Abstruse Goose: Astrobiologists & the Perpetual Happy Hour


We here at LWON have been all over this and we (ok, I) agree completely with AG:  astrobiologists  out-compete evolutionary psychologists for getting the most publicity out of the least evidence.

Also I just ran across an interesting but  illogical argument:  if  the principles of physics, chemistry, and geology “work beyond our planet,” why not biology?



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3 thoughts on “Abstruse Goose: Astrobiologists & the Perpetual Happy Hour

  1. I seem to end up in these threads, but then I am studying astrobiology. So sorry, I can’t agree with any of this throwing of mud in the hope it sticks.

    – Astrobiology =/= SETI, it is a minute effort, so a strawman.

    – Success taken as vindication of failure? Astrobiology has a much larger evidential basis than evolutionary psychology, since it draws from all of biology, planetary physics and cosmology.

    Chemical evolution has been tested with tremendous success throughout the universe. Even carbon stars spew out organics, astounding.

    And we should count biological evolution too.

    – And that last bit is as illogical as it claims the reverse situation is. Biology is constrained by physics, chemistry, and geology so where they work, it can work.

    Now I haven’t read that paywalled article yet, but if it is all it notes it is correct. It is also stronger than using the mediocrity principle, since we now know physics, chemistry, and geology works elsewhere.

    This is funny, as astrobiology is thriving with the explosion in exoplanets and now habitable exoplanets, it gets its enemies. (We could also say, enemies as vindication pf success. =D) But at some point unbased animosity will start looking like tilting at windmills.

  2. Torbjorn, you’re right that SETI and astrobiology aren’t the same and I think I let my irritation at SETI leak over onto astrobio. I’m not dead convinced about the physics/chemistry/geology universal laws argument. It seems to me that biology is so insanely complicated and nonlinear that it could easily be a one-off on this and any other planet. Not that I(an astro writer)know what I’m talking about. Meanwhile, let’s agree to stand united in our admiration of the floridity of the exoplanets.

  3. It is, indeed, important to distinguish between astrobiology and SETI. I have a paper on this topic forthcoming in the journal Astrobiology. I’ve also written some blog posts on the subject:

    Jan.12, 2012

    May 31, 2011

    December 10, 2009

    Full disclosure: For the past several years my work has been funded in large part by grants from NASA’s astrobiology program. When NASA had a SETI program, I worked as a support contractor to that program for a few years (ca. 1988-1992).

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