Space Aliens & Talking Monkeys

On the Twitter machine, I saw this posted by Chris Hayes, a liberal airhead, who makes noise on cable television. Given that the BBC is advocating the return of blasphemy laws, I naturally assumed American liberals were now agitating for a police state. But, that was not the point of the tweet. It was a link to his article on something called The Hive. The irony was completely lost on him. Almost two decades ago Joe Sobran and Tom Bethell coined the term to describe the Left-Intellectual orthodoxy that rules us.

Hayes, of course, is an incurious dullard so it is hardly a surprise that he was unaware of the irony. MSNBC could have people dressed up in bumblebee costumes, dancing around the set of his show, and he would still not get it. Still, most people under the age 50 would not be aware of Joe Sobran and his writings about Progressive fanatics. The great convergence of the so-called Left and the so-called Right has sent all the old paleocons down the memory hole. Vast swaths of conservative thought has been largely forgotten.

The point here is that it is easy for information to get lost between generations. Most of the people, who were around when guys like Sobran were active, are either old men now or they were too young to appreciate what was being said. That and the long neocon war against Anglo-Saxon conservatism has gone on for so long that multiple generations of people have grown up believing these ideas were outside the realm of respectable thought. This has happened to libertarians, as well. How many Reason Magazine types are aware of Lew Rockwell?

The modern assumption is that human knowledge is accretive, which means it builds up over time. Each generation adds another layer of knowledge upon which subsequent generations puts down their layer of knowledge. After all, the technology of this age is more advanced than the technology of a century ago. The people in the age of the Great War were far more advanced than the people of the Napoleonic era. It certainly feels like technological progress is a steady accumulation from one generation to the next.

While it is true that we are technologically advanced compared to people in ancient Greece, the progress has been in fits and starts. Further, the progress has not been universal. The Greeks knew more about human nature and culture, for example, than modern people. Our intellectuals are advocates of the blank slate, which is a few clicks more ridiculous than the flat earth argument. Further still, some knowledge possessed by the ancients has been lost to us. Damascus steel and Greek fire are two examples.

There’s also something called The Sapien Paradox, which means, why did humans become smart so late? We know that the human brain evolved to its current state about 60,000 years ago. It took 50,000 years for humans to figure out agriculture. Over the last 10,000 years, humans developed symbolic concepts like notions of value, number and measure. Abstract social concepts like status and power, along with the symbols associated with them are, relatively speaking, very recent developments

Even in this recent run of progress, there were long periods where humans not only stagnated, but regressed. Life in Rome at the time of Julius Caesar was vastly better than life in Rome during the fifth century or even the tenth century. Agricultural technology regressed for much of the medieval period after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. If you departed earth from Europe in 1900 and returned to Europe in 1950, you would have assumed society collapsed and fallen back into barbarism.

The fact is, the store of human knowledge has leaks and is susceptible to spoilage over successive generations. This is obvious in the current state of space exploration. Two generations of men went from zero to landing on the moon. Now we struggle to get payloads into space. Right now we can’t return to the moon. It will take a generation to accomplish what happened two generations ago. Imagine what would happen if some great calamity strikes the world like an epidemic or nuclear war.

What does this have to do with space aliens?

Given that humans needed 10,000 years to go from domesticating animals for the first time to making it to the moon, we have some idea of where visiting space aliens would be on the evolutionary timeline. They would be at least 10,000 years ahead of us, maybe more. The reason for that is the technological jump, from where we are now to effectively transporting anything to another solar system, is about the same as the jump from riding a horse for the first time to riding a rocket to the moon at back.

There’s also the fact that this alien race would have figured out the problem of knowledge boiling off between generations and especially between cataclysms. The most likely solution for former would be much longer lives. If humans lived for 200 active, vibrant years, a reasonably smart person could learn everything to be known in his field and have time to add to it. The latter problem would require accumulating enough knowledge to avoid the society destroying cataclysms that have been a feature of human history.

Of course, being a very long lived species would have an added benefit when it comes to space travel. Launching a human to Mars and back is a one year mission. Landing on the planet probably makes it a two year trip. That’s about ten percent of a man’s prime space travel years. If we assume space aliens can reach something close to light speed, they would still need 40 years to get anywhere interesting. If they had lives roughly equivalent to a thousand earth years, then a trip to visit us would be like us going to the moon.

There you have it. If space aliens are out there and able to reach earth, they will most certainly be a very long lived species. This is not just for the travel issue, but for the store of knowledge problem. They will also have to be a several orders of magnitude smarter than modern humans. To them, we will be a dumb version of our ancestors, who first left Africa. It’s entirely possible the space aliens will find the insects and fauna of our planet more interesting than the talking monkeys.

68 thoughts on “Space Aliens & Talking Monkeys

  1. I’m sorry, but “knowledge” is a somewhat absurd concept. Yes, download your bits of information. Can 21st century humans create a new sculpture, not a copy, as beautiful as Athenians 2500 years ago? Windows like those in Chartres? Poetry and drama equal to Aeschylus, Homer or Shakespeare? Have we built anything that compares to a gothic Cathedral in Prague?
    Yes, we can download the pictures, but can we re create what is lost? I don’t think so and all the ISO 9000 manuals we upload won’t matter.

    • In the end, your Greek sculpture is just a carved rock, and your stained glass windows are useless for looking out of.

      The 20th century was more about performance art.
      The sea and the sky are ours; orbital space is crowded with our satellites, and we’ve left our abandoned rovers and gum wrappers across the Moon and Mars. And Voyager 1 is 138 AU out, heading in the general direction of the star Gleise 445.

  2. I have to disagree about the need for expanded lifetimes. What is more important is making an end to the practice of wiping out unorthodox thought, and creating ‘unpersons’ – those who are hounded out of work and public life for their promotion of ‘unacceptable thought’. That practice is widely used by Liberals/ProgressiveLeftist Brownshirts, and contributes to the diminishing of collective knowledge.

    For all that they use the “McCarthyism” hairshirt, the Left is the most vicious and determined user of smears, lies, and demonization of those who DARE to oppose them in thought, words, or actions. Currently, they have hounded non-Leftists out of academia, government, and cultural posts. They are attempting to close down businesses, with the assistance of bureaucrats and agencies, as well as their twisted interpretation of the law (ably assisted by the 9th Circuit).

  3. An impediment to a visit to earth by aliens is our astrogeography. We are out in the boondocks with many more interesting and nearer targets of exploration available to a spacefaring species.

  4. “…We know that the human brain evolved to its current state about 60,000 years ago. It took 50,000 years for humans to figure out agriculture. Over the last 10,000 years, humans developed symbolic concepts like notions of value, number and measure…”

    I have a theory about what occurred to make civilization possible. I bet some of you have heard of the bicameral mind theory. Mine is different but deals with a large change in the mind. I believe that primitive Men were what we call today psychopaths. Very little to no empathy. The Neanderthals seem to be this way and Cro-Magnon less so. Try to imagine fielding crops or living in cities where if anyone could kill you they would feel no compulsion not to doing so. There’s no way you could have a civilization under these conditions. So the rise of more empathetic humans was necessary for the rise of civilization. This may have come about by taming of humans to be less violent. There’s a modern example in dogs and foxes. In dogs I can look at my dog and it seems very much that the dog is desperately trying to understand what I’m thinking. (Yes I know this could be wrong). The Foxes that were trained in Russia seem to have taken on some of these characteristics just by not breeding the most aggressive and violent. So the same may have happened to humans. Maybe along with the traits of nonaggression comes empathy.

  5. I know that I am rasing an entirely different issue. But, I believe it is one worth raising.

    You wrote: ” Even in this recent run of progress, there were long periods where humans not only stagnated, but regressed. Life in Rome at the time of Julius Caesar was vastly better than life in Rome during the fifth century or even the tenth century. Agricultural technology regressed for much of the medieval period after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.” I read Rodney Stark’s “How the Wes Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity”. In it he points out all of the variious inventions, and technological advances that actually occured during the so called “Dark Ages”. The windmill, plow, numerous bridges built, etc. Turns out they were not so dark after all. The city of Rome itself did regress and deservedly so. It was wholly dependent on tribute and taxes drawn from the conquered territories. It was a parasite draining the vitality of the empire. Not so different from Washington , D.C. today.

    Otherwise, I greatly enjoy and find your writing stimulating and well worth a read each day.

  6. I’m a fan of genetic engineering. Paraphrasing here ,but it went something like if we altered one gene for every generation in a hundred years we would be the equivalent of monkeys to our offspring.

    If our “space cousins” have already mastered this technology it could be easy to understand why they would be the advanced species.

  7. I know that this is a function of our current abundance, but a lot of old technologies have become hobbies. About a decade or so ago, some cat cracked the code of flint napping and now there are whole clubs that make arrow and spearheads. There are videos on line of hobbyists making their own vacuum tubes. Kee-rist, there’s about 20 linear feet of aisle space of canning stuff at Walmart, so someone’s still doing it

    Of course a time of troubles (not a full on dark ages) lasting thirty years or so, and a lot of the anachronistic hobbies get set aside and all that stuff gets forgotten, again.

    • The canning stuff at Walmart makes me laugh. When I was a kid, the women in the family would hold canning parties in the late summer and fall. They put up enough jams, jellies, pickled stuff and so forth for a year. We were poor so it was what needed doing. I don’t recall a lot of smiles on faces. The idea of making it into a hobby would have seemed nutty to those old broads.

        • That’s quite something, Karl; though I think I’d prefer a hearth to the heated floor so I could cook indoors and get a little light on very cold days.

      • In Korea, everyone still makes kimchee in the fall. They even sell refrigerators with a compartment that’s at the temperature that cabbage ferments at.

        Koreans treated my family wonderfully when we were there, and I am very fond of them, but they are inordinately proud of two things: kimchee, which they regard as their original contribution to food preservation technology and the Hangul alphabet, which they consider the most advanced in the world.

        • I had a friend who loved making kimchee. I’m Russian so pickled food is in my wheelhouse, but I never could warm to kimchee.

          • It goes down pretty good with bulgogi, beer, roasted garlic, and chili paste. They also pickle potatoes, a type of green been, and a couple of kinds of greens using the same method. Some of them are pretty good. Hard to find in the U.S., though.

            It’s probably another one of those skills that would come in handy in the event of a time of troubles. You might not be able find paraffin, but you can always bury a clay pot in the ground for the winter.

  8. 10,000 years ago man walked at 7 miles an hour.
    People commonly travel today at 70 miles an hour.
    The fastest a human has ever traveled is Mach 6.3 (5000 miles an hour.)
    Light speed is 670,000,000 miles an hour.

    Yet we talk about light speed as if it’s a tune-up on my old 442.

    • In fairness, humans in space have traveled at much higher velocities than Mach 6.3. IIRC, the shuttle was ~17000 miles per hour in orbit. The Apollo flights may have topped that, I don’t recall. Regardless, even if technological progress continues to accelerate, humans are not visiting the outer limits of our solar system, much less other star systems, for a very, very long time.

  9. I had never heard of Chris Hayes – but somebody had tuned one of the TVs at the gym to MSNBC last year. The most spectacularly punchable smug face I’ve ever seen came on and I almost fell off the elliptical machine. He is the living embodiment of liberal douche bag idiocy.

  10. For most of the history of life on Earth, the mechanism of evolution was genetic and slow (e.g. fitness improvements emerged gradually). For Homo sapiens, this changed fundamentally during the past few millennia. With the advent of complex language skill, we now possess the means of reprogramming our youth during their formative years and thereby altering their fitness traits in real time. Thus a parallel evolutionary channel is now open based upon memetic manipulation and encoding. Instead of nature rewarding robustness in the cauldron of existential hardship, man-made mental habits are now rewarding hive behavior. Our species is evolving toward the insect model, and that is what the aliens will observe.

  11. Hayak believed that were the complex and ingenious solutions which capitalism brought to life were replaced with socialist rule that earth would support approximately one tenth of the current population, and that was before African populations grew exponentially under imported calories.

  12. So how to account for the apparent lack of alien contact_? Unless and until faster-than-light travel is developed, the distances are so vast that it actually wouldn’t likely matter how long-lived the alien species is. They still will have to reproduce themselves and thus have plenty of generations to forget what it took to get them launched or how to steer their space ark.

    It’s entropy of information that has saved our sorry species from alien predation_! 😉

  13. ” Agricultural technology regressed for much of the medieval period after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. If you departed earth from Europe in 1900 and returned to Europe in 1950, you would have assumed society collapsed and fallen back into barbarism.”


    • Sure. In the 4th and 5th century, agriculture took a step back in much of Europe. Not a huge step back. Then you have feudalism, which was a terrible system compared to what the Romans had during the Republic and much of the Empire.

      As far as 20th century Europe, arriving back to earth in 1950 to cities of rubble would have been a shock to a person who left in 1900.

      • @ thezman – Cities of rubble would have been primarily Europe and Asia but only after 1945 thanks to industrialized war. Just the opposite would have been true in North America however. Elsewhere in the world, African continent, South America and Mexico and the middle east, towns and cities there would have looked exactly the same.

        • Which is why I limited the thought to Europe. Still, it is useful to consider the results a nuclear war.

          Backward is a direction too.

          • @ thezman – Only the West can go backwards. Everyone else has remained relatively constant for the past 2,000 years – unless they were influenced by the West.

          • The Abbasids, even under the thumb of the Mamluks, were doing pretty well until the Mongols arrived. Some argue that Islam has never recovered. Baghdad and its environs had over a million people when the Mongols arrived. The city was depopulated, mostly via the sword, and did not regain its population numbers until the 20th century.

          • That was Tamerlane’s doing. Ostensibly a Muslim himself, he viciously destroyed Islamic civilization around him. His defeat of the White Horde, a Mongol offshoot that had ruled Russia since Genghis Khan, was the impetus that led to Russian independence and the survival of Christianity there.

  14. Euros responded to invasive pressures with exploration, and to labor shortages from bubonic plague by valuing individual worth.

    Our peoples had opened the endless frontier of space, an escape from the Hive.

    Dave Goldman (“Spengler”) gives us the Hive formula for victory: kill one third of the breeding age males of two generations, fathers and sons, and there shall be peace.

    This was done to the Euros in the great 30 Years War called World War 1 and WW2.

    Perhaps there’s a reason the space programs were also killed.
    We were that close to escape- now we’ve been penned in and are targeted for a much smaller corral.

        • re: 12 to 1 or 8 to 1 –alzaebo

          12 to 1 is probably accurate since the US government classifies Hispanics as being whites as well as the denizens from MENA.

          Dan Kurt

  15. Agriculture simply replaced the tradition of hunter gatherers and allowed for large populations to thrive. The real leap for human existence was the industrial revolution and the introduction of the steam engine. Prior to that, everything was limited to the maximum energy one could harness from a beast of burden.

    But while we have continued to advance technologically, the human condition – despite repeated periods of ‘enlightenment’ – has remained constant. Which is why 10,000 years later, we’re still slaughtering each other over who’s god is the better god and Nike tennis shoes.

    The real threat to science (religion not withstanding) is the intentional dumbing down or disregard of proven physical laws and facts. Eratosthenes established the circumference of the world and calculated the tilt of the earth’s axis with remarkable accuracy around 200 BC. Yet we still have people today who are convinced we live on a flat-earth.

    And we wonder why things change, yet stay the same.

    • The whites had settled their religious wars, and weren’t killing over Nikes.

      In 1910, no one in the rising age of prosperity could imagine that two world wars were around the corner- until the war financiers and their agents got to work.

      War has an active agent.
      It’s not natural to a cooperative species like trade is.
      We’ve got to reign in our sociopaths, about 2 percent of any population; some populations enculture a much higher embedded percentage.

      • @ alzaebo – My comment wasn’t towards whites or blacks in particular, but towards the human condition in general. Humans have been killing each other and stealing from each other since arrived here. Whether you use stones or atomic bombs, the intent and purposes are identical.

        • I agree with you, and look for the mechanisms and some slight cure.

          Remember, we used to be told that we couldn’t do anything about disease, hunger, or poverty. (Or immigration or Obamacare)

    • Yes- our talent for empathy leads to our high trust systems. We’re dependable.
      This is more important than, and aids formation of, higher IQ.

      We’re not spending all of our processing space figuring out how to fight each other off.

      Fast-evolved empathy makes us the mutants. Becoming a space-adapted phenotype would’ve been further fast evolution.

      The Others lack empathy, spending most of their effort on screwing each other over.

      • Wow thats pretty good.
        Interesting way of saying dirt people are generally decent and caring about each other in a country where millions of other people are slitting each others throats over a safety pin?

        • Zman introduced us to HBD Chick, whose main thesis is that whites northwest of the ‘Hajnal line’ fast-evolved expanded altruism in about a 900 year period.
          Some refer to the West as ‘hajnals’- I like it.

          • No kidding? Oh I want to read that, yes Sir. I’ve heard that before, Hajnal Line, lot of years ago it seems. Don’t recall any specifics. Appreciate you for the good word on it.

  16. You wrote “It took 50,000 years for humans to figure out agriculture.” and expressed surprise that it took so long. You also wrote “there were long periods where humans not only stagnated, but regressed” and mentioned the fall of Rome.

    I think that humans figured out agriculture quite early but frequently lost it due to the thieving and violence of the ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ of the day.

    We humans have a long history of stationary and mobile bandits and we don’t have those phrases for nothing. We also have a about a zillion folk tales of the ants, dirt people, and grasshoppers, cloud people.

    There are makers, takers and fakers, always have been, always will be, so the real forever war is between the makers on one side and the takers and fakers on the other.

    This will endure forever, even in the animal world. A lion will steal a kill from a leopard and have it stolen by hyenas. And don’t forget non human parasites:

    So nat’ralists observe, a flea
    Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
    And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em.
    And so proceeds Ad infinitum. –Swift

  17. Or you have perfected the ability to implant conciousness, with knowledge intact, into a new physical body.

    • Or moving consciousness and memory from robot to robot, as each physical machine breaks down or wears out.

  18. how do you think the arrival of such aliens would affect the market for side-kicks? seems the aliens would favor human side-kicks, IMO.

      • @ Alzaebo – I’m not so sure we’d make good pets, since unlike cats and dogs, we don’t domesticate very well long term. Dogs and cats have been house pets for thousands of years, yet even today they don’t get angry and try to murder their owners in their sleep! I suspect any civilization that can conquer space travel would have little use for us. Our natural resources, yes. Humans, not so much.

        • Have you ever had a cat? They might not murder you in your sleep – but they will get pissed off at you and get you back. If domesticated cats were any bigger – they likely would murder you in your sleep if you did something to piss them off. As it is – they just do things like pee on your furniture – or wait until you’re sleeping – and take a leak directly into your open mouth (true story).

          For some reason this morning I woke up thinking about the nature of love, and one of those thoughts was that I had cats as pets in the past – who stuck by my side even though they really didn’t need to. IMHO dogs are instinctually “loyal” because their pack mentality is part of their nature. They simply don’t really know another way to exist other than to be a suck-up. “Domestic” cats on the other hand – can easily go back to the wild – or vice versa (I’ve seen it go both ways).

          Given the perpetual argument between dog and cat owners as to which is the better – more “manly” pet – I’ve always resorted to this argument: You see a guy walking a 100 pound dog down the sidewalk towards you – what would you do? Now you see somebody walking a 100 pound cat down the sidewalk………….. which one of these is going to cause you to (at bare minimum) -cross over to the other side of the road?
          The follow-on to that is – cats are small because if we had domesticated larger ones – they MIGHT actually kill you. Even the small ones will do some serious damage to a person:
          Good for the laughs:

  19. You can argue that we are devolving intellectually as critical thinking is now being discouraged by our educational system.

    • I’m not sure education systems play much of a role. Human IQ is genetic. The reason the West raced ahead of the world starting in the 15th century is most likely the result of breeding habits in the ruling elite for the previous 1000 years. In the early medieval period, extra kids of the nobleman went off to the monastery or nunnery. Thus the steady increase in knowledge recovered from the ancients and the evolution of the Church into a binding social force. Eventually, extra kids precipitated into civilian life and the military. The result was a net increase in the IQ of the lower classes until it reached a tipping point in the later middle ages.

      We appear to be in a period where the opposite is happening. The elite are having fewer children and they are breeding within their own class. The middle-classes are being dissolved and replaced by low-IQ populations from outside the West. The West is in the process of Detroit-ification.

      • Are you familiar with William Strauss and Neil Howe’s work on generational cycles? They posited that over the last 500 years, since the inception of the modern age, have developed in cycles of ~80-100 years, comprised of four periods, which they called Turnings. The 1st Turning is a High, a period of renewal, an “Era of good feelings” and conformity. The 2nd Turning is an Awaekning as in the Great Awakenings of American history, in which the existing order is challenged by the younger generations. The 3rd turning is an Unraveling, leading to the decay of the existing social order and the atomization of its institutions in an orgy of individualism. Since no order can continue on that track forever, it eventually falls in the 4th Turning–the Crisis. Strauss and Howe see this cycle as the origin of other long cycles such as the Kondratieff wave, the party realignment cycle, and George Modelski’s hegemonic cycle. The generational cycle is in turn spawned by the ability to reshape the physical and social environment, as to break free of nature’s cycles to varying degrees, leaving the human life cycle of childhood, youth, mid-life, and elderhood, as the predominant influence. Basically it acts as a dynamic stabilizer for non-traditional socieites, which have to negotiate the changing environment, which they themselves create. They believed that ancient, but advanced socieites such as Rome also demonstrated this cyclic character. But the capacity for self-correction is not nfinite, and their eventually failed after 12 cycles. The modern West has lasted for 6 cycles. They judge that we entered a 4th Turning Crisis era with the 2008 financial meltdown, the consequences of which still haven’t been confronted. Just look at the velocity of money since then. What’s scary about this iteration is that it will be the first 4th Turning with nuclear stockpiles, and all our theories of deterrence were crafted by men who remembered the the horrors of the last one. If survive this one robustly in tact, I think the prospects for America, at least, are pretty good, as much of so-called progressivism would have to be ditched in order to have done so. Moreover, we would have another baby boom from around the late 20s or early 30s. Europe’s demographics are largely unrecoverable at this point. They don’t have the replacement generation to provide the capital and labor needed to rebuild in the High, even if they survive.

      • That brings me to my rule regarding marriage. Never marry a non smart woman as they are the most fertile and you will be punished via a house full of stupid rugrats.

        • I like the Willie Nelson rule. Whenever I feel like getting married, I find a woman that hates me and I buy her a house.

          • We are heading into tornado season in Oklahoma. Beautiful Blondes (that may hate you, but like your money) and tornadoes are very similar. In the beginning there is a lot of blowing and sucking. Then, you lose your house.

      • To my example of Eratosthenes, this guy sorted out the circumference of the world with a good brain and a stick. Since the fall of Rome, education has been under the control of either the Church or State and not academics.

        • Did he use the stick to make some woman/several women walk around the circumference of the globe with a rope tied with knots at a known length? That sounds like having a good brain to me.

  20. Or the tardigrades for that matter.

    Digital storage / the Internet have at least made the physical destruction of our stores of knowledge unlikely, no?

    • Depends on whether you have the equipment to read the digital files. Forty years ago a USB drive would have elicited blank stares.

    • The move from physical storage to electronic storage has the upside of making the entire storehouse of knowledge easily accessible, even the storehouse of nonsense knowledge. The downside is it is more fragile. Specialization also puts humanity at greater rick of catastrophe. Imagine the EMP that knocks out the electricity grid. A third of humanity would die of starvation in a few months. The resulting disease and conflict would wipe out another third. What percentage of the remaining third would know how electricity works? How to smelt metal?

      In the short run, it helps the prudent smart people but harms the imprudent and not-so-smart (availability of nonsense). In the long run, it makes society more susceptible to calamity.

    • Just because information is stored does not mean a person can know it, or use it, or create new applications from it.

      • The Meat Space information highway. No substitute for it. Z’s comment about the fragility of the electron information highway is instructive. That 3rd is so dependent on it emotionally and have substituted so much real world endeavors with it, if they ever come rudely unplugged they will have one hell of a steep learning curve.

        This guy said something interesting:
        “The Deplorables have already considered what is coming. They are as prepared as they can be. Years of decline have enabled many to build their survival skills, to make due with less, to build real communities where one man can trust another, to discover what is truly important and what can and should be salvaged from this society. Outside of that demographic, however, people are stark naked. They are vulnerable in ways they simply cannot imagine. They are unprepared and unskilled for what will matter most”

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