In a paper uploaded to arXiv.org, Professor Ermanno Borra and graduate student Eric Trottier, both of Laval University in Quebec, claim that they've found 234 signals that "are caused by light pulses generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence to makes [sic] us aware of their existence." Borra told the New Scientist, "Intuitively—my emotion speaks now—I strongly suspect that it’s an ETI signal." Still, the paper's abstract admits that "at this stage, this hypothesis needs to be confirmed with further work."
If that sounds crazy, that's because, well, the duo is probably wrong.
For one, arXiv.org isn't a peer-reviewed publication, so other scientists didn't check the work before it was published, as is the standard among academics.
Some professors who have studied the paper are skeptical. Missouri State University professor Peter Plavchan explained to the New Scientist, "They don’t consider every natural possibility and jump prematurely to the supernatural—so to speak—conclusion." He added the Borra and Trottier's claim is "way too premature."
Andrew Siemion is the director of University of California Berkeley's SETI Research Center (SETI stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). He told the New Scientist that there's "no bolder claim that one could make in observational astrophysics than the discovery of intelligent life beyond the Earth." He said people like Borra and Trottier should not "make such definitive statements about detections unless you’ve exhausted every possible means of follow-up."
Both Siemion and Plavchan think that the alleged ETI signals were probably caused by errors in calibration or data analysis, rather than, you know, little green guys way out there. Reviewing the Borra and Trottier's analysis, Plavchan found multiple red flags that "scared him," suggesting that the signals probably are the result of human error.
Still, the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, a project led by Siemion, plans to conduct more research into Borra and Trottier's claims, which they described in a statement as "certainly worthy of additional study." With that said, the statement notes that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," and that it's "too early to unequivocally attribute these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations."
In fact, on a 0 to 10 scale used to quantify "detections of phenomena that may indicate the existence of advanced life beyond the Earth," Siemion's team rated Borra and Trottier's claims between 0 and 1, which means that the claims are insignificant.