Friday, July 23, 2021

What's really up with UAPs / UFOs?

Okay so what’s up with the whole UAP/UFO thing? While the most recent wave of reports and commentaries appears to have ebbed - for now - I’ve mostly held back in order to distill… not answers, but badly-needed questions.

Indeed, I've explored notions of the "alien" all my life, in both fiction and science. I helped write the "SETI Protocols" and have been deeply involved in debates over METI or "messaging" extraterrestrials*…  and my novel Existence** takes on the most likely kind of visitors to our solar system: long-lived observation probes, robots which might even now  'lurk' in corners like the Asteroid Belt. Indeed, I give a small chance that the much discussed "UAP" phenomena could - conceivably - be expendable drones or beam spots sent by such lurkers. Make that a VERY small chance... and none at all that these phenomena are "ships" bearing organic interstellar travelers who behave stupidly and with stunning rudeness, while flitting about in violation of every law of physics. (A notion I rant about here in my short story Those Eyes.)

(The SETI Institute has issued a carefully evasive position paper on the topic, essentially saying "we'll stay in our lane.")

Sure, a majority have already been explained by careful analyses of receding jet engine exhausts or balloons etc., viewed by rapidly swinging optics. Still, there remain a fair number of mysterious dots and “tic-tacs” and wildly-rapidly moving ball-thingies. And so, let’s see if we can bypass the execrably dumb and myopic ‘discussion,’ so far, by first stepping back to ask some really fundamental questions, like:


a) Why do UFO images keep getting fuzzier, when there are about a million times as many cameras than in the 1950s? (And legendary science pundit John Gribbin asks how many of these claims involve observers viewing from multiple directions?)


b) A whole lot depends on whether these sighted 'UAPs' are actually opaque physical objects that affect their surroundings and block passage of light from behind them! Or else, are they glowing spots of excited air that pass through light from the background behind them (translucent)? I have not seen this question even posed by any of the sides in this topic and it is crucial!  In fact, is there any verification that these ‘objects’ are actually 'objects' at all, and not simply balls of moving energetic phenomena? There’s a huge difference! Moreover, image analysis ought to answer this crucial question.


That one question would help settle whether they actually possess their own continuous mass and solidity and inertia for the supposed magical propulsion systems to miraculously overcome.  If not, then we have an explanation for how they can behave in apparently non-newtonian, non-inertial and even non-einsteinian ways, which is permissible to 'objects' that have no mass. (We'll come back to this.)


c) Heck, while we are listing observable traits that have neither been reported on nor asked about by any of the pundits or experts I have seen: …. are these glowing patches, blobs or “tic-tacs” radiating in just one or two colors?

If so, monochromatic emission lines would be a huge tell.  Especially if it just happens to be an excited state of Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon-dioxide, neon or water vapor.  (ASIDE: The great science fiction author Liu Cixin is fascinated by ball lightning, which phenomenologically overlaps, somewhat, with UAPs.)

d) There are other traits one never sees either described or even posed as questions, except by just one of my blogmunity members:I've never seen shock waves or ionization trails coming off them. Space aliens may have fancy tech, but the atmosphere has basic physics to abide. If physical devices, they should be leaving ionized tails of superheated air while zipping around like meteors. Same with those flying dots that seem to hurtle mere meters over the surface of the ocean. There should be huge plumes of water from the shock waves. I don’t care what kind of magic tech shields the ‘ship’ itself has. It’s still displacing a whole lot of air, vastly quicker than the speed of sound. What? No acoustic booms? No cloaking system can mask the shoving aside of air by sudden, massive forces.”


e) Why do the vast majority of recent sightings appear to happen at US military training areas? (See an exceptionally good piece speculating cogently on why the Pentagon is now encouraging service members to file UAP sightings… in order to get practical, useful error reports on electronic warfare gear! Which is of course consistent with my long-hinted theory about the real source of all these sightings. )


f) Getting back to fundamentals of motive and behavior: Why should we pay the slightest attention to "visitors" who behave like rude jerks? (Again, I say snub-em!)


Now, polymath Prof. Robin Hanson proposes they might have a reason for behaving this way. "To induce our cooperation, their plan is put themselves at the top of our status ladder. After all, social animals consistently have status ladders, with low status animals tending to emulate the higher. So if these aliens hang out close to us for a long time, show us their very impressive abilities, but don’t act overtly hostile, then we may well come to see them as very high status members of our tribe. Not powerful hostile outsiders."


I deem that to be pretty hard a stretch, since our natural response to nasty tricks is with hostility and determination to get smarter/stronger, fast. Anyway, it’s clear from the history of colonialism on Earth that Robin’s proposed method was never, even once, used to dazzle and cow native peoples. The Portuguese did not conquer Indonesia by coating their ships in glitter and sailing quickly by, while shouting “ooga booga!” for 80 years without making actual contact. Instead, the classic approach used by conquerers back to Chinese and Persian and African dynasties - and especially European colonizers - was to co-opt and suborn the local tribe or nation's top, leadership clade. Use power and wealth and blackmail and targeted assassinations to install your puppets and help them overcome local rivals. Superior aliens? No need for stunts if you have sufficient computational ability to learn our language and do those same things. And one can argue that recent US history is… well… compatible. (Especially the blackmail part!)


Which of course leads us back to listing and comparing alien-probe scenarios, as I did in Existence.  And yes, I still say, let’s get mighty and scientific and get OUT there… and if the lurkers do exist, corner and grill em… but till then, if they are pulling “UFO” crap, snub em!


Back to questions I’ve not seen elsewhere:


g) Why haven’t successive U.S. administrations who hated each other used "the truth" as a political weapon against the other party? (You think ‘mature consensus’ explains it?) Or else tell us why 80 years of our BEST scientists and engineers would have studied this stuff - thousands of our best - and not one first-rater has ever offered a scintilla of tangible or useful proof. Or why we’ve seen no great tech leaps to explode out of such research? 


Sure, there may be reasons for secrecy so compelling that all of the tens of thousands of humans who are in-the-know agree to keep silent. (As portrayed in my story “Senses, Three and Six.”) But in that case, who are YOU to over-rule such a consensus by tens of thousands of our best, who know vastly more than you do? What stunningly conceited, self-indulgent arrogance!


h) Above all, I never cease wondering why so many of our neighbors obsess on so-called "events" and UFO scenarios that are so infuriatingly unimaginative, ill-informed and just plain DULL, when the actual universe that is unfolding before science is so much more interesting… and the cogent speculations of higher-order science fiction are even better, still! ;-)


== Cat lasers ==


My own hypothesis for what’s going on?  Well, it needs to be consistent with all of the above, while also offering a reason why the US defense establishment is suddenly so complacent about allowing UFO speculation to go wild, with smiles and shrugs and even encouragement!  And yes, all of that combines with the following.


First, wanna make a bright dot zip around at unbelievably high “gee” accelerations and even faster than light? Get a very strong laser pointer. Go somewhere you can clearly see a wall many miles away. Like the Grand Canyon. Swipe left or right. If your wrist-flick was quick enough, that dot moved faster than the speed of light!  (Better yet, flick your beam across the visible face of the Moon; you’ll need a strong laser! You may not see it, but calculate the arc and clearly you can exceed “c’ with that dot, without even flicking hard!)


Now zigzag it around across that wall. If it were physical, your laser dot'd be accelerating at some ridiculous crush, say 900gees. Work it out. 


How can such a ‘cat laser,’ (messing with our heads the way we do with our pets) move faster than the speed of light, and zigging with impossible accelerations? See the answer below. But first, is it even possible that aliens - or giggling humans - could make ‘cat laser’ dots or tic-tacs or balls appear in mid-air, rather than merely against a wall?


Well, start with military laser systems for ionizing streaks of air and painting fake objects in the sky to serve as decoys. Here's an excellent article. And what's described is is impressively close! But it’s still missing the actual secret sauce.


Even closer, see a version of the likely tech displayed here in the creation of luminous illusions in a patch of atmosphere.  And another here.


All right, we’re almost there, and all based on unclassified material. Yeah, but suppose you want the exciting beams to be entirely INVISIBLE? Necessary if you want to maintain the illusion of a discrete object. Well, you might have them excite infrared shell states that add up to the one you want to glow…. which brings us back to my first few questions, above, hm?


Some of you have put it all together by now. How the simplest hypothesis for these ‘sightings’ does not have to be the one calling for magical tech used by nasty, illogical aliens. 


== Final thought on cat-teasers ==


Okay, back to that last question: how does that cat-laser dot move at incredible gee accelerations and possibly exceed light-speed? After all that I said up to this point, you may be surprised to learn it's not because the light beam has no mass!  No, the reason is entirely different.


 It is because each individual, momentary spot that makes up that streak on the other side of the Grand Canyon or the face of the Moon - or your nearby, cat-clawed couch - departed from your hand laser separately. (If you are having trouble visualizing, try this with a garden hose; the droplets or splooshes are distinct. The wet streak on the fence only appears to be a connected thing.) 


Each very-brief dot your laser made on that wall - or the moon - was a separate phenomenon, adding together to offer the illusion of a continuing object. In fact, each transitory dot has nothing to do with the spots that came before or after, each of which traveled from your pointer to the wall at the speed of light (in air.)


This is very well-known. Astronomers can point at countless phenomena in space that seem to move faster than light. Phenomena - like the Searchlight Effect - can do that. Physical objects cannot. 


Got it?


== Aliens or not, stop falling for this malarkey ==


And yes, my biggest complaint about UFO nuttery is not that I am sure it’s not aliens! 


I am not certain of that! Though I know the range of possibilities about the alien as well as any living human. Heck, I’ll speculate about aliens at the drop of a molecule! 


No, my complaint, again, is that UFO nuttery is boring! Leaping to clutch the dumbest, most stereotypical and mystically primitive ‘theory,’ slathering on a voluptuous splatter of "I'm such a rebel" anti-authority pretentiousness, and then smacking in happy smugness like those French castle guards in Monty Python and the Holy Grail


Whether these are dumb distracto-theories or actual space-jerks messing with us, both are just lazy farts sent in our general direction.


Ask questions and do better. 



—————————————————————


* “Shouting At the Cosmos” – about METI “messaging” to aliens 


** The lively fun video trailer for Existence

97 comments:

Paul451 said...

No need for cat-laser holograms. The tic-tacs and the "impossible speed" are two different phenomena. The former is visible/IR, the latter is radar only. (The speed and apparent manoeuvres seen by pilots is likely caused by parallax, but even if they were true, they are on a vastly lesser scale than the radar reports of supersonic to hypersonic flight.)

The latter seems most likely caused by completely unrelated issues with radar. That might be a sign of an adversary playing games with electronic warfare. But I suspect it was an issue with the software vendor. (Most of the newer systems detect attempts at jamming and spoofing and show the operator a warning. While an adversary might be trying to develop systems that get around such detection, live tests would be as often triggering the detector as not, and that would have been obvious to the operators.)

I do want to qualify my comment, the reason many of the sightings have been so easily identified by skeptics is because of the quality of the pilot's accounts. They are describing, with great clarity, phenomena that is recognisable to others. While the explanations are mundane, the pilots were being sent out to identify radar-confirmed threats to their ships. They did their job and looked for anything that seemed weird.

It's the lack of processes and training in helping them identify those encounters that is the failure. While the culture seems to be changing, I fear that it's being driven primarily by True Believers and the process will end up being officially recognised but subject to even more internal ridicule.

Unknown said...

On a related subject (METI), see the NY Times podcast "The Argument" for 7/21/21 entitled "No, but Really. Should We Contact Aliens?".
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/opinion/aliens-contact-ufos.html?searchResultPosition=2

Chuck Pell said...

The current state of multi-spectral radiative/reflective LIPs (and likely observer inexperience) are sufficient to account for the phenomena described.
The only real questions are
(1) is this the US (or one of our Earthly neighbors) testing our capabilities, and
(2) do LIPs have offensive capabilities, such as blinding pilots, modulating the properties (say, density) of the atmosphere at jet engine intakes, over control surfaces, or near pitot tubes, thus compromising aircraft performance or safety?

Deuxglass said...

What we know:

Actual technology over twenty years ago from a pod under an F-16 could mimic the radar signatures of a wide assortment of other airplanes. That technology probably has advanced since into doing the same thing in the visible spectrum and not just with airplanes but also with other objects. Enemy satellites probably can now be spoofed into seeing images of fake ships, submarines ect. These are givens and our adversaries are well aware that we are very advanced in this area.

It is of course a Psychological operation. We can understand why it would be useful to direct it against adversaries as a warning and to create uncertainty as to our actual capabilities in deception. The militaries of other countries for a long time have known that the UFO’s were not about aliens so the recent “revelations” do not reveal anything that did not already know. Logically then the objective is the general population but to what end?

It all comes down to desensitization and deception.

Desensitizing the population into believing whatever they see in the sky that is unknown are aliens and no big deal. It could also be densifying the population to not use common sense and physical principles when confronted with a phenomena and into believing just about anything. I find it incredible that mainstream media has not pointed out the long, hot plasma trail that such as speed would leave behind. Are they that dumb or do they see all this a just a show and that they are actors and just play their part?
A really outside chance is that there actually are signs of aliens and that they are trying to get us used to the idea. It’s a longshot but why not.

If we go back to the roots and say the likely reason for the deception is deception itself, which is to deflect attention from one thing onto another like a magician’s hands. If we assume that the visual deception technics have gotten really good then we could see an expansion of things that one could imitate expanded to almost any type of object. It goes without saying one could see the utility of having images of fake military land equipment would have. That is a given and no surprise having been used in multiple wars throughout history. No scoop there. But what about this. What if the visual deception technics are so good that it could imitate actual people outside the studio and in real world settings? What if we could have a security camera “see” someone like me perhaps walking down the street at 3 AM and then breaking into a building or store? It was not me but the camera caught an image of me and if I didn’t have a cast-iron alibi I would be in hot water. That is just an example. The deception would be to get people used to seeing the big shiny object and not consider that it would be used for mundane things. You can imagine how useful it would be for things like espionage and other activities.

 Ashley said...

I would love it if it were aliens playing with us as we play with cats with dot lasers.

They could be saying, 'Look at how cute they are when chasing the dot. I do love the way humans are so easily distracted by play.' etc. etc.

However, it's more likely to be spoofing technologies tested by the military from black budget programmes.

Unknown said...

Nice! I've been waiting for someone to explain the cat laser g force and speed of light law breaking that has got me going "wait a damn minute... I'm not a new cat to earth... I've seen some stuff in my life... Why are these things disappearing into the vast unexplored oceans? Are the whales the real VIPs here?"

No one asked if these "things" are from the underworld... No one asked if these things are from the future... I did however, ask if they were translucent, solid or just points of ambiguous light (since they seem so bright when overhead but then just blip out when reaching a certain point as if it stopped reflecting light from below.

After serving/working/being familial with the USMC/naval/air force/NASA and every related entity (CERN/SETI/and anyone in a space suit) I'm just not feeling the "Elliot, I've returned to visit" vibe...at all; as of late...but I am led to new questions like..." Wtf? Why are we not asking questions about all this unexplored stuff on the bottom of our oceans? Do y'all see this stuff? It's amazeballs! Who built it?" And "holy crap...there's a whole new continent covered in ice down south y'all! And there's stuff here!" Which led to " hey man... Maybe there's something to the old "underworld" legends..?"
My point is... There's a lot of stuff we have yet to uncover here...and assuming that any wierd siting must come from "up there...out there..." Is kinda ignoring the "down there... Under there" aspect to a possible new avenue of approach.

I just dont see how any visiting alien could get past the whole radiation problem, therefore I propose...time traveling aquamen.

Pappenheimer said...

Is there an SF story about humanity going to the stars and finding out that some other culture HAD been spoofing us, but got bored? One of Brin's Uplift books mentioned a species that claimed to have been 'guiding' humanity on the down low, but was probably just using psych tools to get us to work for them.

Re: Radar: returns can be fun. Decades ago, my weather officer chided me for not alerting him to the afternoon thunderstorms that our old FPS-77 weather radar showed building to the west. I went outside and reported that no such storms existed (this was central TX - nothing blocks the beam, or the human eyeball, for scores of miles).
Near as I can figure, some B1s we had in the air were dropping chaff.
I also found that you could track a jet using that rig, if it was close enough, but was told not to - the military planes didn't like being pinged.

Jon S. said...

It's plausible that the US military is letting the conspiracy theorists go wild as a way to discredit reports of new experimental projection gear. I mean, there's a reason why so many people believed for so long that Area 51 was a repository for captured/stolen alien technology, not (as some of us knew it to be) a testing area for experimental aircraft. (In the year or so leading up to the unveiling of the B-2 Batbomber - pardon me, "Spirit" - the SIOP, the blueprint for conducting nuclear war in the event of an attack, included aircraft of certain speed and payload capabilities flying out of a facility in Nevada. The only thing that surprised us at HQ SAC/XOXP was its shape.)

Louis said...

Maybe an easier example to explain the laser dot moving faster than light is to use the imagery of a very powerful water hose. The droplets of water are your photons. As you swing it about in an arc against the wall you can see the previous water traveling even while you are farther to one side spraying the current stream.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Came for the Ciuxin Liu Ball Lightning reference -- left satisfied :) There are a lot of electromagnetic phenomena in our atmosphere that leave fairly edumacated people scratching their heads (look up the video of 'sprites' viewed from the ISS, why dont'cha?) Any one of those could be mistaken for 'aliens' under the right circumstances.

scidata said...

These Foo Fighters say more about the limits/biases/errors of human perception than they do about little green men. People often say that the imagination is bigger than science. Counter-intuitively, the opposite is true. Truly painful to romanticists, but that's life.

I listen to many anti-scientist arguments (not being an academic, I like to find shield components for the occasional attacks I get from them). Sheldrake, Lipton, Chopra, pretty much anyone Dawkins has ever debated -- disappointing on the whole. Most such arguments are strawmen pulled out of, well, thin air to be polite. Others are tortured attempts to square the circle (often relying on scripture and/or a total suspension of Occam's Razor). Some are just vicious ad hominems. But all of them are unscientific. That is, they reach a conclusion, then dig around for supporting evidence. Most distressing to me personally are the attacks on machines. Anthropomorphizing machinery into an evil summoned by scientists is at best a self-defeating argument. In my more radical moments, I've been known to posit that ONLY machines can do science properly (due to human biases). Alfred Differ and I once duelled this one out, which was great fun - one should always seek a chess match with a better player. Many AI researchers are trying to replicate the human mind. Why? I say. It's a blunt tool than can be greatly improved upon.

Der Oger said...

Has anyone ever pondered: "If intelligent, technological highly evolved species exist, how likely is it that they would have detected us by now?"; Or "How likely it is they have missed us?"

GMT -5 said...

Unidentified means unidentified. UFO-oligists are quick to identify them.
There are millions of more cameras now. If these were real events there would be more images of them and better quality images.
I love the laser dot hypothesis.
On a totally irrelevant note, my lovely (vast understatement) wife and I drove down to the Hocking Hills area of Ohio to drive the "Car & Driver circuit" near Old Man's Cave. It was a blast. We intend to do it again when the fall colors are in full effect.

Jon S. said...

Has anyone ever pondered: "If intelligent, technological highly evolved species exist, how likely is it that they would have detected us by now?"; Or "How likely it is they have missed us?"

Or "Why in Cthulhu's Name would they even bother coming here? What makes us think we're so special?"

David Brin said...

Jon S I deal with some of those mythologies here: “Shouting At the Cosmos” – about METI “messaging” to aliens - http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/shouldsetitransmit.html

Tony Fisk said...

Back when lasers weren't readily available, Clarke explained the effect by describing a wave front striking a sea wall at a slight angle, and pointed out that the speed limitation was on information transfer.

UFOs and well endowed individuals aside, it seems to have been a week in space.

- First images of a moon forming around a planet in a star system ~400 light years away. This is a radio telescope, and the resolution is *crazy!*

- Mars Insight results suggest the Martian crust is much thinner, and the mantle more liquid, than previously thought.

- Hubble went into a fail-safe mode recently after a glitch. It has now been successfully switched to backup systems. Good for now, but might be due for a service. Hopefully, NASA will regain the ability to do so soon.

- Nauka, the replacement docking system for the ISS, had a hiccup on its way to rendezvous. The engines shut down prematurely, causing it to enter a semi-stable orbit. Fortunately, that problem appears to have been rectified, but there could be a couple of other issues.

- So soon? Europa Clipper is due to launch in 2024, and the Falcon Heavy has been selected as the launch vehicle.

Alfred Differ said...

Jon S,

US military is letting the conspiracy theorists go wild

My father worked out there in NV while they were developing the stealth stuff near the end of the Cold War. My understanding was they preferred none of us talk about any of it in any way. They weren't going to stop the conspiracy nuts, but they didn't think they benefitted much. The problem lay with the temptation the staff faced to participate in the fun. Information can leak out in the shape of what we do NOT say, so absolute silence was safer.

My father's part of it involved the fighter jet and how to spot it using IR. I didn't know that at the time, of course. I got a hint, though, when he asked out of the blue whether people could see Shuttle dropping out of orbit using commercially available IR equipment. I knew we could, said so, and showed him a picture. He did his usual 'hmm…' and that spoke volumes to me. Years later he pointed to an F-117 and said he helped make those happen. It all clicked together in my head then.

The main problem I see with letting conspiracy crap run wild is our neighbors are actually quite inventive. They figure out how to do things on the cheap and then that information leaks/gushes to our adversaries. They are trying to do the same thing, of course, but we wind up helping them. So… I try not to participate much except to note that tech available to amateurs has advanced considerably further than most of us realize. For example, if someone wanted to put a small missile through your front door at mach 3 launched from the other side of town, they probably could. They MIGHT get noticed by the FBI first since they'll have to test their hardware and software first, but that will only stop the people who don't know their tradecraft.

The conspiracies I think about most often are the ones that involve Joe Citizen instead of our lumbering, clumsy government agencies. Don't like how things are going in a certain country? * Well… let's go topple a government! We don't need no damn permission!


* Ukraine? Yah. Probably aided and abetted.

Tim H. said...

Something like this might convince me:

www.gocomics.con/lio/2021/07/25

But with all due respect to fans of planetary surfaces, I think a truly spacefaring civilization will build their own habitats out in the rocks, and have no interest in Terra, likely the only planet we can live on.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

No, you did not say "onward", until you did.

To everyone else, there are a few more interesting back-and-forths over Enlightenment values and the Constitution at the end of the previous comments. If you like that kind of thing.

Laurence said...

I doubt that any extraterestrials capable of interstellar flight have visited Earth, but if they did, it would likely be impossible to second-guess their intentions or actions. Case in point, I performed an "alien abduction" of my own a couple of months ago. I reached into my dad's garden pond with a tupperware box and captured a handfull of tadpoles, to show to my eighteen month old neice, before returning them to the pond. How well do you think the tadpoles could figure out what it was I was doing, or why?

David Brin said...

Laurence, YOU were curious what the tadpole's thought. We are like humans to ants, yet we study ants and their communications. Those who tower that far above us would be MORE interested in us because (1) they have vast intellect/computational resources so why not? (2) because newly emerged planetary tech civs are BILLIONS of times more rare than ant colonies on Earth.

Daniel Duffy said...

Let's crunch the numbers for a rough estimate of the numbers of alien civilizations in our galaxy by combining the rare earth equation with the older Drake equation.

First the Rare Earth Equation,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis

N* 500,000,000,000 number of stars in the galaxy

ne 1.000 planets in habitable zone

fg 0.100 stars in the galactic habitable zone

fp 0.500 stars with planets

fpm 0.200 planets that are rocky/metallic

fi 0.100 planets with microbial life

fc 0.100 planets with complex life

fl 0.100 planet's lifespan with complex life

fm 0.001 planets with large stabilizing moon

fj 1.000 stars with a protecting jovian planet

fme 0.010 planets with few extinction events

N 50 total planets with complex life


So only 50 stars in the galaxy have complex life. That does not mean civilization (a trilobite is a complex life form). To calculate the numbers of civilizations, you need the Drake equation:

R* rate of star formation

fp stars with planets

ne planets that could support life

f1 planets that actually develop life

fi planets with life that develop intelligent life

fc planets with intelligent life that create civilizations

L planets with civilizations that could send signals into space

N number of alien civilizations in the galaxy

The rare Earth Equation replaces the first four factors in the Drake Equation with a starting number of 50 planets with complex life.

From this number of only 50, using the remining factors in the Drake Equation, we have to guess how many planets with complex life develop intelligent life, and how many of those create civilizations (an ocean world, for example, may have highly sophisticated cephalopods but no civilization since it can't make fire), and how many of those civilizations survive long enough to send signals to the stars.

If the Rare Earth Equation is correct, there is only one - and we are all alone in the galaxy.

At best, with more optimistic assumptions in the Rare Earth Equation and Drake Equation, there may be 1,000 planets with complex life and maybe a dozen civilizations scattered across the galaxy.

So we would not be absolutely totally alone.

But given the vast size of the galaxy we would be very, very lonely.

ThirteenthLetter said...

"And one can argue that recent US history is… well… compatible. (Especially the blackmail part!)"

Are you're referring to the Steele dossier and the alleged "pee tape" and all that? Because that's been debunked numerous times. If you are so consumed by politics that you can't accept the truth when it contradicts what your favorite Twitter bluechecks are saying, I'm not sure why anything else you say can be trusted.

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

Decades ago, my weather officer chided me for not alerting him to the afternoon thunderstorms that our old FPS-77 weather radar showed building to the west. I went outside and reported that no such storms existed (this was central TX - nothing blocks the beam, or the human eyeball, for scores of miles).


Once at work, I commented on a rainstorm that had just come from out of nowhere. There's a window just a few yards from my desk, so I could clearly see that it was raining. A colleague in the same area (but facing away from the window) insisted it wasn't raining because his phone app didn't mention rain. It took more time and effort than it should have to convince him to turn around and look at the rain that was actually falling in plain sight.

scidata said...

We study viruses, and it's a good thing we do. We study quantum physics, even though such interactions are many orders of magnitude 'below' our consciousness. This isn't Theology 101.

GMT -5 said...

In 2016 my wife and I were snorkeling at Brewers Bay beach a few miles from our apartment on St. Thomas, USVI. My wife liked collecting tiny (less than a quarter inch wide) sea shells and she found a few. She took them back to the apartment and set them on the side of the tub as she was taking a shower. I walked into the bathroom to get something and I saw two of the shells crawling along the top of the tub. The shells had tiny hermit crabs in them. My poor wife was shocked. We got the little hermit crabs into some water and drove them back down to the beach. I put them back into the Caribbean. No doubt they would tell all their friends how they had been abducted by giant aliens and had a horrific experience.

But it gets even worse. We were out in our yard doing some chores and my wife saw a larger hermit crab crawling along. She picked it up and called to me. She was touching what she thought was its shell. She did not realize that this particular crab was naked...no shell. She was touching its BUTT. Poor creature. We put it down in a hollow part of a log in our yard and we got out a selection of shells. We came back a while later and the crab was gone but it did not take any of the shells. THAT crab would tell stories about how my wife molested it.

As for alien abductions, I just love this scene from BABYLON 5.

https://youtu.be/jhC_KHkihKY

David Brin said...

GMT fun story.

#13... start here:
https://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/blackmail.html

But it goes farther. Do YOUR have a theory for Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Bill Barr slavishly toadying to a man they excoriated as worse than shit? Look at them speak for 5 minutes.

For 100 years our intelligence services declared that the KGB and others had a paramount goal of finding blackmailable Americans in high positions. This is on record and it was malignantly used against gays.

Putin's greatest fear must be if Biden declared an amnesty commission for blackmailed guys to step up.

David Brin said...

But of COURSE #13 seeks any excuse to write off anything I say! Your cult is waging war against every single fact using profession. Count ‘em!:
- scientists
- teachers
- journalists
- medical doctors and nurses and researchers
- civil servants
- universities
- law professionals…

…and the FBI, CIA and military officers who won the Cold War and the War on Terror, but who are now denounced as “deep state” villains!

Poor thing, your glimmer of residual sanity is nagging you, along with your conscience. You know that when you let in any curiosity, it could be death to the magical chant-incantations you clutch.

David Brin said...

DD while complex life may be the stumbling block, I doubt it. Breakthrough intellect seems more unlikely.

Alfred Differ said...

Laurence,

Anyone coming all this way at sub-light speed is either a slow-time type of life living out in the cold depths or simply curious. I know other options are possible in the technical sense, but I don't think them likely. WHY they are curious is another matter.

I think we can safely predict curiosity whether we are tadpoles to them or not. We can do this because we are NOT tadpoles. Our minds are considerably larger. If their minds are on a scale similar to ours, then motivated curiosity should be anticipated. If they are much larger than ours, I can't fathom their motivations, but curiosity should still be present

Think about it. Many species on Earth exhibit behaviors consistent with curiosity. Anything with a brain has to acquire information to make that brain adaptive, right? General intelligence and curiosity likely go hand-in-hand.

Hmm... Even for the slow types, I would expect them to be curious to some degree even if it's just wondering how to avoid us.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry, (from last thread)

"We The People of the United States" doesn't exclude any particular people.

Yah. There is quite a range for us on who we count, though. I have no argument with you here, but I would point out that I consider as 'We' anyone who wants to think of themselves as one of us no matter where they live in the world. I'm in a minority on that, but that is how I morally cope with the birth lottery.

Robert's point about our inner divisions is a fair one and I respect it. It's just that I think advocates for exclusion are losing the war. That any one battle takes us a generation to win is disheartening, but that's far better than us losing the war.

GMT -5 said...

The CIA loves blackmail. I have a friend who unveiled massive corruption in Iraq during Paul Bremer’s “reign” in the mid 2000s. She documented the theft of $1.8 billion in US aid. As a way of saying thank you, somebody (CIA or their Iraqi lackies) tried to assassinate her. That same friend told me that the CIA and the State Department are a major power axis in DC. The major competing power is the DIA. Sadly, the DIA now answers to the Director of National Intelligence.

Reporters like Glen Greenwald and Matt Tiabbe have written some excellent material on how screwed up and corrupt our intelligence organs are. The scary thing now is that they are becoming more openly active in domestic politics now. Look at all the senior intelligence figures who have rich consulting jobs with the major news outlets. The CIA and FBI screw things up then leverage their mistakes to get even more funding and power.

David Brin said...

Okay now THIS is the GMT we knew! I do not believe 90% of this. See my chapter on conspiracies in Polemical Judo, by David Brin: http://www.davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

but I would point out that I consider as 'We' anyone who wants to think of themselves as one of us no matter where they live in the world. I'm in a minority on that,


Not so much a minority as you might think. I agree too, although I qualify that by differentiating between what is and what could be.

Believers in Enlightenment values do indeed believe that those self-evident rights endowed by our creator apply to everybody. That we can't protect and secure those rights for everybody is unfortunate (but true). The early idea of America did seem to be to offer refuge to anyone who could make it to our jurisdiction. That some who make it here do so in order to harm us is a problem, but so are those who were born here who mean us harm.

I was profoundly bothered by the Bush W-era argument that torture at Guantanamo was not illegal because the jurisdiction of the Bill of Rights did not extend to Cuba. If we believe in human rights, we believe them to hold universally, whether or not we ourselves can protect/enforce them universally. We don't look for legal loopholes as to where we can get away with not respecting those rights.

Daniel Duffy said...

The lack of life and intelligence in the galaxy should be looked at at an opportunity, not as a source of despair.

Even at sub-light speed, mankind could spread across the galaxy like a virus in a relatively short period of time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WtgmT5CYU8

Each probe settles a colony at the next start and builds 2 (or 10 or 100) copies of itself and sends them to the next nearest stars, and so on and so on, expanding exponentially. Each probe being a life bearing package of frozen embryos and seed of every animal and plant on Earth, modified as needed for the local system.

Armed with advanced AI and terraforming techniques, each probe colony can terraform all the planets of the system, build Dyson swarms for energy, create vast artificial Bishop Ring worlds with surface areas the size of continents, etc.

Idea for a SF TV series - humanity expands through the galaxy as described above with each probe crewed by deep frozen hibernation crewmembers made from today's ordinary human stock. In fact, they are chosen for their enhanced mediocrity and ordinariness because such non specialized people can survive and meet diverse challenges than the more genetically advanced embryo passengers with their superior physical, artistic and intellectual capabilities. The ship itself is fully operated by advanced AI.

They are awakened upon arrival (or whenever there is an emergency). Once a colony is established, the crew is cloned multiple times and sent travelling on newly replicated probes to the next star systems. Each week's episode would focus on one of millions of identical cloned crews across the galaxy meeting diverse challenges, both internal and external, as they arrive at a new star system.

Great way to examine the whole nature vs. nurture argument, with a clone being a hero one week while in next week's episode of another clone crew thousands of light years away, the same clone is the villain.

Laurence said...

Laurence, YOU were curious what the tadpole's thought. We are like humans to ants, yet we study ants and their communications. Those who tower that far above us would be MORE interested in us because (1) they have vast intellect/computational resources so why not? (2) because newly emerged planetary tech civs are BILLIONS of times more rare than ant colonies on Earth.

I wasn't suggesting that extraterestrials wouldn't necissarily be currious about us, although I think that is a possibility. I was saying we couldn't predict or understand how they would behave.

GMT -5 said...

Oops. Let me correct an error. The Iraqi theft was not $1.8 billion; it was $6.6 billion.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2011/06/13/137151762/report-6-6b-meant-for-iraq-may-be-largest-theft-in-u-s-history

Paul451 said...

Jon S.,
"Or 'Why in Cthulhu's Name would they even bother coming here? What makes us think we're so special?'"

Earth is a life-bearing world. They come from a life-bearing world. That makes us rarer than non-life-bearing worlds and therefore interesting.

We humans are a young version of what they are, or wildly not like they were, either of which makes us interesting.

At least one civilisation would be curious.

(Or expansionist. Terrestrial planets are handy real-estate if your species evolved on a terrestrial planet. While most might prefer to build their own hollow-worlds (as Tim H. notes), again, it only takes one civilisation... or one faction within a civilisation... for them to have gotten here before we evolved. Hell, before the freakin' Cambrian.)

"We're boring" doesn't work as a Fermi Paradox solution. (Not defending the idea of UFOs being visiting aliens. Their behaviour is still stupid.)

Paul451 said...

Daniel Duffy,

You're starting with the assumptions from the rare Earth hypothesis to prove that civilisations are rare. Uh.

We don't have figures to plug into Drake's Equation. With the exception of the number of stars in the universe (Drake uses rate of formation, but you can combine a split terms), and the possible exception that the fraction of stars with planets seems to be trending to 1.

Everything beyond that is increasingly wild speculation. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you a bridge.

Paul451 said...

"We're like ants (or tadpoles) to them." No we're not. It's a ridiculous argument. We can conceive of advanced aliens. Can a tadpole or an ant conceive of us?

A better analogy is uncontacted native tribes first encountering outsiders with advanced technology. They won't grok the details, but they ain't stupid, and they are worth talking to.

Paul451 said...

Back to comments about the main article:

Re: US military using UFO nuts as psy-ops or to prepare us for something or... any kind of organised plan.

If you drill down into the people and organisations behind the recent releases of formerly classified UFO info, the videos, etc, you soon realise that there was nothing vaguely organised about the people involved.

I made a point of saying earlier that the pilots did nothing wrong, they weren't delusional or stupid, or even naive, they gave accurate reports of what they saw, accurate enough for people with experience to recognise potential mundane explanations. However, there's no such grace for the people running the "investigation" into the sightings. They were all, 100% of them, deep-fried fruit loops.

ThirteenthLetter said...

"You know that when you let in any curiosity, it could be death to the magical chant-incantations you clutch."

Incantations?

Like ziz ones:

1. Your cult is waging war against every single fact using profession.

2. …and the FBI, CIA and military officers who won the Cold War

3. Poor thing, your glimmer of residual sanity is nagging you, along with your conscience.

You repeat non-stop. With dull hope that repeating lies could somehow... magicly? remake em into truth.

Pappenheimer said...

" Do YOU have a theory for Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Bill Barr slavishly toadying to a man they excoriated...?"

Well, yes, and blackmail isn't necessary. They realized that their path to continue their political ambitions lay through TFG. Barr in particular would work for President Gelatinous Cube if it had an "R" after its name and a flag pin floating inside it, and Graham has always been a remora of relentless suction. These people have goals, not values.

Robert said...

If we believe in human rights, we believe them to hold universally, whether or not we ourselves can protect/enforce them universally.

While you (personally) may believe that, demonstrably you (the country as a whole) doesn't.


Not claiming a higher moral ground here — I'm having great difficulty with my government claiming in court that subjecting children to an electric chair isn't torture. (Less than four years ago!)

(Not to mention the whole attitude of the Catholic Church in this affair, stretching back more than a century. And it's not in the past — contemporary Catholics spent less on helping the victims than they did on altar flowers or a single new cathedral, while claiming that they had 'done all they could' to help.)

https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/st-anne-residential-school-opp-documents

http://www.fnesc.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/IRSR11-12-DE-1906-1910.pdf
https://openhistoryseminar.com/canadianhistory/chapter/document-1-bryce-1907/
(Note: Bryce's recommendations were ignored because they would be 'too expensive', and the government did nothing about the high death rates other than cease collecting data to save money.)

David Brin said...

L. Graham is now politically safe for 6 years. Cruz for 4. They could easily join others for a Kruschev style Stalin toppling. They have more than enough stuff.

----

Well we have a nasty one in "Thirteenth Letter". So why haven't I given him over to Blogger's excellent spam filter? Because he's not a rug-pooper. So-

Hey fellah, let's bet whether in any given week the Fox/OA/ crowd doesn't attack every single professional caste that I listed?

.2 Million scientists are in a PLOT!
.5M doctors and medics
1M teachers
.5M civil servants
.3M law professionals
.2M journalists
...everyone on a university

... and yes half a million men and women who won the cold war and the war on terror in the FBI, CIA and military officer corps.

This week PAY ATTENTION while you are suckling the glass teat and jerking to Piro and Ingraham and Carrlson and Hannity, to how every fact using profession is enemy #1. You will squirm and writhe and try to deny it. And you'll be exhibiting symptoms thereby.

---

Oh, speaking of the spam filter. I did my monthy dip into that cesspool, last month, and felt kinda abandoned. None of my three rug shitters were down there!. But inspired by #13, I went today and found that my favorite one is back! Frantically, desperately and obsessively trying every trick, multiple identities etc. to barge in to squat here. What an incredible investment of time! I am flattered.

And also terribly impressed with Google's filter tech! Learning and adapting. This may be where AI emerges from, heaven help us!

Ah well, on to next month. I need to wash my waders, now.

scidata said...

Pappenheimer: Graham has always been a remora of relentless suction

Thanks for that. My coffee is now all over my desk.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"If we believe in human rights, we believe them to hold universally, whether or not we ourselves can protect/enforce them universally."

While you (personally) may believe that, demonstrably you (the country as a whole) doesn't.


First of all, Alfred and I see this slightly differently, so don't take one argument as the same as the other.

I understand that a large percentage of my fellow Americans have a narrower view of who counts as fully human--and therefore fully American--than I do. That realization was my biggest disappointment and disillusionment coming out of the 2016 election, even bigger than the fact of Trump's election itself.

What I claim is that those who would deny humanity to a subset of their fellow humans are upholding something other than "American values" (or "Enlightenment values"). Possibly a different way of saying the same thing is that if their view does prevail as "American values", then American values are not nearly as wonderful as we presume them to be. The difference between the two assertions amounting to arguments over the map, not the territory, similar to the different ways gravity and potential energy are interpreted if the moon is "in the system" with earth or external to it.

Point being, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution inspire a certain reverence in me as much for what they aspire to be as for what they've actually been. That ideal is what I admire as "American exceptionalism". If America herself fails to hold those values, then my admiration is for the ideals, not for the physical country. As a citizen, I want to steer American toward upholding and defending those ideals, but if others have their way instead, it's the ideals I hold dear, not the name "America".

So if your point is that America isn't always great in actuality, I don't disagree. If the point is that while America is great, many fellow citizens are out to undermine that greatness (under the ironic MAGA slogan), then I also don't disagree. None of which invalidates my assertion that these words say nothing about race or class or even nationality:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


If one claims that such truths don't apply to certain people, then one does not accept the statement.

Unknown Commie said...

Blogger Larry Hart said...
As I say, they have no interest in consistency or reality. They think that they can overcome reality by force of will and propaganda. I admit I can't wait for reality to catch up to them on a battlefield (metaphorical or otherwise).


Don't chant such wishes here... it may backfire at Davy. ;P



Blogger David Brin said...
LH their cowardice about making cash-escrowed wagers over facts vs their incantation assertions proves they are diametrically opposit to logical. Reciters of logical-sounding incantations are among the worst.


Said lame coward who covers his lies and propaganda from criticism with pre-moderation.



Blogger David Brin said...
What malarkey! The great Cuban economic and social miracle stymied because they needed the US to develop? They started out in the 60s richer than many US states and declined in ranking every decade. If you needed US cruise liners in order to develop, then something was way wrong with your development plan.



Yep.
Socialism. :)))




Blogger David Brin said...
— Marx’s predictions were 100% and diametrically wrong in all ways
— In contrast, his historical analyses of class development up to his own time… when he had actual case studies to look at… was actually pretty interesting. It was tendentious storytelling, not science. But pretty well-crafted and consistent stories that FIT a wide array of preceding events…


Ha-ha... unlike you. :)))


Anonymous said...

Blogger David Brin said...
Wow, we have a live one here. Unknown Commie looks vivid and active and fun… if utterly and fanatically wrongheaded. I don’t even know where to beginn. (And I do NOT have time to spare!) But just a few items.

— Marx’s predictions were 100% and diametrically wrong in all ways and at all levels. Even Lenin and Mao commented on that. If you can’t see the Prediction Contradiction Problem, then you know nothing at all about Marx.

— In contrast, his historical analyses of class development up to his own time… when he had actual case studies to look at… was actually pretty interesting. It was tendentious storytelling, not science. But pretty well-crafted and consistent stories that FIT a wide array of preceding events…

Larry Hart said...

ThirteenthLetter:

3. Poor thing, your glimmer of residual sanity is nagging you, along with your conscience.

You repeat non-stop. With dull hope that repeating lies could somehow... magicly? remake em into truth.


He's got you there, Dr Brin. By repeating the assertion that he has a conscience or sanity, you keep trying to wish those characteristics into being. Probably time to face reality instead.

David Brin said...

I also liked: "Pappenheimer: Graham has always been a remora of relentless suction..."

ThirteenthLetter said...

Gotcha!!! :))))))))))))

ThirteenthLetter said...

Blogger David Brin said...
I also liked: "Pappenheimer: Graham has always been a remora of relentless suction..."


Yeah... you like suction.
To be sucked.
To be sucker.
It's sucking all the way down... for the likes of you lame lyers and hypocrite.

ThirteenthLetter said...

My lil whiny baby. Davy Shmuck The King of Hypocrisy... in his lil echo chamber sanctuary from Truth and Reality of harsh Outer World.
(laughing, laughing, laughing)

ThirteenthLetter said...

Blogger David Brin said...
Hey fellah, let's bet whether in any given week the Fox/OA/ crowd doesn't attack every single professional caste that I listed?



Thanky for recognition. Davy-baby.
Yet one time.
As I have had say -- you'd never know that some other anon -- it's just ME, Truth Teller -- revealer of your counter-factual lies and hypocrisy.
Breaker of your sweet dream being seen as sci-smart and morally-wise...
while you are just amoral shmuck and dumbass... go disclose it!

But you'll not, because you are MY loyal puppy. My Personal Entertainer. Funny-Clumsy-Ditsy-Tuttsy CLOWN.


You asked.
I'll answer.
Because that talking point does'nt matter. Because that's just shellow propaganda.
Nothing more.


Truth Teller said...

Blogger David Brin said...
Oh, speaking of the spam filter. I did my monthy dip into that cesspool, last month, and felt kinda abandoned. None of my three rug shitters were down there!. But inspired by #13, I went today and found that my favorite one is back! Frantically, desperately and obsessively trying every trick, multiple identities etc. to barge in to squat here. What an incredible investment of time! I am flattered.



Don't be.
Was it ever was reason to be flattered -- from being regarded as premium sort of bullshit? But Premium. But Bullshit. But Still Premium. But Still Bullshit


It sucks to be YOU. I know. But still, YOU like sicking...

Robert said...

Blogger David Brin said...
Oh, speaking of the spam filter. I did my monthy dip into that cesspool, last month, and felt kinda abandoned. None of my three rug shitters were down there!. But inspired by #13, I went today and found that my favorite one is back! Frantically, desperately and obsessively trying every trick, multiple identities etc. to barge in to squat here. What an incredible investment of time! I am flattered.



Don't be.
Was it ever was reason to be flattered -- from being regarded as premium sort of bullshit? But Premium. But Bullshit. But Still Premium. But Still Bullshit


It sucks to be YOU. I know. But still, YOU like sicking...

Robert said...

Blogger David Brin said...
Oh, speaking of the spam filter. I did my monthy dip into that cesspool, last month, and felt kinda abandoned. None of my three rug shitters were down there!. But inspired by #13, I went today and found that my favorite one is back! Frantically, desperately and obsessively trying every trick, multiple identities etc. to barge in to squat here. What an incredible investment of time! I am flattered.



Don't be.
Was it ever was reason to be flattered -- from being regarded as premium sort of bullshit? But Premium. But Bullshit. But Still Premium. But Still Bullshit


It sucks to be YOU. I know. But still, YOU like sicking...


Well, you should FEAR, me loosing interest in your monkey tricks.
Because that'll happen that exact moment you'll became bona fide marasmatic.
Useless even as jokes targed

ThirteenthLetter said...

Blogger Catfish 'n Cod said...
Confederatism forever. The siren call of the notion that once you have confirmation of your emotional biases, you can stop looking - and stop thinking. Rational debate is pointless with anyone who places emotional arguments first.

This was used to tremendous effect by the domestic propaganda of The Fifties, which condemned Godless Communists as a way to lasso the reactionary (and previously isolationist) bloc into the Cold War effort. It was so effective that it's now backfired; this is the source of the canard that all non-reactionary Americans are also 'Godless communists' and thus threats to their religious practices.



Exactly same problem Russia stumbless on today -- Propaganda works past generation and even after it lost all need and ground in Reality.

Pappenheimer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Blogger David Brin said...
- Vladimir Putin called the fall of the USSR "history's greatest tragedy" and he installed all former KGB agents and commissars as Russia's new oligarchy, which the renamed KGB uses all the same methods toward the same goal: our downfall. So who are the commies now?


What regular bullshit.

That "commisars" are long as in grave.

DO FACT-CHECK.
Putin was around 30th in 1990
And was a small fry, unsuccessfull... more like sucking (like you) youngsters -- without EVER chance to rise to power conservated by "apparatchicks".

Only revolution-like events allowed such a garbage to rise with a foam.

His KGBsm... that is just childhood dream of being High And Might as His Father... Dream.

Usual among Americans tooo

Gorbachev said...

Blogger Catfish 'n Cod said...
There's a little gadget in the MIT Museum, designed as an artistic-engineering expression of futility. It's a small motor, whizzing away, turning a long series of gears with ratios that steadily decrease the motion.... until the last gearing shaft ends in a block of concrete directly attached to the motor housing. There's no impediment to motion in the rest of the system; the gears are spinning freely. It's just that, by design, 100% of the kinetic energy is converted to heat and no appreciable torque is applied to the end of the gear train. It's engineering to work constantly, make continuous effort, and achieve absolutely nothing.



Cudos!
For providing PERFECT example of how SOCIALISM really work -- if there is no war-like incentive from Capitlism as adversary -- it evolve into this Producer of Heat instead of Work.

That's EXACTLY what happend in 80th in USSR.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Larry Hart said...
Dr Brin:

I am puzzling over how to get just 117 more facebook followers and crash through the obstinate 25,000 barrier!


Post something that causes Russian bots to follow you.



He already do.

But they recognize him as one of them and their algo tell em to ignore. ;P

Anonymous said...

Blogger Larry Hart said...
GMT -5:

I had a case involving a millionaire who hid is wealth and property ownership interests through a Panamanian corporations.


I sometimes wonder if rich folk spend more money evading taxes and regulations than it would cost them just to pay the taxes and follow the regulations. Is there enough pleasure in getting away with the scam that it's worth losing time, effort, and money to do so?

* * *

Dr Brin:

I am puzzling over how to get just 117 more facebook followers and crash through the obstinate 25,000 barrier!


Post something that causes Russian bots to follow you.

Robert said...

Blogger Catfish 'n Cod said...
suppress civil rights, on and on. But you throw all the virtues of having facts on your side away if you misconstrue for emotional effect! (Something I also told climate activists numerous times, to little effect.)

I want to be agreeing with you! I'm trying to improve your argument! Don't be so quick to diss us!


Just try to say same thing to our host ;P
Or... you'll not. Because you like HIS emotion based "logic"?
Then what this your words... if not hypocrisy, per se?

Anonymous said...

Blogger Catfish 'n Cod said...
suppress civil rights, on and on. But you throw all the virtues of having facts on your side away if you misconstrue for emotional effect! (Something I also told climate activists numerous times, to little effect.)

I want to be agreeing with you! I'm trying to improve your argument! Don't be so quick to diss us!


Just try to say same thing to our host ;P
Or... you'll not. Because you like HIS emotion based "logic"?
Then what this your words... if not hypocrisy, per se?

Anonymous said...

Hack... you a boring, dude.

matthew said...

Off-topic but important since hearings start tomorrow-Just Security has a very good deep dive into which witnesses should be called in to testify regarding 1/6 and a list of questions for each one.

https://www.justsecurity.org/77588/questions-the-january-6-select-committee-should-ask-its-witnesses/

I encourage everyone to read it.

David Brin said...

AI algorithms are coming a long way, very fast. It took a while for the filter to learn how to detect a troll-spammer by content rather than name and for a while they used every changing names to rise up to the "moderation" level, (what an incredible-futile waste of lifespan!), whereupon I'd waste a precious second deleting. But that's no biggie. I actually get a chuckle and sometimes dive into the bucket below to see how many obsessive monickers they try. Someday, when the discussion lapses, I may go down and fish out a day's worth for your amusement.

No, I won't. That might mung the filter's AI learning algorithm and let more of them rise to moderation level! Too bad. It's a hoot!

This time, one of the trolls is trying to take credit for ThirteenthLetter and claiming "Yippee! I got through!!!!!" If so, it was by NOT shitting on our rug. But the linguistic cues are pretty strong that it's a lie and easily solved. Anyway, enough time in the swill bucket. Maybe I'll skip a month.

Robert said...

This may be where AI emerges from, heaven help us!

That was actually one of the plot points in Peter Watts Rifters series — AI trained to detect and filter out spam is repurposed to detect the invading lifeform, with suboptimal results. Think it was in ßehemoth, but it might be in one of the earlier two.

Strongly recommended, if you haven't read them.

Available here from the author, for free. Along with most of his backlist.
https://rifters.com/real/shorts.htm

Pappenheimer said...

Bloody 'ell, I feel like I need a shower after reading 13th's posts with my nym in them...

Robert said...

This time, one of the trolls is trying to take credit for ThirteenthLetter and claiming "Yippee! I got through!!!!!"

Yeah, well, they're also claiming to be me. And a few other regulars. Either you were deliberately showing us the reject bucket, or you made a mistake filtering.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

You might want to clean house a bit up there. The mangling of the English language alone is enough to induce vomiting.

David Brin said...

Yeah guys, I decided to pull the latest sewer spill up here to show you. This one's a real sicko, obsessive and fizzy with eagerness to shit on the rug of a community whose home he keeps trying to invade, long after everyone asked him to go away.

I have considered showing this nastiness to his actual, real life parents, since they are the ones to blame, for raising such an ill-mannered oaf. I can do that, trivially. But it may not be their fault. Possibly organic damage. It would be mean, I decided.

So I'm going to just turn the filter back up to high setting and let it go, agreed? Unless anyone here WANTS him around?

Robert said...

It would be mean, I decided.

Sometimes a bit of reciprocal meanness is called for…

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Unless anyone here WANTS him around?


If it was one or a few posts at a time, there would be humor value in laughing at the poor troll who thinks we care what he thinks. It's the sheer volume that tends to make the list un-readable for others. I'm very hard to convince when it comes to banning someone for content, but banning for bump-stock spamming? Yes.

Also for impersonating other regulars. That's another level entirely.

Pappenheimer said...

I don't know if any of you have ever read any Walter J Williams...
from Hardwired:

"Hand this Texan's ass to him."

Unfortunately requires neural link.








TCB said...

Far upthread, Dr. Brin says: DD while complex life may be the stumbling block, I doubt it. Breakthrough intellect seems more unlikely.

I think it's a combo. Complex life is a hurdle, demanding a respectable amount of time in a fairly stable planet (in our case, a couple of billion years for the simplest cells to evolve to eukaryotes, or more than 10% of the age of the entire universe).

Breakthrough intellect is nice, but it happened quickly enough after multicelled life appeared; for all we know, the octopus's ancestors have been decently intelligent since the Devonian. In any case, from the Cambrian to now is more like 4% of the age of the universe.

There are several lineages just here on Earth that could have evolved breakthrough intelligence by now: apes, birds, cetaceans, cephalopods... but a lot of these live in the ocean, where almost no tech can be developed. There could be a lot of planets with smart creatures on them, whose circumstances wouldn't allow metal smelting, electricity, rocketry, etc. etc.

And after all this, there is the matter of available raw materials and energy sources. Looking at our own drama, I suspect we get only one shot at offworld expansion. Our technology is rapacious in both materials and energy. The easy coal has been dug, the easy oil pumped. The shallow stores of rare earth metals have been scooped out. Suppose we crash our civilization: how soon can we try again, to the demanding degree of building a space civilization? Not only the chemicals and metals to launch rockets but also the knowledge base, lost: how soon, again, might we regain the strength to try?

Maybe, just maybe, never. Civilizations that blow their shot at the stars may often find that there's just not enough left: fuel costs too much, low orbit is a shooting gallery of debris, nobody can read the old computer disks, and on top of it all, the Goldilocks zone has grown outward until it took only a little carelessness to tip the planet into barely survivable heating. Remember: the Goldilocks zone was slowly expanding all the time their species was coming to be, from lifeless lipid bubbles in the mud to the cells and colonial lumps that evolved into their noble race. And then there is no time. Perhaps they render themselves extinct, through war and folly. And here on Earth the Goldilocks zone may only have another hundred million years, even without Ford F-150's rolling coal down the main street, before the planet is too hot for aught but extremophiles.

(Assuming we can't move the whole orb first, of course).

A hundred million years. A lot of time for you and me, but barely enough for another race of sophonts to emerge from the shadow of mass extinction, and scatter across the stars. In fact, most likely not enough time at all.

So it is not simply that it takes time for technological space-capable species to evolve; and that some or many may never get the chance; it is that, if you draw the winning hand, there is probably almost always going to be less time to play those cards than you might have thought.

TCB said...

Also, Dr. Brin said: This week PAY ATTENTION while you are suckling the glass teat

I recall reading that collection of Harlan Ellison's TV reviews, when I was much younger. Ellison was a fine, angry man. He seemed too angry, when I was a lad. But now he seems approximately angry enough. I guess his bullshit detector was simply calibrated on Long Range Prediction Mode.

David Brin said...

TCB we define 'breakthrough intellect" differently. Nature apparently is generous with monkey-crow-octopus and even sea lion/ape/dolphin levels. Many, many. We surpassed them all with fire, spears and a 100 word vocabulary. We did not need the xcess capability we now display. I have riffed on this many times (see EXISTENCE). IT IS THAT WAY, WAY OVERSHOOT I am talking about. I believe it was a rare fluke.

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: I believe it [overshoot] was a rare fluke

The fixation on the 'good enough' steps in Darwinian evolution always struck me as a bit contrived. Anytime you mix stuff together there's a chance of way, way overshoot. Endosymbiosis, sexual reproduction, flight (the feathered kind), vocalization (or other means of communication), etc. Not really so rare. Almost inevitable with the right environment. And there are a LOT of environments out there.

Please don't say, "So where are all the ETIs?" We've been around that track too many times. We've had radio for only a century and already it's been chucked into the waste bin. We simply don't know enough yet.

duncan cairncross said...

IMHO not so much a rare fluke as a "Killer App" that both uses the intelligence and requires it
The old "Death at a distance"

Now that we are already intelligent can any of you guys think of ANOTHER "killer App" ??

Anything that could be used by an almost intelligent creature?

What could benefit some creature on another planet?

Stone throwing is our one - and that requires human size and living on land

What else is there? - what could an aquatic creature do?

Daniel Duffy said...

TCB, part of the problem is that when we say "alien civilizations within our galaxy" we make it sound as if they would be close enough to go next door and borrow a cup of sugar.

To quote the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.”

The Milky Way has a radius of 52,850 light years. Its orbital plane covers a roughly circular area of 8.8 billion square light years. With an average thickness of 1,000 light years it has a volume of 8.8 trillion cubic light years. At 500 million stars, its average stellar density (varying widely between the galactic fringe and the galactic core) is only 1 star every 17,550 cubic light years, the equivalent of a sphere with a radius of little more than 16 light years. Earth's neighborhood is somewhat denser with Earth being only 4.25 light years from Proxima Centauri.

So lets say the Rare Earth Hypothesis is a tad pessimistic and there are actually a dozen potentially space faring alien civilizations in the galaxy. If spaced more or less evenly around the galactic plane, each civ would have 731 million square light years on the galactic plane to itself, a circular area with a radius of 15,256 light years. Each would have to itself an average volume of 731 billion cubic light years containing 42 million stars.

Unless we violate the laws of physics by inventing warp drive, space folding, wormholes or hyperspace it is going to be a very, very, very long time before we see each other, bump into each other or can hear each other's radio signals.

Assuming I haven't made a bone headed math mistake we really don't get within shouting distance (say, 100 light years apart) of each other unless there are more than 1,000,000 alien civs in the galaxy (each with a galactic plane area of almost 9 thousand square light years and a radius of 53 light years, a volume of 9 million cubic light years and 500 star neighbors).

Not even the most enthusiastic Star Trek fan envisions 1,000,000 alien civs.

So why we may not be perfectly alone and all by ourselves in the galaxy, the basic principles of the Rare Earth Hypothesis (even if we can only conjecture the exact numbers that go into the calculation) ensure that for all practical intents and purposes, we are alone.

Maybe we aren't completely alone, but we are very, very lonely.

Smurphs said...

On the subject of AI filters:

https://xkcd.com/2494/

Der Oger said...

I believe it was a rare fluke.

Evolution is all about mutation. Individually, they are rare, but not so in the long run and when having millions of sample species to evolve from.

How many individual species with semi-intelligence are there on Earth? 50? 100? 200? 0.5%-2% from that number are still uncommon, but not terribly so.

Having brains is an evolutionary advantage (with a few disadvantages) and having greater brains even more so. A small brain learns to hunt, hurl rocks and form family clans, a greater brain can grow food, build bows, guns and alliances.

For me, the interesting question is, what starts these brain development processes. I assume it is phases of hardship, such as climate changes and other mass extinction events. Maybe we are at a threshold of such a leap for certain species.

TCB said...

I get what Dr. Brin is saying about the overshoot. Whatever it is, Homo Erectus didn't have it, and even anatomically modern Sapiens doesn't seem to have had it until 100k years ago, or less. Something in the software more than the brain hardware, I'd suspect.

My point about other pretty-smart Earth animals is that half our list couldn't make technology even if they had the same exact brains and minds, being aquatic or lacking effective hands, etc. Even some of our close hominid relatives may have lacked the fine motor skills you need to build a clock, say. So the breakthrough may be half mental and half 'workspace', for lack of a better word.

Humans have a fantastic workspace, full of raw materials that can be worked in a thousand ways. I don't just mean iron ore and petroleum, but seemingly simple things like plant leaves, vines, animal hides, rocks that can be broken with sharp edges. The human imagination must have been powerfully boosted by existing in a world where we could watch spiders trap prey and apply that notion to making a net for fish. Where we could watch birds build nests and think about how comfortable it would be to have a shelter like that. Where we could watch a log floating in the water and realize that we could cut a tree down and float on the trunk if we needed to. And so on.

Dennis M Davidson said...

Oy! Turn that filter back up! Please!
Thank-you.

David Brin said...

Scidata and Daniel, I attended the 1st interstellar migration conf in 1984 or so. Even then Hart had shown that Von Neuman's self-replicating probes - if possible and no one has shown any reason why they'd be - could fill the galaxy in just 3 million years.

If we sent slow colony ships for us biologicals at just 5% of light speed, stopped at nice planets to have babies and used inherited tech to build robot factories after say 5 generations and send more ships, there'd be organic humans everywhere in just 60 million years. And eyeblink.

Of course it is likely not so easy. Women must be very fecund and the robo-factories reliable... though the colonizing wave would be made of descendants of those who were eager and successful, an effective selection process.

Point is we don't know what give here. Are the probes so difficult no one did it? Are they lurking and watching us for various reasons? (See EXISTENCE.)

scidata said...

In the famous words of Will Smith to his wingman, "Don't be going all premature on me now".
You don't pine for a seat at an outdoor café in old Paris after reading, "It was the best of times".

Those who make the exceptional claim that Earth is entirely unique amongst a billion trillion worlds demand exceptional evidence from those who disagree ???
That's theology folks.

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

The human imagination must have been powerfully boosted by existing in a world where we could watch spiders trap prey and apply that notion to making a net for fish. Where we could watch birds build nests and think about how comfortable it would be to have a shelter like that.


Where we could watch birds fly. I've often wondered why heavier-than-air flight was considered impossible for so long when there was an obvious example of it actually happening pretty much everywhere on earth.

Paradoctor said...

I am both optimistic and pessimistic about the future. For instance, I believe that the hominids of the far future will be far superior to us in intelligence, dexterity, literacy, numeracy, creativity, empathy, wisdom, adaptability, and disease resistance. That's the good news. The bad news is, they'll need all of those traits to survive long enough to reproduce.

Likewise, I'm fairly sure that life-kind will indeed lift the Earth to gigayear safety. When they absolutely have to.

Daniel Duffy said...

"Women must be very fecund and the robo-factories reliable."

Use artificial wombs gestating millions of frozen embryos kept stored in a space the size of a large closet. Is this fair to the embryos? Probably not, but then nobody ever gets to decide where they are born.

Upon arrival, robo-nannies are activated to raise the newly born to adulthood while the robot probe prepares a colony (the human colony being just one of many things on its "To Do" list).

Have a human crew (living longer with life extension technology) in frozen hibernation thawed out on arrival and ready to oversee and troubleshoot the the whole process. You can have. During the centuries long flight, have rotating crew shifts thawed out and re-hibernated to oversee the ship's functions. They can live in a rotating cylinder artificial green living space (like the ships at the end of Interstellar) while awake during their years long duty shift.

There has been a lot of discussion as to which technology will make sub-light star travel feasible: life extension, long term hibernation, multi- generation ship, frozen embryos, Why not use them all to some degree?

Jon S. said...

Three other primate species have begun using stone tools.

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150818-chimps-living-in-the-stone-age

Wolves and ravens have been observed both working and playing together, suggesting to me that this might be the earliest stage of wolf domestication by ravens.

https://www.stemjobs.com/wolves-and-ravens/

Don't know if either of these will be significant, but I found them intriguing.

scidata said...

Re: SETI
"Intelligence took billions of years on Earth"
"Earth is a one-in-a-trillion special life-friendly place"
"Ergo, we are alone, and the Great Silence proves it"
Do you see any logical inconsistency or iffy assumptions here?
Have we ever grossly underestimated the size, age, and complexity of the world?
Have we ever been CITOKATE'd by anything other than fellow apes?
Well, yes, once. The mindlessly noble transistor is pwning and informing us more and more every day. *

Life began on Earth virtually as soon as it was physically possible, perhaps even multiple times (reset by fiery turbulence). So spontaneous genesis is rare??
Billions of near-futile years passed. So Earth is a super-special life-friendly garden??
A minute ago, morning dawned for the naked ape
A few seconds ago, we discovered there are at least 10^22 stars
A second ago, we discovered that planetary systems are very common
But we don't yet see Mos Eisley spaceport, ergo, we are alone!
I almost wish it were so because that would be a very Asimovian, FOUNDATIONal universe. Ironic that I'm arguing with Dr. Brin in CB when I'm trolled daily in my own blog for being such a Brin sychophant. I must look into this filter thingy.


Re: Enlightenment
Much of history results from ignorant hubris. I worry that many 'remora' have been duped into thinking that the Enlightenment is merely a ragged collection of daydreamers, weaklings, and Trekkie cosplayers. Delusional misreading of an adversary's forbearance can lead to recklessness - the sleeping giant scenario. Preening fascist cosplayers may need to hear the branch creak to jolt them back to reality. This jarring rendition of "La Marseillaise" should be heard by those confederates of Bouillé and others.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MQ-SC9bmp4
And that doesn't even touch on the bullets vs transistors theme.

David Brin said...

Scidata, sorry, you are conflating several things.

1. Whether planets, biogenesis, multicellularity, land animals, pre-sapience and our super-sapience are likely to be filters?

(I answer No, no, maybe, maybe, no and very likely)...


Vesus a separate matter:

2. the fact that several major kinds of interstellar visibility have apparently never happened
- major tutorial beacons
- gigantic "kardashev" type engineering projects
- vast waves of colonizing organics (we'd see signs of past colonies in Earth's rocks)
- Vast waves of self-replicating probes that behave in non-cryptic ways. e.g. runaway reproduction, or planting colonists or making friendly contact... none seem to have happened here. See EXISTENCE for OTHER possible behaviors that would leave them inivsible to us, so far.)

These are two different realms of discussion that only overlap when we try to reach conclusions.

--

Tell the ankle-biting cowards on your blog to come by here and say their shit to my face. I'll take wagers on the quality of their snarks! Pfeh! ;-)

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Oliver ~ (Bruno N. Oliveira) said...

Wow, you seem surprisingly ignorant about the whole area - and please consider this but positive criticism. When you research a little more I bet you will share the opinion.

First, let us adress the elephant in the room... THERE ARE ACTUALLY GOOD EXPLANATIONS for every question you have put forward. I happen to have come across most of them during my in-depth search of the subject. I'm quite curious and I search exceptionally well.

But I'd advise you to be a little more open about possibilities and welcoming of change, like Dr. Avi Loeb has said - be like a child and be excited like most people are about this. He has launched Project Galileo this week to make scientific, multi-sensor data, high-quality pictures and triangulation of UAPs. He has 2 million funding from private companies in 2 weeks. He gathered quite a team of Astronomers and scientists and promises to be totally agnostically about the research, not making any assumptions, only collecting data which shall be shared with the public. No strings to the government whatsoever.

Now, I would suggest that if you read this scientific article below, you might find some answers you seek.

Inflation-Theory Implications for Extraterrestrial Visitation
Authors: J. DEARDORFF, B. HAISCH, B. MACCABEE AND H.E. PUTHOFF
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5cf80ff422b5a90001351e31/t/5d092ccd670b590001164b10/1560882383065/JBIS.pdf


As a bonus, I would REALLY suggest you to check the Australian National Archives, via its internet domain. There you will find that in 2008, many decades-old files have finally been declassified, including an extremely enlightening Intelligence Report made so the Australian Government would be aware of what was real and what was done due to a policy of secrecy elaborated by the CIA - and state the reasons for that policy.Keep in mind that this is official, it is public, and all the serious investigators of this topic have knowledge about this.
Here it is, you can read all 50+ pages, but really, the 2-page summary nails it quite well
https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=30030606&S=7&R=0

(Canada, France and 1991-URSS, among others, also have similar documents already declassified, just search)