Post by The Zygon Post by Butch Malahide
I mentioned in an earlier post the some famous scientist once said that physical phenomena are either unique or there are lots of them. Given that most rationalists today assume (or at minimum, grant as a working hypothesis) that we are not unique, [. . .]
They do? With no evidence? Sounds like a religion to me. And you say the
believers are called "rationalists"?
What precisely would you call evidence that we are not unique other than another technological species? And how can any specific single idea constitute a religion?
And yes, the idea that we are not unique is the best working assumption on the subject since most true statements which can be made about us are demonstrably not only true for us.
If "we" means humans, there are other species on Earth that
are, so to speak, handy with tools (if not with hands) and
cold take over, after a while, if we were removed.
If "we" means the planet and its star, we are unexceptional
except in ways that we are exceptional, unusual. It isn't
necessarily clear hat those are. For instance:
I haven't kept up with thinking on this, but since it now
turns out that most star systems have gas giant planets near
to the star - instead of other Earths, which those gas giants
probably ate - there's a question of what happened here
and how unusual is it. There was an idea that gas giants
usually form in the outer system then sort of swoop in,
and ours sort of locked together gravitationally and got stuck
outside the asteroid belt, or as hey saw it "afternoon tea".
Earth also has near the surface elements, metals in particular,
that may be buried in the core of most rock-planets by gravity,
because Earth seems to be the product of hitting an Earth-ish
planet with a Mars-ish planet named Theia (I'm not sure how
we know the name), leaving perhaps an especially large core
in fact as well as a quantity of ejected debris nearby,
formed by gravity again into a round grey ball. This may
be not even very unusual, because the planet Ear may have formed
in the first place with a "Trojan" companion planet in the same
orbit, stable until the companion gets too massive itself,
but ultimately more likely to hit the larger planet than anything
else in space of similar size is.
The big core of Earth gives us a magnetic field that protects
most of us from most of the deadly radiation from space, and
the debris ball in orbit apparently helps to keep Earth mostly
facing its equator to the sun and not its poles, like Uranus,
which would be bad news if you happen to be living, well,
So there's that sort of thing. Also, for five-sixths of Earth's
existence so far, there was basically nothing alive but slime.
Slime works pretty well, evidently. It probably wins most of
the time against anything hat isn't slime. But things changed
eventually. For one thing, the whole surface, or nearly all,
may have frozen over - land and sea, all ice. Ice wins most
of the time... and so do dinosaurs, when we get to them.
So maybe on most planets, the dominant life is slime and never
gets past that. Or past dinosaurs.