HomeStoryFermi’s Other Paradox

Fermi’s Other Paradox

Listen to a reading of “Fermi’s Other Paradox”:

In the summer of 1950, four nuclear physicists were walking to lunch from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Their names were Emil Konopinski, Herbert York, Edward Teller, and Enrico Fermi.

One of them was not human.

On the walk the four discussed science, because science is what they always discussed. It’s what they lived, it’s what they thought about, it’s what they ate, slept and breathed. On this particular occasion they discussed the recent spate of reports about flying saucers, and whether or not an alien civilization could hypothetically have discovered how to travel faster than the speed of light.

Once they arrived at the Fuller Lodge for their meal their intense conversation was interrupted by the mundane activities of finding seats and ordering their food. After a brief pause, Fermi’s thick Italian accent broke the silence with a question that would later become famous.

“But where is everybody?” he asked loudly.

The way he phrased it caused the other three to burst out laughing; they immediately understood that he was asking, in his own inimitable way, why no signs of extraterrestrial life had been discovered.

They listened with rapt attention as Fermi’s luminous mind rapidly dissected the sheer mathematical improbability of humanity being the only intelligent life in this galaxy, let alone the entire universe, given the sheer number of stars and the likelihood that at least a small percentage of them would have habitable planets capable of giving rise to life. This question, and the peculiar exclamation with which it was first expressed, would go on to be known as the Fermi paradox.

The scientists joyfully batted around ideas with the Italian “pope of physics”, then finished their meal, returned to the laboratory, and they each went their separate ways.

Fermi worked late, as such rare geniuses often do. Out there in the world with small talk, politics, family and teenaged children, it was difficult to really feel at ease. But in the world of scientific adventure, discoveries and breakthroughs, he always felt in command.

The sunlight had long gone and the lab had gone still, and Fermi was scribbling away in his office, when there was a knock at the door. It gave Fermi a start; nobody ever interrupted him at this hour, that’s what he liked about it.

“What is it?” he asked in irritation.

The door opened. It was York.

“Hi,” York said.

“York,” Fermi replied.

“Can I come in?”

“Yes, yes come in.”

York closed the door.

“So,” he said. “Do you want to know?”

“Want to know what?”

“Do you want an answer to the question you asked at lunch?”

Fermi just stared.

“Enrico I can’t show you unless you say yes,” York said, with a curious tone in his voice. “Do you want to know where everybody is?”

“Yes,” said Fermi, gathering up the papers on his desk. “Tell me what it is you know.”

Looking up when he didn’t receive an answer, Fermi gasped. The papers fell from his hands and went everywhere, unnoticed. For perhaps the first time in his entire adult life, Enrico Fermi was not thinking about science.

The large frame of Herbert York had vanished. Where Fermi’s colleague had been standing was something else entirely.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” said a voice. But it wasn’t a voice. It was a thought in Fermi’s mind, very different in quality from any thought he’d ever had. Any thought he’d ever had on his own.

It was short, and its skin had a grayish color. Its head was oddly shaped, and it stared at Fermi with giant, jet-black eyes.

Sei al sicuro,” said the voice in Italian. “You are safe.”

“What… are you?” Fermi asked after a pause.

“You know what I am.”

“Where is York?”

The creature pointed a long, nailless finger at itself.

“You? But.. but why?”

“That’s what I was going to talk to you about. If you’re still interested.”

“I want to know everything,” Fermi said as he sat down at his desk, his inquisitive mind again fully engaged. “Everything.”

The voice began telling Fermi a story, not as though it was speaking to one of the most brilliant scientists who’s ever lived, but as though it was speaking to a small boy. Fermi experienced strange visions in his mind’s eye accompanying the creature’s words, as though he was being read a child’s picture book, and he felt himself wrapped in a warm, loving energy that reminded him of sitting on his mother’s knee when he was very young.

The voice said:

“A very, very long time ago, on a planet in another galaxy, scientists were having conversations very much like the one we had this afternoon. ‘Where is everybody?’ they asked. They knew the mathematical odds suggested they couldn’t be alone, yet there was no sign of any life beyond their own planet’s atmosphere.

“Time went on, and scientific discoveries continued to unfold, but they didn’t get an answer to their question. The people of that world unlocked the secrets of their anatomy, of their environment, and of harnessing energy, leading to a level of thriving their species had never before experienced. But that scientific advancement came at a price: their planet’s environment couldn’t cope with the amount of energy they were able to produce, and as more scientific breakthroughs were made, weapons systems became more efficient at killing.

“It wasn’t long before that planet’s own Enrico Fermis began discovering how to tap into the secrets of the atom, leading to the invention of weapons like the ones your own breakthroughs gave rise to in your work with the Manhattan Project. As competing populations grew and became more powerful, it was just a matter of time before the inevitable occurred.

“It was only by sheer, dumb luck that any of them survived the war. A few hundred had anticipated what was coming early enough to create an underground shelter that was sufficiently sustainable to survive the nuclear winter, and they made it through that tortured existence for generations after many near-miss difficulties which could have easily wiped them all out. When they finally re-emerged and began to rebuild the world their ancestors had destroyed, they collectively made sacred, solemn agreements among themselves about how they would treat each other, their environment, and the temptations of technological advancement to ensure that such horrors would never be unleashed again.

“Using these sacred guidelines, they rebuilt their world, and rebuilt it far better than before. They devoted themselves not just to technological development for the good of everyone, but also to inner development to ensure that they would all have the maturity to wisely navigate all the coming scientific discoveries they knew they would make going forward.

“Those discoveries would eventually grant them the capability to travel between star systems, and then later to travel between galaxies. Once they had the ability to easily explore their universe, their scientists finally got a conclusive answer to that age-old riddle we discussed this afternoon.

“They discovered that they weren’t the first. On planet after planet after planet, all throughout the cosmos, they discovered the ancient ruins of alien civilizations that had long preceded their own. Intelligent life, it turned out, was every bit as common as their primitive calculations had first guessed all those millennia ago. It just consistently fell victim to its own technological development, just as theirs nearly had.

“This is all they found in their explorations throughout the entire universe. When it wasn’t dead worlds where the intelligent life had wiped itself out, it was intelligence that had not yet reached a level of technological sophistication to destroy itself. It’s like an ecosystem has a lifespan, just like the life of an individual organism, and eventually it reaches a level where it simply self-destructs. If it doesn’t obliterate itself with nuclear technology, it rapidly renders its ecosystem uninhabitable and the entire world dies a slow, miserable death.

“It was only by a pure, random fluke that this hadn’t happened on their home world, and theirs was the only planet in the universe to escape this fate. They were alone.

“The weight of this crushing realization caused anguish throughout their species. They began intensely studying worlds where intelligent life was nearly at the point of existentially threatening technology, and they watched in despair as they snuffed themselves out on planet after planet after planet, without fail.

“Over the ages, after much deliberation, it was decided that they should try directly intervening to see if they could keep an intelligent alien species from self-destructing. The earliest attempts failed spectacularly. Clean energy systems given to species at this juncture were quickly weaponized to disastrous effect. One species wiped out an entire star system in one great blue flash. If a species is still acting from its defensive, fight-or-flight evolutionary conditioning, it’s simply not collectively mature enough to handle technological gifts from a civilization millions of years more advanced than its own.

“But they didn’t give up. Over a very, very long period of time, they eventually found a system which worked: a very light-touch benevolent interventionism which protects a developing intelligence from its most self-destructive impulses while leaving it alone enough to learn from its mistakes and mature beyond its omnicidal tendencies. Covert operatives are sent in to teach them and nudge them toward maturity, as well as to monitor the development and deployment of dangerous technologies-”

“York,” interrupted Fermi, pointing at the creature.

“Yes, covert operatives like myself. Your scientific breakthroughs have helped advance human technological achievement by leaps and bounds Enrico, but they have also put your world in grave danger. As you know the Soviets have the bomb now, so we are monitoring things far more intensively than we were previously.”

“What happens if there’s a war like the one your people had?” asked Fermi.

“Those weren’t my people. Theirs is an ancient civilization which developed long before my ancestors evolved. My people were among those helped past the point of self-destructiveness by the program I am describing to you now; we’re just the ones who run operations on earth because we look more like humans than any of the others. An encounter with one of them could be very frightening for a human if they were accidentally seen.”

Visions of other alien races flashed through Fermi’s mind.

“Gahh!” screamed Fermi.

“See?”

“Yeah alright alright, I get it.”

“So after a very long time and a tremendous amount of trial and error, a second species made it past the barrier of technological development, and joined the first in exploring life in this universe together. Then a third, then a fourth. Over millions of years a system was perfected where the signs of advanced life are mostly hidden from immature intelligences, showing them just enough signs of our existence to keep them curious and asking questions. We set up technologies around their star systems which hide our energy and communication signatures from their detection, and the area is cordoned off from everyone except those with authorized access.”

“Like a baby’s playpen,” Fermi said.

“Yes, or like an eggshell. You don’t open up an egg to help it grow, you merely keep it safe and provide it the conditions necessary for it to gestate and hatch.”

“Are you telling me we’ll be hatching soon? Maturing, as you say, and joining you in the stars?”

“I don’t even know if you’ll hatch at all, to be truthful. For all our best efforts, many civilizations still don’t make it. We’ll maintain an aerial presence around your nuclear facilities and any military infrastructure which could lead to nuclear war, and whenever it looks like such a conflict might be on the horizon we’ll redouble our efforts, but there are other ways your species can wipe itself out which our program has fewer options for dealing with. If you’re like other developing intelligences, you’re probably in for a long, rough road either way.”

“Why though?” asked Fermi.

“Well as I said, we can’t give you technologies which would help with your environmental-”

“No no, I understand all that,” Fermi interjected. “I mean, why have a ‘program’ at all? Why did the first advanced intelligence go out of its way to help a bunch of alien lizards or bugs or whatever develop in the first place? Why would they care? What do they get out of that?”

“Company.”

“Company?”

“It’s a big, cold, dark universe Enrico. It gets lonely. New intelligences always come at the experience of consciousness from wildly different angles than any which preceded them, and if they don’t survive, nobody else gets to enjoy those weird new perspectives. It would be so lonely going millions and millions of years with no other intelligences to talk to. I think we all kind of intuitively grasp that. Don’t you?”

“I- I think that I do,” said Fermi. “So, do you… enjoy us?”

“I love humans very, very dearly. I enjoy them immensely, and I consider myself quite fortunate to be able to interact with them. I enjoy you, Enrico. A great deal. It has been a true honor to have a mind like yours as a friend.”

“Is that why you are telling me all this?”

“Well, yes. And because you asked. And…”

The voice trailed off.

“Yes?”

“I’m not sure if I should tell you. We have no rules for this.”

“Tell me,” said Fermi.

“Well, I don’t know how you’re going to take this, but my readings say you’re not likely to live much longer. A few years maybe. Looks like probably cancer.”

“Ah,” said Fermi, sitting back in his chair. “I see.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, no I’m glad you told me,” he replied. “I prefer to know. I always prefer to know.”

“Yes. That’s the story of your whole life.”

“Yes indeed it is,” said Fermi, tears welling up in his eyes. “Well. Hmm. And I guess you’re also telling me all this because you know I could never ruin your program by telling everyone about it because I’d look like a madman and destroy my legacy.”

“I think we both know you wouldn’t do that anyway. You saw what happens without the program.”

“Hmm. True.”

The two organisms stared at each other for a moment. Fermi turned and looked out the window to the stars.

“So… I can tell only myself then,” he said. “For everyone else, this may as well never have happened. It happened, and yet at the same time, it did not happen.”

“That’s true,” Herbert York’s voice boomed in his ears, giving him a start. “But, again, you did ask. And you always prefer to know.”

“Yes,” Fermi replied. “Thank you so much.”

“Goodnight Fermi.”

“Goodnight, York.”

Herbert York walked out the door and pulled it closed behind him.

Fermi returned his gaze to the stars.

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Latest comments

  • Thanks for a very entertaining glimpse into the possible. As I always say re such topics: everything is possible, but not everything is probable, at least here. Yet in the relative infinity represented by time and space, there is plenty of room for the probable. That makes me a believer, a skeptical optimist. For someone, somewhere, at least.

  • My suspicion is that there are both helpful and malevolent entities, and it can take great discernment to tell them apart. (There are clues in ancient literature.) Be careful what you pick up in the New Mexico desert. Steven Greer is on to something but he’s potentially playing with fire.

  • “Four progressive bloggers went into a bar for beer. However, one of them was not human … “ Caitlin, you have finally exposed yourself. We can see right through you!

  • To Ian Perkins:

    A very materially generous white person, regarding himself as a progressive liberal, yet who blindly supports every Israeli government policy and tolerates no critique, when it comes to Palestine Arabs; knowing there are others opposed worldwide, yesterday taunted with:

    “So, you think Israel is an apartheid state! They are getting a new government with 3 Arabs (not a done deal as he spoke), for the very first time” following on with a ‘statistic’ that 60% of Israel’s population are not white Europeans – aggressively castigating the listener with this ultra-right wing, self-righteous racist comment – supposedly unconscious of the provocation.

    But this is how some elite ‘educated’ ‘intelligent’ provocateurs behave, when their conscience is pricking, and begins screaming the opposite, inside their too long closed minds.

    Put in an awkward position, the only response of the listener; given the argument revolved around this one word “Apartheid” and skin pigmentation – well-known to the ranting Zionist as having an opposing point of view, had to respond with a direct comparison, in the attempt to cause the man to reflect somewhat deeper on his lifelong attitude to that one genocidal colonialist word.

    To cut a long story short about the religious bigotry contained therein – in a mere word, which eventually became the lie of the white Apartheid state see, for a sincere attempt at a broader clarification of context, by a white South African expatriate:

    https://www.quora.com/Who-was-the-man-who-coined-the-word-apartheid-and-how-did-he-define-it

    The listeners response was along the lines of: in what became the bigoted white racist state, the obfuscatory polished term, put on the word, for political reason, was “separate but equal”, which is precisely what the Israeli’s have been attempting to enforce upon the indigenous Arabs, since that same date of infamy, in May 1948.

    • I don’t get your point.

      • If you mean Israeli apartheid treats Palestinians as separate but equal, I think that’s utter nonsense. Just look at the checkpoints Palestinians have to go through to travel – if they are allowed through – for example. There are many more. South Africans have said Israeli apartheid is worse than the apartheid they lived under.

      • Here’s the point, stated as subtly as possible, on the subject !

        Perhaps try to step out of the box of linear thinking and juxtapose it with lateral thinking, for a deeper and more comprehensive perspective:

        • What’s your point? I don’t oppose writing to politicians, using social media, and so on to call for BDS, as Miko Peled recommends (~14:30, and again ~28:03). If you’re saying resistance to Israeli apartheid should confine itself to such means, even the UN recognises the right of occupied peoples to resist, including by armed resistance.

          • Perhaps this narrative is closer to your point
            m/watch?v=bhttps://www.youtube.cowouUWlzohc

            • That link leads me nowhere.

              What is this “deeper and more comprehensive perspective” you think I should have?
              Why can’t you just say what you’re getting at?

        • Hope this works!

          • I see. I haven’t watched it, but the title and the blurb indicate he’s trying to deny Israel is an apartheid regime. Is that the “deeper and more comprehensive perspective” you were referring to?

            • I really don’t understand what point you’re trying to make.

  • Maybe……not.
    These MIC flying thingees will never produce an alien.

  • China – Russia and Iran got hit hard in the beginning – coincidently they are the ZIO/US three major enemies !

    If you go back to the MERS ( Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome ) virus – well that obviously targeted ME people through their exclusive genetic makeup !

    If they could do that with MERS – well – they could target Russia – China and Iran through their exclusive genetic makeup as well !

    So Russia and China immediately developed their own FLU shots !

    THIS would appear to support this theory !

    https://www.rt.com/news/408274-putin-bio-samples-harvesting/

  • And Syria’s OLD missile defence systems save the day again !

    IRAN is destroying US bases in IRAQ almost daily – MSM ‘Crickets’ 

    Just like they did in occupied Palestine !

    Iron Dome didn’t work and neither did US defence systems in IRAQ ! 

    This is FUCKING hilarious – IRAN is kicking the ZIO/US out of the ME almost singlehandedly !!

    US military is going to have to leave IRAQ because they don’t know what is coming NEXT !

    https://en.mehrnews.com/news/174609/US-Victory-base-in-Baghdad-targeted-by-3-rockets

    Syria is actually going great after the SH!T the ZIO/US terrorist ‘PROXY’ ISIS put them through !

    Syria WON !! 

    That will go down as one of the greatest turning points in HISTORY !!

    https://syrianews.cc/syrian-president-assad-visits-adra-industrial-city-north-of-damascus/

    ( I also like the way Syria doesn’t doesn’t go along with the PPE BS – except for maybe a hard hat ) 

    US military is a laughing stock in the ME !!

    IRAN just treats them with contempt !

    https://en.mehrnews.com/news/174609/US-Victory-base-in-Baghdad-targeted-by-3-rockets

    • US bases in Iraq are being regularly attacked, but are they being destroyed? The Mehr News article you linked to doesn’t say that.
      “The US ‘Victory’ base at Baghdad International Airport was hit by 3 rockets on Thursday morning.

      The US military base was targeted by three rocket on Thursday morning.

      According to Iraqi security officials, the Victory base was targeted by Katyusha rockets.

      The rocket attack on the Victory base comes just hours after a similar attack on the Balad Air Base in Iraq’s Saladin province.”

      • I think there was a direct hit on a CIA warehouse on a US base, but no indication the base was destroyed that I’m aware of.

  • MSM now is a complete fabrication – they just make SH!T up !!

    China passed a law today to stop the ROT – effective immediately !!

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-06-10/China-adopts-law-on-opposing-foreign-sanctions-10YMx6knpMQ/index.html

    Like this complete BS today on ABC news Australia saying that Hong Kong will be using the Pfizer LETHAL injection on kids !!

    It is totally made up to try and convince the Australian people that Pfizer is FVCKING safe because Hong Kong is giving it to adolescents !!

    https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/hong-kong-opens-vaccine-drive-children-aged-12-78191268?cid=clicksource_4380645_13_hero_headlines_headlines_hed

  • As a UFO researcher with 40 years of analysis, you sure got close to the truth. We need only to identify the psychopath and legally remove them from the process of civilization for us to rescue our world and join the galactic sociohood. I only exist to push the world to this end. Its the idiot SETI who laments publicly that we are all alone, yet there’s over 3 million scientific measurements in the global database verifying ufo. Hey SETI, you wanna know why you are so lonely, maybe life just hates materialistic sociopaths controlling the global narrative taking us all to mass extinction.

  • Ah, the Buddha Ms Caitlin Johnstone has once again left me breathless and astounded! Thank You, Ms Johnstone!

  • There are plenty of reasonably authoritative claims that ETs both visit and reside on/in this planet (and others in the solar system). A pity there seem to be Star Trek-style rules of engagement that forbid direct contact with dimmer creatures.
    One might suspect that the (public) discovery of ZPE/antigrav might move us up their ladder – and simultaneously vaporize the energy, transportation, and ‘government’ cartels that currently mismanage the planet.

  • Splendid, Caitlin.

  • This was great.

    Sometimes I wonder what else Fermi’s Paradox could apply to? I’m surprised there aren’t more Arab spring moments for example. But then again the fact there could be reasons why there haven’t been.

  • one hour ago israel bombing gaza again -https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-strikes-hamas-targets-in-gaza-in-response-to-rocket-fire/

    israel bombing gaza again — on youtube posted an hour ago by Growling Force also the times of israel reporting this. Lord Jesus have mercy on us all, please stop the madness of the israelis help them to return to you and be forgiven and have hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone protect the Palestinians and comfort them with your Holy Spirit. Father God, in Jesus Holy Name I pray. Amen.

    • This comment is a totally off the wall post. The article it links to is actually dated 23rd November 2020 – almost 7 months past..
      Sadly, this individual is obviously a demented, whacked out, fanatical religious evangelist who has imbibed one too many wafers!

      • I was about to say the same. Israel continues attacking Syria, though.
        ~
        9 June، 2021

        Damascus, SANA- The Syrian Arab Army air defenses repelled on Tuesday evening an Israeli aggression on some targets in the central and southern regions, and downed some of the hostile missiles.

        A military source told SANA that “At 11:36 p.m. on Tuesday, the Israeli enemy launched an aerial aggression from the Lebanese airspace against some targets in the central and southern regions, and our air defenses intercepted the hostile missiles and downed some of them, and only material damages were reported.”
        https://sana.sy/en/?p=237040

  • Life is what we intuit within ourselves.
    Everything else is a form of Life.
    We can Love other forms but we can not inhabit them. Lovemaking is the closest we can come to that.
    Aliens, and God for that matter, have no existence outside of our own thoughts.

  • A good piece, and probably closer to the truth than many believe. I never bought into Fermi’s paradox, because I think there is quite ample evidence that we’ve not been alone, perhaps ever. Cultures from around the world have myths about beings from the sky, whether it’s ancient Babylon, the Dogon people of Africa, the natives of North America – the tales are ubiquitous.

    As far as intervention, there are numerous recorded incidents of UFOs penetrating nuclear facilities (Malstrom, Minot, elsewhere) and disabling or redirecting nuclear missiles. Numerous sightings were made at Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, at sea. The recent stories are hardly new, as anyone who has done serious research on the subject knows.

    I suspect trickery and deception at this point from the military and national security state, to wit: THEY are here, but we can’t control them, and the human powers that be stubbornly wish to control the narrative and control the people, and no lose control. So a lot of what is being seen is probably of human origin, derived either from back engineering or independently.

    It’s long past time to stop joking about the subject, or ridiculing those who take it seriously, yet the ridicule continues, remarkably, in spite of recent revelations.

    We’ve never been alone. ‘They’ didn’t just get here. They’ve been here, a long time, and probably have a great deal to do with past great advances in human civilization. But to expect them to somehow ‘save’ us from our self-destructive ways is probably kind of like waiting for the Messiah. Like each individual, we have to save ourselves and can’t count on divine, or alien, intervention.

    Good piece.

  • Thanks for your great work as always Caitlin.
    You are, in my opinion one of the finest unbiased, independent journalists Australia has to offer.
    This story though fictional is both succinct in its message and eloquent in its delivery. A great retake on the Fermi Paradox story.
    It would be nice to think some advanced, benign extraterrestrial organisation was watching out for us.
    Keep up the great work.

  • Wow! An incredible number of comments for Cait’s story. Nice story. However, my answer to Fermi’s question is still the simple one; THEY AREN’T THERE!

    That is hugely disappointing to some people, I think those who find life on earth or the human race disappointing. I don’t really understand that thinking; I can still enjoy Star Trek stories.

    First, the speed of light is bolster barrier that does not look like it can be broken. “Oh, the nearest star is only four years away” is not much of an answer.

    I look at the way life evolved on earth. It does not seem there was anything inevitable about it. In fact, it had to beat some incredible odds to develop into what we have. It is unlikely the same thing could happen again anywhere close to us.

    I think we are something unique in the universe. tr

    • Well, I have to disagree that we are something that unique in such a vast universe. On Earth, life appears and survives just about anywhere and everywhere, in diverse and amazing ways.

      Similarly, I suspect life emerges just about anywhere and everywhere it can in the universe, no some accident, but a natural process where the ‘intelligence’ of the tiniest atom naturally expresses itself as ‘life.’

      We may indeed be ‘unique’ in may ways, and the Earth a very special and biologically rich place. But I’d be VERY surprised if there isn’t life elsewhere within our own solar system, on Mars, the moon, moons of Saturn and Jupiter, even life forms in the clouds of those gas giants.

      Who knows, but I posted already what I think. Human myths from around the globe talk about visitors from the sky. We can laugh those stories off, but why?

      And the evidence of unidentified objects is beyond any question whatsoever. Government document released through the Freedom of Information Act prove this without a doubt. Their nature may or may not be extraterrestrial, but their reality at this can scarcely be questioned, unless one has been so thoroughly propagandized to simply laugh and make “little green men” jokes, there’s nothing left to laugh about.

      • This is the next thing to getting ranted at by religious maniacs about the existence of god. tr

  • “KLJ / JUNE 9, 2021
    Is the irony intentional?”

    Bravo,
    I doubt PIA COLUCCI thought of themselves as a mass murderer…

  • In one of the famous original Star Trek episodes, circumstances led to Captain Kirk to have thoughts of wanting to “kill”. Spock was curious about Kirk’s impulse and asked him to confirm what the Captain was feeling. Did he have the feeling to “kill’?
    .
    “Yes, Spock. That’s exactly how it was”.
    .
    Spock then reflected. “Mankind — ready to kill. I wonder how it ever survived.”
    .
    Kirk paused, then said ironically… “We overcame our instinct for violence”.
    .
    There is it. A wisdom for the ages in a few lines. Will the human instinct for destruction and violence ever go away? Maybe not. But what must prevail is to overcome these instincts to give in to manifesting violence and destruction on any scale. For if we don’t, the future outcome for humankind is not in doubt.

  • Fantastic story. Reminds me of an Iain M Banks novel where the advanced Culture civilisation would interfere in other primative civilisations like ours, without them knowing, to steer them in the right direction. Unfortunately on earth our technology development appears to be way ahead of our mental and social development.

    • Reminds me of Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argos series, which I enjoyed a lot.

  • I’m not sure the few on this planet with nuclear-winter-proof underground bunkers would emerge to ensure such horrors never happened again. They might take their own survival as proof there’s nothing for them to worry about so they might as well get straight back to business as usual.

  • What a brilliant story! You are no doubt an old soul, Caitlin, such a great storyteller.

    We should all ponder what happened on Easter Island — lessons for us to learn from that. It’s quite possible aliens visited Earth millennia ago and there’s nothing that interesting going on so they’ve moved on. How did Machu Pichu and the Great Pyamid of Giza come to be? Seems highly unlikely to me that a bunch of men pulled 70 ton blocks of stone with ropes, let alone cutting those large stones with such precision.

  • Whoa. Superb and thought + anxiety provoking lol … no, NOT lol …

  • A parable for our times. Thought provoking.

  • Sending spacecraft psychopaths to the stars
    While scientists plumb our earthly depths
    But the key to our eternity
    Remains locked inside our heads

  • Being a baby-boomer I grew up immersed in the cold war. The threat of all out nuclear war was always in the back of my mind and the minds of my friends and acquaintances. The Cuban Missile Crisis was not the only close call to such horrors. The lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, Stanislov Petrov single handedly saved humanity from that fate in 1983. I’m guessing that there may be some near nuclear catastrophes that never went public and that we will never know about. The point is that I always thought it odd that humanity has so far been able to dodge that bullet. After reading Daniel Ellsberg’s book, The Doomsday Machine, and realizing what psychopaths exited within our military command and the system of control that had our nuclear weapons on a virtual hair trigger, it seems an absolute miracle that an all-out exchange has not occurred. It simply defies statistical probability. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that anything has changed since Mr. Ellsberg’s experience and thanks to the necessity of computer control the hair trigger is ever hairier. I’ve sometimes mused that perhaps some alien intelligence was influencing humanity enabling us to avoid it. It appears to be the only option left after dumb luck. So, it was with great delight that I read your entertaining and thought provoking fantasy narrative. Thank you, Caitlin. And thank you for your straightforward and courageous articles, a breath of fresh air to those suffering the daily delusions, distraction and obfuscations of the lame stream media, its puppet masters and minions.

  • Personally, despite the nice work on this column, I look around and think that we are past the tipping point. Too many wealthy psychopaths control way too much. They won’t fail to take whatever steps increase their power and wealth (though they don’t even need all that they have). They don’t care about the lives of others, happily destroying the lives of millions, while laughing and rejoicing at the deaths, while lounging on their yachts and similar.
    Given my age, I won’t live to see the end of our species. But it seems to me to be written in stone, not at all unlike the dinosaur fossils now being dug out.
    Hopefully, mother nature will restore the planet, after humans are gone, and will give rise to a new and better species that can be guided to a healthy maturity.

    • The runes are cast
      The fates are sealed
      I see the stone
      in Potter’s Field
      that marks the place
      where we shall sleep
      forevermore
      in death we keep
      our vigilance
      we guard no more
      that which we
      held dear before
      was but a dream
      and now it’s dead
      murdered by
      our heavy tread
      We had our run
      and now it’s done
      The race has died
      The devil won

    • Have to agree with you, Harry. We are way past the tipping point.
      Like you I will probably not see the end, unless it comes soon in the form of a nuclear war – which I think is inevitable.
      Humans are highly destructive, and not advanced or mature enough to control themselves. That means we are doomed to destroy ourselves eventually.

  • Wonderfully written. But I’m surprised these aliens went out of their ways to find “company” because whatever you do, anything you’ll ever find out there is yourself since the world you perceive is only your perception of an ever changing infinitely polymorphic reality within and without you. As Jean-Paul Sartre would have said to those aliens, “if you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company”, in which case you want to travel within yourself to change that, not without.” And also, as Aldous Huxley noted, “in spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can never really communicate anything to anybody. The essential substance of every thought and feeling remains incommunicable, locked up in the impenetrable strong-room of the individual soul and body. Our life is a sentence of perpetual solitary confinement.” And some people enjoy it, like Jean Giono who wrote: “I have always hated crowds. I like deserts, prisons and monasteries. I have discovered, too, that there are fewer idiots at 3,000 meters above sea level than down below.” :o)

  • I would recommend reading The Sagan Conspiracy by Donald Zygutis, a book that references a paper Carl Sagan wrote in 1962 expounding on the Fermi paradox that was subsequently suppressed by nasa.

  • Thoroughly enjoyable, Caitlin, and a nice respite from themess we’re all mired in.
    Thank you for the break!

  • In a somewhat parallel vein, I once read an interesting proposition. That intelligent life will only advance until it develops compassion and the ability to act on it. From that point on it cares for the weak, defective, and less intelligent, and so denies itself the ability to evolve further. In fact devolving to a lower level. Don’t know if I buy it or not, but since I don’t know, its an interesting thing to occasionally contemplate.

    • I’d say that a race that genuinely and actively “cares for the weak, defective, and less intelligent” would also be able to continue to evolve responsibly and healthily. To me that is evolving to a higher level, not devolving to a lower one.

      • But a weaker, and less able one, with lowered intelligence. I don’t suggest we STOP being compassionate and acting upon it. I would prefer our extinction. What point in developing a stronger smarter species that cares not what the weaker and less fortunate of us suffer? In fact, we have too many of those in the oligarchy as it is.

  • Wow! That was wonderful! Much of this we have tantalized with, and so it may or may not be so – should I ever ask this question? It sound like to Angels sitting on the wings of a B52 bomber on it’s way to japan….

  • Sorry no. If humans are too stupid to survive without the intervention of aliens, benevolent or otherwise, then so be it. The great shame is that we’ll take so many other wonderful species down with us.

  • I wish extraterrestrials could simply and systematically eliminate all who have war in their mind and desires. Just wipe them out and make it look natural. Just leave the peace loving people on earth to grow and evolve into something spectacular.

    • Is the irony intentional?

    • Wheat and tares.

  • It would be so nice if there were extraterrestrials trying to help us survive. A moving story. What we do have is a tremendous war between the forces of greed, contempt, coldness AND the desire for justice, kindness, – in ourselves and in our world as a whole. I just hope that, as Lincoln put it, the better angels of our nature win out before it is too late.

    • Alan, would you have had an acquaintance with Ansel Adams? Now there was an extraterrestrial …

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