The Fermi Paradox has not been dissolved—James Fodor

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In this essay, I will argue that the analysis of Sandberg et al. is flawed in a number of key respects, and as a result the Fermi Paradox remains an open question. Here I briefly list the key problems with the Sandberg et al. paper, before proceeding to discuss each in more detail.

  1. The method used of multiplying uncertainties of many small numbers, most of which have an upper bound of one, is biased towards yielding a result of a high probability of Earth being unique, while also leading to various dubious results.

  2. The key result of the paper is driven largely by uncertainty in the parameter fl, which is modeled in an unusual way without clear justification.

  3. Adoption of slightly different (and I believe more plausible) modelling choices and parameter values yields totally different results, which do not result in the Fermi paradox being dissolved. I illustrate this by re-estimating the Sandberg et al. models using different parameters and modelling assumptions.