I've always been interested in space. Yes, I'm a Sci-Fi fan, but I also like non-fiction news about our advancing understanding of the universe. Recent articles, however, have made me chuckle more than marvel. Articles about space are getting stranger and stranger. Here are a couple of examples.
This is an article about a newly discovered planet that seems to be in a 'goldilocks' zone. This means that the conditions for life on this planet may be 'just right.' Unfortunately, the article is filled with internal inconsistencies are ridiculous statements.
The article begins, "Astronomers say they have for the first time spotted a planet beyond our own in what is sometimes called the Goldilocks zone for life: Not too hot, not too cold. Juuuust right." But a little later the journalist admits, "Scientists have jumped the gun before on proclaiming that planets outside our solar system were habitable only to have them turn out to be not quite so conducive to life." So really this is not the first time they've spotted a planet that they thought was habitable. It's just the most recent time.
Steven Vogt of the University of California states that "chances for life on this planet are 100 percent." What!?!? This quote is found in the same paragraph as the fact that researchers don't yet know if there is water on the planet or what the planets atmosphere is like! The statement is also very philosophical (life simply must emerge when conditions are right) rather than scientific (observation).
That same paragraph makes the following atrocious argument, "because conditions are ideal for liquid water [on this new-found planet], and because there always seems to be life on Earth where there is water..." What does the 'always' mean here? What about the 'seems'?
The article closes with this laugher, ""It's pretty hard to stop life once you give it the right conditions." This is pure naturalistic philosophy, not science. This is not based on observation at all. It is based on worldview.
A second article, from earlier in the week, is perhaps more insane. The UN is considering the hiring of an Ambassador for Planet Earth who will coordinate first contact with alien visitors. What her job description will entail until that day is an interesting question, but there are a couple real funny lines in this article.
The potential coordinator states, "The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day human kind will received signals from extraterrestrials." In other words, since we are still looking, we still might find. Brilliant. And what of this word 'hope' if not a reflection of the fact that she is making a worldview statement here, not a scientific one.
"Under the Outer Space Treaty on 1967, which Unoosa oversees, UN members agreed to protect Earth against contamination by alien species by “sterilising” them." Of course! Those aliens who just came from light years away on a spaceship will be glad to let you sterilize them upon their arrival! Thankfully, this new coordinator has a much more tolerant approach!
No space talk is finished without a quote from Stephen Hawking. Not so optimistically, he states, "I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. The outcome for us would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans."
I don't know if there is life on other planets or not, but I do know the difference between science and philosophy. I also know the difference between imaginative conversation and flat-out comedy, and I think these articles fit the latter category a bit better than the former.