The Fermi Paradox: Unwilling to Contact?

I come to my final major category of solutions, the hypothesis that interstellar-capable extraterrestrial civilizations are unwilling to make contact with us, or else that they are trying to hide from us and other civilizations. Not surprisingly, this category contains some “fun” hypotheses. Here are some:

  1. Lack of Interest in Contacting Others
  2. Hiding from Others
  3. We are Not Worth Contacting
  4. The Zoo Hypothesis

Lack of Interest in Contacting Others

In our society, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a rather small-scale interest, but for the most part, it is unopposed. But some politicians have objected that such efforts are big wastes of taxpayers’ money, notably United States Senator William Proxmire (1915 – 2005, D-WI). He liked to ridicule what he considered wasteful government spending, giving some of his targets “Golden Fleece” awards. In 1982, he kept NASA from working on SETI, though it was in 1994 that another politician delivered a final blow to NASA’s efforts. In fairness to him, he later apologized for this and other attacks on scientific-research projects.

There are some other possible reasons for lack of interest, like:

  1. Considering it too unlikely to succeed to be worth doing — their version of the Fermi Paradox
  2. Being completely inward directed, like doing their equivalent of exchanging cat pictures
  3. Considering it too silly to be worth doing — Senator William Proxmire’s argument
  4. Having ideological objections to the hypothesis of other civilizations’ existence. Some Christian fundamentalists believe that there can’t be ET’s because the Bible doesn’t mention them, and because it describes God as being mostly concerned with humanity.

Hiding from Others

They are hiding themselves from potentially hostile civilizations, because such civilizations may want to destroy them. Their hiding themselves also keeps us from having any good evidence of their existence.

As to why such hostile civilizations might do what they do, it may be to eliminate competition or else because they dislike every sentient species and civilization but theirs.

We are Not Worth Contacting

This includes such possibilities as

  1. Incredulity at our nature: “They are made of meat!”
  2. Considering us too backward or nasty to be worth contacting

The Zoo Hypothesis

This hypothesis expands on the previous one, with the ET’s watching us. They may do so because they find us interesting, even if they do not wish to interfere with us by contacting us, or else they do not wish to contact us because they find us too backward or whatever. If they are doing so, then they must be careful not to make themselves apparent to us, or at least not apparent to us in some way that we can readily recognize.

A problem is what happens if there are several ET civilizations watching us. What keeps all of them continuing to watch us but not contact us? It takes only one contacter to make contact, even if all the other Earthling-watchers refuse to do so.

There is also the problem of what happens if they decide to make contact. Some of us may feel that they were spying on us, especially if they revealed knowledge of things that require very close contact to learn. Things like details of our computers, their software, and the Internet.

So with that I end my series on the Fermi Paradox.

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2 Responses

  1. If we had FTLT capabilities, maybe then they would take notice.

  2. btw… nice series. thanks!

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