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[–]wendolynne 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (7 children)

Every so often a religion or a nation will come along that feels obligated to destroy the works of previous civilizations. A recent example: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/1326063/After-1700-years-Buddhas-fall-to-Taliban-dynamite.html It's not hard to imagine the Christians of yore destroying any evidence which contradicted their assertion that the earth was created 6000 years ago. they certainly destroyed the histories and science maintained by pagan people of Northern Europe (i.e. the witch burnings) and the Inca in South America. It's not hard to imagine that something similar might have happened over and over in the past 200,000 years that homo sapiens has been around, according to the current theories of modern anthropologists. Objects made of metals oxidize fairly quickly - copper buckles have turned into green smears in archaeological sites only 500 years old. While hiking in the wilderness I have come across abandoned automobiles less than 100 years old that are just rust, barely holding the shape of a car. I sincerely doubt micro-circuitry is going to last for millennia without careful conservation. Plastics either.

Glaciers have tremendous power to grind stone objects into gravel, very little would still be recognizable if it was built in the path of the Ice Age glaciers.

So I think your estimation of probability is a bit low.

[–]wizzwizz4 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (6 children)

Plastics either.

Oh, no, plastics will unless deliberately burnt, and it'd take most of our species's resources to go out and find all the plastic and get rid of it in a lifetime. The rest of your points are good, though.

Your point about the Ice Age glaciers is especially good, too. Given this new information, I can update my estimate (after looking up the Bayesian formula and how to use it, because stupid old me hasn't memorised that yet) Bayes' Theorem is not useful here.

I've upped my 0.1% to 2%; 1 in 50 chance that the vast, vast majority of the evidence was either wiped out, buried by subduction, dismantled by other humans or otherwise rendered unreachable to us. Because your "human destruction" and "glacier" hypotheses are things that I hadn't thought of, and taking that into account makes it conceivable that such a thing might've happened in a hypothetical world (glaciers trashed loads and loads of evidence, and humans who didn't like it cleaned up the rest, so the hypothetical civilisation wouldn't have to have been so unsimilar to my expectations of how humans behave).

That makes 0.000018714%. It's still not really worth considering.

[–]wendolynne 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (5 children)

Once you abandon the "young Earth" mindset, you can look at certain things in a different light. Egypt has some artifacts created with technology at our level or better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7d-hjlU0O4

[–]wizzwizz4 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

I've taken that into account. They didn't really require more technology; it was more about more effort going into making the things. We couldn't create those artefacts with our current level of technology quickly enough for us to not get bored.

[–]wendolynne 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

So, the attributes of an advanced civilization: plastic technology and a short attention span.
The word 'plastic' means changeable, by the way. Our plastic technology is approximately 100 years old. plastics deform easily - relatively low heat deforms them. grease reacts with tupperware. Hard plastics are brittle, shatter easily. If an ancient civilization had invented DVDs, and Medieval people found one, would they have any idea how to read it?

[–]wizzwizz4 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

The word 'plastic' means changeable, by the way.

Ok. Hydrocarbon-based polymers.

If an ancient civilisation had invented DVDs, and Medieval people found one, would they have any idea how to read it?

No, but they'd probably cotton on pretty quickly that it was made of something they didn't recognise. Then they'd probably give it to children to play with as a Frisbee, or just discard it, or possibly keep it as a trinket for a few years.

Where are you going with this?

[–]wendolynne 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Perhaps something similar has been discovered, and we have no idea what it really is.

[–]wizzwizz4 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

and we have no idea what it really is.

It's likely that someone nowadays would post it on the web, and people would share it if it was strange.