Arik Kershenbaum’s new book, Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy, argues that convergent evolution on Earth helps us understand what to expect from extraterrestrial life. But then he encounters a difficulty:
The trouble is, we don’t know what aliens have for genes. So this is something we can’t say is quite as universal as some of the other constraints of biology on Earth. It may be that the way that alien life forms are related to each other is completely different, and so their sociality may be completely different as well. – Dan Falk, “Why Extraterrestrial Life May Not Seem Entirely Alien” at Quanta (March 18, 2021)News, “Zoologist: Law of evolution can predict what aliens will be like” at Mind Matters News
Convergent evolution is a fact of life on Earth and it does imply that there is a structure and design to life, based on physics. But how far can we take these assumptions when we venture into unknown territory?
Kershenbaum wipes out, unfortunately, when he tries to claim that human culture is genetically based. In reality,
These beliefs are immaterial and may or may not originate in genes, as opposed to culture. If extraterrestrials are smart enough to be in touch with us, why shouldn’t we assume that they are not governed wholly by genes either but also by immaterial beliefs?News, “Zoologist: Law of evolution can predict what aliens will be like” at Mind Matters News
Takehome: Kershenbaum’s argument fails when he addresses human culture: It just isn’t true that co-operation among humans is governed wholly by genes. But his book is probably a fun read.
See also: SETI director warns: Those aliens could be malevolent. Harvard astronomer agrees: We’ve sent a lot of signals in recent years; they may have got them. But now what? Astronomer Avi Loeb has a low-risk practical idea: Look for alien debris on our still, lifeless, atmosphere-free Moon
Why some experts hope we don’t find life on Mars. Many thinkers worry about what will happen if the extraterrestrials land. But will they feel worse if we never find ET?