Could it be that consumerism and escapism destroy intelligent races before we can make contact with them? Is that why we haven’t found any space aliens yet? If so, what can we do to avoid that fate?
Perhaps Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping will save us all. Maybe we’ll need something a little more radical than that. At any rate, if Geoffrey Miller is right, something must be done.
The conditions which allowed intelligent life to evolve in this universe are difficult to replicate. You’ve got to have a planet close enough to a star to receive enough warmth to develop life, but you can’t overbake the planet. Thus, you have to have the right combination of temperature of star and distance between planet to star. Also, that planet has got to have the right compounds to lead to life and your planet has to have an atmosphere. Gaseous planets wouldn’t work because of the huge atmospheric pressure, which leads to destructive storms and electric charges. And then, to get actually intelligent life, we’d need some sort of evolutionary process, which we think is tied to having an atmosphere and a medium like water (or possibly methane). Given enough possibilities (say, in a universe), yes, there almost has to be intelligent life out there. However, it might be on the other side of the universe. The speed of light barrier sure is pesky.
I mean, Miller had some interesting points about consumerism, but the whole beginning of the article, insinuating that it really is a mystery that there aren’t other planets in our galaxy with intelligent life on them, is faulty. Sorry to nitpick.
Yes, it certainly seems to take far too long to get around our galaxy. Our physicists really must do something about that speed of light barrier. Where are my warp drives and wormholes? 😉 I guess since we don’t even have flying cars yet, the situation is pretty hopeless.
Actually, the dude saying that is saying that “we” — the Blue Staters — will be destroyed, but that a more primitive, less consumerist/escapist culture that already exists will supplant “us” — the Red Staters. We’ll be outbred by people who like big families, outfought by people who like weapons, etc.
It’s typical culture-war rhetoric, and I don’t like it very much, but he is, to a degree, right — things like family values, religious values, a culture of self-sacrifice, a culture of conformity/cooperation/obedience to authority, Geschellschaft as opposed to Gemeinschaft — all these things make a culture more Darwinianly fit than a culture that lacks them. I don’t like his doomsday rhetoric and his statement that a culture that incorporates these elements would naturally be one that “we” would find repugnant — but then, he might find me repugnant if he knew me, so hey.