The Fermi Paradox asks a simple but unsettling question: With so many worlds spinning through space, each potentially breeding countless, unknown forms of life, why haven’t any of them paid us a visit? After all, the Drake equation predicts 20 civilizations in our neck of the cosmic woods. Yet the Active Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence program has transmitted a number of “Y’all come!” messages into space without receiving one lousy response.
So where is everyone? If our neighbors are too busy to drop by, why don’t they at least text us?
One explanation is the Dark Forest theory. It speculates that any species capable of beaming messages through space could be both formidable and hungry, so the wise strategy is to do what John Krasinski and Emily Blunt did in A Quiet Place — don’t make a sound, and hope the monsters don’t hear you.
But wait! That could work both ways. We’ve been telegraphing our presence for over a hundred years with radio and TV communications, completely oblivious to who or what may be listening in the dark corners of outer space. Have we doomed ourselves by giving away our position to megapredators? If so, why haven’t they landed in the middle of the Super Bowl with their bibs and eating utensils?
Here’s my explanation: Any aliens who receive our transmissions of “I Love Lucy” and “Friends,” or find our naked pictures in their inboxes, will surely conclude that only the baddest of bad-ass species would be so brazen. After all, what is a lion proclaiming when he shakes the trees with his blood-curdling roar? He’s letting everything within earshot know that the king of beasts is on the move. Get in my way at your own risk.
Feel safe now? That happy thought is my Christmas present. You’re welcome.