Re: Extrasolar Planets vs Fermi Paradox

From: Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Date: Mon Oct 04 2004 - 21:18:41 MDT

Robin Lee Powell wrote:
> According to
> update: 3 October 2004
> Global statistics: 117 planetary systems
> 133 planets
> 13 multiple planet systems
> So, that removes as many as 120 or so main sequence stars from the
> pool of "stars that could have habitable planets". Yes, clearly
> habitable zone planets must be rare!
> </sarcasm>
> Our sample size thus far is paltry to the point of total
> irrelevance.

The size of the total population is nearly irrelevant to the reliability of
a given sample size, so long as population >> sample. A sample of 1000
items from a population of 10,000,000 is stronger data, statistically
speaking, than a sample of 500 items from a population of 50,000. 117 test
cases and 117 failures would not be trivial evidence, if the sample were
random and the test reliable. The question is whether we'd detect Sol-like
systems if any existed to be found. Maybe our technology is only good
enough to detect big wobbling Jupiters.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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