An Argument From Silence


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An Argument From Silence:
The Snowden Solution to the Fermi Paradox

Copyright © October 2, 2015 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

Snowden says alien communications are too well encrypted to distinguish from random noise"

The Fermi paradox asks why there is no evidence of extra-terrestrial communications in the universe if the universe is theoretically populated by other higher life-forms like our own. “Like our own” assumes that we are a higher life-form on an evolutionary scale, and therefore equivalent, or nearly so, to other sentient intelligents; i.e., living and thinking beings. (May we therefore assume that all thinking existents are therefore living, or conversely that all living things think?) Since there are billions of stars that are older than ours, and our own star has a planet with sentient beings, we should assume that the universe is populated by at least a few other intelligent civilizations. Most likely those civilizations are far older than we are, and therefore far more advanced.

Since those more advanced civilizations most likely exist in a Fermian universe we should expect to occasionally capture some remnants of intelligent communication from them, whether or not they are intended for us to discover. So far we have not discovered any intended or not intended intelligent communications from the universe around us. The Fermi paradox questions why we have found no evidence of intelligence even though we live in a universe that implies intelligent existence outside our own planet or solar system.

Edward Snowden, the recent expatriate to Russia, and newly brilliant computer programmer turned scientist/philosopher, has answered this for us! Why did we not think of this before?

The reason, according to Snowden, why we are not finding intelligent communications from outside our own planet is that those other-worldlings are using encryption technology far more advanced than our own. Their encryptions are so good that we cannot read their email, text messages, or any other communications. That implies that they do not want us to understand their messages, or that they have no real intention to communicate with us. (CS Lewis implied that there might be good reasons why in his Out of the Dark Planet novel.)

If they really wanted to communicate with us they have that capability, since the ability to encrypt us out of their communication means they could lower their encryption standards so that we could unencrypt and understand them. Since they are yet unencrypted, they must not be interested in communicating with us. Therefore, our inability to decipher any intelligence in the universe outside our own is evidence of our own short-comings to decipher, not theirs to communicate. But that implies that they are not intelligent enough to unencrypt back to our level, an idea that borders on the ridiculous.

That of course, is an argument based on the silence of the universe in it’s response to us. In classical philosophy an argument from silence is no argument at all. It is the same as saying that the answer is that there is no answer. The proof is that there is no proof. And that is nonsense.

Snowden’s answer to the Fermi paradox is that the lack of intelligent communication from the stars is that their communication is so highly encrypted that it displays no communication at all. Apparently then, the fact that they are not communicating with us is “proof” that they exist.

I could more readily believe in the existence of fairy god-mothers and toad princes than I could extra-terrestrials based on that argument, CS Lewis to the contrary. At least those mythologies intended us the opportunity to understand whatever they were trying to convey. Snowden should read Lewis.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


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