Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Count the Weasel Words, Discard the Count, Jump To Desired Outcome

Oldest fossil ever found on Earth dating back 4.2bn years shows alien life on Mars is likely
Ancient microbes were spewed from deep-sea hydrothermal vents, study claims

The discovery is the strongest evidence yet that similar organisms could also have evolved on Mars, which at the time still had oceans and an atmosphere, and was being bombarded by comets which probably brought the building blocks of life to Earth.
Except for three things: they don't have actual fossils; they don't actually know that they came from thermal vents; and they don't really know how old they are.

Here's what they have:
The organisms would have resembled small tubes, with a ball-like base which stuck to the ocean rocks, and a stalk suspended in the water to collect iron, on which they fed.

They are similar to iron-oxidising bacteria found near other hydrothermal vents today.

“We found the filaments and tubes inside centimetre-sized structures called concretions or nodules,” said Dr Dominic Papineau (UCL Earth Sciences and the London Centre for Nanotechnology).

“The fact we unearthed them from one of the oldest known rock formations, suggests we’ve found direct evidence of one of Earth’s oldest life forms.

“This discovery helps us piece together the history of our planet and the remarkable life on it, and will help to identify traces of life elsewhere in the universe.”
So what they have is some tubes which look like currently living creatures.

Even certain other scientists are skeptical:
Biology is indeed one possible explanation, says astrobiologist Abigail Allwood of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “But the evidence could equally be interpreted as non-biological.”

Each line of evidence, she points out, reflects processes that could have actually occurred at different times, layering potential clues in a way that looks biological, but really isn’t. “You can’t just wave your arms and say this all happened together,” she says.

Paleobiologist David Wacey of the University of Western Australia in Crawley agrees that “the individual lines of chemical evidence are not particularly strong.” But combined with the microstructures, he says, the authors come up with a “pretty convincing biological scenario
It's not even a credible scenario, considering all the actual unknowns. Yes, it could be non-life, or it could be an instance of relatively current life, or it could be a bazillion years old: which one should we choose?

Well, the least parsimonious is the one that fits the narrative, so of course, that one is the choice. Breathless extrapolations ensue, on schedule.

Conveniently, this gig overcomes last year's record holder for breathless bogus claims:
4.1-billion-year-old crystal may hold earliest signs of life
It's a zircon crystal with a 12Carbon globular inclusion: hence: life!!!


Steven Satak said...

Easy, Stan. Take a deep breath.

Since when has any evolutionary biologist/psychologist/philologist EVER let the mere facts, or mere odds-against, or even logic slow their incessant spouting of Just-So stories?


The same dudes that invented Anthropogenic Global Warming and pushed it to the point where the money spent on it YEARLY exceeds the income of most countries... cut their teeth on monetizing evolutionism.

Good that you point it out and thank you for the limit on the multisyllabic outrage (seriously, I actually have to *work* to undertand some of your longer comments), as it confirms what we know.

I guess that because the people who believe otherwise, do so as part of their religious faith (as Michael Crichton put it) and not as part of an actual, thought-out argument. Dressing their catechism in scientific-y phrases is like expecting Bill Nye to suddenly start earning a living as an actual scientist in an industrial lab somewhere.

Stan said...

What?? I use words of more than one syl.a.ble?? C'mon, now...