Fermi's Paradox Is a Daunting Problem---Under Whatever Label

Research paper by Milan M. Cirkovic

Indexed on: 16 Sep '16Published on: 16 Sep '16Published in: arXiv - Physics - General Physics


Gray (2015) argued that the Fermi paradox (FP) is a misnomer, and it is not a valid paradox. Gray also speculated that the argument was misattributed to Fermi, whose lunchtime remarks did not pertain to the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, but to the feasibility of interstellar travel. Instead, the paradox is ascribed to Hart and Tipler, and it is further suggested that the paradox is not a real problem or research subject and should not be used in debates about SETI projects. The arguments given are unpersuasive, ahistorical, and, in at least one instance, clearly hinge on literalistic and uncharitable reading of evidence. Instead, I argue the following three points: (i) Contrary to Gray's assertion, the historical issue of naming of ideas or concepts is completely divorced from their epistemic status. (ii) FP is easily and smoothly generalized into the Great Silence paradox, so it makes no sense either theoretically or empirically to separate the two. (iii) In sharp contrast to the main implication of Gray's paper, FP has become more aggravated lately due to advances in astrobiology.