Re: Open Letter to Lee Crocker
23 Jul 1999 11:24:46 -0700

On Thu, 22 July 1999, wrote:

> Paul Hughes, <>, writes:
> > Over the years, I have tried to use language loose enough to take into
> > account my limited ability to asses the true nature of reality. Lets face
> > it, to be certain of anything we'd have to run an infinite series of
> > experiments under an infinite set of conditions.
> I still think this is a more productive avenue for discourse than arguing
> about the meaning of certainty. That is ultimately just a matter of
> semantics. Different people have different thresholds for when they
> use the shorthand of certainty or of "knowing" something. Two people
> may have exactly the same opinion of the unlikelihood of an event, but
> one says it won't happen while the other says it is unlikely to happen.
> They don't disagree, they're just using ambiguous language differently.

Yes, using numerical probability is always fun and useful to a point, but it can create the illusion of precision or some other kind of knowledge when there is none. If I say the probability of 'Face on Mars' has an ET connection is %5, from where do I get this figure? Why not %10 or 1%? Frankly, I don't know enough about all of the evidence in sufficient detail to even have a remotely precise answer. Therefore, I take a somewhat 'backseat' to this issue. This is by no means a cowardly position as Crocker may have implied, but rather an honest and *precise* assessment of my own limited ability to determine the likelihood of said hypothesis given my and even our limited knowledge of the facts. But since you asked, I'll throw in less than a %1 chance of there being an ETI connection. However, apparently unlike others in this debate that still leaves a small probability that there *is* an ETI connection! :-)

Paul Hughes