Re: Is there evidence of design?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Nov 14 2005 - 12:22:34 EST

Crichton's statement that the Drake equation is "pure speculation in scientific trappings" is 100% wrong. The equation is in fact quite rigorous, stating that the number of extant advanced technical civilizations in the galaxy is the product of a number of factors that would determine whether such civilizations could come into being and how long they would survive. Where speculation enters is in knowing what numbers to put into the equations for some of these factors, because we simply don't the probability of life developing on a suitable planet or the probability of intelligence emerging if life does. We don't even know if our estimates are very conservative or very generous.

Crichton should stick to fiction.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: janice matchett
  To: Robert Schneider ; Gregory Arago ; Cornelius Hunter ;
  Sent: Monday, November 14, 2005 11:21 AM
  Subject: Re: Is there evidence of design?

  At 10:15 AM 11/14/2005, Robert Schneider wrote:

    "...I think that one needs to start with "design" and try to educate the public about the distinctions between the term as it is used in theology and as it is used in ID argumentation." ~ Bob

  ### As you know, many "real" scientists are highly incensed because they think that other "sneaky" scientists at Discovery Institute have figured that a good way to teach "creationism to kids would be under the guise of calling it "Intelligent Design."

  Here is my suggestion as to how the "distinctions" you cite could be taught:

  "Design" is to ID argumentation as "SETI" is to scientific argumentation.

  And then go on to explain it to the ignorant this way:

  "...Cast your minds back to 1960. John F. Kennedy is president, commercial jet airplanes are just appearing, the biggest university mainframes have 12K of memory. And in Green Bank, West Virginia at the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young astrophysicist named Frank Drake runs a two week project called Ozma, to search for extraterrestrial signals. ......"

  "...George Gaylord Simpson of Harvard sneered that SETI was a "study without a subject," and it remains so to the present day.

  But scientists in general have been indulgent toward SETI, viewing it either with bemused tolerance, or with indifference. After all, what's the big deal? It's kind of fun. If people want to look, let them. Only a curmudgeon would speak harshly of SETI. It wasn't worth the bother.

  And of course it is true that untestable theories may have heuristic value. Of course extraterrestrials are a good way to teach science to kids. But that does not relieve us of the obligation to see the Drake equation clearly for what it is-pure speculation in quasi-scientific trappings.

  The fact that the Drake equation was not greeted with screams of outrage-similar to the screams of outrage that greet each Creationist new claim, for example-meant that now there was a crack in the door, a loosening of the definition of what constituted legitimate scientific procedure. And soon enough, pernicious garbage began to squeeze through the cracks. ..."

  Excerpted from: "Aliens Cause Global Warming" A lecture by Michael Crichton California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA January 17, 2003
Received on Mon Nov 14 12:23:39 2005

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