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If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20003949-71.html#ixzz1E2gBVWga

What does the which mean?

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This is a contraction of "I think the outcome would be much the same as" ...

The "which" refers to the outcome.

  • 1
    Wrong on the which. – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 15 '11 at 16:12
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    @jae - Care to elaborate? – Chris Dwyer Feb 15 '11 at 16:31
  • be much the same as the outcome was when – mplungjan Feb 15 '11 at 16:44
  • @Chris: see kiam's answer on that. – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 15 '11 at 17:45
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The phrase can be interpreted as having an implicit as (as much as instead of much as), and read as

If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be the same as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.

Which is a relative pronoun used to for something previously mentioned; in the example, which refers to when Christopher Columbus first landed in America.
The sense of the sentence is that the outcome of aliens visiting us would be the same as when Columbus first landed in America: it would not turn out very well for us.

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    I don't think "as much as" is what they meant here. As much what as when Columbus landed? – mmyers Feb 15 '11 at 17:09

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