The Null Device

Aliens have democracy

Putting paid to the clichés of alien god-emperors or insectile hive minds, a Professor of Psychology in California reckons that alien civilisations would have democracy. Prof. Albert Harrison of the University of California Davis claims that any civilisation having developed the technology to send signals into space is likely to have evolved to democracy, or something like it. Though I suspect that that involves too many assumptions of the aliens being humanlike, and not all that far from saying that they're likely to have reality TV, fast-food franchises and sports-utility vehicles, because we do.

I'd also doubt the assumption that democratic alien civilisations would be likely to be friendly and peaceful towards Earth if we ever make contact. Democracies aren't automatically peaceful; in fact, in the appropriate conditions, a democracy can become an irrational mob baying for the blood of real or imagined enemies. If enough of the alien populace was persuaded (by a pliant media or an influential orator, or some equivalents thereof) that Earth posed a threat, I suspect they'd be likely to vote to asteroid-bomb us out of existence before we do the same to them.

Of course, how alien psychology and decision-making (including perception of risks, aggression, altruism and such) would work would depend on the evolutionary conditions that shaped their neurology, much as human psychology depends on the hunter-gatherer condition.

There are 1 comments on "Aliens have democracy":

Posted by: Hobbes http:// Sat Aug 17 23:17:17 2002

*yawn* Yet another social scientist extrapolating from one data point. Nothing to see here, move along.