What if it’s us?

Vinton G. Cerf
President of ACM

Dear Mr. Cerf

The column in CACM, “From the president”, of March 2015, piqued my interest because in my intellectual forming years (high school) I was an avid reader of science fiction and it’s still my generally preferred genre in fiction if any.

You mentioned Drake’s dog-chase-tail equations and the Fermi Paradox.

That reminded me of MIchael Crichton’s lecture at Caltech, which he titled “Aliens Cause Global Warming”, of which a pdf is found at the following link:

To me there is no Fermi’s Paradox because it presumes that now famous equation, which never deserved the reception it has gotten. That paradox is not a paradox, it is one of those “anomalies” that exposes the dark underbellies of science’s paradigms and the fact that scientists have a fantasy about themselves that they claim is an attribute of the science itself, as if science were its own independent creature, a pure, independent creature that automatically enforces purity upon its members. This is a fantasy that is no more true of scientists than it is of Politics. Science is only done by scientists, after all, just like politics is only done by politicians.

The rebuttals I’ve seen on the Web include accusations that Crichton “doesn’t understand” how science works. It’s a ridiculous accusation of course, considering who this is, and facile way to preface the aversion the logically organized points made by Crichton that still expose exactly “how science works”, meaning, “how scientists work”.

Most cordially yours,
Alan Cassidy


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