# The Fermi Paradox and probability theory.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Mouthwash, Apr 4, 2014.

1. ### BvBPLPour Decision Maker

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The Fermi paradox rests upon Drake&#8217;s equation. Drake&#8217;s equation reads: N = (N*) (fp) (ne) (fl) (fi) (fc) (fL)

fl is the percent of life supporting planets on which life develops. This value is obviously not zero, but beyond that we don&#8217;t know what the value is.

Fermi paradox adherents hold that fl is a relatively large. There is no support for a high fl. In fact, work in abiogenesis suggests that the development of life is highly unlikely. Regardless, there&#8217;s no way to currently know the correct value of fl at this time.

The same is true of other values in Drake&#8217;s equation. fi is the percent of life bearing planets that develop intelligent life and ne is the percent of potential life bearing planets per star with planets. These values are still obviously non-zero, but beyond that it is a total guess as to what the values actually are.

The consequences of all these unknowns is that any end value determined via the equation can&#8217;t be verified. The Fermi paradox is only a paradox if those presently unknowable values are sufficiently high, but there&#8217;s no proof that those values are high at all. You might as well read the entrails of a bird, it would have just as much validity as picking out high numbers for Drake&#8217;s equation out of the ether to create a paradox where one may not exist. The fact that we do not see any other extraterrestrial civilizations strongly suggests that the values for Drake&#8217;s equation are not high at all and therefore the Fermi paradox doesn't exist.

The Great Filter hypothesis is an attempt to reconcile the Fermi paradox with Drake&#8217;s equation by theorizing that there is some sort of near universal mechanism that reduces the number the intelligent civilizations in the galaxy. The hypothesis is unnecessary if the Fermi paradox doesn&#8217;t exist because Drake&#8217;s equation values are sufficiently low.

Furthermore, the likelihood that any particular experience is (nearly) universal reduces as other variables enter the equation. It would be hard to imagine a more disparate environment then planets alien to each other and their species. Therefore it seems unlikely that there is some universal experience would be shared across nearly every form of life on every planet on which it arises.

2. ### onejayhawkAfflicted with reason

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I said was that we have the technology to build a viable starship, but not the desire to commit the financial, material and human resources necessary. What is non rational about that?

If you get the spaghetti monster, I'll take a bowl of the loin.

J

3. ### Mr. DictatorA Chain-Smoking Fox

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How much energy does it take to die, go to hell, then fly off into space though?

4. ### Aleksey_aka_alSmiley

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This is not enough for a logical statement quoted in the OP. The supposed capability was never tested or observed.

5. ### El_MachinaeColour vision since 2018Retired Moderator

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It is akin to saying that human civilization cannot send people to Mars. In some ways, you're right. In some ways, it's not a true statement. Also if you say 'cannot' meaning 'now and forevermore', it's most likely wrong.
Pending energy or ecological collapse, I mean.

6. ### Aleksey_aka_alSmiley

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Once again:

The original Earth has not yet produced such civilization. Speculations about what's possible or what will happen in the future do not matter. The whole reasoning in the OP is based on this one unverified assumption. More logically is to claim that if there are Earth-like civilizations somewhere nearby, they behave the same way as this one: keep to their planet.

7. ### El_MachinaeColour vision since 2018Retired Moderator

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That would be one of the filters.

8. ### onejayhawkAfflicted with reason

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So it is a rational statement with which you disagree. That is quite different from a non-rational statement.

The capacity has been both observed and tested, but on a small scale. No breakthroughs are needed to build a multi-generation ship. The issues are purely enigeering from well understood science.

If you believed I was speaking of faster than light travel, please reread the posts above.

Some of this is simply wrong. We can do it, but we do not think it is worth the effort. Soiit is dubious to think that the original Earth has not produced such a civilization.

Certainly assumptions are unverified. However, if we are to assume that other cultures behave like ours, then we should draw extrapolations from our own history. From such extrapolations, you would assume that interstellar travel is used as soon as practical, maybe a bit earlier.

J

9. ### Core ImposterDeity

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One good candidate for Great Filter is democracy.

People get paid for their votes. We finished up the Moon Project just about the time of the implementation of the Great Society. Since that time no serious projects have been attempted nor are they likely in the foreseeable future.

We haven't even figured out how to pay for the votes that have been cast in the past. All governments are indebted, corporations and businesses are indebted, individuals are indebted. We are bringing decades of economic activity forward via reckless credit. This is a global phenomena.

All as a result of the fruit of democracy. Everyone has a vote and thus is entitled to consume.

You can't do interstellar missions under those constraints any more than the Pharaohs could do pyramids without slave labor. We stress over the concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1%. To do serious spacefaring we'd have to beggar the common man completely.

We dream of an evolved human society but its total fantasy. About 50% of humanity will always be dead weight and no amount of education and social programing can fix that.

But they get to vote and have to get paid. Leaving no way to marshal the necessary resources for space exploration.

Therefore to slip that Great Filter we have to have a model like China succeed. No liberty, grand corruption and mass slave labor on a global scale. Personally, I don't think it can happen. The Communist Party of China will collapse and with them we will likely lose the last, best hope of humanity reaching the stars.

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There's also the posibility that "they" know of us and don't want to contact us for some reason or perhaps they use different forms of communication - something other than radio waves, high powered light beam modulation perhaps ? telepathy ? ... everything is possible I guess.

11. ### onejayhawkAfflicted with reason

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J

12. ### Core ImposterDeity

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Well, I am using 20 July 1969 as the end of the moon project so my correlation is thereby adjusted to fit seamlessly.

13. ### El_MachinaeColour vision since 2018Retired Moderator

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In the alternative, you could say that we're already mostly slaves of the 1%, and so the necessary concentration of resources already exists to get us space borne.

14. ### onejayhawkAfflicted with reason

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What? Deprive us of a Tom Hanks movie. Fiend!

Even that date is 3-5 years after.

J

15. ### peter grimes...

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Well, not exactly. Things are only possible within the framework of the laws of physics. We haven't yet come to understand the full picture, but we've got a deep enough grasp on most of it that we can safely rule some things out. So not everything.