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4.2 Criticisms[edit]

Where is the section which lists criticisms of the panspermia theory? Most good wikipedia pages have a section like this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:27, 11 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]

The same place where the criticism for abiogenesis is in its article: non-existent. Don't even bother getting into debates about this on here though. Even though Encyclopaedia Britannica lists both as hypothesizes with unproven statuses, stating such here gets you dismissed as a "creationist" by our resident atheist preachers here even when you're not. This entry reads with bias too even though panspermia is the more likely scientific answer, even if it doesn't answer where life originated from, considering we don't have any empirical evidence for how life arose. Some things may never be answered as far as science is concerned. -- (talk) 22:18, 26 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Panspermia is a hypothesis. It's an idea that is currently neither proven nor disproven. You can't be a critic of a hypothesis. Now, if someone says "panspermia is true because of X, Y and Z" - then you can jump in and criticise it. It's like if I say "Black holes really exist!" - then you can be a critic of that statement. But if I say "I wonder whether we could do experiments to see whether black holes really exist" then you can't really criticize my curiosity.
That said, the section below discusses how a particular group of scientists are now claiming "Panspermia really exists" - and we're discussing how to present the criticism of that claim.
SteveBaker (talk) 03:56, 27 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I came here to point out that the elaboration in the first paragraph, going from calling panspermia a "hypothesis" to a "fringe theory" is rather loaded. It can be (and almost certainly is) that proponents of panspermia are engaging in fringe theories, especially in trying to prove it, but to claim that panspermia is both a hypothesis and a fringe theory makes no sense. Clearly, at least some parts of this article are not edited in good faith. (talk) 04:50, 17 November 2021 (UTC)[reply]

ET signal in the genetic code[edit]

Hello. Here am attempting to avoid an edit war with IP user The paper titled The "Wow! signal" of the terrestrial genetic code proposes a hypothesis. It is not a discovery, but a mathematical argument that there is a pattern in DNA genomes.

First: The genetic code was discovered decades ago, it is a sequence of nucleotides in DNA or RNA that determines the specific amino acid sequence in the synthesis of proteins. Yes, it MUST follow "patterns", which are known to be highly conservative. That is why the DNA is dubbed the blue-print of life. Crunching numbers and extracting statistics -if done correctly- MUST show evidence of existing patterns, and even "punctuation", such as triplets, primers, start and stop codons. Do they seem unnatural? Yes, life seems an exception in the face of thermodynamics (see: Entropy and life).

Second: The authors confirm with statistics what we already know: there is vast information encoded in a genome -from viral to human- and it is statistically significant. Was the standard DNA coding created by extraterrestrials? The authors can only speculate and hypothesize. Is there an additional hidden code? (Lets exclude the known bacterial reading frameshift) Again, the authors speculate and hypothesize and I quote from their paper: "The second criteria seems unverifiable." The fact that they have "no obvious explanation" for the highly conserved code, does not equate it to a "controversial new hidden code discovery", and certainly it is not "evidence" of anything ET/creator, but evidence of molecular evolution.

My final point is that their hopeful interpretation of their statistical results is not "evidence", and is most certainly not a discovery, as you claim. It is a valid scientific hypothesis that has a place in this Wikipedia article, as such. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 17:01, 8 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

If you read the papers by shCherbak and Makukov, you'll find that they do not deal with DNA and genomes. And what they do is claim a discovery, not a hypothesis. Again, I do not concern the point here if their claim is correct (and most probably it is not), but that does not imply that we should put misleading information on Wiki. If you still doubt, check the recent AMA at reddit: HiBlueSky (talk) 13:33, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I think it's confusing a lot of people because it's not a pattern in DNA or RNA that's being discussed, it's the "genetic code" which says which groups of three C's, G's, A's and T's mean which operations inside the cell. A clear "Hello World!" type of message embedded in that mapping would indeed be a strong verification of directed panspermia...and would have reverberations throughout the world. The trouble is, there isn't much information there. Three base-4 digits mean that there can only be 64 possible codes - mapped onto a very limited set of 22 operations - each of which has to occur in the result somewhere, that's VERY little information in which to embed a clear message. If you imagine that our aliens had 22 letters in their alphabet - then the message could not be more than 64 letters long - AND the message would have to contain every letter of their alphabet at least once (a Pangram like "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog") - AND it would have to be constructed in such a way that the pattern in it would be unambiguously detectable - and not likely to have come about from natural processes.
Also, there are many equally logical ways to number the CGAT triplets. You could number them from front to back or back to front - and you could say C=0, G=1, A=2, T=3 or T=0,G=1,C=2,A=3...and so forth. Those alternate numbering schemes mean that you can take those 64 alien letters and rearrange them in (4!x2)==48 different ways - only one of which would be the order that the aliens it's as if you randomly scrambled the letters of "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog" in 48 different ways and asked a non-English speaker to tell you whether there are actual words in there or not. The authors of this paper are (in effect) claiming to see a definite pattern in one of those scrambled versions.
Worse still, there is a ton of redundancy - many of those codes do the exact same thing - so it's like these hypothetical aliens who seeded Earth didn't even need all of that information space in which to store their message! That's the killer for me. If I were trying to pack a clearly decodable, minimally-ambiguous message saying (roughly) "You are an artificial construct" in that horribly limited coding space - I'd want to use every bit of it...and they didn't. Also, we know that there are plenty of DIFFERENT genetic codes in some (presuming just one 'seeding' event), the genetic code itself has evolved over time - and we don't know its original form. So the message we have is corrupted. To find a message with so few bits that can survive corruption and STILL produce a clear result is even less plausible.
If I were an alien doing this, I'd make the STOP codon be the prime numbered ones in a system where C,G,A,T were numbered in order of increasing molecular weight. That would be a really unambiguous message. What we actually see is a LONG way from being unambiguous.
From the perspective of our article here, I think this is interesting work, and it's relevant to mention it in the article - but we can't say that this is "The Truth" until the work has been independently checked and verified. " - and this is one of the most extraordinary claims I've seen in a very long time - so we most certainly need a bunch more people to have pounded on it before we can say "We are the result of directed panspermia"...or "There was an intelligent designer". We're 20 years away from being able to say that with any kind of confidence. At best we can say "This work is interesting - and if it's proven to be true, then it represents evidence of directed panspermia".
My bet is that this "pattern" that they've found is either just the result of trying to pull a pattern out of noise (which you can always do if the pattern is short enough...and this is) - or it's the result of some biological need - that the present form is more energy efficient because that pattern is in there - and that's a very hard hypothesis to disprove. The authors of the paper say "We found a pattern, it must be directed panspermia - now prove Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence"us wrong" - but, given the nature of this claim, I think they went a bit overboard and should have said "We found a pattern, if we can't show it has a biological purpose then perhaps it would have to be caused by directed panspermia".
SteveBaker (talk) 14:51, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

What I have been wondering most of all since I've read about this claim at PZ Myers' blog a year ago, is not even if it is overboard or not. It is why people say that the authors did something, when they actually did not do that. Or, just the opposite - that the authors didn't do something when they actually did. The same goes here. They take pain to explain exactly that those patterns occupy every bit of the genetic code. Likewise, their claim is exactly that "We found patterns, and we tried hard to show that these patterns are either noise or product of evolution, but we failed. Therefore, we conclude that they are from directed panspermia". If there are flaws in how they try to show all of that that is another question. Wikipedia should describe facts and refer to opinions by relevant experts. The fact currently is that the claim is published in two journals which seem to be legitimate, and there is no any discussion of it in peer-review thus far (though there are hot debates at blogs).

UPDATE: I am not a biologist, but as I understand there are 20^64 possible codes, not just 64. Also, as far as I can see from the papers, the authors do not number nucleotides like C=0, G=1, they use nucleon numbers. I suspect there is a whole lot more of confusions ahead.

HiBlueSky (talk) 16:47, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Hello. Yes, thank you for the link to the reddit journal where the authors outright claim it a "discovery"; yes, we could note that claim in the WP article along with the needed qualifiers.* However, I will not use the word "controversial" because it is a non-deserved WP:Peacock term for a WP:Fringe theory.
Note*: The basic issue for us Wikipedia is that this is a scientific Wiki article, and I feel the responsibility to NOT misled the reader into believing the claim has been reviewed or accepted by biologists. It is common to see papers like this, published by mathematicians or physicists trying to find biological rules in numbers. Invariably, they are a dead end in the literature. This is hardly the only instance of precise mathematical elegance in nature. That is mostly why there is biostatistics. The fact of the matter is that the authors (mathematicians) chose a set of numerical rules designed to produce the result they wanted: indeed they used numerology. Scientists already know that there is information stored as a chemical code in the DNA, and that code has rules, patterns and a system, so it is expected to perceive the patterns of the genetic code through many perspectives and analyses.
Can we arbitrarily call the genetic code/information a "message"? In this paper the authors represent the chemical code with numbers to obtain certain resonant patterns, but does not support by any means their claim that they discovered an intelligent message within the code, because patterns don't always indicate intervention. The best they can claim -as a scientific hypothesis- is that they perceive patterns in the code, but then they jumped to the extreme interpretation of it: a secret ET coded message in addition of genetics.
It is like claiming: "Elvis is communicating with us through the smooth round golden edges of waffles. See, we measured the mean radius, multiplied it by [∏+∑∀/∂Ω] and divided by the time 3cm3 of butter takes to melt, it is dynamic and measurable evidence! But I have absolutely no clue of what he might be saying with his code I discovered."
I am not a peer-reviewer of the published paper, but I am an experienced Wikipedia editor with deep knowledge of genetics and molecular biology, that is why I moderate (Wikify with due scientific merit) your entry -and their claim- to the present state. I am open to discuss additional adjustments if you feel strongly about it.
-BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:52, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

1. The authors are not mathematicians. As they state at their blog, they are both physicists, and one of them is also an astrobiologist.

2. I am no a biologist, but I do comprehend the difference between the genetic code and DNA. But you still mention DNA (see your second paragraph) - just to avoid further confusion.

3. Yes, I think it is correct that you should not mislead the reader into believing the claim has been widely accepted by biologists. But you also should not mislead into the opposite - that the claim was officially disproved in peer-review.

4. You write that biologists call their method "pseudoscientific" and "numerology" and refer to reddit AMA. Why? I've read the AMA (in fact, that's why I decided to update WP article), and I see that most commentators are quite neutral or even inquisitive. There are only some who attack the authors with these terms, but how do you know they are biologists?

5. I think the term pseudoscientific is utterly irrelevant here. Their method might be weak and evidence insufficient, but there is nothing pseudoscientific about it (at least, in the usual sense of this word)

5. Also, if you refer to PZ Myers' critics, I think it is a good idea to give the link where authors respond to that critics (might be found at their blog).

6. What is implied by "ethics of testing the directed panspermia"? It does not make sense. Their second article does not consider if it is ethical or not to test directed panspermia.

HiBlueSky (talk) 17:40, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

<"I understand there are 20^64 possible codes, -HiBlueSky"
Great example on the common misuse of mathematics and probabilities in biology. Physical or mathematical possibilities do NOT conform to REAL LIFE BIOLOGY. From the hundreds of aminoacid types available in outer space raining down on Earth, life uses L-amino acid conformation virtually exclusively. Of all those, only about 20 aminoacids are common in humans and animals, with 2 additional ones present in a few animal species. The codon recognition in tRNA has a physical flexibility and 'woble', and 3D, electrical charges and other weak nuclear forces play key roles in the functional code. This team's novel concept of "nucleon" is numerology and has no scientific ground, never mind their extreme final interpretation: "I grounded numbers beyond recognition and this resulting pattern makes no sense, therefore we invoke a hidden intelligent ET message." Anyway, I don't want to spend time discussing this subject, but to just to collaborate to present it here, their claim, and the reaction of biologists. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 18:04, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
There are 64 three letter groups. Each group can code for one of the 20 amino acids, or for 21 possible meanings for each three letter 21^64 possible genetic code tables (well, less than that because there has to be at least one code for each amino acid and at least one for stop). It's an ungodly large number. But it doesn't carry all that much information. 21 possibilities for each three letter group means between 4 and 5 bits per group - and with 64 of them, that's around 300 bits of information stored in the genetic code itself...which is very, very little indeed. Cryptographically, establishing any kind of meaning from such a small amount of data is we're not likely to extract a message from it. The best we could hope (and what these guys claim) is that the statistical properties of the genetic code tell us that it's unlikely to be chance and that it's not like that for some biologically important reason. SteveBaker (talk) 19:31, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

1. Yes, the authors are not biologists yet they publish numerology on the genetic code.

2. The genetic code is for info stored in DNA. Their numerology code is in question.

3. Perhaps we should review the concept of scientific method, before attempting to "officially disprove" their Invisible Pink Unicorn in peer-review.

4. You are kidding?

5. Theirs was a though experiment. Numerology is not evidence, and certainly is not data. They created packs of arbitrary numerology (eg: nucleon values), coax their numbers to synthetic symmetry and spiced it arbitrary arithmetic. It may make sense to a mathematician, I could not tell, but when presented in the context of biology, yes it is pseudocience, their procedures are extremely weak-founded and their hysterical final interpretation is over the top.

6. Clue 1: the paper title is "Space ethics to test directed panspermia". Clue2: Abstract: The hypothesis that Earth was intentionally seeded with life by a preceding extraterrestrial civilization is believed to be currently untestable. However, analysis of the situation where humans themselves embark on seeding other planetary systems motivated by survival and propagation of life reveals at least two ethical issues calling for specific solutions. Assuming that generally intelligence evolves ethically as it evolves technologically, the same considerations might be applied to test the hypothesis of directed panspermia: if life on Earth was seeded intentionally, the two ethical requirements are expected to be satisfied, what appears to be the case."

Please keep in mind that any way you present this topic in Wikipedia, I hope you agree it is a WP:Fringe concept AND promoted by a single team. As such, it cannot be given more emphasis and space in Wikipedia than a line or two. As I said, I am open to adjust the wording up to Wikipedia standards and scientific standards. But your demand to mention that no per-reviewed research has yet debunked their claim is akin to try to debunk the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn. It won't happen. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 18:33, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Yes - but it's not our jobs as editors to judge the content of a reference - that's WP:OR. We're here to ask whether the paper fulfills the requirements for WP:RS. I think it's pretty clear that it does not - there are no decent secondary or tertiary sources, nobody has attempted to reproduce the findings, it's hardly 'mainstream'. So we can't use it to back up factual statements like "Life on Earth is a case of directed panspermia" with a little blue number next to it pointing to that paper. If we're going to mention it at all, it has to be in a section like "Ongoing Investigations" - where we might use the paper solely as proof of it's own existence. So we could say "Vladimir shCherbak and Maxim Makukov have been investigating whether the genetic code contains evidence for directed Panspermia"...and now the reference isn't there to say that what they claim to have found is widely accepted - only that the paper is proof of the claim that these individuals have actually worked on this...and for that statement, this is a great WP:RS.
So now we have to ask whether their work is sufficiently notable to be worthy of mention - and if it is, how to ensure WP:NPOV. Obviously, we'd have to be clear that this isn't widely accepted work, that it's highly controversial, etc. Whether it's worth mentioning at all is a tough one. WP:NOTE doesn't apply to the content of articles - only to the subject of the articles themselves - so the usual tests (eg are there secondary sources, etc) do not apply here. So I think we'd be OK to discuss it on those grounds. However, WP:NPOV says that this is a matter of undue weight. Would we be giving undue weight to a somewhat fringey topic?
Actually, I think we're OK on that. The whole business of panspermia is hardly devoid of criticism and ridicule from some scientists - and if we're going to write about it at all, there is bound to be to be a fair bit of controversial/speculative stuff mentioned in our article. See this article as a review of the progress in the field of panspermia studies - and it would be OK to mention this paper.
SteveBaker (talk) 19:31, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks Steve. I think that a brief neutral mention is OK, after all, this Wikipedia panspermia page has many other fringe ideas and hypotheses documented, but including more than a couple of lines would be undue weight to a fringe paper. I like what you propose above: "So we could say "Vladimir shCherbak and Maxim Makukov have been investigating whether the genetic code contains evidence for directed Panspermia"...and now the reference isn't there to say that what they claim to have found is widely accepted - only that the paper is proof of the claim that these individuals have actually worked on this...and for that statement, this is a great WP:RS."
I would use something like "Vladimir shCherbak and Maxim Makukov have been investigating whether the genetic code contains evidence for directed Panspermia, and they think it does."
As far as the reference quality, it has been peer-reviewed (mathematicians?) by Icarus but it is also to note that it has been of low impact with no duplication, or cited by other teams. Although it has been criticized in science blogs, there is no controversy to speak of ≈ low impact. -BatteryIncluded (talk) 20:04, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah - that seems good to me. SteveBaker (talk) 20:52, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
It is good we avoid the sticky issue of approval/disproval of the paper and remain as neutral as possible. I hope HiBlueSky agrees with this. Please feel free to modify the entry for best neutrality:
"Vladimir shCherbak and Maxim Makukov have been investigating with mathematical patterns whether the genetic code contains evidence for an intelligent signature that indicates directed panspermia, and they think it does."
Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 21:24, 9 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Well, I think that sounds more neutral, certainly. But there are still some inaccuracies. E.g., "investigating with mathematical patterns" is not correct. More correct is "they found mathematical patterns". Besides, mathematical patterns are only one part of what they found, there is also semiotic/linguistic analysis which is traditionally developed in SETI community. I'm an astronomer with strong interest in SETI and astrobiology, and I've read both papers in question in depth. While I cannot say I am convinced with the authors' conclusions, I will certainly protest against calling that pseudoscience and numerology. The very idea of the approach does not even belong to these two guys, it was published few times earlier, and there is nothing pseudoscientific about the whole idea. These guys just tried to approach it with somewhat more concrete methods. E.g. similar ideas were proposed by Paul Davies, the chair of the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup (by the way, he is acknowledged in the first paper, along with Manfred Eigen, the Nobel laureate. That does not prove that they endorsed the results, but I think that it at least implies that neither Davies nor Eigen believes that this is "just numerology"). So I suggest something like this: "A number of publications since 1979 proposed the idea that directed panspermia could go along with an intelligent message implanted into the genomes or the genetic code of the first microorganisms *. In 2013 a team of physicists had attempted to investigate the universal genetic code with this idea and found mathematical and semiotic patterns in the code which, as they think, contain evidence for an intelligent signature that indicates directed panspermia [Refs. to their two papers]"

  • for references in the first sentence:




- The Eerie Silence (a book by Paul Davies)

UPD: I have removed the section from WP article. Let's first get the version on which we all agree and then put it in WP.

HiBlueSky (talk) 04:16, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I have reverted your arbitrary removal of the section. It should stay until consensus is reached on a revised version and certainly not by completely reverting a section until agreement is reached. Thanks and regards, David J Johnson (talk) 09:31, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I am sorry if I did it wrong, I'm just new to WP editing. Could you point out the rules for that? I mean, how to decide which revision should stay in the article until agreement is reached? I had initiated this section two days ago with two rather neutral (as I thought) sentences, and then it was revised by BatteryIncluded, since he found the fact that the claim was not officially disproved to be biased. But I find his revision of the section no less biased. So why exactly his biased version should stay waiting for the agreement? Isn't it logical to remove the section altogether then until the consensus is reached? Thanks. HiBlueSky (talk) 12:57, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Hello HiBlueSky. Just hang in there, we are progressing just as Wikipedia is designed. I also worked in astrobiology, so please know that nothing would make me happier than a confirmed biosignature such as an ET coded message. In this environment (Wikipedia science), your allegation that 'it has not been disproved' is a toxic catalyst like challenging everybody to disprove my Invisible Pink Unicorn, so we will not go there. As User:SteveBaker explains above, the most effective and accurate way forward is to report their claim of what THEY THINK THEY FOUND, not that they performed a certified discovery.
Now, since you brought this development to Wikipedia, and now you produced a more neutral draft, I will be glad to work on your draft instead:
In 2013 a team of physicists claimed they found mathematical and semiotic patterns in the genetic code which, they think, is evidence for an intelligent signature that indicates directed panspermia.
Please edit it/comment. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 14:56, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Hi, I fully agree with such version. But what about the preceding sentence and references which I proposed? Without it there is an impression that these two authors are the originators of the idea, whereas they are not. HiBlueSky (talk) 16:09, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, the previous hypotheses fit in the context of this one, it is neutral and informative. Let's add them back. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:22, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks BatteryIncluded It appears that we have all worked at times in astrobiology. My comment above was that the deleted section should be left in until everyone reaches consensus on a new neutral version can be agreed. I realise, as you have said that nothing would make us happier than a confirmed biosignature. We must accept that we are dealing with a new editor, who is still learning about Wikipedia editing. Regarding your proposed neutral draft, it is a good start - but probably needs a qualification along the lines of "Other scientific opinion is awaited on their claims" Best regards, David, David J Johnson (talk) 15:30, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I don't think there is a hard and fast rule about when something stays in the article while it's being discussed and when it has to be pulled out.
It's unreasonable to allow people to publish outright falsehoods, and then debate removing it - but it's also unreasonable to allow a one or two doubters to (in effect) censor the encyclopedia by removing content and demanding a protracted debate.
In this case, there seems to be broad (but perhaps not unanimous) support for saying something about this piece of work.
  • The case for pulling something out of the article while it's being discussed is generally when there is serious disagreement about the facts of what is said - lack of notability is rarely a reason to urgently remove factual data.  :( :* The case for leaving it in the article while we discuss it is that the more eyes see it, the more people will feel able to contribute to that discussion...and, so long as there are no outright falsehoods in it - it does have some value for our readership.
Here, we're saying that this paper exists (which it does) and summarizing the claims made within it (which I think we have more or less gotten right) - without saying that it's widely accepted or widely rejected (which is the thing that I'm not sure we all agree upon).
So, I think that with the wording variations described above, we can leave it in the article while we debate the niceties of notability, neutrality, undue-weight and so forth - and while we continue to tweak the wording.
SteveBaker (talk) 16:29, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I am happy with both versions. I've added the references. HiBlueSky (talk) 16:42, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I also agree to stay away from words like controversy, though I really don't get the point here - why the word controversial or debatable is not applicable in this case? The claim appears in two peer-reviewed journals published by respected organizations (AAS for Icarus and COSPAR for Life Sciences in Space Research), and I think that alone is enough for the term controversial to be applicable. Let alone that there are various opinions by biologists on this topic. To be clear: I do not insist on adding these words. I am happy with the current version. HiBlueSky (talk) 17:39, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

It is not really a controversy (it could be in this talk page and in the indicated science forums). As I mentioned before, the publication had low impact and no academic reaction. Examples of real scientific controversy are the expansion of the universe, race, abortion, Pluto, Chinese medicine, Big Bang, etc. If you really want to go into the published criticism/controversy of this "code" we would have to cite, quote and reference numerology and pseudoscience, which you object to, and brings us to step 1. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 19:42, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I disagree on some points. The publication had appreciable social impact, which is measured by the Altmetrics score. The Icarus paper has scored 276, and Altmetrics indicates that this is the highest score among all papers ever published in this journal. Yes, there was no academic reaction thus far, but it does not imply that it is not going to appear soon. If we take non-academic but non-anonymous sources, then I can count at least six non-anonymous sources who find this result interesting and at least worth discussing, while there is only one non-anonymous source who calls that numerology (PZ Myers). And what is controversial about the expansion of the Universe? I'm an astronomer, and I assure you that this question is long past controversy. Whatever the case, why not putting this final version of the section into WP? We all seem to agree on its neutrality. HiBlueSky (talk) 06:35, 11 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
 Done. -BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:34, 11 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]


A number of publications since 1979 proposed the idea that directed panspermia could go along with an intelligent message implanted into the genomes or the genetic code of the first microorganisms.[refs] In 2013 a team of physicists claimed they found mathematical and semiotic patterns in the genetic code which, they think, is evidence for an intelligent signature that indicates directed panspermia.[refs] Other scientific opinion is awaited on their claims.

(Tweaked wording)

A number of publications since 1979 have proposed the idea that directed panspermia could be demonstrated to be the origin of all life on Earth if a distinctive 'signature' message were found, deliberately implanted into either the genome or the genetic code of the first microorganisms by our hypothetical progenitor.[1][2]Cite error: The <ref> tag has too many names (see the help page).[3] In 2013 a team of physicists claimed that they had found mathematical and semiotic patterns in the genetic code which, they believe, is evidence for such a signature.[refs] Further investigations are needed.

SteveBaker (talk) 16:29, 10 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  1. ^ G. Marx (1979). "Message through time". Acta Astronautica. 6 (1–2): 221–225. doi:10.1016/0094-5765(79)90158-9.
  2. ^ H. Yokoo, T. Oshima (1979). "Is bacteriophage φX174 DNA a message from an extraterrestrial intelligence?". Icarus. 38 (1): 148–153. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(79)90094-0.
  3. ^ Davies, Paul C.W. (2010). The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN ISBN 978-0-547-13324-9. {{cite book}}: Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help)

Life in Space[edit]

Of possible interest --

In any case - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 14:12, 11 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]

new URL for reference No. 43[edit]

The Article "Electromagnetic space travel for bugs?" on New Scientist is now reachable here -- Hartmann Schedel cheers 15:01, 3 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Is it 'truth' if it can be read oppositely by different readers?[edit]

I try to stay away from the zones of "we found the truftfh!" but just reading through the article gives the obvious impression that much is popularized by people having trouble grasping that slippery devil 'reality'. I come here to point out these diametrically opposed statements:

"... the bacteria's DNA is unlike any on Earth."


"... and were determined to be related to modern day Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilis bacteria ..."

WTF? This is in section Case studies, second bullet point section, with lede "On May 11, 2001, two researchers from the University of Naples ..." These two opposite statements are supposedly supported by the exact same ref? Unbelievable, yes? Shenme (talk) 03:30, 13 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Original research in the article[edit]

The whole section on Extremophiles seems to reference quite a few studies that don't mention panspermia or anything closely related at all. The right place for most of that is in Extremophile. I'm sure a short summary could be put here but it should have something that mentions the connection. What's here is just editors writing up the article as if it was in some magazine rather than having it conform to the WP:Original Research policy. Dmcq (talk) 10:48, 3 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

ET signal in the genetic code: Reaching consensus (2017)[edit]

Hello, I've seen the changes by Rp2006 and Drbogdan, but there was indeed a long discussion on this topic some time ago (see above), which led to consensus formulation, so I find new changes somewhat unfair. Specifically, the point is whether it is appropriate to present a reference to PZ Myers' post as a refutation. There was another paper published recently on this topic in a profile journal[1], where the authors seem to answer some of the critics they received (including that from PZ Myers). So I think it would be fair either to leave the consensus version of the paragraph, or, if referring to post by PZ Myers, the authors' response should also be included (there is also a small relevant FAQ point at their blog for that: (talk) 13:57, 16 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Ok, so Drbogdan finds that consensus reached in 2014 is not a true consensus, so a new one is needed. To start with, I propose the following version:

In 2013 a team of physicists claimed that they had found logical and numerical attributes in the genetic code which, they believe, is evidence for such a signature.[2][3][4] This claim has been criticized, in particular, by biologist PZ Myers in Pharyngula.[5] As the authors respond in their blog,[6] PZ Myers might have been confused by similarity with Intelligent Design; meanwhile, according to the authors, their result does not contradict natural evolution, and that "the very idea of preserving non-biological information is based on the natural mechanism of negative selection". In 2017, the same authors published a paper in the International Journal of Astrobiology, where they respond to previous criticisms.[7] Further investigations are needed.

AndyShepp (talk) 16:47, 16 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Maxim A. Makukov and Vladimir I. shCherbak (2017). "SETI in vivo: testing the we-are-them hypothesis". International Journal of Astrobiology. doi:10.1017/S1473550417000210.
  2. ^ Shcherbak, Vladimir I.; Makukov, Maxim A. (2013). "The "Wow! signal" of the terrestrial genetic code". Icarus. 224 (1): 228–242. Bibcode:2013Icar..224..228S. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.02.017.
  3. ^ Makukov, Maxim (4 October 2014). "Claim to have identified extraterrestrial signal in the universal genetic code thereby confirming directed panspermia". The New Reddit Journal of Science. Retrieved 2014-10-09.
  4. ^ Makukov, Maxim A.; Shcherbak, Vladimir I. (2014). "Space ethics to test directed panspermia". Life Sciences in Space Research. 3: 10–17. Bibcode:2014LSSR....3...10M. doi:10.1016/j.lssr.2014.07.003.
  5. ^ Myers, PZ. "The Genetic Code is not a synonym for the Bible Code". Pharyngula. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  6. ^ "FAQ". Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  7. ^ Makukov, Maxim A.; Shcherbak, Vladimir I. (2017). "SETI in vivo: testing the we-are-them hypothesis". International Journal of Astrobiology. doi:10.1017/S1473550417000210.

FWIW - Drbogdan Talk-page discussion (copied below) seems relevant:

Copied from "Drbogdan Talk-Page discussion"

-- Panspermia revert --

Thanks for your revert, restoring the material I added! I was reading the Talk page over and over trying to find any discussion on this topic without success. As I was doing this, your revert happened! I wonder if that editor honestly misconstrued something, or was just making it up - and gave that reason to allow them to delete information (without push-back) that they personally did not like! RobP (talk) 15:10, 13 July 2017 (UTC)

@Rp2006: Thank you for your comments re recent WP:SPA ip edits (ie, edit-Panspermia, edit-Direct panspermia) on the Panspermia and Directed panspermia articles - *entirely* agree - no discussions, esp ones leading to WP:CONSENSUS, re the noted text, seemed to have occurred on the related talk-pages (ie, Talk:Panspermia, Talk:Directed panspermia) - Thanks again for your comments - and - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 15:27, 13 July 2017 (UTC)

Rp2006 and Drbogdan: what Talk page you have looked at? 90% of discussion on the Talk page of the Panspermia article is exactly about reaching the consensus formulation on that point - AndyShepp (talk) 15:24, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

@AndyShepp and Rp2006: Thank you for your comments - seems that the discussion in "Talk:Panspermia#ET signal in the genetic code" did not reach a true "WP:CONSENSUS" view (afaik - a "formulation" is not a true consensus view - please see => "WP:CONSENSUS") - the closest view of the discussion seems to be (as noted in the edit summary) the following => "... deleted section should be left in until everyone reaches consensus on a new neutral version ..." - see => "Talk:Panspermia#ET signal in the genetic code" - hope this helps in some way - in any case - Thanks again for your comments - and - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 15:46, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

In any case - Comments Welcome on reaching a true WP:CONSENSUS of the proposed text/refs (noted above) - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 19:05, 16 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

So, any other suggestions? If not, I'll put the version above into the article in a day. AndyShepp (talk) 03:31, 18 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

  • I object to the removal of the PZ quote as well as addition of the response. This serves to doubly weaken the impact of the criticism. Did PZ reply to there response? Should that go here? Where does that chain end? RobP (talk) 11:24, 18 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • The sentence "Further investigations are needed" is WP:OR. Actually, everybody who has any experience with pseudoscience, such as PZ Myers, can see that this is just the same methodology as with Bible Code, Pyramidology, Cyclosophy and so on: pure cherry picking. There is nothing to see here, and further investigations are a waste of time. PZ is not confused, his analysis is spot on, the similarity with ID is superficial, and the references to "not contradicting natural evolution" and "preserving non-biological information" are red herrings. --Hob Gadling (talk) 12:46, 18 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • I doubt if PZ Myers is aware of the response, and I doubt he will comment on it unless the paper will be again lauded (mistakenly) by the ID-community. As a practicing astrobiologist, I am certainly not convinced by the authors' conclusions (they themselves do not pretend to have it beyond doubt). However, I find their last paper quite interesting and the argumentation quite illuminating on some points. And certainly I find that PZ Myers is wrong on that this is a piece of ID (the authors are very clear on that in this paper). Besides, this paper was published in an on-topic peer-reviewed journal. Wiki should state things as neutrally as possible. The current state of the facts is that the authors responded to criticism in a journal publication, so this should be reflected. I do not really think the chain will go forever. As for "further investigations" - that's not my sentence, it is from the previous text from the article. I also completely endorse rational skepticism, and my favorite figure is Carl Sagan on this point. As Michael Shermer said, Sagan was able to balance between most skeptical scrutiny and openness to new ideas. In my opinion, the case discussed here is exactly that. I do not find the methodology in their last paper the same as in the Bible code. They do not choose an arbitrary methodology for analysis, but try to reason out. So my suggestion remains. I do not insist that the quote by PZ Myers should be deleted, but I disagree that the authors' responce publication should be ignored. AndyShepp (talk) 13:31, 18 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
    "PZ Myers is wrong on that this is a piece of ID" - Where does he say it is? He calls it "numerology" but not ID. He says the ID folks are trying to appropriate it but not that is is ID. --Hob Gadling (talk) 14:16, 18 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
There you go: "why be impressed that another set of Intelligent Design creationists in Kazakhstan are using the same tired tropes?" They are clearly not creationists, and clearly they are not using the same tired tropes - again, as I already mentioned, the authors emphasize in their last paper that their reasoning does not rely on ID arguments (irreducible complexity, etc.), but instead they use semiotic arguments that are typically discussed in SETI community. But I also disagree that this is numerology. Not convincing is not the same as just pure numerology. AndyShepp (talk) 14:37, 18 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I see. Thank you, I overlooked that one. PZ tends to overdo it sometimes. Still, the link contains interesting information. --Hob Gadling (talk) 05:30, 20 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, sometimes he tends to overdo, and I think in saying that this is numerology he had also overdone it. Sorry, don't get what link you are talking about. AndyShepp (talk) 02:48, 21 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • Hi, I'm one of the authors of the papers being discussed here (thanks for pointing out this discussion, Simone). Saying right off: I am not going to make war and press on changing anything in the wiki-article. I'll appreciate if the wiki-editors here will take my note into account; but if not - well, I can live with that ;) From the discussion here I see that the point is not whether our papers are ID or not (they are not; if that matters - I share entirely naturalistic worldview). Rather, the point is whether they are numerology or not. As I guess, this is a short way of saying that the data we described might be just the result of our arbitrary "juggling" until we found some "desired patterns". In our recent paper (mentioned here by the user AndyShepp) we devote a good chunk of text to discussing this very point, so here I'll instead make a comparison between our study and the Bible Code (the comparison brought about by PZ Myers, I suppose). First - there is no any scientific hypothesis behind the Bible code (at least none that I've heard of. God? That's not a hypothesis, since the notion of God is notoriously ill-defined ;) ). Without such restriction, you are free to choose/invent any method you like for data analysis. In our case, we have the working hypothesis (that of Sagan and Crick & Orgel), and we attempt to develop analysis methodology appropriate for that hypothesis - the condition which greatly restricts the options (in particular, we are trying to follow similar basic logic that was used to construct Earth-made messages such as the Arecibo message, etc.). Second - the analogy with the Bible code is irrelevant simply from statistical standpoint. In one case the data (Bible) is millions of letters long - what a scope for opportunities ;). In another case, the data (genetic code) is only a few hundred bits. Next, the Bible is but one of many books ever written, while the genetic code is unique (with several minor variations). The Bible is written with a writing system which is itself completely arbitrary and is but one of many existing writing systems; in contrast, in our approach we do not rely in any way on arbitrary cultural codes, relying instead on the language of abstract logic and mathematics (yes, I know not everyone agrees that even mathematics might be useful for communication with another intelligent species; still, if you attempt to do that, first of all you'll most proboaly resort to logic/mathematics, not Hebrew, right?). ----------- Of course, I by no means imply that our data unambiguously supports the hypothesis of Crick & Orgel. My point is that the data favors this hypothesis to the extent which makes it unreasonable to dismiss it as numerology just like the Bible code. As typically happens in such situations, the problem is that it is difficult to find an objective criterion for judging opinions and biases. Yes, PZ Myers is a popular authority, and I really have nothing against PZ, I like most of his writings which I had time to read. That said, like all of us, he has biases. I mean, I will hardly ever doubt anything he says about developmental biology or atheism. But, to be honest, models of the genetic code evolution are simply not his forte (I mean exactly the genetic code here, not genome - there are only few researchers on the scene who specialize specifically in the genetic code; most biologists just use it as a dictionary for genes, without going into much details about existing models of how the genetic code might have evolved). Or, for example, would you also agree with PZ that Elon Musk is an evil man? ;) So, we have an opinion by PZ here on one side, but as a counterbalance I may count more than a dozen of researchers who do not find our study to be just numerology. Three reviewers and editor in Icarus, and two reviewers and editor in IJA - that's already seven ;) I might provide more (with prooflinks). ---------- So, what's all this in aid of? Personally, I would prefer that all mentions of our work were deleted from the article. After all, it hasn't been discussed widely in relevant scientific literature. But since I'm not well familiar with the wiki policy, I am not sure this is actually an option. If these mentions are to be left, along with PZ Myers comments, of course I find it relevant also to add a note that we had tried to make it clear about points on which PZ Myers seems to "overdo" (as they say here :) RobP objects to this because this would "weaken the impact of criticism" - as if whatever the authors might reply, that would be certainly wrong :) Though I wouldn't call our last paper a "reply to criticism". I would call it an "attempt to clarify points which were misinterpreted or misunderstood by some overly skeptical guys from the start (given that the topic is tough being far from mainstream), including those points which might have been due to our poor presentation or to us being not quite clear in the previous paper" :) Either PZ responds or not, I am not going to publish other papers on this topic, so the chain stops here (if he responds, I have nothing against stopping the chain with his new comment). Thus, I will appreciate if the wiki-editors will 1) replace the beginning "In 2013 a team of physicists claimed that they had found..." with something like "...published a paper where they expressed a belief that they had found..." and 2) add a note after PZ's comment that "in 2017 the authors published another paper in IJA in which they tried to clarify certain points concerning the methodology of their research, which might have led to inappropriate interpretation or understanding of their previous paper". Or something along these lines. Thanks. Maxim Makukov (talk) 15:08, 23 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Ball containing DNA[edit]

So one of the cheapest tabloids publishes a BS story of a vanadium ball that `may contain extraterrestrial DNA`` and it finds its way to this article. Where a `reputable` editor oposes the deletion. Can you please review the guidelines on reliable sources and relevance before reverting. ALso, the scientific process does not include beliefs, but thought processes firmly based in the laws of nature. thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:41, 26 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]

If you are going to contribute to Wikipedia, then please learn to sign your "contribution" in the accepted way. The reason that I reverted the deletion of the vanadium ball entry was that the astrobiologist, Milton Wainwright and the University of Buckingham are reliable sources, even if the publication that picked-up the story is questionable. David J Johnson (talk) 09:40, 27 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Milton Wainwright, partner of Chandra Wickramasinghe published this joke in their own predatory Journal of Cosmology. Where it was picked up by tabloids and other outlets. If you had looked into it (I assume you have a computer), you'd know that Wainwright and Wickramasinghe are the laughing stock of the astrobiology community. (talk) 19:09, 29 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]
First, indent your "contribution" correctly per Wikipedia style. Secondly, your comments are your own point of view: see WP:POV. Please don't assume that Wainwright and Wickramasinghe are the "laughing stock" of the whole "astrobiology community", they are not - although I personally don't agree with all their views, but that is my WP:POV! Time for you to create an account, rather than hiding? Regards, David J Johnson (talk) 19:20, 29 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]

External links modified[edit]

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Directed panspermia and undue weight[edit]

TZubiri, could you explain your concerns with the "directed panspermia" section? Also, I think template:Undue weight section is more appropriate; you placed the article-level template in the section. Schazjmd (talk) 20:53, 3 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

In biology, panspermia is a respectable theory related to abiogenesis or the origin of life, the article on that subject contains 400 respectable references from diverse branches of biology as well as astronomist and geologists.
The marked section on the other hand is mainly concerned with futurology, and only tangentially serves as a theory for the past as a fringe theory. A focus on the word panspermia only serves to piggyback on the credibility of the subject, it is not primarily a theory that explains the origin of life million of years ago, it is primarily an idea about possibly spreading existing life today.
As a weight comparison, accidental panspermia, which is more likely than directed panspermia, only has a single paragraph devoted to it.
--TZubiri (talk) 21:01, 4 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Note, I have reached the concept of RNA World independently by reading an unrelated biology book, so Francis Crick is notable. But the theory was retracted specifically for this reason. I propose that the first an second paragraphs be kept, while merging the rest of the content into its own artice (it's all probaby there anyway.)--TZubiri (talk) 01:06, 5 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Panspermia as a whole is a fringe theory, regardless of what their supporters say otherwise. Hemiauchenia (talk) 18:11, 14 August 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Relevant news[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:21, 26 April 2022 (UTC)[reply]