My answer is, BULL!
An article on the Real Clear Science web site got my attention this evening. It seems that SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is boasting that we should be communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence within about twenty-five years.
How can they make this prediction? Well, that’s easy when you take a look at their reasoning and even their mathematics. You see, they make stuff up as they go.
This equation is called the Drake Equation. Before you flip-out with the mathematics staring you in the face, rest assured that you know as much about this math as the people that made it up. Yep. It is possible to write impressive looking equations and not know what the heck you are doing. SETI proves this.
They are attempting to express “N”, the number of civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy with whom we may be able to communicate. The problem is that there is no basis for the equation, and there is no way to measure, or even estimate the values of most of the terms.
In other words the neat looking figures literally mean, NOTHING. They use this stuff to get funding.
What does all this have to do with E.T calling our home? The Director of SETI made this stuff up to keep the funding coming, and the twenty-five years is a “brown number” that came right out of his butt.
The reasoning in the article goes like this:
“There are a couple of hundred billion stars just in our own Milky Way galaxy, so the odds are good that we are not alone in the universe. On the other hand, if life abounds, why haven’t we found any evidence of it—and is that about to change.”
Arguments like this have one great fallacy. They are not based on any evidence whatsoever.
A better way to assess the probability of encountering extraterrestrial intelligence is fairly easy. Since you cannot calculate the probability, you an make a statement. Here’s mine.
Since we have never been visited or communicated with by extraterrestrial intelligence, the probability is that it will never happen. This is essentially what the Fermi Paradox addresses.
You see? I didn’t have to calculate anything, and have gotten a profound message across without any mathematical chicanery.
I cannot rule out the possibility that it will happen. That’s the way life is. You can never say never, but is SETI worth funding?
I don’t think so.