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Fermi Paradox and assumptions

One common response in these discussions is "but there are so many assumptions". This annoys me. As I see it, the whole *point* is to make those assumptions explicit and facilitate talking about them. And then people cycle through various objections as if they're refuting the paradox, rather than proposing various solutions.

Semi-formal statement:

Given the fact of a huge and old universe,
and assuming that we are "normal" and thus life, intelligence, and spacefaring industry are common,
and [assuming that such would be detectable
OR assuming that interstellar transport of something that can propagate is possible, with even more detectable results]
then where the hell is everyone?

"Paradox" isn't a particularly good name for it, but it's traditional. But the conclusion of some natural (to many) assumptions is a result at odds with observation, hence sort of "paradox", and discussion. Which of course consists of give and take dispute over various assumptions. "Why do you assume detection is possible?" "Because..." And more assumptions, on *both*, or *all*, sides. It's not clear to me who has to make the strongest assumptions; after all, someone saying travel isn't possible is ruling out *every* combination of propulsion, AI, stasis, mini-tech, longevity, etc., and every form of replication (including bio-heavy ones), while the pro-propagation view just needs one viable way to spread. Life (or replicators) is like water, and the universe prone to leakiness.

Similarly if we posit stealthy civilizations, we ultimately need all of them to be stealthy, in all modalities, including radio deliberate and leaky, thermal emissions, artificial lights, gamma or neutrino emissions, stellar occlusions, probe debris, etc. (Not that we've looked thoroughly at all of these; everything could change tomorrow with some new signal discovery.)

I guess I'm complaining about tone. If you dispute some assumption, you're not proving Fermi was bunk, you're participating in the discussion as intended.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/302888.html#comments

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Damien Sullivan
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