The physicist Enrico Fermi wondered why we haven’t seen any evidence of visitors from another planet, given that he believed intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy was highly probable. (Maybe we have seen such evidence, given some recent UFO incidents, but for the sake of argument…) This question is known as Fermi’s Paradox.
Standard answers to the Paradox involve emphasizing the vast distances involved, and the fact that “as far as our galaxy is concerned, we are living somewhere in the sticks, far removed from the metropolitan area of the galactic center,” as Edward Teller put it. Another theory is that species which are sufficiently intelligent to achieve interstellar travel have a tendency to blow themselves up long before they reach anywhere in our vicinity.
Don Sensing cited another possible explanation, suggested by Geoffrey Miller:
I suggest a different, even darker solution to the Paradox. Basically, I think the aliens don’t blow themselves up; they just get addicted to computer games. They forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they’re too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism. They don’t need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today. Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot. They become like a self-stimulating rat, pressing a bar to deliver electricity to its brain’s ventral tegmental area, which stimulates its nucleus accumbens to release dopamine, which feels…ever so good.
See my post here for thoughts related to the above explanation and the psychology of decadence.
But I have a new theory, suggested by recent events: The aliens invent something like Twitter, their whole planet becomes the equivalent of a particularly nasty middle school on earth, and they melt down under waves of mutual accusations and denunciations.
14 thoughts on “Another Possible Explanation for the Absence of Space Aliens”
I am right there with you on decadence but what we have seen in our own western society is that technology is too difficult for the decadent. China is the example to contrast with. The Chinese are only 70 years into the modern society and only 50 into a viable economy. They have something like 30% their college students taking STEM classes while our colleges are preoccupied with nonsense fields like the “Studies” majors. Antonio Gramsci might have designed the curriculum.
How is a society obsessed with race and Socialism to spend any effort on even looking for aliens? We would only be lucky if the aliens would be as foolish as our “Elites.”
I could see some parallels with late Roman society which had mercenaries populating its armies.
Now that Portland OR is considering a Mayor openly a member of Antifa, we seem to be approaching the end game.
Prior to very recent times, there was a good chance that eruptions of craziness–witch-burnings, for example–might be geographically-contained. But with the coming of electronic communications, and especially of social media–most extreme form being Twitter…crazy patterns can spread instantly.
My post Coupling is relevant here.
Eventually, the dysfunctional are going to weed themselves out of society. May take generations, but just like alcohol, those who are susceptible to the wiles of the virtual world’s lotus machines are going to gravitate towards them, become enmeshed, and then get stuck in them. That will pretty much remove them from the gene pool, just as those who were susceptible to alcohol’s lure did the same thing.
It is worth looking at, and examining: Hashish and hemp endemic populations do not demonstrate the amount of damage that “green field” populations show when they first encounter THC-heavy intoxicants. Likewise, those who’ve been alcohol-positive for generation have already gone through the weeding-out process for alcohol-abuse candidates, and don’t have the issues with Demon Rum that green-field populations like Native Americans.
Which, come to think of it, makes me wonder: A lot of alcohol use by Europeans was predicated by contaminated water sources, and the need to avoid same. What the hell did the Native Americans do about that “minor” issue, in the absence of alcohol or the ability to boil water to make tea, as the Chinese did? While I’m sure the Native Americans could boil water, whatever process they used wasn’t something that meant they could do it for potable water, so how the hell did they avoid things like cryptosporidium?
On the issue of “Where are they…?”, I’m going to lay my money on the majority of technologic civilizations like ours not getting out of the stage we’re at, right now. We’re only a tiny, incremental step away from the point where a dysfunctional kid in a high-school bio lab could conceivably create something like that Australian Mouse Pox that had a 90% or better kill rate. Wuhan proves that our ability to cope with that sort of thing is essentially nil, and the fact that nobody is really working to come up with effective early warning and countermeasures…? Yeah; we’re pretty much doomed.
Which is why I’m not surprised that nobody is knocking on our door; they all killed themselves at about the point we’re at.
The Amerindians may well have avoided water borne disease because of the 10,000 year isolation. Many diseases appeared with agriculture. The rest were largely imported in near historic times from Asia. Tuberculosis, a scourge for Amerindians, maybe have arisen in Asia from elephants. Malaria was a disease of birds and appeared in humans only with agriculture, as best we can tell. The chinchona bark was known to the Peruvians but was malaria ? The anopheles mosquito came with African slaves in historic times.
The devastation of the Amerindians was largely due to the absence of “old world diseases” for the 10,000 years since their ancestors crossed from Siberia. Smallpox was the great killer just as measles was the great killer of the Polynesians. Amerindians got some benefit from their weak immune systems. Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are largely absent. The alcohol intolerance is common in primitive societies that had not grown wheat or fermented it.
Imagine a technologically advanced civilization. Queen Hillary is mistress of all she surveys. But she is not immortal.
Her peons approach Queen Hillary with a plan to conquer the Universe in her name. Imagine! Postal voting from Alpha Centauri — Queen Hillary is guaranteed 90% of the vote at least. But even with near light-speed travel, Queen Hillary will be long dead before the first new votes trickle back in. Queen Hillary nixes the plan in favor of building some more statues of herself.
Seriously, given the distances, the generations required for travel, the huge number of dead end unsuitable planetary systems out there, there is only one practical choice for that advanced civilization — send out one way packets of their DNA, and let the Universe take care of it.
We may already have been “visited” by an ancient technological civilization, which planted life on this planet. This would also answer one of the big problems with Darwinism — how did evolution get started?
What would be in this “seeding the Universe” for that ancient technological civilization? Not much that we can see, except maybe the satisfaction of knowing that they got the ball rolling.
My theory is that the space aliens’ powerful unions prevent them from exporting their manufacturing jobs to our third-world planet.
If they are out there we should probably want not to encounter them.
isn’t that the lesson, from the day the earth stood still, to skylight, ‘war of the worlds’ was supposed to be what happens if the colonizers faced an apex predator, epix had a modern take where the alien pods were releasing radiation that was disrupting our biological systems as precursor to invasion, a&e has one with a more victorian set up coming up next month,
Not a new idea. John Barnes has it as a setting element for his “A Million Open Doors/Earth Made Of Glass” series of books… That’s about 25y old.
I remember Dennis Miller hitting on it around the same time, quipping, “The day when you can sit in a barcalounger with a Fosters in one hand and a clicker in the other and fuck Claudia Schiffer for $19.95 is gonna make crack cocaine look like Sanka…”
Carl Sagan’s “Contact”novel was pretty good. The movie was OK but not as sophisticated, for obvious reasons, as the novel.
I liked “Close Encounters” but the ending was better than 90% of the rest of the movie.
Gavin, attempting to solve Darwin via aliens simply moves the problem. One still has to solve it for the aliens; how did they evolve?
Roy Kerns: “attempting to solve Darwin via aliens simply moves the problem.”
Absolutely! There are many people who think that Darwin’s observation of the impacts of selective breeding has ended the discussion about where life came from. Of course it does not. Darwin is part of the answer, but only part. The analogy might be to the original atomic theory, which treated atoms as solid indivisible particles; that theory explained some things, but not others — just like Darwin’s selective breeding.
Tom Wolfe’s book “The Kingdom of Speech” is well worth a read — entertaining as well as informative. Even big name anti-religious evolutionists like Dawkins shy away from the issue of how inanimate matter became animate. Personally, one of the questions I wonder about is — if the formation of life were a natural process (say, involving the organization of precursor molecules on clay surfaces?), then why do we not see evidence that life has started many, many different times — right up to the present day?
Which brings us back to the advanced space aliens, still stuck with slower-than-light travel in a universe where meaningful distances are measured in hundreds of light years. Late in its life, each star is going to expand and swallow their planets. One could imagine a “Post-Democrat” rational society recognizing that it was doomed, and deciding to seed the universe with their DNA as their final act. The time for seed capsules to reach other planets would be measured in millenia — but that would not matter.
If this hypothesis is correct, then there should be other planets in the galaxy with life. But we are so separated by distances that communication (let alone travel) is impractical. And of course this still does not address the issue of how atoms & molecules became life in the first place.
My own thought on the Fermi Paradox is based on a relatively recent human activity – ecotourism.
If a civilization has the technology to travel interstellar distances, there is really very little of use to them to be found on Planet Earth.
Nothing here except entertainment.
The Earth is probably part of some galactic eco-park reservation when you can get a permit to visit for a stiff fee. You have to pack out your garbage too.
Of course,as a tourist attraction, Earth faces competition from other parks and curiosities.
We’re getting the traffic we deserve.
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