No, We Haven’t Solved The Drake Equation, The …

No, We Haven’t Solved The Drake Equation, The Fermi Paradox, Or Whether Humans Are Alone

“No amount of fancy probabilistic analysis can justify treating guesswork and wishful thinking as having any sort of scientific weight. Applying scientific techniques to an inherently unscientific endeavor, such as inventing estimates to unknowns about the Universe, doesn’t make it any more scientific. The opposite of knowledge isn’t ignorance; it’s the illusion of knowledge.

It’s still possible that life, and even intelligent life, is ubiquitous in our galaxy and the Universe. It’s also possible that one is common and one is uncommon, or that both are extraordinarily rare. Until we have more information, don’t be fooled by the headlines: these aren’t brilliant estimates or groundbreaking work. It’s guessing, in the absence of any good evidence. That’s no way to do science. In fact, until we have better evidence, it’s not science at all.”

There’s a new paper out that’s making some fantastic waves: Dissolving the Fermi Paradox. In it, the authors apply some probabilistic analysis to other estimates for the likelihoods of the parameters in the Drake equation, and come up with a value for the probability that we’re alone in the Universe. There’s just one problem: the input parameters are total garbage, and so the output parameters are garbage, too.

We have no idea whether humans are alone in the Universe. Embrace the possibilities, but don’t you dare pretend your so-called probabilities mean anything. They don’t.