15 April 2015

The principle of Mediocrity and the rarity of intelligent life

The "Principle of Mediocrity", which suggests that the default assumption should be that conditions here on Earth are broadly typical of what you would find anywhere in the universe, is being challenged to its core. Current thinking, based on reading of the evidence from Earth history, seems to indicate that, to the contrary, quite a series of each in itself rather difficult and unlikely transformations had to have occurred for the current planetary environment to have emerged as a stable state. But the broader principle, that the laws of physics and the history of matter and energy, (including the formation and evolution of galaxies), in its broadest view, is much the same throughout the universe (including the great majority of it that is beyond the horizon where light could ever reach us from there).... remains. So, if complex life, including intelligent life, even if the product of a series of necessary but unlikely developments, the combination of which becomes increasingly unlikely, it remains a fact that the sample size is so enormous that we can scarcely imagine it. Rather than giving support to the Religion minded who are biased in favor of finding that life is the unique creation of their Crazy Sky-War God, all it really does is make it likely that complex biospheres like Earth's, capable of giving rise to intelligent beings like ourselves, appear likely to be quite rare in the universe. But rare does not mean unique, necessarily, and from what I understand the combined probabilities amount to "maybe unique in the Galaxy," but not "probably unique in the universe."

Apologies to those who hold such religious views. I am sometimes irremediably snarky in my secularism.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gyromantic Informicon. Comments are not moderated. If you encounter a problem, please go to home page and follow directions to send me an e-mail.