Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by BillJ, Jun 19, 2012.
Before I knew who he was, I actually did think he was a B5 Centauri or something.
Every producer, writer and on-screen personality associated with this show should be air-dropped into Antarctica wearing Speedos and each armed only with a plastic spork.
I love that dude. If he started a church I would go to it.
No I don't, actually. Just because the Romans were assholes doesn't mean their society was unsophisticated, nor does it mean they wouldn't be on equal terms ECONOMICALLY with the modern world if the technological gap was bridged.
As a real world example, take Imperial Japan after the Meiji Restoration. This is what happens when you take a country that was -- socially, at least -- barely out of the iron age and open its borders to new technologies and new weaponry. Sixty years and a crash course of modernization later, Japan was an industrialized nation with a world-class military and a highly competitive modern economy. As for Rome... imagine, for a moment, if the Roman Empire had somehow survived in complete isolation until the turn of the 20th century, then suddenly opened their borders and absorbed nearly 2000 years of technological advancement overnight. They would be perfectly capable of wielding that technology and using it to remake their society in their own ideal, and even eventually to decide how much of their own ideal needed to be modified based on observations of the outside world.
IOW: Just because the Romans were assholes doesn't mean they were ignorant barbarians. There are asshole nations running around the world right now that we are able to safely ignore only because they are poor and powerless.
In history? This is not even close to being true. The most you can say is that the wealthiest and most prosperous nations in the world today are all liberal democracies. You might even be able to make the case that, adjusting for technological differences, Europe or the United States are much better off than Ancient Rome or even Alexander's Empire.
But I'm not claiming that economic or military prowess is indicative of an advanced nation. I'm saying it's indicative of a sophisticated society with a highly developed moral, religious, scientific and economic system. Just because they're dicks doesn't make them stupid.
Which doesn't change the fact that ancient rome, given modern technology, would STILL be highly competitive on the world's stage today. They would be hated by the entire western world for precisely the reasons you named; on the other hand, there's a long list of countries RIGHT NOW that we barely tolerate only because they're poor and powerless.
Yeah, I'd forgotten about that. Thanks for setting the record straight.
Talk about wild speculations/generalizations.
alpha, such large speculations don't constitute a credible argument - not even close. You could just as well say ~'if Jesus would not have been crucified, then - insert whatever you want'.
Even so, let's address these speculations:
Nobody gave modern liberal democracies their knowledge and freedom. The philosophy and societal structure that enabled them (and the thinkers/scientists that built their bases) to make these advances is also the one that lead to their system of governance.
If you give Rome modern science and technology (and the time, means and will to understand it) and economic knowledge (which it almost completely lacked) then it would not be Rome any longer - not in the least.
And even so, it would not be competitive in the modern world - slave societies are not conductive to innovation on the scale of free societies (not even close), nor are they economically as efficient (by a large margin - you need a LOT of highly trained labor - not slaves; also, slaves can't pay for their consumption, they don't contribute to the economic circle). War is not economically efficient efficient with a modern economy (as opposed to what the romans had, when it was highly efficient for gaining wealth), etc.
Notice the changes made in Japan's social structure in order to become competitive (hint - they went far beyond learning technology). Notice its system of governance and values today - an all but inevitable result of the changes it made in order to become competitive.
You make the mistake of assuming that 'sophisticated', overpolished rituals equal advancement.
The one area you can made the case that romans were advanced was their law; and the one area japanese were advanced was hygiene.
As for the rest, proud warrior societies or elaborate court etiquette are a dime a dozen; not that hard to develop the mind-set (as history repeatedly proved), and at most of transitory benefit (in wealth, freedom of people - as opposed to a small oligarchy -, other actually objective criteria for measuring advancement).
O, and modern liberal democracies ARE the most prosperous, the freest states in history. THAT'S A FACT.
Feel free to look up history books and come with counterexamples - that don't include hugely extravagant/uncertain speculations: ~'if you gave them this and that they would have been etc'.
You see, then I could just as well say - if ET would come tomorrow and give liberal democracies the secret to universal freedom and abundance, they would still be wealthier and freer.
These nations are the core of the UN Security Council:
* United States is a federal presidential constitutional republic.
* United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy.
* France is a unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic.
* Russia is a federal semi-presidential constitutional republic.
* China is a nominally Marxist-Leninist single-party system nation.
Excluding China, how are these nations liberal democracies?
I often heard people say that if the Roman Empire hadn't fallen to the barbarians, that our world would be a different place today. This I think is a fallacy. First, the Roman Empire in the east became the Byzantium Empire, and they certainly didn't advance the progress of humanity's technology. The people of Islam advanced humanity's technology, and it was their embrace of modern technology that led them to a successful win in the Battle of Constantinople in 1453. (During the same time, the people of Asia were making advances in technology (warfare, printing, etc) which aren't as well reported because of a bias in Western nations' history courses.) Secondly, the culture of Rome depended on a large illiterate population governed by a small literate aristocracy. If the technology benefited the aristocracy's interests, it was supported by an investment of money and was later spread throughout the empire. If it didn't, the technology was introduced and then promptly abandoned.
I don't think we will ever know how much the Greeks and the Romans knew about science or mathematics, nor what was actually attempted because of a dearth of literary sources.
I think it is wrong to place the majority of the lost of knowledge on the barbarian invasions. Christians share a responsibility in the loss of knowledge. They burned books deemed heretical to the faith, and, in the Byzantium Empire, they showed a preference for Greek writings, thus a great many Latin works that had survived were subsequently lost. And, finally, the major reason for the loss of knowledge must fall on the aristocrats who didn't educate the populace, and, when the aristocrats were killed, there was no one left to educate the populace in making concrete. This is to me is the biggest difference between the Roman Empire and the empires of today - everyone can be educated in a public school.
Two thoughts on this...one, there is clear evidence of human biological and cultural evolution on Earth, though it may have started as a chemical proccess supplied from space....there SHOULD be aliens old ebnough to have existed thousands or even millions of years ago, but there is just no evidence.
I believe there are other civilizations in the galaxy. I believe that a smaller number of these civilizations developed FTL flight and have colonized other systems. I believe that our civilization and theirs would be alike in many ways, but different in other ways.
I am dubious that an advanced civilization would send a crewed ship to explore a system. I think they would do what we are doing - first, explore a system using telescopes to see what planets are orbiting a system, then send a space probe to the most promising systems for an in-depth examination. I think colonization would come later, and I think expansion would come about like the Polynesians settled the Pacific Ocean.
I think it's possible that we have already been scanned by other civilizations. I think it's possible that our system has already been visited by one or more probes.
As for these civilizations being able to pick up and comprehend our radio transmissions, could they? The galaxy is filled with sound. Now, it's not sound like we know on Earth. This sound has to be picked up by specialized equipment that is designed to synthesize the sound into a form we can recognize. We can now hear the 'voice' of our star and its planets. I would think these sounds would drown out radio transmissions the farther out they are from our system. Furthermore, our space probes are designed specifically to respond to radio signals. Has anyone done an experiment where the space probe has to find a radio signal from all the other noise out there? I think it's foolish to think that an advanced civilization would dedicate its resources towards picking up a radio signal from another civilization. Even in our world, we are working on the next phase of communication based on quantum mechanics.
I love watching an episode or two after a joint, but I smoke so rarely that I don't watch this much. It is entertaining to me in part because of how bat shit crazy it is. But even as loony as the theories are I have learned a lot about strange archaeological finds which I looked up and read on later. Each episode has something pretty interesting even though I completely reject the premise. It is a fun show to watch as long as you are not expecting good evidence. I even enjoy yelling at him on my screen from time to time.
He could probably make a killing as an Evangelist.
Of course, what one believes is completely irrelevant to what actually is.
I'd like to think there are other civilizations out there. Maybe they exist, maybe they don't. We won't know for sure unless and until we meet one or find evidence of one's past existence.
The hair slays me
The phrase "liberal democracy" is a general term in political science to describe a political system which combines democratic rule (usually as expressed via representative democracy) with a system that enumerates and protects certain rights (individual rights and, often, minority group rights). So, for instance, a society whose government is chosen by free and fair elections but whose government is constitutionally prohibited from suppressing free speech, free exercise of religion, from engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions, from denying those accused of crimes access to courts, and which is obligated to provide universal health care, would generally be considered a "liberal democracy."
(The term "liberal" is being used in the sense of classical liberalism, not in the modern sense of a political faction occurring along a right-left ideological divide within a democracy.)
A liberal democracy may also be a federal presidential constitutional republic, or it may also be a federal semi-presidential constitutional republic, or it may be a unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic, or it may be a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, or it may be a unitary parliamentary republic, or it may be a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, or it may be a unitary presidential constitutional republic. Etc. The status of "liberal democracy" is not mutually exclusive with any of these other constitutional arrangements.
Of the P-5 members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, United Kingdom, and French Republic are generally considered to be liberal democracies. The Russian Federation was sometimes considered a liberal democracy in the 1990s, but the rise of Vladimir Putin -- leading to violence against his political opponents and journalists, and, this past year, a seemingly rigged presidential election, plus his former status as the de facto ruler of Russia while nominally serving as the de jure Russian President's prime minister -- has led many to remove Russia from the list of liberal democracies. (Some argue that Russia still qualifies as an illiberal democracy, however.)
If there are 'ancient aliens' who have ever visited us, I would think they'd be those described by Douglas Adams - i.e. immature teenage aliens who land right next to some poor soul whom no one will ever believe and strut around in front of them making BEEP BEEP noises.
Real, mature aliens wouldn't bother with Earth. If they have the technology to get here at all, we would be rather beneath them.
True as that is, it is NOT what lead to their economic prosperity or their military dominance. It wasn't their philosophies that made them powerful, it was their having made the right investments at the right time to prosper from them when they needed it most. The most important of those investments is cementing national unity: ANY liberal democracy is doomed to collapse if it cannot effectively suppress or at least limit the consequences of political dissent. The more volatile the situation, the less dissent is tolerated (which is the PRIMARY reason why preventing the Confederate States from leaving the Union was so important in the 19th century; had the Confederacy established the precedent for secession, NEITHER nation would have survived very long before internal schisms ripped them apart).
Political unity is key, in addition to either key investments in technology and infrastructure that promote a nation's internal stability. Liberal democracies accomplished this by giving powerful industrialists and and landowners -- who would have otherwise used their resources to launch small-scale insurrections -- to express their political dissent in a more controlled form that won't destabilize the entire nation. Oligarchies accomplish the same goal in almost the same way, the only difference is they don't pretend to give a voice to the powerless and are open about their contempt for the lower classes. And when all political and ecomomic power congeals into a small class of elites, the difference between a liberal democracy and a plutocracy is just a matter of labels.
I think you'd be hard pressed to say the Romans lacked a basic understanding of economics. The most you can say is that they made a lot of very poor economic choices as a society, but it's virtually impossible to regulate an empire that size without SOME understanding of economics, even if some of their ideas were flawed.
As for technology, as far as Rome is concerned there isn't a whole lot that would need to be changed, other than internal combustion engines, gridded electricity and indoor plumbing. It would be difficult to sustain with their original economic model, but only because their international competition would be a lot tougher today than it was 2000 years ago (hell, it would be tougher today than it was two centuries ago).
It worked reasonably well for the Nazis during their brief march to power. You'd be surprised what you can accomplish with slave labor as long as you go out of your way to keep an elite industrialist class insulated from all the hard work, and this is something that has worked extremely well even in liberal democracies (and has worked in one form or another in the United States for hundreds of years).
Are you maybe under the impression that there is no such thing as a "highly trained slave"?
Notice the changes that WEREN'T made: they did not liberalize their government, they did not embrace a comprehensive system of civil rights or constitutional democracy. If anything they became even MORE socially conservative once their newly-formed national military began to exercise political power in its own right. They became more economically liberal, but only insofar as they generally lacked an interest in centralized economic planning.
The result of a devastating and decisive military defeat followed by more than a decade of foreign occupation. Note also that Japan's current prosperity is primarily a benefit from its close partnership with the United States and mutual investments in technology and infrastructure; without those investments, Japan would be another one of those liberal democracies that nobody cares about because it's a borderline failed state.
Actually, I'm doing the exact opposite of that: I'm saying that OUR overpolished rituals are no better than theirs, and that we're not a whole lot more civilized or more sophisticated culturally than the Romans were 2000 years ago. We're just alot better at patting ourselves on the back and telling us how much better we are than previous generations for [insert innovation here].
Those are not advancements, but conceits; we're perhaps one natural disaster or one military defeat away from reverting into the half-savage brutes we imagine our ancestors to be (some of us, considerably less than that).
That's kind of my point. What makes you think OUR benefits are less transitory than theirs? The Roman Empire, after all, thrived for hundreds of years before suffering a slow centuries-long decay; they still thought they were doing pretty well until the Visigoths came knocking at the gates.
The ascendancy of liberal democracies is even younger than that, and our society is ALREADY beginning to show signs of internal decay. So if the Roman Empire collapsed because its "elaborate court etiquette" wasn't enough to sustain a great society, it's unlikely that elaborate legislative process or vast nation-spanning bureaucracy is that much better off.
Truth is, as a society and as a species, we're still the same half-savage barbarians we were 2000 years ago (or 4000, come to think of it). The only reason we think we're different is because we've gotten REALLY GOOD at looking down on other societies, and more importantly, because we don't seriously believe that OUR little empire will ever fall. But if enough shit goes wrong in a short enough timespan, it's back to the cottonfields for most of us.
Other way around: the freeest states in the world right now are liberal democracies. Not ALL of them can make this claim; Astralia, for example, is also a liberal democracy and is roughly tied with Iran in terms of GDP. You're going to have a lot of trouble backing up this claim, mind you, since the overwhelming majority of countries in the world today ARE liberal democracies, not half of which are successful or internally stable. It may perhaps hinge on your definition of "liberal," but otherwise to equate democracy with prosperity just doesn't work.
Of course, I'm not sure what metric you would use to judge "freeness" unless you're attempting to restrict that judgement to a set of fundamental rights currently enjoyed by westerners; that would be like evaluating the strength of Ghengis Khan's army by counting the number of trained riflemen.
I never claimed Rome would be wealthy or free. I said it would be prosperous and influential. Those are two VERY different things: a nation doesn't have to be prosperous OR influential for its citizens to enjoy relative economic and social security within their own communities.
More to the point, this is a thread about Ancient Aliens and the evidences for their influence in ancient human societies. It's enough to know that when the Roman Empire collapsed it left behind ruins that even their modern counterparts find relatively impressive. The roads built by the Romans to hold their empire together later became the groundwork for modern asphalt roadways used by modern governments for international commerce and transportation. To chalk up the achievements of those nations to "ancient aliens" is to imagine that the ancients couldn't have developed that technology on their own, or even if they had, wouldn't have been smart enough to build things that WE would find impressive. This is not the case: if you transplanted the entire Roman Empire from the 1st Century into the 21st, they would be smart enough and wise enough to modernize to be competitive with the new world into which they suddenly emerged. Rather than cower in fear gasping "What is that strange flying machine doing up there?!" the more likely reaction would be "How does that work and how much do you want for it?"
Your signature fits so well with your closing line! (Speaking of transplanting someone into the 21st C....)
I tend to doubt now that any of these things are true, and see no reason to believe in the FTL notion at all.
Looks like it's about to slay him!
I never liked the notion that ancient aliens helped our ancestors in building Stonehenge or the Pyramids because I perceived a bias in the authors making that claim. I feel they assumed that ancient civilizations were less advanced, and were less capable of building these structures. I equate this belief with the same belief that led authors in the 19th century to assume that the mounds in Ohio were built by a civilization of white men because clearly the Native Americans weren't capable of performing this feat as they were 'savages' and lacked the intellectual capability of the Caucasian man.
My Name Is Legion, I hope that my belief didn't led you to change your opinion on what is possible in space. I may have been wrong in the past on certain opinions, but I tend to throw things out there on the Internet to see how people respond. This is one of the ways I learn and grow. I am open to change and I am not locked in my opinions.
With scientists now speculating that there are a possibility of a large number of planets that are life-bearing, and some of these planets having come into existence earlier than our world, I think it's equally likely that there have been an x number of civilizations, and I think it's equally likely that y number of civilizations have developed FTL. I don't think we can judge the capability of other civilizations when even our own scientists acknowledge that we are a Type I civilization.
If ETs are like Stephen Hawking describes, as a super predator species scouting systems for resources, I think our solar system may be seen as a poor choice. Though Earth is rich in resources for us, would it be rich enough for these ETs? I am dubious. The other bodies in our system that I have seen as being rich in a resource are our Moon (Helium 3), Titan (Hydrocarbons), and one of the outer gas giants (diamonds). These resources could be valuable for a Type 1 civilization, but for a Type II or Type III civilization? I am again dubious.
Separate names with a comma.