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SETI and Intelligent Design
space.com ^ | posted: 01 December 2005 | Seth Shostak

Posted on 12/02/2005 8:35:59 AM PST by ckilmer

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To: ckilmer
IMO, SETI is only marginally closer to being a scientific theory than ID and that's not very close. I don't consider this quality thinking: let's take these N terms most of the values we have no good estimates for, multiply them together and try to say something definite about the product. We have one data point for the development of life - trying to extrapolate it to the universe is just plain dumb.

But at least SETI pushes the technological envelope. Just looking out there we are bound to see something interesting, like pulsars.

51 posted on 12/02/2005 11:24:35 AM PST by edsheppa
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To: ckilmer; RadioAstronomer; Physicist
it is curious that seti is accepted in the scientific community and id is not

Not curious at all. They are complete opposites.

SETI is an investigation that states quite explicitly that they do not know the outcome. SETI is an investigation.

By contrast, ID has zero scientific results, zero output, zero measureable scientific work product, but already has come to several very profound "conclusions".

10 years ago when ID was first proposed, we might have (IMHO generously) called it a working hypothesis. After 10 years and zero output, it can no longer be called even that.

Real science, like just about everything else, requires work. You have to produce something. ID has produced nothing.

This is why ID is essentially a liberal philosophy. At the core of conservative philosophy is hard work. Lower taxes are conservative because it allows hard work to be rewarded. Free market economics is supported because it allows hard work to be rewarded. Property rights are supported because it allows hard work to be rewarded. Etc. Etc.

Real science is hard work, just ask any of the practicing scientists on this forum.

And the work product of ID after 10 years: ZERO.

52 posted on 12/02/2005 11:30:37 AM PST by 2ndreconmarine (Horse feces (929 citations) vs ID (0 citations) and horse feces wins!!!!!)
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To: Question_Assumptions; ckilmer
Despite what this article claims, both SETI and ID are doing the same thing.

[snip]

Both start with no evidence and propose finding the evidence by looking for created features among natural features. So without the whole complexity red herring, the difference is? Either you can differentiate the natural from the intelligently created or you can't. Either both are science or neither is.

Not really.SETI looks for signals that can be differentiated from known natural sources that have features of an efficient, regular or simple artificial source. These are compared to known characteristics of artificial sources, their ability to be reproduced from technology

ID points to complexity alone as evidence for a claim of an "artifical" source of design plan. It ignores the evidence of chemical and physical laws producing a multitude of complex systems.

SETI observes signals, experiments to understand if the signal could come from a known artificial source, predicts possible signal characteristics and mechanisms to produce such a signal. The requirements are specific:

Any signal less than about 300 Hz wide must be, as far as we know, artificially produced. Such narrow-band signals are what all SETI experiments look for. Other tell-tale characteristics include a signal that is completely polarized or the existence of coded information on the signal.

Also:
Narrow-band signals, say those that are only a few Hertz or less wide, are the mark of a purposely built transmitter. Natural cosmic noisemakers, such as pulsars, quasars, and the turbulent, thin interstellar gas of our own Milky Way, do not make radio signals that are this narrow. The static from these objects is spread all across the dial. SETI faq

ID simply says it is complex thus it is artifical. Why? It's artificial because it is complex. That's not science - that's fallacious logic.

53 posted on 12/02/2005 11:31:34 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: steve-b
The difference is equivalent to that between painting a target on a wall and shooting a bullet through the bulls-eye and shooting a bullet through a wall and painting a bulls-eye around the hole.

A good way of stating an important point - I'll have to remember it.

54 posted on 12/02/2005 11:35:37 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: ProfSci
It has thoroughly debunked the concept of a big bang beginning by acknowledging that there are many blue shift situations whereas a big bang would require an expanding universe with only red shifts!

ID is just as valid as any conceptual theory and probably fits the current, factual information better than other more traditionally held theories

Where to you liberal fundamentalists dream this stuff up???

Of course you would expect some blue shifted objects under the big bang. The obvious example is the Andromeda galaxy, which is blue shifted because it is moving towards us (actually, the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies will collide in the distant future). This effect is a consequence that the universe is not in absolute lock step: there are fluctuations and eddies. And fluctuations and eddies are exactly what you would expect from the big bang.

Indeed the variations in the observed mass distribution of the observable universe and in the cosmic microwave background are consistent with the levels of quantum fluctuations from the early big bang.

Duh

And, ID is not a theory at all. It was once, maybe, a working hypothesis. However, the total scientific output of ID is zero, so it cannot qualify as any kind of actual theory.

BTW, is ProfSci a professor of Scientology by any chance??

55 posted on 12/02/2005 11:36:09 AM PST by 2ndreconmarine (Horse feces (929 citations) vs ID (0 citations) and horse feces wins!!!!!)
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To: Ophiucus
ID claims that naturally occurring complexity must be artificial since it is complex - a circular logic fallacy.

You misrepresent ID. It purports that random chance could not have created complexity with order.

SETI is looking for a signal that has a simplicity and efficiency that can not be observed being produced by any natural source.

You mean simplicity and efficiency like that found in our own DNA? When the human genome was mapped, scientists were stunned by the lack of complexity, finding far fewer combinations possible than was believed necessary to create the diversity of human life.

56 posted on 12/02/2005 11:37:24 AM PST by Erik Latranyi (9-11 is your Peace Dividend)
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To: Stultis

Now that's funny.


57 posted on 12/02/2005 11:37:45 AM PST by Senator Bedfellow (Sneering condescension.)
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To: RadioAstronomer
organized signals Huh?

Do you think SETI is searching for unorganized signals?

58 posted on 12/02/2005 11:39:27 AM PST by Erik Latranyi (9-11 is your Peace Dividend)
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To: edsheppa
IMO, SETI is only marginally closer to being a scientific theory than ID

SETI isn't a theory. It is an institute pursuing a hypothesis through experimentation and observation. The hypothesis includes the ideas or assumptions that if extraterrestrial life exists and if has a technology to broadcast signals then SETI should be able to eventually detect certain narrow band signals with certain characteristics.

59 posted on 12/02/2005 11:45:39 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: ckilmer

I think the mistake that opponents to a Creator make is failing to grasp the full scope of the arguments that demonstrate the foundation for belief in the Creator. It is more than the complexity of creation at a purely biological level. The argument for a creator falls into human pychology, philosophy, art, mathematics and more.


60 posted on 12/02/2005 11:50:28 AM PST by Frapster (Don't mind me - I'm distracted by the pretty lights.)
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To: 2ndreconmarine
This is why ID is essentially a liberal philosophy.

Nifty and humorous idea.

However if it were so liberal - why do so many of the 'Religious Right' fall over themselves to embrace it? Also going to the extreme of raping science textbooks and classrooms with the ID attack...

61 posted on 12/02/2005 11:53:38 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Ophiucus
However if it were so liberal - why do so many of the 'Religious Right' fall over themselves to embrace it?

Possibly for the same reason many so-called conservatives promote economic intervention schemes.

There is a component of conservatism that believes in minimal government and one that favors the use of government to promote conservative values.

The dims are not the only political party with warring factions.

62 posted on 12/02/2005 11:57:42 AM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: Ophiucus

I am suggesting that while the organic compounds may have had to follow specific laws in order to form DNA/RNA, the events themselves during which those laws were followed with those results were random.


63 posted on 12/02/2005 12:07:47 PM PST by Sam Cree (absolute reality) - "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein)
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To: longshadow
Added to The List-O-Links in the ISN'T "ID" SUPERSEDING EVOLUTION? section:

NEW SETI and Intelligent Design . SETI research offers no support for Intelligent Design.

64 posted on 12/02/2005 12:08:44 PM PST by PatrickHenry (No response if you're a troll, lunatic, dotard, common scold, or incurable ignoramus.)
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To: 2ndreconmarine

But, but, but


he says he's a real scientist.


65 posted on 12/02/2005 12:09:49 PM PST by furball4paws (The new elixir of life - dehydrated toad urine.)
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To: Erik Latranyi
You misrepresent ID. It purports that random chance could not have created complexity with order.

"Complexity with order" occurs consistently in the natural world and not due to "random chance." Snow drifts and sand dunes form mathematically complex forms, weather is a wide ranging complex systems, molecular structures are ordered and complex. None of these form from random chance. When a protein forms, it follows very exact rules that govern the relationship of atoms, molecular orbital mechanics, etc. - primary, secondary, and tertiary structures follow precise mechanisms and form very complex, ordered structures.

No outside planned design but internal physical laws govern. Yet, ID states that it is soooo complex that it must be designed (no evidence whatsoever, no experimentation, nothing to support it) because it is sooo complex.

You mean simplicity and efficiency like that found in our own DNA?

DNA is far from simple - and is used as a complexity argument for ID - it is a huge conglomeration of physical interactions producing a complex order.

DNA is also far from efficient. It consists of mostly wasted space. Introns, 'dead' spots, repetitive stop and start codons (some stop codons don't even stop anything - it's like part of the programming was damaged but never thrown away)fill DNA. Every transcription has errors - so much so that a separate mechanism for fixing errors exists (like producing Yugos that have to go to the Goodwrench repair shop before they can be sold) and multiple errors occur in replication.

Any worthwhile engineer could design a better system.

SETI is looking for narrow, high energy signals without cross-frequency turbulence. No known natural source produces this.

66 posted on 12/02/2005 12:14:32 PM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Ophiucus

At least we agree that it isn't a theory, but I also wouldn't call that a hypothesis, more like a speculation. If it were a hypothesis, you'd be able to at see, at least vaguely, some way toward falsification.


67 posted on 12/02/2005 12:15:55 PM PST by edsheppa
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To: ClearCase_guy

I remember seeing a man's head and it looked like a potato that I'd seen.

The man's head was incredibly complex. The potato was also undeniably complex. The complexity of the head and that of the potato combined to make me wonder at the order of complexity that exists in this world.

Both proved to me that something bigger than random atomic dodgeball was going on.


68 posted on 12/02/2005 12:16:27 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: xzins

You really need to stop playing with Mr. Potato Head.


69 posted on 12/02/2005 12:23:00 PM PST by furball4paws (The new elixir of life - dehydrated toad urine.)
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To: furball4paws

If he was a real scientist he wouldn't say "a real scientist." His tagline might read "a real physicist" or "a real chemist." The only folks who I've ever encountered using the generic "scientist" to describe themselves have been diploma mill scientist wannabes and actors in television comedy skits.


70 posted on 12/02/2005 12:33:30 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: Sam Cree
the events themselves during which those laws were followed with those results were random.

Well, if you consider the large amounts of the various elements in a high energy environment such as when the Earth was forming, great number of organic compounds would form with increasing complexity.

Dr. Stanley L. Miller performed a classic series of experiments using water, hydrogen, methane, and ammonia (present in Earth's early atmosphere) in which an electric current was introduced briefly (such as from lightning in early Earth) and he collected the resulting compounds. He found amino acids, building blocks of proteins and DNA, among the compounds.

If it can be reproduced, it becomes difficult to fit into my definition of random.

71 posted on 12/02/2005 12:36:22 PM PST by Ophiucus
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To: edsheppa
If it were a hypothesis, you'd be able to at see, at least vaguely, some way toward falsification.

A falsification?

72 posted on 12/02/2005 12:40:33 PM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Ophiucus

We might be talking semantics. To me "random" is anything that is unplanned. So my usage of the word "random" could include events that are extremely specific and which follow strict guidelines and physical laws, as long as they happen without purposeful planning and direction.

Just because an event happened randomly doesn't mean it couldn't be reproduced arbitrarily later? Or that it would result in specific consequences, some of which would be predictable.

I see that this line of thought leads to an entirely different philosophical can of worms than the one under discussion, if taken much further.


73 posted on 12/02/2005 12:49:37 PM PST by Sam Cree (absolute reality) - "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein)
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To: steve-b
ID has made a number of after-the-fact assertions about already-known natural phenomena

If SETI ever gets a supposed artificial signal, they will being making the same assumed assertions. Just like the evolutionists have been doing for years.

SETI = waste of money.

74 posted on 12/02/2005 12:50:28 PM PST by aimhigh
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To: Sam Cree
We might be talking semantics.

I agree.

I see that this line of thought leads to an entirely different philosophical can of worms than the one under discussion, if taken much further.

Very true - that could overwhelm its own thread. :-)

75 posted on 12/02/2005 12:52:47 PM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Sam Cree
To me "random" is anything that is unplanned.

"Random" and "un-planned" are two different concepts. An avalanche may be unplanned, but it is definitely not random -- the debris heads in pretty much the same direction. Throwing a die generates a random number, but the act of throwing it makes it "planned."

76 posted on 12/02/2005 12:58:44 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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77 posted on 12/02/2005 12:59:09 PM PST by evets (God bless president Bush!)
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To: aimhigh
Just like the evolutionists have been doing for years.

Ah yes, all those assumptions that have been supported by over 100 years of observation and experimentation. It sure beats the hand waving and over-pious gesticulating from 'those anti-science, anti-education and knowledge' people. SETI = waste of money.

SETI is privately funded. I guess people can "waste" their money on anything they choose....even if it does further that nasty science thing that scares zealots.

78 posted on 12/02/2005 1:06:50 PM PST by Ophiucus
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To: aimhigh
Nope. The signal is recognized as "artificial" in the first place because it exhibits the predicted characteristics.
79 posted on 12/02/2005 1:07:11 PM PST by steve-b (A desire not to butt into other people's business is eighty percent of all human wisdom)
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To: furball4paws

80 posted on 12/02/2005 1:09:20 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: evets

lol..are those faked pics or did somebody hve too much time on their hands and access to a combine?


81 posted on 12/02/2005 1:09:44 PM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Question_Assumptions
Either you can differentiate the natural from the intelligently created or you can't.

It's possible, but you need a measure that will separate the natural from the designed. The SETI researchers have identified one reasonable measure: the narrowness of the band of an electromagnetic emission. This is predicated on the observation that the signals we use to communicate are far narrower, in frequency space, than any natural emission we know about.

(I guarantee you one thing, though: if and when a narrow electromagnetic emission of extraterrestrial origin is found, scientists will fall all over themselves proposing natural mechanisms for it. These will likely be testable, however.)

The ID proponents have proposed a different measure, relevant to their assertions: complexity. Natural things, they assert, are simple; designed things are complex. It is certainly a testable approach; the problem is that the measure fails miserably on the most cursory inspection. Bricks are obviously designed, but it is the simplicity of the brick that tells you that. Cars are more complex, but they really are simple compared to, say, a cloud, or a coastline. In fact, it's easy to come up with any number of manifestly natural things that are gigantically, stupefyingly, obscenely more complicated than the most sophisticated artifact.

(ID proponents at this point typically howl that the appropriate measure is not complexity, but "specified complexity". But the key to specified complexity is, ironically, that it is never rigorously specified, so it cannot be used as a measure.)

82 posted on 12/02/2005 1:12:15 PM PST by Physicist
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To: Sam Cree
In chemistry, random means that any sample from the mixture or solution would have the same composition. If the mixture is not well-mixed, or if the sample is too small, the concentration of the components would possibly differ from one sample to the next more than the experimental error would predict. In the sense that strict procedures are followed, random sampling would produce the same results every time.

Thus, sampling by Leftist polling agencies would not normally meet strict scientific requirements since they would not follow strict procedures.

83 posted on 12/02/2005 1:14:07 PM PST by RightWhale (Not transferable -- Good only for this trip)
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To: ckilmer
This is clearly nothing like looking at DNA’s chemical makeup and deducing the work of a supernatural biochemist.

The mark of the Designer is in the design of the elementary particle physics that could be used to build a molecule like DNA. The fact that the elementary particles could even come together in such a way is support for a Designer.

84 posted on 12/02/2005 1:19:36 PM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: Fitzcarraldo
The fact that the elementary particles could even come together in such a way is support for a Designer.

Of course if things came together in some other way that would also be support for a designer. There is no way in which things could come together that could not be construed as support for a designer.

85 posted on 12/02/2005 1:23:58 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: ckilmer

Ever notice seti is like all the rest of the government hacks. Spend tons of money and produce nothing.


86 posted on 12/02/2005 1:27:34 PM PST by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: Ophiucus

OK, thanks, I see what you guys are saying now ;-)


87 posted on 12/02/2005 1:32:42 PM PST by Sam Cree (absolute reality) - "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein)
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To: Ophiucus
Not really.SETI looks for signals that can be differentiated from known natural sources that have features of an efficient, regular or simple artificial source. These are compared to known characteristics of artificial sources, their ability to be reproduced from technology

A few points. First, why are they looking for extra-terrestrial intelligence without any evidence that such life exists? Second, why do they think it's possible to distinguish evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence from natural signals? Third, would finding such a signal really prove the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence? Fourth, why do they choose to look for certain specific types of evidence for extra-terrestrial life?

The first answer is that they look at the vast complexity of the universe and find it improbable, given their assessment of the odds, that human beings are alone as the only intelligent life in the universe. This is very similar to ID proponents looking at life and finding it improbable that evolution alone can explain everything that we see. In both cases, it's an opinion based on a probability assessment rather than any evidence at all. For the record, I look at the odds, even assumming that the universe works via entirely natural processes and think it's entirely possible that we are the only intelligent life in the universe. At the very least, I take a look at the Fermi Paradox and apply Occam's Razor. Perhaps that's the perspective that allows me to see just how much SETI is based on faith and belief rather than evidence and why I see so much similarity between the two.

The second answer is that they believe that purposefully created things exhibit characteristics different enough from randomly generated natural effects that the artificial or created can be sorted from the natural. This is the same assumption made by ID advocates -- that biological features purposefully created can be distinguished from those biological features created as a part of a natural process. At it's core, it's an assumption that the natural can be distinguished from the artificial or created because the purpose and intelligence behind it's creation distinguish it from natural phenomena.

The third answer is that it wouldn't "prove" anything to scientific skeptic. Any signal of the sort being mentioned here could always be the product of some unexplained natural process. Just as the evolutionist can dismiss any example of irreducable complexity by saying that we just haven't figured out how it evolved yet, the ET skeptic could claim that any simple ET signal is the product of some natural process that we haven't discovered yet. So in both cases, even if you find the evidence, it doesn't prove the case. It simply increases or decreases the odds.

The fourth answer is that the ET signals they are looking for are based on their own human assumptions about what they'd do if they were designing such a signal and, more importantly, based on what they know natural signals look like. They are looking for signals that look "not nautral". The ID advocates are looking for biological features that are "not natural". The SETI entusiast can't tell you for certain what an ET signal would look like just as the ID advocate can't tell you for certain what a created biological feature would look like. It's the same idea. We know what natural looks like and know what some artifical or created things look like so let's find things that look "not natural" or like other things that we know are created.

Feel free to correct me if any of the above answers are straw men in your opinion.

If I want to put a real skeptic's hat on, I'd say that both are matters of faith. And by the standards of many ID critics here, SETI certainly doesn't look any more like science. So why does SETI get considered science and ID doesn't? Because while SETI involves faith and/or wishful thinking, it doesn't involve God.

ID points to complexity alone as evidence for a claim of an "artifical" source of design plan. It ignores the evidence of chemical and physical laws producing a multitude of complex systems.

That's like saying that SETI points to the vastness of the universe, alone, for a claim that extra-terrestrial intelligence exists. In many ways, they are playing the exact same odds game from the other side. The ID advocates look at the complexity of life and get a gut feeling that natural processes, alone, can't explain it. As a result of their odds assessment that errs on the side of improbability, they also have no trouble believing that ET intelligence doesn't exist and SETI is silly. Evolutionists, on the other hand, look at the complexity of life and get a gut feeling that natural processes, alone, can explain it. As a result of their odds assessment that errs on the side of possibility, they also have no trouble believing that the same thing has happened all over the universe and that ET intelligence just must exist.

Both are positions of faith. Neither position is based on any hard evidence that what's being believed in actually exists. Both sides are playing the odds as they see them.

ID simply says it is complex thus it is artifical. Why? It's artificial because it is complex. That's not science - that's fallacious logic.

What I think that really is is a straw man. What ID claims is that there are types of complexity that can't be explained naturally. They cite not simply complexity but irreducable complexity, and that's important. Evolution suggests a process by which we get from there to here via evolutionary steps. The reason why ID looks for evidence in complexity is that a complex process that cannot be explained as resulting from evolutionary steps would be evidence for intelligent design. It's the flip side of what SETI people are doing. They see the random complexity of signals as being natural and thus see a pure and simple signal as signs of artificial intelligence. But in both cases, skeptics can site a natural process we just haven't discovered yet and, in both cases, it's fundamentally a matter of looking for something that wouldn't be explained by existing natural theories. Whether it's a search for simplicity or complexity is irrelevant and a red herring.

Reduced to the same sort of straw man, I could claim, "SETI simply says it is simple thus it is artificial. Why? It's artificial because it's simple. That's not science - that's fallacious logic." Would that be a fair assessment of SETI in your opinion?

88 posted on 12/02/2005 1:41:47 PM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: Junior
I see by checking the dictionary that the word "random" implies not just being unplanned and without purpose, but also carries the meaning of having no specific pattern. And clearly, DNA/RNA etc. follow specific patterns, and thus are not random by definition. Only thing is, everything follows the laws of physics, so in that sense, nothing is random.

"Random" and "un-planned" are two different concepts. An avalanche may be unplanned, but it is definitely not random -- the debris heads in pretty much the same direction. Throwing a die generates a random number, but the act of throwing it makes it "planned."

Well just as the planned throwing of the die produced a random number, so to could a random event have set off the avalanche, which would then follow a fairly specific pattern.

89 posted on 12/02/2005 1:43:37 PM PST by Sam Cree (absolute reality) - "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein)
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To: Question_Assumptions

The difference is that SETI has a hypothesis, a set of assumptions about possible intelligent beings. It makes testable predictions.

ID has no such hypothesis and makes no predictions.


90 posted on 12/02/2005 1:45:04 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: Ophiucus

"Any worthwhile engineer could design a better system."

Be sure and let us know when one of your "worthwhile engineers" comes up with a better system. I'm getting along in years now and might need some improvement before too long:)

Can you explain how it has come to be that in a working Krebs cycle all of the necessary enzymes just happen to be being produced in just the correct quantities, yet if they are not there no energy is produced? How did that evolve? seems like to me the poor cell without the correct protein to produce the correct enzyme would just starve before it could reproduce. Evolution would require that magically just the right mix of proteins and enzymes had to wait to be found in the same location before this could produce energy so it could reproduce. The chances of that happening
are so extremely small as to be non existant. The universe hasn't been here long enough for such a remote occurance to have happened in a random fashion.


91 posted on 12/02/2005 1:45:08 PM PST by antisocial (Texas SCV - Deo Vindice)
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To: RightWhale

OK, so the sample would be random, but the mixture specific.


92 posted on 12/02/2005 1:45:46 PM PST by Sam Cree (absolute reality) - "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein)
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To: Sam Cree
And clearly, DNA/RNA etc. follow specific patterns, and thus are not random by definition.

I do not remember anyone saying, nor even implying, they were. Patterns are found in nature all the time.

93 posted on 12/02/2005 1:50:19 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: steve-b
SETI has made a number of advance predictions about the sort of as-yet-undetected signal that would reflect intelligent creation rather than natural origin (e.g. the distinction between a broad-spectrum and a narrow-band signal described in the above article). ID has made a number of after-the-fact assertions about already-known natural phenomena (e.g. the claim that the probability of existing macromolecules forming is unreasonably low, even over an entire planet and billions of years).

ID also makes advance predictions about the sort of as-yet-undetected biological features might reflect intelligent creation ratheer than natural origin (e.g., complex chemical processes that don't provide any benefit if even a single component isn't present would be unlikely to develop as a gradual process). SETI has made a number of guesses based on little or no evidence (e.g., the claim that the probability of intelligent life naturally evolving is high enough, and the number of suitable planets is large enough, that intelligent life must be out there somewhere).

The difference is equivalent to that between painting a target on a wall and shooting a bullet through the bulls-eye and shooting a bullet through a wall and painting a bulls-eye around the hole.

In both cases, we have people trying to paint a target around a wall they can't see or prove exists. In the case of ID, they are trying to define a target called "evidence of non-natural design in life" and in the case of SETI, they are trying to define a target called "evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence". Neither really knows what for sure what the evidence really looks like because neither of them have any hard evidence, so they are left to guess at what the evidence would look like. Both, ultimately, are looking for evidence of intelligence. As such, both have come to the same conclusion. The best way to look for evidence of intelligence is to look for things that can't be explained by a natural process alone. And in both cases, even if they were to find such evidence, a skeptic could claim that their supposed evidence of intelligence is simply evidence of some unexplained natural phenomena.

Even if the SETI people found a narrow-band signal of the kind described, would it prove extra-terrestrial intelligence to a skeptic? I doubt it. They could simply argue that it was produced by some yet-unexplained natural process. And would they be wrong to do so?

94 posted on 12/02/2005 1:54:28 PM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: js1138
The difference is that SETI has a hypothesis, a set of assumptions about possible intelligent beings. It makes testable predictions. ID has no such hypothesis and makes no predictions.

What is their hypothesis? What are their testable predictions? And if they apply those tests, what do they prove?

95 posted on 12/02/2005 1:59:36 PM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: Question_Assumptions
complex chemical processes that don't provide any benefit if even a single component isn't present would be unlikely to develop as a gradual process

This turns out not to be the case.

96 posted on 12/02/2005 2:06:51 PM PST by steve-b (A desire not to butt into other people's business is eighty percent of all human wisdom)
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To: Physicist
The ID proponents have proposed a different measure, relevant to their assertions: complexity. Natural things, they assert, are simple; designed things are complex.

And I think that's a straw man. That's as much of a straw man as reducing SETI to, "Natural things are complex and designed things are simple." and then rattling off some natural things that are simple to prove how silly they are.

It is certainly a testable approach; the problem is that the measure fails miserably on the most cursory inspection. Bricks are obviously designed, but it is the simplicity of the brick that tells you that. Cars are more complex, but they really are simple compared to, say, a cloud, or a coastline. In fact, it's easy to come up with any number of manifestly natural things that are gigantically, stupefyingly, obscenely more complicated than the most sophisticated artifact.

ID is looking for a specific type of complexity just as SETI looks for a specific type of simplicity -- one that seem clearly "not natural". But at their core, it's not complexity or simplicity that they are looking for. It's "not-natural" and thus "created by an intelligence".

Since you seem to accept the basic idea that searching for the created among the natural is possible, let me toss this back at you. If you wanted to look for some evidence of intelligent design in life, what kind of evidence do you think intelligent design might leave that could be identified? What non-obvious things might you look for?

97 posted on 12/02/2005 2:10:14 PM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: steve-b
This turns out not to be the case.

It turns out to not be the case depending on your assumptions. Apply the same argument to SETI. Finding a narrow band transmission, for example, does not prove that it can't have a natural explanation. In both cases, if you pre-suppose that (A) an intelligent source does not exist and (B) that there is always a natural explanation, even if we haven't found it yet, then no electromagnetic signal of the sort being looked for will prove anything.

98 posted on 12/02/2005 2:14:42 PM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: js1138

All right, square watermelons. Where can I get one? Certinly a lot easier to get in the fridge or cooler.


99 posted on 12/02/2005 2:16:25 PM PST by furball4paws (The new elixir of life - dehydrated toad urine.)
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To: Ophiucus
However if it were so liberal - why do so many of the 'Religious Right' fall over themselves to embrace it?

Because this group has the same goals and ideals and methods as the PostModernDeconstructionistTextualAnalyzers, to wit: the destruction of scientific inquiry as a method of investigation. Not to mention Harun Yahya.

100 posted on 12/02/2005 2:24:28 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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