Joseph Ratliff Writer, Researcher, Thinker

Tag Archives: Cosmic Abyss

The Absolute Horror of Yin and Yang

Shouting into the shadows at the dark pessimist…

A recent Twitter encounter with a dark pessimist inspired this post.  Not to try to debate him, nor to prove him “wrong,” but to expand the conversation a little.

Let’s continue…

The idea of Yin and yang is a powerful one.  Light must exist inseparably with darkness, AND are complementary, interconnected, and interdependent.

This idea is horrible for some people to contemplate.  Why?

The incurable optimist must acknowledge the reality that evil and horror exist.  If they do not, they are denying part of reality.

Even a nihilist must acknowledge that humans can choose to add meaning to their lives, even in the face of meaninglessness.

And while this act might seem to lack all meaning to the nihilist … in reality each of us can keep metaphorically pushing our rock up the hill of life, and find meaning in that activity.

For the nihilist, even if they don’t acknowledge this choice as meaningful … it is for some people.  That is the sum total of human reality.

The nihilist effectively chooses (or perhaps their life circumstances choose for them) meaninglessness over meaning.  So they forever remain trapped in an eternal loop of meaning and meaninglessness that always returns to absolute zero (for them).

(To me, our ability to examine reality IS the meaning of human life.  Those two ideas forever co-mingle in a cosmic dance that makes our lives play out.  But that idea is better suited for another post).

The dark pessimist can have an entirely (or mostly) pessimistic view of the world, and even back it up by showing points of the most horrible reality.

But the Universe is a tricky place, and optimism co-exists inseparably with pessimism.

The darkest parts of the Universe would not exist if there were not points of starlight (however small on a cosmic scale) shining through the dark.

How could you know what “darkness” is unless light existed?

Based on this analogy, the madness of human nature that was explicated in a thoughtful rant also co-exists with sanity, calmness, insight, etc. because you would not be able to know “madness” without the opposite.

So the absolute horror and darkness in Yin and yang co-exists with beauty, light, and delight within the sum total of reality.

A dark pessimist may not choose to see that.  They might be blinded to the reality by the most horrible parts of human nature from our history on this planet (which I don’t deny exist, either).  But that said…

Reality is the absolute total, and not just the parts of it that we choose to see.

And as I commented on your post, I fear you might be right, with time as the ultimate arbiter…

But I will always hold hope for the brightest and most beautiful parts of human nature to shine through the darkness long enough to slow or stop the madness you thoughtfully alluded to.

I can see those small points of metaphorical human light, and in fact, I will choose to look for them during my short existence on this planet.  But I’m also not blind to the worst of our nature, nor our violent and our disgusting history.

With misery, comes loving company … after all.

And I can also understand how that might appear to be “ultra-optimistic” from your perspective. 😉

As a principle that I stand behind, a shallow person tries to “win” an argument or debate.  A reasonable person tries to deepen their knowledge of the world.

I thank my dark and pessimistic interlocutor for deepening mine.

Staring Deeply Into The Cosmic Abyss

On the insignificance of the aggregate of our human accomplishments … and why we will not make contact with another species of intelligent life…

This might be considered my hypothesis for the Fermi Paradox solution.

They (any other non-human intelligent life) might receive our messages, but once they see who we are and what we consider accomplishment, they will scoff at our attempt at existence.

They will likely be harsh critics of our stewardship of this planet, its resources, and our willingness to literally kill one another in the interest of man-made false constructs.

Remember, if they had the technology to travel to our planet … they will be more evolved as a civilization.  Not necessarily in a good way, but look at where we are now, and we haven’t figured out 75% of what we have to yet.

Because there is more to interstellar travel than just the technology required doing it, but I digress.

These intelligent beings aren’t coming (yet), and they won’t be making contact with our species.

This brings us to the overriding question for this essay…

Why would an alien species ever decide (or even want) to make contact with us?

I’m going to attempt to answer that question in this essay.

Let’s begin…

On a cosmic timescale, we are an infant species, and so far we are acting like children when measured on that same timescale.

We still kill each other over resources, race, fear, etc… all on a speck of pale blue dust in a stream of light from the Sun.

(Think along the lines of some of our “neo-conservative” political ideas).

We’re willing to scare each other with media, terrorism, religion etc… so that certain groups of us feel more (not necessarily “are” more) elite than others.  Worse, we lie to each other about events like 09/11 etc… (which did not happen as was reported in the mainstream media).

We try to outcompete, dominate, surveil, etc… each other … in fear that another group of us might try to do the same to us.

We’re insecure, narcissistic, some are sociopathic, and some in positions of power are pathologically insane (along the lines of ponerology).

It’s pathetic if you devote even a few minutes of thought to it.

So, why would any species of higher intelligence and more advanced in technology want to visit what they might view as a group of screaming hairless apes that act in this manner towards each other?

(Even if select groups act out in terrible and tragic ways).

And some of us even think that for some reason we are special, that the Universe was somehow created “for us.”

Another ridiculous thought if you invest even a few minutes to it.  We’ve explored maybe 4% of it over centuries of exploration.

That leaves 96% (or so) in a space of billions and billions of planets and stars where some other form of intelligence (farther advanced than us) could exist.

But harsh criticisms of Homo sapiens aside … there are (of course) moments in our short history of ~ 400,000 years where our species has demonstrated its enormous potential to evolve past all of these downfalls:

  • We’ve made tremendous technological advances, compared to the fact that no other animal on this planet is capable of doing so.
  • When a major disaster strikes, we connect with each other and support one another across racial, cultural, and political boundaries. I always (and certainly an intelligent species will) wonder why it takes such events to connect us.
  • We have enormous capacity for empathy (at times).
  • We have enormous capacity for adaptability, once circumstances demand it.
  • Etc…

I could go on and on about our accomplishments as a species, and in fact you could add millions of people, inventions, philosophies, etc… to the list.

But it wouldn’t matter.

For an advanced species with more advanced technologies, all of our accomplishments would be lumped together to be “expected.”  They would be deemed “basic.”

Just because we don’t think so, doesn’t mean another species has to give them the same respect.

And they likely won’t.

An advanced species would have moved past the need for “accomplishment” … for “competition” … for power and domination.

We assume with our rather limited (in the big picture) scientific knowledge that all species would evolve like us … like WE are somehow the standard to be measured against.

I’m challenging that idea.

Yes, genetically that might be how an intelligent species starts.

But we assume that we are the standard because it takes 4 billion (or so) years for a planet like ours to produce a species like ours.

What if another planet didn’t progress like ours?

What if it only took 1 billion years, under different conditions perhaps, for those conditions to evolve a species like ours?

And, what if the resulting species didn’t end up “like” us?  What if they followed a different historic progression without the need for war, excessive resource exploitation, domination etc…?

I’m almost sure that we (as a whole species) can’t imagine that scenario.

We are too anthropocentric for that.

We think (generally) that our species is so advanced because of our mental capacity (we tend to set some of our mental psychopathy aside).

It isn’t.


Because we haven’t evolved past the need to dominate, past the need to separate ourselves into “classes” and segregate ourselves because of our races.

Yes, we have progressed … we have advanced … we have evolved…

The problem is, we give ourselves too much credit just how far we have done so.

And that is why we will likely keep staring into the Cosmic Abyss, even if from a different planet in the distant future, wondering “Where is everybody?”

If you were them (the more advanced, more intelligent, farther evolved species) … would you want to engage with us (in our current state)?

I truly hope, deep down, that eventually we will be able to answer that question with a resounding YES.