Alien civilisations are...

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Rick MG's picture
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There are trillions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone, the odds favour habitable planets and the existence of alien civilisations, whether primitive or technologically advanced. It's just a question of whether they can visit Earth or not; I think so, but there's convincing evidence for and against visitors from other star systems.

Anyone who votes for the first option, "Non-existent"... well, that's a big can of philosophical worms they'll need to justify. Earth is the only planet in the entire universe populated by an intelligent species? C'mon, even the Bad Astronomer knows deep down that alien life is out there!

It's a big galaxy, in an even bigger universe, and I simply don't understand the hostility to the idea that alien civilisations are out there -- and some may even have figured out how to travel interstellar distances...

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

thefloppy1's picture
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I don't need to say anything, you have said it all exactly how I would of.
But I will say this,
You would have to be fairly arrogant to think WE are the only ones.
Besides, there is overwhelming evidence to support we have been visited. People just don't want to acknowledge it yet.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

red pill junkie's picture
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20 years ago I was convinced that the definition of an 'alien' is: an intelligent being visiting us from another planet, possibly another solar system in our galaxy.

Over time, my personal definition of what an alien is has become fussier and fussier. Now it's something like: a non-human intelligence of undefined origin, that occasionally manifests and interacts with some humans, for purposes we are not yet certain of.

To sum it up: yes, I think aliens do constitute some form of civilisation (although not one we might understand in human terms), and they have been making contact with us for what seems a fairly long time.

That they are extraterrestrials is still a very logical and plausible conclusion, but we really don't have any confirmation of this yet —damn those UFO Mystics for making my life more complicated!! :-P

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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@red_pill_junkie

muzzlenz's picture
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I agree with all said above. I think mankind's biggest problem is that we often find it hard to accept anything other than the current 'truth'. We are bound by terrestrial limits - e.g. it's hard to understand infinite space when we are bound by the door, gate, end of the road, edge of the city, coastline...and traveling far enough will eventually get you back to where you started.

There's also a very prevalent view that spending money, time and resource on furthering our understanding of who we are and why we are here is frivolous, and that what we should actually be doing is getting on with having kids and dying (or to expand slightly, getting a job and paying taxes in between having children and dying).

The 'fear' of the unknown is surprisingly accurate, and is exactly why numerous religions, philosophies and belief systems have evolved - to give our lonely, purposeless lives meaning and limits - to take the uncertainty we all feel away. To stop us asking why, and to demonize those who do.

Life is out there - in abundance. We were late starters, still very ego driven and are still struggling with our own limit bound world, clearly not yet ready to accept that we aren't top of the pile.

keytothe's picture
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are not nonexistit they are beyond our reach and all ready visiting but for now there laying low waiting for us =gog}

counttone

grthink's picture
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I think there's a very good chance that there is organised life elsewhere in space. I get a bit twitchy about the word 'civilised' though, as it kind of suggests that life would be organised in a similar way to that in which humans are currently organised, which is something I beleive is very, very unlikely. I mean, we've only been 'civilised' in the way that we are for a mind-bendlingly tiny amount of time...

Also, it's probably worth stating: I don't think that we've been visited by beings from another planet, travelling here in a space ship. I'm totally undecided on what I do actually believe though.

Rick MG's picture
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grthink wrote:

I get a bit twitchy about the word 'civilised'... we've only been 'civilised' in the way that we are for a mind-bendlingly tiny amount of time...

The jury is still debating just how 'civilised' we really are, too. ;-)

It's always struck me as ironic that many of the most imaginative science-fiction writers are also the most hostile skeptics against the existence of extraterrestrials. They hang on to the need for empirical evidence like a child who won't grow out of a pacifier; it's embarrassing really, like medieval Europeans declaring nothing exists on the other side of the Atlantic. It's not stretching the imagination at all, looking up at the night sky and allowing that, across the galaxy, someone is staring back wondering if you exist.

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

earthling's picture
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We may think of ourselves as civilized. Some free nomads may think of us as domesticated.

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We are the cat.

red pill junkie's picture
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This idea of civilization has reminded of one of the many mysteries behind the UFO phenomenon.

When one looks at the many cases, a question always arise: "what are they doing here?"; from this point many alternative hypothesis arise —they are here to save us, they are here to invade us, they are here to annoy us, etc.

However, most people think of this as a cohesive phenomenon: whatever interest or intention THEY might have with us, it is a common interest among all of THEM.

We imagine this, I think, from an anthropocentric point of view. We think that, when the time comes to send delegates to the stars, that ALL of them will share the same mission and objectives.

However, this is a rather modern way to look at this. Because our own history teaches us that not every person that crossed the Atlantic Ocean, from Europe to the New World 500 years ago, had exactly the same agenda.

We don't think in those terms because we imagine that crossing the void between the stars implies such an amount of energy, that it automatically discards the possibility of rogue travelers, or even tourists.

But what if we're wrong? Then things get much more complicated.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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@red_pill_junkie

earthling's picture
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Which "they" are civilized, which are not, and which are not even socially organized?

Indeed, many people assume that there is one set of aliens. A lot of traditional science fiction authors did not. I don't see any particular reason to assume anything about that.

The first westerners to arrive in North America spent some quality time in Labrador, and then had the good sense to go home a nicer place (Greenland!).

About the great expense of crossing the vast distance, our current knowledge about that says it is completely infeasible. Consequently, anyone coming here must either have means we don't imagine now, or a completely different idea of feasibility.

And then of course my favourite example of alien life on earth, the octopus. They have no social structure at all, yet show remarkable intelligence - our theories about how intelligence develops are incomplete, even with our tiny sample size of 1 kind of life. We know about many things today, but not about this one.

There may be rogue travellers, or tourists. But that is incomplete as well - both assume that there is such a thing as home, that they can travel from. Perhaps they have no concept of staying in one place.

----
We are the cat.

Kat's picture
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>> And then of course my favourite example of alien life on earth, the octopus.

My favorite example of their intelligence is the one in the lab tank that reached up and turned off the light that some human had forgotten to turn off.

You just know it was thinking, 'How am I supposed to get a decent night's sleep with a bare bulb glaring in my eyes?' ;-)

red pill junkie's picture
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There may be rogue travellers, or tourists. But that is incomplete as well - both assume that there is such a thing as home, that they can travel from. Perhaps they have no concept of staying in one place.

Perhaps space travel implies they can never go back to their place of origin —and why would they want to, if Einstein's restrictions apply to hem and all their friends dies out thousands of years ago?

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

mcgrathpat's picture
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In my opinion alien civilisations definitely exist. The complexities of our universe, and of our genetic makeup that in turn give us life, show that albeit extremely complex, is possible. The possibility of a civilisation out there somewhere in the "multiverse" that unlike us, "don`t think" and just continually progress and evolve is also possible. An alien civilisation that are "machines" that have no process of thought and just "do" is also possible.
Also, another thought i had, is it possible for another planet, similar to our "world" to exist where by we could drive around the planet in a day and where its population doesnt exceed 1 million??? If we exist....anything is possible!

Redoubt's picture
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I'm like most here and believe that the chance of life, and even intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, is all but a given. Beyond that, I just don't think we are all that special nor the process that leads to life, all that unusual.

The evidence to date suggests that life did once exist, and may well still exist on Mars. It could have also made a home on places like Europa and Titan.

If, or perhaps when, we finally beat our little swords into plowshares and our petty, bean-counting bureaucrats into human friggin beings, all of this will probably... suddenly even, become old school.

Like... we knew it all along.

In fact, I think we know it now but are still too stuck on the internal combustion engine and chemical rockets to do more than float around in low Earth orbit like some stoned Major Tom.

But then again, maybe we still have a lot of growing to do... maybe a lot of it, as a species, before we can crawl out of our crib and learn to walk amongst the stars.

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

Salamandra's picture
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The very thing that seems to ensure that there is, in fact, life out there somewhere, the sheer size of the universe, is also what seems to favor us being for all intents and purposes alone in our little corner of an unremarkable galaxy. And not only the physical scale of the universe but the time scale in which it exists makes it equally unlikely for any two civilizations with the means to find each other to exist within the same time frame. The universe is still caught mid-blink since the day we crawled down out of the trees, and it seems likely that human civilization will crawl straight down into the dirt just as quickly. But then again, perhaps it is just as unlikely for us to exist at all. And I'm fairly certain that we do. I am not a believer in chance and coincidence, but that doesn't necessarily imply that our 'purpose,' if you want to call it that, is intertwined with that of distant civilizations.

I did opt for alien civilizations waiting for us rather than being beyond our reach, however, because who am I to say what is or isn't possible? Astronomically unlikely still leaves that tiny, Earth sized speck of possibility.

On a second note, I think it is highly likely we have been visited by something 'other,' as a few of you have mentioned. I find it likely that descriptions of angelic visitations, demonic possession and the like are closely related to so-called alien abduction phenomena. Not extra-terrestrial exactly, but some form of consciousness not limited or defined by the physical.

Charles Pope's picture
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I find it strange that nearly half of the respondents to the poll on the Pyramids think they were built more-or-less as Egyptologists say. The other half think that the Pyramids pre-date the pharaohs.

Isn't the Great Pyramid an obvious testament to alien contact? Isn't it basically a monument that states, "we came, we surveyed, we left this marker as a quick-claim"?

Hello Universe!

Redoubt's picture
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The pyramids may only be the tip of the iceberg. In present day Lebanon, there is the Heliopolis at Ba’albek.

The Roman ruins there are magnificent in their own right, but the Romans situated these temples atop a site that was ancient even to them; a platform of megalithic blocks so incredibly large that it is questionable that even our current engineering technology could duplicate it.

Here's a bit of one of the many references found on the web:

“These Roman temples were actually built on top of an ancient 5 million square foot platform that was made from some of the largest stones ever used in any construction project in the history of the earth. In fact, the largest stone found near the Baalbek ruins weighs approximately 1200 tons and is about 64 feet long. To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of approximately 156 full size African elephants.”
Source: http://unexplainedmysteriesoftheworld.co...

Archeology simply ignores the obvious and sprinkles it all with vague explanations of huge numbers of people dragging these stones from quarry to site. But in fact, there is neither evidence to suggest that this ever happened nor any way that they could have then been lifted into their current positions as an afterthought.

One theory makes the pre-Roman site as part of the mythical city of Dan and the construction, one of those engineering miracles performed by Solomon. Others suggest it was an ancient spaceport of those god-overseers mentioned in Sumerian lore.

Regardless of speculation, there is nothing left except the stones themselves to attest to whatever knowledge there was, on hand at the time, to have performed such feats.

Further reading:
http://www.sacredsites.com/middle_east/l...

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

Salamandra's picture
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Is it so outrageous to think that ancient humans may have had the technology to do this on their own? Civilization doesn't necessarily progress in a linear fashion, and we may be one step out of the dark ages compared to ancient civilizations. Who knows, maybe they found a way to life the stones with their minds. I'm going out on a limb there, but it seems as likely as aliens dropping by to move some stones around and then disappear. I'm not saying it isn't possible, but the alien construction hypothesis doesn't seem so obvious.

qraal's picture
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As the late Chris Boyce argued, any ETIs have probably been around for an immense span of time - potentially They've been living quiet lives in our Sun's Kuiper Belt/Oort Cloud for billennia and are older residents of this star system than our species.

However they observe us it'll be via means we're only just developing ourselves, but at a level of refinement that makes our current efforts laughable. Any glimpse of them and their activities we might get is probably as controlled as any external stimulus is to an experimental colony of mice or rats, though studying lower lifeforms in more naturalistic settings is usually the most informative.

Thus I don't believe any accidental contacts occur - They interact with us at Their choosing, in Their chosen fashion. And They have done so for longer than we've been 'Homo sapiens'.

The Universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we CAN imagine.

thefloppy1's picture
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and at this moment we are going through the first phase of adolescence, mere children just developing into adulthood. So we are very difficult at the moment to deal with.
All the signes are there, all the knowledge, but like pubescent children, we believe we are right and know everything.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

Charles Pope's picture
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Some say mythology describes humanity as a mere lab experiment gone awry and escaped into the wild. Considering how volatile our planet and solar system still is, it could have been a bad idea for intelligent life (if we might presume to call ourselves that) to have been established here. Irrespective, humanity may never get the chance to "grow up", and even if we do develop a planetary defence system.

And some among us claim "the right to be wrong, both now and in the future". So that makes adolescent behavior alright, ne c'est pas?

rolandr's picture
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sorry, but this poll is very very incomplete.

At first the terms aren't well defined: does "alien" imply extraterrestrial ? What does civilisation mean exactly ?

Would dolphins or whales possibly qualify as "alien civilisation" ?

Secondly, one important alternative - the very one proposed by Charles Fort - is missing: "they" may be here but not visiting - an alien civilisation (issues above resolved) may actually own this planet ( including the (obviously domesticated) humans that they may see as we see cattle ).

Charles Pope's picture
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Another option might be that THEY visited but are not currently visiting.

And what was/is the nature of that visitation and current occupation or monitoring, i.e., actual intelligent beings, artificially intelligent beings or systems, etc.?

daydreamer's picture
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I haven't voted yet as I can't decide.

I don't think there are trillions of stars in our galaxy. Isn't the figure generally thought to be about 100 billion?

Testimonial evidence and radar/video etc can lend itself well towards knocking up a working theory of aliens already here so if that's to be accepted then they're already here.

If non of that evidence existed to debate then i would be more cautious.

Lets say there were no sightings or experiences. How reasonable would it be to think they were out there? Possibly very. Thing is what would you use to guess?

My greatest concern is not that life is improbable. I do not think it is. Chemical replication and evolution are probably very common. Evolution here on Earth though doesn't fill me with great confidence as to lots of species capable of building space ships. I wish we better understood what made us different, why our brains got so big.

I'm back again to how everyone seems to ditch the supernatural element whenever we talk about this. Humans are special. To an evolutionary biologist we had a fluke in our development. A whole series of events added together to propel our brains into a period of large growth.

In fact the ground work was set at the time of the evolution of mammals. Look up the differences between the reptile brain (our old brain sitting deep inside beneath the Neocortex) and our mammalian brain - the bits added on later.

Yet to supernaturalists (sorry, should use a better word i know) there is a whole other dimension of possibility. Energy beings binded to the human body allow for evolutionary stages to be skipped or influenced. To me this is worth thinking about as it changes the odds dramatically.

Perhaps we have 100 billion stars, maybe 100 million planets with life and maybe 10 million with complex life. Then maybe 1 million with sentient intelligent life like most of the advanced multiorgan life on the planet - mammals, reptiles, birds etc etc etc. Then perhaps of those 1 million 10,000 have developed into space faring races. But the big bugger with this is that those 10,000 could be spread over hundreds of millions of years. Even if there was 10,000 between each one then we would only have 100 million and the true figure space faring life could be spread over could easily be 1 billion, giving a separation of 100,000 years between each species.

Now i know that they are not going to have appeared like that and it will be random, from the materialist perspective, so there will be clusters, but if they also crop up randomly across the galaxy then each one will have alot of searching to do and might never find another.

All this can be put aside though if, as is usually argued here, material intelligent life is not what consciousness is.

We don't live in a world entirely absent of evidence for aliens though.

earthling's picture
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An intriguing bit about this aspect

Quote:

In fact the ground work was set at the time of the evolution of mammals. Look up the differences between the reptile brain (our old brain sitting deep inside beneath the Neocortex) and our mammalian brain - the bits added on later.

Apparently you don't need a mammalian brain structure to be intelligent at the level of a tool user, and to learn by observation. An octopus brain structure works for that, and it is quite different from ours. You don't need much of a social structure either, these creatures pretty much live alone.

One of my favourite explanations for the radio silence is that the interesting aliens live under water, and thus have no use for radio.

----
We are the cat.

emlong's picture
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Those of us who are fiddling about with crystals and their effects on the human physically and mentally tend to look at these questions in terms of vibration. It is obvious to us that vibration has huge effects on consciousness - so huge that it is clear that consciousness is a vibration or relies on something vibrating for it to "be" at all. Once that idea takes hold then the question of what is and what is not "life" becomes more complex or "open," and the possibility of life forms coexisting with us invisibly seems less farfetched. There are vibrational regimes escaping our notice because we are not "tuned" to them. There are also things visible to us which seem inert but are possibly possessed of consciousness.
Interacting with or entraining to crystals just opens one to a wider spectrum of the vibrational terrain. Some people embarking on crystal therapies tell tales of liberating or excsing entities which had taken up habitation in their bodies and which found the new vibrational tuning uncongenial to their continued habitation. Once you get into this groove the larger question of what is life, where it can be found, and what it requires opens up quite a bit.

daydreamer's picture
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Hi Earthling,

I read that comment you made elsewhere about the octopus brain.

It does make we wonder to what extent similar forces, such as through sexual selection, may have affected our species. As ever in nature there is no hard and fast rule and what has happened to us can happen elsewhere. Think of such things as convergence on eye evolution and flight as obvious examples. Obviously though there is a big difference between limited tool use and us. Tool use and mimicry are advantageous in certain selection strategies so their evolution is not surprising.

With the comment about the mammalian brain I wasn't referring principally to limited tool use and mimicry, but to the extreme use of these you see when features of the mammalian brain become large and well developed. However I'll admit to this being a little outside of my field so I am, as ever, quoting from things I have read.

I am always amazed though to watch children develop. At age 1 week they are very close to a large number of other species in the animal kingdom, though arguably far more gorgeous, and perhaps by a year an older octopus could compete with them in tool use and mimicry (maybe), but by two years and especially by 3 they will out compete anything that comes to mind in the animal kingdom (at this sort of thing anyway, an adult can't win a fight against a lion or echo-locate at all, and of course we are judging from an anthropomorphic perspective, but hay). So by 3 years the argument of how amazing octopuses are is equalised I would think (maybe by 2.5). Follow on to 5 and things get going, children's drawing suddenly change from 2D to 3D for example, but actually our neocortex doesn't fully develop until around puberty (again from memory). Also out of interest it is within the Neocortex that much of the evidence for the cracking of the 'easy problem' of consciousness is being done. The correlation of consciousness to brain activity, or specialised neo-cortal activity. Though this is not the same as the philosophical hard-problem.

earthling's picture
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It is true that humans have surpassed simple tool use and mimicry. Whether octopus brains are limited to those things isn't quite clear to me, and I don't think all that much research has been done on that issue. Some of the anecdotal stuff I have read suggests that there is significant insight on the part of the octopus, not just mimicry.

Unfortunately they don't live very long, I'm sure that makes them even harder to study.

I also heard that dolphin intelligence is over-rated in the public view, that they are something like smart dogs in intelligence level. Dogs can learn things, but they are completely stuck in their dog world. They will never understand a hammer. Most of them don't understand that a door can't open to their side when they stand in front of it.

My quess is that the intelligence level is closely related to a sense of grasping and manipulating objects, rather than sight. Most likely our sense of 3D comes from grasping things more that from moving around the scenery. That's where an octopus might have an advantage - the environment is more thoroughly 3D.

The main point of the octopus argument is not really about their level of intelligence, it is about how different they are. And it defeats the argument that intelligent creatures must be like humans - evidently another organization is possible.

Actually I am pretty sure that intelligence does not require a central nervous system. A distributed nervous system will work. Of course I have no proof of that, until someone makes such a system - unless you consider cities, countries, or teams of people as intelligent.

----
We are the cat.

faoladh's picture
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I chose "Out there, beyond reach". The most current information about peak oil and energy usage would seem to indicate that we've already passed the window for getting beyond this star system in the reasonably predictable future. As to whether other civilizations have come here or will do so? I tend to think that most species will make the same mistakes in using up energy reserves that we have. That leaves a wide hole, of course, since it only takes one alien civilization managing to get out of its cradle system, but I am with Hawking on the likelihood of beneficent intent of such a species.

From The Killing Star by Pellegrino and Zebrowski:

"When we put our heads together and tried to list everything we could say with certainty about other civilizations, without having actually met them, all that we knew boiled down to three simple laws of alien behavior:

1. THEIR SURVIVAL WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SURVIVAL.
If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won't choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don't survive by being self-sacrificing.

2. WIMPS DON'T BECOME TOP DOGS.
No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary.

3. THEY WILL ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US."

Now, those are not, after all, absolutely true. They apply absolutely to species whose psychology is reasonably similar to ours, and to species who have had to undergo competitive evolution. We don't know for certain that all life develops in the same patterns, we just have no evidence yet of any other pattern. Still, competitive evolution seems like the most probable scenario for the development of intelligence, tool use, and the particular sorts of tool use that could conceivably lead to interstellar travel, and that would seem to lead to those three very pessimistic laws of alien behavior.

edited to add: Of course, here I am talking about life that is reasonably similar to us. There remains the possibility of alien life which is not broadly similar to the sort of which we are normally aware. I don't discuss that because there is no unequivocal available data.