Drake Equation v. Fermi Paradox

I am one of those people who wants to think aliens exist, because that would be super cool, we could learn so much from them and it would be fascinating to talk to a sentient being who is not human. It would give you a vastly different perspective of the universe, more even than LSD.
The Drake equation, which I maintain is not an equation at all, more of a checklist, would seem to indicate that they do. Number of stars in the galaxy/ percentage of those with planets/ percentage of those planets with water and inside the Goldilocks zone/ percentage of those planets where life has evolved/ percentage of those planets where intelligent life has evolved, i.e. technological societies/ percent of those who’ve developed space travel/ duration of those societies before extinction, and maybe a couple of factors I missed. The thing is, at the time Drake, who was no doubt some famous astronomer, wrote this ‘equation’ we didn’t know quite how many stars there are in the galaxy, or whether any of them at all have planets, and whether any of those planets have water. Since then we’ve discovered that the answers are a. a whole shit ton, b. most of them, seems like, and c. quite a few of them and it turns out water is super common throughout the universe, not rare at all.
So, there should be lots of aliens out there just itching to make contact with us. Then, there’s the Fermi paradox, which says if life throughout the universe is so damn likely, how come they’ve never made contact with us? It’s a good question.
For the purposes of this blog, I’m going with the Star Trek origin story hypothesis. The Vulcans came to Earth and made official contact as soon as Zephram Cochrane invented the warp drive. It seems logical that there might be some kind of threshold, upon which space-faring alien would sit up and take notice of us. I’ve heard it suggested that the increase of UFO sightings in modern times began with the first use of nuclear weapons, back in the 1940s. But, if so, they still haven’t made contact and it’s easy to see why. Not exactly putting our best foot forward.
So, here’s what I propose, since we have no way of knowing what that threshold will be. Let’s establish a colony on Mars. Maybe that’s the threshold but, if not, it will give us a hell of a deep space observatory and prepare us for the next step.
Or maybe they are looking more to see if we can create a stable, sustainable society within a stable, sustainable environment, and once we’ve created a planetary utopia, they will judge us mature enough to join their Federation of Planets. Let’s do that, too.
If that doesn’t bring them, we’ll go to the next stage, which is interplanetary travel.
And if that doesn’t cross the Cochrane Threshold and encourage them to make contact, then maybe we truly are alone in the universe, which would also be kind of awesome because it would mean there are billions and billions of planets out there ripe for the colonizing, and when our great great great great great great great great grandchildren meet intelligent space-faring aliens, they will still be human, just from other planets. And that would be pretty awesome, too.

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