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Us vs Them

Discuss PseudoSkeptics and their Fallacies. Share strategies for debating them.

Re: Us vs Them

Postby Arouet » 11 Mar 2013, 01:48

I took Carl Sagan out of the picture - remember? Just look at my points. Pretend Sagan never looked into any of this stuff and we're considering it for the first time. Would my 5 points serve as a valid basis to form a testable hypothesis?
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Re: Us vs Them

Postby SydneyPSIder » 11 Mar 2013, 06:27

justintime wrote:When you chase frivolous mythologies as a scientist there is a price to be paid. Harold Urey the Nobel Prize winner whose pioneering work on the chemical origins of life inspired Sagan's similar work correctly informed the relevant tenure committee that Sagan's scientific "achievements" were trivial and derivative.

This cost Carl Sagan both a tenure at Harvard and membership to the National Academy of Sciences. Congress stopped funding for SETI.

There are points on both sides here. Arou's logic seems to be correct and reasonable on the probabilistic question, although I agree that Sagan was more of a popular communicator or populariser and relative scientific lightweight. That's how it goes, unfortunately -- I don't think David Attenborough is university qualified in biology, for instance, just very interested in it.

Given that it appears chemistry and nuclear physics works the same way everywhere in the known universe -- spectrographic analyses can be done on distant galaxies for instance -- it is not unreasonable to assume that earth-like planets could be forming all over the place statistically, that H2O, a very simple molecule made of two low order elements, will readily form, and so on. We see rocky planets and moons everywhere also. Just looking up at the Milky Way on a dark night without streetlights etc impresses on you the sheer number of stars in our own galaxy, although we are in a relatively safe and non-chaotic outer suburb that has facilitated the evolution of both life and intelligent life without too many disrupting catastrophic events, although there have been quite a few nonetheless.

The point is that the earth is the way it is because of various predictable basic chemical and physical interactions that occur everywhere the same, not despite of them -- including the formation of peptides, amino acids, proteins, cells, etc.

The big question is just how many intelligent species like our own might be out there, whether they can communicate with us via radio signals, whether they have worked out some loopholes in physics that allow for relatively safe and rapid travel through the vast distances of space within say a lifetime that we have not yet discovered, and mastered other forms of propulsion that are beyond us. In other words, is every species and civilisation doomed to be on its own island and only able to explore its own solar system at best, or is it possible we will ever receive or make a visit, or are indeed receiving visits in the present day?
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