Talk:Extraterrestrial life/GA1

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GA Reassessment[edit]

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Symbol unsupport vote.svg In order to uphold the quality of Wikipedia:Good articles, all articles listed as Good articles are being reviewed against the GA criteria as part of the GA project quality task force. While all the hard work that has gone into this article is appreciated, unfortunately, as of July 16, 2009, this article fails to satisfy the criteria, as detailed below. For that reason, the article has been delisted from WP:GA. However, if improvements are made bringing the article up to standards, the article may be nominated at WP:GAN. If you feel this decision has been made in error, you may seek remediation at WP:GAR.

The article was promoted December 11, 2005. The problems within the article, in respect of the criteria, are significant enough to delist as a Good Article. The extent of the problems is such that fixing the article within a short hold period is not realistic. –Whitehorse1 01:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


The article is filled with weasel words and conjecturing original research. Entire paragraphs are unreferenced, with sections containing no inline cites for the most part, with occasional statements given a cite—to generally a poor quality source. Illustrative examples follow. The article requires substantial rewriting before it can be renominated for good article assessment.


  • "It is the subject of astrobiology and its existence remains hypothetical since to date no credible evidence of extraterrestrial life has been discovered which has been generally accepted by the mainstream scientific community." Redundant words; awkward phrasing.
  • "Hypotheses regarding the origin(s) of extraterrestrial life, if it indeed exists" Poor English. They're hypotheses regardless of its existence.

Possible basis...[edit]

  • This section, simply, is a mess. It starts "Several theories have been proposed about the possible basis of alien life" (Straight into weasel words.) The section has little to no theories. Content, is generally a hotchpotch of middleschool/highschool science statements like "Plants derive energy through the conversion of light energy into chemical energy via photosynthesis." or "The fact that solid water (ice) is less dense than liquid water also means that ice floats, thereby preventing Earth's oceans from slowly freezing." These nature and biology facts are all fed to the reader as a way to finally say: "Due to their relative abundance and usefulness in sustaining life, "many" have hypothesized that lifeforms elsewhere in the universe would also utilize these basic materials." It's entirely unreferenced; at one later point a small sentence about ammonia is cited to the domain
  • "Several pre-conceived ideas about the characteristics of life outside of Earth have been questioned. For example, NASA scientists believe that the color of photosynthesizing pigments on extrasolar planets might not be green.[6]" The first sweeping sentence does not match up to the cited specific claim on pigments. The link gives a page not found error, in any event.
Evolution and morphology[edit]
  • "In addition to the biochemical basis of extraterrestrial life, many have also considered evolution and morphology..." Filled with weasel words.
  • "Skeletons, which are essential to large terrestrial organisms according to the experts of the field of Gravitational biology, are almost assured to be replicated elsewhere in one form or another." Woolly, weaselly-worded, vague. A stack of jargon in that part of the article as well.

Beliefs in extraterrestrial life[edit]

Ancient and early modern ideas[edit]
  • "The best known early-modern proponent of such ideas was the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno ... (See main article about Giordano Bruno.)" Over-linked.
Extraterrestrials and the modern era[edit]
  • "Emboldened critics[who?] view the search for extraterrestrials as unscientific, despite the fact that the SETI program is not the result of a continuous, dedicated search, but instead utilizes what resources and manpower it can, when it can. Furthermore, the SETI program only searches a limited range of frequencies at any one time.[14]" Such a "So there! You mean non believers!" counter is not appropriate in tone or nature for an encyclopedic article.
  • "Thus, the three decades preceding the turn of the second millennium saw a crossroads reached in beliefs in alien life. The prospect of ubiquitous, intelligent, space-faring civilizations in our galaxy appears increasingly dubious to many scientists. Still, in the words of SETI's Frank Drake..." Non-encyclopedic magazine supplement style tone.

Scientific search for extraterrestrial life[edit]

Direct search[edit]
  • "A mission is also proposed to Europa" Short on details, like timescale.
  • "An experiment on the Viking Mars lander reported gas emissions from heated Martian soil that some argue are consistent with the presence of microbes." Weasel wording. No indication of who argues that, if those arguing are scientists, etc.
  • "This report is also controversial, and scientific debate continues." There's no indication if this is debate with scientists by non-scientists, between scientists, etc.
  • "Though such findings are still very much in debate, support among scientists for the belief in the existence of life on Mars seems to be growing. In an informal survey conducted at the conference at which the European Space Agency presented its findings, 75 percent of the scientists in attendance were reported to believe that life once existed on Mars, and 25 percent reported a belief that life currently exists there.[20]" No details on according to whom and among whom it's in debate. The rest of the sentence comes across as an optimistic assertion. The paragraph is cited to "Christian Science Monitor".
Indirect search[edit]
  • "It is theorized that any technological society in space will be transmitting information, although this is arguable, as ... so there is no guarantee that any other species would do so, either." Again, weasel wording and speculating.
Extrasolar planets[edit]
  • "Future telescopes should be able to image planets around nearby stars, which may reveal the presence of life — either directly or through spectrography which would reveal key information, such as the presence of free oxygen in a planet's atmosphere" This is a long run-on sentence, of conjecture about what, if anything, "may" turn up.


  • There's proseline throughout.
  • The amount of items in the "See also" section is the highest I have ever seen. A set of four definition lists, composed of nearly 30 listitems, and so many that 2 columns are used for display. Several were also already wikilinked in the article text.
  • The Further reading list has many works from the same authors. It's unlikely all of these are necessary.

Sourcing; verifiability[edit]

  • A good article needs to be built from reliable published secondary sources. The references here are poor quality:
    • There's a reply to a reader's letter on an "Ask a Rabbi" page. There're a few mainstream media non-specialized filler pieces.
    • All online references need publisher and last accessdate information at least; most don't have this.
    • A reference to what scientists are "turning their attention to" is sourced to
    • There's very little in the way of references to peer-reviewed journals in biology, astronomy, astrophysics, theoretical physics areas, and the like.
  • The article is already in the following hidden maintenance categories: All pages needing cleanup; Articles with specifically-marked weasel-worded phrases from October 2008; Articles containing potentially dated statements from 2009; All articles containing potentially dated statements.