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Comment of the day: Getting the skepticism about NASA’s mission right

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In response to: Does anyone remember when NASA was associated with daring – but credible – ideas?

Phoodoo at 10:

I never said the search for life threatens ID theory at all. The question is more one of is it good science. Of course these people want life on other planets to be true-but that doesn’t make it likely. They all hope to have some kind of sci-fi star wars kind of discovery, because this is their fantasy, and think think it is confirm of how easy evolution is.

And even if its never found, they can always just keep going back to the idea of , one day we will-without any proof at all.

So its an easy win for them, if no proof, then just say, we know its there, we just haven’t found it yet. but if we are alone in this universe, it would contradict their idea, so they never would admit to it ever.

That is not being a skeptic, that is being a propagandist. NASA needs to continually make a justification for their money, so they always claim they are very very close to finding life!

If life only arose ONCE on this planet, why aren’t they at least skeptical that it is so unlikely and rare, that perhaps it never happened again? Where is the skepticism in the Seth Shostaks?

Exactly. What concerns many of us is the fat hype over slim hope that has come to characterize NASA spox on the subject of ET life.

ID theorists are as likely as anyone to want to study ET life forms. But what about all the grandiose claims apparently aimed at popular media, whose consumers are neither informed nor inclined to grasp the underlying difficulties? For example,

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.

First, many people reading that will assume he means intelligent aliens. But he probably knows as well as we do that they are hardly the most likely ET life find. There is only one species among the vast numbers on Earth – which teems with life – that could communicate with intelligent aliens. Why should we expect a hostile universe to feature a great many intelligent species within reach?

Sure, Star Wars is fun, but people should not be led to believe by omission or vague rhetoric that  Star Wars-y hopes guide policy. Let alone that any likely find (bacteria-like entities somewhere) would have an impact on “loneliness” on Earth.

If this is how NASA wants to raise money, it will have all the difficulties inherent in cultivating a poorly informed fan base in search of mere excitement, plus all the difficulties inherent in science exploration.

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27 Replies to “Comment of the day: Getting the skepticism about NASA’s mission right

  1. 1
    phoodoo says:

    I think as was written, in all the supposed billions of years of live developing that we know of, only one has ever gotten anywhere close to being intelligent enough to contemplate the universe. Out of how many species on Earth?

    if it has only happened once, even with all the millions upon millions of animals that exist, the science is telling us its highly UNLIKELY, not highly likely.

    Furthermore, if one believes there is no trajectory to life, but that it simply meanders in any direction, why would one conclude that complexity is the likely result of competition amongst all living things? Wouldn’t a completely random process much more likely make the simplest form of life, say an ooze which can consume anything and never dies, to be a much more hardy organism all things being equal? Or an acidic dust that kills everything it touches, or a cell eating bacteria, which goes dormant for a million years after it has eaten all other cells on the planet, and then waits for life to try again. How could an ape ever compete with that?

    And worse still, they are hoping to find life which is even MORE intelligent than us? In the same amount of time, why?

    So forget even being a skeptic, how about just being a scientist. From all available evidence, the probability is next to none. At least if you believe their worldview.

  2. 2
    ppolish says:

    Oy vey, the Vatican is searching for brother extraterrestrial: http://www.infowars.com/vatica.....rrestrial/

  3. 3
    RDFish says:

    I think it’s funny that when SETI comes up empty, ID folks take that to indicate that there is no other intelligence besides human beings on Earth. But then they turn around and claim that some other intelligence DOES (or did) in fact exist, and was responsible for the design of biological organisms on Earth. Hmmm.

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    I think it’s funny that when SETI comes up empty, ID folks take that to indicate that there is no other intelligence besides human beings on Earth. But then they turn around and claim that some other intelligence DOES (or did) in fact exist, and was responsible for the design of biological organisms on Earth. Hmmm.

    This is nonsense.

  5. 5
    Querius says:

    Heh. Reminds me of a question I once asked. “If there were a planet identical to Earth, would SETI be able to detect it?”

    The answer that I got at the time was “no.”

    Nicely put, phoodoo. However, according to evolutionary principles, bacteria are way more advanced than humans!

    -Q

  6. 6
    rhampton7 says:

    I understand the concern with “fat hype”, but “slim hope” is conjecture. We won’t know what kind of hope it is until we have a good data set from which we can extrapolate. If God is the intelligent designer, then perhaps our galaxy is full of sentient beings instead of the hostile, lonely, emptiness of space.

  7. 7
    RDFish says:

    Hi Jerry,
    Actually, my point makes perfect sense – you just don’t like the obvious conclusion 🙂
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  8. 8
    ppolish says:

    Jesus the Christ referred to Himself as “Son of Man”.

    “One of the presenters, however, Prof Paul Davies commented on the religious implications of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life: “If you look back at the history of Christian debate on this, it divides into two camps. There are those that believe that it is human destiny to bring salvation to the aliens, and those who believe in multiple incarnations,” Davies pointed out that the multiple incarnations theory, the idea that multiple examples of Jesus Christ would be found in the universe “is a heresy in Catholicism.””

    Others disagree on the heresy part of course.

    http://www.examiner.com/articl.....disclosure

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    Hi Jerry,
    Actually, my point makes perfect sense – you just don’t like the obvious conclusion
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

    More nonsense. That’s two in a row.

  10. 10
    RDFish says:

    Well, Jerry, which part of what I said are you having trouble with? SETI postulates extra-terrestrial intelligence, and so does ID. If SETI fails for lack of evidence of non-Earthly intelligence, that means ID fails as well.

    Calling something “nonsense” without a reason doesn’t constitute an argument. I suppose if you had a counter-argument you’d have explained it already.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  11. 11
    Daniel King says:

    Jerry is a master of reasoned argument.

  12. 12
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Ppolish: “There are those that believe that it is human destiny to bring salvation to the aliens, “

    Or, maybe it is the aliens’ destiny to bring salvation to the humans. Once again, Christian arrogance rears its ugly head.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    jerry says:

    Well, Jerry, which part of what I said are you having trouble with? SETI postulates extra-terrestrial intelligence, and so does ID.

    True.

    If SETI fails for lack of evidence of non-Earthly intelligence, that means ID fails as well.

    Non-sequitur. Thus, nonsense, That is three in a row. You are on a roll.

  15. 15
    RDFish says:

    Since Jerry here is incapable of articulating an argument, is there anyone else who might attempt to refute what I’ve said here?

    SETI postulates extra-terrestrial intelligence, and so does ID. If SETI fails for lack of evidence of non-Earthly intelligence, that means ID fails as well.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  16. 16
    jerry says:

    SETI postulates extra-terrestrial intelligence, and so does ID. If SETI fails for lack of evidence of non-Earthly intelligence, that means ID fails as well.

    This is getting pathetic. There is no relationship between SETI and ID other than both contain the word intelligence. So nonsense. Are all your arguments this specious?

  17. 17
    Acartia_bogart says:

    RDFish: “SETI postulates extra-terrestrial intelligence, and so does ID. If SETI fails for lack of evidence of non-Earthly intelligence, that means ID fails as well.”

    I think a more interesting question is, if SETI does find evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence, whose image are they created in? Would the creationist crowd, and BA77 in particular, accept the possibility that humans were not the pinnacle of his creation? Maybe humans were just a trial run and the aliens are the pinnacle of his creation.

  18. 18
    Starbuck says:

    Why do you think the DI posts stuff like this?

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....87691.html

    It’s because they believe God only created humans on Earth.

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    I think a more interesting question is, if SETI does find evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence, whose image are they created in? Would the creationist crowd, and BA77 in particular, accept the possibility that humans were not the pinnacle of his creation? Maybe humans were just a trial run and the aliens are the pinnacle of his creation.

    This is a theological argument and of no relevance to ID. It certainly would not be an issue for most of Christianity which believes God has other creations, So why even mention it?

  20. 20
    ppolish says:

    a_b, Angels are more evolved than Humans. No biggie. Cool teleportation skills. Wings even. Decorative mainly.

  21. 21
    RDFish says:

    Hi Jerry,

    There is no relationship between SETI and ID other than both contain the word intelligence.

    That’s very funny. The relationship between SETI and ID is exactly what you have already admitted: Both postulate the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

    We conduct SETI because we think it is likely that if life arose on Earth, then given how vast our galaxy is, it is thought to be likely that life arose somewhere else too. ID reasons that since we have no understanding of how life came to exist on Earth, and because (human) life on Earth is capable of building complex mechanisms similar to those we see in biological systems, perhaps some extra-terrestrial intelligence was involved in designing living things.

    There is nothing wrong with either of those hypotheses, but in order to be considered true, we would need to find confirming evidence. So far, we have found none.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  22. 22
    ppolish says:

    RDFish, you are confusing SETI with SETID. The search for extra-terrestrial Intelligent Design (SETID) is “Chariots of the Gods” material. Not to be confused with either SETI or ID.

  23. 23
    jerry says:

    That’s very funny. The relationship between SETI and ID is exactly what you have already admitted: Both postulate the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

    You are really on a roll. Five straight non sequiturs. Maybe you should stop posting here until you understand Intelligent Design. From your comments you do not seem to have a clue.

    For example, one could investigate every nook and cranny of the universe and not find one example of life let alone intelligent life except here and that would not invalidate ID but it would invalidate SETI. So they are not related. Also if one found intelligent life somewhere, it would not validate ID unless one could definitely point to the intelligent life found as the source of life here on Earth regardless of how this other intelligent life arose. But ID does not need proof of the existence of another form of intelligence for validity. If found that might convince Richard Dawkins but it is not necessary for ID. So I am sorry, the two are not related.

    As I said your arguments are specious. I would read about Aristotle’s rules of evidence. If you need a good source I can probably dig one up for you. Reading them may help you avoid the errors in logic you are consistently making.

    So I recommend that you go back to square one and maybe lurk awhile till you understand the arguments for ID and read up on the logic of evidence

  24. 24
    RDFish says:

    Hi Jerry,

    I apologize, I didn’t realize you were a newbie here who isn’t actually capable of debating. My mistake.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  25. 25
    RDFish says:

    Is there anyone who here who would like to comment on why SETI is thought to have failed for lack of evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, but the very same lack of a posteriori evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence is deemed to be inessential to ID?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  26. 26
    jerry says:

    I apologize, I didn’t realize you were a newbie here who isn’t actually capable of debating.

    Adding errors of fact and perception to errors of logic. More nonsense.

    I will try to find you a good source on Aristotle’s rules of evidence when I get home from traveling. Have a good day.

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    Is there anyone who here who would like to comment on why SETI is thought to have failed for lack of evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, but the very same lack of a posteriori evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence is deemed to be inessential to ID?

    Given your demonstrated and admitted propensity to ignore people who disagree with you, I can’t be bothered to deal with yet more of your nonsense. Insufficient ROI.

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