Talk:Fermi paradox

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Former featured articleFermi paradox is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
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June 12, 2004Featured article candidatePromoted
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April 28, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
June 27, 2006Featured article candidatePromoted
September 13, 2010Featured article reviewDemoted
Current status: Former featured article

Should our intro have quicker description of Fermi Paradox?[edit]

On Nov. 7, 2021, someone added at the top of the article:

"WARNING: This article is about the Fermi Paradox but doesn't contain the actual paradox in words. Find a different article dude."

This edit was properly reverted, because an editor shouldn't just throw criticism.

But he or she kind of has a point. Our article currently does not give a brief, clear, and succinct description of the paradox. And we probably should. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 19:41, 7 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The lead is much better now, FriendlyRiverOtter, thanks for reworking it! Schazjmd (talk) 20:35, 7 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Schazjmd, you’re very welcome! :-) And thank you for the nice compliment. And when you see our article has a pressing need, please, jump on in. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 05:59, 8 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When I think about it I always see it as a question of probability, space and time at the universe scale. For clarity I added a tentative summary of the last paragraph at its end in these terms, —PaleoNeonate – 22:45, 18 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
PaleoNeonate, thank you. Like you, I also think it’s important to include time scale. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 18:50, 19 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

An obvious hypothesis not included[edit]

Humans can already design, if not execute, invisibility materials. The technology is scientifically plausible. We manipulate light waves in lasers, mirrors, in fiber optics, etc. An ET visitor would presumably be capable of being invisible, or makes its probes that way. After all, given the difficulty of interstellar transit, mechanical probes should be favored. But a first step would be to properly camouflage them. Indeed, detection might only be possible for organisms with sufficiently advanced technology to use it themselves.

It is sometimes assumed that more advanced civilizations inevitably dominate less advanced ones, where the term "advanced" means technology, particularly techologies used to oppress. But an ET visitor will be extraordinarily vulnerable to any other planets long-evolved life forms, particularly parasitic ones like viruses. That's a good reason to use probes, but carefully. A good way to annhilate life on planets would be to send probes that bore some of the ET world's parasites. Invisibility is only part of the story, what's also needed is a kind of protection that prevents any interaction that carries particles.

With a high demand for complete separation, including sensory, ET probes will not be detected even if they are here. Their purpose would presumably be to communicate back, but through means that are not detected by beings who use broadband signals. It could be possible to distribute signals in background electromagnetic noise. So the Fermi paradox may be about us, not them. When Fermi said "where is everybody," the question can be read 2 ways. Either why are others scarce, or, as a child might say who is unable to find anyone in hide and seek, why are others not easier to see. The answer to that should be obvious. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:42, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Isn't this and arguments like this already covered in the Willingness to communicate and Alien life is already here unacknowledged sections? Rdelfin (talk) 16:07, 4 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Towards short section on "Dark Forest" hypothesis[edit]

I think it'd most helpful toward our readers' time for this topic to have its own smaller section. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 23:10, 21 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Aha! That Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell video, which is inspired by an obscure novel called "The Dark Forest” (2008) by Liu Cixin, the second volume of the great trilogy “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”. There is a source site for the video, but this is very original research in my opinion, since it synthesize and make hypothesis on their own. CactiStaccingCrane (talk) 01:17, 30 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And yes, this is very into fancruft and original research in my opinion, since a video and a novel is not going to establish enough notability. CactiStaccingCrane (talk) 01:19, 30 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@VQuakr and @FriendlyRiverOtter as courtesy ping. CactiStaccingCrane (talk) 01:21, 30 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Technology’s dark forest, TechCrunch, Jon Evans, Jan. 20, 2019.

“‘Dark forest theory’ holds that civilizations fear one another so much that they don’t dare to reveal themselves lest they immediately be considered a potential threat and destroyed.”

Wow. Maybe the best shorthand descriptions so far.
However, the rest of the article is I think what the author really wanted to talk about — which is that tech isn’t a dark forest where we should assume the worst motives on the part of tech companies, and stick with that assumption.
But maybe the fact that Dark Forest and Fermi is short and sweet at the beginning is a strength. In any case, this certainly appears to be an acceptable article. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 05:06, 21 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

China's 'Dark Forest' Answer to 'Star Wars' Optimism, Discover magazine, Jeremy Hsu, Oct. 31, 2015.

" . . Except it’s actually much worse than the 'Hunger Games' scenario, because the chance of agreeing to become even temporary allies becomes very unlikely due to the communication and trust issues. And the possibility of technological leaps means a seemingly weak tribute with no weapons might suddenly evolve into a fully-armed tribute shooting at you with a bow and quiver full of arrows. . "

This article ends with a quote from a Liu Cixin postscript: " . . But for the universe outside the solar system, we should be ever vigilant, and be ready to attribute the worst of intentions to any Others that might exist in space. For a fragile civilization like ours, this is without a doubt the most responsible path."

With these two references, I think we're ready to include a short section. We can also include from elsewhere on Wiki that the full name of this trilogy is Remembrance of Earth's Past (although it's often more casually called The Three Body Problem after the first novel). FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 00:05, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Although it seemed better flow to hold off on the extra information about the trilogy. It's readily available for people who are interested. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 02:26, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I oppose this as undue weight and fancruft. Geogene (talk) 07:28, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Um, no not remotely close to warranting a section. VQuakr (talk) 17:56, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Geogene, with respect, in one edit summary on our main page, you write "low notability/non-notable" and "coatracked" and "gratuitous." Wow. I admire strong feelings. That's part of it. But you still got to give measured argument. Or I guess not have to, but it's highly helpful. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 21:45, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But I do have to give specific reasons for not supporting content. If I didn't provide them, it would fall under WP:IJUSTDON'TLIKEIT. It probably isn't surprising that I take a deletionist view on pop culture references in many subject areas of interest to fandom, this edit from a few days ago for example [1]. In my opinion, a little fancruft tends to become more, and my thought on seeing a popular YA novel that has nothing to do with aliens or space name dropped out of the blue like that was that it was escalating really quickly this time. Geogene (talk) 22:41, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm in favor of more sections, and keeping each one short and sweet, as if our readers who are busy executives who can easily decide for themselves what they want to read more of. And once you think about it, a bartender can be just as busy as an executive and just as smart. Meaning, we should endeavor to present well-written, succinct information to readers from all walks of life.
I used to shy away from analogies.
And I assume that when you say a popular YA novel that has nothing to do with aliens, you're talking about the writer including The Hunger Games. Yes, I suppose I could have rewritten it in dry, abstract fashion. But his quote is so much quicker to read, as well as being closer to the source. I myself have never either read these books nor seen the movies, and yet I quickly realized he was talking about a one-against-all situation. And I assume our fellow readers can as well. And this quote is at the heart of his argument of why it's difficult to form even temporary alliances.
I'm in favor of having a short pop culture section.
But with the Dark Forest Hypothesis, we seem to have a ton of writers discussing it within the context of the Fermi Paradox. It's almost a question of how to manage too much information. And many of these are the kind of solid, secondary sources which we want most of all. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 19:57, 28 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The parent article, Search for extraterrestrial intelligence, doesn't have a pop culture section. We certainly don't need one here. VQuakr (talk) 20:04, 28 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
VQuakr, if I say I think the Dark Forest hypothesis is a good, succinct concept, backed up by seemingly enough references linking it to the Fermi Paradox, I would like to hear what measured arguments you give in return. After all, I might be mistaken. I'd like to know. And please, out of respect to me, don't make major changes to Talk page sections unless you've been a big participant. The first section ended up being mainly about whether is a good enough source (it isn't). And the second section was two references which do discuss Dark Forest overwhelmingly in context of the Fermi Paradox (although first reference only briefly at the beginning, which might actually be a strength), and not the novel's plot, characters, etc. And all of SETI is a field in which some ideas emphatically do come from science fiction. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 22:13, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Your proposal to elevate this particular novel above every other pop culture item mentioned in the article is simply not going to happen. It's such an obvious non-starter that I can't tell if you're being silly, or simply are in need of a reality check. It isn't a distinct idea from the general "communication is dangerous" explanation. No, I don't accept your offer to be arbiter of who is recognized as a "big participant" in discussions. VQuakr (talk) 22:38, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's not me who's proposing to elevate this particular novel. It's a number of writers who are discussing the Dark Forest Hypothesis squarely within the context of the Fermi Paradox. FriendlyRiverOtter (talk) 19:35, 28 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, the idea of creating a separate section is editorial. Our hands are not tied by some unnamed policy as you seem to imply. Your proposed edit also rapidly digressed away from the subject of this article to the Hunger Games and the author's musings. VQuakr (talk) 19:56, 28 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dark Forest (2)[edit]

I've deleted this [2], which may be controversial because some of it is fairly longstanding content. And I know that the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy has a lot of fans; the internet loves it. And we've debated similar content a few times before. But:

  • The sourcing for it (Discover Magazine, Tech Crunch) is minimally RS one of the sources is RS, but I argue it's low quality. These are not the best sources for writing science content.
  • It isn't clear how the "Dark Forest hypothesis", as the article called it, is significantly different from ideas from Brin's 1982 paper in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • The text, as it was written, still comes across to me as being vaguely promotional.
  • Here are the results from using "Dark Forest hypothesis" as a search term in Google Scholar. At the time I'm writing this, it generates only one hit [3]. "Dark Forest theory" isn't much better [4].

Again, I know that we've already debated this once or twice before, and have no doubt that it will be re-added sometime in the next six months, because that's the nature of pop culture content in this article. Geogene (talk) 19:36, 17 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agree it's a controversial deletion. This is barely science content anyway (Fermi hypothesis is now largely the stuff of pop science anyway). So I would disagree. It also is an expansion of Brin's hypothesis in literary form, and multiple sources mention it, so it's clearly DUE. — Shibbolethink ( ) 23:05, 17 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't believe that it's a good practice to intentionally lower the standards based on an editor's personal opinion that the field is "barely science". Additionally there are points I set out above that weren't addressed. I'm also striking through what I said earlier about WP:TECHCRUNCH being minimally reliable based on its Perennial Sources entry; there's no consensus on its reliability and a particular concern about it being used for Notability (and by extension, DUE). Geogene (talk) 04:29, 18 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi, not my opinion. It's based on the sources you yourself have referenced. The majority of recent sources are more pop sci sources. The more legitimate papers are from many years ago. Ergo, this has entered the realm of pop sci. Besides, it's not a very testable hypothesis [5] [6] [7] , and therefore, many would say, not strictly "science." (BTW, I think those are pretty good pop sci sources I just linked). — Shibbolethink ( ) 18:32, 18 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As to your other points, my overall suggestion is "be the change you wish to see". If you think it's overly promotional, that isn't a reason to delete it. It's a reason to make it less promotional. I'm happy to help. It definitely needs cleanup, I'll agree there. — Shibbolethink ( ) 18:37, 18 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've removed your "Unreliable" tag for techcrunch, because, as you say, we have no consensus on this. We could put a "questionable" tag on that if you like. Or just remove it and leave the sources that are already there. I think the sources are quite good for the content in question, and more importantly, the facts are not under dispute here. The question is more, "are these the best quality sources available for this content?" to which I think the answer is also yes. — Shibbolethink ( ) 19:02, 18 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Original conversation[edit]

This section is long and not that interesting. Can it be shortened? (talk) 13:27, 29 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

 Done. I agree and took a crack at shortening it. CWenger (^@) 21:25, 29 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Alistair Reynolds "Inhibitor" hypothesis probably needs a mention[edit]

In the Revelation Space Universe of several novels he suggests that early in the life of our galaxy one of the the first space-faring civillizations came to the conclusion that it is harmful for a society to expand beyond its home star system and so the set up a way of detecting and destroying space-faring cultures whenever they arose. Steve77moss (talk) 05:47, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Meta comment: start including pop culture (Dark Forest) in a science article, and it'll attract more.... Geogene (talk) 15:28, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think what we actually need is to demand WP:SECONDARY WP:DUE-establishing coverage of stuff like this. Our own interpretations of these novels is not enough. We need secondary reliable sources to establish these connections for us. That is also how we, through WP:RSUW, prevent over-proliferation of these pop culture one-off mentions. — Shibbolethink ( ) 16:51, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article is about real life alien intelligences, not about fictional ones. Works of fiction are not valid references. Cambalachero (talk) 22:41, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Okay, but if a fictional scenario brings our attention to a real-universe possibility? You needn't mention the books, it could just say "Explanation xxx: an aggressively anti-spacefaring culture or other entity may be snuffing out interstellar travel whenever it arises".

To me that's a real non-fictional hypothesis. I do though agree that this article isn't the place for sharing about our favourite stories... Steve77moss (talk) 03:27, 12 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]