The Eagle on my Couch


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Matt Giwer
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Message 998597 - Posted: 24 May 2010, 20:50:02 UTC

http://www.giwersworld.org/UFO/eagle-couch.phtml

The Eagle on my Couch
Fermi's Paradox revisited

by Matt Giwer, © 2009 [Aug 01]

If there be eagles why are none on my couch?

If you ever saw my couch there would be no mystery in the question. There is even less mystery if you know something about eagles, not only their fashion sense and good taste but also their living and hunting habits as well as their general behavior. Simply knowing they stay away from all humans not just myself answers the entire question.

Whatever Enrico Fermi really asked rhetorically it can be expressed something like this. "If there there are intelligent alien civilizations why are they not here?" Those who do not like the conceit of rhetorical questions which are predicated upon acceptance of the implied conclusion as meaningful may ask somewhat different questions.

But first that eagle which is not on my couch. The paradox implies not just a single alien race but a plethora of them. Does this not imply at least one of them would be here now? I note with gratitude there is no mouse on my couch. There is neither elephant nor snail nor moose nor salamander nor shark nor a python on my couch. In fact I can safely say it would require significant taxonomic research to compile an exhaustive list of all the species which are not on my couch. Can I safely conclude my couch is a lifeless place?

Does this tell me humans, dogs, cats and the occasional dead bird are the only animals on earth? Or does it tell me I should not assume to know anything about intelligent aliens?

I have a rhetorical question or two of my own. You ask why are they not here? I ask you why there are not here now. Although ancient astronauts and gods in their chariots were at one time endemic in the world the aliens like the gods withdrew for reasons of their own. Certainly a moment or two after WC Fields died he likely asked why he was not in Philadelphia now. Certainly the implication behind this paradox is that aliens must have a continuing and open presence on earth at all times in history. Should an eagle stray onto my couch for even a moment is it obliged to stay there for all time and depend upon me for essentials of food and love life? Eagles sincerely hope not.

As we are an intelligent species, even if only in our own estimation, cannot an alien Fermi on a far away planet equally ask why we are not on his planet? If they are not here is it not equally legitimate to ask why we are not there? The fact that if he knew us he would know why we are not implies nothing about our existence but may imply something about our intelligence.

Not knowing the answer to a question does not imply anything about what precedes the question. The fact there is no eagle on my couch implies nothing about the existence of eagles. Nor does a single question about the location of an eagle at a particular time imply the form of the answer can only relate to the existence of the eagle. Certainly the behavior of eagles in particular and all the absent species in general implies nothing about their existence. Nor does the absence of a cat on the couch at this particular time imply anything about the historical relationship between my cat and his couch.

The style of this question implies a Socratic approach. It implies not only that a question must have an answer but that the answer can be derived by thinking alone. While I enjoy thought problems as much as the next person I do not indulge in them to the exclusion of considering other approaches to finding an answer no matter how comfortable the place to sit and think.

Nor am I the kind to let the form of the statement of the problem strictly delimit the nature of the general subject. In this case the paradox is bounded by two permissible answers, they are physically present now or they do not exist. In this case, if the former cannot be demonstrated the latter must be true.

This formulation of a problem is of use in eliminating one or more possibilities from a much wider range of possibilities. It is commonly expressed in a possibly apocryphal statement by Thomas Edison in searching for a light bulb filament that a hundred failed experiments were of value because they eliminated a hundred things that do not work.

In the Edison case he did not know prior to the discovery of a practical filament that such a thing existed. Nor do we know if alien civilizations exist. The failure of the one method of directly observe them now does not preclude their existence any more than any single failed experiment of Edison's precluded the existence of a suitable material for a filament.

The paradox only eliminates the possibility that intelligent aliens can be confirmed by directly observing their physical presence. Fermi knew that before asking the question. So the purpose of the question was an attempt to answer a hugely complex issue with a simple yes/no experiment. This is something which could only appeal to a particle physicist.

In the meantime I will continue to support the SETI project, The SETI@home project as well as researching ways to make my couch more eagle friendly.

[hr]
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Message 998605 - Posted: 24 May 2010, 21:25:41 UTC

Why arent they here? We are not at all significant. Had we technology that a spacefaring race would want then we'd have company. We know well the damage that a very advanced civilization can cause to a primitive one even if they dont intend to harm them. Simple answer is that their is nothing to be gained by that species by coming here.
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Message 998622 - Posted: 24 May 2010, 22:53:40 UTC

Someone could be here right now. Would we know about it? Not necessarily, not if they didn't want us to know.
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Message 998680 - Posted: 25 May 2010, 3:22:13 UTC
Last modified: 25 May 2010, 3:25:31 UTC

Fermi's Paradox - Its just a distance problem.

Here is another point of view;

Let's say we do find "intelligent" radio transmitting alien's. Let's say we detect them half way across the Milkyway 50,000 light years away. We can never have a chat with them because there would be a 100,000 year time laps between responses. Lets also say that the total cost of detecting them was 100 billion US dollars.

So, what have we accomplished?? It cost us a fortune to prove that intelligent life is not unique! We have discovered other intelligence but its very expensive, so why keep looking? The cost, and the fact that they might not be able to teach us anything we already know, we simply quit searching!! This might well be what happens when other intelligent alien's start searching and then quit. Other alien's just find out this - "Yes, we know there out there, but its too expensive and they can't teach us anything new"

John.
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Message 999119 - Posted: 27 May 2010, 13:04:54 UTC

I kind of do hope we find 'em soon. Regardless of range.

Pardon the pun, but i'm praying we do find them, so religion can finally die, and man can grow up.
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Message 999954 - Posted: 2 Jun 2010, 13:47:58 UTC

If there be eagles why are none on my couch?


I can't see any aliens on mine either?

so religion can finally die, and man can grow up.


An ES99 fan ....



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Message 1000298 - Posted: 3 Jun 2010, 11:22:52 UTC
Last modified: 3 Jun 2010, 11:30:22 UTC

According to this guy....

http://www.disclosureproject.com/
http://www.worldpuja.org
http://www.cseti.org/
http://twitter.com/DrStevenGreer

.....aliens are here right now.

Matt Giwer
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Message 1000431 - Posted: 3 Jun 2010, 21:51:26 UTC - in response to Message 1000298.

According to this guy....

http://www.disclosureproject.com/
http://www.worldpuja.org
http://www.cseti.org/
http://twitter.com/DrStevenGreer

.....aliens are here right now.


Back in September 2008 I was the first to reveal Obama's secret. He is half white, half black and half space alien.

Is it any wonder he can't produce a birth certificate?

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Message 1000583 - Posted: 4 Jun 2010, 10:44:49 UTC - in response to Message 1000431.

According to this guy....

http://www.disclosureproject.com/
http://www.worldpuja.org
http://www.cseti.org/
http://twitter.com/DrStevenGreer

.....aliens are here right now.


Back in September 2008 I was the first to reveal Obama's secret. He is half white, half black and half space alien.

Is it any wonder he can't produce a birth certificate?



You mean The Eridanian conjecture? :)

Matt Giwer
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Message 1002087 - Posted: 9 Jun 2010, 11:20:33 UTC

It appears I need to find a better way of expressing this than eagles and couches.

I was attempting to put the into a working context the more basic idea that everything we say about this subject it nothing more than speculation, starting from the existence of eagles.

Way back when humans living over the next hill was speculation but highly likely and true. But if we go back far enough, such as before leaving Africa or before reaching the western hemisphere, that was still reasonable speculation but also false. But in the case of the New World and after leaving Africa people living over the next hill had always been true.

This entire SETI thing cannot be any more than an amusing mental exercise, mental masturbation in one sense. It is pleasurable, others indulge in the same exercise and we enjoy sharing the exercise. But in fact we do not KNOW a single fact other than we are here. Speculation in the complete and total absence of evidence gives us some insight into dancing angels on the head of a pin save they were not trying to solve a physical geometry nor choreographic problem.

This is an issue of existential philosophy but theirs not ours with the added twist there may be no their if you enjoy twisting English else substitute them. The issue of ours is unanswerable enough but it is always attractive to the philosophical types. Theirs raising all the existential issues but has a scientific aspect that appeals to our type.

This is just enjoyable speculation bereft of anything upon which constitutes a factual assumption.

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