718: The Flake Equation
|The Flake Equation|
Title text: Statistics suggest that there should be tons of alien encounter stories, and in practice there are tons of alien encounter stories. This is known as Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox.
The Flake equation is a parody of the Drake equation, which estimates the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy.
The title text refers to Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox as a parody of the Fermi paradox: The contradiction between the high estimated probable existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of establishing contact to such civilizations by humans.
Another comic parodying this equation is 384: The Drake Equation. The credibility of paranormal reports in general is revisited in 1235: Settled, which posits that if such phenomena were real they should have been unambiguously captured on camera by now.
- The Flake Equation:
- P = WP × (CR + MI) × TK × F0 × F1 × DT × AU ≈ 100,000
- WP = World Population (7,000,000)
- CR = Fraction of people who imagine an alien encounter because they're crazy or want to feel special (1/10,000)
- MI = Fraction of people who misinterpret a physical or physiological experience as an alien sighting (1/10,000)
- TK = Probability that they'll tell someone (1/10)
- F0 = Average number of people they tell (10)
- F1 = Average number of people each friend tells this "firsthand" account (10)
- DT = Probability that any details not fitting the narrative will be revised or forgotten in retelling (9/10)
- AU = Fraction of people with the means and motivation to share the story with a wider audience (blogs, forums, reporters) (1/100)
- Even with conservative guesses for the values of the variables, this suggests there must be a huge number of credible-sounding alien sightings out there, available to anyone who wants to believe!
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