In “All alone and no one knows why” former nanotechnology watchdog Mike Treder tells us (Ethical Technology, Mar. 2, 2010)
In 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi famously wondered, “Where is everybody?” He was referring to the strange silence in the universe, the apparent lack of any advanced civilizations beyond Earth.
Fermi reasoned that the size and age of the universe would indicate that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist. However, this hypothesis is inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it.
He offers a solution he says his critics have been unable to refute.
First, he rejects the idea that humans may simply be the first intelligent beings to explore outer space, arguing that humans “along with every other form of life” evolved by natural selection and are not special”: “Why, then, would it even be conceivable that earthlings are destined to be the very first species to make a noticeable mark on the universe?”
(The logic here escapes me. Earthlings could just happen to be first to explore because 1 is the first natural number. Indeed, absent prejudice, his first option is far more reasonable than what follows.)
He then finds himself stuck between:
2. There have been others before us, but all of them, without exception, have chosen—or somehow been forced—to expand in such a way that they are presently undetectable by our most sophisticated instruments. ?
3. There have been others, but all of them, without exception, have run into a cosmic roadblock that either destroys them or prevents their expansion beyond a small radius.
Well, he rejects 2 because it is unreasonable to suppose that millions of advanced civilizations before us chose or were forced to avoid detection by ourselves.
Again, I don’t follow because we cannot establish the definite existence of even one of these millions of secretive civilizations, which makes it premature to dispute their motives. However, unless one is paranoid (“Secret groups are hiding critical information from me”), one must agree with him.
That leaves proposition 3:
Expand = kaboom is a law of the universe, and therefore “ … the explanation that seems to fit best leaves us stuck inside an expansion boundary from which we can never escape.”
His responses to arguments against his view are entertaining. I’m glad all this isn’t science. A fun rainy day discussion that lacks the one thing needful: Any evidence whatever for any of the propositions.
Extraterrestrials and the superrich
And we thought this sort of thing only happened in science fiction
Do you have to be an American liberal to believe in extraterrestrials?