Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Response to search engine query: What is this blog about?

I was asked to define it for a "deep" search engine group, Feedmil, and replied as follows:

Colliding Universes takes a critical look at cosmology, especially its many unexplained assumptions. Here’s one:

Earth is not special. There must be many planets that host life forms.

Now, what if we find 3000 exoplanets and none host life forms.

Does that suggest that Earth is special?

No, many cosmologists would say. We just haven’t looked hard enough. Find 3000 more.

It becomes obvious that their research is intended to confirm the “not special” view, and that – for both practical and philosophical reasons – it cannot be disconfirmed.

The practical reason is that they can always argue, “They’re out there somewhere.” The philosophical reason is that they are determined to believe what they want to believe.

That’s fine, but don’t call it science.

Incidentally, even if, after a search of 6000, two other planets were found that had life forms, we would know that there are three special planets, ours being one.

But don’t expect the pop science media to interpret it that way.
See also:

"Privileged planet" astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez: Dissing St. Carl Sagan in his own church

Study: Sun not special, therefore alien life should be common?

Galactic habitable zone not unique, computer sim suggests

Does our solar system occupy a unique position in the universe or just an ordinary one?

Rare? Solar systems like ours are rare?

Astronomer argues that we can test whether Earth is fine-tuned as a science lab

"Serious push to find more exoplanets

Exoplanets: Will intelligence be common or rare?