Talk:Astrobiology/Archive 2

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The Criticism section

... is not really a criticism or even controversy section. I'll rename it something that better matches what is outlined in that section. hello, i'm a member | talk to me! 01:41, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

I use: "Research". --BatteryIncluded (talk) 20:11, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Redirect

I don't think the NASA Astrobiology Institute should redirect here. The organization is not the topic. Dbigwood (talk) 22:23, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

Once again, NAI should not redirect here. Does The Institute of Physics redirect to Physics? Does the U.S. Supreme Court redirect to Law? Dbigwood (talk) 20:40, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

I agree, but read and address the edit summary: "Rvt unsourced stub to redirect". It is standard procedure to redirect small stubs to parent topics. It should probably have been redirected to NASA, not astrobiology, but sometimes a non-standard redirect like this can be helpful, since readers are likely looking for information about astrobiology, not NASA. Add sources and we'll get the stub back, but you have to do the work. Viriditas (talk) 20:43, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Exobiology

Someone added the term "exobiology" as a synomym of astrobiology but it was removed. Actually, it is a synonym and it is widely used in Europe. In fact, the largest astrobiology mission ever is called "Exobiology on Mars" (ExoMars). Cheers, --BatteryIncluded (talk) 04:00, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Not only it is a valid synonim, it's the term older than 'astrobiology'. I don't like how they've started forcing that since they invented the term, and I see it as another 'astro-' nonsense like 'astronauts'. Human race doesn't go to, nor is likely that any life be found on stars (astrae) :) Arny (talk) 23:07, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

NASA's report (03/05/2011) re Alien Bacteria in Meteorites

I'm aware the "claims" (and "proof") of the report [1] by (Richard B. Hoover), a NASA scientist, may be presently controversial for one reason or another. Nonetheless, there are currently two edits in the main article re the report: one in the lede and the other later in the article - Questions - should both edits remain or should only one edit remain? - if only one, which one? - Thanks! :) Drbogdan (talk) 02:04, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Hello. Hoover's claim rests solely on morphology, not considered a reliable biomarker. NASA has been strangely silent thus far about the claims Hoover makes in this latest paper - claims he makes overtly using his NASA affiliation. Did Hoover fill out NASA Form 1676 or get internal review or permission at NASA MSFC to publish this paper? So for now, I'd like to leave his name and not mention NASA for now. Also, this NASA MSFC web page from 2007 lists Hoover as having a Bachelor's degree. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:16, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments - I entirely agree - no problem whatsoever - re Hoover's degree - Hoover may have a doctorate after all, at least as of 2009, based on his Biography on the NASA WebSite (08/05/2009) - also, a "Ph.D." is noted on his latest report (03/05/2011) - in any case - thanks again for your comments - they're all very much appreciated - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 03:12, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

NASA's response can be found here. The Journal of Cosmology is something of a fringe journal as well...This paper is just flavor-of-the-month stuff and it would be undue weight to focus on it more than other research. — Scientizzle 20:44, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Hoover has unsuccessfully made the same claim 3 times since 1997. He still has no evidence other than his own interpretation of micrographs (morphology). His paper in "Cosmology" was not peer-reviewed before publication and quality science blogs are revealing how he omitted important steps in the scientific method. I do not accept (or main stream science) the claim as neither proven or accepted. The continuous removal of "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life" is completely unjustified.
In addition, nobody has to "prove Hoover wrong" but the burden of proof in on him. Scientific method does not work that way. BatteryIncluded (talk) 22:05, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
NASA breaks its silence: "NASA is a scientific and technical agency committed to a culture of openness with the media and public. While we value the free exchange of ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical inquiry, NASA cannot stand behind or support a scientific claim unless it has been peer-reviewed or thoroughly examined by other qualified experts. This paper was submitted in 2007 to the International Journal of Astrobiology. However, the peer review process was not completed for that submission. NASA also was unaware of the recent submission of the paper to the Journal of Cosmology or of the paper's subsequent publication. Additional questions should be directed to the author of the paper."
Translation: "Hoover may work at NASA but he did this release without our consent and without peer-reviews." The fact is any cell biologist or microbiologist can point out numerous fatal flaws in his paper, never mind his atrocious and biased conclusion pulled out of thin air. BatteryIncluded (talk) 22:40, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

"Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life."

This phrase has been removed several times in the last week.

Earth is the only place within the universe in which any known form of life has been confirmed to exist. This is the blatantly obvious mainstream point-of-view and WP:FRINGE makes it clear that readers should not be given a false impression of the state of the field, which maintains that no extra-terrestrial life has been confirmed to exist. Please do not remove this simple, plaintive statement without any further discussion. — Scientizzle 20:38, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Given the sensitivity of recent news, perhaps the use of the {{As of}} template for the time being would help impart the idea that this may be subject to disproval, and should the Hoover report be proven unverified, then we can revert to the untemplated statement. GRAPPLE X 20:47, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

It is impossible, at this point in time, to have any kind of comprehensive knowledge about the Solar System, let alone the Galaxy. Claiming that Earth is the only place in the universe to harbor life is not just an absurd statement, it is not something that can actually be known. What we do know, is that Earth is the only place in the Solar System to harbor life, however, it is thought that other planets and moons in our own Solar System may be hospitable to life as we know it, and that is the opinion stated in the astrobiological literature. Furthermore, looking at the history of science and paradigms that change scientific knowledge, the only way any so-called extraterrestrial organism would ever be accepted as real is if a new generation of scientists replaced the old ones. In other words, we are not just dealing with an evidence problem, but also one of a fundamental paradigm shift. Please keep some perspective. Astronomers who even talked in public about the possibility of an extrasolar planet orbiting a Sun-like star before 1990 were considered insane. Now, they are mainstream. Viriditas (talk) 04:15, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

The entry in question does not state: "Earth is the only place in the universe to harbor life." It states: "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life." Science is about knowledge, not about beliefs. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 04:37, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I strongly disagree. You cannot know that Earth "is the only place in the universe" to harbor life, no matter how you word it. Even if you say "Earth is the only place in the universe known", it is wrong. It is impossible to know our own Galaxy, let alone the universe. The statement is completely absurd and meaningless. The best we can do, is make an observation about our Solar System, and this statement can be sourced to reliable journal articles. Please do so. Viriditas (talk) 04:45, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I think you are misunderstanding the use of the word "known". Its use here is meant to imply that it is the only place in the universe for which we (currently) have any scientific evidence of life. There is nothing "absurd" about that sentence ("Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life"). --Thorwald (talk) 05:18, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't think I misunderstand anything, and the statement as it is currently written, is both absurd and meaningless. The "universe" cannot be known by anyone on Earth. If we consider that there are ~100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, and that we have yet to understand our own, the statement becomes laughable. At this point in time, the best we can do is make an observation about our own Solar System. That's it. Viriditas (talk) 05:24, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Okay. Do you agree with this statement: "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life"? --Thorwald (talk) 05:37, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You can't make an observation about life in the universe. You can partially make one about life in the Solar System. For the most part, this is what the Fermi Paradox addresses, for example, where are they? That is the best you can do. We are only just beginning to be able to detect Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars, and shortly, (within a matter of years) we will be able to detect their potential atmospheres, oceans and plant-life, if it exists. We are only at the beginning of the search in our own backwater neighborhood. There isn't any need to even use the word "universe" here, unless you are trying to force a spherical "rare Earth" paradigm into a square hole, which is exactly what people are doing. Viriditas (talk) 05:43, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You haven't answered my question: Is Earth the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life? --Thorwald (talk) 05:46, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Answered above, several times. You can't make a statement about the universe because it is impossible. We can, however, say that Earth is the only place in the Solar System where life exists; we haven't even been able to attempt to detect it on extrasolar planets, yet, but we are getting close. How can you reasonably say "only place in the universe" when we can't even scrounge enough spare change to look in our own Solar System? You are consciously or not, encouraging paradigm blindness. We don't have the ability to even look for life on extrasolar words at this very moment, so the statement remains as absurd as ever. I believe it was Shostak and others who said, that if we came across something truly alien, it is a distinct possibility (one of many different scenarios) that we would not even recognize it as alive, hence the speculation about alternative biochemistry. Viriditas (talk) 06:00, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I figured you were doing this. You are arguing about knowledge from a philosophical (maybe even metaphysical) standpoint. This article is about the science of the subject. This is the wrong article to argue for/talk about knowledge in that way. We are sticking to what we can reasonably know, using our senses, observations, predictions, etc. in this article. In that light, the statement, "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life" is completely justifiable and appropriate for this article. In fact, the statement, "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life" is equally appropriate. --Thorwald (talk) 06:03, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with your assessment. We do not reasonably know anything about life in the universe, as I've demonstrated, only life in our Solar System. Which part of that isn't making sense? Have we been able to look for life outside of our Solar System yet? No, we haven't. Viriditas (talk) 06:07, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes. We have been looking for life outside of our solar system and for quite a while now. That is a big part of what this article is all about. Ever heard of SETI or spectral/emission/absorption lines? Anyway, you are obviously trying to argue from a philosophical/metaphysical standpoint and I am arguing from a purely scientific one. I don't think this is the appropriate forum to have such a debate. Both of the sentences (listed above) are completely, in my opinion (and probably the vast majority of astrobiologists), appropriate for this article. --Thorwald (talk) 06:16, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
No, we have not been looking for life outside of (let alone in) our Solar System, and we cannot even detect biomarkers in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets yet. This has nothing to do with metaphysics at all. You are implicitly promoting the Rare Earth hypothesis as the default paradigm by indirectly assuming we have searched the universe for life and have not found it. That is most certainly false. Ever heard of Darwin (ESA) or Terrestrial Planet Finder (NASA)? Viriditas (talk) 06:25, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, I certainly disagree that we have not be looking (or trying to look) for life outside of Earth or our Solar System (those two satellites you linked to support that stance). I am also not, by any means, implying that life only exists here on Earth. In fact, I agree with Carl Sagan that our universe is probably teeming with life, we just haven't found any scientific evidence to support such a claim . . . yet. Anyway, I think we are getting off-topic. I maintain that the statements, "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life" and "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life" are both equally appropriate for this article. That is all I am trying to argue here and for this article. --Thorwald (talk) 06:32, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Please read more carefully: Darwin (ESA) and Terrestrial Planet Finder (NASA) have never been launched. We haven't even begun to look for life in the universe. Claiming we have is absurd. Viriditas (talk) 06:35, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You are correct. I apologize. I didn't realize that those satellites hadn't been launched yet (I should have checked that first). However, I still believe that SETI qualifies as a kind of search for life in the universe (no matter how small that search or narrow its focus has been). However, and again, we are not arguing about that in this section and for this article. We are arguing whether or not those two statements/sentences belong (and are appropriate) for this article. I maintain that they are. Please specifically state (not using metaphysics) what is wrong with this statement: "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life". In fact, that we haven't even started looking in depth (past SETI), should back up this statement even more. We just don't have any scientific evidence yet and, as such, that statement is true (in the purely scientific/only way we can really "known") and appropriate for this article. --Thorwald (talk) 06:51, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Although they are related, there is a significant difference between astrobiology (search for life) and SETI (search for intelligent life), neither of which can come close to claiming they have searched the "universe". As I have repeatedly explained, we can only talk about our search for life in the Solar System at this time. We are getting close to justifying a statement claiming that we have actually searched for life (not the extremely narrow range of intelligent life) outside of our Solar System, but we are not quite there yet. This has nothing to do with "metaphysics" of any kind. Both astrobiology and SETI are nascent disciplines and have yet to even scratch the surface of a search for life. Grandiose claims about the universe are not appropriate nor accurate, and merely serve to reinforce the paradigm of the rare Earth hypothesis. You may not see it that way, but that is what is going on here. More to the point, we can talk reasonably about life in the Solar System and speculate about the Galaxy, but beyond that, is nonsense. The fact remains: intelligent life could be all around us, and we would still not be able to detect it with our current methods, given the length of time we've been searching. Viriditas (talk) 07:50, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Wow. Just wow. Are you purposely ignoring what I have been arguing here? Nowhere I have claimed that our search for non-Earth life has been exhaustive. Nowhere am I making any "grandiose" claims about the universe (positive or negative). I am arguing just the opposite. We have barely begun the search (but it has started). I am arguing that it is perfectly reasonable to make the claim that we have not found any scientific evidence of life outside of Earth yet. We may find an abundance of it tomorrow, but we haven't found anything yet. As such, the statement, "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life" is entirely reasonable and appropriate for this article. I can't make my point any clearer to you. And you still haven't directly addressed what is wrong with that statement. You keep arguing about some positive claim that there is absolutely zero life outside of the Earth, but nowhere do I even hint at that. I am arguing that we don't know, partially because we haven't fully begun the search, but the reasons why we don't know are irrelevant to the statement that we, as of yet, have zero scientific evidence to say either way. As such, is it blatantly obvious that any reasonable person can make a statement like, "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life". PS: No. There is not a "significant difference" between astrobiology and SETI. SETI is just a more narrow search than astrobiology, but it fits perfectly within the scope of astrobiology. If SETI found evidence of "intelligent life" tomorrow, that would also be an astrobiology find of life. How can the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (aka life) not be considered a search for life outside of planet Earth? And, how is it "absurd" to claim that we have begun to look? I never said we have started looking beyond our current means (i.e., beyond a tiny fraction of our own galaxy), so obviously it would be absurd to claim that we have search the entire universe. But no one is stating that. However, we certainly have started looking and our horizon-sphere is growing by the decade. --Thorwald (talk) 08:24, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

(outdent) You are missing the finer points. The significant difference is that the REH allows for astrobiology but not SETI, in other words, life but not intelligent life. The differences are broad vs. narrow, with SETI focusing on civilizations, not microbes. That is a significant difference. We are not concerned with the universe but rather with Earth, and how life arose, and whether we can extrapolate from those circumstances, such as the assumption that we can follow the water to find life. We are also asking, is life like us or could it be quite different? SETI assumes it is like us. But whether we are the only example of life in the universe is not just unknown, it is unlikely according to Boss and others. Stating we are the only known life in the universe without also stating that it is unlikely, affirms the REH paradigm above and beyond the known facts. We can't know if we are alone or not, but based on the data we have accumulated in the last decade, the REH is no longer thought to be the default position. Therefore, it is inaccurate and misleading to claim knowledge about the universe we don't have based on one data point we do have, when we clearly have not made an effort to look. Viriditas (talk) 09:13, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

I am not sure that I am missing anything; I just think we might be speaking past each other (and about different things). Once again, you keep stating things like, "it is inaccurate and misleading to claim knowledge about the universe" and (imply that I am claiming) "we are the only known life in the universe", and I keep stating that nowhere am I stating anything of the sort. I am not stating that we "know" anything about extraterrestrial life. I am stating the opposite, that we "don't know" anything about it and, as such, we can state that. Please, once again, can we get back to the topic of this section. Where do you find fault in the following statement: "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life" and, if there is no fault in it, why wouldn't that be an entirely reasonable and appropriate sentence to include in this article? --Thorwald (talk) 09:29, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Again, it is not possible to know the universe, nor is it possible to know if we are alone. We have ourselves as one example. We can say that we are alone in the Solar System and in the known Galaxy so far, but not the universe, as there is no way to know. We can also say that the REH looks to be more unlikely with each new discovery from Kepler. Viriditas (talk) 09:39, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Arg! This is getting frustrating! Nowhere am I claiming to "know the universe" or that "we are alone". I am stating the exact opposite! For crying out loud, please answer my very simple question with a direct response: What, if anything, is wrong with this statement: "Earth is the only place in the universe for which we currently have any scientific evidence for the existence of life"? Let's break down that sentence. (1) Do we currently (as of March 2011) have any scientific evidence for extraterrestrial life? No. That does not mean that we can't or won't find some tomorrow (and it could be on Mars, a planet orbiting another star, etc.); (2) Since we don't know, isn't is reasonable to state as such and, thus, for this sentence to be included in the article?; and (3) That statement does not distinguish if that extraterrestrial life might or might not be in our Solar System, in our galaxy, or elsewhere in the universe. It is irrelevant, since we have zero evidence for life being anywhere but here on Earth. There are no positive or negative claims about the universe. We don't know anything about life beyond our own planet and that is what that sentence is stating. Nothing less, nothing more. --Thorwald (talk) 09:52, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
What you are not claiming is implicit in what you are claiming. I've already explained this, several times. We cannot know the universe, nor whether it has life other than us at this time. We can attempt to discover if there is life in the Solar System or in the stellar neighborhood. This is a far, far cry from the "universe". There is really no need for this kind of misleading rhetoric. We only have one sample, Earth, therefore you cannot imply that life does or does not exist anywhere else, and the latest data leans heavily in the direction that it might. Viriditas (talk) 10:57, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Viriditas is just being pedantic, and wrong to boot. The simple disproof of "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life" is to provide one non-Earth example with reasonable scientific credibility. Such examples do not presently exist, though there are promising candidates and avenues of exploration. This statement does not imply a probability that life does or does not exist extra-terrestrially, it simply explains the present state of knowledge, necessarily incomplete. Astrobiology is a legitimate field of study precisely because there is reasonable probability that life, in some form, existed or exists beyond our pale blue dot. — Scientizzle 16:03, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
The point is you keep ignoring the probability as claimed by the topic and cherry picking half of quotes and citing out of date sources from 1990 that have nothing to do with astrobiology. Viriditas (talk) 18:39, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Viriditas, please give an example provide one example, with reasonable scientific credibility, of known life outside of Earth...presumably we can agree that such an example does not (yet) exist. This is the bluntly obvious mainstream POV: no known life outside of Earth. Per WP:UNDUE/WP:FRINGE, this must be unambiguous in this article.
Regarding probabilities: I happen to agree with Tyson and others that there's a pretty good chance of life, in some form that we may or may not recognize, existing (or having existed) beyond Earth. We also can't prove the negative that life does not exist outside of Earth, nor is anyone trying to do so here. Your own edits, however, have downplayed the reality that we've not (yet) found non-Earth life. I have no qualms with explaining how our n of 1 planet and technological limitations are barriers to a more comprehensive answer to the question of extra-terrestrial life, but the bottom line is we have no idea what the probability of the existence of extra-terrestrial life is. We have some reasonable arguments that P is above 0, but that's it. Beyond that, 0<P<1 is not actually evidence that life exists--it's evidence that life could exist--because a probability function is descriptive of possible outcomes and not prescriptive of a given outcome. These are also points that should be clear within this article.
All that said, I have no problem with this version of the lead. — Scientizzle 19:54, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
There isn't anything wrong with my edits; in fact the problem is with the continued use of and defense of poor sourcing by BatteryIncluded, yourself, and others. I've edited this and other astrobiology articles for years without any problems. BatteryIncluded's labeling of Tyson as "fringe" is just as absurd as your own statement that I have "downplayed the reality that we've not (yet) found non-Earth life." The reality is that I have not, at any time, done this, yet anyone who objects to wide sweeping statements implying we've searched the universe for life and found it empty is accused of "downplaying" the results of the current search, which has barely even started. Please stick with the astrobiology literature from now on. Do not continue to add NASA memorandums from 1989 or history.com websites to frame this topic. All reliable astrobiology sources make a point of explaining that their research is based on only one example, life on Earth, and all of them frame the topic in terms of first understanding the origin and distribution of life on Earth before even attempting to understand it anywhere else. Viriditas (talk) 20:47, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You're being quite combative. I've not defended any particular source. You have made some claims here that are quite incorrect or misleading (e.g., "Claiming that Earth is the only place in the universe to harbor life is not just an absurd statement, it is not something that can actually be known." --this is not what is or was being claimed). You've been arguing against a strawman and it's stupid. I think we're all in agreement here that there's plenty of literature to provide evidence that the probability of ET life is nonzero! If you have a source from the astrobiological literature that actually counters the claim that Earth is the only place in the universe presently known to harbor life, please present it. We can incorporate it. Otherwise, you've been gnashing your teeth at a complete misunderstanding. — Scientizzle 21:15, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
On the contrary, I haven't been combative at all, even after being subject to multiple personal attacks and reverts from you and Battery. In fact, I have ignored the distractions and have plodded along, and I have discussed the proposed replacement and I am implementing it presently.[8] Please refrain from any further reverts and if you are interested, feel free to help research with current sources from the field. Viriditas (talk) 21:22, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I'd appreciate you citing the personal attacks and reverts performed by me. — Scientizzle 21:29, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Viriditas' rambling is becomming a monologue because he is indulging in an Argument from ignorance, asserting that a proposition is necessarily true because it has not been proven false. Science does not work that way. Rather than ramble endlessly, find a reliable reference on the proven existence of extraterrestrial life. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 21:28, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Thorwald, it is evident that we will not be able to explain Viriditas the difference between science fiction and science. There is no evidence for life outside Earth. Period. The statement remains in the article.
PS:Tysons' arguments are not evidence. BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:19, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
BatteryIncluded, you appear to be cherry picking and POV pushing.[9] You just called a 2001 statement about the possibility of life in the universe from Neil deGrasse Tyson a "WP:Fringe "argument" and replaced his 2001 statement[10] with a 1990 NASA techical manual.[11] There is not a single thing "fringe" about Tyson's argument, and your 1990 source (actually presented in 1989) is completely out of date, with statements like "The enormity of the universe causes us to wonder about the prospects of other planetary systems revolving about a sun with life on one of its planets. On this subject we can only speculate because our instruments are not yet sensitive enough to detect planetary systems revolving about even the closest stars", and says nothing about astrobiology. On Wikipedia, we do not cherry pick from old sources while ignoring newer ones. I will therefore now, replace this continuing charade with actual quotes from texts devoted to and about the subject, astrobiology. Viriditas (talk) 18:40, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

FWIW - interesting discussion - a related consideration, at least to me at this time, might be the following - although not too long ago, the Tyson statement that "life on earth is the only known life in the universe," or the current main article edit statement, "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life," *might* have been true statements - but are these statements really, really true today? - after all, humankind has now actually traveled off planet Earth - has actually landed on the Moon (more than once) - has left objects behind on the Moon - has sent man-made objects that have actually landed on other locations in the solar system (Mars, Titan, etc) - has sent numerous objects hurtling through the solar system - and beyond, with the Voyager spacecrafts - to me, all this activity and doings can be understood as an actual extension of life beyond planet Earth - besides, how many microbes are actually living on the objects we've sent off planet Earth? - my guess is that there is, right now, an astronomical number of microbes living on the many objects we've launched - including on the Voyager spacecrafts as they are being hurtled out of the solar system (is there any real, and complete, assurance that there is not a single microbe on the Voyager spacecrafts at this very moment?) - in any regards - a few of my thoughts at the moment - thanks again for the inspiring discussion - enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 16:38, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Please see: Forward-contamination. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 19:16, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the Forward-contamination, and related Back-contamination, Wikilinks - these Wiki-Articles are new to me & *greatly* appreciated. Thanks again - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 19:45, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You are always welcome, my friend. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 19:52, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

I will not be drawn into a hypothetical discussion. There is no evidence of extraterrestrial life. That is that. No cherry picking but the hard cold reality and scientific concensus. "Compelling arguments" are not evidence. BatteryIncluded (talk) 18:56, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Please refrain from cherry picking sources or using out of date citations from 1990. The lead section should represent a summary of the encyclopedic topic. Feel free to consult any number of the hundreds of astrobiology and related sources published within the last decade. If you were familiar with even the slightest semblance of astrobiology, you would know that every source on the subject says that the discipline currently focuses on life on Earth because it is the only example we have. That you refuse to cite the hundreds of astrobiology sources that say this is strange. However these same recent sources also report that fundamental assumptions about the likelihood of extraterrestrial life have changed in the last 20 years, particularly, "the assumption that habitable zones are frequent and are not restricted to our Solar System" and the opinion of the scientific community at large that "microbial life is not restricted to Earth". I am not aware of a single reliable astrobiological source that claims that there is conclusive evidence of ET life. Not one. Yet you are using the lead section to state otherwise and ignore what the sources do say. Viriditas (talk) 19:08, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I believe your line of thought may be better used in the Cosmic pluralism article, as it concerned with beliefs and not encumbered by scientific evidence. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 19:14, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Now you are disrupting the talk page. My "line of thought" is directly quoted from Horneck & Rettberg (2007).[12][13] Viriditas (talk) 19:20, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

I am curious, why was an outdated, 1990 NASA Technical Memorandum about "Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe"[14] added back to this article[15] along with a link to History.com?[16] And why, after repeated requests, weren't current sources about astrobiology used instead? I would like an answer, as an outdated "memorandum" from 1990 (actually 1989) is not relevant to this subject, nor is a history.com website. Viriditas (talk) 19:59, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

They are called "reliable references". Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life. Live with it. BatteryIncluded (talk) 20:01, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Please improve your discourse and remain civil. Reliable sources are those that are 1) current 2) relevant to the topic and 3) authoritative, among other criteria, none of which apply to the sources you added. Is there a reason you are unable to add sources from the current astrobiological literature that are neither outdated or irrelevant? This is a simple request expected of every editor who edits. The previous version said "Presently, life on Earth is the only example astrobiologists have to work with" which is what most astrobiology texts say. Do you have a problem with this statement? Viriditas (talk) 20:09, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life. Live with it. We can quote sources supporting this statement from 5000 BC, from 1990 or 2011. You don't have to live with it but it remains a scientific fact, CheersBatteryIncluded (talk) 20:18, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Please directly address my question about your use of sources and provide an answer that is compatible with Wikipedia policies and guidelines. For this article, sources should focus on astrobiology and their research, using sources about astrobiology. Is this making sense to you? Viriditas (talk) 20:36, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life. Live with it. BatteryIncluded (talk) 20:37, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
If you can't answer direct questions about your poor use of outdated and non-astrobiological literature, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to remove them and replace them with representative examples that carefully frame this topic in terms of the current subject, and more importantly, use the lead section to summarize the topic. Viriditas (talk) 20:50, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't care if you don't believe mainstream science or your disbeliefs of the sources enclosed. Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life. The statement and its references remain. If you delete them you will face an ANI. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 21:06, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
That is not a reply to my concerns about your use of sources, nor is it in any way an accurate representation of my position or my edits. Since you are unable to address the questions asked of you and cannot provide a justification for your contributions, I am going to replace your poor, outdated sources with current sourdces about the topic. Since there are so many to choose from, I will begin with replacing your poor sources with a citation to professor Wladyslaw Altermann in Records of Life on Earth and the Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures (2008). You are free at any time to help research and contribute current sources about the topic. If you continue reverting, I will report you to 3RR. Thanks. Viriditas (talk) 21:20, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Discussion over disputed content

Because there has been no replies to my concerns except for reversions, I have removed the content to the talk page for discussion. This article was stable for five years before BatteryIncluded added it, unsourced to the lead section on 26 July 2010.[17] I would like to show the various iterations and to work with other editors to come to the best version that will improve the article and the lead section. I feel that I have attempted to do this, only to be reverted for no reason. Several points:

  • The statement(s), "At present, life has not been detected beyond Earth" (Altermann 2008), and "Presently, life on Earth is the only example astrobiologists have to work with" (Horneck * Rettberg (2007) are supported by all current astrobiology sources. I have asked (and I have not received a response) why they were removed and replaced with a NASA memo from 1989 (pub. 1990).
  • This article, like any other Wikipedia article, should use the most current sources about the topic

I have several other points to make, but the third paragraph should summarize the research to date. Viriditas (talk) 21:07, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

  1. ) Your references were never deleted.
  2. ) Unless Moulder and Skully got their hands on ET, Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life, and any astrobiology document stating this fact is relevant, valid and scientifically accurate.
  3. ) This issue is being dealt elsewhere.

BatteryIncluded (talk) 23:52, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Is there a language barrier here? Your comments do not even begin to address my questions about your use of sources. And just so that you understand, the issue is most certainly not being dealt with on the 3RR board, as we only discuss edit warring in that forum, not content disputes. The issue is addressed on the article talk page, and I've asked you many times now, to explain your edits, but I have not received a single explanation. Do you understand that we have to use the best, most current and relevant sources to support our content? That is why I added, in an attempt to help you, Altermann (2008) and Horneck & Rettberg (2007), and changed the statement accordingly. However, let us start at the beginning, since you were the original editor to add this statement to the lead on 26 July 2010:

Earth is the only known inhabited planet in the universe to date. However, advancements in the fields of astrobiology, observational astronomy and discovery of large varieties of extremophiles with extraordinary capability to thrive in harshest environments on Earth, have led to speculation that life may possibly be thriving on many of the extraterrestrial bodies in the universe.[18]

Do you still maintain the veracity of this unsourced statement you added? If not, you have evidently learned that placing as the second sentence was not appropriate. The fact is, you added it unsourced, and you only attempted to source it two days ago. Since that time, you've raced to find sources to support it, but you've been cherry picking quotes from Tyson and using old memos from 1989 to do it. That is not best practice. What we do on Wikipedia, is we choose the best, most current sources on a subject, sources that are directly relevant to what we are writing about, and we rely on those to guide us. If this isn't making sense, let me know. Viriditas (talk) 00:25, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Do you still maintain the veracity of this unsourced statement you added?
Now you want to dispute another entry? Fine. Yes, I maintain it is scientifically accurate. Are you requesting me to source it? That'd be easy. CHeers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 18:20, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
It's not another entry, it is the original entry, and I'm not disputing it. There appears to be a serious communication problem, perhaps because of a language barrier. If as you say, you "maintain it is scientifically accurate", then each and every one of your reverts of my edits to this article have been made without justification and without any substantial basis. In other words, you have just admitted this, yet don't understand what this means. The edits that I made are indistinguishable from those you claim are "scientifically accurate", and have used current references in the astrobiology literature to support them, whereas you have not. Therefore, you must now explain your reverts, and your reasoning for making them. Viriditas (talk) 20:10, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Viriditas' position:
  • I strongly disagree. You cannot know that Earth "is the only place in the universe" to harbor life, no matter how you word it. Even if you say "Earth is the only place in the universe known", it is wrong. - Viriditas.
  • It's not another entry, it is the original entry, and I'm not disputing it. - Viriditas
We are progressing now since you just noticed that you are simultaneously disputing both sides of the argument. I'll come back tomorrow to see your progress. PS: As requested by the administrator, I'll do my good-will edit and I am removing the offending reference stating: "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life." BatteryIncluded (talk) 00:59, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
That is another non-response. My statements are entirely consistent and completely supported by the sources, and have nothing to do with your reverts. The current astrobiology sources, such as Altermann (2008) and Horneck & Rettberg (2007), do not make the claim that "Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life". They all claim, as you have been repeatedly informed, that "At present, life has not been detected beyond Earth", and that is entirely consistent with not just the astrobiological literature, but with the outdated NASA memo you keep misusing, which clearly says on page 7: "we cannot say that life does not exist in other solar systems in stellar space." To recap:
  • Your cherry picking of the Tyson quote without attribution was a classic example of extremely bad editing.[19]
  • I corrected your cherry picking by attributing and quoting the statement in full per best practices,[20]
  • You called Tyson "fringe" for saying, "Earth is the only known life in the Universe, but there are compelling arguments to suggest we are not alone."[21] However, you at the same time admitted that this fringe quote "is scientifically accurate"[22] when you made the exact same argument as Tyson in July 2010, when you wrote, "advancements in the fields of astrobiology...have led to speculation that life may possibly be thriving on many of the extraterrestrial bodies in the universe."[23]
  • Your continued use of an outdated NASA 1989 memo (pub. 1990) not only claims we have not yet detected exoplanetary systems (we have) but supports the claims made by Altermann (2008) and Horneck & Rettberg (2007) on page seven, and completely contradicts your claim about the source. This is what happens when you play fast and loose with sources, BatteryIncluded. From page 7: "It has been proven rather conclusively that the earth contains the only form of animal life in our planetary system at the present time...Although nothing comparable to our planet seems to co-exist within a distance of a few billion miles, we cannot say that life does not exist in other solar systems in stellar space."
This is exactly what all the current astrobiological sources say, so your reverts remain completely unjustified. I think I have conclusively shown that not a single revert you made was justified and that you edit warred for no reason whatsoever. I have also demonstrated that my edits which added "At present, life has not been detected beyond Earth" (Altermann 2008), and "Presently, life on Earth is the only example astrobiologists have to work with" (Horneck * Rettberg (2007) are supported by all current astrobiology sources, as well as the older, outdated NASA memo you keep misusing. Since you have not demonstrated any understanding of the sources you have used nor have you supported your reverts with a single rationale, I request that you immediately restore my edits and issue an apology. Viriditas (talk) 02:42, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

I must say that I am completely confused now over what exactly the differing opinions are as to what you two are debating. Can we get Viriditas and BatteryIncluded to each place the sentence(s) with the sources/references that they would like to see in the article below. That is, Viriditas, could you write the sentence(s)+references exactly how you would like to see them and BatteryIncluded do the same below. Then, we can debate them more clearly (even word-for-word if we have to). Thanks! --Thorwald (talk) 02:58, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Alright, I'll give it a try. Below are, what I understand are the differing statements between Viriditas and BatteryIncluded as to what each of them wishes to be included in the article. Please correct the quotation boxes below to fully reflect how each of you would like them to read and which references you are citing: --Thorwald (talk) 04:03, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

At present, life has not been detected beyond Earth,[1] therefore astrobiologists must base their work on only one example. However, recent advances in planetary science have changed fundamental assumptions about the possibility of life in the universe, raising the estimates of habitable zones around other stars and the search for extraterrestrial microbial life.[2]

— Viriditas

Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life,[3][4][5] therefore, astrobiologists must base their work on only one example: Earth. However, recent advances in planetary science have changed fundamental assumptions about the possibility of life in the universe, raising the estimates of habitable zones around other stars and the search for extraterrestrial microbial life.[6]

— BatteryIncluded

Maybe I'm missing something here but can't the above two statements (assuming they accurately represent the two different views) be combined in some way? Perhaps as follows:
"Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life,[7][8][9] since, at present, life has not been detected beyond Earth.[10] Therefore, astrobiologists must base their work on only one example: Earth. However, recent advances in planetary science have changed fundamental assumptions about the possibility of life in the universe, raising the estimates of habitable zones around other stars and the search for extraterrestrial microbial life.[11]"
Just a suggestion. Drbogdan (talk) 05:52, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Drbogdan and Thorwald, I leave it in your very capable hands. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 01:29, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your comments - we wish *everyone* well of course - suggestions for improvements and all are *always* welcome - my own thinking at the moment is to preserve the basic idea of the current material as it's now presented - and *perhaps* - include some wording/phrasing (ideally, w/ completely ok citations) that lifeforms (albeit originally from earth) are presently living *beyond* the earth - not only in the form of our human space activities over the years (as astronaut commuters?) - but also in the form of the innummerable microbes (Forward-contamination?) that are likely living (thriving?) (and/or in some dormant state?) in the many man-made objects we've launched into space over the years (this notion was already referred to, in perhaps more detail, in one of my ealier posts) - in any case - Thanks again for your comments - and - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 15:16, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
  1. ^ Altermann, Wladyslaw (2008). "From Fossils to Astrobiology - A Roadmap to Fata Morgana?". From Fossils to Astrobiology: Records of Life on Earth and the Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures 12. Springer. p. xvii. ISBN 1402088361.  Unknown parameter |eidtors= ignored (help)
  2. ^ Horneck, Gerda; Petra Rettberg (2007). Complete Course in Astrobiology. Wiley-VCH. ISBN 3527406603. 
  3. ^ "Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe" (PDF), NASA Technical Memorandum 102363, Lewis Research Center, Ohio: NASA, February 1990, retrieved 2011-03-08 
  4. ^ Jonathan I. Lunine, Raymond Jeanloz. "Earth". History.com. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  5. ^ Altermann, Wladyslaw (2008). "From Fossils to Astrobiology - A Roadmap to Fata Morgana?". From Fossils to Astrobiology: Records of Life on Earth and the Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures 12. p. xvii. ISBN 1402088361.  Unknown parameter |eidtors= ignored (help)
  6. ^ Horneck, Gerda; Petra Rettberg (2007). Complete Course in Astrobiology. Wiley-VCH. ISBN 3527406603. 
  7. ^ Graham, Robert W. (February 1990), "Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe" (PDF), NASA Technical Memorandum 102363, Lewis Research Center, Ohio: NASA, retrieved 2011-03-08 
  8. ^ Lunine, Jonathan I.; Jeanloz, Raymond. "Earth". History.com. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  9. ^ Altermann, Wladyslaw (2008). "From Fossils to Astrobiology - A Roadmap to Fata Morgana?". In Seckbach Joseph, Walsh Maud. From Fossils to Astrobiology: Records of Life on Earth and the Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures 12. p. xvii. ISBN 1402088361. 
  10. ^ Altermann, Wladyslaw (2008). "From Fossils to Astrobiology - A Roadmap to Fata Morgana?". In Seckbach Joseph, Maud Walsh. From Fossils to Astrobiology: Records of Life on Earth and the Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures 12. Springer. p. xvii. ISBN 1402088361. 
  11. ^ Horneck, Gerda; Petra Rettberg (2007). Complete Course in Astrobiology. Wiley-VCH. ISBN 3527406603.