The Fermi Paradox and the Great Filter

This piece by Tim Burton linked to by John Gruber is a great explanation and summary of modern thought from a scientific perspective on the attempts to answer the fundamental "Are we alone?" question. Actually, religion fits neatly in either Group 1 or 2 camp depending on your respective interpretation. Nevertheless, that's a whole other debate that I will not touch on here.

Pretty much it sums up every Sci-Fi movie plot permutation that you are ever likely to watch. I won't even try to explain any further. Read the conclusion by Tim Burton from Wait But Why:

The Fermi Paradox ... leaves me with a deep humbling. Not just the normal “Oh yeah, I’m microscopic and my existence lasts for three seconds” humbling that the universe always triggers. The Fermi Paradox brings out a sharper, more personal humbling, one that can only happen after spending hours of research hearing your species’ most renowned scientists present insane theories, change their minds again and again, and wildly contradict each other—reminding us that future generations will look at us the same way we see the ancient people who were sure that the stars were the underside of the dome of heaven, and they’ll think “Wow they really had no idea what was going on.”

Compounding all of this is the blow to our species’ self-esteem that comes with all of this talk about Type II and III Civilizations. Here on Earth, we’re the king of our little castle, proud ruler of the huge group of imbeciles who share the planet with us. And in this bubble with no competition and no one to judge us, it’s rare that we’re ever confronted with the concept of being a dramatically inferior species to anyone. But after spending a lot of time with Type II and III Civilizations over the past week, our power and pride are seeming a bit David Brent-esque.

That said, given that my normal outlook is that humanity is a lonely orphan on a tiny rock in the middle of a desolate universe, the humbling fact that we’re probably not as smart as we think we are, and the possibility that a lot of what we’re sure about might be wrong, sounds wonderful. It opens the door just a crack that maybe, just maybe, there might be more to the story than we realize.

Go read the full article here. Then comeback and tell me to which camp you belong either Group 1 or Group 2 (Exceptional and or Totally Fck'd, or Ants on the Lawn).

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