Never Tell Me the Odds

A reader brings this interesting article to my attention:

This is roughly typical for science reporting in popular organs: the interesting (to me, at least) part of the story is left out, that is, scientific speculation about the possible natural causes of these high energy bursts from space. Instead the writer dwells on the more lurid and science fictional possibility of the energy bursts being caused by discharges of the empire’s Death Star destroying rebel planets.

I confess to being amused by the final sentence in the article: “Scientists estimate that the odds of humanity being the only civilization in the universe are less than one chance in about 10 billion trillion.”

By that logic, if only one in a trillion of those alien civilizations were ruled by a beautiful but evil space princess, then the number of alien civilizations ruled by beautiful but evil alien space princesses in the universe is over ten billion!

Beautiful but Evil Space Princess Koriand’r of Vega!

And by the same logic, if there are 10 billion trillion volumes the size of the visible universe in the continuum currently beyond the reach of our knowledge, it is entirely possible that we just so happen to be occupying the one volume that is empty except for us.

In which case there are no beautiful but evil space princesses anywhere within the known volume of the universe. Or extraterrestrial microbes.

Beautiful but Evil Space Princess Sarya of Venegar

I mean, if the odds are one in 10 billion trillion, and the experiment is run 10 billion trillion times, then on average this result will obtain at least once. And we could be that one.

This is a horrible conclusion! I seem to recall in the movie version of Carl Sagan’s CONTACT, that the argument, or at least the rhetorical point, was raised that if there is no intelligent extraterrestrial life out there somewhere, then this is an awful lot of wasted, empty space.

Of course, by that logic, if I am a very lonely boy who very much wants to date a beautiful but evil space princess, and there are none at all in outer space anywhere, this is also a wasted, empty space.

Beautiful but Evil Space Princess Zazzala of  Korll

Now, wait. By the same logic that says there is such-and-such a chance that intelligent, humanoid life arises on the land masses of Earth, would that not mean, if seven tenths of the Earth surface is water, we have seven times the odds of finding intelligent, humanoid life at sea?

After all, if there are no mermaids anywhere in any of the many oceans and seas of Earth, that is an awful lot of wasted space!

Ask a Scientist About the Odds of Mermaids

Also, I have been solemnly assured by at least one Left-leaning acquaintance that the changes to EPA rules requiring environmental ruling to be based on scientific knowledge about the environment will cause the death of all life on Earth.

Since I estimate the odds that anyone in his right mind would erect an environmental protection agency whose administrative rulings are not based on scientific knowledge about the environment is roughly one in 10 billion trillion, I hold it as entirely likely that all other inhabited worlds have been wiped out.

Here on Earth alone, the forces of nontransparent totalitarianism antiscience Progressivism and Green wacko hysteria have saved us! Oh, the irony!

Is it not wonderful how precisely “scientists” can look at a phenomenon, such as the coming in to being of intelligent life on Earth, and, without a SINGLE OTHER EXAMPLE of intelligence or life being observed coming into being anywhere in the universe, and without a SINGLE SUPPORTABLE THEORY of how life comes to be or how intelligence comes to be, can somehow deduce the what the frequency of it being observed should be, if it ever were observed?

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