Re: Open Letter to Lee Crocker

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Fri, 23 Jul 1999 12:14:45 -0700 (PDT)

at Jul 23, 99 11:24:46 am
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> ...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! :-)

Just to clarify, I do not think that an honest "I don't know" is anything but just that--plain honesty. My accusation of cowardice is for those complete agnostics who have good reason to believe that something is 99.99% likely, yet still choose not to act that way, fearing the 0.01% chance they may be wrong. The men who landed on the moon 30 years ago did so when physics professors argued about details, and when it wasn't yet possible to send an unmanned test mission to verify that it was all possible. They had no way of knowing with absolute certainty that they would survive the mission. But they had good reason to believe they would, and they bet their lives on it. That's what progress is made of.

Since we're asking about numbers, I'd say the odds of the features on Cydonia representing ETI artifacts are on the order of 1 in 10^9. I have a good intuitive sense of odds in 10^6:1 and less range, which are the ones I've had the most experience with (I once had 4 3s beaten by a straight flush in a 7-stud game once, for example; that's about a million-to-one shot), and I'd suppose the likelihood in question is a few orders of magnitude less that that.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC