X-Message-Number: 14587
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 2000 03:41:56 EDT
Subject: Message #14575 "Highly unlikely"
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 21:38:39 -0400
From: James Swayze <>
Subject: Re: Alien humanity, highly doubtful

In a message dated 9/29/00 5:05:38 AM,  writes:

<< Message #14575
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 21:38:39 -0400
From: James Swayze <>
Subject: Re: Alien humanity, highly doubtful
References: <>

At the risk of stunting my growth, going blind or having hair grow on my 
pal..er ah inside my scalp...I must respond to this "Off Topic" subject. ;) 
Although I agree with the possibility of the basic premise here I do have 
trouble with some of the assumptions. Oh and I do run the
 program. See responses below.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message #14556
> From: 
> Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2000 11:24:28 EDT
> Subject: Re: SETI off topic? Maybe not
> SETI discussion may have more direct relevance than indicated by posts I 
> read so far.  Considerable thought over the last few years and a passing
> knowledge of current SETI activity leads me to this conclusion. I believe
> that the very first messages we receive after contact may well tell us  how
> to suspend human animation in such a way that reanimation without damage or
> loss is certain.   The main reason: it buys us time so that a subsequent
> stream of enlightening life-saving messages can be absorbed and implemented
> by us in an orderly manner.

Good idea. Logical assumption, but...

>  In
> brief, my theory rests on these assumptions: [1] life is a reasonably common
> occurrence throughout the universe;


> [2] life inevitably evolves toward
> human-like intelligence on its way to something much more amazing;

Not agreed. This is anthropomorphism. Other intelligences could be wholly 
undechipherable by us and totally incomprehensible. We have alien 
inteligences here on Earth we may never comprehend. Take cetacean or 
cephalpod intelligence for instance. You can say also that all life on Earth 
related and from a common DNA template. Other world life may not be even 
close. May not have anything even like DNA. So if we have trouble 
understanding DNA based bretheren imagine the problems with the unimaginable 
variations out there. This also doesn't take into account difference in
levels of development. For instance, Australopithicene humans could hardly, 
even with lots of help from us, understand us and again we are very related.

It once was common to assume the "humanoid" model of higher development ie: 
two eyes (stereocopc vision), two ears (stereoscopic aural information 
gathering), bipedalism, brain near to these senses for shorter transmition 
distance thus smell sense also with the rest all grouped on a head
at the highest point of the body etc. etc., would be a universal result of 
evolution anywhere. I disagree. For instance the mechanism for intelligence 
and sense gathering could be modular and parallel. Transmission distance 
needn't lead to a centrally located brain if a being has multiple
independant yet connected sensory devices with localized processing. There 
might be aliens with brains in each finger and having hundreds of those. I 
doubt a being like this would think anything like a human.

It has been speculated that had the dinasours not gone extinct (by the way, I 
can prove the KT event did not kill the dinos...if anyone is interested email 
me) a humanoid being might have evolved from their stock. This may well have 
been possible but one must remember we are cousins. Same
DNA template. They already had the beginning parameters including even for 
some five fingers. Even an octopus so alien to our design has two eyes, same 
Earth centric template. Something from another entirely different 
evolutionary impetus might have, most likely will have, totally
different expressions in response to evolutionary presures. If evolution were 
re-run on this planet nothing even close to human would arise.

RH: We know only that we are here and we can trace more or less how we got 
here from primal ooze.  There may be other paths [I doubt that they would 
vary a great deal] that would work but we know this one does.  There may be 
life not based on "DNA template" [I doubt it] but we know that the DNA 
template works here.  We also know that the universe is filled with the same 
stuff we are made of, that ours is a very ordinary star and that planetary 
systems around stars are commonplace.  That means that there are billions 
[count em] of earth-equivalent environments just in our own galaxy, let alone 
other galaxies.  Some will have DNA template life.  If they've got that then 
some will have intelligent life which evolves through our stage and beyond to 
who knows where.  Some number of them will be very similar to us in the way 
they think and the way they look.  The more we know about ourselves, the more 
we realize how ordinary and reasonable the process is.  Evolutionary steps 
are not predictable in the short run but they are in the long run.   The more 
we know about ourselves and our world the more our cherished uniqueness 

> [3] there
> already exists a universe-wide interconnected intelligent culture containing
> millions of worlds which are more advanced than we are right now;

Again not agreed. First of all, "Universe-wide" communication is not likely 
possible if indeed even galactic-wide is.
RH: this has to do with the nature of diffusion of knowledge.  As soon as 
anyone with less advanced knowledge and technology starts to receive from a 
more advanced source, they rapidly absorb the knowledge and adopt the 
technology.  We know that electromagnetic radiation can transmit mesages of 
any complexity at the speed of light, traversing distances across galaxies 
and even between galaxies if the time spread is long enough.   For new 
receivers, of course, it is strictly a passive process and may remain so for 
hundreds of years, but dialog is not necessary for full knowledge utilization 
any more than we need to dialog with the long dead Shakespeare to enjoy his 
plays.  If we manage to make passive contact in the manner imagined by SETI 
or in some other way, we will not be the first such recipients.  Rather we 
will only be the latest in a long line of receivers who have been connected 
for millions of years.
> [4] more
> advanced human cultures have a highly developed sense of caring for a
> collective universal humanity which, fortunately for us, includes us;

Here again not agreed. What human cultures? What universal humanity? Humanity 
is us, here, on Earth, only on Earth, so far. Aliens might have societies 
akin to ants or bees or so far removed from even that and so alien to our 
culture we couldn't begin to fathom it. I don't understand this
popular opinion that advanced society brings altruism. This again is 
anthropomorphism and isn't even guaranteed in our own society. In the show 
Babylon 5 there was a scene where the G'Kar character was explaining an 
encounter a scientist had with a supposedly to the plot older more highly
advanced race. The scientist asked what were they? The G'Kar character picked 
up an ant that had found a ride on an imported plant and placed it back down. 
He then said to the scientist that the ant asking his fellows what just 
picked him up and placed him back down was equivalent to her
question to G'Kar. We step on ants all the time and hardly are concerned if 
billions are wiped out in the everyday machinations of our cultural needs. A 
more advanced alien race may have no more or even less concern for us.
RH: I fully admit that moral evolution is a tough case to prove, especially 
for thos of us who have lived part of our lives in the first half of the 20th 
century.  I partly think it is tough to prove because we are only now 
beginning to go clearly in that direction.  I can cite a few examples that 
apply mostly to "the developed world", e.g. the abolition of slavery, the 
acceptance [not universal] of the UN declaration on human rights.   On the 
other hand, if there is no moral evolution, then the cryonics movement is 
doomed because there will be no future people with any concern to revive us.
> [5]
> this collective sense of caring has led to the establishment of powerful
> light house beacons located at various point throughout our galaxy; the
> purpose of these beacons is to bring new cultures into the collective 
> the dissemination of their advanced knowledge in a carefully shaped sequence
> of messages; and

In the words of the main character in Hemmingway's "The Sun Also Rises",  
"It's pretty to think so".

> [6] within the last decade we may have reached a level of
> sophistication in our electromagnetic wave receiving capacity to passively
> locate and connect to such a beacon.

We can only hope. I'd like to reiterate I do think we are not alone in the 
universe. However, unless they are related to us they won't look or think 
like us. They won't be human and may not be humane.
RH: all I can say is that you may be right, but I think otherwise.  It is 
confusing enough to imagine civilized intelligence that is millions of years 
ahead of us without going into all the other ways in which intelligent life 
might manifest itself.  We know of only one way in which it has happened so 
far and I think that is a reasonable model to go on.  

Finally, I fear that we are now going grievously 'off topic' into issues 
which can never be settled in definitive fashion, each deserving its own 
Some of our views are spacious
some are merely space--RUSH >>

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