Fermi’s paradox

My guy, for whatever reason, gets a real kick out of those History channel shows where they talk about how all of humanity’s greatest achievements are all really because of the aliens, and aliens clearly exist because ancient mythology matches up to modern-day beliefs of what aliens would have to be.

Hogwash, I say, not because I particularly doubt the existence of aliens — I don’t — but because the so-called scientists on this show make a fundamental mistake that frustrates me immensely. Namely, they take bits of mythology and use them as scientific proof of not only the existence of aliens but that aliens have been intimately involved with humanity for millenia. One argument (and I use the term very loosely) included the notion that the Spear of Lugh is obviously an alien artifact because it shoots fire and light from its tip and can cut through ranks and ranks of warriors. Another argument put forth the idea that Chinese dragons were alien spacecraft coming down due to the fact that they breathed fire and were indestructible and bore a resemblance to rockets. A third involved Alexander the Great turning back from his invasion of India due to alien spacecraft spooking his war elephants.

Now, what I’m ever so not interested in is a discussion of the plausibility of whether aliens would get involved in human affairs in such a way, or why aliens would care, not because those conversations bother me but because I think they’ve been done before and I want to poke at something a little more meta. Namely, this notion that mythology in any way, shape or form provides scientific evidence. We live in a world in which psychologists have just about proven conclusively that eyewitness reports are usually contradictory and crappy, where the awareness test is a thing a bunch have people have been exposed to, where even before we get into the fact that we’re discussing mythology we’re looking at the evidence these scientists — namely, witness accounts — being skewed. Perception is one of those trisky things that you have to allow for, and these guys don’t.

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The World We Live In

We live in a globalized world, most of us — particularly those with the wherewithal and interest to be reading this blog. It’s easy to forget that not everyone is like us.

In the wake of John Scalzi’s Lowest Difficulty Setting blog post, I was thinking about my guy and how he’s a straight white male (SWM) who has, like many, faced adversity. He’s had an African American female boss, he’s a generation older than me, and his father was a teacher. But he also has beaten cancer, lost his career in the Navy due to leg injury, and is, quite frankly, an alcoholic. He works in a pink collar industry and due to his dylexia barely managed to graduate with a high school diploma.

But what I’m getting at here isn’t the notion that Mr. Scalzi is somehow wrong. I’m quite confident that he’s completely correct. What I want to get at here is the notion that not everyone gets it. I have a law degree and studied feminist philosophy pretty extensively in college. I blog, I tweet, I facebook, hell I’m developing a computer game. I’m not the single most internet-savvy person in the world, but I certainly get by. My guy doesn’t. He can barely type, doesn’t have a facebook, doesn’t have an e-mail, doesn’t know how to fill out online applications and to be perfectly honest, he doesn’t have a phone. He doesn’t drive, even.

Now, we don’t live in the boondocks. I am a ten minute drive from one of the most populated cities my country has to offer, and we have internet. But until he met me, he didn’t know what hulu was, didn’t know what netflix was, and didn’t own an ipod much less a ps3. I introduced him to audiobooks, I’ve educated him about politics, and I’ve broadened his horizons every bit as much as he’s broadened mine about things like sports and cooking and social interaction.

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