In Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, when humanity is being evaluated to determine if the galactic authorities will destroy it, Kip gives a defiant speech threatening them - and the Galactics decide to not destroy us. It seems to the characters that his speech may have saved the day.
However, just before the examination, we have this discussion:
“From three samples of the organism you call the human race I can predict the future potentialities and limits of that race.”
“We have no limits! There’s not telling what our future will be.”
“It may be that you have no limits,” the voice agreed. “That is to be determined. But, if true, it is not a point in your favor. For we have limits.”
“You have misunderstood the purpose of this examination. You speak of ‘justice’. I know what you think you mean. But no two races have ever agreed on the meaning of that term, no matter how they say it. It is not a concept I deal with here. This is not a court of justice.”
“Then what is it?”
You would call it a ‘Security Council’. Or you might call it a committee of vigilantes. It does not matter what you call it; my sole purpose is to examine your race and see if you threaten our survival. If you do, I will now dispose of you. The only certain way to avert a grave danger is to remove it while it is small.”
If this is taken as factual, then
- If humanity is even potentially a danger, in capability, even if not in intent, then humanity will be destroyed as a precaution.
- Humanity is not destroyed.
Logically, this implies that humanity was adjudged to be not dangerous, and not to be limitless (as Kip had claimed,) but no one in the book seems to have worked out that syllogism. Are the characters right that somehow Kip persuaded the Galactics to ignore their usual policy and leave dangerous humanity alone due to (or in spite of) Kip's speech - or should we take the logic seriously and conclude that the Galactics decided that humanity could never be a danger to them and thus can safely be left alone? Have I missed a clue in the book that provides a third possibility (a hidden test of character?)