“Martian rocks from a crater hit by a meteorite may contain the strongest evidence yet that there is life on Mars.”
I think I saw Anthony Watts’ piece on this. He prefaced it correctly with “extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof” and had appropriate hedging throughout the article.
I dunno about “crock” here. We should be open to the possibility that life we can recognize did form on other worlds and we should set a high threshhold of proof before believing we’ve found the evidence. Mars may never have formed even the most primitive of life — but then again, maybe Mars did. Consider the range of conditions on Earth where we find life.
It is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of objective evidence. If such exists, then belief is not required. If such does not exist, then belief is irrelevant and does not change the facts of the matter.
The two usual claims: “anything is possible” and “you can’t prove it isn’t so” are simply attempts to rely on the totally arbitrary proof by ignorance. Why not just admit that the evidence is not there to support any kind of belief one way or another? There is not enough evidence for even a highly qualified maybe. We are just looking to see what we can find. Isn’t that reason enough? Why do we look? Because we can.
I think that’s what Mr. Watt said. Life did or did not form on Mars and I for one don’t know which. Before believing that it did, we need very good evidence but that evidence may not be complete. But I can be doubtful that life formed on Mars without saying that it never did. Sometimes one can prove a negative but no one has proven life never formed on Mars. We have yet to prove that it did.
Open-minded scepticism is the hallmark of science and logic. “I’m ready to believe what you can prove.” That leaves lots of room for speculation as long as we recognize that it is only speculation.
Why speculate based upon a wag? We know that every time we have looked in a new place, we find something interesting. Hence we can reasonably expect to find something interesting on Mars. What? We should wait and see. It does no good to speculate that we will find green aardvarks with pink horns or any of several hundred trillion other totally wild arbitrary guesses. When we have some real evidence to work with, we can build a testable hypothesis and actually test it. Otherwise all we are doing is increasing entropy.
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