Monday, December 18, 2006

SETI, archaeology and relevance to ID

Here’s the interesting continuing discussion that I am having with Skeptico at his blog, found under the title: “SETI, archeology and other sciences.”

My quotes that are being responded to are in blue.

"Skeptico's reponses are in centred block quotes"

My responses follow (not centred).

My apologies for not having read through your original post fully. I think I was only originally responding to other comments and wanted some important clarifications which still, upon reading your post fully, have not been provided.

Re: As stated already, the information regarding information is in the most recent post on my blog. It would take a bit of room to copy it all here. If you would like, you can take a bit of time to read through it and then even respond to it over here on your blog or on my own if you so choose.

"All those arguments are refuted on this website and on this blog."

I don’t mean to slam the website or the blog, but maybe my research abilities are not as honed as yours. I have searched all over talk origins website and a bit on pharyngula and I can not find ANY refutations of the arguments posted on my blog. If you could please guide me to an article or two that provide refutations of my specific arguments.

In order to not bog down this blog, my full response can be found on my blog.

Re: I just wanted to see the scientific criteria for defining and separating "artificial" from "natural," in order for it to be useful scientifically. ie: is there a rigorous scientific filter to separate "natural" from "artificial."

"I discussed this in the post – some signals are not seen in nature. AFAIK there is no overall definition that can be universally applied."

So there is no specific scientific method or law that is used to universally separate artificial from natural? So the demarcation of the two is not scientific, regardless of its existence? Yes I did read your original post and I have responded accordingly below. SETI’s research is founded on only arbitrary assumptions. If they received actual information, as scientifically defined, within a signal would they know that they were dealing with intelligence on only an arbitrary basis? (Refer to my first two posts on my blog) Could the information have a natural source, or is information by definition artificial?

Re: You have stated that we knew the motivation of the North Koreans. You seem to imply this was discovered via the logical path "if human, then motive = create nuclear device." But this doesn't really provide a satisfactory answer how we know their motivation. Or was this motivation not discovered by knowing something of the psychology and history of the North Koreans in question.

"You are making this more complicated than it is. The seismologists were trying to determine if the Koreans had exploded a nuclear device. If the Koreans had exploded a nuclear device, then obviously Korean scientists had the motivation, at some time, to design and make a nuclear device. The seismologists were trying to decide if the Koreans had exploded a nuclear device – no matter how much you try you cannot make this “the same” as the way ID tries to imply design."

Your right, its not the same, but it is a similar inference of intelligently produced patterns. My posting was in response to the allegation that we can’t determine intelligent source apart from motivation, which is incorrect. It sure helped in the Korean case, but knowing the motivation was not necessary. It only helped pin point WHY the intelligently produced pattern was indeed produced and WHO produced it. If the signal was discovered by itself, then it would have most likely been attributed to intelligence (from my understanding of the case, the signature of the signal pointed to an “unnatural” source regardless of any Korean motivation). Furthermore, I was in the process of showing that even motivation is only known through previous information of the intelligence in question. And this information is gleaned only through the science of psychology (interviewing the responsible parties) and history. Relating this to SETI, we have neither history nor psychology to work with, or do we?

Re: You also stated that in archaeology we are looking for evidence of human design. The question I wish to pose is: "Can the same criteria that is used to verify human design also be used to verify design originating from intelligence that is at least as intelligent as humans?"

"The criterion is not how intelligent the designer (human or not) may be. The question archeologists ask would be: “knowing what we know about the designers (human), would they have made this tool we have found?” If you know nothing about the non-human intelligence, you can not make any inference about whether something was designed by it or not.

You are using semantics to try to equate how we verify human design with how you would infer your “intelligent designer”. You can’t do that because ID says nothing about the intelligent designer. You can’t infer anything from a lack of knowledge."

So, according to what you just stated: “If you know nothing about the non-human intelligence, you can not make any inference about whether something was designed by it or not,” SETI is unscientific since we know nothing about the non-human intelligence in question. But do we really not know anything about the intelligence in question?

And no, this is not about semantics. This is about grouping intelligence into a workable set. If human intelligence is part of a set of “‘higher’ intelligence which produces information,” then we can use the same criteria (information) that is used to verify human intelligence to verify design originating from other intelligence that is at least as intelligent as humans (given the valid assumption that an intelligence that is at least as intelligent as humans is a ‘higher’ intelligence which produces information). This is why both SETI and ID are valid sciences. If this were not the case, then if SETI received an information rich signal, it could not determine it as having an intelligent source until it discovered the psychology of the designer in question, since as we all know “information happens naturally (note sarcasm).”

Re: also "can we not use knowledge about design and intelligence itself to provide context in determining if something is the design of intelligence?"

"I don’t see how. I know IDists think they can but they haven’t managed it."

I just showed how. The rest of the details are in my post “My view of ID in a nutshell

Re: Whereas, you seem to be saying that you can only scientifically verify specifically human design, since we are human and therefore we know the psychology of humans.

"Not psychology, per se. Context."

What’s the difference in relation to our discussion? Furthermore, psychology is the main context, since everything that we do and make and the marks we leave behind ultimately originates from our in-grained human psychology.

Furthermore, how do we know context in terms of archaeology apart from previously identified marks of human intelligence as gathered in history?

Re: Relating this to SETI -- Do we have any knowledge about the designers, and hence do we have any context?

"Explained in the original post."

I’m sorry but I’m not seeing any context or knowledge about the designers other than that they are intelligent and are presumed to produce things that intelligence would produce.

Re: Yes, but that only begs the question, "how do we know ET is sending us a signal?"

"We don’t. And we haven’t found one yet so perhaps they aren’t. But if we find one we’ll know, won’t we?"

Ummmm ... that’s the BIG QUESTION ... HOW? Your response is not at all scientific.

Re: Contrary to what you seem to be implying earlier, now you are quite specifically stating that all Intelligence, at the least within our universe, has commonality, and therefore there is a certain science that we can use to determine whether something is intelligently designed. Correct?

"No. I said in the post, that some signals are not seen in nature, and if we did see them it would imply design. I also explained how this is different from ID, that thinks a complex signal must be designed. We know complex things can evolve, and we know ID is wrong on this."
This is unfortunately a common misunderstanding regarding ID. ID shows that information, not complexity, must be designed. This is also dealt with in my post “my view of ID in a nutshell

Furthermore you say that “some signals are not seen in nature?” I do understand that you give examples of artificiality. Is there a way to group these artificial signals and categorize them scientifically or are they just arbitrarily given until proven wrong as was the case with signals from pulsars, which were thought to be artificial at one time, showing that scientists don’t necessarily know what artificial signals look like. IOW, how does one scientifically categorize artificial from natural. The only science I know of that has done this is ID in defining information and then categorizing it as artificial. So, far no NATURAL LAWS have been shown to CREATE information. Therefore, it is still valid to categorize it as artificial.

"In addition, and unlike other radio emissions produced by the cosmos, such a signal is devoid of the appendages and inefficiencies nature always seems to add – for example, DNA’s junk and redundancy.

IDists are looking for complexity, because they think complexity must have been designed. SETI are looking for an artificial signal – a simple tone that does not appear in nature – because they know what an artificial signal looks like.”

Incorrect, ID looks for information. Information is perfectly artificial (it is not defined by physical laws of attraction). It can create complexity, but by itself it is neither complex nor simple, in fact it appears to be mostly random – there is no pattern (complex or simple) to information.

Furthermore, redundancy and “junk” DNA proves nothing re: natural creation of information. Furthermore, DNA is beginning to look less “junky,” and how can large areas of ultra-conserved DNA that seems to be either redundant or “junk,” survive millions of years, in an RM + NS scenerio without being mutated even though these regions apparently have no function and therefore can not be preserved by natural selection.

Search for redundant and junk DNA here

Re: My question to this: how are these assumptions used to predict WHERE to look and WHERE IS SETI LOOKING? Last I checked it was EVERY direction for ANY intelligent siganl from ANY ETintelligence.

"Can you please read my post? I explained all this. By “where” I did not mean a direction. I meant “near to the 1,420MHz interstellar hydrogen signal”."

Ah, yes ... I misunderstood in accordance with reading only that post which I responded to. Additionally, I’ve already responded earlier in this reply to the unscientific assumption of artificiality.

Re: Furthermore, when SETI finds THE SIGNAL, is that siganl necessarily going to tell them anything ABOUT THE SOURCE other than that it came from intelligence and the general direction of it's source?

"Maybe not – but it will be the start of an endeavor to learn more about the source. As I explained, this differs from ID where a (supposed) design determination is the END of the job."

You explicitly stated: “If SETI do make contact, all efforts would immediately be diverted to learning something about the intelligence, finding where it came from, learning something about the source planet, translating the message, ultimately making contact if possible.”

This is true, however, the follow up information is not necessarily contained within the radio signal, thus separating the discovery of the signal as having an intelligent source from the discovery of the source itself. Therefore, these become two separate, yet related scientific endeavours, with the inference of intelligence not relying on the second question of origins. We may never discover anything extra about the source, yet we can still be confident that the signal is the product of an intelligence that is at least as intelligent as humans. Therefore, intelligence CAN BE reasonably determined without knowledge of the source other than that the source must be intelligent.

And who said that someone can’t start a sub-discipline within ID to determine the identity of the intelligence? The only point that ID makes is that this extra knowledge of identity is not NECESSARY in order to determine the signal as having an intelligent source. Therefore, this is a process of discovery as you have stated ... both in “cracking” the genetic code, building life, and in discovering the source.

check into possible ID research

Therefore, ID DOES NOT differ in SETI as design determination NOT being the END of the job.

The MAIN DIFFERENCE between ID and SETI is that once SETI receives "the signal" from space the only option left is to discover the source. Whereas ID is an all-encompassing field that is used in SETI (information rich signal would definitely = intelligence), archaeology (rosetta stone contains information = intelligent source), and in biology (libraries of information contained in DNA = intelligent source). However, when it comes to ID in biology and in archaeology, there is more to do than just determine the source. You now have codes to crack and languages to translate. So, ID is kept busy using its research axiom to discover how life works and how it started and how it evolves (non-randomly) as further "NOT-end-of-the-job-research." Since discovering the source of the code is another aspect of ID, then if someone wants to formulate further hypothesis regarding the source and test them, then that is perfectly scientific ID research. But, with SETI, that is the only option left, so it is necessarily the second step to discover the source.

Re: Neither SETI nor ID use this to infer design. They both use this as an assumption that intelligence WILL LEAVE OR PRODUCE A MARK. That specific mark itself is an inference to design.

"Yet ID hasn’t been able to define what this “mark” is. (Well, OK they think they have, but specified complexity etc has been shown to have evolved. ID hasn’t produced a valid definition.)

Before commenting again please read my original post and make sure your questions haven’t already been answered. Thanks."

First, there is a difference between the origination of information (which my blog deals with) and the further evolution of information. Regardless, ID has produced a valid definition of CSI.
Furthermore, CSI has not been shown to have been created by any natural laws. Only two options left ... random accidental blind occurrences or teleological processes. Additionally, RM + NS is not as scientifically rigorous as ID + NS (refer to “my view of ID in a nutshell)

Secondly, to say that you must know the identity and motive of the designer in order to infer design is similar to saying that you must know the process of abiogenesis in order to infer evolution. The logic goes like this, once evolution is determined then search for abiogenesis, which bears no immediate relevance to the science of evolution (it stands and falls on its own) – the two can be studied as separate yet related sciences. Similarly, once design is determined THEN we can look into the identity and motives of the designer by searching and analysing the signal from a psychological perspective (ie: why would the designer create this signal?). However, the design inference stands and falls on its own – the two steps (source and type of signal [artificial or natural]) can be studied as separate yet related sciences.

So it seems the question remains: “Is there a SCIENTIFIC method to determine artificial from
natural that would provide a law for further use in investigating design?” Arbitrary rules may seem to work however, remember that signals from pulsars were once thought to have an intelligent source, since it was not known that nature could produce a steady, repetitive signal of the type that pulsars produce. Upon further investigation, intelligence was weeded out of the equation. Is there a reliable law that separates artificial from natural that, even if the source was not found (regardless of effort to find said source), we could reliably infer design?

ID is the only science to date that has started to provide this rigorous scientific classification of artificial vs. natural.

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