Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Can you scientifically rule out sentient extraterrestrials?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (20225 points ) June 25th, 2011

Science is about facts and probabilities one can measure, test, and deduct by evidence. Using that same deductive power back by mathematics how can one be totally sure there are no other sentient life forms out there? Off science life started here eons ago when some primordial soup of enzymes got zapped by a bolt of lightning under the right condition and then WHA LA! We had single celled organisms. Then over many more eons these single celled organisms decided to be multi-celled organisms to the point where they thought cell splitting and such was boring and that some should be female and others male and reproduction should happen by boinking. So on and so on, until we are here, the year 2011.

Given the amount of starts that are known how could you rule out the chance that the lotto win that happened here on Earth could not or did not happen anywhere else? Using the laws of averages and mathematics would that not be true. What are the odds, that with all the stars know and unknown, sentient higher life could have only happened here? That would be like someone winning the lotto then no one else ever winning; it just keeps rolling over, and over in perpetuity. How do you scientifically debunk the math of it?

Wouldn’t thinking humans are the only intelligent sentient beings in all of the universes a bit self-centered and arrogant? Are all the other planets and stars there just for the benefit of humans?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

14 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

Have you heard of the Drake equation? I think you’d find it interesting.

funkdaddy's avatar

I believe most people who have looked at the problem would say the opposite.

That there is most likely other intelligent life in the universe.

It’s a big friggen universe though.

krrazypassions's avatar

as @FutureMemory said- the Drake Equation is used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy-
However, it has a lot of variables- the values of which are being fixed by research conducted by SETI..

roundsquare's avatar

I don’t think anyone has ever ruled out the existence of sentient life elsewhere in the universe (at least not using science).

I would almost agree with @funkdaddy except that I would say there is most likely other intelligent life OR there was in the past OR there will be in the future.

lillycoyote's avatar

No, of course not. You can’t prove something doesn’t exist. And as you mention science is by nature, necessity and design the study of things which can be observed, either directly or indirectly, measured and quantified. That there might be things, phenomena, in an infinite universe, that we humans have yet to find a way to observe, measure or quantify seems not only possible, but very likely. Sentient life in other parts of this infinite universe very well might be one of them but there’s certainly no way to, scientifically, rule it out.

zenvelo's avatar

You can’t prove a negative. But not proving a negative does not prove the opposite. Clearly, not enough investigation has taken place.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

You can’t rule out sentient et’s. There are too many stars in the see-able universe for at least one other not to hold sentient life. Add in all the stars we can’t see and I believe that somewhere out there is another species of beings looking for their place just as we are.

lillycoyote's avatar

The scientific method, consistently and systematically applied to the study of everything, including the rest of the universe, our technology, it is really relatively young and we have been studying an infinite universe, in earnest, for a relatively short time. Finding a balance between going off half-cocked, getting into crazy theories and believing thing in crazy things for which there is no evidence and being cocky, assuming that because our current science and the current state of our knowledge, which, who knows, may seem positively quaint and primitive in a 1000 or 5000 years, can rule certain things out and that’s that, that’s a balancing act, I think, but it’s always a good idea to side with science side, not the ancient astronaut, alien abduction side but there are simply a number of things about the universe, that may or may not exist, that no one can say with absolute certainty.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@lillycoyote The scientific method, consistently and systematically applied to the study of everything, including the rest of the universe, our technology, it is really relatively young and we have been studying an infinite universe, in earnest, for a relatively short time. Taking that as the establish fact. Who is to say there are not sentient beings out there that had a large jump on humans? The probability is there that if humans spawned of some primordial soup, it could have happen to others billions, or trillions of the time spans we call a year, maybe longer. They could be to modern man, as modern man was to Neanderthal or greater. Because there is not physical evidence but possible eyewitness accounts, there is no way to rule it out totally as mass hallucinations by a bunch of whack jobs. If you traveled to a place that is known to be hostile you might do so stealthily as to not have to have a confrontation with them, and if they were equivalent to animals so smarter than an ape, you might avoid them even more.

@FutureMemory Any other scientific bodies adopt that other than SETI? Having them say it and no one else is like having big tobacco say smoking could have benefits to the lungs by giving it exercise against pollution.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central What’s up here? We’re really on the same side here. Did you read any of my comments?

_zen_'s avatar

I await them with open arms. I fear they have already visited several times, been disappointed at the backwards, selfish and destructive nature of the microbes here – and vowed to return in another millenia. Once in a while a wayward ship will hover, snatch, check us out or even crash. But they’d avoid us at all costs of they could. We suck, basically.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@lillycoyote I was just pointing out when you said I think, but it’s always a good idea to side with science side, not the ancient astronaut, alien abduction side that though it may not seem likely or possible, being we are, as you say, young’ens here in the universe, it might be probable we have been visited just no evidence survived less possible eyewitness account, that’s all. ;-)

lillycoyote's avatar

O.K. My dear HC, I would agree that we could possibly have had alien visitors without knowing it, certainly possible I think just saying it might be a good idea to err on the side of science as opposed erring on the side of the Weekly Word News, RIP. God, I miss Batboy, among other things.:-)

Plucky's avatar

No. For the same reasons @lillycoyote stated. This reminds me of the “god” debate. Which has me wondering where you’re going with it. :)

As for your last sentence, the other planets and stars are not there for the benefit of humans. Humans have nothing to do with their existence. I’d be more inclined to say that humans are a result of a series of mutations in our evolutionary timeline on this planet.

I also do not believe our science can be applied universally. We only know a tiny fraction of the universe. Our science may be entirely useless elsewhere.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther