Re: inevitable intelligence

Lorenzo Love (
18 Nov 1995 21:31:08 GMT

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Alex Duncan <> wrote:
>In article <> H. M. Hubey,
> writes:
>>What better adaptation than that of intelligence. It makes the
>>animals infinitely adaptible to every kind of life, including
>>that of space travel and life on other planets.
>I agree with you that intelligence is a wonderful adaptation. That
>doesn't mean it's a given that intelligence (of a human kind) will
>evolve. I can think of all kinds of wonderful adaptations that haven't
>evolved. It would be nice if I were immune to all infective organisms.
>Somehow the fact that it would be a nice adaptation hasn't helped humans
>evolve it. Simply because something might be useful doesn't mean
>evolution is going to deal it to you.
>As far as I can tell, your argument goes like this:
>There is a planet with intelligent beings on it.
>Therefore, it is a given that once life appeared on that planet,
>intelligence would eventually evolve.
>You're arguing from a sample of one. If we knew more about life on other
>planets, and could see that on the majority of planets where life
>evolved, intelligence also evolved, then you might have a case.
>Alex Duncan
>Dept. of Anthropology
>University of Texas at Austin
>Austin, TX 78712-1086

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Every thing we know indicates that given the very early formation
of life on Earth, that there is no reason for life not to form on other planets
as well. However, given the the very late formation of intelligent on Earth,
how likely is it to happen on other planets?
The following is from W. H. Calvin's THE ASCENT OF MIND:

Once at lunch, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi tried to point out the
absurdity of the favorable estimates of intelligent life elsewhere by asking,
"If they are so probable, then where are they? They should be here
already, we should have seen them by now." After all, there are stars far
older then ours; life elsewhere could have a ten-billion-year head start.

This is known as Fermi's Paradox. The only way around it is to
assume that
A: Earth is the only planet in the universe that has life. Given the age and
size of the universe, highly unlikely;
B: Intelligent life is very, very rare, to the point that humans are unique,
which shows that intelligence is not determinant; or
C: Intelligent life destroys itself very quickly, every time it's formed.
Not a pleasant thought.

Lorenzo Love