Trope-a-Day: Aliens Steal Cable

Aliens Steal Cable: Sort of true – despite the various technical problems mentioned in the trope, it is a very popular way to acquire a linguistic and cultural corpus from worldbound civilizations before making contact. But it involves both (a) studying their technology to figure out the signal encoding, and then (b) parking a probe somewhere close in to their system and/or placing a tap on their Internet-equivalent to gather uncorrupted signals. You can’t just do it easily over interstellar distances, especially if you don’t know that it’s there.

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