Fulminating Belief and the Drake Equation

It seems to me that the character(s) who produced the YouTube video that has caused so much religious fulmination in the sandy parts of the world ought to be parachuted into Cairo to answer for their actions. Surely they can give the best explanation of what their movie represents.

Another thing has occured to me. Perhaps we should make a minor adjustment to the Drake Equation which describes the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible. The equation can be found at this link.  The L factor defines the length of time a civilization releases detectable [radio] signals into space. Given the self destructive behaviours of beings capable of generating radio signals on at least one planet, maybe it is time to define L*.

L* = L(1 – P*/P) where P = average number of intelligent inhabitants of a planet and P* = average number of intelligent inhabitants willing to die/kill for their magical or political beliefs.

Perhaps the reader has a better modification.  Here is the Drake equation copied straight from Wikipedia:

N = R^{\ast} \cdot f_p \cdot n_e \cdot f_{\ell} \cdot f_i \cdot f_c \cdot L


N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible;


R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
f = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space

About gaussling

Gaussling is a senior scientist in the chemical business. He occasionally breaks glassware and has been known to generate new forms of hazmats. Gaussling also digs aerospace, geology, and community theatre. View all posts by gaussling

2 responses to “Fulminating Belief and the Drake Equation

  • Claire

    According to the media, the maker of the film is a Coptic Christian. While most of us will never make such a film, I must point out that the Coptics are being persecuted in horrific ways – most Westerners cannot even begin to fathom what these folks go through in their homeland of Egypt. We’re talking kidnapping, rape, torture and forced conversions, just to name a few of the atrocities. We do not know what this man or his family has gone through or may be going through at this time, at the hands of the Islamic community in Egypt.

    • gaussling

      Hi Claire,

      Thanks for the update. Irrespective of the fellow’s background, he shouldn’t yell fire in the movie house. That’s my view.

      It is interesting that the Syrian government has killed 20,000 Syrians without so much as a peep from all of the people who have become inflamed by a cartoonish video (near as I can tell). For myself and I’m sure many other westerners, there is an inexplicable discontinuity in the moral fabric here. Where is the shared moral indignation and outrage at Sunni/Shiite fratricide? Maybe it’s there but does not constitute “compelling” broadcasting in the west?

      Some of the talking heads on the tube point out that the fury over this video may have started with religious indignation but has evolved into a distinctly political phenomenon. It is a great way for groups seeking power to test the waters by whipping the crowds into alignment-by-shared-anger.

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