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Yup that seems pretty plausible! I think I'd put that as a part of the Airborne clutter/natural atmospheric phenomena clusters. Though I guess mass hysteria adds the important addition of better explaining non equipment-mediated human sightings.

I generally agree. Though for what it's worth it seems like it wouldn't be hard to block others from the territory while remaining in hiding. Presumably any blocking could take place by intercepting ships well before they reach earth. We would have a very hard time noticing something like that.

Apparently there's something like 7-8 million stars within 1000 light years so yeah, seems like there could have been some instructions sent. That said maybe life is super rare and only exists in 1 in a billion stars or 1 in a trillion. Then maybe any vNM probe would be coming from 10s of thousands of light years away or something.

Another possibility is that something about technological maturity tends to make species less interested in massive and aggressive expansion and/or species capable of making vNM probes tend to die off or become totally inward facing and/or there's some intergalactic governance system preventing certain actions by vNM probes.

Overall I agree with it lowering probability for vNM probes on earth but I don't think this reasoning invalidates the theory


I think I agree with you actually. I think what I wanted to get across was that we shouldn't have a strong prior against there being extraterrestrial craft on earth. To me the term strong prior feels pretty ambiguous so I just kind of threw it in there without thinking.

My intuition is that right now almost everyone has a strong prior against extraterrestrial craft being on earth in that they would assign a prior probability of like 0.01% or something. I think maybe our prior should be more like 5% that they're on earth. This would dramatically change what probabilities look like for the extraterrestrial craft hypothesis after updating on new evidence (e.g. Pentagon report stating that they think UAPs are actual objects behaving in ways unexplainable by modern science).

I think I agree (somewhat in contrast to what I said in the post) that I would expect vNM probes to take major action on finding a habitable planet. The fact that they are not taking action seems like the most damning critique of the theory.

It does seem like there are plenty of reasons they wouldn't do something noticeable though. E.g. curiosity about a non-threatening species, ethics, etc. Granted this seems extra unlikely if there are vNM probes from many different civilizations present.

As far as degradations I have no idea... Haven't though much about it. Seems like redundancy would be very helpful and that it's a maybe solvable problem but could also imagine it being hard to solve given e.g. lot's of radiation, many generations, etc.