Classic Essays

Why Space Is Silent

silence_of_spaceEQUALITARIANISM HAS been promoted so hard in recent years that it has now been extended to the Cosmos itself. The Earth has now been repeatedly described as a planet like any other planet, and since there may be billions of galaxies, it is obvious, if our Cosmos-levelers are to be believed, that our little spaceship is no great shakes.

The calculus of probability (their probability) goes on to assure us that a sizable percentage of these planets have intelligent life forms like our own. In other words, we are now not only equal on Earth, but equal to everyone everywhere. Racialists instinctively dislike this proposition because it tears down our feeling of uniqueness — as, of course, it is designed to do.

Not having the statistical or astronomical knowledge to substantiate our disagreement with the prevailing theories of cosmic sameness, we were pleased to find someone who has done the job for us, someone with the highest academic and scientific qualifications. In an article in Natural History magazine (May 1979), Robert C. Wesson takes a hard look at the 2.5 billion planets which are supposedly capable of supporting life in the 250-billion-star Milky Way.

Wesson begins by attacking the assumption that the mere presence of life itself guarantees progressive evolution toward ever higher forms of intelligence. He shows that many organisms here on Earth have reached a certain level of evolution and then stopped dead in their tracks (jellyfish and herbivores, for example), some often going into a sharp reverse. Even man, in most cases, has not made consistent progress. The higher civilizations do not show a linear rise in intelligence, but often a jagged curve of rise and fall. Wesson writes:

About a dozen civilizations capable of creating impressive buildings, admirable art, literature that is still pleasing, and philosophy still worth studying have grown up more or less independently, but all except one — Western civilization — came to a halt and stagnated… And only in the West has a civilization gone on to the level of indefinitely expanding science.

In Wesson’s opinion, the emergence of a high civilization by no means assures the development of an electronic technology capable of communicating with faraway planets. Even the greatest of classical civilizations made no progress at all in the technology needed for deep-space communication.

In fact, Wesson surmises, political progress, such as the establishment of long-lasting and relatively peaceful federations and empires, actually militates against scientific progress. Political stability seems to freeze and hamper thought and prevent the development of new ideas and ways of thinking. Therefore, if some far-off civilization has achieved the goal of lasting peace and order, this condition itself would lessen the possibility of producing a technology capable of interplanetary travel or communication.

Wesson believes that the 2.5 billion planets estimated to be capable of supporting life in this galaxy should be reduced to 500 million because conditions favorable to life do not assure life. He then suggests that only one per cent of these 500 million would be able to achieve broadcasting capabilities. Next comes the key question, “During what fraction of the life of a planet would such civilizations make broadcasts?” Based on the Earth’s historical record and the relatively short time span of the Earth’s civilizations, these high-technology extraterrestrial civilizations would only bloom for 200 to 500 years or for 1/25,000,000th to 1/10,000,000th of the planet’s life.

The appropriate mathematical calculations then demonstrate that a functioning electronic civilization would only appear during the time span of our own at the rate of about one per two to five galaxies. This, according to Wesson, is why we are having some trouble hearing from outer space.

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Source: Instauration magazine, August 1979

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2 Comments

  1. Walt Hampton
    November 20, 2016 at 5:40 pm — Reply

    Fascinating…and quite believable!

  2. Marc
    November 21, 2016 at 8:18 am — Reply

    Space is “silent” most probably because other advanced civilizations use types of communications totally undetectable by our instruments!…. Radio waves would be prehistoric, compared to the technology of civilizations being thousands or even millions of years in advance above ours!…

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