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Frank Drake, of Drake Equation Fame, Passes Away at Age 92

Posted by Guy Pirro 09/22/2022 02:55AM

Frank Drake, of Drake Equation Fame, Passes Away at Age 92

How many intelligent civilizations should there be in our galaxy right now? In 1961, the US astrophysicist Frank Drake, who passed away on September 2, 2022 at the age of 92, came up with an equation to estimate this. Whatever reasonable values you feed into the equation, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we shouldn’t be alone in the galaxy. Drake remained a proponent and a supporter of the search for extraterrestrial life throughout his days. Today, there are about 100 scientists at the SETI Institute working on nearly 100 research questions and each of these topics can be related to one of the terms in the Drake Equation.


Frank Drake, when I met him (he was part of the group I was in on a trip to China to see a total eclipse of the sun) struck me as very delightful, pleasant person. However, the Drake Equation, and the reverence for it show in so many quarters (including this ill-considered news paragraph) is a sad comment on how much the media lacks intellectually honest scientific and mathematical judgement. The Drake Equation is poster child for the notion of 'Garbage In / Garbage Out" when cited (as this news blurb does) as IN THE SLIGHTEST supporting the (dubious, and in any case very far from strongly indicated) notion that intelligent, self-aware, technologically adept life exists anywhere in the universe other than here... or at least that it is other than truly astronomically rare.

This should be obvious to an high school student who can do simple arithmetic.

Even if one accepts the (obviously false) notion that the Drake equation addresses all of the issues relating to whether life with capabilities like ours or greater will evolve on another plant, the problem with the cultist claim that this equation "proves" (or indicates it's very likely) that other life with capabilities like ours exist elsewhere is we don't at this time know... by many tens of orders of magnitude... WHAT the chances are of those factors occurring. Let me repeat that: By TENS OF ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE. Now, there appear to be a 1 with 24 zeros after it number of stars in the visible universe. But some of the factors of Drake equation could entail odds of one in 1 to 30 ieth. Or 1 in 10 to 40 ieth. Making it essentially certain we are unique. The "scientists" (note my use of quotes... it's needed!) at SETI are bound by their own economic interests ... they need to keep their jobs of spewing BS to the public... and in the case of the honest but incompetent ones, by their own confirmation bias.

Note that the fascinating and marvelous discovery over the last two decades that most stars have planets DOES NOT CHANGE this assessment AT ALL, given that it is other factors in the equation that allow "wiggle room" at the 10 to 25th or 10 to 30ieth power level.

So... Frank Drake... rest in peace. You were a good man. But citing that exercise in garbage in / garbage out and sophistry that is that totally worthless equation of yous as indicative of the likelihood of there being other self aware technologically adept beings on a planet of anotehr star is something only for those ignorant of science and math.