forecasting accurate futures calculating contingent understanding mapping critical understanding assembling predictive estimations composing probable predictions mapping the future assembling calibrated forecasts computing accurate forecasts generating precise understanding assembling accurate wisdom crowdsourcing predictive estimations exploring contingent insights assembling probable futures aggregating intelligent understanding


Metaculus Help: Spread the word

If you like Metaculus, tell your friends! Share this question via Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

A NYT article this year that discusses aliens as a possible explanation for an astronomical phenomenon?

Astronomers sometimes write scientific papers that draw on extraterrestrial intelligence as an agent of explanation for celestial phenomena that are either novel or not immediately understandable. Moreover, when such hypotheses are invoked, they often gain considerable media focus. In contrast, similarly effective peer-reviewed appeals to the Deus Ex Machina device are not frequently seen in terrestrial fields such as meteorology or solid-state physics.

Recent examples that have risen to some prominence in the public eye include (i) an article suggesting that the star KIC 8462852 is an outstanding SETI target because its light curve is consistent with a swarm of megastructures, (ii) the proposal that fast radio bursts are associated with extragalactic light sails, and (iii) the use of the Green Bank Radio Telescope to assess whether the interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua is (as memorably phrased by researcher Seth Shostak) a "rock or a rocket".

Given the clear public interest in alien-themed astronomical hypotheses, one can speculate whether further work of this nature will be deemed newsworthy by the New York Times. As a companion to this question which touches on The Times' coverage of U.F.O.s within Earth's Hill Sphere, we ask:

During the span from February through December of 2018, will the New York Times publish a news story in which intelligent extraterrestrial agency is discussed as a possible explanation for an astronomical phenomenon? To resolve as positive, the story must concern astronomical observations of an object outside of the Earth-enveloping Earth-Sun L1 Jacobi equipotential, and must run in the main, "A" section of the print-version paper.


Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site

Community Stats

Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.