I guess I need to say it again: squid didn’t come from space


Fuck panspermists, and fuck creationists. They are pretty much indistinguishable. It’s their fault I had to listen to Ann Gauger of the Discovery Institute misrepresent wackaloons like Chandra Wickramasinghe as representative of good evolutionary thinking, in a podcast titled Octopuses from the Sky: Scientists Propose “Aliens Seeded Life on Earth”. You can see why that caught my eye.

On this ID the Future from the vault, biologist Ann Gauger discuss panspermia, the topic of a peer-reviewed paper published recently by several very serious scientists. Panspermia tries to sidestep problems in origins biology by suggesting that, to quote the title of an old science fiction movie, “it came from outer space.” And yes, according to this explanation, maybe aliens even sent it our way. Maybe (honest — this is a real theory) the first octopuses came here special delivery, as encapsulated embryos falling from the sky. Anything but intelligent design, for these very serious scientists. Tune in to learn from Dr. Gauger what precisely drove these scientists to such an explanation.

They are also indistinguishable from Kent Hovind and Matt Powell, who have also promoted this idea that serious scientists seriously propose that squid seriously fell from comets to land on Earth. Gauger even claims that “some scientists say” bats came from outer space (I’ve never seen such a claim), because the fossil record of bats is very poor, so they couldn’t possibly have evolved.

That gives the game away. Bad scientists, panspermists and creationists, see any absence of evidence is evidence for their cockamamie ideas, and ignore all the evidence against them. Bats are poorly preserved as fossils, but we’ve got unambiguous molecular and genetic evidence that bats are mammals, not aliens, just as we have unambiguous evidence that octopuses are molluscs. There’s no reason to think that any complex organism fell from a comet. Anyone who argues otherwise is an ignorant loon. No, no one with any credibility in science thinks panspermia is a scientific idea; a few people have suggested it as a possibility — a remote possibility that complex molecules falling from space might have contributed to the evolution of protocells — but they all have to agree that no, there is no scientific evidence of such a thing, and further, most would agree that a more productive hypothesis, one with real evidence, is that life arose here on Earth from prebiotic chemistry.

To argue that scientists really believe that crap is deceitful scumbaggery that aligns Intelligent Design creationism with literalist Biblical creationism. They both lie.

Comments

  1. consciousness razor says

    Okay, but whatabout the space amoeba, the whales, the space jellyfish, the Crystalline Entity, the Bajoran Prophets/wormhole aliens, and assorted clouds or balls of energy? Or transdimensional beings like Species 8472 or the Sphere-Builders? I bet you can’t explain those.

  2. says

    There’s no reason to think that any complex organism fell from a comet.

    There’s also no reason to think it’s even POSSIBLE for any sort of complex organism, or egg or seed of a complex organism, to travel through space, exposed to unfiltered ionizing cosmic radiation of all sorts for, what, thousands of years, and then fall through Earth’s atmosphere, and still be able to germinate and grow here. There’s no proposed mechanism for such seeds to be sent in our direction in the first place; the probability of such seeds landing in environments suitable for germination is ridiculously miniscule; and whatever protective coating such seeds would have needed to survive unscathed in deep space for millennia, and then fall through an atmosphere to a hard landing, would surely have survived enough to be found among the ancient fossils. No evidence of any such mechanisms or protective coatings? No case for panspermia. QEDuh.

  3. says

    Nyarlahotep thanks you for your attention and sneeringly notes the probability that ID proponents going through the distressingly incomplete fossil records would quickly end up encountering the Old Ones, and being easily confused would just say they were squid. Please leave a portion of your soul in the tip jar on the counter…

    @3: Due to some tainted battles between the Star Trek senior production staff in the 1960s and network/studio bigwigs/bigegos, some of the writers individually conjectured that the Vulcans were the Lost Tribe. Usually right after one of their attempts to expand Vulcan culture was rejected as too expensive to film. (I have heard this personally from more than one of the writers.)

  4. onefatbroad says

    Are you telling me the octopus on Resident Alien isn’t extraterrestrial? Damn.

  5. says

    Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode that revealed the humanoid races of the Trek universe were all descendants of a previous humanoid race. Personally I like the Stargate SG1 idea better, where it turns out humans are all over the galaxy because the Goa’uld abducted them from Earth. Of course then the writers had to chicken out and come up with the Ancients, who were humans.

  6. PaulBC says

    When I was a kid, there was a major Japanese Beetle infestation that has since been reduced with biological controls. I expected to see those everywhere–on defoliated rose bushes and even screen doors.

    Occasionally I would see what I now know is a dogbane leaf beetle and I didn’t recognize it except to note some similarities to the Japanese beetle: metallic copper shell and green head. There were some obvious differences too, like its much longer antennae. Unlike Japanese beetles, it also just looked too shiny to be real, as if Pixar (which didn’t exist at the time) had taken these beautifully ray-traced animations and somehow placed them on milkweed growing in the soybean field of the farm behind my house.

    While the Pixar explanation would have been a good one, as I said, it did not exist yet, so I settled on the theory that these beetles were robots placed by extraterrestrials to spy on earth and had been very poorly disguised as Japanese beetles. This was bolstered by the fact that I could not find any picture or reference to them in my limited collection of illustrated encyclopedias (which had a whole section on scarabs including Japanese beetles and Green June beetles).

    OK, well I didn’t really believe this. At least I don’t think so. But it was the kind of flight of fancy I was prone to. So I can definitely related to someone looking at a squid and saying “This is freaking weird. It must be from outer space.” but this is a poor basis for claiming a scientific finding.

  7. says

    A beetle might at least survive a fall to Earth from a great height. A squid would just land with a resounding and messy splat.

  8. says

    The basic biochemistry proves we have no alien life (we know of) on Earth. There’s no reason life chose levo-amino acids over dextro-amino acids, as far as we know. The chemistry would be exactly the same. The chirality of DNA is similar. It’s literally a flip of a coin. But once life got started, boy did it take off. But it all uses the same chemistry. That implies it all came from the same source. Show me a single lifeform that doesn’t use the same 26 amino acids. Sure some use a few others, but those same 26 are used by every living thing (we know of) on this planet. I’m open to new info, but after decades of research nothing has turned up so far.

    Also the other strike against panspermia is that space has a lot of hard radiation that does nasty things to living tissue. It shreds DNA and scrambles proteins. Picture an egg, raw, vs hard boiled, vs, scrambled. Only one of these things is alive. Now I’m hungry.

  9. says

    And yes, according to this explanation, maybe aliens even sent it our way. Maybe (honest — this is a real theory) the first octopuses came here special delivery, as encapsulated embryos falling from the sky. Anything but intelligent design, for these very serious scientists…

    Actually, only a few years ago it was the intelligent-design advocates who explicitly included panspermia as one possible source of all that allegedly intelligently-designed life that allegedly couldn’t possibly have evolved here on Earth by random chance. Panspermia was one of the many possible “designer” options that cdesign proponentsists had explicitly agreed not to choose, favor or discuss, in order to maintain the pretense that intelligent design was ACTUAL SCIENCE, not just one religion’s thinly-disguised creation story.

  10. dangerousbeans says

    Pop science communicators using ‘alien’ to mean strange has really caused some problems here.
    If cephalopods are an example of panspermia what does that make trees? They’re even more distant genetically

  11. Tethys says

    Tardigrades can get shot into space and survive in their dormant form.

    There is a great deal of evidence that comets, asteroids, and space dust brought both water, and the amino acids necessary for living cells to earth. It took a while for that to result in squid, but it’s kinda cool that life really is made of star dust.

  12. Callinectes says

    More likely life came to Earth from space… from Earth. Some early microbes may have survived major asteroid impacts by being hurled into orbit by the impact within rock shards, where they waited out the scouring of life on Earth and fell back to the surface later to reseed it.

    …Is the hypothesis as it has been explained to me. Personally I don’t see how any microbe capable of surviving a near-direct asteroid impact, lengthy orbit, re-entry, and re-impact wouldn’t survive within the rocks still on Earth.

  13. John Morales says

    Not like it matters.

    End of the day, either they magically appeared or some sort of natural process created them.

    Maybe here in Earth, maybe somewhere else.

    This, of course, has been discussed here in the past.
    Best estimation is that, once actual life takes hold, all pro-biotic components are just that much raw fodder for that life. Yum!

    And so evolution begins.

  14. says

    “There is a great deal of evidence that comets, asteroids, and space dust brought both water, and the amino acids necessary for living cells to earth.”

    No there isn’t, stupid. Amino acids have been found in comets but there is no reason at all to think that is the source of amino acids on Earth and every reason to think otherwise.

  15. says

    @3: Due to some tainted battles between the Star Trek senior production staff in the 1960s and network/studio bigwigs/bigegos, some of the writers individually conjectured that the Vulcans were the Lost Tribe.

    …of Israel?

  16. Tethys says

    Jim Balter

    No there isn’t, stupid. Amino acids have been found in comets but there is no reason at all to think that is the source of amino acids on Earth and every reason to think otherwise.

    Oh? Who is stupid? You may note I did not state that extraterrestrial bodies are the source of amino acids, so why are you kvetching?

    https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/about-us/news/organic-materials-essential-for-life-on-earth-are-found-for-the-first-time-on-the-surface-of-an-asteroid#:~:text=New%20research%20from%20Royal%20Holloway,been%20found%20on%20an%20asteroid

  17. mikeschmitz says

    @3 Vulcans are from Earth?

    As of the 2011 census, the island of Vulcan(o) had 953 residents

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