Rainforests of Venus – Observation, Interpretation, Conclusion

Carl Sagan once told the story of early astronomers who looked up into the sky with their primitive telescopes and observed the planet Venus. It puzzled them greatly because Venus had no observable surface. Not at all like the Moon or Mars, it appeared just like a featureless, flat disc in the night sky.

“What on Earth could possibly explain that?” they asked.

“Well, suppose it was covered in clouds.” “Yes, that would explain it, since clouds obscure everything beneath them.” So they continued, “What surface conditions are needed to make clouds?”

“Well, heat, which we know Venus has because it’s close to the sun, and water.”
image

Clouds of orchids at the Singapore Garden Festival, Gardens by the Bay. 21 Jul- 3 Aug 2018

That made sense, so they continued, “What kind of surface do you get when you have heat, light and water?” “Well, tropical rain forests, for one thing.”

That made perfect sense, so they concluded that the surface of Venus was covered with tropical rain forests

As it turns out, the temperature on the surface of Venus is 900 degrees Fahrenheit and the clouds are made of sulfuric acid.

Which brought Carl Sagan to his point. “Observation: featureless disc. Conclusion: tropical rain forests.”

How far wrong we can go — in just a few short steps! The conclusion of those astronomers may seem silly to us, now that we know more about the conditions on Venus. But the process they followed in making their mistake was one which most of us easily follow. In the study of logic, the process is called inductive reasoning.

Observe particulars, derive generalities from them.

Source: Quoted from John David Hoag
http://www.nlpls.com/articles/failureVSfeedback.php

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