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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Man in the Universe. Dr. A. R. Wallace's Conclusions. (S682a: 1910)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor, complaining about interpretations of Wallace's conclusions in Is Mars Habitable? Printed on page twelve of The Daily News (London) issue of 11 April 1910. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S682A.htm

(To the Editor of "The Daily News.")

     Sir,--Will you allow me to correct a statement as to what I "disbelieve," made in your "London Letter" of to-day. The writer says: "Dr. Wallace not only disbelieves in the existence of any form of life on Mars, but also in the possibility of there being any other world (in the sense of a peopled planet) except the earth, throughout the universe."

     There are here two very great errors. In my book "Is Mars Habitable?" the concluding sentences are as follows:

     "The conclusion from these three independent proofs, which enforce each other in the multiple ratio of their respective weights, is therefore irresistible--that animal life, especially in its higher forms, cannot exist on the planet. Mars, therefore, is not only uninhabited by intelligent beings, such as Mr. Lowell postulates, but is absolutely uninhabitable."

     My "belief" (or disbelief) is thus a conclusion founded on a careful examination of the whole body of available evidence; and it does not apply to "any form of life" (as the writer states), but expressly to those highly "intelligent beings, such as Mr. Lowell postulates."

     The remainder of the statement as to what I "disbelieve" is equally erroneous. On page 317 of my "Man's Place in the Universe," I give three conclusions, reached by modern astronomers, and then add:

     "The conclusions which I claim to have shown to have enormous probabilities in their favour are:

     (4) That no other planet in the solar system than our earth is inhabited or habitable.
     (5) That the probabilities are almost as great against any other sun possessing inhabited planets.
     (6) That the nearly central position of our sun is probably a permanent one, and has been specially favourable, perhaps absolutely essential, to life-development on the earth."

     As in "The Daily News" of yesterday I was said to be as "dogmatic" as Prof. Lowell, I may be allowed to quote the next sentence to that above given.

     "These latter conclusions depend upon the combination of a large number of special conditions, each of which must be in definite relation to many of the others, and must all have persisted simultaneously during enormous periods of time. The weight to be given to this kind of reasoning depends upon a full and fair consideration of the whole evidence, as I have endeavoured to present it in the last seven chapters of this book. To this evidence I appeal."--Yours, etc.,

Alfred R. Wallace.
Broadstone, April 8th.

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