A New Approach to the Fermi Paradox

The Algebraist

We, the Aliens

What is the problem?

The Fermi paradox (or Fermi’s paradox), named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and high probability estimates, e.g. those given by the Drake equation, for the existence of extraterrestrial civilisations. The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) and Michael H. Hart (born 1932), are:

  • There are billions of stars in the galaxy that are similar to the Sun, many of which are billions of years older than Earth.
  • With high probability, some of these stars will have Earth-like planets, and if the Earth is typical, some might develop intelligent life.
  • Some of these civilisations might develop interstellar travel, a step the Earth is investigating now.
  • Even at the slow pace of currently envisioned interstellar travel, the Milky Way galaxy could be completely traversed in about a million years.

According to this line of thinking, the Earth should have already been visited by extraterrestrial aliens. In an informal conversation, Fermi noted no convincing evidence of this, leading him to ask, “Where is everybody?” There have been many attempts to explain the Fermi paradox, primarily suggesting either that intelligent extraterrestrial life is extremely rare, or proposing reasons that such civilisations have not contacted or visited Earth.

A Science Fiction Theory

You have probably guessed from my book reviews that I read science fiction more than most genres. Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Frank Herbert, Peter F Hamilton, Brandon Sanderson, and Frederik Pohl (to name a few) have crossed my reading list. I have even written speculative pieces about aliens looking in towards us: A New Worldview (2013) and The First Watch (2014).

Many moons ago I read about the concept of rHumans and aHumans (Iain M Banks, the Algebraist IIRC). These stood for real humans and alien humans, differentiating the original, planet-bound humans from the space-faring ‘alien’ humans who were originally taken from their home-world and tutored by an alien race. I also read in Alastair Reynolds (Revelation Space) the theory that cryogenic sleep for prolonged periods can lead to memory loss. Scatter a little Golgafrinchan from the 6th episode of the TV series Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and we could easily assume that we could be a colony of aHumans that arrived here millennia ago but ‘forgot’ where we came from.

In this case, a lot of our science fiction and theories about alien life could potentially be dormant racial memories which are resurfacing as our genetic code evolves on this planet. Cave paintings that allegedly contain spaceships could be just documenting our arrival here, either as a primitive memory of having crashed here or a record from the rHumans which were already here. This difference could also explain the theories about the Rh- factor in blood, a theory which proposes that people without the Rhesus gene originated off-world. This ties back to the Annunaki theories that again talk of our origination from off-world.

There is no proof but it is plausible that we are a mixture of original and space-faring humans and, therefore, we could well be the aliens we have been trying to find all these years. Based on this theory, it is feasible that we have already spread to numerous worlds beyond our horizon, but through a trick of fate (and memory loss in cryogenic sleep) we have forgotten how to get back to the stars but long to rejoin our kin and our mentors (if they are still alive; c.f. the Amarantin civilisation in Revelation Space).

My own research into the Sumerian civilisation (looking for the original origin stories) lead me through the epics of Gilgamesh. There are similarities between these tales and ‘modern’ religions such as Christianity which infers that many of our stories, however, we embellish them, do date back to our origins and that there is some grain of truth in them, however they may be distorted to suit the current crop of elders who recount them. It is also easy to draw a connection to aliens through the reference to gods, and the interplay and intermixing between both ‘gods’ and man.

This is purely conjecture, but do you think that our old collective histories passed down from mouth to ear could simply be Chinese whispers of our real origin which, by accident, saw some of us at least fall from the stars?