Discoveroids Say We’re Alone in the Universe

We recently wrote AIG Says We’re Alone in the Universe, about the opinion of ol’ Hambo’s creation scientists. Now the Discovery Institute is announcing a similar “scientific” opinion.

Their new post is titled Exoplanets and the Fermi Paradox, written by Guillermo Gonzalez, or “Gonzo” as we call him. He’s a Discoveroid “senior fellow” who co-authored the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth.

Gonzo’s post demonstrates of one of the The Ten Laws of Creationism — that everything is evidence of intelligent design. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

We are living during a golden age of discovery in astronomy. … The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia listed 3,986 exoplanets as of February 15, 2019! … Believers in extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) have been encouraged by these discoveries (see here and here [links omitted]). But the number of stars with planets is only one of the seven factors in the Drake Equation, which is an attempt to estimate the number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy.

You know about the Drake equation. Wikipedia says it’s “a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.” Gonzo says:

One also needs to consider the many Rare Earth factors needed to make a planet habitable to complex life (see here and here [links omitted]). It could be that these factors more than compensate for the large numbers of planets, resulting in a very small chance of ETI. We just don’t know yet.

Those “Rare Earth” factors are already part of the Drake Equation, and the Wikipedia article says: “there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars and red dwarf stars within the Milky Way Galaxy. 11 billion of these estimated planets may be orbiting sun-like stars.” Gonzo doesn’t mention any of that. He tells us:

Do these discoveries help resolve the Fermi Paradox, which asks, Why the Great Silence? Not really, but they do show that mere rarity of planets by itself is not the solution. There is one important, albeit indirect, way that exoplanet discoveries do influence the Fermi Paradox. To understand it, we need to think “backwards.” [Huh?] Consider not our detection of exoplanets but, rather, the detection of our Solar System from afar. Now that we know how to find exoplanets, we can turn the problem around and ask how easy would it be for an ETI to detect the planets in our Solar System.

That’s not difficult. We’ve been generating commercial radio signals for about a century. If any intelligent aliens are listening, they need to be within 100 light years of us to be aware of our signals. That excludes most of the galaxy, so there could be loads of intelligent extra-terrestrials out there but they haven’t yet had a chance to be aware of us.

Gonzo doesn’t discuss that. After explaining how we locate extra-solar planetary systems and the kind of data we’ll soon be able to gather about them, he assumes aliens will do the same to locate our Solar System, and know that Earth has oceans and an atmosphere with oxygen. He says:

All this strongly implies that the Earth would not have been “passed over” during a “colonization wave” through the galaxy. Yet, there is no convincing evidence of ETI visitation or communication.

Quite so. If intelligent aliens are out there and close enough to detect us, they’ve left us alone — so far. Gonzo continues:

Yes, I know there are speculative responses to the Great Silence in attempts to rescue ETIs from the obvious implications of the Fermi Paradox. There are good responses to these. I would recommend If the Universe is Teeming with Aliens … Where is Everybody? (2nd edition).

That’s an Amazon link to a book by Stephen Webb, an astronomer. Gonzo ends his post with this:

Contrary to first impressions, then, exoplanet discoveries actually strengthen the impact of the Fermi Paradox.

So there you are. Like the creation scientists at ol’ Hambo’s website, Gonzo and the Discoveroids are claiming that we’re all alone. Well, it’s possible. But even if we had the galaxy all to ourselves, the Discoveroids’ “science” would still be nonsense.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Discoveroids Say We’re Alone in the Universe

  1. Eddie Janssen

    “If any intelligent aliens are listening, they need to be within 100 light years of us to be aware of our signals.”
    Indeed and another important point: their civilizations must still exist. The combination of distance in space and distance in time should severely limit the number of aliens receiving signals, especially when the distances are getting bigger.
    Question: Can you receive our tv signals from a distance further than let’s say a 100(0) light years?

  2. Eddie Janssen

    That’s me.

  3. Remember, according to the reasoning of Intelligetnt Design, life on Earth is contrary to natural laws. The Law of Conservation of Specified Complex Information makes life on Earth impossible; etc., all the standard arguments.
    Any observation from exoplanets would tell them that there is no life on Earth. (Assuming that they have reached that depth of understanding to accept Intelligent Design.

    According to Intelligent Design, it is a mistake to restrict ourselves to exooplanets whch are naturally capable of having life. Why, indeed, restrict them to planets? The Intelligent Designers could just as well design life in the vacuum of inter-stellar space, as well as on Earth, or inside stars, or black holes. Hey, that explains why we aren’t receiving any signal, no signal can escape from inside a black hole! Do the proofs of ID apply to conditions inside balck holes?

    BTW, for us to receive a confirmation signal it would have to be from less than 50 light years. 50 years for our signal to reach them, and 50 years for their signal to reach us. An exoplanet which is today just receiving the first signals from Earth, 100 light years away, and is immediately responding to us – we won’t hear from then only 100 years from now.

  4. Stephen Kennedy, MD

    Fermi was a great physicist but his statement on this topic was not one of his better thought out ideas. It indicates that Fermi was unaware just how vast distances are to even the nearest stars let alone the whole Galaxy or he was unable to compute using the formulas of Special Relativity that the amount of energy needed to accelerate a macroscopic object to a significant fraction of the speed of light is incomprehensibly large and it is inconceivable that it could be accomplished by even the most advanced civilizations. I am sure that Fermi was very knowledgeable about the Special Theory of Relativity and he was famous for his ability to do quick calculations. There is much less reason to believe he knew much about Astronomy and therefore did not comprehend just how far away even the nearest stars are. If he was aware of the immense scale of the size of the Galaxy or even the distance to Alpha Centauri he never would have made the statements that he did because he would have realized how wrong they are.

  5. Isn’t it cute and cozy how Gonzo and Dannyboy are sitting next to each other, hand in hand, on the couch of the brand We Are Alone in the Universe So We Are Unique and the Product of Special Creation ?

  6. The required energy to travel through interstellar space and reach a planet in a different solar system within a single human lifetime is so high that it is only practical for machines that either have much longer than human lifetimes (not an easy task even for a machine) or else are so tiny that they could not carry even one human.

    Even using some form of matter / antimatter annihilation for propulsion with 100% efficiency would require so much fuel that the payload would be a rounding error in the total initial mass. Any human carrying spacecraft would need to accelerate to an appreciable percentage of the speed of light and then decelerate as it approached the destination.

    You can find the math showing the matter / antimatter fuel mass required per gram of payload in Taylor and Wheeler’s “Spacetime Physics”. It is far worse than being merely impractical.

  7. @Anonymous
    What if the space ship does not carry the fuel? What if the space ship finds a short path through space? What if there is no need to accelerate matter to high speed? Yes, I am engaging in speculation, not offering a practical solution. But the solution to a problem often lies in unexpected directions, rather than brute force.

  8. @TomS “What if the space ship finds a short path through space?”

    Quite right. This post makes interesting (and enjoyable) reading: In a Race to the Edge of the Solar System, Which Star Trek Ship Would Win?(https://kottke.org/19/01/in-a-race-to-the-edge-of-the-solar-system-which-star-trek-ship-would-win)