The new explanation for why we haven’t found alien intelligences
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The article discusses a new paper that argues that the Drake equation skews our expectation of other intelligences, and that there is no Fermi paradox: it’s just likely that intelligent life exists only on Earth. Or in very very few places.
I can’t tell if I’m not buying it because I just don’t want to, or because of my intuition that we aren’t going to answer this on mathematical or statistical grounds.
Trying to find a civilization on a distant planet with the same level of scientific intelligence and sophistication that we have achieved during the past 100 years ... seems highly improbable ... considering they might still be in their stone age ... or long since decayed into nothingness. And yet ... though we pride ourselves on our achievements, 20% of all children in the USA live in absolute poverty, while millions of people throughout the world are starving, many of them because of our policies.
Physician, heal thyself.
I agree; it’s terrible to face the reality of poverty in our world. But I’m not sure what it has to do with the question of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Because of my faith, my working theory is there are intelligent civilizations throughout the universe but because of sin, our planet is "quarantined". That's certainly not scientific proof but it's my metaphysical understanding.
>4 pmackey: because of sin, our planet is "quarantined"
If "sin" is another word for "the vast distances between objects in the universe" I would agree.
>5 southernbooklady:, No... not quite. Thanks for your response because it gave me a chuckle. I appreciate that not everyone agrees with me. Keeps me on my toes which prevents complacency. :)
I dunno. It seems to me that arguments about the Fermi paradox boil down to "an absence of proof is not proof of anything"
>I agree with southernbooklady, but always respect and enjoy the viewpoint of my friend pmackey!
>8 stellarexplorer: Thanks. Just my opinion, but I believe that when it comes to the metaphysical questions we are all people of faith because, while there's evidence it isn't something that is necessarily reducible to science. I think it's our job as curious humans to look at the big "what ifs", come to the best conclusion we can, and act accordingly. Oh, and be excellent to each other.
>10 stellarexplorer: Yeah, we could do with more of that last duty!
>3 stellarexplorer: Can't you just hear the reports from intelligent explorers from distant planets on their view of earth people? Warlike, raping their planet, unable to control their numbers, and unable to feed the people they do have .... in short, a lost cause: not worth our time or energy. The only question: do we destroy them now, or let them destroy themselves, because it will only mean trouble, if they ever do manage to make contact.
>11 Rood: Oh, I see where you are going. It’s more the Are We Really an Intelligent Species? question.
To me, it is a separate question as to how much we are able to improve human deficiencies and to implement more farsighted political and social structures to prevent us from destroying our home and ourselves. And maybe there is such a thing as an existential bottleneck through which technical species must pass in order to avoid self destruction. We have work to do and it is urgent.
But this is a separate matter from whether there are other intelligences out there in the universe.
I do hold the view, perhaps a minority one, that humankind is worth saving, and while we make our stand here on Earth, why not give ourselves other chances to survive and improve? Perhaps it is better if we don’t all live on one planet, subject to extinction if things go wrong in that one place.
Unless pmackey is right, and there is no escaping our divine quarantine.
>12 stellarexplorer: Unless pmackey is right, and there is no escaping our divine quarantine.
I don't want to speak for other people's beliefs because I'd be presumptuous, though I crossed that line already. I will say that it is my belief that there will be an end to our quarantine in Jesus' second advent. That said, I don't see a contradiction in trying to spread humanity beyond Earth. I have hope for humanity in that we are capable of great good, though I'm often led to despair by actual choices we make.
>13 pmackey: We agree on the spirit, if not on all the details. Though I understand and respect that the second advent of Jesus is not for you a “detail”. Let’s get to work as a species.
>14 stellarexplorer: Working for equitable societies, sustainable ecosystems and a clean environment is central to (at least) some Christians because of the view that God created the world, it was good (must be read in Morgan Freeman's voice!), and that humanity was tasked to be its stewards. To conflate Spiderman and Holy Scripture, "With great power comes great responsibility...." We've really, really messed up for too long.
Let’s get to work as a species.
Absolutely! Wherever we fall on the spectrum between metaphysics and science, let's work together for a better world.
Let's face it: we've sent them unsolicited nudes by "Voyager".
(Yeah, being flippant)
Or maybe Douglas Adams had it right . . . .
"It is of course well known that careless talk costs lives, but the full scale of the problem is not always appreciated.
For instance, a human (see Earth) named Arthur Dent who, because of a Vogon Constructor Fleet, was one of the last two humans in the Universe at the time, once said 'I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle.' At the very moment that Arthur said this, a freak wormhole opened up in the fabric of the space-time continuum and carried his words far far back in time across almost infinite reaches of space to a distant Galaxy where strange and warlike beings were poised on the brink of frightful interstellar battle.
The two opposing leaders were meeting for the last time.
A dreadful silence fell across the conference table as the commander of the Vl'Hurgs, resplendent in his black jewelled battle shorts, gazed levelly at the the G'Gugvuntt leader squatting opposite him in a cloud of green sweet-smelling steam, and, with a million sleek and horribly beweaponed star cruisers poised to unleash electric death at his single word of command, challenged the vile creature to take back what it had said about his mother.
The creature stirred in his sickly broiling vapour, and at that very moment the words 'I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle' drifted across the conference table.
Unfortunately, in the Vl'Hurg tongue this was the most dreadful insult imaginable, and there was nothing for it but to wage terrible war for centuries.
Eventually of course, after their Galaxy had been decimated over a few thousand years, it was realized that the whole thing had been a ghastly mistake, and so the two opposing battle fleets settled their few remaining differences in order to launch a joint attack on our own Galaxy - now positively identified as the source of the offending remark.
For thousands more years the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across - which happened to be the Earth - where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.
Those who study the complex interplay of cause and effect in the history of the Universe say that this sort of thing is going on all the time, but that we are powerless to prevent it.
'It's just life,' they say."
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