November 5, 2022

The Dark Forest is one of my favorite sci-fi books. It’s the second in a series called The Three Body Problem.

The book interests me because it discusses one of life's biggest questions:

Are we alone in the universe?

An interesting analogy to help us wrap our minds around this idea — and what we should do — goes like this: imagine you're waking up, alone, in a dark forest. You don’t know what's around you. A hungry lion may be strolling nearby... waiting for something to make a sound. Now, in this situation, one of the most-unwise things you could do is shout:

“Hello, is anyone out there?!”

Because by revealing your location, you're making yourself known to predators. The wise decision is to understand where you are — before revealing yourself. Yet "yelling out in a dark forest" is exactly what humanity is doing by sending out signals into the cosmos.

If intelligent life exists, it could see us as a threat and destroy our species. Even if we're not a threat to them today, they stop us from becoming one in the future.

This dark forest concept reminds me of propaganda on the internet. We're bombarded with so much information, it's a struggle to figure out what's fact or fiction.

I think taking a page out of The Dark Forest and "exploring before exposing" is the best course of action. By understanding the lay land, and where the information comes from, we can make better decisions — before making a sound.

Better yet, rely on your personal experiences more than what you read online. Many times during my travels my opinions changed after visiting a country in person.

As a writer, you have the power to create realities. Just don't forget that other writers have the power too.

Raymond Duke

P.S. If this concept of a dark forest interests you, check out The Three Body Problem. I hear it will be adapted to Netflix soon. But if it's like most book-to-show adaptations, the book will be better.