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#1 2003-02-06 12:48:07

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,269

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]So, I have a hypothesis that might provide for a different perspective regarding the possibility of intelligent life, and why we don't see the universe filled with a galaxy spanning species.

Rough draft idea, but I here is what I am thinking:

1. We can assume that evolution works the same way throughout the universe, however it may work.
2. Biological requirements drive species behavior, which is a product of evolution.
3. Species propagate their genes due to inherited biological traits that favor successful reproduction.
4. Industrialization and advanced technology lead to reductions in the number of people born.
5. Any species capable of interstellar flight may also be sufficiently advanced in their biological sciences to prolong their individual lives many times over, perhaps even defeating "death".

So I ask you, if humans were sufficiently advanced, and we could all be nearly immortal, and we lived in a highly automated society which precluded the necessity of "work"; how many children would be born?

We think of humanity reaching out to the stars, expanding our presence- living throughout the vastness of creation. Well, okay, but why do we assume we must expand? Population pressures? That is the historical argument and experience. Yet that all changes in terms of space.

Perhaps there are no galaxy wide civilizations because at some point, the species stop having tons and tons of children. They stop propagating and simply exist as individuals. They wouldn't necessarily need children, after all, they would live forever- no need to propagate the genes.

I need questions or comments to help flesh this out. Feel free to chime in or ask for clarification…[/color:post_uid0]

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#2 2003-02-06 13:51:42

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Well, human desire to go into space isn't ‘just’ motivated by wanting to propogate the species. It's really motivated by our desire to understand more about the universe.

If we accept evolution exists elsewhere in the universe, we must accept that other intelligent beings have our same drive and motivation. And all it would take is one civilization in the galaxy.

There's always the possiblity that species respect other species within the galaxy. At least, that's how I would hope humans would be if we find another planet which is populated by an entirely different species.[/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#3 2003-02-06 14:05:12

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,269

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Yes, but Fermi's paradox is suggests that the universe should be filled with evidence of intelligent life, yet it isn't.

So I am questioning the underlying principles that are used to establish Fermi's paradox.

In it, he assumes that an intelligent species would slowly, yet eventually, colonize the entire universe. I question wether or not we can legitametly expect to see continual expansion of a species.

Why would a species continually expand their biological numbers if they have reached a state where they are nearly immortal and have no need for children to support them?

Look at the difference in population growth between third world countries and first world industrialized countries.

If a species is capable of interstellar flight, than they certainly must have the ability to extract massive amounts of energy and metals for any and every need. I would also imagien that a source of food would be ensured with the development of space based assests or high end technology.

Our current concepts are predicated on our historical experience and understanding of the universe- but look how things have changed in just the last century.

i can accep that other species might have our drives and ambitions- it seems assured if evolution is to be trusted. however, I believe that these drives and ambitions change due to the environment- more precisely, first world nations and third world nations have the same drive and ambitions, yet each realizes it differently due to their conditions.

If we exsist in an environment where we live forever, our mateterial needs are provided for, what point is there in unending propagation of the species? What is the benefit?

At some point, I think every species may confront this issue, which would explain the deafining silence...[/color:post_uid0]

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#4 2003-02-06 14:27:48

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]It's a good point. In 3001 A Final Odyssey there were only a trillion people or whatever ‘alive,’ everyone alive had an ID. It would actually be quite, well, surreal to have a child which grows up to ‘be’ your age.

I think that, ultimately, since space travel would be so hard to come by, because faster than light is impossible; even if you were immortal, you'd still leave behind people to take care of things. If we go to the nearest ten stars, it would be silly to not leave anyone there, even a small population, to continue research, and keep records of the whole of that society. What if life is actually quite abundant? Wouldn't it be wise of a highly curious society to leave behind people to observe the evolution of life?

Perhaps we are being observed even as we speak! Perhaps the hands-off scenario isn't far off...[/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#5 2003-02-06 15:17:53

Adrian
Moderator
From: London, United Kingdom
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 642
Website

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I subscribe to two ideas about the Fermi paradox. The first is like Clark's idea, that by the time we are capable of interstellar travel, we simply won't be interested any more. I can't say why, but we'll be incredibly more advanced by that point and perhaps we might be on the cusp of a Vingean Singularity - and of course, if that's the case, all bets are off.

My other idea is that life is extremely rare and that what with the universe being so big, intelligent life is separated by vast distances. We'll find the aliens eventually - but we'll meet them halfway in the depths of unpopulated space.[/color:post_uid0]


Editor of New Mars

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#6 2003-02-06 15:48:58

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I have two ideas, myself.

1) They are simply too undetectable.

Or (which goes along the lines of your second one, also)

2) Intelligent, evolved life, capable of creating technology is very rare.[/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#7 2003-02-07 14:53:04

Hamarkhis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2003-02-02
Posts: 2

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Here's an idea:

The more people there are, the less freedom the individual is capable of having. Imagine a galaxy filled with humans; say, forty quadrillion of us. How much freedom can any one citizen have in a society that vast? Too much movement, and the state (ie, the overriding government) is rendered incapable of tracking everyone - so movement would have to be restricted. And what about communication? Fourty billion people bleating across the galaxy at each other about this or that - that /couldn't/ be allowed to continue, because the society would crumble under the sheer weight of ideas passing back and forth - both good and bad, of course. But look at the effect of the internet; teenage pregnancy has risen since 1992 in every internet-mad nation on the planet. Not to mention a significant rise in terrorism, which no doubt is at least in part due to the ability of virtually anyone to contact virtually anyone else in the world relativley securely.

Which means that potentially, any species which expands to a huge population (several planets, orbital colonies, and so on, or more) is going to be /less/ civilized than say, an equally advanced interstellar-capable one planet civilization which stays at home. The very weight of their own society will drive them to survive no matter the cost; Hitler rationalized the need for war because of an over-populated under-industrialized Germany: "We need breathing room", he said.

Which means that the ones we want to contact probably don't want to contact anyone else - its just too dangerous, if they're smart enough to realize it.

And the ones that /are/ communicating on an (relativley) easily detectable scale might just be the very ones that we /really/ do not want to know.

Just a thought.  :;):[/color:post_uid0]

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#8 2003-02-07 15:27:25

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]

1. We can assume that evolution works the same way throughout the universe, however it may work.[/quote:post_uid0]

Evolution is an algorithm. Nothing more. As Richard Dawkins crows, DNA replication is not only mechanistic, it is digital rather than analog.

2. Biological requirements drive species behavior, which is a product of evolution.
3. Species propagate their genes due to inherited biological traits that favor successful reproduction.[/quote:post_uid0]

Who gets elected to office? Those who are good at winning elections. Always and necessarily true.

Sadly, those folks who desire public office and are good at winning elections may not always be the best choice to actually govern.

The "selfish gene" is a metaphor but a fairly accurate metaphor, IMHO. Selfish genes are quite powerful actors.

4. Industrialization and advanced technology lead to reductions in the number of people born.[/quote:post_uid0]

Close, but off, IMHO.

Education means people assign less importance to genetic blood lines. The USA is a great example where ideological or "memetic" considerations trump genetic ones. Shared beliefs often bonds Americans closer together than a common racial or ethnic hereitage.

Homo sapiens are no longer defined solely by genes. We are both genes and memes, and memes are yet another "selfish replicator" - if I die without biological children but my "ideas" live on then my genes die off but my memes survive and perhaps thrive.

If I define my "self" genetically then children are most important - If I define my "self" memetically (my ideas and beliefs) biological children are far less important.

Sondhiem has written - There are only two things worth leaving behind when you die - children and art. (Sunday in the Park with George)

Genes and memes. . .

5. Any species capable of interstellar flight may also be sufficiently advanced in their biological sciences to prolong their individual lives many times over, perhaps even defeating "death". [/quote:post_uid0]

The end of "death" is the end of evolution. Death is an essential element of the evolutionary algorithm.

This fact leads to one of my biggest criticisms of KSR's Mars trilogy. His longevity treatments ruin the series, at least for me.

Permament longevity treatments would mean that we would cease to be human in any meaningful sense. Once KSR invented longevity treatments, he crossed an event horizon IMHO - meaning it is no longer possible to predict human behavior with any measure of certainty.

Green Mars and Blue Mars simply are not about humans but rather are about a post human super-species KSR prefers to the teeming, breeding, inferior billions living on Earth. :-)[/color:post_uid0]

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#9 2003-02-07 15:35:35

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Evolution as an algorithm - a link

I am quite interested in Adrian's views on this, given his education. DNA codes "evolve" following mathematical algorithms.[/color:post_uid0]

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#10 2003-02-07 16:30:39

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Hamarkhis, interplanetary distances are analogous to oceans.  Sure, there will be disputes on planets, but it will be far more difficult to invade a separate planet.

Earth is populated by 5+ billion people.  Yet i still have my freedom![/color:post_uid0]

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#11 2003-02-08 00:59:26

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Hmm, well, as superior species, we wouldn't need to evolve anyway. Human evolution would be a conscious choice.

KSR had to invent a way for the characters could experience the timespans in his books. Otherwise it would have entailed writing in new characters for each book. I thought it was novel, myself. I don't think we're actually that far off from creating a longevity treatment.[/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#12 2003-02-08 11:19:52

Auqakah
Member
From: England
Registered: 2002-07-13
Posts: 175

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]There are six billion people on Earth. And how much freedom do you have, exactly? Do you have the right to choose not to work, and not be penalized for that choice? Do you have the right to job security for life? Do you have the right to housing, to healthcare, and to food and neccesseties? Just how free is /anyone/?


By the way, Hamarkhis and I are the same. My account died, but appears to have clawed its way back to life. Or something.[/color:post_uid0]


Ex Astra, Scienta

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#13 2003-02-08 11:36:50

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]

There are six billion people on Earth. And how much freedom do you have, exactly? Do you have the right to choose not to work, and not be penalized for that choice? Do you have the right to job security for life? Do you have the right to housing, to healthcare, and to food and neccesseties? Just how free is /anyone/?[/quote:post_uid0]

[b:post_uid0][i:post_uid0]Come on!!![/b:post_uid0][/i:post_uid0]  Youre kidding, right?  If everybody stayed at home and did nothing, we wouldnt be much of a species, would we?  Look at any organism.  Do they have the right not to get their food?  Sure, but they'll die.  This position is really, imho, to put it lightly, ludicrous. 

Free is being able to choose your profession, to choose what to buy and think, to choose who your leaders are, to choose which healthcare you receive, to choose who you associate with.  Laziness is not freedom![/color:post_uid0]

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#14 2003-02-08 14:50:05

dicktice
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2002-11-01
Posts: 1,764

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Personally, I think it's quite fantastic how much we humans are already aware of the universe, considering the short time we have existed on Earth. So what, if we're nasty at times to one another, cooped-up together as we are.
  We needed to be nasty to get this far...and tough...and mean...to survive. The same goes of successfully spreading off-Earth. Ignorance and superstition is what we should be afraid will overcome what knowledge and education makes us capable of.
  Feeling ashamed of belonging to the only intelligent life in the known universe is foolishness. But...that we can have such feelings at all, says a great deal about our potential for continued improvement.
  So forget about any help from "out there" by anyone superior to us--we're all we've got. Let's get the heck off the planet, those of us who already know how to go about it, while educating those of us who are to follow!
   I thank you (no applause, please).[/color:post_uid0]

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#15 2003-02-08 22:31:35

Cobra Commander
Member
From: The outskirts of Detroit.
Registered: 2002-04-09
Posts: 3,039

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]A smattering of random thoughts on the subject:

...by the time we are capable of interstellar travel, we simply won't be interested any more. I can't say why, but we'll be incredibly more advanced by that point... [/quote:post_uid0]

Forgive the disjointed quote, Vingean Singularity puts us in a whole new game, and being a mere lazy human I don't want to deal with it big_smile

It seems speculation on alien civilizations tends to assume they'll be both technologically [i:post_uid0]and[/i:post_uid0] socially more advanced. If our own history is any indication, that probably won't be the case. We're essentially a species with Paleolithic minds and motivations, but the technical knowledge to build atomic bombs, alter our own genes, hurl ourselves off the planet and so on. If humanity is any indicator, the first alien race we encounter may well be militant imperialists with warp drives and the ability to implode stars.

In such a case, it behooves us to become militant space-imperialists first so that it is we who discover them.[/color:post_uid0]


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

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#16 2003-02-09 00:52:40

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Except the laws of thermodynamics suggest that any advanced civilization wouldn't need to be “militant space-imperialists,” because all that matters is energy, and there's quite enough to go around.  cool

If we becoem “militant space-imperialists” ourselves, we will be only adding to the entropy of the universe in the most efficient way possible. Quite boring if you ask me.[/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#17 2003-02-09 01:03:34

Cobra Commander
Member
From: The outskirts of Detroit.
Registered: 2002-04-09
Posts: 3,039

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[/quote:post_uid0]
[color=#000000:post_uid0]

Except the laws of thermodynamics suggest that any advanced civilization wouldn't need to be “militant space-imperialists,” because all that matters is energy, and there's quite enough to go around.  cool[/quote:post_uid0]

Making assumptions again. Rationally "Militant Space Imperialism" makes little sense, but the human species has repeatedly demonstrated its enormous capacity for irrational behavior. If someone out there is going to take the MSI approach, the discoveree will not enjoy the encounter.

I am being somewhat tongue in cheek here, just in case anyone is taking this too seriously. Still, it makes you wonder what horrors might be waiting out there. Explore cautiously and carry a planet smasher. cool[/color:post_uid0]


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

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#18 2003-02-09 01:10:38

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I know. :laugh:

But hey, if there really are militant space-imperialists we might get to meet them, if we never make it far into space, after all; Vogon-style![/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#19 2003-02-09 18:28:18

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid3]Has anybody checked the planning department in Alpha Centauri lately?!!
                                      big_smile[/color:post_uid3]


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#20 2003-02-09 18:31:35

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Josh, again, we have that issue of how you choose to use your allotment of energy!

What if I built a superduper energy enhancer that nobody else could build?  Why, I could build a nicer house, a nicer spaceship, and so on.  I don't have to be imperialistic, but I could be better off!  Is this wrong?  No, I worked to achieve this condition.  Is it a resource inequity?  Yes, but it is not immoral, because I put in the work and expertise to acquire it![/color:post_uid0]

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#21 2003-02-09 18:39:16

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I think you missed the point, soph. We could all live in close orbits around suns, gathering all the energy we needed. Do you have any clue how huge a sun is? You could have trillions upon trillions of humans orbiting in a ring around a sun! Hell, quadrillions! The ring would be so big, you couldn't walk the whole thing even if you lived to be a thousand and you walked every day!

If you can build something, there's nothing preventing someone else from building something too, unless you, like, make sure that they don't by jailing people or whatever for doing so. And then it's only a matter of time before that information gets out.

Indeed, information can't be contained forever, no matter what means you use. Your superduper energy thingiemajig would either be reinvented, or someone will find out how it works by reverse engineering it or copying the plans.[/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#22 2003-02-09 18:42:01

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]What if you didn't have plans?  You are deliberately missing the point!  I can see a computer, does that mean I could build it?  If only one person, or family, had the expertise to build something, and you didn't know what methods or materials they used, you can't build it, period.  I can see an f-15, can I build it?  And seeing the plans won't help you if you can't read them!  What if they were in another language?[/color:post_uid0]

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#23 2003-02-09 19:06:51

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Hahaha, oh, okay. I guess the Wright Brothers were the only people who made and built planes! Oh, wait! Everyone else started building them too, soon after the basic concepts came out! Hmm... interesting.

F-15? You don't have to have the exact plans to build one. You just need to know the basic concepts. People build small personal jets all the time. Man, I remember seeing a kit about 5-6 years ago for your own personal two person jetcraft. It was only about 40k. It was small, but really awesome. I doubt the makers needed F-15 knowledge to make it.

It's called the scientific process. You see something, you observe as much of it as you can, and you attempt to come to the same result. If we couldn't do this, because magically we need plans (which were written in our language, mind you), then I guess fixing anything which was broken, that we had very little knowledge of beforehand, would be impossible.

I guess all those cars I've repaired were magical delusions. sad[/color:post_uid0]


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#24 2003-02-09 21:23:55

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid0]You obviously don't know all the work that goes into producing an f-15.  A car is simple engineering, a personal plane is like a mosquito compared to an f-15.  Come on, Josh, stop trying to find a way around the obvious point.  It's not working.[/color:post_uid0]

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#25 2003-02-10 02:44:19

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Solution to Fermi's paradox? - an idea

[color=#000000:post_uid4]Sometimes I think Dicktice is probably right. The sequence of events which resulted in humans here on Earth may be 'special' enough not to have occurred anywhere else in the universe .. yet! So we might be [b:post_uid4]it[/b:post_uid4]. (If I interpret his comments correctly.)
    After all, in a universe with a definite beginning (big bang) and a finite history, somebody has to be the first sentient species. Why not us?
    As others have said, if we're that special, we should take care of ourselves. To me, that means becoming a competent spacefaring species ASAP in order to get 'all our eggs out of the one fragile basket'! And that, in turn, means getting a colony going on Mars at the earliest opportunity ... like, say, NOW for instance!!

    Then again, the universe is a big place and 14 billion years is a long time. Maybe there are all sorts of intelligent life forms out there, many of them much more advanced than we are, but who choose to ignore us for any number of good reasons. e.g. We're too boring to bother about, or too stupid, or too violently paleolithic (as CC suggests)!
    I suppose it wouldn't be beyond the abilities of an advanced star-travelling species to observe us without being detected ... or would it?

    And what about the notion that our solar system has been visited many times over the eons? Maybe we're just going through one of the extremely long periods during which our system isn't on the visiting list!
    What if some of our oldest written traditions are garbled and misinterpreted descriptions of alien visits? This is no new theory, by any means. But perhaps we should be looking closer to home for evidence, as well as scanning the stars for radio messages. Even the late, great Carl Sagan (I still miss that man! ) thought the Babylonian myth of Oannes, the half-man-half-fish who gave the arts of civilisation to the Chaldeans, a very intriguing story. Interpreting the myth in the light of modern technology invites comparisons with a scuba diver in a wetsuit, perhaps ascending to the surface from a submerged craft of some sort. At first, Oannes is described as "destitute of reason" (- speaking from experience, it's difficult to make any sense with a regulator in your mouth and a face mask on!!), but underneath his fish-like exterior was revealed the form of a 'man', whose "voice too, and language, was articulated and human".
    Then again, why should an alien look human? Unless individual humans were taken, perhaps as children, educated and then sent back into the human community to teach ... a less confronting and less terrifying method than the more direct approach!

    I know, I know ... all just idle speculation!

    But, in the absence of any widely recognised hard evidence (though some dispute this absence! ), anything and everything in this whole thread is no more than speculation, I suppose.
    Even so, I think we should keep an open mind to the possibility of unearthing evidence of alien visits - whether it be here on Earth, or on the Moon, or on Mars. Finding something would make Fermi's Paradox a moot point, wouldn't it?
                                        smile[/color:post_uid4]


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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