Generally speaking, I don’t believe in extra-terrestrial intelligence. There’s no concrete evidence for it, anywhere in human history. We’ve spent decades looking for it, with the understanding that we can only search the smallest fragment of the smallest portion of our immediate location in the universe. I remember a compelling argument, that if you take a glass of water out of the ocean and don’t find a shark in it, that’s like searching the space available to us and not finding extra-terrestrial life. While that’s true, it also makes me think there’s no point in searching for sharks with glasses of water. You’ve essentially proved the point I was trying to make.
So, I don’t think spending tax dollars on SETI is a worthwhile expense. It’s never going to find extra-terrestrial life, mainly because, the evidence we currently have says there is none; but even researchers who do believe (without evidence, I might add) that extra-terrestrial life exists, admit that they won’t get the results they hope for. The project is too limited to ever work. I’m occasionally reminded that SETI does develop new, worthwhile technologies, so while maybe the search didn’t find what it was looking for, it finds other things that gave value to the project.
As far as belief without evidence, there are certainly enough charlatans out there, trying to prove that aliens exist, and are here, or have been here, and they are able to point to some truly interesting historical oddities. Some of them even call themselves researchers.
While I’m against SETI in general, it’s probably a good thing that there aren’t leagues of people like me, shouting down any serious work in the search. If I took up Amazing Randi’s proposition to give one million dollars to anyone who can provide proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence, I feel very secure knowing I’d never have to cough it up, because it doesn’t exist, and the people looking for it don’t think it can be found. If we had a whole sub-culture devoted to shouting down the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, hopefully we could put those Ancient Aliens bastards out of business once and for all.
ETA: For context, this was originally posted in the article about the Amazing Randi.