From: <>
Date: Tue Jun 05 2007 - 10:33:55 EDT


> Here's a link pertaining to whether or not SETI helps legitimize the ID
> movement as scientific:
> I think not,

I'm not particularly interested in defending Dembski, but, I don't see
how this fits with what I am saying.

The main arguments the writer about SETI makes are
(1) the signal is simple: for example, a continuous tone.
(2) where the signal comes from. If the signal comes from a cold
planet, it is not likely to be a strong emitter of billions of watts of
energy unless it were a civilization.

Much along the lines of (1), it
would be better to concentrate the signal to a narrow band so
that one obtains the strongest signal possible. So there would
be some well anticipated characteristics of an ET signal.

In the Design Inference, Dembski did not write a lot on the subject
of SETI, and it was a sub topic of cryptography (pp 26-32). There
may be some misconception (according to above stated between
pp 30 and 31 (and some other places) where he writes

"Indeed, the
SETI researcher's task is to eavesdrop on interplanetary
trying to determine whether a given radio signal was transmitted
by an intelligent agent, and if so, the signal's meaning".
p 31.

However, he also writes just after that:

"Of course, the actual cryptography employed by SETI researchers is
pretty minimal. Typically it is assumed that ETIs are so intent on
making their presence known that they will do something terribly
obvious, like transmit a sequence of prime numbers. For the SETI
program to have even a chance of being successful, the following
hypotheses must hold: (1) ETIs must at some point in the history
of the universe have existed; (2) ETIs have been sufficiently
technologically to signal their presence by means of radio signals;
(3) ETIs have indeed signaled their presence by means of radio
transmissions; and (4) we happen to be living at just the right time
cosmic history to receive those transmissions."

"the actual cryptography ... is pretty minimal". The "ETIs are so intent on
making their presence known.... ". That does not differ all that much from
what the article said. Now granted, it does differ in that he assume maybe
they would look for a series of prime numbers rather than a single tone,
but that is irrelevant. If the "making their presence known" is a single

In fact, "tone" is a rather odd word from the writer, shouldn't it have
been a narrow band of the EMR spectrum? That would make a lot more sense.
Perhaps the ETIs might try to have one single continuous, uninterrupted
carrier signal at some wavelength that is relatively unaffected by cosmic
dust and gas. But you would also want something with a little bandwidth
too in that same range.

And if they really intercept a ETI signal, would they just stop at having
detected this intense narrow band of signal? Of course not! If we really
received that, we'd want to know whether it is a language. Again, if it is
an unencrypted natural language, there are likely to be repeated patterns
that make it obviously not random. If we actually have what we believe to
be an intercepted signal, there is simply no doubt that this is the next
we would start looking for.

I cannot help but feel the author has been a little disingenuous to talk as
though we are _only_ looking for communications one a single tone. Granted,
he is working from some often repeated popular summaries of ID which seize
on expedient, and in that view, ID does appear completely out of sorts with
anything useful.

I don't find what is being depicted as ID consistent with Dembski's views
purported in the Design Inference. It is not a great book, and not
helpful. I don't expect I will have reason to use if for much of anything
or in the future. However, it wasn't all this stuff I hear people say about
Dembski either. Dembski in his Design Inference appears to understands
that the pattern


is not random, so the whole article by Shostak is largely built on a
straw man.

by Grace we proceed,

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Received on Tue Jun 5 10:34:33 2007

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