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Authors of SETI paper defend selves against charges of support for ID

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Rob Sheldon is our physics color commentator, and he offers some thoughts on the claims made in A SETI hypothesis: We are Them:

a) The paper is a sequel to this one: “The WoW! signal of the terrestrial genetic code”
In that original paper, the same authors argue that the mapping between nucleotides and amino acids shows peculiar arrangements of high Shannon information, and is therefore a sign of extraterrestrial intelligence.

As you might guess, the authors took a lot of flak for saying this. This paper is the response.

b) This paper tries to argue the opposite direction, that if you were a supremely intelligent person designing the mapping from DNA–>amino acids, how would you go about putting information in the mapping? Which is to say, what mappings would you reject as too noisy?

c) This paper tries to defend against all the dismissals the 2013 paper generated. Little text boxes sprinkled through the paper address a particular objection:
Box 1) this isn’t about aliens
Box 2) this isn’t Intelligent Design
Box 3) this isn’t bar-coding or copyrighting
Box 4) this is no more speculative than SETI
Box 5) this does not violate Methodological Naturalism
Box 6) the mapping (64–>23) is too few bits to sustain the hypothesis
Box 7) the mapping is the best place for information
Box 8) all the analysis has been published before
Box 9) information extracted depends on context, and therefore isn’t objective
Box 10) this doesn’t violate the scientific method
Box 11) the uniqueness of the mapping cannot be achieved randomly
Box 12) Intelligent life in the universe is not too rare.

d) Despite all the similarities, it seems clear that they do not want to be associated with us. (I call it the Velikovsky effect.) Here’s the entirety of Box 2.

“According to a common misconception, bioSETI is a form of Intelligent Design (ID) because both look for intelligent signatures in living cells; ID opponents and proponents alike succumb to this confusion. In fact, however, bioSETI is diametrically opposite in its premises – whereas ID ultimately seeks to argue against natural evolution, bioSETI attempts to answer how, given natural evolution, a durable signature might be encoded into evolving cells (correspondingly, methods also differ – similar to traditional SETI, bioSETI employs semiotic approaches, not ID-arguments like irreducible complexity). Hence, a positive result in bioSETI might count as a failure rather than success for ID, as it would imply validity of the premise which ID claims to be false.”

e) I’m no philosopher, but I still feel this is a case of Post hoc ergo propter hoc. The logic for its uniqueness doesn’t really address whether all other arrangements are inferior, especially since one can always find a context that makes this particular example unique. So even examining every other permutation of the mappings, still won’t tell you if a different code is superior in a different context. I really don’t know how to remove that context-bias from the argument, and I’m not sure this paper does either.

[Readers? Does their position make sense?]

6 Replies to “Authors of SETI paper defend selves against charges of support for ID

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    I keep repeating this –to the point that perhaps many readers here are bored by my reiterations– but here it goes again:
    Please, can someone tell the SETI folks to contact Steven Spielberg, who apparently knows very well how to get in touch with ET since the 1980s? Thanks!
    Consulting that talented guy might save the SETI project quite a bit of resources and time.
    🙂

  2. 2
    harry says:

    Once again we have contemporary, perverted-by-atheism science attempting to deal with the intelligibility and the obvious results of design in nature without admitting that they are doing so.

    The elegant intelligibility of nature, which makes doing science possible, can only be the result of intelligent design. A lack of intended intelligibility is why an explosion in a lumber yard creates chaos instead of constructing a house.

    The Big Bang, instead of creating universal chaos, created an intelligible Universe fine-tuned for the possibility of life. That was as unlikely to happen mindlessly and accidentally as it would be for an explosion at Lowe’s to build a ready-to-live-in house.

  3. 3

    harry @ 2: “The Big Bang, instead of creating universal chaos, created an intelligible Universe fine-tuned for the possibility of life. That was as unlikely to happen mindlessly and accidentally as it would be for an explosion at Lowe’s to build a ready-to-live-in house.”

    You make excellent points, of course, but a/mats are squirrely little primates. By the time they get done “explaining” how it all happened by unguided natural causes your head will be spinning, and you will not be able to tell up from down, left from right, or even if you actually exist.

    Crazy times!

  4. 4
    harry says:

    Truth Will Set You Free @3,

    That explains why a/mats can’t tell up from down, left from right, or even if they actually exist! Thanks!

    Why does science-perverted-by-atheism believe in a virtual infinity of spaghetti-monster universes without an iota of supporting evidence? Simply because they want to! To Hell with evidence! Like someone claiming a house was built by an explosion at Lowe’s, they figure if there were enough explosions in lumber yards one of them would build a house. And entertaining that brilliant notion makes them the experts! (God, save our children from these morons.)

  5. 5

    Harry @4: In all the years of recorded and witnessed history, do you think you could find one documented instance where the many natural occurrences of the explosion you talk about resulted in anything so simple as a dog house (painted and decorated) being built? I speak here of volcano erruptions, earthquakes, continental drift, meteor impacts, forest fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes …

    Oh yea, I forgot — given enough time and enough such events, the dog house is inevitable.

  6. 6
    harry says:

    DonJohnsonDD682 @5,

    Not only a dog house, but lifeless matter mindlessly and accidentally assembling itself into ultra-sophisticated, digital information-based cellular nanotechnology the functional complexity of which is light years beyond our own was inevitable!

    But don’t confuse yourself by looking into the odds of that happening accidentally. And DO NOT read web pages like this one:

    THE MATHEMATICS OF ORIGIN

    Unless you want to be forced into renouncing your belief in math as well as in God.

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