I've read a bunch on how the Drake Equation is constructed, but I'm not able to understand some of the reasoning behind it.

$$ N = R_* \cdot f_p \cdot n_e \cdot f_l \cdot f_i \cdot f_c \cdot L \cdot f_d $$

Why does $f_c$ represent the fraction of intelligent life able to communicate? Isn't communication (in some form) part of what defines intelligent life itself? Or is this term included just to break the number down further?

I'm asking this here and not elsewhere because I'm wondering specifically about this term and not the entire equation.

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    $\begingroup$ Geez this so called "equation" is about us being able to get signal from them - fc is for telecommunication, not speech. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Sep 15 '15 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ This question is not off topic because it is about astrobiology. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Sep 15 '15 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ The second half of that sentence on Wikipedia says it all: "the fraction of these civilizations that have developed communications, fc, i.e., technologies that release detectable signs into space" $\endgroup$ – Amory Sep 15 '15 at 13:17

Humanity has had roughly the same level of intelligence for tens of thousands of years, and as the Drake Equation estimates the number of civilizations capable of extrasolar communication - we only met that criteria ourselves within the last century.

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