I hit up Scientific American‘s website for a dose of humility today, e.g. checking in with how human evolution may have been influenced by nearby supernova explosions. Because I’m not a galactic Indiana Jones, and to be fair, I wouldn’t be an effective terrestrial Indiana Jones either, I can only nod my head at the simple recognition that English is the language I’m reading. I’m familiar with the symbols, but their organization is peculiar. They code for nothing in my brain when they’re structured around STEM stuff. Still, from what I gather, radiation from the explosions may have influenced Earth’s climate enough to create the Goldilocks conditions for our species’ development. Cool! I get to feel informed about something pretty profound and yet profoundly insignificant (to this self-centered plebian) for a split second, and Scientific American gets to keep pretending like it’s serving a real audience in any meaningful way.
On the right hand side of the page, you’ll find your standard assembly line of related links and recent news stories. One bit of “news” linked to this story: “Are we living in a computer simulation?” Since I’m an idiot who thinks The Matrix is intellectual cinema, of course I fell for the click bait. And then, two paragraphs in, I hit this gem:
Moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the museum’s Hayden Planetarium, put the odds at 50-50 that our entire existence is a program on someone else’s hard drive. “I think the likelihood may be very high,” he said. He noted the gap between human and chimpanzee intelligence, despite the fact that we share more than 98 percent of our DNA. Somewhere out there could be a being whose intelligence is that much greater than our own. “We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence,” he said. “If that’s the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just a creation of some other entity for their entertainment.”
Clearly, it doesn’t take meeting our superiors to say some shit that makes us realize we’re already drooling, blithering idiots. (Even if it is fun to play around with these concepts.)