Intelligent Design

Materialists Say the Darndest Things!

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In this post I demonstrated beyond the slightest doubt that Lizzie made a design inference based on nothing more than the existence of CSI embedded in a radio signal. 

Lizzie responds: 

Barry, I did NOT make the inference “based upon nothing but the existence of CSI”!

My inference had nothing to do with CSI.

It was a Bayesian inference based on two priors:

My priors concerning the probability that other parts of the universe host intelligent life forms capable of sending radio signals (high)

My priors concerning the probability that a non-intelligent process might generate such a signal (low).

To which bevets aptly responded:  “Can you give any evidence based description of the ‘intelligent life forms’ other than the evidence that they are sending a code?”

And I added this commentary:

Exactly bevets. Thank you. It really is astonishing that Lizzie does not see this. I am certain she is acting in perfect good faith.*  Yet she does not seem to be able to see the glaringly obvious. As I demonstrated beyond the slightest doubt above, Lizzie herself made a design inference based on nothing more than the fact that the code contained CSI. Yet she denies that she did any such thing. This is not rhetoric — it is truly amazing to behold.

 

*By which I mean that I believe when she made this comment she believed it to be true even though a moment’s thought demonstrates that it cannot possibly be true.  She is not lying.  She was literally driven to this irrational comment by her deeply held faith commitment to her metaphysical presuppositions.

5 Replies to “Materialists Say the Darndest Things!

  1. 1
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Barry:

    To which bevets aptly responded: “Can you give any evidence based description of the ‘intelligent life forms’ other than the evidence that they are sending a code?”

    I’m finding very difficult to keep up with all these OPs with my name in them Barry. I had started to reply to bevets in the thread, with a formalisation of the reasoning, but I guess I’ll paste it here:

    No, but I can give the reasoning behind my priors:

    I know that it is possible for intelligent life-forms to send radio signals, because we do; my priors for the a radio signal to have an intelligent origin are therefore substantially above zero.

    I know of no non-intelligent process that might generate prime numbers (presumably expressed as binary code), and so my priors on that are low.

    Let I be an intelligent source and PNS be a prime number signal.

    So we have:

    p(I|PNS)=[p(PNS|I)*p(I)]/[p(PNS|I)*p(I)+p(PNS|¬I)*p(¬I)]

    My prior for the probability of signal-capable alien life within hail is actually quite low, and is denoted by p(I).

    However, my prior for the likelihood of a Prime Number Signal, given signal-capable alien life is quite high (after all, we are probably doing it ourselves, or something similar, right now), and that is denoted p(PNS|I). However, on the denominator, we also have p(PNS|¬I), in other words, the probability of a Prime Number Signal given a non-intelligent source, and my priors for that are extremely low (not zero, but very low) although the probability of there not being alien life within hail is 1-p(I) which is quite high. Still, a very low number times near-unity is still a very low number, so my denominator is going to be only very slightly higher than my numerator, and my posterior probability, p(I|PNS),the probability of an alien source, given the Prime Number Signal, comes out to near one.

    All of which is a very fancy way of saying: no way could that signal come from anything other than something like us.

    But math is fun 🙂

    And Barry commented to bevets:

    Exactly bevets. Thank you. It really is astonishing that Lizzie does not see this. I am certain she is acting in perfect good faith.* Yet she does not seem to be able to see the glaringly obvious. As I demonstrated beyond the slightest doubt above, Lizzie herself made a design inference based on nothing more than the fact that the code contained CSI. Yet she denies that she did any such thing. This is not rhetoric — it is truly amazing to behold.

    My inference was based on intuitive Bayesian reasoning (brains are Bayesian :)) namely that improbable though an alien civilisation within hail is, it’s clearly possible (we exist here; why shouldn’t some other civilisation exist nearby?), the probability of a non-intelligent source for such a signal is much lower, leaving me with the high confidence that the source is intelligent aliens.

    So, regarding your comment, I’m not sure how to respond. And as for your implication that I am a brain-addled fundie materialist: well, I guess it’s better than being assumed to be lying. The true explanation for my response, however, is that I’m a reluctant atheist with a professional interest in probability calculations.

    Hope that helps 🙂

  2. 2
    Ilion says:

    *By which I mean that I believe when she made this comment she believed it to be true even though a moment’s thought demonstrates that it cannot possibly be true. She is not lying. She was literally driven to this irrational comment by her deeply held faith commitment to her metaphysical presuppositions.

    This is why I fault her for intellectual dishonesty rather than for mere or simple lying … and I think this well illustrates my claim that intellectual dishonesty is far worse that simple lying (for, among other things, it frequently involves lying to oneself to such a degree that over time one becomes unable to think rationally and in a straight manner).

    We all have the intellectual (and moral) duty to give that “moment’s thought” to the things we say/assert. At the same time, it should be quite understandable to, and forgivable by, any of us when the person with whom we are disagreeing hasn’t, for there has surely been at least one time when we likewise failed to reflect properly on what we’ve claimed.

    Yet, on the other other hand, when one has shown the one with whom one is disagreeing where he has failed to give that “moment’s thought” to his claims, and especially after having done so repeatedly, and still he does not correct his error, one *has* to begin to move to the conclusion that the error is not explained by simple erroneous belief or carelessness, but rather by a disinclination to correct it. Or, in two words, by intellectual dishonesty.

  3. 3
    paragwinn says:

    Ilion,
    is that why so few ID supporters here at UD ever admit to being in error about anything?

  4. 4
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    I note that you have completely ignored my response to Barry.

    Why is it that some, by no means all, members of this community find it inconceivable that a person with whom they disagree be neither lying, self-deceiving, mistaken, nor stupid, but actually have a point worth considering, and, if necessary rebutting?

    Actually, you needn’t answer. It’s true of all internet communities I have every been a member of. I find it deeply depressing.

    I’m taking a break.

    See you all around, or catch up with me here:

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    My reply is extensive, so I created yet another post.

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