archive: SETI The Drake Equation (was A Carl Sagan Web site)

SETI The Drake Equation (was A Carl Sagan Web site)

Larry Klaes ( lklaes@bbn.com )
Tue, 18 May 1999 14:18:46 -0400

At 11:38 AM 05/18/1999 CST6CDT,4,1, Greg Loeb wrote:

>>Executive Director Dr. Paul Shuch uses the phrase above
>>not to imply that he has some kind of Area 51-type knowledge
>>of extraterrestrial life, but that he and those who participate
>>in The SETI League are convinced that other evolved beings are
>>out there in space and that they will find them in time by
>>diligent exploration of the skies. http://www.setileague.org
>
>They're convinced? Here's another question: Was Sagan himself convinced?

I will presume you have read and/or know enough about
Carl Sagan to be able to answer that question for yourself
by now. But just in case:

http://www.sciam.com/explorations/010697sagan/010697sagan2.html

http://www.sciam.com/explorations/010697sagan/010697sagan3.html

http://www.bigear.org/vol1no2/sagan.htm

>It still seems to me that the final answer to the Drake Equation is just as
>likely to be 1 (us) as it is to be 1 million. Again, isn't our knowledge so
>limited that both are equally likely? I think it would be ridiculous not to
>listen/look for signals, but I honestly can't understand why anyone would be
>convinced (even Sagan, if he was).

In a nutshell, the odds are highly in favor of there
being life, at least rudimentary in form, on other worlds.
Even with the small evidence we have now, it is enough
to make most scientists feel comfortable in saying that
the only real questions left about ETI are not "Does it
exist?", but "Where is it?" and "What is it like?"

>Again, just acknowledging that it's possible is reason enough to search.
If it
>were somehow shown conclusively that it's impossible for ETI to be out there,
>then I'd say we shouldn't.

You would think, but in this society that is not often
enough. You have to give those who will be funding your
search and supplying your equipment at least some tangible
evidence to convince them that they won't lose their shirts
hunting for E.T.

Had it not been for politics, greed, ignorance, and other
pettinesses that are part of human nature, I think we would
have found alien life by now.

Larry