RE: Aliens (was:RE: Dembski and Caesar cyphers)

From: Glenn Morton (
Date: Wed Dec 04 2002 - 00:52:59 EST

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    Josh wrote:

    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: Josh Bembenek []
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 8:06 PM
    >First, my summary about the weight of such a signal as found in
    >Contact was
    >in direct reference to your analogy to Fibonacci series in plant
    >growth, and
    >that we can't ascribe design in the Contact situation without ruling out a
    >purely natural process. Since there are an unknown and theoretically
    >infinite possibilities for "naturally" producing mathematically patterned
    >radio signals (no I cannot think of one nor do I know if one currently
    >exists), we cannot meet that criteria, and thus we cannot ever ascribe
    >design according to you in this scenario.

    Not so, Josh. I clearly said we can know design if we communicate with
    them. That will probably be difficult because interspecies communication
    here has only limited extent (here kitty kitty kitty--and she runs for food)
    The reality Josh is that we will have a great deal of difficutly detecting
    design because all cases and examples of design which Dembski puts up are
    anthropomorphic. We know the watch was designed because we know humans make
    watch. We know writing is designed because we know humans write. How will
    we recognize design when it isn't anthropomorphic? That is what the ID
    group is trying to do. They are trying to detect Theomorphic design in life
    when all they have to go on is anthopomorphic design as examples.

      However, if SETI ever recieves
    >such a signal I doubt the headliner response (or the level of "get our
    >attention") would be "An interesting radio signal was recieved, but
    >scientists don't know if it is intelligent." It would probably be
    >like what happened in Contact.

    There already has been a signal which got our attention and the reaction was
    like the former:

      So, my "misquote" was for the purpose of
    >illustrating that you would be the only one with such a mitigated response
    >of maybe, maybe not to the question of design in relation to a
    >radio signal
    >from outer space like that from Contact. Most people would take
    >the signal
    >VERY seriously in terms of investing much energy and resources discovering
    >its source and purpose of existence. Your argument seems simply for the
    >sake of argument to point out that design isn't proven.

    Josh, you seem to confuse human reaction with scientific proof. They aren't
    the same at all. I have said over and over that people would be interested,
    that such a signal would get our interest. That doesn't mean it is design.
    Nature constantly uses mathematics and we don't call it design. Consider
    the 16th century discovery of the square root of -1. It seemed to be a
    mathematical curiousity but it appears as a fundamental part of quantum
    mechanics today. One simply can't take mathematics in nature as proof of
    design without making the logical error of assuming the consequence.

    >Four cases
    >And while the has meaning that we can read, we would not strongly infer
    >design due to a higher probability of its occurrence by chance. So, while
    >side information provides the necessary component to positively infer
    >design, the probablistic component is nonetheless required also. And for
    >biology, we should have plenty of "side information" as time goes
    >on and the
    >function and meaning of sequences are mapped out. O.K. I have to do
    >something else today, hope this gives plenty to chew on.

    This side info is knowledge of anthropomorphic design. What is Vegan design

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