Back when Gilese 581g was discovered, a huge fuss was made about finding “Earth’s twin”, on which the chances of life were “100%”. The backlash to the media response has been swift and forceful, quite rightfully. I’ve said it before to trust nothing you hear about science and in this article The Astronomist expands on that. He spells out the things that the media glazed over, for the media sells stories, not facts. The distortion of science in the minds of those who fail to understand it is partially the fault of the media and the potential discovery of Gilese 581g is no exception. Telling people that this so-called “goldilocks planet” exists and then saying “well me might have been wrong, heh heh” gives off the appearance that science is fallible and uncertain. The truth of the matter is that the planet was potentially discovered and if it does exist we can guess and infer what the conditions of the planet may be like, but we don’t know for sure.
This is what makes science so special and unique. To keep a religion alive, one must remaining unquestioning and faithful, whereas science is kept alive by skepticism and an unending search for the empirical truth. I know it’s nice to be hopeful that the universe is exactly as we wish it to be, but the universe doesn’t have to adhere to our whims. That doesn’t make it any less magnificent and beautiful.
Give this a read if you’re interested in the actual science of extrasolar planets.