Saturday, July 20, 2019

I solved Fermi´s paradox, guys

There are two obvious solutions to Fermi´s paradox, and the reason why the matter hasn´t been put to rest is simply that both answers are intolerable to Modern Man and his belief in Eternal Progress, or rather a very specific view of Eternal Progress.

The first obvious answer is the Rare Earth hypothesis. We really are alone, and we are alone *not* because all civilizations go through a human-like history and eventually destroy themselves in a human-like nuclear war (a typical 1970´s anthropocentric conceit), but because multi-cellular life, or perhaps life as such, only emerged once in the entire universe – here on the third rock from the Sun. I´m not sure why this scenario is so intolerable to so many. Asimov has it, and in his novels, humans eventually conquer the entire galaxy because of it. I mean, there is no one to stop us! It´s almost as if the believers in eternal progress wants there to be advanced alien civilizations as a kind of guarantee that we will once reach that stage, too. And a secret wish to fall down and worship the aliens…?

The second obvious answer is that the universe is *teeming* with life, including advanced life, yes, including advanced intelligent life…but most of it is unable to or even uninterested in developing our kind of advanced technology, let alone fly around in space. (If you believe in the supernatural, you could even argue that most life is clever enough to avoid this shitty universe, much preferring the astral delights of some spirit-dimension.) Humans aren´t the only intelligent species on Earth. What about chimpanzees, whales, ravens, or even octopi? Let´s assume whales or octopi evolve for another 100 million years or so. What makes us think they can´t become smarter? And why must this necessarily entail leaving the sea, becoming bipedal and have opposable thumbs? “Because that is the only way we can create a civilization”. No, it isn´t. What makes us think the only way to create a civilization is the human way? What makes us think a species with whale-derived intelligence would want to make the things humans are making? Come to think of it, even creatures driven by pure instinct can create something eerily resembling a civilization. Yes, I´m thinking of ants, which did it millions of years before humans even existed.

And that´s just one planet…

Imagine what weird and wonderful creatures could evolve at other planets. Once again: what makes us think they would be interested in communicating with other star systems (or conquering them), rather than studying the notochord, the immortality of the common cockchafer, or what have you. If they evolved differently from us, they might not even *need* to create a high technology civilization that emits radio waves. That´s something we have to do because we (or many of us, at any rate) wouldn´t survive without one. Other species might not need this kind of jerry-rigged contraption.

Believers in the very specific kind of progress which entails going to the stars can come up with some pretty bizarre scenarios “solving” Fermi´s paradox. Thus, one prominent atheist (who is otherwise a very smart guy) claims that the aliens must be hiding in the empty space in between star systems (that´s why we can´t see them) constantly hooked up to a virtual reality more interesting than our galaxy (that´s why they don´t bother with humans). Analyzing the Bayesian probability for this might be interesting, even apart from the fact that it sounds almost religious…

Next week, your favorite blogger will solve Euthyphro´s dilemma and the theodicy problem. End of transmission.

PS. Now, read this:

Seven solutions to Fermi´s paradox


  1. Den första teorin fyller mig med olust - tydligen är inte mina känslor för Gud så varma att jag riktigt gillar idén om att vi är ensamma med Gud i ett helt universum.

    Men den kan vara sann. Så länge ingen kommit på någon bra förklaring till att en "organisk" molekyl kan samarbeta med andra dito och bilda en cell...

    Den andra är jag mer tveksam till. Det finns å andra sidan inget som säger att vi lätt skulle kunna upptäcka lokal radiokommunikation på Andromedagalaxen - för att inte tala om galaxer som ligger miljarder ljusår bort.

    De kan ju också kommunicera på något sätt som vi ännu inte upptäckt.

    Sedan har vi förstås ´Oumuamua - och KIC 8462852...

  2. Ja, det stämmer. Det kan ju vara så att samma vetenskapsmän som yrar om Fermis paradox och vill hitta aliens får kalla fötter när något som faktiskt liknar aliens visar sig! Var inte KIC mindre kontroversiellt än Oumuamua? För att Oumuamua var närmare, kanske...?

    Jag tror annars att teori nummer två är den troligaste. Fast när jag är på mitt mest ovetenskapliga-teosofiska humör, så tror jag att kosmos kryllar av liv, fast från andra dimensioner. Det betyder att vi egentligen "ser" dem mest hela tiden...

  3. "Rare Earth" i den version jag diskuterar är förresten sekulärt.


  5. What´s wrong with nuclear Power, GMO´s and designer Babies? I don´t get it.