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SETI is really one big fat design inference

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A new catalog, Exotica, lists sky phenomena for which conventional natural explanations don’t seem to work well. The idea is that advanced extraterrestrials might leave a “technosignature,” visible only as a strange phenomenon in space. One candidate astronomers have been dancing around is Tabby’s Star, a star with highly eccentric dimming patterns:

Most astronomers don’t think Tabby’s Star’s remarkable eccentricities are evidence of alien activity. But they are the type of pattern that might point to alien activity. Sudden changes in regular pulse patterns might be due natural causes or to intelligent agents’ communications or other activity.

For example, we might encounter pebbles on a beach that appear to be positioned in a very odd way. Is that a one-in–a-zillion random distribution? Or it is a message in a code we don’t know?

Once we are into those “zillion” odds, it’s sometimes hard to tell. Paleontologists face this exact problem in a much more conventional situation: Was an oddly-shaped rock chipped by a human two million years ago but then discarded? Or is it just an oddly-shaped rock?

If the paleontologists later find charred remains of fires and human bones nearby, they will, of course, look with much more interest at oddly-shaped rocks in the vicinity. “Design inferences,” whether on earth or in space, require further investigation. We are trying to determine whether patterns are most probably 1) random, 2) orderly but natural, or 3) the result of purposeful activity or communications. That’s really what the hunt for extraterrestrial intelligences is doing.

News, “New sky catalog reveals most likely sites for alien technology” at Mind Matters News

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) folk should induct ID theorist Bill Dembski into their Hall of Fame because he literally wrote the book on The Design Inference and that’s the idea that keeps them going.

You may also enjoy:

Particle physicist offers 75 reasons we don’t see aliens. But Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute gives high odds that we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy. No matter whose theory about why we don’t see extraterrestrials is right, we are bound to go on wondering and searching.


The aliens exist—but evolved into virtual reality at a nanoscale. That’s the Transcension Hypothesis, the latest in our series on science fiction hypotheses as to why we don’t see extraterrestrials. On this view, after a Singularity the ETs become virtual intelligences, exploring inner space at an undetectably small scale. (This link takes you to nine other hypotheses.)

... then there's that three-sided steel obelisk in the deserts of Utah. It looks designed to me but was it humans or aliens? What do the design experts here think? Seversky

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