As I'm sure you all know every now and again and again and again io9 dedicates a little time to the Fermi Paradox, the Great Silence, and the Great Filter.

Fact. So has Observation Deck.

That economics argument from Chip Overclock is an interesting candidate for Great Filter by the way.

Anyway. One possible solution to the Fermi Paradox is that we cannot understand the signals that others send us. Seems clear and logical enough. We perceive intelligent alien actions the way that an ant would view our actions.


This is definitely possible and its implications usually center on our need to develop more as a species to understand those actions. But .... there is a disturbing secondary paradox when we believe there are super intelligent aliens whose actions we cannot understand.

Our understanding of the universe and, indeed, the fundamental laws of physics rely heavily on the observations of the visible universe. If the alien actions change our observations systematically, wouldn't we be more likely to assume that those actions are part of the nature of the universe? In other words, if alien actions exist and are currently indecipherable to us, would we not take them into account as part of our development of physical laws and wouldn't those laws be fundamentally distorted. After all, intelligent ants must consider deforestation and artificially produced toxic chemicals as part of the natural world without understanding that we created them.


Just as an example, what if some of the stranger phenomena we've uncovered in the past 20 years isn't part of natural law but the effect of intelligent alien action. The same questions that force us to search for dark matter and dark energy may in reality be like anthropogenic climate change applied to the visible universe. Or supernovae and exotic stars may be manufactured just like we manufacture artificial chemicals to kill ants and not need inclusion into our understanding of cosmology principles.

The only reason I bring this up is because most scientists create theory in a vacuum. They assume that intelligent life, if it exists, does not interfere with their experiments. I wonder if, "because aliens did something we don't understand" would be a useful or even necessary way to progress theoretical physics and cosmology from the partial stagnation of the past half century.


It's just kind of crazy to think that the Great Filter may be that intelligent alien manipulation (even accidental) of the cosmos makes it impossible to develop science to the point of reaching their level.