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The Improbability Of Intelligent Life


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#1 gsmonks

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 05:22 AM

A documentary like this is the best way to illustrate the improbability of life, especially on other planets.



To start with, one can't speak of complex life on any planet without first taking note of the steps needed to produce the complex interplay of life and the planet itself.

To begin with, there was little or no oxygen when life first emerged on planet Earth. The first organisms were primitive, and filtered nutrients directly from sea water. There was no photosynthesis because there were no plants.

The first complex organisms were animals, not plants, and it was that way for many millions of years. The animals in question were very plant-like, and not capable of movement or mobility.

What drove complexity in animals was a warming of the planet due to volcanic activity, which released photosynthesising creatures into the seas as they thawed, and it was the presence of oxygen that drove forward evolution in animals.

At a slightly later time, sexual reproduction began, and led gradually to sexual differentiation.

Most importantly, each of these steps, like links in a chain, happened only once, and without any one of them, modern life as we know it would not now exist.

What's often forgotten is the many millions of years of evolution being stalled by running smack into the brick wall of unchanging conditions. In many cases the planet had to wait many millions of years for some catastrophe to shake things up and restart the engine of evolution once more.
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#2 Woodmansee

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 01:17 PM

So if it's worse than 1 in a million chance, say 1 in a billion chance... then there is between 100 and 400 systems with life in this galaxy alone.

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#3 gsmonks

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 03:56 PM

View PostWoodmansee, on 03 December 2015 - 01:17 PM, said:

So if it's worse than 1 in a million chance, say 1 in a billion chance... then there is between 100 and 400 systems with life in this galaxy alone.

Posted Image

No, it's more like 1 out of a billion out of a billion. That was the accepted number back in the 50s, and I stand by it today.

What the number means is that, out of every billion planets with life of some sort, only one might produce intelligent life. That's maybe one planet in each galaxy, and given the dearth of intelligent life-forms found thus far, I think the old calculation is probably spot-on.

Remember, the original pond-scum is still here on planet Earth, in coastal Australia. If not for a very long chain of incredible breaks, that's where life on this planet would still be.
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#4 Woodmansee

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 11:47 AM

As of right now, any probability is just a wild guess because of a lack of data. Your guess and mine will vary.

What we do know now that we didn't decades ago is that planets are much more common than we used to think they were. This can only improve the odds for life.

#5 gsmonks

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 12:35 PM

View PostWoodmansee, on 04 December 2015 - 11:47 AM, said:

As of right now, any probability is just a wild guess because of a lack of data. Your guess and mine will vary.

What we do know now that we didn't decades ago is that planets are much more common than we used to think they were. This can only improve the odds for life.

That is an assumption with no data to back it up.
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#6 Mooky

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 11:53 PM

[virtual deletion]

Reason:  I read the above reply wrong.

Edited by John R. Sellers, 23 December 2015 - 01:43 AM.


#7 Mooky

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 01:57 AM

View Postgsmonks, on 04 December 2015 - 12:35 PM, said:

View PostWoodmansee, on 04 December 2015 - 11:47 AM, said:

This can only improve the odds for life.

That is an assumption with no data to back it up.

True, no proof of extra-terrestrial life, but there iz evidence that a good number of planets can support life.

#8 Mooky

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 02:22 AM

The following video was uploaded 3 years ago:



#9 gsmonks

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 07:28 AM

It's an extreme stretch from life to intelligent life.

As I've pointed out many times before, WE are the result of a very long line of happy accidents, many of which only happened ONCE. Break any link in that chain and while you still have life, it's still pretty much pond scum.
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#10 Mooky

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 02:14 PM

Question: How do YOU define "intelligent life"?

Edited by John R. Sellers, 23 December 2015 - 02:17 PM.


#11 gsmonks

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 05:23 PM

View PostJohn R. Sellers, on 23 December 2015 - 02:14 PM, said:

Question: How do YOU define "intelligent life"?

I don't.

There's plenty of intelligent life on this planet, but only one species in this planet's 4-billion year history has developed speech + language + several stages of abstract thinking that evolved into writing, which in turn allowed us to accumulate knowledge over a 20,000-year period culminating in the development of modern physics and space travel.

The thing is, we do not stand atop a pyramid. If that were so, intelligent life (on the human scale) would be common.

Instead, we stand stop a precarious pole consisting of one-off's: sexual reproduction was a one-off; the development of written language was a string of one-off's; our ability to speak is a one-off; that we walk upright, which in turn facilitated the development of the human brain, for complex anatomical reasons I won't get into here, was a one-off; that we shifted from brute evolution to decision-making and problem-solving was a one-off; and the hits just keep on coming.
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#12 Cybersnark

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 06:54 PM

View Postgsmonks, on 23 December 2015 - 05:23 PM, said:

only one species in this planet's 4-billion year history has developed speech

Extremely debatable.

Quote

+ language

Debatable.

Quote

+ several stages of abstract thinking

Also debatable.
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#13 Mooky

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 07:06 PM

No argument there.

Edited by John R. Sellers, 23 December 2015 - 07:08 PM.


#14 gsmonks

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 12:10 PM

View PostCybersnark, on 23 December 2015 - 06:54 PM, said:

View Postgsmonks, on 23 December 2015 - 05:23 PM, said:

only one species in this planet's 4-billion year history has developed speech

Extremely debatable.

Quote

+ language

Debatable.

Quote

+ several stages of abstract thinking

Also debatable.

Nice mis-quotes.

Lots of animals communicate. Communication is not speech.

Lots of animals have some degree of language. Only one species is capable of the type of linguistic/conceptual precision necessary to explain, over the telephone, how to build a cuckoo clock.

Lots of animals are capable of forms of rudimentary abstract thinking, such as visualisation and basic problem-solving. None of them have taken it to the point that they can build a computer or an aircraft.

Pointedly ignoring little things like, I dunno . . . technology, the sciences, chemistry, structural engineering, and ten-thousand other things we humans and only we humans do, is a mite silly.
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#15 Mooky

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 03:34 PM

@gsmonks: I just finished watching video you hotllinked to, and I saw  nothing to "illustrate the improbability of life".   If anything, David talks about the  persistence of life.  And he doesn't evqen mention life on other planets, so I can't even understanding how you got that.

View Postgsmonks, on 24 December 2015 - 12:10 PM, said:

Lots of animals communicate. Communication is not speech.

True.  There are many forms of communication.

View Postgsmonks, on 24 December 2015 - 12:10 PM, said:

Lots of animals have some degree of language.  Only one species is capable of the type of linguistic/conceptual precision necessary to explain, over the telephone, how to build a cuckoo clock.

Non-human animals have  a full degree of language. They speak. They just don't speak human.

#16 gsmonks

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 05:03 PM

View PostJohn R. Sellers, on 24 December 2015 - 03:34 PM, said:

@gsmonks: I just finished watching video you hotllinked to, and I saw  nothing to "illustrate the improbability of life".   If anything, David talks about the  persistence of life.  And he doesn't evqen mention life on other planets, so I can't even understanding how you got that.

View Postgsmonks, on 24 December 2015 - 12:10 PM, said:

Lots of animals communicate. Communication is not speech.

True.  There are many forms of communication.

View Postgsmonks, on 24 December 2015 - 12:10 PM, said:

Lots of animals have some degree of language.  Only one species is capable of the type of linguistic/conceptual precision necessary to explain, over the telephone, how to build a cuckoo clock.

Non-human animals have  a full degree of language. They speak. They just don't speak human.

No they don't. Their language is very limited and cannot convey highly complex concepts. If they could conceive in a highly complex manner, that would manifest itself in their abilities to manipulate their environment.

Let me know when they start constructing houses with made parts, like cement, windows, refrigeration, heat, air-conditioning, etc. Yes, they can do things to manipulate temperature, but none of the things they do involve technology.

The video demonstrates, in spades, that modern human life does not stand atop a pyramid. If that were the case, advanced life would be common.

Instead, advanced human life stands precariously atop a thin pole consisting of a long chain of one-off's. Sexual reproduction was a one-off. Multi-celled organisms leading to us were a one-off. The electrolytic chain was a one-off. The incorporation of viruses plus the first "human" cell (cell host plus mitochondria and golgi bodies) was a one-off. Walking upright, which in turn caused the human brain to greatly expand, for a long list of anatomical reasons I won't go into here, but which is studied by every anthropology student, was a one-off. The chain of events leading to language and speech was a one-off, and was an extremely complex process. And blah de blah de blah de blah. I could go on for pages, here.

Pay attention now- break any one link in this chain, and *poof*- no more modern advanced humans. And it's a big, long, honkin' chain of happy accidents, on top of the big, long chain of accidents that got us from being rudimentary pond scum to very advanced animals. One little thing not developing, such as the hyoid bone, which is found only in humans, and humans would be unable to speak. There are thousands of such examples in the chain.

That's the trouble with people who think there's oodles of extratesticular life out there: they're not paying attention to the bare facts, and the bare facts do not support an abundance of highly advanced extratesticular life.
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#17 gsmonks

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 05:06 PM

View PostJohn R. Sellers, on 24 December 2015 - 03:34 PM, said:

@gsmonks: I just finished watching video you hotllinked to, and I saw  nothing to "illustrate the improbability of life".   If anything, David talks about the  persistence of life.  And he doesn't evqen mention life on other planets, so I can't even understanding how you got that.

View Postgsmonks, on 24 December 2015 - 12:10 PM, said:

Lots of animals communicate. Communication is not speech.

True.  There are many forms of communication.

View Postgsmonks, on 24 December 2015 - 12:10 PM, said:

Lots of animals have some degree of language.  Only one species is capable of the type of linguistic/conceptual precision necessary to explain, over the telephone, how to build a cuckoo clock.

Non-human animals have  a full degree of language. They speak. They just don't speak human.

No they don't. Their language is very limited and cannot convey highly complex concepts. If they could conceive in a highly complex manner, that would manifest itself in their abilities to manipulate their environment.

Let me know when they start constructing houses with made parts, like cement, windows, refrigeration, heat, air-conditioning, etc. Yes, they can do things to manipulate temperature, but none of the things they do involve technology.

The video demonstrates, in spades, that modern human life does not stand atop a pyramid. If that were the case, advanced life would be common.

Instead, advanced human life stands precariously atop a thin pole consisting of a long chain of one-off's. Sexual reproduction was a one-off. Multi-celled organisms leading to us were a one-off. The electrolytic chain was a one-off. The incorporation of viruses plus the first "human" cell (cell host plus mitochondria and golgi bodies) was a one-off. Walking upright, which in turn caused the human brain to greatly expand, for a long list of anatomical reasons I won't go into here, but which is studied by every anthropology student, was a one-off. The chain of events leading to language and speech was a one-off, and was an extremely complex process. And blah de blah de blah de blah. I could go on for pages, here.

Pay attention now- break any one link in this chain, and *poof*- no more modern advanced humans. And it's a big, long, honkin' chain of happy accidents, on top of the big, long chain of accidents that got us from being rudimentary pond scum to very advanced animals. One little thing not developing, such as the hyoid bone, which is found only in humans, and humans would be unable to speak. There are thousands of such examples in the chain.

That's the trouble with people who think there's oodles of extratesticular life out there: they're not paying attention to the bare facts, and the bare facts do not support an abundance of highly advanced extratesticular life.
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#18 gsmonks

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 05:22 PM

https://en.wikipedia...iki/Hard_palate

http://www.academia....human_evolution

http://www.pnas.org/...7/25/13506.full

http://www.livescien...ed-history.html

And of course, we had to evolve to be bipedal and upright for any of this to happen. Plus we had to be warm-blooded animals, and a hundred-thousand other things.
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#19 Mooky

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 07:12 PM

Dude, what the hell is wrong.you? Are you arguing just for argument's sake, or are you trying to prove something?

BTW, language is the ability to communicate.  It has nothing to do with conceptions, or building a damn house.

#20 gsmonks

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Posted 25 December 2015 - 08:34 AM

View PostJohn R. Sellers, on 24 December 2015 - 07:12 PM, said:

Dude, what the hell is wrong.you? Are you arguing just for argument's sake, or are you trying to prove something?

BTW, language is the ability to communicate.  It has nothing to do with conceptions, or building a damn house.

Oh, really? Try conceiving of something or building a house without it. I think you'll find that symbolism and language are inextricably linked. Or did you miss that class in pre-school?
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