This is either the worst or the best news I have ever heard

European astronomers have spotted what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet outside our solar system, with balmy temperatures that could support water and, potentially, life.

Here is the story.  That planet is only about twenty light years away.  Are earth-like planets so common?  That probably means lots more civilization-supporting planets than I had expected.  But where are the alien visitors?  As suggested by the Fermi paradox, we must revise our priors along several margins, one of which is the expected duration of an intelligent civilization.

We already have a civilization, so the added optimism on that front doesn’t help us much.  On the other hand, we don’t know how long our civilization will last, but now we must be more pessimistic. 

I might be happier if I were more altruistic toward possible alien races; right now my appreciation for them is mostly aesthetic (modally speaking, that is), not empathetic.  All you alien altruists should be jumping for joy.  Holders of selfish, planet-based moralities should despair.

No matter what the proper galactic welfare function, I suppose I should be wracked with emotion.  I’m not.


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