the Congressional Record and can be found in any library possessing the Congressional Record for that year. . .

The report has become noted for one short section entitled "The implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life", which examines the potential implications of such a discovery on public attitudes and values. The section briefly considers possible public reactions to some possible scenarios for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, stressing a need for further research in this area.

The Wikipedia article notes that the report also suggested the possibility of withholding any discovery of extraterrestrial life as too upsetting to the public (this is a crude summary)--but that was part of the public report.

  • In other words, "implications" means "what it would mean to us" without saying whether this is good or bad (or both). Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 7:59

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