archive: Re: SETI The Drake Equation - Probability One

Re: SETI The Drake Equation - Probability One
Tue, 18 May 1999 20:55:28 EDT

In a message dated 5/18/99 4:29:23 PM EST, writes:

> <ramble mode on>
> As someone new to seti--at least in the sense of gaining knowledge through
> active involvement--could anyone tell me the extent to which terms in the
> Drake Equation take into account the psychosocial aspects of the
> of a technological society? From the one example we know, I would guess
> that an important impetus to the development of technology is the relative
> maladaption of the organism to its environment (humans, even from the
> earliest hominid ancestors, seem to have adapted their environment to
> themselves through technology (clothes, fire, tools, etc.) rather than
> adapting to it biologically. This element (the survival of the maladapted)
> seems critical to the development of technological intelligence

All animals, even humans, must respect the power of Darwin's evolutionary
theory. In other words, be strong and successful or be food. Intelligence
seems to have evolved as a survival strategy, to avoid becoming food.
Intelligence itself, and the creation of tools, seems to have negated the
neccessity of biological adaptation. Now we can create nearly unlimited
physical and intellectual structures to magnify our abilities. I would not
say that we are maladapted at all. Let's face it, our species has been
magnificintly successful. And our successes are accellerating. (my spelling
is not). I respectfully disagree with you. Darwinian evolution would lead
inevitably to technology. Something must be the fittest to survive the best.
It has nothing to do with maladaption, but with appropriate adaptation.

> This technological bias must then institutionalised (by philosophy or
> religion), before the benefits of technology per se become a major
> ideological goal for such a civilization (for example, Greek Science vs.
> Dark Ages; certain Judaeo-Christian models where the earth is seen to be be
> something to be subjugated, vs. more contemplative Eastern Ideologies).
> From perspective of such 'accidents' of history and biology, technological
> civilizations may be rare indeed.

I respectfully disagree for the reasons stated above.

> What I'm wondering is: does the Drake equation take account of such
> factors? I can imagine many worlds where intelligent life has evolved in
> harmony with its environment (much as dolphins and whales have here), and
> where the need for technology has not arisen.

The Drake equation does take this into account as one of it's fractional
coefficient's. If you don't think it does, then you can modify it for your
own use by adding another fraction. No problem. It won't change the number
appreciably, given the huge scales of time and space of the Universe. In
other words, once you admit that the fractions of the Drake equation are not
zero, then we are all in the same boat. We may not have the same
probabilities in mind, but we all think the search is not hopeless.
(mathematically speaking, the probability is above zero).

John Marcus.