General Question

girlofscience's avatar

If there are ten intelligent civilizations in the universe, how would Earth rank?

Asked by girlofscience (7545points) August 3rd, 2008

As I mentioned before, the Drake Equation gives us an estimation of ten intelligent civilizations in the universe. Let’s say there are ten, including Earth.

How many would be better than Earth, and how many would be worse? There are several factors I’d urge you to consider. With respect to the universe, Earth is a baby! Other civilizations may have been around for much longer. We’ve done a lot to screw up our planet, but what are the chances that other civilizations wouldn’t? Being further along in a civilization could mean more corruption, pollution, etc.

In determining your rank, consider the general quality of life of the planet’s inhabitants, the technology, the peace (relations of groups on various areas of the planet), the intelligence, the power structure, etc.

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32 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

Impossible to give an answer based on anything but pure guesswork since there is nothing to use as a comparison.

Skyrail's avatar

If there was anything more stupid then the human race out there then it wouldn’t be out there. I think we’d rank 10. 1 for stupidity. 10 for care.

AstroChuck's avatar

Of course if we really are that stupid then any guess we have about our intelligence ranking must be wrong and thus we must be smarter than tenth.

girlofscience's avatar

@AstroChuck: What a paradox…

Indy318's avatar

I would put Earth near the (3 or 4). Of there were more intelligent forms of life existing today, they would have stumbled onto us by now or very close to doing so. We are advanced enough to explore and map most of our solar system, which is a astronomical accomplishment compared to what life on Mars was able to do millions of years ago. If another life form developed just a few thousand years before us, then that would belittle all of our technological advances (just think of far we have come since the Pyrimands of Egypt). I believe intelligence will be determined by whoever discovers another living form of life first.

btko's avatar

Tough question… I think they would all be quite equal after weighing the positives and negatives of each.

marinelife's avatar

Who knows? We haven’t seen them so how can we compare? This is like asking “Imagine you are one of 10 people. Where are you in terms of the smartest person.?”

Who knows? Maybe I’m in a line-up with Einstein, Stephan Hawking, Madame Curie, etc. or maybe I’m in a line-up with a groups of idiots.

girlofscience's avatar

@Marina: If asked that question, I would assume the ten people to be a random selection and base my answer on where I fell in terms of general percentile.

Obviously we have nothing to base this answer on—it was a question to think and guess about.

nikipedia's avatar

@Marina: girlofscience is probably #2. I am probably #1.

Lovelocke's avatar

I saw a documentary about this very topic.

Old video is old… maybe.

Lovelocke's avatar

Hey, so I linked the wrong video. Hmm.

Like us, they are dumb enough to create world-ending weapons of destruction, but unlike us, they’re smart enough to use it on the other 9 galactic civilizations and laugh about it back home.


marinelife's avatar

You go, ladies! I think confidence is sexy in women.

gooch's avatar

We have more intelligent life on Earth than human life so in the universe I would put us at ten. We know aliens visit Eath so the are ahead of us.

AstroChuck's avatar

We know aliens visit Earth?

marinelife's avatar

@gooch Who’s we, kemosabe?

Maverick's avatar

Given that we are not the first dominant species on our planet (compared to the dinosaurs, we have yet to even prove our dominance), I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most other life supporting planets are at least 200 million years ahead of us… Therefore, I’d say the safe bet is that earth is last in the species race.

gooch's avatar

If we can send spaceships to Mars more advanced civilizations should be able to send them here. Many people and governments have witnessed this. If it were not true how would we explain off all the siteings and money the government has spent on projects like operation black or blue book

AstroChuck's avatar

If you really want our government to fund the developing of new technologies and send ships acrossed the galaxy, NASA just has to report they believe they’ve found oil on some distant planet. Then I just hope there aren’t beings livivg there because you know we’ll somehow make the case that there’s some tie-in with 9/11.

robmandu's avatar

Do these hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations have access to Fluther?

Zaku's avatar

@robmandu – Only the ones that are hypothetically smarter than we hypothetically are.

loki's avatar

I think life in other civilizations probably follows the same evolution we did.
They become aware-
Wonder how they got there-
Created a god in their image-
Killed each other
Ran put of fossil fuel
Killed each other more
Never evolved enough to do much more
Just like we wont

Zaku's avatar

And if we all continue to think that way, we probably will.

robmandu's avatar

Ah, the ever-enduring wisdom of xkcd. Like a breath of fresh air.

Ibrooker's avatar

As a species, I think humans do pretty poorly. In fact, I would conjecture that we have evolved past our own sustainability (logic grounded in the idea that culture and behavior are extensions of consciousness…) Thus I think we would rank pretty poorly. On our own planet we’re probably going to be one of the least successful species in the history of organisms. Our existence is the flicker of a candle that has been burning for hours already. Taking a less anthropocentric approach to this question, one must consider that there has been no objective spectator that has deemed us worthy of “intelligent.” Look at the success of a simple virus or bacteria compared to us. We are extremely fragile, relatively poor at reproducing, and our slow mechanisms of adaptivity (social and biological) put us behind many organisms on our very own planet. “Yes but we’re the only conscious ones.” In a response to this, consider a spectator simply observing this experiment from outer space. It has a couple of days to evaluate the variety of organisms on planet earth. There is nothing but our peculiarities that sets us apart from the other unique life. Perhaps the best alien life forms are those that have not yet developed consciousness…

Fieryspoon's avatar

We’re #1.

Baloo72's avatar

@astrochuck hehe, I like that paradox

@Maverick I agree that we are not the first dominant species, but what would constitute being the “most dominant”? Number? Percentage of whole population? Having power over all other organisms? you know what happens when we assume :)

@lbrooker Do you really believe that only peculiarities set us apart from other life forms? How many other (known) life forms have built up civilizations spanning the globe, able to communicate with other “organisms” across the globe at the touch of a button, or even able to collectively dominate (as in having power over) every other organism on the planet? I’m not saying we would be better than an alien life form, but I am saying that we are certainly more than just “different” when compared to other known organisms. Whether you look at it from the perspective of evolution or creationism – we as humans were either created “better” than the other organisms or we evolved to be so.

SeventhSense's avatar


Star Formation Rate
To build a Composite Stellar Population (CSP) we need the birthrate of stars. The Star Formation Rate depends on the amount of gas converted in stars in the galaxy: . The Schmidt’s (1959) law assumes that the rate of star formation varies with a power of the density of interstellar gas, yr], with (see also Tinsley 1980). Assuming and a closed-box model (constant total mass) with instantaneous recycling of the gas ejected by the stellar remnants, the Schmidt’s law leads to the analytic approximation , also called -model, being the timescale. The integrated spectrum of a stellar population with an arbitrary star formation rate can be obtained from the spectrum of a SSP by means of the convolution integral: (There’s no keys for the symbols)
I can’t begin to address this problem but if you can
I’d like to have your offspring.

fireside's avatar

I looked this up and found out that there are only 6 intelligent civilizations out there.
Among those 6 we’re number 4.

The Ksxxitq and Oejcllwl can communicate with their minds and project audible and inaudible voices for others to hear. Plus they have already figured out interstellar flight and matter manipulation. They’ve started working together to grow their mutual understanding of the universe and don’t seem to have any warlike tendencies.

There is a civilization that cant be translated into our alphabet that has figured out how to change the motion of their planet and can adjust their orbit around their suns. it is said that some years go on and on while others are over in days. Ultimately, they are an intelligent, but highly confused civilization.

Sadly, we rank right below them.

Then comes the Ytrtines who have figured out fire and agriculture but are a long way from industrialization due to the lack of resources on their planet.

The last civilization has no name because they are more of a mist that may be one entity or many that are intermingling. They roam their planet creating monuments and manipulating the natural world.

I hear we’re getting close to taking over the number three slot within the next 800–1000 years! I was going to link to the article in the interstellar encyclopedia, but lost the connection. Sunspots, probably. : P

Zen_Again's avatar

We would be the towel boys.
Edit: because we waste so much time with fucking PC crap – towel persons.

WMFlight's avatar

What intelligence? Our intelligence speaks for itself as we continue to trash the planet for profit. We might get a 10 for stupidity.. We’d be better off electing dolphins as our ambassadors. How groovy would that be. Humanity without ego.

Agent Smith: (film: The Matrix)
I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.

Xilas's avatar

are they intelligent enough to reach our planet..? if so, we’d be on the bottom of the list.

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