This is called Astrophysical Antirealism, and it centers around the idea that everything that humanity has observed in deep space is inaccurate or a downright lie.


Googles says Hacking subscribes; because we cannot manipulate anything in deep space (or even the centre of the sun) so we must know nothing about it.

I'm unsure about antirealists in general: I'd have guessed that we can observe deep space, but then Hacking I assume doesn't deny the empirical predictions of our mature sciences.

Anyway, does it solve the fermi paradox, if we know nothing about deep space/what we cannot manipulate/etc,?

  • This seems like a greatly overstated case for a defensible position of being strict when discussing exactly what we have actually measured, where, and how. Is everything antirealists think they know about what they think a lie, because we can't affect the past?
    – g s
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 1:14
  • I passed by several farms ... fields upon fields on both sides ... yet I didn't see what one would expect to see ... in ... you know ... fields.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 17:34
  • do you think anti realists believe that the stars are suns @AgentSmith ?
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 22:00
  • @doot_s ... per the linked article, I'd say unlikely, but the point is antirealists are engaged in certain strain of preaching ... if ya catch me drift, homie.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 10:39
  • ha yeah @AgentSmith at least most forms of anti-realism
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:12

3 Answers 3


It is not necessary to "manipulate" a star for example in any way at all in order to measure its brightness, temperature, spectrum, composition, and distance from us.

We know a lot about the inner structure of the sun by the use of tools like helioseismology and by comparing the results of advanced computer modeling with observations of the sun from earth.

Hence, astrophysical antirealism is the product of people who know nothing about the practice of astrophysics, and understand less. It is not even wrong.

Regarding a solution to the fermi paradox: Just saying "everything we think we know about astrophysics is wrong because I said so" does not furnish a solution to anything. The real solution to the fermi paradox is most likely the practical impossibility of interstellar or intergalactic travel- that is, there may well be other civilizations existing in the universe but they are simply all too far from us to ever pay a visit.

  • Hacking is a much better philosopher than you and me.
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 22:12
  • 2
    @doot_s, but that does not make him right. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 4:42
  • it does suggest that the complaints about his stupidity are redundant.
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 4:47
  • We've made a lot of assumptions about how standard our solar system is, & it's turning out it's very unusual: youtu.be/_Tju7EaSfmM That's without a molten iron core, & large amounts of water, which seems to have arrived after being knocked off proto-Mars, suggesting a further set of rarities. The Rare Earth picture could reduce the likelihood of intelligent life in our galaxy to low single figures. & then it's how long it survives, how visible it will be, & how well we are looking. Interstellar travel with nanomachines is def possible though. & some other galaxies must have life.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 19:31

enter image description here

It depends why it's not 'real'.

If we are all in a simulation, there remains to make an accounting why simulating aliens isn't involved.

If it's the Zoo Hypothesis, that aliens are refraining from contact and hiding themselves because we are unready or not suitable for first contact, then that requires explanations and considerations if evidence too - it's more like a family of proposals, for different tech levels and distances from Earth.

So understood in terms of providing a complete answer to the Fermi Paradox, no it does not.

We are getting increasingly complex and interconnected data about the universe, like gravity waves - 'faking' those and screening out some of them would be particularly difficult, requiring mindblowing levels of technology and energy control. Although it would take at least a Kardashev 2.5 species for such events to disclose the involvement of aliens in gravity-wave relevant events.


Replacing the Problem with another One

Why are there no aliens? Because space isn't real.

This answers the question but replaces it with the harder question of how come space acts like it's real even though it is not real.

I cannot verify directly that space is not real, and I suspect you cannot either. But if you believe the scientific establishment, we have all these big telescopes and satellites and millions of hours of data about space. The data suggests space is governed by the same physical laws that we can test experimentally on Earth.

enter image description here

In light of the centuries of observing space, the wild claim of saying it is not real would require some wild evidence.

It also does not explain why we have not observed any unreal aliens.

  • 1
    if it can probe me then it's real.
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 22:15

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