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Offline Hollocron

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Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« on: May 30, 2017, 07:10:59 PM »
"Fermi’s Paradox is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of contact with such civilizations."

It makes a lot of sense, right? On the surface it does, but it has never been convincing to me. Here are some of the things I think it overlooks:
  • There IS evidence in our field of view. Our detection methods are just too primitive
  • They don't want us to know about them
  • They are too far away to be contacted/observed
  • They made their presence known in the past and decided we were weak sauce
  • Earth is an afterthought. Like an anthill you don't notice while driving through the Nevada desert (the ants don't notice you either)
  • They don't want us to hack their data centers (lols)

I don't think the Fermi paradox fully appreciates just how big the universe is.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 11:20:16 PM by Hollocron »

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Offline Rushy

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Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 08:23:22 PM »
The Fermi Paradox is the direct result of not only assuming that life elsewhere exists, but that life itself has a probability of coming into being at any given time. We have evolution to explain how life evolves from a bacterial form to a multi-cellular organism, but that's where our understanding of the origins of life ends. No one in history has managed to produce life (or anything even remotely resembling RNA or DNA in a self-replicating format) from lifeless material. We simply have no idea how life forms in the first place and therefore cannot gauge the probability of such an event. Therefore, functionally the Fermi Paradox does not exist. It's a direct result of the assumption that we know more about life than we do. The Fermi Paradox erupted from ignorance and it is no more scientifically accurate than simply saying the Abrahamic God created all of us.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2017, 08:25:20 PM by Rushy »

Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 09:21:25 PM »
The problem isn't that we don't have an idea, the problem is we can't test it since doing so would take millions of years of constant experimentation.  Evolution, at least, we have fossil records to help us but this has no fossil records.


However, ignoring that, there is no paradox because it's big assumption (aside from what rushy stated) is that Humans aren't the oldest and most advanced life in the galaxy.  *shrug* We really could be the best out there.

Or we live in a part of the galaxy with very little alive around us.  Like an island.  While the center of the galaxy is abuzz with signals.

Offline 3DGeek

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Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2017, 01:49:59 PM »
The Fermi paradox depends on having an estimate for the number of intelligent and communicative species in the universe - which in turn requires us to look at the "Drake Equation" which provides that estimate.

The Drake equation includes the following terms:
  • the average rate of star formation, R∗, in our galaxy,
  • the fraction of formed stars, fp, that have planets,
  • for stars that have planets, the average number of planets ne that can potentially support life,
  • the fraction of those planets, fl, that actually develop life,
  • the fraction of planets bearing life on which intelligent, civilized life, fi, has developed,
  • the fraction of these civilizations that have developed communications, fc, i.e., technologies that release detectable signs into space, and
  • the length of time, L, over which such civilizations release detectable signals,

Astrophysics provides good estimates for (1), (2) and (3),  But (4),(5),(6) and (7) are all wild-assed guesses.   We don't know what exact process got us from inert chemicals in a warm amino acid soup to the first replicating DNA/RNA molecule.  We don't know why (for example) the dinosaurs never developed civilization - despite being around for far longer than we humans have been here.  We have no clue as to whether other civilizations would be so fascinated with technology as western europeans and the chinese were in the 1700's and 1800's - given that other civilizations generally didn't care much about that.  We have no idea how long a technologically advanced civilisation might last.

So the result of the Drake equation is pure guesswork - which means that the answer could be that there is such a low chance of there being intelligent, communicative life that it is unsurprising that we are the only one...and if that's the case, the Fermi Paradox evaporates.  But on the other hand, if we ever do find simple life (for example on Mars or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn) - then we suddenly have a much larger estimate for term (4).  Term (5) will only be known if we find the results of industrial pollution in the light spectra from the atmospheres of distant exo-planets.  Terms (6) and (7) can only be known if we get messages sent to us by aliens...which would render the Fermi Paradox moot.

What's kinda cool for me (but evidently not for FE'ers) is that the odds are good that we'll get the answers for (4) and (5) in my lifetime.  But (6) and (7) - I'm not holding out much hope that we'll ever get good estimates for those.

So while the Fermi Paradox is an interesting "thought experiment" - it doesn't help us make any deductions about the universe.  You don't need to "find flaws" in it...the flaws are inherent in our lack of knowledge.

But from an FE perspective - there are no other large bodies out there that could maintain life - so it's all irrelevant anyway.

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Offline Roundy

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Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2017, 11:16:01 PM »
The Fermi Paradox is the direct result of not only assuming that life elsewhere exists, but that life itself has a probability of coming into being at any given time. We have evolution to explain how life evolves from a bacterial form to a multi-cellular organism, but that's where our understanding of the origins of life ends. No one in history has managed to produce life (or anything even remotely resembling RNA or DNA in a self-replicating format) from lifeless material. We simply have no idea how life forms in the first place and therefore cannot gauge the probability of such an event. Therefore, functionally the Fermi Paradox does not exist. It's a direct result of the assumption that we know more about life than we do. The Fermi Paradox erupted from ignorance and it is no more scientifically accurate than simply saying the Abrahamic God created all of us.

Bingo. There is no paradox because the notion that there is a high probability of life elsewhere in the universe is fiction. You can't even estimate probability when such an important variable is missing.
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Offline Hollocron

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Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2017, 02:00:52 AM »
It will probably be like discovering exoplanets. As our detection methods improve, we'll find more and more evidence. There's no reason to assume we won't find anything.

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Offline Boots

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Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2017, 02:18:13 AM »
There's no reason to suspect we won't find flying green spaghetti monsters. How about we spend billions of dollars searching for them and preparing for how to handle them once we find them?
Where the senses fail us, reason must step in. - Galileo Galilei

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Offline Hollocron

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Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2017, 11:21:11 PM »
There's no reason to suspect we won't find flying green spaghetti monsters.

There's no evidence that they exist. There is already evidence that life in general exists.

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Offline Boots

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Re: Let's find flaws in the Fermi Paradox
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2017, 05:07:43 AM »
There's no reason to suspect we won't find flying green spaghetti monsters.

There's no evidence that they exist. There is already evidence that life in general exists.

There is no evidence of extraterrestrial life. There is evidence that monsters in general exist though. There is also evidence of spaghetti, although if it's green it should probably be disposed of.
Where the senses fail us, reason must step in. - Galileo Galilei