Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leveraging the rate of Observational Research of the cosmos for funding

It seems that when SETI is brought up in discussion, the two opinions that will be expressed either suggest that god only created humans to live alone on a flat earth, or that the never-ending universe has to contain intelligent life somewhere, because of its shear size. Statistical reasoning has been able to serve as a tool for the intelligently critical to more sharply estimate around how many intelligent civilizations could reside in the universe with us. The Drake equation famously introduced the various crucial variables that can lead to the possibility of intelligent life.

The quantities linked to each of these variables can always be adjusted based on the observations we make. From a funding perspective, carrying out projects that provide cosmological observations can be very viewed as costly by politicians. So, scientists need to be cautious of the way the timing of their discoveries can affect the future of their funding. For example, if one of the variables in drake’s equation is sharpened negatively by a given discovery, because of the linked nature of how these nodes interact, effectively the likelihood of discovering extraterrestrial life can be temporarily lowered-- making finding funding for SETI less attractive.

Scientists should not falter however--- for many of the probabilities can actually be clarified by scientists in different field helping out with clarifications. For example, astrobiologists could constructively explain a case to support the decreased probabilities of life by posing other variables that could be introduced based on the discoveries. Perhaps, unity in academic thought could allow for more fearless projects. In a bayesian network, the conditional probabilities of variables actively affect the rest. For now, since we are the only intelligent life forms we know about, it is very hard to make observational conclusions that give insight on the probability of intelligent life spawning elsewhere without the help of multiple fields. Frequently, skeptics are too quick to think of the probabilities of intelligent life is non-existent, while intelligent alien believers are tend to get caught up in the philosophical infinite quality of the universe. In a universal sense, we can dream and speculate all we want about the possibility of other intelligent life arising in distant parts of the universe. The public view on SETI’s mission should remain clear on either discovering intelligent life or discovering the absence of it.

The conversation on intelligent life should not be open-ended-- this is why SETI loses funding. There needs to be a purpose presented to investors, and there is one; gaining any type of insight that can sharpen the probabilities of the variables in drake’s equation should be considered valuable. Additionally, if we were to develop a more stochastic model1 to structure drake’s equation we can mathematically calculate what type of discoveries could affect our the conditional probabilities in the model the most; the problem, however might reside in SETI’s distrust in the current academic open-mindedness of many astrobiologists, but I digress: do not be afraid to make conscious efforts for space. The more inferences we can statistically confide in, the more knowledge we will eventually have.


1 Glade, Nicolas, Pascal Ballet, and Olivier Bastien. "A Stochastic Process Approach of the Drake Equation Parameters." International Journal of Astrobiology 11.02 (2012): 103-08. Web.
- Sean Moore