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Fermi Paradox--Answers and Rebuttals

Man-is-good
Posts: 6,871
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12/30/2011 3:50:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Today, during a practice SAT test, I stumbled on a critical-reading passage(s) discussing the Fermi Paradox. For those of you who do not know what the Fermi Paradox is, it is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial life, and the little evidence of actual contact. In the words of Fermi--, it can be asked in the following form, ""Why are no aliens or their artifacts physically here?"

Any responses, agreements, or rebuttals with the paradox?
"Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto." --Terence

"I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality."--Thoreau
Michurro
Posts: 6
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12/31/2011 3:32:14 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I believe there is some merit to the Fermi Paradox in that we should question why, if life is so abundant, that there is little evidence outside of our own planet. However, the Fermi Paradox is just a conglomeration of fanciful probabilities and imaginary calculations to arrive at a 99% chance of life elsewhere while providing 0% proof.

The paradox is not one at all: Here is a simple example. Let's suppose there is a 99.9^800 % chance that no life exists; now subtract 100%, that leaves us with a negligible number. If however, I were to multiply this by the trillions of spacial objects present, the probability increases exponentially. Normally, the chance of an event increases as more opportunities present itself. However, in the situation above, while the probability is large, the chance is still hopelessly small because while the probability of no planet having life is low, each chance is independent of the other. In other words, at such a low chance of life, you could multiply by the largest quantifiable number possible and still have no life because you are merely calculating statistical probability, not the chance of it actually occurring. When you reach probabilities that are effectively 0%, the number of planets still does not effect the result because the actual chance is too low to happen even with infinite opportunities.

Of course I do believe that there is some simple life forms, or possibly intelligent life somewhere in the Universe. However, the chance that they can transfer signals, receive signals, are in close enough proximity to us to leave traces, and have a Star Trek ship with which to break all modern scientific theories and travel the Universe freely is so heinous that I am content with merely knowing of their existence.
ConservativePolitico
Posts: 8,210
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12/31/2011 4:24:51 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
The only thing we have to take data from is our own solar system, we don't even know what other solar systems look like so we can only speculate on the life or lack there of. We have no proof because we haven't seen beyond our solar system to other planets however if you take the number that perhaps 1 in 8 planets hold life (once again just using our own solar system) we get an almost 100% probability of alien life but have no proof to back it up.
UnStupendousMan
Posts: 3,475
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12/31/2011 4:35:47 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Anyway, my opinion is that:

A) We are not on par with space-fearing alien races; they do not want to contact a world where they cannot figure it out already, and with an extremely small capacity for space travel.

B) There are probably not a lot of aliens in the universe, at least advanced enough to contact us.

C) The universe is HUGE. The actual space between alien races is quite far, and would be hard for people to travel, or communicate.

D) Absence of evidence =/= evidence of absence
ConservativePolitico
Posts: 8,210
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12/31/2011 6:04:34 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 12/31/2011 4:35:47 PM, UnStupendousMan wrote:

D) Absence of evidence =/= evidence of absence

Hmmm an argument one could use for the existence of God yet atheists don't claim this to be a valid point then, why is it a valid point now?
UnStupendousMan
Posts: 3,475
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12/31/2011 6:27:42 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 12/31/2011 6:04:34 PM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
At 12/31/2011 4:35:47 PM, UnStupendousMan wrote:

D) Absence of evidence =/= evidence of absence

Hmmm an argument one could use for the existence of God yet atheists don't claim this to be a valid point then, why is it a valid point now?

Religion: irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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12/31/2011 7:22:43 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 12/31/2011 6:27:42 PM, UnStupendousMan wrote:
At 12/31/2011 6:04:34 PM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
At 12/31/2011 4:35:47 PM, UnStupendousMan wrote:

D) Absence of evidence =/= evidence of absence

Hmmm an argument one could use for the existence of God yet atheists don't claim this to be a valid point then, why is it a valid point now?

Religion: irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

Not really, its a logic question.

If absence of evidence for aliens does not prove aliens don't exist then.....

Absence of evidence of God does not prove God does not exist.

I would also like to point out that.......

Absence of evidence of a alien mother ship with a cloaking device does not prove that the mothership does not exist.
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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12/31/2011 7:29:32 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 12/30/2011 3:50:55 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
Today, during a practice SAT test, I stumbled on a critical-reading passage(s) discussing the Fermi Paradox. For those of you who do not know what the Fermi Paradox is, it is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial life, and the little evidence of actual contact. In the words of Fermi--, it can be asked in the following form, ""Why are no aliens or their artifacts physically here?"

Any responses, agreements, or rebuttals with the paradox?

The femi argument only states that its highly likely other life exists some where in the WHOLE universe, not that it lives next door or that its highly likely they exist within contact range from either party.

The reason we don't seem them ? assuming the probability is correct, cause they are out of reach, the universe is a big place I hear.
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
belle
Posts: 4,113
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12/31/2011 7:51:50 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
since we have so little data to work with it basically amounts to speculation... but the possibilities are thus:

1) intelligent life (ie capable of contacting/being detected by other civilizations) is actually quite rare
2) intelligent civilizations have the tendency to implode before reaching the technological capacity to contact other civilizations
3) other civilizations do exist, but we just haven't found them yet, either because we're not looking in the right place/way, or because they are avoiding us

no data= no way to adjudicate between these various possibilities.
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
Ren
Posts: 7,102
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1/1/2012 2:35:21 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 12/30/2011 3:50:55 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
Today, during a practice SAT test, I stumbled on a critical-reading passage(s) discussing the Fermi Paradox. For those of you who do not know what the Fermi Paradox is, it is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial life, and the little evidence of actual contact. In the words of Fermi--, it can be asked in the following form, ""Why are no aliens or their artifacts physically here?"

Any responses, agreements, or rebuttals with the paradox?

I would only consider the Fermi Paradox relevant once we actually see a significant proportion of the universe with our own eyes and can make an empirical observation regarding how common life really is in the Universe.
seraine
Posts: 734
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1/4/2012 6:48:06 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
It doesn't seem like a paradox to me because a) though it is likely there is extraterrestrial life, it is very unlikely they will be anywhere close to us and b) there is no reason to assume they will be anywhere near intelligent enough for space travel.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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1/5/2012 6:37:57 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 12/30/2011 3:50:55 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
Today, during a practice SAT test, I stumbled on a critical-reading passage(s) discussing the Fermi Paradox. For those of you who do not know what the Fermi Paradox is, it is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial life, and the little evidence of actual contact. In the words of Fermi--, it can be asked in the following form, ""Why are no aliens or their artifacts physically here?"

Any responses, agreements, or rebuttals with the paradox?

I think the Fermi Paradox is plagued by some form of ethnocentrism. That an alien species, while intelligent, would behave either as we do, or in a manner that we would find comprehensible. Maybe an intelligent species has no interest in space or contacting other life forms. Maybe they're afraid of us, or are deliberately hiding their own presence.

Since we have no basis for comparison, we can only speculate about the motivations of other intelligent species.
royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
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1/5/2012 8:24:09 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/5/2012 6:37:57 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 12/30/2011 3:50:55 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
Today, during a practice SAT test, I stumbled on a critical-reading passage(s) discussing the Fermi Paradox. For those of you who do not know what the Fermi Paradox is, it is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial life, and the little evidence of actual contact. In the words of Fermi--, it can be asked in the following form, ""Why are no aliens or their artifacts physically here?"

Any responses, agreements, or rebuttals with the paradox?

I think the Fermi Paradox is plagued by some form of ethnocentrism. That an alien species, while intelligent, would behave either as we do, or in a manner that we would find comprehensible. Maybe an intelligent species has no interest in space or contacting other life forms. Maybe they're afraid of us, or are deliberately hiding their own presence.

Since we have no basis for comparison, we can only speculate about the motivations of other intelligent species.

I agree with this; we are assuming that just because we need confirmation of other forms of intelligent life that other species will also be eager to contact us. This is nothing more than an irrational assumption.
Defensor-of-Apollo
Posts: 54
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1/20/2012 7:29:37 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
The idea of intelligent extraterrestrial life is made possible by the theory of common descent, and related subjects such as abiogenesis. When you start from the worldview you will think that intelligent alien life exists. However I dismiss the Fermi Paradox by not starting from that worldview, because I know it is completely false. Well, it might not be completely false because some parts are true, such as observed incidents of speciation. After all, the best way to tell a lie is to mix in truth and make the lie impossible or diffulcult to disprove. I take on that challenge by saying the lie hasn't been proved at all.
Vovka
Posts: 3
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11/10/2014 5:20:23 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
The problem with Fermi's question is the assumption that they ought to be here. Just as Europeans colonized the modern world, or just like Humans from Africa colonized the prehistoric planet, the assumption is that Alien Intelligence is similar in its tendency to expand. Aliens are assumed to be 15th century Europeans.. in Space.
Earth is not a resource abundant environment - there are far more rich places in water and precious minerals and elements in space - rocks, comets, gas giants, etc.
Life may be a scientific curiosity to them as it is to us, and since we did not co-evolve, there is probably minimal gastronomical interest (if any). We have little to offer them, other than to feed their curiosity. And if the relationship between us and them is like between wild animals in savannah and a crew of BBC Planet Earth, than they would much rather film us from afar, so as to monitor our natural way of life, than to make contact or claim real-estate. So they might simply be content watching us through a telescope (perhaps even through one parked somewhere in our oort cloud).

As far as colonization goes in principle, any long-lived civilization may have had to go through a period of being confrontation of how daunting interstellar travel is and how relatively cheaper it is to find a way to live in equilibrium with the resources in their own star-system, and have thus learned to curb, or have outgrown entirely the drive for expansion or ever increasing use of resources. Thus, colonization may not be really something that long-term aliens want anyway - and its an adolescence phase in technological genome that either passes through time, or dooms it to a short existence.

It may be that we are the first. It may be that we are alone. But space is big, we are not THAT important to draw their presence or artifacts. So the question is probably relatively meaningless.

At 12/30/2011 3:50:55 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
Today, during a practice SAT test, I stumbled on a critical-reading passage(s) discussing the Fermi Paradox. For those of you who do not know what the Fermi Paradox is, it is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial life, and the little evidence of actual contact. In the words of Fermi--, it can be asked in the following form, ""Why are no aliens or their artifacts physically here?"

Any responses, agreements, or rebuttals with the paradox?