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Well said and I do agree, we're getting to the fringes of the topic at hand. And thanks, you bring up lots of valid points too!
I'm not going to argue with you on this point since you have background in it, but hasn't it been speculated that the Cradle of Humanity in Africa was a very rapidly changing, harsh environment which made an evolutionary pressure towards higher capability to adapt and our intelligence rose from that? This was based on the geology of the area which indicates alot of dry and wet periods (IIIRC) swapping quite quickly.
I very much agree with you on the view that technology, culture and ideas progress evolutionarily, but much faster than actual evolution. One thing I like to think about is how we were hunters and gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years, up until 12,000 years ago. Then in a relative blink of an eye after agriculture starts, we have writing, metal working, sailing, cities, city states, empires and everything else around us. In 12,000 years we went from all humans being hunter gatherers to almost no one. In 12,000 all the complexity of our history and technological development took place.
My point being, after the initial impetus that allows for a surplus(agriculture) so that people can specialize, there will be development and really fast development at that. Thats why I think that science would have nessecarily been rediscovered and taken to heart, there is just too much of a, shall we say, evolutionary forcing function towards science and I think atleast that some people have a kind of mind set for it in their personality. I mean, its basically just wanting to know the absolute truth and being willing to go to great lenghts to verify that information.
I talked about great filters either in this or the other fermi thread already, but yea, they're a scary thought. I remember hearing one astronomer say in regards to life on Mars that "No news is good news". This is because if life is found on Mars it means that life is very likely to arise, but rarely progresses past the initial stage or some other filter. If the filter is ahead of us, I don't think that should necessarily mean that we couldn't find other life since we got to this point and we have radio. But damn do I hope its not ahead of us.
Personally, I think either the evolutionary pressures required for intelligence are really, really specific or there is something about prokaryotic, eukarioty phases or even the coming of RNA thats very unlikely to happen. So yea, basically the filter, but I do not think that it's in the development from intelligence to our point, though. Or maybe agriculture, but that seems so obvious that it was bound to happen, though we still took 190 thousand years to figure it out.