Tyler Cowen asks/is asked:
If you were offered a true statistic about an alien civilization, but only one, what would it be?My response would be simple: per capita energy use, but you have to show your work. I want estimates of population, energy use by income quintiles at least, sources of primary energy and conversion efficiencies, not to mention a decent summary of the market. I think we'd get a very good idea of what kind of people/insects/mobile rocks we're dealing with.
I'd want to know how many angels they could fit on the head of a pin. Any straight up answer would tell me they're as superstitious and self-deceiving as we are.
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