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Thread: N. Sentinel Island, non-intervention, and the Fermi paradox

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    N. Sentinel Island, non-intervention, and the Fermi paradox

    North Sentinel is an island in the Bay of Bengal. It is about the size of Manhattan Island. Its inhabitants are a self-sufficient hunting-gathering-fishing community who have very little to do with the outside world. No-one else understands their language, nor do they understand languages spoken elsewhere.

    The government of India claims North Sentinel as part of its territory, and the international community recognises the claim, although the inhabitants of the island presumably know nothing about this… However, for the past 20 years, India’s policy has been NOT to intervene in the lives of the islanders, except by preventing anyone else from going there. One reason for this policy is concern that if contact increases between the islanders and the outside world, they are likely to catch diseases to which they have no immunity.

    A possible solution to the Fermi Paradox… There are several highly advanced, space-faring civilisations in our part of the galaxy. One of those civilisations claims Earth as part of its territory (just as India claims North Sentinel) and its claim is recognised by its cosmic neighbours, even though we Earthlings know nothing about it… Like the government of India, the space civilisation whose territory includes Earth has decided not to intervene in the affairs of the unsophisticated people who live here, except by keeping intruders away…

    Thoughts?

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    That is a fairly long-standing explanation as to why there is no [trustworthy] evidence about aliens. It's validity can't be evaluated.
    Information about American English usage here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

    Actually they can't: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.



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    Itís not necessarily a criticism, but it is worth mentioning a problem with the analogy, that the Sentilenese are well aware of the existence of other humans, but reject involvement.
    As above, so below

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    It may well be that a more advanced civilization could maintain a planet as a cultural preserve, and do so in a more thorough and inconspicuous manner than India can with Sentinel Isl. In the case of Earth, the only evidence of their presence might be the ambiguous, 'untrustworthy' evidence, which was referred to above.

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    Location Documented Life? Outer Space?
    North Sentinel Island Yes No
    India Yes No
    Earth Yes No
    Alienville No Yes
    Life in space? Not presented

    Persuasive? No
    0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 ...
    Skepticism enables us to distinguish fancy from fact, to test our speculations. --Carl Sagan

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    That is a fairly long-standing explanation as to why there is no [trustworthy] evidence about aliens.
    True. It's the same line of thinking expressed in the words "Zoo hypothesis". Except that the word "zoo" seems like a bad choice, because animals in a literal zoo are typically fed regular meals by the zoo-keepers, and can see or touch barriers which keep them confined.

    In both these respects, North Sentinel Island seems like a better model. The islanders get their own food, and the factor which limits their mobility is that they don't have large boats.

    It's validity can't be evaluated.
    As with every resolution of the Fermi paradox?
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2017-Oct-22 at 08:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    It’s not necessarily a criticism, but it is worth mentioning a problem with the analogy, that the Sentilenese are well aware of the existence of other humans, but reject involvement.
    True, it's not an exact analogy. The Sentinelese know they are not alone... However, if India's current non-intervention policy continues for several generations into the future, and is strictly enforced, their awareness of other humans will presumably become dimmer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    Location Documented Life? Outer Space?
    North Sentinel Island Yes No
    India Yes No
    Earth Yes No
    Alienville No Yes
    I agree with the first column of your table, but don't get the point of the second. If you're using the term "outer space" to mean everywhere except Earth, then of course any other inhabited planet would be in "outer space". So what?
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2017-Oct-22 at 07:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross 54 View Post
    It may well be that a more advanced civilization could maintain a planet as a cultural preserve, and do so in a more thorough and inconspicuous manner than India can with Sentinel Isl.
    Yes, that's a very good summary of what I am suggesting.

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    Why is it the Prime Directive applies to every primitive race but us?

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    Because they learn from their mistakes?

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    That may be a joke I'm not privy to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross 54 View Post
    It may well be that a more advanced civilization could maintain a planet as a cultural preserve, and do so in a more thorough and inconspicuous manner than India can with Sentinel Isl. In the case of Earth, the only evidence of their presence might be the ambiguous, 'untrustworthy' evidence, which was referred to above.
    Question: If they do that it means that they're denying advanced technology and/or medicine to the locals?

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    Presumably, yes. An advanced civilization giving us bits of their technology, without fully integrating us into their culture could have undesirable consequences. As for our becoming a part of their civilization, that may also be seen as unwise at this time. We could be currently on course, through gradual preparation, for eventually becoming part of galactic civilization. We seem to be becoming steeped in the idea of contact with another civilization in space, more and more every year.

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    For many years, every time a "first contact" movie came out one of my aunts would tell us that "they're getting us ready to meet the aliens! They've been here for years and soon the cat will be out of the bag." Never happened.

    I prefer the aliens in "Rescue Party" to the ones who hide from us.

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    We could be currently on course, through gradual preparation, for eventually becoming part of galactic civilization. We seem to be becoming steeped in the idea of contact with another civilization in space, more and more every year.
    Baby steps. Today we now know that planets forming around stars is the norm so other earth-like planets are probably out there. The next big step expanding our horizons would be discovering microbial life forms (past or present) independently evolving on other bodies in our solar system.

    An advanced civilization giving us bits of their technology, without fully integrating us into their culture could have undesirable consequences. As for our becoming a part of their civilization, that may also be seen as unwise at this time.
    Unwise would be an understatement, after receiving a taste of their knowledge we'd then want much more than what they'd be willing to give us which would lead to friction and mistrust of their intentions. Complications of contact would be overwhelming on many levels and assuming "they" are wise they would know this, esp after observing our behaviour over time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    For many years, every time a "first contact" movie came out one of my aunts would tell us that "they're getting us ready to meet the aliens! They've been here for years and soon the cat will be out of the bag." Never happened.

    I prefer the aliens in "Rescue Party" to the ones who hide from us.
    In one way, the aliens in Rescue Party are similar to ones who hide from us. After an initial survey, they left Earth alone for hundreds of thousands of years. Not because of a non-intervention policy, but the result was the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    Unwise would be an understatement, after receiving a taste of their knowledge we'd then want much more than what they'd be willing to give us which would lead to friction and mistrust of their intentions. Complications of contact would be overwhelming on many levels and assuming "they" are wise they would know this, esp after observing our behaviour over time.
    Even though we are both of the same species, you would be against contact but I would be in favor, because in my case I suppose my curiosity overcomes my wisdom. I wonder if we can really assume that the other species will take your position rather than mine. I'm not saying that I think you are wrong, but rather than can't agree to take it as granted that you are right. If we discovered a species that were sort of like us, I would still want to make contact.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    In one way, the aliens in Rescue Party are similar to ones who hide from us. After an initial survey, they left Earth alone for hundreds of thousands of years. Not because of a non-intervention policy, but the result was the same.
    Better than coming around and probing everything in sight.

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    Originally Posted by Jens :
    Even though we are both of the same species, you would be against contact but I would be in favor, because in my case I suppose my curiosity overcomes my wisdom. I wonder if we can really assume that the other species will take your position rather than mine. I'm not saying that I think you are wrong, but rather than can't agree to take it as granted that you are right.
    It's not that I'm against contact but that "they" would be wise to avoid it, probably based upon past experiences of negative results. I too am immensely curious and knowing what "they" know about the universe would be hard to resist, assuming of course that "they" would be inclined to freely give us that knowledge.

    If we discovered a species that were sort of like us, I would still want to make contact.
    "Contact" can be a one way street. If we discovered a similar civilization like us ( @ similar stage of technology) wouldn't we be wise to just be stealthy observers for a prolonged period of time? This form of one way "contact" would flow information in our direction about them without presenting any risk of exposing us prematurely. It's always a huge advantage to learn without being learned about. In time we'd have a much better view on whether or not direct contact would be the right thing to do. If we did decide on direct contact it would seem likely that we would first approach the top dog on the planet, they may even tell us it's a bad idea and that their people would not be able to handle it well (perhaps Truman already did this / tongue-in-cheek ;-). All this is purely speculation of course but we live in very interesting times of discovery where these questions will float to the top.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    A possible solution to the Fermi Paradox… There are several highly advanced, space-faring civilisations in our part of the galaxy. One of those civilisations claims Earth as part of its territory (just as India claims North Sentinel) and its claim is recognised by its cosmic neighbours, even though we Earthlings know nothing about it… Like the government of India, the space civilisation whose territory includes Earth has decided not to intervene in the affairs of the unsophisticated people who live here, except by keeping intruders away…

    Thoughts?
    Could a multi-light year civilization exist and be maintained? The vast distances separating even the nearest stars by many years of travel seem like they would necessarily prevent stable unified polities. Each star system becomes its own little state. (Yes, there was a British Empire for example, that sent ships a year away to conquer. But the colonial states were able to rebel or otherwise gain independence, so it was not stable over the long term.)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Could a multi-light year civilization exist and be maintained? The vast distances separating even the nearest stars by many years of travel seem like they would necessarily prevent stable unified polities. Each star system becomes its own little state. (Yes, there was a British Empire for example, that sent ships a year away to conquer. But the colonial states were able to rebel or otherwise gain independence, so it was not stable over the long term.)
    The colonies that first rebelled, the ones in North America, were about 4 weeks travel time away. Travel time from London to New York was probably not much more than that from New York to Buffalo; land transport over good roads was probably less than 20 km per day.
    Information about American English usage here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

    Actually they can't: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.



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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    The colonies that first rebelled, the ones in North America, were about 4 weeks travel time away. Travel time from London to New York was probably not much more than that from New York to Buffalo; land transport over good roads was probably less than 20 km per day.
    Buffalo is in New York. I assume you meant NYC?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Buffalo is in New York. I assume you meant NYC?
    Yes; the isle of the Manhattoes
    Information about American English usage here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

    Actually they can't: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    For many years, every time a "first contact" movie came out one of my aunts would tell us that "they're getting us ready to meet the aliens! They've been here for years and soon the cat will be out of the bag." Never happened.

    I prefer the aliens in "Rescue Party" to the ones who hide from us.
    Thank you for the link, Chief.

    Wasted all morning reading sci-fi stories when I should be getting reading to go purchase a suit for my daughter's upcoming wedding.
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    Thank you for the link, Chief.

    Wasted all morning reading sci-fi stories when I should be getting reading to go purchase a suit for my daughter's upcoming wedding.
    Just one more service we offer.

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