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Re: starship-design: It's a bad, bad world out there

L. Parker wrote:
>On Saturday, October 25, 1997 6:16 PM, Isaac Kuo [SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu] 

>>  The whole bit with Pellegrino's cute little theory in "The Killing Star"
>>  should be an FAQ.  It's been hashed out to death many times on USENET,
>>  especially rec.arts.sf.science in relation to the Fermi paradox.

>Sorry, I don't follow rec.arts.sf.science so I was unaware that this was 
>such a popular topic of conversation. I only recently started thinking 
>about it because of a posting to this list.

Anyway, you can use "DejaNews" to check out previous discussions on

>I am familiar with the Fermi Paradox but see no real reason why it is 
>relevant, space is vast after all, why SHOULD there be intelligent life 
>within 1,000 light years of Earth?

Apparently you're not familiar with the Fermi Paradox.  The paradox
is that even being extremely conservative about the likelyhood of
evolving intelligent life and being extremely conservative about
the speed of interstellar colonization, intelligent life should
_already_ have colonized the entire galaxy (including our Solar

So the question, is, "Where are they?"

The relevance of the Fermi Paradox to Pellegrino's theory is that it's
offered as a possible solution to the question--the answer is that
they're there, but they're paranoid about letting their presense being
known and are on their way to exterminate us.

The problem with this answer to Fermi's Paradox is that this isn't
really a sensible answer at all.  If these aliens knew what they
were doing, they'd have already wiped us out ages ago.  After all,
they should _already_ have a presense in this solar system.

>> This first law is the most misleading, because while it's obviously
>> true, it also probably isn't relevant.

>> It's hard to imagine a plausible situation where species A can entirely
>> wipe out species B (without wiping out itself) AND species B can
>> entirely wipe out species A (without wiping out itself).

>> In fact, if both species A and species B have interstellar space travel
>> capability, it's hard to imagine a plausible situation where either
>> species can entirely wipe out the other with certainty!

>> Therefore, it isn't plausible that a species ever "has to choose
>> between them and us".

>Of course, you are assuming here that both civilization are interstellar, 

No I am not.  Reread very carefully.

>Pellegrino made no such assumptions. We quite definitely were "not" 
>interstellar. It was the interstellar equivalent of a pre-emptive nuclear 
>strike. They attacked BEFORE we had the capability to strike back.

But you see, it doesn't make sense.  Yes, the aliens have the ability
to wipe us out.  However, we do _not_ have the ability to wipe out
the aliens.  Therefore, they do not have to choose between them and

Anyway, for an alien race to wait until we had developed the ability
to speak in 3 word sentences, much less build Sony Walkmans and
interplanetary rockets, they aren't doing their genocidal job very

>I think my point is that our assumptions that aliens are inherently 
>peaceful or aggressive based upon human reactions to the same situation are 
>flawed. the "laws" Pellegrino presents may not be either true or relevant, 
>but they are logical based upon what we can PROVE, not upon assumptions.

Well, the first law is true, but it's easy to think it says more than
it does.

The other two laws actually are debateable, but I prefer to take things
one step at a time.  You can't really conclude much from the second two

As an aside, one of the most intriguing examples of being blinded by
one's own experiences in science fiction, I've found, was in the
Doctor Who story, "Genesis of the Daleks" (Doctor Who was a long
running science fiction/fantasy TV series not noted for intellectual
stimulation).  The creator of the Daleks, Davros, was born and lived
at the grinding end of a thousand year long war of attrition between
the Thals and the Kaleds.  Since this is all he ever knew, he assumed
that peaceful coexistence of more than one race was inherently
impossible, and that the only possible sort of existence was that
of a master race above slave subject races.  Upon the discovery that
there indeed existed life outside of his home planet of Scaro, he
gave his Daleks the simple directive to become ultimate rulers of
the universe.

As far as science fiction villians go, the Daleks are pretty trite,
but the story of their creator and his thinking is surprisingly
thought-provoking.  (Originally, the Daleks were simply bad guys
who were ugly creatures jealous of the beauty of the Thals.  Then
they completely rewrote the story of their origin with "Genesis of
the Daleks".)

I point out this example because we're all to some degree or another
blinded to possibilities outside our own experience.  I think
Pellegrino's second law is an example of this--and not that far
removed from Davros's problem.  The second law refers to "top dogs"
not being "wimps".  It's actually not even clear what "top dog"
exactly means.
    _____     Isaac Kuo kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu http://www.csc.lsu.edu/~kuo
/___________\ "Mari-san...  Yokatta...
\=\)-----(/=/  ...Yokatta go-buji de..." - Karigari Hiroshi