Re: Are we "special"?

Paul Crowley (
Tue, 10 Dec 96 17:24:10 GMT

In article <> "Phillip Bigelow" writes:

> Paul continues:
> > >> We must be be able to show that we are
> > >> "special" in our physiology. This is entirely possible.
> Your quest only has merit and meaning IF one comes in with
> a specio-centric- (and somewhat of a Book of Genesis-) attitude
> about humans from the start. Paul, most scientists strive to be a
> bit more objective than you and Ed Conrad are.

I'd agree that a program that started out with the "see
how special we are" attitude would be all wrong. It would
probably have religious undertones.

My point is based on the observation that the evolution of
intelligence is so remarkable and, apparently, so rare -
if not unique - in the galaxy or universe, that we should
be seeking an explanation that is unexpected or contingent
on some highly particular circumstances. Most accounts of
bipedalism, the growth of brain power or language are told
in the tone: " . . well, it might have happened this way or
that way, but it would have happened anyway, so the details
don't really matter". No special justifications are sought.
What is worse is that the institutions themselves have to
be downgraded. Bipedalism becomes just another form of
locomotion. Language becomes a form of "grooming". All
sense of wonder is destroyed.

Whereas, we really want a story which depends on a series
of events: (a) . .(b) . .(c) . . where we would say: "The
likelihood of (a) happening on any particular life-endowed
planet is 500 to 1, and that (b) is 400 to 1 and that of
(c) is 600 to 1 . . . So we finish up with a large figure
500 x 400 x 600 x N x N . . . to 1 against the probability
of it all coming together.

It just so happens, that I have here, just by chance, in
my very own back pocket - going at a special price - just
for you, but only for today, mind . . . . just such an
special explanation . . .