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Re: Europa Dope

On Tue, 05 Jul 2005 23:46:15 -0600 Caleb Lewis <muaddib7@unm.edu> writes:
> Phil Bigelow wrote:
> >
> >
> >Ahhh, but in order to make such a claim, you *must* assume that 
> there is
> >more than one possible biochemical pathway for carbon-based life to 
> form.
> > But what if there is *only* one possible way for life to form?  
> How,
> >then, could a geneticist distinguish polyphyletic Earth life from
> >monophyletic Earth life?  This is a valid hypothesis, because it 
> has the
> >potential to be falsified.

>    statistically 
> speaking, multiple origins of life on earth exceed the probablistic 
> resources of the universe, so it's technically impossible, there's 
> no 
> chance in Archean Earth that it could happen...

But if there is only one workable format/template for life to form in the
universe, then geneticists wouldn't recognize polyphyletic life on Earth
if it bit them on their bums.  Polyphyletic life would appear to be
monophyletic on the genetic scale.

And I'd love to see the statistics you are referring to.

Even if we used your statistics to deny multiple origins of life on
Earth, wouldn't those same statistics also predict that even a "single"
lineage of Earth life couldn't form?

Today, all we have is one datum point.   One cannot do very sophisticated
statistics with a data set of one.  ;-)  Everything else that we say is
conjecture.  That single datum is represented by a peculiar twisted pair
of amino acid chains stuffed inside a water-filled chamber, living on a
small blue dot in space.  It may be that life cannot form any other way.
OTOH, there may be many pathways that incorporate bizarre biomolecules in
fantasmogasmically weird genetic string shapes.   What we currently know
is that we don't know.  ;-)

> So, yes, in a way it 
> is 
> falsifiable. :)

Strictly speaking, statistics (in this case, Probability) cannot falsify
a hypothesis.  A statistical argument is itself a hypothesis.  At best,
it can clarify the parameters of the question, but it cannot disprove it.
 Probability theory, when properly applied, can give a researcher a
reasonably accurate approximation of the number of people in an
auditorium who were born on July 6.  But only *direct observation* will
give a definitive (exact) answer.