Nautilus

Life on Earth Is a Sketchy Guide to an Alien Civilization

Any assumptions about properties like intelligence or agency that we make based on what we currently know about life on Earth are on exceedingly shaky ground.Photograph by European Southern Observatory (ESO) / Wikicommons

You might imagine that in the midst of a global pandemic and all of its social and economic fallout that our minds would be laser-focused on immediate, Earthly woes. But apparently not entirely. A case in point is the recent virus-like spread of news headlines to the effect that there should be “at least 36 alien civilizations” in our galaxy. Not ten, not a thousand, or a billion, but 36. There you have it, three dozen other sets of intelligent life dotting our cosmic neighborhood, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

It’s at times like these that you can almost hear the collective sigh

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