Now, as I mentioned at the end of that last post, before I got distracted by the whole V debacle I had set out to jot down a few thoughts on something a little more serious. A related topic, to be sure, but seriouser. And much more deeper. You’ll understand the detour I think – just keep in the back of your mind that it might involve lizards and you should keep up.

In a recent issue of New Scientist magazine, Dr Susan Blackmore (a scientist we quite like because she dyes her hair rainbow colours) made some interesting speculations about what she calls the ‘third replicator’ of our species. I’m not going to go into detail about her article (you can read it here if you like) but to precis, her idea is that there have been two important shapers of human evolution on this planet – genes and memes – and that we may now be looking at the emergence of a third replicator which will change us beyond what we can ever anticipate and probably do so even before we are likely to be fully aware of it. This third replicator (for which she invites us to invent a name) is something, she speculates, that is arising already out of our rather recently acquired human interconnectedness. I like the notion and I even think she may well be onto something, but that’s by-the-by; let’s push on a bit.

Toward the end of her item she brings up the subject of the perennial modern human quest to find life elsewhere in the universe. It is a pursuit close to my heart – I, too, would love to know if there is life out there. Really, who wouldn’t? Like about a zillion other people, I was happy to jump on the SETI@Home bandwagon when that started up, and for a while there I was pretty damn eager to help find the next Wow! signal. But then I started to reflect… The idea of making actual contact with aliens has always freaked me out a bit. While it would be nice to know if those lizard people are out there I’m not so sure I like the idea that they may consequently know we’re out here. Just think about it for a second: any civilization with whom we might make contact must necessarily be at least as technologically advanced as we are, and, more likely, somewhat further advanced. Can a situation like this turn out to be to our advantage? Given the only example to which we can refer – the history of the civilization of own planet – I think we can make an almost unassailable rule-of-thumb. I will call it the Reverend’s Law of Beads & Mirrors:

• If, by fate or design, two previously separated cultures are drawn together, the one with the least sophisticated technology always ends up with the worst part of the bargain.

I don’t think I can think of a single exception to this Law in the entire span of human history (although I would be completely delighted to be pointed to any counter-examples).

Further, I propose that this Law is exponential – the greater the difference between the two technological entities, the worse the outcome for the less sophisticated one. Again, my examination of human transactions shows no contradiction to this addendum.

And so I ask: is it really such a good idea to buddy up with the lizard-folk? Won’t it just turn out badly for us? Call me xenophobic, but if an alien is offering his claw in friendship, I’m keeping my brain way out of reach of his telescoping mandibles.

“But Reverend,” I hear you exclaim, “If Professor Einstein was correct, even if the lizard people are super-intelligent, then the laws of physics won’t allow them to ever get here! So our hamsters are completely safe!”

Ah yes, but this is where we turn back to Dr Blackmore’s hypothesis, and the scary implication she has entirely missed (or perhaps glossed over, if she is, as I am beginning to suspect, a lizard person herself…)

After making a case for our human originated Replicator 3 (R3) somehow acquiring a gestalt ‘imprint’ of the sum of human experience that none of us individually may even fully comprehend, she says in her New Scientist article:

Perhaps intelligence and civilisation are not what we should be concentrating on […in our search to find extraterrestrial life…]. My analysis based on Universal Darwinism suggests that instead we should be looking for R3 planets

Hey! Whoa there Starbuck! Throttle back on the thrusters and pull up planet-side for a bit!

Can you see the full implication of what she’s proposing, Acowlytes? Not that we should be looking for life on other worlds, but that we should be looking for third level replicators on other worlds. Or, to fill in the step that she seemed to have… missed… (yeah, right, Ms Lizard Scientist): that we should be setting ourselves up so that our third replicators (you remember – they’re the ones over which we may not have any actual control) can get in touch with their third replicators. In other words – our souped-up way-brainier-than-a-hundred-Einsteins Hive Mind confabbing (behind our backs) with their souped-up way-brainier-than-a-million-reptilian-Einsteins Hive Mind…

The lizards are probably in parking orbit already.

Well, alrighty then! I’ve sure got a name for this R3 thingy: let’s call it a neme, after the word nemesis – something it will surely become. From the Greek nemein for ‘retribution’, personified as the goddess of divine punishment.

I’ve got a b-a-a-a-d feeling about this…


Oh, and while we’re on the subject – I see from the poll that we now have two lizard people among the Cownoscenti! Praise Mangar-kunjer-kunja! I pray that he sends you a plentiful supply of flies and hamsters!