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Uh oh...Is Drake's Equation really reliable?

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posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 06:40 PM
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Originally posted by WitnessFromAfar
I'm sorry, I take issue with this. We have many good solid definitive cases. And Nohup, you know this, you just commented on one in the BOLA thread.

The absence of evidence is not evidence of absense. I'm sorry but that argument just doesn't hold water, not even with noted skeptics like Jim Oberg.


No, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but neither is it evidence of presence.


And I don't disagree that there is evidence. In fact, there's an embarrassing amount of evidence. Which makes it all the more curious that we still are not quite sure what exactly it is evidence of. Some of it suggests outer space aliens, but there's been absolutely no case good enough to make that solid connection. There just hasn't.

Which case has specifically, and beyond any doubt, been proven to be the result of activities by what specific group of aliens? Aliens that are defined as biological entities that did not originate from Earth. Which one? Because I've been interested in this phenomenon for 40 years or so, and I haven't seen it.

I'll conjecture about possible aliens, just like the next guy. But with absolutely zero definitive proof of them, that's all it is. As far as I know, time travelers is just as good (and maybe even better) an explanation, and "unknown" still beats them both.


[edit on 14-4-2008 by Nohup]




posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 08:04 PM
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Slippery slope here guys.

Without proof or evidence all we have left is faith.

Many will argue the point, however every single religion on earth believes in something greater than themselves without a shred of evidence. Oh and with a really big book of some sort.

And everytime there is some claim of religious evidence. Usually it's as sparse as a claim of ufos.

go figure.



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 08:30 PM
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How many Earth-sized (or roughly) planets are we talking about that astronomers can guarantee? A few years ago I remember them seeing (or determining) gas giants, but every solar system can have those. Wouldn't we have eggs on our faces if it could be proven that intelligent life is abundant enough in this (large or small) part of the galaxy? We would look more pre-Galilean than in Galileo's time. Here's hoping it's so.



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 08:33 PM
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like any equation , drakes equation would be reliable if we had a scienticic method for generating the required numbers

as it stands - its really only a discussion springboard - and aid to undrstanding the vastness of the universe

at the moment drakes equation is like trying to measure " that " peice of string

which piece of string you ask , this one ?

no " that " one comes the reply



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 09:20 PM
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Originally posted by Nohup
No, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but neither is it evidence of presence.



Agreed fully. I apologize if I seem extra touchy on that subject, but the proponent side of that argument is often dismissed out of hand. I think it's important that you and I can agree on this statement completely.


Originally posted by Nohup
And I don't disagree that there is evidence. In fact, there's an embarrassing amount of evidence. Which makes it all the more curious that we still are not quite sure what exactly it is evidence of. Some of it suggests outer space aliens, but there's been absolutely no case good enough to make that solid connection. There just hasn't.


I understand this absolutely, coming from your perspective. But you must understand that some of us have seen these craft first-hand. And even from Afar they do things that Humans have not been able to demonstrate. So from the perspective of that side, there is a viable apparent (I like your qualifying word
) connection, even if faulty, to other-worldly intelligence.

Now as to there being no one solid case that makes the connection. I believe you might be right. There are some cases that I still can't explain, without extra-terrestrial intelligence somehow playing a role. The Betty and Barney Hill case is a good example, as is the Battle of LA. There are about 20-30 more in my view, that remain unexplainable. And of these cases, 100% of them would be easily explained by extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Now I suppose you're right, all of that evidence could be arguing for time travelling humans, or some other outlandish but yet terrestrial explanation.
I'm just saying from my perspective, seeing for example a blue glowing object that left some sort of ion trail do a U turn in the sky and then leave the atmosphere (with another witness), I must in my own research list the Extra-terrestrial hypothesis in the order of the likelyhood of it being the correct explanation. In my view, that slot belongs right after all of the terrestrial explanations fail to meet the evidence of a given case.

I hope you understand my explanation, I feel that I would be ignoring the evidence I've seen with my own eyes if I were to omit that 'EBE Craft' slot in the rung of possible explanations.

But let me also say that I think I understand where you are coming from now. I just wish there was some way to download from my memory 'hard drive' the images my eyes recorded into memories, and show them to you online. Perhaps in another few decades



Originally posted by Nohup
As far as I know, time travelers is just as good (and maybe even better) an explanation, and "unknown" still beats them both.



While I still feel that 'unknown' is merely a state of awareness, and not an explanation in and of itself, I suppose that Time Travellers is as good a theory as any. I hope you'll understand that this means in a way we're switching sides of the argument
And this makes me the skeptic on the 'Time Traveller' Theory and you the proponent, while our roles remain opposite for the 'EBE' theory.

I kind of like that. Strange but I kind of do.
Anyway, we've distracted from the topic long enough here, and I'm interested to see what others think about the Drake Equation


I'm glad you weighed in on it too. Your posts always make me think!


-WFA



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 09:28 PM
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Originally posted by grey580
Without proof or evidence all we have left is faith.


I would agree partly with this statement. For many, all there is left is faith.

For others, there is an anomalous set of data, many cases over many years, that is mysterious.

Researching and searching for answers using the Scientific Method and data recording equipment, and places like ATS where we can discuss and categorize case files, these aren't a part of 'faith'. That's called Science. In any other field of research, it's called Science, there is no reason that this field should be considered any different.

There are of course out there who only have faith. But for the many who are here doing research and study, there is much to be learned, much to be discovered, and much work still yet to be done.

In faith, and in religion, you have your end answer laid out for you at the beginning. "Read this book and you'll know all there is to know in life, and how to get to your personal heaven", etc.

That's not what we've got here. Here we have a set of mysteries. And we're just trying to solve them.


The Drake Equation is an example of an astronomer doing that same sort of science. By using the numbers he did, Frank Drake took the first shot in the dark at what might be 'out there' in terms of life, using Math. His Equation now stands as a theory, and as we learn more about our universe and it's contents, we can update our knowledge about the missing variable values, and we will be ever closer to answer to the validity of that theory.

I'm betting it's a good one, conservative even. I'm pretty much with Gazrok on this one, chances are that where life can be, it most likely is.

-WFA



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 09:31 PM
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Fuel for the fire....here's a small excerpt from the article I originally cited;


Watson estimates the overall probability that intelligent life will evolve as the product of the probabilities of each of the necessary steps. In his model, the probability of each evolutionary step occurring in any given epoch is 10 percent or less, so the total probability that intelligent life will emerge is quite low (less than 0.01 percent over 4 billion years). Even if intelligent life eventually emerges, the model suggests its persistence will be relatively short by comparison to the lifespan of the planet on which it developed.


Please note the probability of intelligent life emerging suggested in the hypothesis....0.01% over 4 billion ( with a "b") years. How old is the oldest known planet? 12 billion years? Also important is the implied relative shortness of its persistence, given the habitable lifetime of a planet.



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 09:43 PM
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Originally posted by MrPenny
How old is the oldest known planet? 12 billion years?

This is the oldest I could find:
[im]http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/47221main_2003-19-a-full_jpg[1].jpg[/im]

It's 13 Billion years (estimated), as sourced from here:
www.nasa.gov...

Also of note:
"Hubble's analysis shows that the object is 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter, confirming that it is a planet. Its very existence provides tantalizing evidence that the first planets formed rapidly, within a billion years of the Big Bang, leading astronomers to conclude that planets may be very abundant in our galaxy."

Credit: NASA, Brad Hansen (UCLA), Harvey Richer (UBC), Steinn Sigurdsson (Penn State), Ingrid Stairs (UBC), and Stephen Thorsett (UCSC).


Originally posted by MrPenny
Also important is the implied relative shortness of its persistence, given the habitable lifetime of a planet.


Well in perspective I think that any species is going to have a relatively shorter life span overall (assuming that species does not leave the planet and colonize other worlds) than that of the planet itself. Planets live for a very long time.

Interesting article! I wonder how old the oldest planet actually is (not just the oldest one we know about)????

-WFA

Edited to try to fix the picture...

[edit on 14-4-2008 by WitnessFromAfar]



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 09:45 PM
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for all we know, there could be an infinite number of planets out there. chances are quite a few have some sort of life on them.

im going to use my own theory that deals with a much more simple equation, 1/9. using our solar system as a model, i will say that one out of 9 planets has life on it. you might think this is silly, but just listen.

I dont know much about the drake equation, but im assuming it uses several variables of events that could happen to form life. well, my theory is that we dont know everything that could cause life. there could be billions of ways that would yield the exact same life. i would say there are too many variables to even try and calculate. add this to the fact that we have no idea how many planets there or, or in fact really how big the universe is, then you have infinite possibilities, so my theory is to base it off of the one solar system that we know, ours. its as good a guess as any lol.

Also remember that when we look at the stars, we are looking at the past. if a planet a million light years away sent a message today, we wouldnt get that message until a million years have passed. and as we all know, alot can happen in that time. for example, a message sent today from another planet by a very advanced civilization was received by earth a million years from now. during the time between when it was sent, and when it was received, that civilization could have blossomed, the collapsed, and is now extinct. but all we know is, we got a message and we think there is life when actually there no longer is. its actually kinda interesting to think of all the possibilities that could happen during that time.



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 10:13 PM
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Is Drakes Equation reliable?... No. I would prefer to label it as helpful.

It has given us a very good equation to build upon in the search for life.

I believe intelligent life is out there regardless of any equation because we do not know what is beyond our universe. No one has proof there are not exponential numbers of universes... chances of communication may be slim.. but intelligent life exists (in my opinion of course).


[edit on 14-4-2008 by samureyed]



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 10:38 PM
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The much Quoted "Drake Equation" is really not an Equation at all, it's just a load of unsupported assumptions. basically it's complete nonsense. it goes like this
you start with the number of suns in the galaxy
which we don't know, although there are a couple of good guesses
then you take the number of stars which have planets...
which we don't know... all guesses so far have been proven probably wrong.
then you need the number of planets which can support life
we don't know...actually have absoloutly no idea.
then you need the number of those planets which have intelligent life
even less than no idea
then you need those which have developed civilization
no idea
then you need to know which of those have developed space flight
yeah... right
it rubbish, it's a fantasy. you would get more reliable figures from watching star trek.
when documentaries start quoting the "Drake Equation" I usually turn it off.
science is supposed to work on studying facts, not daydreams and nonsense. you can actually fill in the "Drake Equation" to come up with any answer you want... this is not science.
I have seen an interview with Dr. Drake, he pulled the figures out of thin air.
it's rubbish... forget it, it will tell you nothing



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 10:47 PM
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Originally posted by WitnessFromAfar
I understand this absolutely, coming from your perspective. But you must understand that some of us have seen these craft first-hand. [...] I hope you understand my explanation, I feel that I would be ignoring the evidence I've seen with my own eyes if I were to omit that 'EBE Craft' slot in the rung of possible explanations.


It's definitely on the rung of possible explanations, however, even the "craft" you saw with your own eyes did not give you any definitive clue that aliens were behind it. Even if they landed and told you to your face that they were from Epsilon Eridani or some other star system, you still couldn't believe them. They could be lying!

As for unusual flight characteristics, rather than deny my ignorance in the matter, I recognize it, and understand that even though it might have flown like nothing I know of, I don't know about every possible black project aircraft ever developed or being developed. So there's always that one I don't know of out there that could be it. I can't eliminate all the possibilities for terrestrial craft, because I don't know all the possibilities.

That's why in order to get past that "unknown" rung on the ladder, I need positive proof of something. If the aliens give me a sample of their blood, and it's not human. If they give me a piece of technology that is beyond anything humans can produce. Even a bit of astronomical information that nobody on Earth knows right now, but will be recognized as true in 10-15 years. That's something to work with.

As for the time travel notion, it at least has a few things going for it the aliens notion does not: 1) While life on other planets remains speculative, we know for sure it exists on Earth. So we're one step a. already. 2) We also know we have a real knack for figuring things out. It's no guarantee that we'll someday be able to solve the time travel problem, of course. It might be literally impossible. Time might not work that way. But give us 10,000 years and we might have a chance. 3) What could account for there being so much evidence without proof? If the beings doing it (future humans, say) could retrace their steps and correct any mistakes they make before they make them. They don't care about the sightings, just the proof that would wreck the timeline, or whatever.

Getting back on topic though, in my opinion the Drake Equation is just not that good at whatever it's supposedly trying to do. I see it as horribly human-centric and limited to the point of being useless by our own vast ignorance of life, the universe and everthing.



posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 03:46 AM
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However, to elaborate a little more on it, if the development of technology, to include self-replicating, spacefaring Von Neumann machines was common for civilizations to do, then we would be talking about an almost viral spread of the things, coming from huge variety of aliens. After a while, you wouldn't be able to throw a Frisbee without hitting one, there would be so many. They would likely be much more obvious, and a decent percentage of them would not care about stealth.


That's true. But let's just guess that most aliens would put more intelligence into the explorers. As you said, if the machines became too viral, then they could definitely pose a huge problem... even to their creators. Let's just say that they're more likely to repair themselves and build more of themselves as needed rather than build a thousand copies per minute. I think that would be much safer for the whole universe.

It would be so interesting if they were everywhere though. Reality is so boring!



posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 05:52 AM
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Originally posted by Nohup
If they give me a piece of technology that is beyond anything humans can produce. Even a bit of astronomical information that nobody on Earth knows right now, but will be recognized as true in 10-15 years. That's something to work with.


Actually Nohup, there is that kind of evidence already. To expand on WAF's earlier reference to Betty & Barny Hill.

Firstly, there's Betty's Star Map, which science has been catching up with since 1964 (i think) when she drew it.

Secondly, there's Betty's account of having a needle stuck into her navel by the EBE's which had something to do with testing her fertility. At the time, our scientists & doctors said she was talking a load of poppycock as there was no medical procedure that used the navel as an entry point in regards to female fertility.

Now, it's a common day practice. I find that to be intriguing and I think that kinda qualifies as being "Something you can work with".

Regards,
IRM



posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 02:07 PM
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well drakes equation is for transmitting civlizations. Not just life or intelligent life. As mentioned before its made up of a whole lot of things we dont know the answers to. But we will get closer to filling them in.

I think there's maybe quite a few planets out there with life, but i think intelligent technological life like us is extremely rare- we may even be alone in the galaxy

[edit on 15-4-2008 by yeti101]



posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 06:02 PM
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I think there are several indications of absence of alien visitation, at least as far as a physical presence is concerned.

1. There is no detectable civilization on Mars. What do we know about prime real estate? It gets snapped up quickly and built up. Lack of any detectable alien presence on Mars tells me that space-faring civilizations have not encountered it yet. Since it would only take a Type II civilization about a million years to completely survey and populate the Galaxy, Mars should have been discovered by them and terraformed by now. Though there might be bizarre reasons to explain this (such as Galactic quarantine), it's one strong indication of absence of visitation in general.

2. There has been no pervasive alien plague afflicting Earth. Any carbon-based life-form would be susceptible to alien microorganisms. Visitation of any alien life, even with advanced protective schemes is bound to have an accident, causing contamination.

3. There is no evidence of any build up in the Galaxy, such as Dyson spheres or ring worlds. Such structures would be common-place in a Galaxy with a Type II civilization.

4. There is no evidence of any robotic probes on Earth. Nano-bots or robot explorers would be very likely to precede any alien visitation.

5. A large proportion of time and resources of any emerging Type II civilization would be directed towards finding and populating planets near them and then building up those world to enable them to duplicate their current engineering.

This would protect agains most catastrophic events except for GRBs (Gamma Ray Bursts). After they'd established a duplicate world (or better yet 5-10), they'd then turn their attention to finding and developing a planet or two that is close enough for repopulation but remote enough to survive in the event of a GRB.

IOW, they'd be plenty busy backing up their civilization, and in doing so, they'd be likely to be noticed as in #3. Any civilization that took up long term exploration before backing up their capabilities would be acting against common sense.

Another often-neglected idea is the concept of the Goldilocks zone. This is an area of the Galaxy which is friendly to habitation. This basically means lower radiation. What this means is that unlike fictional Galactic civilizations, the central core of the Galaxy would likely be very unfriendly to habitation - the presence of so many stars in a relatively high density would mean the radiation would be higher.

Obviously the presence of only selective areas of the Galaxy that are friendly to life reduces the chances of many types of carbon-based life.

Finally add to this hard radiation, microgravity, and vast distances and you have elements that form an almost a perfect system of quarantine. The Galaxy is simply not a place where communication between alien species is common.

One of the other biggest impediments to communication and longevity, is the need to have a very wealthy civilization. Though they may have high marks in other areas, the fact remains that being able to beam out a giga-watt signa, not to mention getting off planet, is enormously expensive. Even if you have the wealth you have to have long-term political will to sustain it.



posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 06:10 PM
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Don't forget, its not just the parameters of the equation that we will discover as we explore more and apply better telescopes.

More importantly, as we get better at probing space, we will start to get a handle on whether his model of evolving planets and life is even the right one. If the model is incorrect because of conceptual flaws, which I personally believe is likely (since we haven't gone very far yet) then the likelihood that the equation itself is flawed outweighs concerns about its parameters.

Remember how different we viewed 'The Galaxy' in 1900 versus The Universe today, versus the possibility of Steady State Cosmology in the 1950s, to the confirmation of the Background Microwave Radiation since then, etc.

And now we have debates about Dark Energy, etc. I think we have a lot left to learn and that these things will have us re-writing that back-of-the-envelope calculation long before we have nailed down all of the parameters. (Never-the-less, it is a great model as it gets people thinking and states, in such a compact form, so many of our assumptions about the nature of the universe.)

[edit on 15-4-2008 by Ectoterrestrial]



posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 06:30 PM
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Originally posted by InfaRedMan
Actually Nohup, there is that kind of evidence already. To expand on WAF's earlier reference to Betty & Barny Hill. Firstly, there's Betty's Star Map, which science has been catching up with since 1964 (i think) when she drew it.


I personally see the Hill star map as being roughly shoehorned into Marjorie Fish map very crudely by folks who really want it to be true. They share a vague resemblance. But it would be nice if we would get some information about a planet we have yet to discover that would tell us size, orbital distance, period of rotation, etc., that could be verified without any doubt at all. Not like the Hill/Fish map. Something really specific.


Secondly, there's Betty's account of having a needle stuck into her navel by the EBE's which had something to do with testing her fertility. At the time, our scientists & doctors said she was talking a load of poppycock as there was no medical procedure that used the navel as an entry point in regards to female fertility.

Now, it's a common day practice. I find that to be intriguing and I think that kinda qualifies as being "Something you can work with".


Yeah, the interesting thing about that "fertility test" is that we simple humans can already do the same supposed tests without being nearly as invasive. Not exactly a great example of superior alien/time traveler technology. They never discovered ultrasound? Or a simple pee-on pregnancy test like you can buy these days at the drug store?

Now, had the alien/time travelers bothered to give her the needle as a souvenir, or a fancy, 3-D printout of the results, or an obvious needle mark, or, I don't know... anything, that would carry a lot more weight than an odd story gathered from a lot of questionable hypnosis.

And I like the Hill case! It is intriguing. And I would love to have been there to see what actually happened. I just wish there was something much more tangible to hang onto than the story, and for me, the details are just not specific enough to draw any firm conclusions. It's all hearsay.

What does it really prove? That (?) from exactly (?) abducted the Hills to do (?) and (?).




posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 06:53 PM
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I think the Betty Hill star map bears further examination.

1. How likely is it that a sophisticated 'craft' able to traverse inter-galactic space would have a simple star map up on the wall?

2. How likely is it that such a map would be "readable" by human vision, or able to be interpreted by human intellect? As far as I recall, she didn't describe any symbols or alien writing.

3. How likely is it that Betty would be able to recall such a map accurately, even under 'hypnosis'?

4. How likely is it that nearly -any- configuration of stars would be matchable to a specific area?

5. How more likely is it that a human-readable map would be created by humans than by aliens (I.e. a military psy-op)?

I do think the star map is reasonably strong evidence, but there is significant room for doubt, significant opportunity for alternate explanations.

One theory that seems reasonable is that the Hill incident was a military psy-op? Remember the military was contacted. They claimed, at first, to be in possession of radar traces, but they weren't able to verify this, giving some weak explanation that the traces were discarded, iirc. This seems very fishy to me.



posted on Apr, 15 2008 @ 07:26 PM
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Originally posted by Nohup
...Even a bit of astronomical information that nobody on Earth knows right now, but will be recognized as true in 10-15 years. That's something to work with.


Wow. You asked for it, you were given it, and then you say this:


Originally posted by Nohup
I personally see the Hill star map as being roughly shoehorned into Marjorie Fish map very crudely by folks who really want it to be true. They share a vague resemblance. But it would be nice if we would get some information about a planet we have yet to discover that would tell us size, orbital distance, period of rotation, etc., that could be verified without any doubt at all. Not like the Hill/Fish map. Something really specific.


without posting this:
www.farshores.org...

on which you will find these:






So I guess you're also not going to mention the Sumerians, who seemed to know about Pluto just a bit before 1932, and whose mapping of our Solar System started from the edge in, instead of the (highly Earth-centric) inside out? I think those points are worth mentioning, if you're going to use them as a standard for 'bridging the gap' I humbly submit for you, your bridge sir.

-WFA
__________________________________________________

Badge01, you make some great points. I think though, that there are two arguments that are generally being invoked here that are sort of mutually exclusive arguments, and they are being used together through a fudging of numbers. (I don't think you're doing that, I think it's an accident, and I'm not even sure if it's real, which is why I'm posting about it
)

Argument 1) There is too much space between us and them for them to get here.

Argument 2) They must be so far beyond us that thier Von Neuman Probes must be over-running our solar system by now.

(Similar to Argument 2 - They must be so far beyond us that they must have settled all of the planets in our galaxy by now).

While I think these are good points in and of themselves, and they both make me think, I'm not sure that either of them are correct, and I don't think that these two theories 'play well' together.

We simply don't know how old this potential civilization is (or possibly is). So it's really impossible to say that 'they' can't exist because we don't see them everywhere.

The 'fudging' of numbers comes into play when a skeptic will argue, 'well they must be billions of years old so where are their probes and colonies?' and in the next post say, 'well they can't be old enough to have bridged the gap between us'.

I'd also like to take a moment to point out clearly that you are not one of the people I think does that. (trying to fuel a fight by arguing anyway that you can) You're always posting in a 'let's analyze what's most likely' sort of way, and applying logic. That's key. I just wanted to use these arguments as an example, because I know you're willing to listen to reason.
And because there are those out there who are going to continue to use these sort of tactics, I think it's healthy to bring the tactic into the open.

I totally get what you're saying, and I also see the truth in each argument, to a point. I feel we can make predictions using arguments like these, that will ultimately prove more accurate than just simply guessing without parameters. However I think it's important to state that the possibility of
'them coming here' can not be excluded by either of these arguments. Determining factors do not necessarily Excluding factors make. (did I just go shakespearean?) LOL

I hope that makes sense
Thanks for making me think.

-WFA



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