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Self destruction of aliens.


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I was watching the movie "Contact" the other day, and the main character spoke to the jury (whom was to choose who took the mission to another planet) of what she would say when she saw these newly discovered intelligent lifeforms. she said she would ask them how they managed to not destroy themselves for so long with such advanced technology. This made me wonder something:

 

Why is it that people believe many other life forms that may have arisen could've destroy themselves once they came to a point of their technological advancements (i.e. using weapons of mass destruction)? We know nothing of any other life forms other than the ones on Earth. Why then should we make such assumptions? I have heard many people say this. It is even in the "Drake Equation," which calculates the chance that we have of communicating with other intelligence through radio telescopes and such. Why is this such a huge factor to us?

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Have you read the book? It's a very good one.

 

As to your question, it is difficult to envision a society entirely different from ours. Since war and destruction have played such huge roles in our history, people will assume that an advanced society will not only have developed weapons, but ones much greater than our own. There was a point in our history were the most destructive-minded person could not have destroyed our civilization. With the advent of new weapons, it is a very real threat, though. I believe the movie also mentioned an advanced transportation system and something to show her her father. These are human ideas adapted to a futuristic civilization. It seems the best we can do is to envision ourselves x number of years ahead and assume that that is what another civilization of the same age is like.

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I bought the book and read like 80 pages of it...then I started reading Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot, and other of Carl Sagan's books.

 

I guess it isn't such a bad idea to assume they are a lot like us, but hopefully people realize that, since we have never seen life on any other planet other than Earth, they could be a lot different. We really have no idea.

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What would you think they might be like?

 

Is this "Cosmos" also by Sagan? I was looking thorugh some boxes of old books in the basement and one I looked at was a Cosmos by Sagan. I don't know what a TV series would get from the book, though, as it is strictly factual.

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Yeah, Cosmos is by Sagan as well. He is a great author. And I think the TV Series came out first, which was hosted by Sagan, then he wrote the book at around the same time.

 

I don't know a lot to be able to make a good estimate of what they would look like...but I suppose if I had to guess I'd probably say they would be somewhat like us.

 

I don't think I would say they have a chance of destroying themselves unless they're population was as big as ours because I have seen that the more people there are, like in LA or New York City, the more annoyed and frustrated people are. I live in a small town and people are waaay less annoyed here. When I go to a bigger city I can feel the difference. Or maybe if their planet was much bigger than ours...

 

Do you think this would make a difference?

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Do you have a general idea of what the series was about?

 

Population density could play a big part in it. Once again, you seem to be answering your origional question by aplying human ideas to what other civilizations mught be.

 

Another would be stress related to environmental strain. Low food/water/light could all contribute even in small groups (I had to use human needs once again for simplicity, but the idea would remain for whatever this civilization is dependent upon). This also assumes they haven't overcome all of this is some way.

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Oh, and the series was pretty much about everything from the formation of planets, stars, and galaxies to discovering civilizations on other planets. Actually, that's what the book was about. I've never seen the series but I would assume it's about the same kind of stuff. I think it's something like 13 episodes long...From what I've read about it it was very popular.

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Did you get the anser you were looking for, then?

 

Looking at TV today, I find it hard to believe a large number of people could be facinated by scientific-based series which, if it's like the book, explains what the modern understanding of the universe. It seems like most people would find it too boring.

 

Wow, our two seperate converstations seems to have just found something in common.

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Population density and resource control will ultimately drive an expanding species to intra-specific competition, even where none previously existed.

 

If that species has high technology, and arms race is pretty much going to be inevitable.

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Do people forget the possibility that other races may realize the problems with war before they commit to it? It's possible that they haven't banned things we see wrong, like cloning, but have banned things like weapons creation... of any sort.

 

Sure, it's logical to think that a few will break that rule, but it's not enough to wipe the entire race out.

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I'm sure people do forget that, but remembering it does not mean that it's right.

 

See my above post. Intra-specific competition is inevitable in an expanding population, period. You don't actually need advanced technology or a lack of morals to drive yourself extinct.

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I do think civilizations would need some type of advanced technology, if it were to be an internal extinction. I could be missing something, but wouldn't it be difficult for a race to defeat itself with basic materials? Again, I have to base this on humanity's past, but I think it would be nearly impossible that some cavemen (for lack of a better term) could kill out the world's population with just some stone tools.

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The population does not need to kill itself as such, it just needs to force ecological conditions that bring about the species' demise. Also there is no time constraint placed on the processes leading to extintion - it can happen over millenia, you don't need to get all your slaughtering done in the same weekend.

 

Also you're falling prey to the very folly you originally pointed out (assuming another society will be like ours) and only considering a widely-dispersed, planetary population that is difficult to kill off.

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I did say internal causes. The external (ecological) ones would probably best take hold when the civilization is very young and unadvanced.

 

I was aware of my folly, but in answer to the question, I can't envision anything else. I hope some day we will get ansers to the question. That would be cool, assuming their not hostile.

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The ecology of a species is inherently internal, and only becomes external as you widen your field of view. I am not dicussing environmental issues, I am discussing the population biology of the species.

A population can exert enough pressure on itself to cause a massive decline to well below the K-line.

 

There are so many variables as to make it impossible to predict, I'd like to get hold of the Drake equation notes and go through them ;)

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The population equilibrium size - a comparative point where the demands of the population at that size can be sustained indefinitely by the available resources (including space, food etc), taking into account ecological factors (both biotic and abiotic) but not unpredictable change.

 

It moves about, populations head away from it or towards it... it all gets horribly complicated.

 

But if a population drops below K and keeps declining, that's bad.

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Hm. Any discusson about extraterrestial life without any given parameters would just be wild guesses.

 

There is the possibility that a lifeform can destroy itself without technology, but then we might not be talking about intelligent life (asuming we define human life as intelligent).

 

Of course a lifeform can be destroyed without technology, but that would require some natural disaster or overpopulation and destruction of the resources the lifeform needs.

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I consider cats and dogs and lizards and spider blah blah blah etc...

to be "Aliens" (not extra terrestrial obviously!).

they don`t seem to exhibit the natural predisposition towards self annihilation as mankind does.

they all have adequate comunication skills amongst themselves and often across species!

the only real separator I can see between us, is GREED!

this is only my opinion, but I see it as well founded based upon a liftime of critical observation.

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Cheetah said in post #23 :

Of course a lifeform can be destroyed without technology, but that would require some natural disaster or overpopulation and destruction of the resources the lifeform needs.

And?

 

That makes extinction events more likely to happen, time and time again.

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