The UFO Iconoclast(s)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The statistical odds (and common sense) against UFO/ET visits


Universe Today:

[There are] 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way [alone]

{There are] 100 to 200 Billions galaxies in the visible or known universe with hundreds of billions of stars

An average galaxy contains between 1011 and 1012 stars. In other words, galaxies, on average have between 100 billion and 1 trillion numbers of stars

[Galaxies can be] small dwarf galaxies, with just 10 million or so stars, or they can be monstrous irregular galaxies with 10 trillion stars or more.
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NASA:

In 1999 the Hubble Space Telescope estimated that there were 125 billion galaxies in the universe, and recently with the new camera HST has observed 3,000 visible galaxies, which is twice as much as they observed before with the old camera. We're emphasizing "visible" because observations with radio telescopes, infrared cameras, x-ray cameras, etc. would detect other galaxies that are not detected by Hubble
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Wiki Answers:

Based on current estimates, there are between 200 - 400 billion stars in our galaxy (The Milky Way).

There are possibly 100 billion galaxies in the Universe. So taking the average of our galaxy, gives approximately 3 x 1024 stars. So about 3 septillion. This has been equated to the same number of grains of sand that are on Earth.

One source (BBC) stated that there are about 1,000 stars to every grain of sand on Earth!! There are an estimated 100 to 200 billion galaxies.

So taking a conservative number of 100 billion stars per galaxy gives an approximate total of 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. (Which is 10 sextillion)
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Wikipedia:

Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to our Solar System. It lies about 4.37 light-years in distance, or about 41.5 trillion kilometres, 25.8 trillion miles or 277,600 AU.
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With the information above, how can anyone, with an ounce of rationality, think that UFOs represent visitors from galaxies, far, far away, or even from the nearest star system to Earth?

aliens20.jpg

The Universe, with its vast diversity and intriguing panoply of astronomical or cosmological entities (by which we mean stars, planet, moons et al., not living beings), offers any curious alien intelligence much better sources for exploration than Earth which, in the great scheme of things, is a backwater and insignificant cosmological element, no matter how hard humans try to think otherwise.

Even if an alien exploratory team stumbled upon Earth millennia ago, what would stir them to keep visiting for centuries or eons afterward?

Of course, some ET believers say Earth was seeded by alien visitors and they keep coming back to see how their humanoid garden is doing.

Or Earth is a penal colony or some sort or a zoo, and extraterrestrial aliens keep checking in or visiting as if this lonely, remote planet is an integral part of a special alien agenda.

The idea that UFOs, with their abundant sightings, represent extraterrestrial visitations in light of the statistical probabilities above which open the whole Universe to such visitations, is ludicrous on the face of it.

No wonder that UFO devotees are seen as cranks and weirdos. Their thought processes invite the opprobrium.

jayforde.jpg
Courtesy JayForde.com

15 Comments:

  • Be careful with your numbers here. Numbers with 21 to 24 zeros are well outside the average human comprehension. And if within this comprehension, you might like to consider out of these vast numbers of stars & planets, how many are likely to be inhabited, then how many are likely to be capable of interstellar travel, then how many are likely to visit the earth.

    And before long you encounter Drake's equation. And so on. The field is rich with endless speculation!

    By Blogger cda, at Saturday, August 20, 2011  

  • Oh, I think, CDA, that there are a gazillion planets, inhabited by life, some of it sentient and advanced.

    That's why it seems likely to me that those with the capability of interstellar travel would seek out other domains than this pathetic one we are part of.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, August 20, 2011  

  • "The Universe, with its vast diversity and intriguing panoply of astronomical or cosmological entities (by which we mean stars, planet, moons et al., not living beings), offers any curious alien intelligence much better sources for exploration than Earth which, in the great scheme of things, is a backwater and insignificant cosmological element, no matter how hard humans try to think otherwise."

    You may believe that other locations offer much better sources of exploration than earth, but how can you be in any way certain that aliens, should they exist, feel the same way? Aliens may find our planet and its lifeforms interesting, or they may find them tedious and pathetic, it's not really possible for us to say, one way or another. It seems to me that you are simply replacing one anthropomorphic mindset, ie we are really interesting and central, with a more contemporary and self-deprecatory one, ie we are really insignificant, peripheral, and pathetic, and assuming that advanced and completely alien intelligences would feel exactly the same way. We go from "What a piece of work is Man, how like Angel.." to Hawkins famous quote about humanity being "a chemical scum on a moderate sized planet, orbiting a completely average star....", but the point is they are both are just human perspectives on man's place in the universe. We can be no more certain of aliens sharing the latter assumption as of them sharing the former.

    The best argument against UFO's being evidence of alien visitation, imo, is that of the skeptics: the sheer lack of empirical evidence to support such a supposition. Other arguments, based on what aliens would or wouldn't be inclined to do, should they exist, are unnecessary and far too speculative.

    By Blogger Tristan Eldritch, at Saturday, August 20, 2011  

  • Tristan:

    Speculation is what we do.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • I agree with Tristan, the best argument against UFO's is the rubbish evidence.

    Lance

    By Blogger Lance, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Drakes equation has recently come under some significant hammering by peers who are critical of his key postulates. That is the danger with statistical probabilities. That is to say not so much the measurement, but what is being measured to derive a reasonable conceptual context. Carbon based life seeks carbon based lifeforms. Sounds like a Craig's List personal ad. It is harder to measure the conceptual box we are in than it is to build on it or extend what we critically assume we know. That is the issue of being a isolated community, the isolation either defined by perception or critical assumptions. It seems that all we have in our little box of tricks is bias projection for the moment.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Some further speculation..that occurred to me after I had posted is that this bias projection that derives measurement as well as perception would perhaps make it more probable that a non human sentience could be proverbially under our noses, while we are off looking for "carbon copies" of ourselves. For this reason I
    think our pockets could be picked without any real significant efforts on the part of a "unrecognizable" playbook that has no truck with fast food franchises or playing up to out bloated expectations of what we deserve versus what we bring to the table. Sort of a quaint romanticism about all this.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • I'm not sure why thousands of close sightings, hundreds of physical trace cases, dozens of solid radar and electromagnetic effect cases, and a few solid photos are "rubbish evidence" for the existence of UFOs (whatever they are.) Is it "best" evidence in a technical legal sense? No. But is it highly circumstantial evidence that would prove persuasive in a majority of (legal) cases where the issue to be decided is "the reality of an unknown phenomenon." I say, yes.

    By Blogger Dominick, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Lance, mostly...

    You surely don't think that things flying around in the sky and reported by non-insane persons, things that remain unidentified, (UFOs are the sobriquet), are a total chimera, a total imagined phenomenon, do you?

    You just think that some of the evidence and hypotheses are goofy or rubbish, right?

    Let me make my point again: I don't think that an intelligent alien species would send a gaggle of interstellar craft to Earth for eons or even for seventy years or so when there must be other galactic civilizations or astronomical artifacts with much more cachet than our dull planet has.

    It doesn't make sense, and one has to assume that a sentient alien species has sense.

    That an advanced civilization would expend as much time and materiel visiting Earth as UFO/ET believers keep advocating doesn't compute.

    The odds are against such a view.

    But I'm merely speculating.

    Perhaps galactic travelers discovered Earth and find it as fascinating as the quidnuncs who make up the ufological roster.

    If that is so, God help us all...

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Hi Rich,

    I don't think UFO's are imagined at all.

    I think people do see stuff in the sky. I think the stuff they see has a prosaic (and rarely even an exotic but non-paranormal) explanation.

    Then I think they misunderstand, misreport, exaggerate, and conflate their experience.

    The hoaxers and hucksters get added to the mix and you end up with a body of rubbish.

    People reporting on objects seen in the skies that later receive known and unambiguous explanations use exactly the same descriptions as we receive for objects that can't or don't get the explanation.

    For instance, falling meteorites often produce the effect of a windowed craft (as reported by Chiles-Whited, etc.). We now understand this to be an optical illusion.

    The New Jersey hoax UFO flares generated responses from witnesses about motion that could not be true. Without the known explanation, these incorrect reports would be solemnly taken down by the layperson UFO buffs as incontrovertible evidence of non-prosaic origins for the sightings. There would be much talk of the non-aerodynamic nature and the intelligent control of the objects.

    All of it meaningless.

    Additional tests (for instance one I remember of lights being turned on and off on a nearby mountaintop and observed by witnesses some distance away) generate wildly different and impossible descriptions even among folks who all saw the same thing at the same time!

    And yet this gives the buffs not a moment of pause. They still cite witness testimony as sacrosanct, demonstrating their sad ignorance of the reality of the thing.

    Furthermore the pounding and relentless hand of time serves as an indictment against any UFO reality (as it is understood by enthusiasts). Even with an astounding proliferation of cameras everywhere, the evidence doesn't congeal into anything as we might expect from a real phenomena. Instead the photographic evidence remains as weak as ever (maybe even weaker).

    And yet for very rare sky phenomena, like a meteorite fall, we have seen the event captured by multiple cameras miles apart. Nothing like that for saucers. Indeed nothing even slightly compelling from that camp.

    So yes, Rich. For me, it is all a sad but interesting cesspool. An example of man's unstoppable will and need to believe, to believe most anything, and to believe without cause.

    Arthus C. Clarke, on the Long John Nebel program, said that he would be interested in saucers if there were only a few reports. That there are so many reports, that never coalesce into anything, was a sure sign to him that the while idea is folly.

    Best,

    Lance

    By Blogger Lance, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Thanks, Lance...

    I wanted to give you a chance to explain your position, since some think you, CDA, and even me are debunkers or rabid skeptics.

    You have a sensible position, with which I am in total agreement.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Thanks Rich,

    I'm not saying that I'm not a rabid skeptic--I probably am! :)

    Also in my last sentence above, I seem to have been a victim of the new OSX Lion auto spelling correction: the word "while" should be "whole".

    Thanks,

    Lance

    By Blogger Lance, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Typos are a bane for me too, Lance.

    And cut and paste.

    I was castigated by Steve Sawyer for some egregious mistakes in my post here, since corrected.

    Relying on application corrections often poses problems.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • I just received this link as part of a comment on my own blog and thought it may of interest to you and your readers as I think it presents quite a few of the cards on the table regarding potential contact, as well as some wild cards and jokers. It addresses neutral contact as well as unnoticed contact..as well as the potential misfiring of communication attempts, all of which is delivered with quite a few reasonable caveats. Perhaps this is a footnote to your post.

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.4462

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

  • Thanks, Bruce...

    We love footnotes.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, August 21, 2011  

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