### The problem with probability

Posted:

**Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:05 am**I recently heard an astronomer calmly announce that there was definitely life on other planets. This was one of the main men at SETI and I won't bother to mention his name because there's no point... we've all heard the tale and no scientist ever refutes it.

With the 150trillion blah blah galaxies blah and given that star systems have planets that we know of blah blah etc we can say that the probability of alien life is a certainty yada yada.

My issue with this is that the scientists take a couple of leaps here that I don't like and it goes like this:

Well it's simple - if you can stand on a probability from the egg-heads in the Maths department down the hall then why kick them from the project at this point?

Why not ask them the further probability of any of those life-forms being more advanced than us?

Here's the statistics I would like to see given even a cursory glance:

Basically if we're gonna have to listen to physicists or a geologists talk about UFO's as thought they have the final word I find it a little disingenuous that they are happy to back up their work and justify their endeavours by saying they must study the heavens because the statistics provided by their maths buddies show that they must be out there... but then use absolutely no science or statistics for the inevitable next sentence which is always...

GIMMIE STATISTICS GUYS... GIMMIE STATISTICS.

With the 150trillion blah blah galaxies blah and given that star systems have planets that we know of blah blah etc we can say that the probability of alien life is a certainty yada yada.

My issue with this is that the scientists take a couple of leaps here that I don't like and it goes like this:

- I am a physicist/astronomer/biologist/geologist/chemist/sociologist etc and I am part of the process that decides what life may need to exist in some form on another world and for that life to evolve socially to a point that we might recognize as 'advanced technologically.'
- Given that we have laid out the foundations for a study we now have a number of statistics we can use.
- These statistics are now given to another branch of science... MATHEMATICS so that these guys can do the probability study.
- The probability is always an astronomical figure like 100,000,000 potential planets and from this they extrapolate quite reasonably (and very mathematically) that a planet must exist somewhere with life.
- But here they take the toys from the mathematicians and announce their 'findings'.

Well it's simple - if you can stand on a probability from the egg-heads in the Maths department down the hall then why kick them from the project at this point?

Why not ask them the further probability of any of those life-forms being more advanced than us?

Here's the statistics I would like to see given even a cursory glance:

- 1. If a given number of planets probably have life then how many might have life forms that we would recognize (not just gaseous clouds or purple jelly)?
- How many of these would probably be more advanced than us by 1000 years or more - especially given that our corner of the universe is ten billion years younger than some of the older bits?
- How many of these advanced life-forms that we would recognize, that have advanced to 'Star Trek' levels of technology might have noticed us?
- How many of the above might probably have visited us?
- What is the likelihood that these life-forms that science
*knows*are there might be able to travel to us using technology we don't even have the vocabulary to joke about?

Basically if we're gonna have to listen to physicists or a geologists talk about UFO's as thought they have the final word I find it a little disingenuous that they are happy to back up their work and justify their endeavours by saying they must study the heavens because the statistics provided by their maths buddies show that they must be out there... but then use absolutely no science or statistics for the inevitable next sentence which is always...

**"But they couldn't get to us because it would be too far!"**GIMMIE STATISTICS GUYS... GIMMIE STATISTICS.