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Discuss First Alien Contact

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This discussion is hosted in Socratic form. Socratic method drives conversation inexorably toward rapid and definitive resolution.   Learn more...

Socratic Method is one of the oldest and most respected forms of productive debate. There are many unproductive methods. All of which should be avoided. Socratic method is a very old and respected means to quickly and definitively resolve difficult issues by adhering to rules of conversation which are carefully designed to keep the discussion on track and drive it toward rapid and unreserved conclusion. Conclusion is reached when after carefully selecting questions designed to spotlight an affirmation's error, no one involved in the conversation is any longer willing to dispute the rationality of the affirmation.

Wikipedia on Socratic Method

In this way, conclusion is forced upon those who remain in disagreement, but have no rational reason for their disagreement. One remaining in disagreement is forced to admit "I still disagree, but fail to provide a reason for my disagreement which others perceive as rational." The irrationality of his or her position becomes obvious to those involved in the conversation.

For this reason Socratic Method is very unpopular with politicians who often desire to remain uncommitted on some issues.

How do I comment in Socratic Method if I disagree?

Do not pose an alternate position or attempt to show that there is a better way to handle the issue. This is the error most make in debate. Nothing ever ends up resolved because both sides continue supporting their respective and opposing views and neither view is refuted. Neither party has any reason to concede. Neither party finds it intellectually embarrassing to continue supporting their original position.

First, make sure you disagree. An argument is not won with fancy words, but by discovering the winning side before choosing your position. Is your position winnable? If not, accept it and change your mind, otherwise Socratic Method will reveal your irrationality to others. Once you've answered that, list the assumptions upon which the affirmed statement rests, and which if shown to be false, make the affirmed statement's error obvious to others.

Restate that assumption in language and terminology which make the affirmation's reliance upon the assumption obvious and ask those affirming if they agree with the assumption.

If the assumption is specious, wait to point out the assumption's flaw in your second question after those affirming answer their agreement with the assumption. Post "Considering that you agree with that particular assumption, do you also agree with its obviously erroneous implication, thus.....?

If you have difficulty finding an erroneous assumption or an error of conclusion implied by assumptions made in the affirmation, double check that you still disagree. You may find, to your surprise that you agreed with the statement all along. You just didn't think about it carefully enough at first.

In the Discovery channel documentary Special "Curiosity" Dr. Steven Hawking proposes that if extra terrestrial intelligence exists, their discovery of earth will turn out the same way the European discovery of American civilizations turned out.  And that at best.  Worse, they may not regard us with any respect what so ever and simply wipe us from the planet merely because we occupy a resource they find valuable.

Most intelligent people, ironically, have not taken to the effort of thinking about thinking, studying the methods of study.  Dr. Hawking is not different.  He overlooks some very important inferences, his enormous and valuable contributions to physics not withstanding.  

1) Intelligent, alien civilizations must exist and are peaceful and respectful.

2) Intelligent, alien civilizations enjoy a well regulated and homogenous inter-stellar AND inter-galactic community.  

3) Intelligent, alien civilizations will not invade nor take from us as Europe took from the American Indian.  

These are not conjecture, but follow the few and most confident of assumptions.

We need not merely assume that we are not the only biological creatures in the entire universe.  Since we exist, the mechanism which provides for intelligent life and civilization arising must exist.[1]  It is absurdly unlikely that the probability of this mechanism is just probable enough to account our existence, but just exactly the right probability required so as not to bring about another.  If a successful intelligent civilization arose once, it is absurdly unlikely to have arisen only once.[2]

It's like finding a remarkable pebble on the beach.  If one is found, it is absurd to believe that the same process by which the one came to be did not also produce another on some beach somewhere else.  To claim that one holds the only pretty pebble in the world is a child's fantasy.

If the probability of intelligent life arising can not be zero, because we exist and is absurdly unlikely to be very small, then there exists at least tens or hundreds perhaps even thousands or millions of other intelligent civilizations dwelling amidst the very distant stars.  Since these civilizations arose at any random time over a period spanning the appearance of the first high metallicity stars, eleven billion years ago and now; and since our civilization arose 6,000 years ago, then the portion of civilizations which are younger than we are 0.000054%; and the portion older 99.999945%  Half arose more than 5 billion years ago.[3]  Simple math, to drive home the point that the universe is not like Star Trek where all or even most of the aliens Capt. Kirk meets are at competitive levels of technology.  

If none exist, then we are faced with the extreme unlikelihood that the probability of intelligent civilized life arising is just high enough to account our existence, but just exactly low enough to forbid any other.  And if others arose, they most certainly arose millions even billions of years earlier than we.

In the same way we have experienced incremental technological advances over less than ten thousand years leading us into space, the older half have already taken to the stars culminating in the colonization of other habitable worlds.  How long does that take?  Faster than light speed travel is not required.[4]  At relativistic speeds, travel across the expanse of a galaxy and the entire observable universe of a hundred billion galaxies can be accomplished within a single human lifetime, owing to relativistic time dilation.  

Why would a civilization colonize another world?  Satisfying the needs of overpopulation is not a reason to colonize other worlds.  Unless space travel is a trivial accomplishment, enough people simply could not be evacuated in even a whole generation to mitigate the stresses of overpopulation and by that time, there would be even more.

Colonization takes place for the same reason civilization arises in the first place.  The defining characteristic of civilization is the taming of nature.  It is the culmination of evolutionary directives --increase survival by reshaping ones environment--  Any species subject to evolutionary selective pressures favors the reshaping of their environment to their advantage.  A new world to shape and mold satisfies that evolutionary directive.  If we can get there, we shall reshape it![5]  So will all evolutionarily successful creatures, races and civilizations.

No one knows how long it might take a civilization to colonize another world.  No one here on earth anyway, but the older ET civilizations have certainly already done it; and it turns out, that it doesn't really matter how long it takes a civilization to get there nor how few there are.  All that matters is that it happened at least once.  You'll see why this fact alone defines the the nature of the universe's population.

Once a new world is colonized, the civilization necessarily possesses proven technology capable of colonizing new worlds.[6]  And a vibrant new world is shaped quickly, by such technology.  No new technology needs to be developed to start fresh with modern cities.  Centuries of sailing ships charting the new world are not required.  Instead, instantly, satellites show developers all the best places to build villas, resorts, factories, farm land to take best advantage of rivers, lakes, mountains and the terrain.  How fast do our own large cities here on earth grow in a single generation?  In a century?

Within less then one generation, the new world already becomes as familiar to the colonists as their home world was.  The next generation doesn't even know their home world.  How many generations will it take for a significant portion of the young people of new generations who know only this new world as home to feel the same urge to colonize as their forefathers?  --and they already possess the technology.

How fast does population grow in an already civilized world with fresh, untouched abundant resources, and the technology to exploit it?  At what rate did population increase in our world before we began to feel the stress?  If we humans started with a fresh world, modern cities, modern agriculture, modern technology and merely a hundred thousand people to start with, at modern population growth rates supported by modern technology and agriculture, our new world would see a population of 6.5 billion in only 1,600 years.  

So... how long before new generations of planet bound interstellar citizens begin to colonize again?  One hundred years... Two hundred years?  A thousand years?  Let's say two thousand years,[7] 60 human generations pass, before the new world colonizes another world.  By that time the original colonization is ancient history.  It is taught in grade school.  It is a matter of dogma.  It happened longer ago than Rome.  I'd surely be surprised if it takes that long before the urge to colonize again takes hold.  --and they already possess the technology.

Now its merely a matter of math.  If any space fairing civilization colonizes another world once every two thousand years, then within twenty thousand years, one civilization will have colonized a thousand worlds.  In forty thousand years, one million worlds.  In sixty thousand years, one billion worlds.  And in eighty thousand years, one trillion new worlds, all from one single civilization.

If faster than light travel is possible, in less than one hundred and fifty thousand years of colonization by only one single civilization, more worlds than there are stars in the observable universe can be colonized.  Only one single successful interstellar civilization arising anywhere in the universe is enough to fill every habitable world in the universe.  They will grow faster than the speed of light can carry their ships outward.[8]  It's simple exponential math.

Even if, less likely, faster than light travel proves impossible, colonization of the entire universe is still accomplished in the most pessimistic scenario in six billion years.  The math is a little more complicated.  If colonization of one planet by another planet occurs once every two thousand years, to colonize the entire universe requires a number of civilizations dotting the vastness of the universe, but far fewer civilizations than one might imagine.

Only one single successful interstellar civilization per galaxy will colonize every galaxy in the universe in only 150,000 years, but will meet up with each other only after about 4.5 million years.  Those living on one end of the universe will never learn the particulars of those living on the other.  None the less, the laws governing the entire universe everywhere, will be very similar.

Only one single successful interstellar civilization per every 500 galaxies could colonize all the worlds in the universe in 7 million years, but it would take 38 million years for all colonizers to traverse the aggregate intergalactic space between the various civilizations.  The trip time for travelers of each of the many and separate colonization events would be only months at relativistic speeds.

Only one single successful interstellar civilization per every million galaxies will colonize the entire observable universe in 1 billion years.  At this level and beyond, the aggregate intergalactic distances are no longer a limitation because the time required to traverse them is less than the time required to populate them.

Only one single successful interstellar civilization per every 300 million galaxies will colonize the entire observable universe in 6 billion years.

The universe has been cranking out life sustaining, high metallicity stars for more than eleven billion years.  If six billion years ago, only 350 civilizations existed in total among all 100 billion galaxies, then the populations of those civilizations alone would still have had enough time fill the whole universe with life.  Every habitable world.  This is the lower limit for the certainty of replete life, if faster than light travel is not possible and given the age of the universe.  

This means that even if faster than light travel is impossible, the worst and least likely scenario, then only 350 successful interstellar civilizations in the entire universe would have already populated the entire universe billions of years before we arrived on earth.  

Colonization math

Since population grows exponentially while volume increases at a fixed cube exponent, (for area its on a square) populations always grow faster then the area per capita afforded by all constant rates of  physical expansion after only its fourth doubling in space and after its third doubling on the surface of a planet.  The population of human civilization, has doubled from between every 500 years to every 60 years dependent upon hardship and plenty.

In this way, if faster than light speed travel is possible, then even a single civilization which successfully reaches the stars only one hundred fifty thousand years before us has already populated the entire observable universe and met all other interstellar civilizations which exist.  We know this by simple exponential population growth which provides the resources and motivations for colonization.

If faster than light speed travel is not possible, its just a little bit more complicated. The time required to populate the entire universe is dependent upon the density of civilizations among the stars. An entire galaxy will not always be fully populated by the first interstellar civilization arising within it because an earlier civilization from another galaxy may have already populated that galaxy and the new civilization must find some place for itself within the already established civilization.

Populating the entire 93 billion light year expanse of the observable universe (We can see things farther away than the universe is old due to the expansion of space) if colonization can not occur faster than the speed of light, requires a sufficient number of civilizations scattered through the universe and sufficient time to travel the distance.  This relationship between the number of civilizations and the amount of time can be descried as the amount of time the increasing volume of each civilization over time requires to occupy the volume of the universe.

(s/2)^3 *pi*4/3 = n * (c*t)^3 *pi*4/3
s diameter of the observable universe in light years
t time in years
n number of successful  interstellar civilizations

pi and c (speed of light) cancel out because we are dividing the volume of spheres by the volume of spheres and we are measuring the speed of light in units of light years per year.

We don't half the growth rate of civilizations (c*t) because the radius is expanding in both directions at the same time c*2*t/2 = c*t

The relationship between the number of successful interstellar civilizations older than we and the time required to guarantee colonization of every habitable world in the observable universe, including our own world occupied by us, simplifies to n = (s/t/2)^3

It all works out to only one successful interstellar civilization must exist in just one galaxy out of every million galaxies and predate us by only 1 billion years to explore and inhabit every habitable world in the universe. Our own star came to be five billion years ago. The universe has provided life sustaining high metallicity stars for about eleven billion years. So if the first civilizations arose eight billion years ago, then only a total of 350 interstellar civilization in the entire universe was needed to guarantee habitation of every world in every galaxy.

That is to say the earlier any predate us, the fewer there needed to be.

If even only a handful of successful interstellar civilizations exist, they have certainly already met all others that may exist and mapped the entire universe including our quaint little solar system.  They evidently respect us, since I have not heard of any alien mining operations going on anywhere.  Their respect explains very well the frequent sightings by credible witnesses of mechanical craft operating in arbitrary and non ballistically flight paths.

Either we are utterly and eerily alone.  Or the universe is replete with civilized life.  There is no middle ground.[9]  

Unless you believe that these creatures are some sort of spiritual, non caporal, beings of "pure thought," who are unfettered by the laws of physics which constrain us and all other biological creatures, then aliens are made of molecules and need to sustain themselves, reproduce and cooperate with each other to accomplish tasks of which one alone is unable.  Interstellar colonization implies a great deal about the nature of any civilization capable of it.  They must employ division of labor.  A single organism can not build a space ship alone.  Division of labor requires equitable distribution of resources which imply rules of conduct or laws and dispute resolution.[10]

We can know more.  Any civilization must either be more clever than they are wise or less clever than they are wise.  Those which are more clever than they were wise develop technologies endowing the capability of mass destruction before they learn how to get along.  

Fortunately for us, those civilization simply don't exist anymore.  They destroyed themselves.  They may not have done it in their first try, but each time they rebuild after self imposed catastrophe, they increase their technology until finally, perhaps after many attempts, they either succeed in complete and lasting extinction or they learn to get along.  There is no middle ground here either.  Either they learn to get along to last millions and billions of years or they fail to learn this and repeat the cycle of destruction until they succeed in total and complete extinction.  

This might be avoided if the interstellar community stepped in, but why risk introduction of an undesirable civilization?  Maybe they will learn, maybe they won't.  The safest thing to do is simply wait and see.  With out intervention, over time, each civilization will arrive at one eventuality or the other.  An interstellar community with billions of years of experience is likely to be able to easily spot trouble makers long before the troubled civilization even realizes they are destined to destroy themselves.

The only civilizations which still exist are those who have learned to get along, before they learned how to destroy themselves.  Gotta love those little tricks of nature which work to everyone's benefit.  This is an example of evolutionary selective pressure, one of the immutable laws of nature.[11]

Some have suggested that the laws of nature prevent any civilizations from ever becoming wiser than they are clever.  Which is to say that the logical constructs which make civilization possible, self interest, motivation for comfort, etc also always work to reduce wisdom.  "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."  While this argument seems plausible, no one has yet posed any rational connection between the innate cleverness of a species and social motivations.  With out this, no matter who strongly social motivations could reduce wisdom, there could always be a species just a little less clever requiring longer to achieve technological proficiency, yet still inevitably achieving it.  

Carefully define for yourself the terms "wise" and "clever" to study this phenomenon.  You will find that since we are contemplating our own self destructive capacity right now, we are on the verge of that clever/wise threshold.  The average human is probably smarter than the average alien of most species.

That aside, we have now added to division of labor and equitable distribution, respect of others.  These are the qualities which all successful interstellar civilizations must possess.  This last wise quality also likely motivates the interstellar community to regulate its colonization and population growth for conservation of the universe's resources and to accommodate promising planets on which civilization or even life has not yet arose.

This wise regulation would limit colonization and population growth and pay special attention to developing civilizations which have not yet made it to space and which may be more clever than they are wise.  Such civilizations could be very valuable for their cleverness, but also very dangerous for their foolishness.  Introducing them to advanced technologies would be unwise until they have proven their wisdom.  While less clever civilizations could be introduced much sooner, providing medicine and education bringing them to their productive potential and adding novel culture and sophistication to the already cosmopolitan interstellar community.  "Cosmo"politan indeed!

Frankly, we need to ask them for help rather than pretend they don't exist.[12]

What fool plods about content in his own hubris, eyes pointed at his toes, when his respectful and rich neighbor has wonderful advantages which his neighbor may not mind sharing?[13]  Perhaps it is our hubris which persuades them of their reticence to introduce us to the interstellar community.  We need to devote a modicum of money and resources to UFO research with the particular aim of making contact and show our humility.

We may be one of those civilizations which is more clever than we are wise.  And the authorities, having seen all kinds, know from experience to let our civilization learn wisdom before introducing us to technologies that we may use to destroy ourselves and take one or two other peaceful worlds along with us.

When they see the majority scoff at and deride one of our own kind for claiming to have seen a UFO, it is probably a sure sign to them to beware of a civilization that cultivates such intolerance.[14]

If you disagree, show me my particular error, if you can.  If you are unable to show me my particular error, concede and agree.  Just this sort of consent and agreement came easier for some civilizations than for others.

I have identified and numbered the 13 arguments I make here.  Do you disagree with any?  Explain your disagreement in a post.  If you agree with all, then you agree with everything I say here, for I say nothing else.  Let's get started convincing decision makers to put out the welcome mat.

It is easy to believe anything which we do not study too carefully.  If you can't find any particular point with which you disagree, but yet still feel that somehow it just can't be right, then don't comment;  go back to watching something fun on TV, and most importantly, learn to be still

[1] intelligent civilizations can arise, we did
[2] arising only once is absurd
[3] far more than half of those which arose are older than we, some by billions of years
[4] faster than light travel is not required to colonize the entire universe
[5] colonization is a direct consequence of civilization
[6] civilizations capable of colonizing once do it again
[7] and continue to do so again at least every couple thousand years
[8] simple math shows colonization of the whole universe in less than a billion years
[9] no middle ground, we are completely alone or intelligent life is replete. One or the other
[10] undesirable civilizations destroy themselves
[11] only civilizations having governmental systems which respect others survive
[12] we should attempt contact
[13] we are foolish for not attempting contact

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Your Comment:         February 26, 4am


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Socratic Query #1
   ian   wrote more than a year ago

Weve been through this. Why would yoh want to sit down next to fireants? We might be fireants in the equivelent of a reeking shit hole covered with slime. Sure we think its great.
the aleins could have out grown the material world. We could be a sim of life in the material world. We could be a sim of life if we had NOT MET any aliens.
we have nkthing aliens want. They can make whatever tbey need from any matter.
maybe the aliens are already here.
There are a million other maybes. We cant know until we do know.
you left out the strong possibility of machine intelligence. We are on the verge of that with our two bit fire anty technology. Say that AI finds a way for all of us to have our own unlimted paradise inbetween the sixth and seventh dimension. Wouldent we all go there???? It awl hirts mah little haid so i dont think much about it. Well know when we know.

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Your Comment:         February 26, 4am

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Response #1 to Q1
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

Why wouldn't machine intelligence integrate into the existing civilization in exactly the same way all others do?

No matter how smart machines are, they still can't do the impossible and over an immense amount of time, all that is possible will be known by all. So, machines are no different than any other life.

The idea that with enough time, that creatures can "learn" to outgrow the constraints of the laws of physics and become some non corporeal simply isn't rational.

Can you provide any support for the likelihood of incorporeal life or for machines knowing things biology can not learn?


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Response #2 to Q1
   ian   wrote more than a year ago

I cant prove it any more then you can disprove it.
The machines might not feel like traveling. People hardly leave thier state some of them. Dose that make them unintrlligent.
Space travel as we know it might be lauphably passe see any wooly mammiths on the road lately?
And why coukd we not outgrow physics? We are almost there. With the proper hookups we could live in a matrix like dreamworld. If you could do that in a sim utterly indistinguishabke from real life would you? I might give it a shot.

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Response #3 to Q1
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

I'm not asking for proof, just something that makes it a likely possibility.

However, transition to the incorporeal is not rational. The Matrix is not incorporeal or even against the laws of physics. However, any race adopting the Matrix is no problem for anyone else. If they live within their own construct, nothing they do effects anyone outside that construct.

You seem to be confusing possibility with probability. If we really can't know anything with any degree of certainty, why bother eating. We don't know for certain that we will starve.

You should read eight fundamental assumptions


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Response #4 to Q1
   jerry dreamweaver   wrote more than a year ago

yes your perceived wisdom of one i correct...period when another contactcs the first one then there is cleverness,,that you say is devision of labor ,,,and rightly so,,,it also creates coruption and rightousness which was not in the one and then to the def inition of cleverness ,,,might makes right,,,,sonow we have force and police or like you say laws ..i believe the clever side is the posative and therfore has no direction besides its own ,,,might makes right direction but wisdom has direction and it is the negative direction of a black hole starting with the bonding love into the same one , denser and denser all consuming oneness as opposed to the manufactured oneness as they know it ,,might makes right , so your right in thinking if aliens built a ship to come here there would be a strong police force to insure their secuity and rightesnes against anything that doesnt agree there right , but a wise oneness culture of aliens would let the community end its struggle and kill itself,

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Socratic Query #2
   Ian   wrote more than a year ago

I eat because it pleases me to do so. Not for any other reason. I draw fox girls because it pleases me to do so. Not because I worry about the future or anything. The fact is that regardless of math we see no aliens. What's more improbable? No alien exists or humans just don't occupy a hip place for Aliens to be? How many PAris Hilton's do you find at the town dump? The dump is not a hip place for rich attractive Blondes. The ants and worms run the math grovel in the filth and say gee there should be a rich attractive blonde around here somewhere.

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   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

It can be said with great certainty that e human being who has lived more than a month or so, has eaten. there is great certainty that you have eaten at some point in the last month. It doesn't matter why you believe you ate. The math says you did.

We trust our very lives to math every day. Every time we press the brake peddle, board a plane, press the up button in an elevator. But we don't trust math with less important decisions.

Read it again. It explains the most likely reason we see UFO but they don't contact us.