archive: Re: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search

Re: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 00:17:30 EDT

In a message dated 8/24/98 8:57:47 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
MarcusJohn@AOL.COM writes:

<< John said:
>You should start with a premise. Is there any evidence that we are the
>only intelligent life in the universe?

Chip said:
>>Uh-oh....this is not science as posed. Unless you say that flying saucers
>>science :-(.

I will not seek any defense for the 'shoot from the hip'' modality of the
internet. Should have been on debate team in HS and learned how to do this, I

Here, I would say I was asking you to make a leap of explanation which
apparently was unclear. So let me be most explicit: The data only supports the
notion that we are the only ones out there. Ergo a more accurate scientific
formulation--and the usual one as posed--is: is there any evidence that we
are NOT the only intelligent species?

You surely know that the standard line given by UFO people--just catch Stanton
Friedman any other night on TLC--is: is there any reason to believe WE are the
ONLY ones. The answer to that is clearly YES! But posed in that fashion, it
makes one feel stupid for questioning it.

That doesn't necessarily mean it is so; it indicates, more precisely, that we
lack sufficient data to make an assessment.

Ergo, the type of formulation of the problem you posed is a UFOlogy -like
stance. Hence my shoot from the hip cringe..

It is common practice in pseudo science to invert a scientific question so
that it means to belittle the most likely hypothesis. I do not fault you for
being unaware of this and I certainly realize at this point that your intent
was not to be pseudo-scientific.