The SETI League, Inc., a membership-supported, non-profit {501(c)(3)}, educational and scientific organization Searching for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

Ask Dr. SETI ®

Chapter 2: Biochemistry

Rare Earth?

Dear Dr. SETI:
What is your take on Brownlee and Ward's Rare Earth hypothesis, articulated in their book of that title?

Mark (via email)

The Doctor Responds:
Ward and Brownlee make an excellent case, Mark, that the chain of events that led to life-as-we-know-it on Earth is so highly improbable that we can rule out the possibility that it would ever be duplicated anywhere else. In other words, what we are most likely to encounter is life-as-we-don't-know-it. Thus, only in Hollywood can we expect to encounter a Star Trek universe, populated by diverse races of erect bipeds that reproduce sexually. (Of course, this in no way refutes the basic premise of SETI -- it only suggests that Grays can't exist -- they are entirely too humanoid.)

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