Re: "Web-mediated SETI": Robert Bradbury Replies

Robin Hanson (
Thu, 04 Nov 1999 14:55:45 -0500

Hal Finney wrote:
>Now if we develop new reasons to believe that the universe may be
>living, such as the Fermi paradox or Robert's attempts to explain our
>cosmological observations in terms of widespread alien activity, then we
>have to re-evaluate our earlier decisions regarding miraculous events.
>... our reasons for disbelieving in miracles no longer apply. ...
>Strictly speaking, Bayesian reasoning merely forces us to raise the
>probability that miracles may be real, given new reason to believe in
>a living universe. By itself this is a weak statement, as it may be
>argued that the necessary increase in probability is trivial, from one
>in a quadrillion to two in a quadrillion, or some such. ... the whole
>issue of miracles must be reevaluated from the beginning, without the
>preconceptions and mindset which we carried over from when we thought
>the universe was inherently lawful. ... you can still disbelieve in
>miracles, ... But any such argument is far weaker
>than one based on natural law. ... you should accept that divine and
>magical and mystical events reported in the past (and present) may be
>true. ... We should follow our beliefs whereever they
>take us, courageously, and let the chips fall where they may. However,
>we have to let the chips fall! No one here should be bashing religion,
>or even be especially skeptical of religious reports, pseudo-science,
>Big Foot, UFOs, or any of the other phenomena which seem to defy the
>laws of nature, if they are seriously entertaining the possibility of
>a localized alien presence.
>Furthermore, I think it is important to recognize a possible emotional
>component which may be driving beliefs in alien Powers. ... the appeals
>to the wisdom, benevolence, etc. of the aliens, ...
>The emotional aspect goes in the other direction as well. I personally
>experience tremendous emotional resistance in accepting the possibility
>that Biblical miracles may be true. ... Hopefully
>we can all try to make ourselves more aware of them and thereby gain
>clarity in our judgements.

Very well said Hal (as usual).

Robin Hanson Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323