Big Numbers and Induction in the Case for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

  title={Big Numbers and Induction in the Case for Extraterrestrial Intelligence},
  author={Roy Mash},
  journal={Philosophy of Science},
  pages={204 - 222}
  • Roy Mash
  • Published 1 June 1993
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
Arguments favoring the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence nearly always contain an overt appeal to big numbers, often combined with a covert reliance on generalization from a single instance. In this paper I examine both motifs, and consider whether big numbers might actually make palatable otherwise implausible single-case inductions. In the end, the dispute between believers and skeptics is seen to boil down to a conflict of intuitions which can barely be engaged, let alone resolved… 
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