We’ve written before about the Discoveroids’ Reaction to Extra-Solar Planets. They’re confident there’s no life out there because their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — created our own little world to be unique. A year ago they hedged a bit — see Klinghoffer Flip-Flops on Alien Life — but they still insist that whatever is or is not found will be evidence for intelligent design.
The Discoveroids are now returning to that subject. Their latest post, On Fermi’s Paradox: Challenging the Principle of Mediocrity, introduces what promises to be a whole series. Their introductory paragraph says:
With the release last week of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Interstellar, dealing with the prospect of colonizing worlds beyond our planet, we are pleased to present a new series at ENV, “Exoplanets.” Daniel Bakken is an engineer who teaches astronomy at the college level, and an entrepreneur in compound semiconductor crystal growth. In a series of articles he will critically examine recent claims about exoplanets beyond our solar system, asking whether our own planet Earth is a rarity, or common, in the cosmos.
We’ve seen a number of reviews about Interstellar. Creationists all despise it, so it’s probably good. Anyway, here are some excerpts from Daniel Bakken’s new post, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Since there are so many planets in the galaxy and universe, it’s natural to assume that there must be other intelligent life forms out there. … Fermi’s Paradox states that if extraterrestrial civilizations are common in our galaxy, then we should have been visited, colonized, or at least heard from them by now.
We’re all familiar with the Fermi paradox. Let’s read on:
One of the obvious potential answers to Fermi’s Paradox is that technological races are exceedingly rare. The astronomical community has been encouraged to look for life, or at least habitable planets, in the universe for a long time, but only in recent years has the technology been gradually made available for us to start to answer these questions directly. SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, has been operating since 1960, and has not found any reproducible signal.
We know that too. He continues:
Most researchers bring to their work the philosophical bias of methodological naturalism, which has become synonymous with science. They assume that the origin of life happens whenever conditions allow, and that evolutionary processes will inevitably lead to intelligence, and technology.
Uh, no. Such research is mindful of Drake equation, which describes each of those factors as an unknown (although the presence of extra-solar planets is unknown no longer). And methodological naturalism isn’t a bias. It’s inherent in the scientific method, because (unlike the Discoveroids) we can’t investigate the supernatural. Here’s more:
The principle of mediocrity, which has helped science in the past, may be giving us rose-colored glasses in this search. The principle of mediocrity says that when dealing with a single sample, you must assume that it is the common case; therefore there is “nothing special about humans or the Earth.” [Footnote to the source of that phrase.] So it is assumed that Earth-like planets, life, and technological civilizations are common in the rest of the universe. The principle of mediocrity is an extension of what has become known as the Copernican Principle.
That isn’t, to our knowledge, a common assumption; it’s only a possibility. Okay, after all of that, let’s find out where Bakken is going. Moving along:
An example of use of the principle of mediocrity is that most researchers assume that since life appeared on Earth very early in its history, life appears whenever conditions allow it. … The extreme difficulty the origin-of-life research community has had in coming up with a robust theory explaining how this actually occurred is swept away by the researchers’ philosophical commitments to naturalism, and the principle of mediocrity. Since no non-natural forces are allowed in science, life must have arisen easily no matter what the difficulties, they say. We just don’t understand how, yet.
Foolish scientists — they ignore the Oogity Boogity factor, which the Discoveroids know is essential for life to begin. Another excerpt:
Observer bias is difficult to overcome because we are so used to assuming most examples will be of the common case. But we as the observer may not, in fact, be the common case. If you pick up a rock on the ground at random, it is a safe bet that it is an average kind of rock. Yet it may in fact be a large gold nugget, or a diamond to rival the Hope Diamond. So it is with the Earth, its life, and human civilization. We are immersed in a culture of science fiction, where aliens abound in the galaxy. In the majority of science-fiction media, alien technologies far surpass our own.
Bakken seems to have difficulty separating science from science fiction. Is that because he’s a creationist? Skipping some references to authors who speculate that intelligent life may be rare, he says:
Recent astrobiological research now points to the realization that environments, intergalactic, galactic, planetary system, stellar, and planetary, which are stable enough to allow life to arise and develop over several billion years as it has on Earth, are so rare that few if any civilizations will actually make it to the point where they can communicate beyond their planet.
Maybe. But maybe not. No one knows yet. It’s a big galaxy, with millions — possibly billions — of planets, and we’ve only just begun to look. He concludes with this:
New discoveries about our sun and solar system’s unique history have significant bearing on the issue of habitability. In addition, the Moon, the event that formed it, and its present existence also have important consequences for the issue of Earth’s habitability.
That’s all there is, and it’s nothing new. But it’s only the first in a promised series of such posts. The Discoveroids are already certain that our little world and our wonderful species are the deliberate, intelligently designed climax of creation, so we have no doubt what their conclusion will be, but there may be some fun times along the way. We’ll be watching for later installments.
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