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Thread: What are the Odds of Life Emerging on Another Planet?

  1. #1
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    What are the Odds of Life Emerging on Another Planet?

    A new study by Prof. Kipping of Columbia University indicates that extraterrestrial life should be statistically significant, even if intelligent life is rare.
    The post What are the Odds of Life Emerging on Another Planet? appeared first on Universe Today.


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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
    A new study by Prof. Kipping of Columbia University indicates that extraterrestrial life should be statistically significant, even if intelligent life is rare.
    The post What are the Odds of Life Emerging on Another Planet? appeared first on Universe Today.


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    I have read the linked article. I did not go to the original study.

    But, from the linked article, I do not see any reference to "statistical significance", nor any description of a hypothesis test by frequentist methods, which is what "statistical significance" usually refers to. Instead, I find a description of a Bayesian analysis, which includes this statement,

    Taken at face value, Prof. Kipping’s study suggests that while life is plentiful in the cosmos, complex life is much rarer. However, he also points out that the odds in this study are not overwhelming and (being quite close to 50:50) and the findings should be treated as a tentative hypothesis rather than a conclusion.
    In frequentist circles, "statistically significant" does not mean "slightly more likely to be true than untrue". It means the probability of a Type I error (rejecting an hypothesis which is true) is below some threshold (usually 5%, but this is quite arbitrary). I don't even see what an hypothesis here, let alone any statement about its statistical significance. But maybe Bayesians use this phrase to mean something completely different than what frequentists mean.

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