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Van Rijn
2013-Jan-05, 01:32 AM
Here's a different try at a "life" poll, this time with important poll options included.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 01:58 AM
Two generalisations, (items i and v), two personal opinions (items ii and iv) and one fact (item iii).

Fascinating!

mutleyeng
2013-Jan-05, 02:03 AM
be better if you just changed "we simply dont know" which clearly is a matter of fact, to "I just dont know" to reflect its ones thoughts, not just a statement of reality

Van Rijn
2013-Jan-05, 02:12 AM
be better if you just changed "we simply dont know" which clearly is a matter of fact, to "I just dont know" to reflect its ones thoughts, not just a statement of reality

They are all questions of belief. Is a person absolutely certain ET life exists, or that ET life cannot exist? (Corresponding to the "Yes" or "No" from the prior poll question.) Do they believe that it is likely or unlikely that ET life exists, but accept that it is just their belief? Or do they believe that we simply don't know, with no qualifications?

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 02:30 AM
They are all questions of belief. Is a person absolutely certain ET life exists, or that ET life cannot exist? (Corresponding to the "Yes" or "No" from the prior poll question.) Do they believe that it is likely or unlikely that ET life exists, but accept that it is just their belief? Or do they believe that we simply don't know, with no qualifications?You're saying that "We simply don't know" is a belief???
Oh boy ...

Solfe
2013-Jan-05, 04:07 AM
You're saying that "We simply don't know" is a belief???
Oh boy ...

You have never worked in the places I have worked.

Group: "You can't know what would happen! In fact, we simply don't know what will happen!"
Me: "I'll get the vacuum cleaner/mop/fire extinguisher."
Group: "Gawd... help!"
Me: "Stop screaming, I told you I have the vacuum cleaner/mop/fire extinguisher."

Hlafordlaes
2013-Jan-05, 05:31 AM
Alright, alright, somebody rework this to include "justified true belief (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justified_true_belief)," if only to argue something else for a sec.

Do I have a JTB? No. Big fat hunch, sort of smelling up the room? Yes.

The proposition isn't true yet. However, it may wonderfully be the case that my hunchy-belief justifications, today rationalizations absent proof, turn out close enough.

I have hunchy belief. Sue me.

Rhaedas
2013-Jan-05, 06:57 AM
I took the "We don't know" to mean we don't know enough to make a justifiable speculation one way or another, in the framework of the other choices. It's middle ground, and the others are varying degrees of certainty based on current knowledge of life we do know about. Based on that, I chose that it's highly probable, given the number of growing planets found just nearby, as well as the types of life we've found here on Earth in places that not so long ago we thought improbable.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-05, 09:03 AM
Thanks, Van Rijn. I chose the second option.

My understanding is that this poll, like the other one, is about gut feeling rather than objective science, but, unlike the other one, it includes options that reflect people's actual thoughts and feelings on the matter.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-05, 09:07 AM
You're saying that "We simply don't know" is a belief???
Oh boy ...

I think you are twisting his words here, Selfsim. The poll is looking at what people believe, not what is actually true.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 10:55 AM
:evil:
I think you are twisting his words here, Selfsim. The poll is looking at what people believe, not what is actually true.Well, I'm not intentionally trying to derail what is clearly a more thoroughly considered poll, and I assure all that my question was not a deliberate attempt to twist words.

I think if this poll is yet again, about beliefs, then I'll have to not vote (again). (Not that that matters, mind you).

See, item (iii): "We simply don't know" doesn't require any belief (for me). If a vote for that category is to be interpreted as a belief however, (which is fine .. I can see it used in that sense, (although this did surprise me))... then I can't vote for it, because that just wouldn't be where I'm coming from.

Before anyone jumps in and asks: "What does it matter? You are just playing with semantics", I say to them ... the whole basis of the exo-life exists/doesn't exist conversation, is all about semantics!

Fascinating!

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-05, 11:29 AM
:evil:Well, I'm not intentionally trying to derail what is clearly a more thoroughly considered poll, and I assure all that my question was not a deliberate attempt to twist words.

I think if this poll is yet again, about beliefs, then I'll have to not vote (again). (Not that that matters, mind you).

See, item (iii): "We simply don't know" doesn't require any belief (for me). If a vote for that category is to be interpreted as a belief however, (which is fine .. I can see it used in that sense, (although this did surprise me))... then I can't vote for it, because that just wouldn't be where I'm coming from.

It's up to you if you take part or not, but clearly it is not a "belief" in the sense of a religious belief or "I believe that for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows." Here it is used more in the sense of "understand" or "how you think things are".


Before anyone jumps in and asks: "What does it matter? You are just playing with semantics", I say to them ... the whole basis of the exo-life exists/doesn't exist conversation, is all about semantics!

I don't think that's true. We all have a reasonably clear understanding of what constitutes life and what doesn't. A piece of iron is not alive and never was. A piece of chalk is not alive but consists of fossilised bodies that were once alive. Water changing into snowflakes and rust forming on iron resembles life slightly but clearly isn't life. Microbes, plants and animals clearly are examples of life.

Some things (viruses, prions) don't fit readily into the categories, but most things do.

When it comes to things in space, we are aware of a lot of non-life phenomena such as the radio emissions from clouds of hydrogen. If we encounter something that doesn't fit any of the known non-life phenomena, it doesn't mean we've found life but it does mean we have found something interesting. The discovery of pulsars was an example of this. If we ever receive regular patterns from space, especially those that form bitmaps, I would put such things in the "more likely to be life than not" category. Of course it hasn't happened yet and might never happen.

Solfe
2013-Jan-05, 05:13 PM
At some point, you just have to have belief to function.

Is the sky is blue or it is the end products of Rayleigh scattering that causes an interaction in my eye and subject to extraneous external situations, is interpreted by my brain based on cultural filtering to be within the parameters of the possibility of blue?

The second, is more true, but is pathetically weak in its description and is laborious to the point of being useless for day to day interactions. Heaven forbid it happens to be nighttime or cloudy, because I would need more complexity. If I had to make every choice based on an elaborate structure of rigorous, logical, mathematical constructions my days would be very long...

TooMany
2013-Jan-05, 05:35 PM
I don't think that's true. We all have a reasonably clear understanding of what constitutes life and what doesn't. A piece of iron is not alive and never was. A piece of chalk is not alive but consists of fossilised bodies that were once alive. Water changing into snowflakes and rust forming on iron resembles life slightly but clearly isn't life. Microbes, plants and animals clearly are examples of life.


Yet there must be steps getting from non-life to life that we do not yet understand. All examples of life on Earth are highly complex, even the simplest bacteria. I suspect that the transition from what we see as non-life to modern life must contain a host of "missing links" or steps along the way that we would not clearly identify as life. There is the interesting example of nanobes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanobe). Possibly some of these forms still exist but we have not yet recognized them.

galacsi
2013-Jan-05, 05:47 PM
Here's a different try at a "life" poll, this time with important poll options included.

This poll no better that the precedent. It is just emphasing the "We don't know for sure" idea. It is theorical procrastination.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-05, 05:57 PM
This poll no better that the precedent. It is just emphasing the "We don't know for sure" idea.

The "We don't know" option wasn't available at all in the other one. You were either sure there's ET life or you were sure there's no ET life.


It is theorical procrastination.

What, you mean putting it off... until we have evidence?

galacsi
2013-Jan-05, 07:10 PM
The "We don't know" option wasn't available at all in the other one. You were either sure there's ET life or you were sure there's no ET life.



What, you mean putting it off... until we have evidence?

Oh , I believe there is no end in view for this discussion! It is a hot topic ! Frazer & co did well to ban religious and political discussions but sometimes reality catches up with us !

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 07:27 PM
It's up to you if you take part or not, but clearly it is not a "belief" in the sense of a religious belief or "I believe that for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows." Here it is used more in the sense of "understand" or "how you think things are".
...
I don't think that's true….Ok .. let me explain where my comment about semantics was coming from. I think I'm being consistent .. but I get that not all would agree with me. (That's Ok).

For eg the claim: "Exo life exists" is made .. there is no scientifically produced conclusive evidence, (Viking tests being the debatable exception) … so, a conversation starts up .. from that point onwards it is all about semantics. That's what a conversation relies on. The 'exo-life exists' conversation's ultimate purpose in this forum, appears to be to enrol others in that belief (others are purely sharing thoughts) .. it invariably comes down to one's definition of 'exo-life', where and how it lives, etc. That definition exists in the mind of the 'exo-lifer'. Definitions are used to steer thought … definitions exclude alternative interpretations. All beliefs come from the past, (or past knowledge like definitions). There is no past knowledge about exo-life, therefore the conversation relies solely on semantics and definitions which rule out other interpretations*

(I'm thinking about Van Rijn's challenge about sc-fi. That's a classic end-game result, in the exo-life conversation .. and its clearly all about semantics, too).

Cheers
PS: By the way and as an aside: I have no idea where that 'evil' emoticon came from in my previous post … it must have been a typo … I certainly didn't intend mischief (a rather unfortunate slip of the fingers there, methinks!)

Footnate:
* Note that none of 'the 'claims' made in this paragraph, (mainly to do with definitions), are necessarily 'true'. Ie: I'm not advocating them as true. They do serve to explain where I'm coming from, (and others are welcome to have their own distinctions) .. after all, that is the sense in which I make those 'claims'. So far, I am yet to encounter any inconsistencies in them .. when I do, I'll adopt different distinctions.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-05, 07:28 PM
Oh , I believe there is no end in view for this discussion! It is a hot topic ! Frazer & co did well to ban religious and political discussions but sometimes reality catches up with us !

Okay, so it's a discussion. This is a discussion board. What's the problem?

Van Rijn
2013-Jan-05, 09:33 PM
I think you are twisting his words here, Selfsim. The poll is looking at what people believe, not what is actually true.

Yes. It's a poll question, not a multiple choice science quiz question. Selfsim might have missed the discussion in the other poll thread, but this poll was instigated because the other poll only allowed for absolutist "Yes" or "No" options. I considered it a poor poll, because it ignored positions commonly expressed on this board. That's also why I asked for suggestions for poll questions - I didn't want to overlook other common positions (at least, within the limits of what could be included in five 100 character poll questions). You were the only one to suggest other questions, though.

Incidentally, I just checked the poll results at the time of writing this post, and it is interesting that no one has yet picked "Yes." All the answers so far have been for the "likely" or "don't know" options.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-05, 09:38 PM
Yes. It's a poll question, not a multiple choice science quiz question. Selfsim might have missed the discussion in the other poll thread, but this poll was instigated because the other poll only allowed for absolutist "Yes" or "No" options. I considered it a poor poll, because it ignored positions commonly expressed on this board. That's also why I asked for suggestions for poll questions - I didn't want to overlook other common positions (at least, within the limits of what could be included in five 100 character poll questions). You were the only one to suggest other questions, though.

Incidentally, I just checked the poll results at the time of writing this post, and it is interesting that no one has yet picked "Yes." All the answers so far have been for the "likely" or "don't know" options.


I voted in both poles.
In this pole I voted for the second option inline with what data we do have and what I believe to be the logical conclusion from that data.

Van Rijn
2013-Jan-05, 09:43 PM
This poll no better that the precedent. It is just emphasing the "We don't know for sure" idea. It is theorical procrastination.

I'm afraid I don't understand your objection. The poll is just asking what you believe. If you think that there definitely is ET life, or you think there definitely is not ET life, there are poll options for you to choose. If most people here thought we knew for sure, the poll results would reflect that.

Is the issue the wording of the poll questions? Do you have suggestions for different poll questions?

Van Rijn
2013-Jan-05, 10:11 PM
See, item (iii): "We simply don't know" doesn't require any belief (for me). If a vote for that category is to be interpreted as a belief however, (which is fine .. I can see it used in that sense, (although this did surprise me))... then I can't vote for it, because that just wouldn't be where I'm coming from.


I believe men walked on the Moon. That belief is supported by substantial evidence, but it still is a belief.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 10:20 PM
The poll is just asking what you believe. If you think that there definitely is ET life, or you think there definitely is not ET life, there are poll options for you to choose. If most people here thought we knew for sure, the poll results would reflect that.I'm onboard with this, now.
(I'm still excluded from voting, however).

More importantly, I still also have a question, (and concerns), about encouraging beliefs by means of reinforcement by group consensus (ie: polls) … although I get that these polls weren't your idea originally, anyway …

Interesting … (and thought provoking, nonetheless).

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 10:28 PM
I believe men walked on the Moon. That belief is supported by substantial evidence, but it still is a belief.There's plenty of testable evidence in support of that. There's none for exo-life exists, (or does not exist).

For that reason, I don't need to believe whether men walked on the moon, or not. Belief is superfluous … and a choice … I choose to not make that: 'men walked on the moon', a belief.
(See where I'm coming from? I know its kind of strange initially, but it accounts for all the difference … and its highly consistent).

TooMany
2013-Jan-05, 10:28 PM
I'm onboard with this, now.
(I'm still excluded from voting, however).

More importantly, I still also have a question, (and concerns), about encouraging beliefs by means of reinforcement by group consensus (ie: polls) … although I get that these polls weren't your idea originally, anyway …

Interesting … (and thought provoking, nonetheless).

It's a survey, not an indoctrination.

pzkpfw
2013-Jan-05, 10:32 PM
The "We don't know" option wasn't available at all in the other one. You were either sure there's ET life or you were sure there's no ET life. ...

I didn't see it that way at all. For me, "sure" means 100%. I'm not 100% certain that there is ET life, but based on everything I've read I do think (believe/expect/whatever) that it's neither 100% sure that there isn't ET life. And if I have to choose, I choose "yes".

So for me, "yes" in the other poll is equivalent to "I believe it is likely other life exists, but understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated." in this poll. And that's how I treated it.

I expected (but can't prove) that it'd be the same for all voted "yes" in the other poll. That is, I'd be very surprised if any who voted "yes" actually do think there's proof, like, maybe they think the pyramids were built by aliens so that's for them proof there's ET life. (So I didn't understand the angst.)

The (as I write this) vote (in this new poll) is 14 for "I believe it is likely other life exists, but understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated." and 2 for "We simply don't know.". Pretty much just as I'd expect (and not so different to the 22 Yes vs 6 No of the other poll).

In summary: so far, I don't see what's so "improved" by this new poll.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 10:42 PM
It's a survey, not an indoctrination.
… Yet ...

Selfsim
2013-Jan-05, 10:48 PM
See, its also not about 'proof', one way or the other, for me either.

Its more about a complete lack of relevant data!

(So, 'scientifically demonstrated' and 'ruled out', is also not what its about (for me) ).

galacsi
2013-Jan-05, 10:57 PM
There's plenty of testable evidence in support of that. There's none for exo-life exists, (or does not exist).

I am not sure that's really true. Because we have detected a great number of organic molecules in interstellar clouds . And we believe that these molecules are the building blocks whose life is built. Yes this is not a direct evidence of exo-life ,I agree ,but it not good for the "don't exist" idea.

Noclevername
2013-Jan-05, 11:21 PM
See, its also not about 'proof', one way or the other, for me either.

Its more about a complete lack of relevant data!

(So, 'scientifically demonstrated' and 'ruled out', is also not what its about (for me) ).

Relevance is determined how, in your opinion?

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-05, 11:23 PM
I expected (but can't prove) that it'd be the same for all voted "yes" in the other poll. That is, I'd be very surprised if any who voted "yes" actually do think there's proof, like, maybe they think the pyramids were built by aliens so that's for them proof there's ET life.

But if they did their reasoning was based on something like "aliens built the pyramids" you wouldn't know it from the original poll.


The (as I write this) vote (in this new poll) is 14 for "I believe it is likely other life exists, but understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated." and 2 for "We simply don't know.". Pretty much just as I'd expect (and not so different to the 22 Yes vs 6 No of the other poll).

Oh, come on! Six firm negatives is "not so different" to no firm negatives and a lot of tentative positives?


In summary: so far, I don't see what's so "improved" by this new poll.

Perhaps we should have a poll about how many people think they can interpret polls. ;)

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-05, 11:24 PM
I am not sure that's really true. Because we have detected a great number of organic molecules in interstellar clouds . And we believe that these molecules are the building blocks whose life is built. Yes this is not a direct evidence of exo-life ,I agree ,but it not good for the "don't exist" idea.

Cake ingredients are not a cake.

Buttercup
2013-Jan-05, 11:29 PM
I voted "I believe it is likely other life exists, but understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated."

pzkpfw
2013-Jan-05, 11:57 PM
But if they did their reasoning was based on something like "aliens built the pyramids" you wouldn't know it from the original poll.

Meh. You are right of course, but I expect it to be a low enough number as to be irrelevant. Possibly balanced out by those who voted "No" but don't actually have proof there are no aliens.


Oh, come on! Six firm negatives is "not so different" to no firm negatives and a lot of tentative positives?

Yes, really. The thing is, I don't think those negatives are actually "firm". One person even said he was voting "no" ... "just to balance things". (See post #45 that thread).

Given I think we can assume that nobody thinks there's actual specific evidence one way or the other (yes or no) I really do think the vote ratios in these two polls (and the options voted for) are equivalent.

I do think "yes" in the other poll is equivalent to "I believe it is likely other life exists, but understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated.", here - because in the other poll the disclaimer can be assumed.

I do think "no" in the other poll is equivalent to "We simply don't know", here - because the same disclaimer applies (so largely the "no" votes in that poll seems a reaction to the lack of the "we don't know" option, or simply the default for those who would like to vote "we don't know" and could not bring themselves to appear to approve of "yes" (if a person wanted to vote "we don't know", why choose either "yes" or "no", instead of simply abstaining?)).

And 22:6 is close enough at these scales to 15:2 (Also: this new poll has three more options, but so far, still only two choices being taken).

I stand by my comment.


Perhaps we should have a poll about how many people think they can interpret polls. ;)

I think we have enough never-ending discussions!

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-06, 12:19 AM
Yes, really. The thing is, I don't think those negatives are actually "firm". One person even said he was voting "no" ... "just to balance things". (See post #45 that thread).

So... You assume that the other five who voted no were also just balancing things...

...and despite the fact that one person who voted no felt he had to explain why he was voting no even though "no" did not reflect his view, you still think the second poll (where no such action or explanation is necessary) is not an improvement on the first?

I think I'll go off and read Alice Through The Looking Glass.

Noclevername
2013-Jan-06, 12:37 AM
Cake ingredients are not a cake.

To expand on this metaphor-- we have found cake ingredients to be easily available, and naturally occuring in various combinations. We know at least one cake has been baked. We have found "ovens" across the galaxy and in other galaxies. We have recently found a few ovens with the right temperature for baking. No, we have not found cakes, but it's certainly looking better for cakes than if we'd found no ingredients or ovens.

Therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose there might be cakes.

Rhaedas
2013-Jan-06, 12:46 AM
To carry the metaphor even further, we might be looking for cakes, and instead we should have been looking for biscuits.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-06, 04:34 AM
To expand on this metaphor-- we have found cake ingredients to be easily available, and naturally occuring in various combinations. We know at least one cake has been baked. We have found "ovens" across the galaxy and in other galaxies. We have recently found a few ovens with the right temperature for baking. No, we have not found cakes, but it's certainly looking better for cakes than if we'd found no ingredients or ovens.

Therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose there might be cakes.

And for that reason I believe it is likely other life exists, but understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-06, 04:37 AM
To carry the metaphor even further, we might be looking for cakes, and instead we should have been looking for biscuits.

Agreed - although I would hope we will recognise the biscuits for what they are if we happen to see them while looking for cake.

Van Rijn
2013-Jan-06, 05:29 AM
So for me, "yes" in the other poll is equivalent to "I believe it is likely other life exists, but understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated." in this poll. And that's how I treated it.

I expected (but can't prove) that it'd be the same for all voted "yes" in the other poll. That is, I'd be very surprised if any who voted "yes" actually do think there's proof, like, maybe they think the pyramids were built by aliens so that's for them proof there's ET life. (So I didn't understand the angst.)


You might have assumed that, but you couldn't know without the test. Frankly, I'm surprised that there hasn't been (so far) anyone picking the "Yes" option on this poll. I've had enough discussions with folks that seemed very certain about their "Yes" position, often claiming science supported them, that I would expect some here. I also wouldn't have ruled out one or two "No" choices at this point (and the other poll did suggest somebody might be voting that way), though I'm not as surprised about that.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-06, 05:54 AM
Frankly, I'm surprised that there hasn't been (so far) anyone picking the "Yes" option on this poll. I've had enough discussions with folks that seemed very certain about their "Yes" position, often claiming science supported them, that I would expect some here.

I wonder if the very act of providing it as an option has made people rethink their certainty.


I also wouldn't have ruled out one or two "No" choices at this point (and the other poll did suggest somebody might be voting that way), though I'm not as surprised about that.

I'm not surprised by this at all. I don't think anybody actively thinks the rest of the universe is lifeless. (By "anybody" I mean of course "anybody who knows enough about space to be interested in being a member of CQ".)

djellison
2013-Jan-06, 07:53 AM
I consider it likely there life elsewhere. It's not a 'belief' - it's simply an opinion formed from observable data - but the only scientific valid response is 'we don't know'

So my response lies between options 2 and 3.

Noclevername
2013-Jan-06, 09:51 AM
I consider it likely there life elsewhere. It's not a 'belief' - it's simply an opinion formed from observable data - but the only scientific valid response is 'we don't know'

So my response lies between options 2 and 3.

An opinion formed from observable data. The best definition I've heard so far. A position on what's possible, based on the best available current scientific knowledge. Not "science fiction", which by definition is made for entertainment.

danscope
2013-Jan-06, 04:38 PM
We can surmise that with so many countless galaxies , there is a good probability of life , based on probability only.
But observable evidence? No. It assumes facts not in evidence , and remains assumption. We could certainly say that life around another star is more likely than life elsewhere in our solar system. There's a good bet.
Dan

TooMany
2013-Jan-06, 06:50 PM
I consider it likely there life elsewhere. It's not a 'belief' - it's simply an opinion formed from observable data - but the only scientific valid response is 'we don't know'

So my response lies between options 2 and 3.

We don't really know from direct observation that the Sun is powered by fusion, it's just a heck of a good guess based on what we know about the age of the Sun, it's output and how matter is calculated to behave from theory near it's core. It's also a guess that all stars function this way. We have no absolute proof, but nevertheless we accept it as fact, not as "we don't know".

Noclevername
2013-Jan-06, 07:08 PM
But observable evidence? No. It assumes facts not in evidence , and remains assumption.

As I said. An OPINION. Of what's POSSIBLE.

The observable DATA are known facts about organic chemistry, et al stated repeatedly. At no point did I use the "e" word, which could only be defined as "finding actual life".

pzkpfw
2013-Jan-06, 07:23 PM
So... You assume that the other five who voted no were also just balancing things...

No. Where I wrote "One person even said" that was simply to give one example.

What I do assume is that none of them really mean what you described as "Six firm negatives".

After all, the equivalent of that in this new poll, would be the "No, it is absolutely certain that no other life exists in the universe. Earth life is all there is." option.

Which I note that at the time of writing has zero votes.


...and despite the fact that one person who voted no felt he had to explain why he was voting no even though "no" did not reflect his view, you still think the second poll (where no such action or explanation is necessary) is not an improvement on the first?

Yes. (Not that that's my main point. Though, on the other hand, I don't think I can really give that on the open forum.)

At the time of writing:



I believe it is |
likely other life |
exists, but understand 17 | Yes 23
it hasn't been |
scientifically |
demonstrated. |
--------------------------------------
We simply don't know. 5 | No 6


(That's 77% : 23% in the new poll; and 79% : 21% in the old poll.)

While there may be exceptions and edge cases, I still see those as, in context, being basically the same thing.

I assume the 23 Yes voters accept the disclaimer.
I assume the 6 No voters accept the same disclaimer.
Thus: the options are pretty much the same thing.


I think I'll go off and read Alice Through The Looking Glass.

Go ahead.

pzkpfw
2013-Jan-06, 07:39 PM
You might have assumed that, but you couldn't know without the test. Frankly, I'm surprised that there hasn't been (so far) anyone picking the "Yes" option on this poll. I've had enough discussions with folks that seemed very certain about their "Yes" position, often claiming science supported them, that I would expect some here. ...

I think that's often more of a reaction to the vehemence of the people who say "but you don't really know!". They get backed into a corner to justify their belief, and probably come out sounding much more like a "100% yes" person than they mean to be.

There will be exceptions, people who feel 100% one or the other, but so far nobody has taken the first or last option in this poll. That's a useful indicator.

I just hope that gets taken to mean we all generally understand the "understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated" disclaimers. And then we can all chill out and have nice discussions without having to always get side tracked into the "but you don't really know" thing.

djellison
2013-Jan-06, 08:20 PM
We could certainly say that life around another star is more likely than life elsewhere in our solar system. There's a good bet.
Dan

Are you saying that it's more likely there is life around any other star picked at random is more likely than elsewhere in our solar system
or
Are you saying that it's more likely there is life somewhere, around at least one of the billions and billions of stars in our galaxy than elsewhere in our solar system

And in either case - on what basis do you make that assertion.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-06, 08:26 PM
An opinion formed from observable data. The best definition I've heard so far. A position on what's possible, based on the best available current scientific knowledge. Not "science fiction", which by definition is made for entertainment.Definitions are in dictionaries and reference materials, and thus already contain decisions on what to exclude (or not exclude).
That you have chosen to define "science fiction" as entertainment is reassuring, (I resonate with this idea), but this still contains your decision (and opinion) to do so. In this sense, you have ruled out others' views who might think that sci-fi is as good as fact. (And oddly, there seems to be plenty of 'em about).

I think the entertainment aspect still persists though, and it is brought on by the imagination wrapped up inside the 'opinion' part of what you mention, (and not the observable data part).

djellison
2013-Jan-06, 08:30 PM
We don't really know from direct observation that the Sun is powered by fusion, it's just a heck of a good guess based on what we know about the age of the Sun, it's output and how matter is calculated to behave from theory near it's core. It's also a guess that all stars function this way. We have no absolute proof, but nevertheless we accept it as fact, not as "we don't know".

I'm not sure that's a good analogy - it's a very very different case. But - for what it's worth....

Every step of understanding how that ball of gas works - what's in it - how long it's been around - what we see coming out of it - all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place perfectly in our understanding of how the sun functions. Moreover - our understanding predicted the creation of neutrinos - something we have now observed. That represents quite a good observation. I would argue that we do have significant proof.

But - take - for example - the Drake Equation. There are several parameters for which we have no clue as to the value - indeed, we don't even know what reasonable ranges of values might be. Thus - we can not come out the end with a reasonable figure. We don't know enough about the likleyhood of life emerging, how long that life might take to become intelligent, how often it might become intelligent, how long a civilization might last etc etc etc - we simply don't know enough to make much of a statement regarding the likelyhood of life elsewhere. We're short on facts, short on observations ( with a sample of 1 ) and long on conjecture.

With the sun - we big on facts, big on observations, have a sample of thousands, and have a thorough understanding of how the system works. It's nothing like the life elsewhere problem.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-06, 08:33 PM
And in either case - on what basis do you make that assertion.Not speaking necessarily on behalf of danscope, but based on the themes of this thread, it would seem legitimate enough to claim the answer to be: "opinions" and "semantics"!

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-06, 08:36 PM
I'm not sure that's a good analogy - it's a very very different case. But - for what it's worth....

Every step of understanding how that ball of gas works - what's in it - how long it's been around - what we see coming out of it - all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place perfectly in our understanding of how the sun functions. Moreover - our understanding predicted the creation of neutrinos - something we have now observed. That represents quite a good observation. I would argue that we do have significant proof.

But - take - for example - the Drake Equation. There are several parameters for which we have no clue as to the value - indeed, we don't even know what reasonable ranges of values might be. Thus - we can not come out the end with a reasonable figure. We don't know enough about the likleyhood of life emerging, how long that life might take to become intelligent, how often it might become intelligent, how long a civilization might last etc etc etc - we simply don't know enough to make much of a statement regarding the likelyhood of life elsewhere. We're short on facts, short on observations ( with a sample of 1 ) and long on conjecture.

With the sun - we big on facts, big on observations, have a sample of thousands, and have a thorough understanding of how the system works. It's nothing like the life elsewhere problem.

Superbly put, djellison.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-06, 08:52 PM
But - take - for example - the Drake Equation. There are several parameters for which we have no clue as to the value - indeed, we don't even know what reasonable ranges of values might be. Thus - we can not come out the end with a reasonable figure. We don't know enough about the likleyhood of life emerging, how long that life might take to become intelligent, how often it might become intelligent, how long a civilization might last etc etc etc - we simply don't know enough to make much of a statement regarding the likelyhood of life elsewhere. We're short on facts, short on observations ( with a sample of 1 ) and long on conjecture.We also have no idea of how many terms are necessary in the Drake Equation, in order for it to be an indicator of quantities of intelligent life, either. We really don't have any agreement as to where in the equation, to draw the line and say for instance: "all terms on the left of this line, are necessary and sufficient conditions for intelligent life .. and all terms on the right of it, aren't". To get that degree of precision, could be argued to outstrip measurement accuracies needed to quantify the terms immediately before 'the line', also .. which makes the whole equation defeat most purposes for which it is typically used (meaning 'likelihood' and 'probability', etc).

The Drake Equation is all about attempting to offset the 'numbers' of stars/habitable planets in the observable universe. As has been pointed out previously (perhaps in different terminology), its usefulness is only as good as the precision in the last term, (which also represents the smallest probability).

I question the Drake Equation's usefulness as a basis for anything other than as a semantics tool for informally 'loose' conversation.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-06, 08:58 PM
We don't really know from direct observation that the Sun is powered by fusion, it's just a heck of a good guess based on what we know about the age of the Sun, it's output and how matter is calculated to behave from theory near it's core. It's also a guess that all stars function this way. We have no absolute proof, but nevertheless we accept it as fact, not as "we don't know".


Just one of many.
Science especially the cosmological sciences are filled with logical assumptions, based on numbers and extent.
The results of both poles support the logic of the assumption in question.
The data to reach those assumptions have been taken into account by scientists and non scientist alike.

Rhaedas
2013-Jan-06, 09:14 PM
The Drake Equation is all about attempting to offset the 'numbers' of stars/habitable planets in the observable universe. As has been pointed out previously (perhaps in different terminology), its usefulness is only as good as the precision in the last term, (which also represents the smallest probability).

I question the Drake Equation's usefulness as a basis for anything other than as a semantics tool for informally 'loose' conversation.

From wiki:

Frank Drake himself has commented that the Drake equation is unlikely to settle the Fermi paradox; instead it is just a way of "organizing our ignorance" on the subject.

It was never intended to get a final number, but was a way to show how the different parameters affect the likelihood, whatever that likelihood may be.

Noclevername
2013-Jan-06, 09:47 PM
In this sense, you have ruled out others' views who might think that sci-fi is as good as fact. (And oddly, there seems to be plenty of 'em about).
Examples?

I have seen many who express opinions or even hopes, but only a small confused handful (almost inevitably young and/or newbies) who say the facts are based on science fiction.

What then is your definition of scientific speculation, and how do you personally differentiate it from your definition of science fiction?


I think the entertainment aspect still persists though, and it is brought on by the imagination wrapped up inside the 'opinion' part of what you mention, (and not the observable data part).

The observable data is a basis for scientific speculation about the possibility of life. By calling such speculation entertainment, you implicitly dismiss it as frivolous and unimportant. But it is in fact an ongoing part of mainstream science, and likely to remain so.

Colin Robinson
2013-Jan-06, 10:00 PM
Definitions are in dictionaries and reference materials, and thus already contain decisions on what to exclude (or not exclude).
That you have chosen to define "science fiction" as entertainment is reassuring, (I resonate with this idea), but this still contains your decision (and opinion) to do so. In this sense, you have ruled out others' views who might think that sci-fi is as good as fact. (And oddly, there seems to be plenty of 'em about).

While I would not say science fiction is as good as fact, I would argue that it can be more than entertainment. It can express serious thought, and can raise serious questions... I'm thinking here of writers such as H.G.Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan...

For instance, consider Stephen Hawkings' argument against METI. As I'm sure you'll remember, he's argued there's a real risk that an advanced extraterrestrial civilization would see Earth as a resource to be exploited. Whether you agree with him or not, it is a serious point... The thing is, a very similar scenario was presented about 100 years ago by H.G. Wells in "War of the Worlds". He just used the medium of fiction to do it.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-06, 10:03 PM
I just hope that gets taken to mean we all generally understand the "understand it hasn't been scientifically demonstrated" disclaimers. And then we can all chill out and have nice discussions without having to always get side tracked into the "but you don't really know" thing.



We live in hope! :-)

Paul Beardsley
2013-Jan-06, 10:12 PM
For instance, consider Stephen Hawkings' argument against METI. As I'm sure you'll remember, he's argued there's a real risk that an advanced extraterrestrial civilization would see Earth as a resource to be exploited. Whether you agree with him or not, it is a serious point... The thing is, a very similar scenario was presented about 100 years ago by H.G. Wells in "War of the Worlds". He just used the medium of fiction to do it.

I don't think Wells was particularly worried about invasions from space. The point of The War of the Worlds was to turn the tables on imperialists, to show them what it might feel like to be on the receiving end.

But that's a different subject.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-06, 10:29 PM
It was never intended to get a final number, but was a way to show how the different parameters affect the likelihood, whatever that likelihood may be.Sure … which curiously, when carried to the nth degree, (which is quite legitimate, in light of not knowing sufficiently what takes for intelligent life to arise), renders the intent of the equation as somewhat self-defeating …

(This perspective just being a slightly different view on the 'inaccuracy of assigning quantities to the terms' argument).

mutleyeng
2013-Jan-06, 11:14 PM
I don't think Wells was particularly worried about invasions from space. The point of The War of the Worlds was to turn the tables on imperialists, to show them what it might feel like to be on the receiving end.

But that's a different subject.

Horsell common is just over the road from me. Often go and sit on a bench over looking the sandpit where those blighters first landed. You cant help but let your mind drift and ponder those big questions.
Completely irrelevant I know...just sayin (in case anyone ever accuses me of not having given it any thought)

Selfsim
2013-Jan-06, 11:16 PM
What then is your definition of scientific speculation, and how do you personally differentiate it from your definition of science fiction?I don't define sci-fi … I'll have a go at distinguishing it though … from the conversation.
There's a big difference between the two approaches .. and for good reason.

Scientific speculation (of scientific value) leads to hypotheses which are testable*.
...Now there's a definition for ya .. but I think that one's admissable, (IMO), as its moving more from 'pub-chat', into science's domain of objectivity .. which relies on definition backed by empiricism and precedent. ('Exo-life' speculation, doesn't have any physical reality basis of precedent, empiricism or objectivity .. Speculation about Earth-life does though).

*Not all tests result in data which sufficiently constrains the ensuing interpretations. (Eg: the notoriously undesirable 'non result').


The observable data is a basis for scientific speculation about the possibility of life. By calling such speculation entertainment, you implicitly dismiss it as frivolous and unimportant. But it is in fact an ongoing part of mainstream science, and likely to remain so.So often I've seen the speculation happening in this forum, being referred to as 'fun'. Isn't entertainment 'fun'?

'Sci-fi' to a large extent, is distinguished by the semantics of a discussion, the purpose that conversation its presented for, (by those who speak it), and I think, its propensity to require suspension of disbelief coming from information contrary to the idea being presented. (There are probably other distinctions which work also … I'm distilling them from the conversations in this forum, actually … its a 'work in progress', y'know… :) ).

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-06, 11:34 PM
That’s insane. Without imagination, all we can do is categorize the world. Assigning names and numbers, statistics and categories. And while that sort of thing is important in the scientific process, it’s not science itself. Without imagination, science is a dictionary.


It’s all too easy to poopoo science, and to say that scientists are black and white automatons who go through the motions of the scientific method, rejecting anything with sparkle or color or surprise. But that conclusion itself lacks imagination. Science is full of wonder, of surprise, of leaps of imagination. If it were anything else, we wouldn’t have probes orbiting other worlds, we wouldn’t have vaccinations capable of wiping out scourges like smallpox, we wouldn’t have digital cameras, the Internet, ever-faster computers, cars, planes, televisions. We wouldn’t be able to feed ourselves, support our population, or look ahead to see where our decisions are taking us… and to see if these decisions are the right ones, and what to do to make them better.

Without imagination, even after all these centuries, we’d have learned nothing.

Science is imagination.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/04/06/science-is-imagination/#.UOoJV-TIHcg

Paul Wally
2013-Jan-06, 11:50 PM
That’s insane. Without imagination, all we can do is categorize the world. Assigning names and numbers, statistics and categories. And while that sort of thing is important in the scientific process, it’s not science itself. Without imagination, science is a dictionary.

Yes, indeed! And ... even categorization in some instances requires a conceptual leap. For example, the Copernican revolution places the Earth in the same category as the planets, just as life on Earth is in the same category as life in the universe.

Colin Robinson
2013-Jan-06, 11:57 PM
I don't think Wells was particularly worried about invasions from space. The point of The War of the Worlds was to turn the tables on imperialists, to show them what it might feel like to be on the receiving end.

Yeah, War of the Worlds contains direct references to imperialism...

Nonetheless Wells prefaced it with a quote from Kepler:

"But who shall dwell in those worlds if they be inhabited? ... Are we or they Lords of the World? ... And how are all things made for man?"

Whichever way you look at it, it's not just entertainment.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-07, 12:04 AM
Yes, indeed! And ... even categorization in some instances requires a conceptual leap. For example, the Copernican revolution places the Earth in the same category as the planets, just as life on Earth is in the same category as life in the universe.

Yep and is what I've been saying in the two associated threads since the beginning......
It just appears that some are trying to define science in very narrow confines focused at the end product.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-07, 12:18 AM
Yes, indeed! And ... even categorization in some instances requires a conceptual leap. For example, the Copernican revolution places the Earth in the same category as the planets, just as life on Earth is in the same category as life in the universe.And its that hypothesis, ie: 'that our model of life might be universal,' which is under test by exploration.

Not some idea that Earth-life might be found elsewhere.

There's a big difference. One is non-specific, and generalised, whereas the other, is specific and non-generalised.

danscope
2013-Jan-07, 12:56 AM
[QUOTE=ASTRO BOY;2095864]That’s insane. Without imagination, all we can do is categorize the world. Assigning names and numbers, statistics and categories. And while that sort of thing is important in the scientific process, it’s not science itself. Without imagination, science is a dictionary.


It’s all too easy to poopoo science, and to say that scientists are black and white automatons who go through the motions of the scientific method, rejecting anything with sparkle or color or surprise. But that conclusion itself lacks imagination. Science is full of wonder, of surprise, of leaps of imagination. If it were anything else, we wouldn’t have probes orbiting other worlds, we wouldn’t have vaccinations capable of wiping out scourges like smallpox, we wouldn’t have digital cameras, the Internet, ever-faster computers, cars, planes, televisions. We wouldn’t be able to feed ourselves, support our population, or look ahead to see where our decisions are taking us… and to see if these decisions are the right ones, and what to do to make them better.

Without imagination, even after all these centuries, we’d have learned nothing.

Science is imagination.

Hi Astroboy, Why do you suggest that science is considered by some as just boring cataloging etc etc. Imagination and speculation drive most anyone , from simple flyfishing ..." I'll bet there are trout in that stream...) to breaking mach1 ...( If only the whole stabilizer moved...hmmmm...) . Science simply knows the difference between proof ...as in repeatable experiment and scientific observation ,....
and stories, speculation and opinions carved out of whole cloth.
And remember Edison's quote : Invention is 10% inspiration ,
and 90% perspiration.
The bottom line is that Talk is cheap . So when someone says
" We can simply use a ribbon of carbon to get into orbit " , it remains
fantasy untill it can be built and "Proved" . Then you have scientific fact. Untill then , it remains speculation, fantasy and fiction.
That is a first class example.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-07, 01:07 AM
Hi Astroboy, Why do you suggest that science is considered by some as just boring cataloging etc etc. Imagination and speculation drive most anyone , from simple flyfishing ..." I'll bet there are trout in that stream...) to breaking mach1 ...( If only the whole stabilizer moved...hmmmm...) . Science simply knows the difference between proof ...as in repeatable experiment and scientific observation ,....
and stories, speculation and opinions carved out of whole cloth.
And remember Edison's quote : Invention is 10% inspiration ,
and 90% perspiration.
The bottom line is that Talk is cheap . So when someone says
" We can simply use a ribbon of carbon to get into orbit " , it remains
fantasy untill it can be built and "Proved" . Then you have scientific fact. Untill then , it remains speculation, fantasy and fiction.
That is a first class example.


Ummmm, I said nothing.
I was quoting Phil Plait at the given link.
Here it is again.


http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba.../#.UOoJV-TIHcg


I totally agree with what he has to say though.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-07, 01:12 AM
And remember Edison's quote : Invention is 10% inspiration ,
and 90% perspiration.





Remember Albert's quote....

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
A.Einstein:


But being realistic, I'm sure the great man didn't mean that quote literally...He was though trying to make a big point.

Swift
2013-Jan-07, 01:23 AM
I don't define sci-fi … I'll have a go at distinguishing it though … from the conversation.
There's a big difference between the two approaches .. and for good reason.

Scientific speculation (of scientific value) leads to hypotheses which are testable*.


That’s insane. Without imagination, all we can do is categorize the world. Assigning names and numbers, statistics and categories. And while that sort of thing is important in the scientific process, it’s not science itself. Without imagination, science is a dictionary.

I've quoted ASTRO BOY and Selfsim, but this is aimed at everyone.

STOP, Enough already. This is neither a thread nor a forum (LiS) on the philosophy of science or the meaning of truth or literature. And on top of that, the exact same positions are just being repeated over, and over, and over, and over again. STOP!

The next person who posts on this, or anything else except something directly relevant to the topic of whether life exists beyond Earth or not while be severely infracted for hijacking the thread and disruptive behavior.