Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Coffee break: FAQ 2: Note to “real scientists” – stay OUT of police work

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Barry Arrington notes that FAQ2 addresses the claim that No Real Scientists Take Intelligent Design Seriously

Well, there is a big scandal going on right now in my home province of Ontario, involving accusations of cheating in lotteries. As explained by the inimitable Toronto Star,

Previous estimates suggested that lottery vendors and their employees and families have taken home $106 million in prizes over the past 13 years. The new audit says the actual figure is $198 million, a figure that Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin characterized yesterday as “astronomical.” In fact, it is almost certainly an underestimate of what insiders have been pocketing.

Winners’ names are only recorded for larger prizes – about one-third of the $14 billion in total winnings distributed since 1995. The rest of Ontario’s lottery jackpot is distributed directly by stores in the form of small cash prizes.

It is very likely, then, that these prizes are even more vulnerable to cheating.

“Astronomical is news speak for “These numbers are way too high to be the result of chance (as in “game of chance, or lots = lottery”) and therefore must be due to design.”

The widespread accusation – based on a previous case in which police laid charges– is as follows:

CBC discovered many retailers defrauding their customers by claiming their lottery tickets were worthless, when in fact were worth in some cases millions of dollars, which retailers promptly cashed.

A Statistican calculated that the odds of this many retailers winning a big lottery were like a trillion to one, far worse than their clients chances of winning at 14 million to one.

A class action lawsuit has been launched, and there is also a proposal to forbid ticket vendors, their employees, and families to participate in the lottery.

Of course that proposal won’t work. These days it would produce nothing but a huge raft of lawsuits and human rights commission hearings over what constitutes “family.”

My advice would be … start a savings account instead. Yes, the bank might go under, but the odds of that happening are much lower than of you losing the lottery, and probably lower than you being cheated out of a win as well.

And if you are a scientist who really, honestly believes that randomness produces intelligence … put your financial affairs in the hands of a reliable trustee. And don’t ever think of police work.

Comments
Probably off-topic but I wanted to chime in on O'Leary's position regarding the role of goverment in lotteries. Simply put: Amen! I find it unsettling that our governments are asked to encourage their citizens to 1) gamble and 2) essentially throw their money away. I say all lotteries should be privatized. To another point Denise mentioned, I also agree that it is inappropriate for governments to base levels of service on the willingless of it's people to gamble and throw their money away. Something downright silly and dysfunctional about it. If you want to "play" the lottery, go ahead. Just don't ask the government to assist you in the endeavor! Lobby your government to make it legal for private instituations to "run" these "games." And *none* of the proceeds should go to our governments. These so-called "sin taxes" are fundamentally wrong. It puts our government in the position of depending on (and in some ways encouraging) the "sin" (alcohol, tobacco, lottery, gambling, etc.). We can do better folks.mtreat
February 7, 2009
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Seversky,
What I wanted to ask was are there any scientists who believe that intelligence can be produced by randomness alone?
Well, it seems possible that all establishment scientists believe that very thing. - - - - - - - First, everything must act within physical law, therefore the law is first. Then, acting within the law is random chance… and, that’s about it. Before anything else can happen, first something has to happen. It’s all elements until you have either metabolism or replication. And you must have both eventually (and each is apparently orders of magnitude more complex than nothing at all). And finally, you have to have inheritance passed down by a digital code (most likely sequenced into a linearly-read chain of nucleotides). We can know this because this is what we have today. No matter what time-frame anyone wants to place upon the events in question, these are the bridges that must be crossed to get to here. It would then seem that we have 1) The Law 2) Random Chance a) metabolism b) replication c) inheritance by a digital code * Fitness can become effective after inheritance, unless you assume a fitness level for material that does not metabolize energy, nor replicate. Of course, the design perspective would likely address this at the 2b level. The input of information working at the side of chance turns out to be an artifact of volitional agency. So to answer your question; apparently all establishment scientists believe that intelligence comes from chance acting within the law (at least all those who are complacent to allow design to be mocked among their ranks, and in the media, to the public that science is to serve).Upright BiPed
February 7, 2009
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Sev: RE: are there any scientists who believe that intelligence can be produced by randomness alone That's a bit mis-formed. What happens is that there are three observed main classes of causal factors: necessity, chance, intelligence; which of course may interact. Necessity leads to natural regularity, so it is not a good explanation for aspects of a situation or object that show high contingency, like here a lottery outcome. [Denyse, pardon: is the lottery by balls in cages duly broadcast live on TV, or by some form of electronic random number generator? [With insider access and a serious want of integrity in the system: spell that E-N-R-O-N,the latter is probably far more manipulable, i.e generating a pre-programmed output. (And, recall, the auditors were implicated in the ENRON case, too. Who gonna guard the guards, mon?]) The relevant causal factors for a highly contingent outcome are chance or design, i.e. is the outcome credibly undirected, or is there food reason to infer to intelligent direction. that seems to be the context for Denyse's: if you are a scientist who really, honestly believes that randomness produces intelligence . . . What is happening in Toronto, is that the explanatory filter in a more restricted form [well within UPB] is being adverted to: on the supposedly acting chance hyp, the observed outcomes are extraordinarily unlikely on available "search" resources. So, the suspicion has arisen -- like in the notorious Caputo Case -- that the outcomes are not by mere chance. So, on the ground, the EF and design inference are well accepted where serious things are at stake. So, is it mere chance that where other serious things are evidently at stake -- the a priori materialist commitment of many in influential circles in science, education and law -- the EF and design inference are suddenly pushed to one side? H'mm: depends on your view of the likely source of purpose-fulfilling, function-specifying complex information, I guess. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
February 6, 2009
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And if you are a scientist who really, honestly believes that randomness produces intelligence … put your financial affairs in the hands of a reliable trustee. And don’t ever think of police work.
Oops! Sorry about the previous comment - or lack thereof - I hit the Submit button inadvertently. What I wanted to ask was are there any scientists who believe that intelligence can be produced by randomness alone?Seversky
February 6, 2009
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And if you are a scientist who really, honestly believes that randomness produces intelligence … put your financial affairs in the hands of a reliable trustee. And don’t ever think of police work.
Seversky
February 6, 2009
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There was no fraud. We just happen to be in one of the universes where "insiders" win the lottery much more frequently than one would expect from statistics.SCheesman
February 6, 2009
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We've got casinos, and a lottery for the "outdoors". I wish some of the money went to reducing the tax burden, though if they closed them altogether that would probably be better for society in some respects.William Wallace
February 6, 2009
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Personally, William Wallace, I have always been very opposed to governments raising money for hospitals and arenas through lotteries, as Ontario does. I have several reasons for this, and two of them are addiction and crime. I do not believe there is any real way to prevent either. The temptations are simply too great. I am not necessarily saying that there should be no lotteries. I don't like them, but the point is arguable. Rather, I think government should raise money in a straightforward way, through taxes, not by holding out the promise of windfalls. So if people buy into lotteries and get ripped off, the crime is only the government's problem in the usual way. Of course we should chase the crooks, but our government's good name would not be at issue if the government had never suggested that anyone SHOULD buy a lottery ticket - which it does now.O'Leary
February 6, 2009
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CBC discovered many retailers defrauding their customers by claiming their lottery tickets were worthless, when in fact were worth in some cases millions of dollars, which retailers promptly cashed.
I predicted this years ago. Kind of sad, really.William Wallace
February 6, 2009
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Go ahead and delete this off topic, but it is interesting that the non-profit TalkOrigins foundation has taken to Lobbying (while denying it), violating IRS regulations, and putting its non-profit status at risk. Would make an interesting blog post somewhere (I'm busy right now).William Wallace
February 6, 2009
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