There’s an old Isaac Asimov story1 titled “Silly Asses.” In it, an alien archivist is informed that Earthlings have achieved nuclear power and, thus, enters Earth onto the roster of “advanced civilizations.” Speaking to a colleague, the archivist learns a bit more about this new, advanced world. At one point, the archivist makes a statement that Earth has, of course, mastered space travel and colonized worlds other than its own.
Well, no, the colleague reports.
The archivist is confused. If that’s not true, then where do the Earthlings test their new-found nuclear weapons?
On their own planet, the colleague explains.
And the archivist turns to the roster of advanced civilizations and crosses out Earth, muttering “Silly asses.”
I think of this story every time I read about climate change and gun control.
We think we’re civilized. We’re not. We’re monkeys with haircuts and iPhones and haute couture.
- Aren’t they all old at this point?↩