If you have something …you can bet that
somebody, somewhere is trying to figure out
how to appropriate, expropriate, steal, or
simply take it away from you. And most of those
schemers will be college professors and politicians.
Tiny Mind On A Tiny Planet
by L. Neil Smith
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
I was strolling along, innocently enough, through various threads on Facebook, when I stumbled across a heated argument about UFOs, alien visitations, and related subjects between some of my favorite people in the world and some of my least favorite. One individual, somewhere in the middle, who would want me to mention his name, opined in a much longer message, that “…most species are smart enough to realize that space travel—especially interstellar—is a waste of energy and will never provide enough to be worthwhile …” Enough of what, he didn’t say, but I couldn’t help responding to this unique combination of telepathy on his part, and mental constipation…
I have seldom seen (I wrote) more garbage piled into a single utterance than this. I have known the writer for a long time and find myself somewhat embarrassed for his sake.
Somewhere in his message he chides other writers for their failure to comprehend the vastness of interstellar space. Current astronomy maintains that there are a couple of hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone, and that most of them (this is the spiffy news) have one planet or more. In addition, there are billions of sunless or “rogue” planets wandering the spaceways, warmed by internal heat generated by a variety of sources. And there are at least as many galaxies (each containing its own hundreds of billions of suns) in the universe as our galaxy has stars.
Now, what are the chances that not a single one of these worlds possesses life that has evolved intelligence and eventually developed interstellar spaceflight? Excruciatingly slight. And if you’re religious, may I point out that in this multi-myriad of planets, suns, galaxies—and alternative universes—it’s a pathetically puny god who can only create life on one lousy world?
In my mind’s eye I can clearly see some fat, smug. self-satisfied (probably Belgian) 17th century burgher uttering almost exactly the same idiocies about this so-called New World across the Ocean Sea that is rumored to exist by a rabble of soldiers of fortune, con-men, and drunken sailors. Even if it’s real he can’t possibly imagine any profit or progress to come from laboriously crossing all that water to meet new people, see new things, and bring some of them home. Likewise, how could anyone profit today, or learn anything from contact with individuals from billions of other civilizations, some of them millions of years more advanced than ours?
I concluded, saying that the real wonder would be if we hadn’t been visited already by vehicles and people from the stars.
I would add now that it isn’t immensely hard to imagine an interstellar environmentaloid ethic which ordains that alien visitors leave nothing on “developing planets” like ours and take only their memories, exactly like tourists to the wilderness today on Earth (“Pack out your trash!”)—which is why we can never find evidence of their presence here. The bears and the birds at Yellowstone probably have similar debates about human beings.
Publisher and Senior Columnist L. Neil Smith is the author of over thirty books, mostly science fiction novels, L. Neil Smith has been a libertarian activist since 1962. His many books and those of other pro-gun libertarians may be found (and ordered) at L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE “Free Radical Book Store” The preceding essays were originally prepared for and appeared in L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE. Use them to fight the continuing war against tyranny.
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