Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

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Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:26 am

The link I present below contains a talk given by the late author Michael Crichton at CalTech back in 2003. Yes, the primary topic of the talk is how science has de-volved from being only about facts to now being about "hope and change" and "consensus". However, I present it here because on example he gives of how the practice of science has suffered is directly related to the subject line and this forum. I could easily also post this under my AGW thread in politics (and I just might, quoting the AGW parts, if AD will have it). But without further adieu:

Michael Chrichton explains why Drake Equation is NOT SCIENCE

In 1960, Drake organizes the first SETI conference, and came up with the now-famous Drake equation: N=N*fp ne fl fi fc fL
[where N is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves; fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; and fc is the fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations live.]

This serious-looking equation gave SETI a serious footing as a legitimate intellectual inquiry. The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses. And guesses-just so we’re clear-are merely expressions of prejudice.

Nor can there be “informed guesses.” If you need to state how many planets with life choose to communicate, there is simply no way to make an informed guess. It’s simply prejudice.


Hence, citing the Drake Equation, which amounts to what seems like a logical approach to quantifying a probability that many people want to know, IS NOT EVIDENCE AND NOT SCIENTIFIC for the simple reason that MOST of the factors involved in the equation cannot possibly be known to even 50% confidence...and that is being generous.

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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby Chorlton » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:28 am

You dont need people throwing mathematical calculations out at you, which is what they do when I suggest there is indeed nothing out there. Nothing meaning sentient life able to communicate.
One only needs to gather the basic evidence from Astronomers who have been around for a few hundred years in many countries.Do they see things that they suspect are 'Aliens' ? No. Do we hear any transmissions on any of the spectrum from any planets which could, even using the most basic of means of communications constitute language? No.

Eggheads came up with the idiotic Infinite Monkey Theorem about giving enough monkeys typewriters they will eventually come up with Hamlet or some Shakespeare. Its one of the ridiculous probability things. But its pretty improbable which is the same for the mathematical calculation of the possibility of life on other planets.
Im pretty sure there is indeed life of some sort somewhere out there, some slime on a rock or some frogs jumping around but Ive seen no evidence of anything able to communicate outside their own planet or even travel anywhere.
Unless they have developed a Klingon Cloaking device, travel in another dimension, or are invisible.
I really really really wish there was, but I cant see any concrete evidence to support the idea.
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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby ryguy » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:38 pm

Cholton:

I agree with you re: what form of biology we're most likely to find in our immediate vicinity, but given the scope and size of the Universe, with no known boundaries and the volume of galaxies "known" to exist far outside our reach either visually or otherwise - it seems inconceivable to me that someone would believe the odds are against one of those googleplazillian (yes, I made that up) planets out there having intelligent life.

I mean, yes it's a rare event that you can flip a coin and it lands on its edge - but you know what if you flip it a googleplazillian (hehe...I love that word) times, you're for damn sure very likely going to do it again once or twice.

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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby Zep Tepi » Tue Jul 13, 2010 4:12 pm

I agree with you Ryan. This rock we're living on is positively teeming with all kinds of life, we're also finding evidence that primitive forms of life can survive just about anywhere, at the bottom of our oceans, in caves filled with sulphuric acid etc. I think the odds are pretty high that similiar bacterial life has evolved elsewhere, and that somewhere out there in this limitless universe, sentient life has evolved and will continue to evolve in the right circumstances.

Whether they are close enough for us to detect them, or vice-versa, is another matter entirely. The nearest form of intelligent life could be millions of light years away and we would probably never know they are even there.

So, contrary to what some people may think, I certainly do believe there is intelligent life out there, somewhere.
Do I believe we have had contact with them? Hell no.

At our current level of evolution, an alien species would be well advised to stay well clear of us. We don't have a stellar history in regard to getting on with ourselves, let alone with those we consider to be "strangers".

There's probably a trillion mile exclusion zone set up around our solar system, and if there isn't, there should be...
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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby ryguy » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:11 pm

Zep Tepi wrote:There's probably a trillion mile exclusion zone set up around our solar system, and if there isn't, there should be...


haha! I can see the galactic signs now... "Trespass at your own risk. Beware: Violent Earthlings."
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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby longhaircowboy » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:19 pm

I've often wondered how they came up with the numbers to plug into that equation. Thanks for clearing that up Ray. As for life in the universe I don't think we are a one-off but thats just my opinion.
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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby lost_shaman » Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:24 am

What's interesting about the Drake equation is that it is in part based on our own existence. Therefore the lowest possible solution for the equation is 1. We exist and we transmit our existence into the Galaxy.

That being said, when we input the numbers for things we can be fairly certain about for instance the low end of the estimate of stars in the Galaxy, and we still guess on the other parts of the equation that we really don't know even when we use highly sceptical guesses you almost always end up with a solution for the equation that is higher than 1.
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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:02 pm

LS,

lost_shaman wrote:That being said, when we input the numbers for things we can be fairly certain about for instance the low end of the estimate of stars in the Galaxy, and we still guess on the other parts of the equation that we really don't know even when we use highly sceptical guesses you almost always end up with a solution for the equation that is higher than 1.


That's because it is a Pi (product) series, which has drastically different mathematical characteristics than a Sigma (summation) series. And the implementation of a Pi series over a Sigma series has important mathematical implications. With a Sigma series the existence (reality) of any single term does not have a significant effect unless its coefficient is large in comparison to other terms in the series. Hence the confidence level of any given term in a Sigma series is not a major player. However, in a Pi series everything important regarding whether this series represents reality is now transferred into the confidence level of each and every term in the series. A Pi series expression without a discussion of the confidence level (90%? 50%? or less?) of each term is not directly addressed is a sign of someone wanting to pull the wool over your eyes.

In all the citations and uses of the Drake Equation, I have yet to see anyone provide confidence intervals for any of the numbers they guess for the terms in the Drake Equation Pi series. That is telling, because one can surmise that most of them are well below a 50% confidence level. And guess what that does to the standard deviation of the final answer?

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Re: Anyone use the Drake Equation as "Evidence" for UFOs/ET?

Postby Access Denied » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:15 pm

The Flake Equation
http://xkcd.com/718/
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