Re: Alien Communication Re: Ethics of being a Creator

Paul Hughes (
Thu, 30 Apr 1998 03:24:55 -0700

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> None of these reasons hold water (pun not intended); brain size
> doesn't correlate well with intelligence (ratio brain size / skin area
> seems to work better, but it is still crude) and certainly not with
> speech abilities (elephants vs some birds).

It may not correlate well, but can you possible say it does not correlate at all? Ants
are less intelligent than rats which are corresponding less intelligence than dogs which
are less intelligent than gorillas. There is definitely *some* correlation. Speech
modality is distinct from language. Elephants don't have the laryngeal design to
variate sound waves, birds do. Besides, dolphins do produce immense variation in

If brain size didn't matter at all, then lusting after jupiter brains would be

> . Finally, 3 is rather silly, since we have also had tens of
> millions of years to develop languages (but we didn't).

The key difference is in that 30 million years our brain size went from a small monkeys
to what it is now. During the same time period, cetaceans had already achieved brain
sizes larger than ours at present.

> In that case we would notice repeating patterns which remained as the
> whale songs changed over time (classic idioms, references to the whale
> equivalent of the sacking of Troy etc). Have any such patterns been
> discovered?

As far as I know the cross-section of data is pretty small - insufficient to determine
anything yet.

> While the idea of oceanic Homers is appealing, I'm not sure if it is
> true.

I'm not sure if it true either. My point is *if* they have a complex language that is
descriptive beyond the means of survival, then it could resemble something akin to an
oral tradition.