There must be some heretofore unsuspected theorem in geometry that says: All wildly divergent lines eventually converge on a point. We see evidence of that today in the latest post at the blog of the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. Their strange new post is Crop Circles as an ID Test.
The Discoveroids (the article has no byline) spend a few paragraphs describing crop circles. There’s no need for us to wade through that. Then they talk about a TV show where Benjamin Radford discussed the phenomenon. That sort of show is probably a major source of information for the Discoveroids. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Readers who were around then [in the 1970s when crop circles started appearing] remember the initial flurry of excitement at the phenomenon, wondering if some natural cause — weird weather, electromagnetic vortex or animal behavior — was responsible. The more elaborate they became, though, the more people intuitively suspected human activity at work. Sure enough, two hoaxers in 1991 fessed up.
We remember that. But what of it? Why are the Discoveroids suddenly interested in crop circles? Stay with us, all will be explained:
But does that nail the explanation? It might be that only some of the circles are manmade. This is where intelligent design theory can provide some clarity.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! There’s finally a use for the Discoveroids’ theory. Let’s read on:
It states that chance and natural causes need to be ruled out first. Then, when specified complexity is found, the inference to the best explanation is intelligent design — the activity of a mind. But it cannot distinguish between human minds and other kinds of mental activity. It cannot rule out space aliens, for instance.
We haven’t seen that description of their theory before. It’s more like a methodology — with a nearly impossible first step — leading to the God of the gaps. Anyway, their article continues:
Radford is probably not an advocate of intelligent design, but he applied some forensic data to render it improbable that natural causes are behind the crop circle phenomenon. For one, they almost always involve circles. Natural causes can create circles, too, but he notes that circles are the easiest forms for hoaxers to make. A few crop circles involve triangles, rectangles and squares — also relatively easy to construct, but rarely found in nature on that scale.
We’re all pretty much convinced that the first wave of crop circles were created by a couple of drunken British blokes having fun in the dead of night. The merry lads confessed their prank and even demonstrated their technique — we saw it on TV. But Radford’s analysis (if the Discoveroids are describing it accurately) doesn’t literally rule out natural causes — it merely says that natural crop circles are improbable phenomena. Here’s more:
In addition, they are almost always created at night by forces that are camera-shy and seem to take pains to leave no human trace. One last clue is that they are usually made near roads where they can be seen. If natural causes were at work, why are they not found in remote fields of wild grass?
Hmmmm. “Almost always” created at night, and “usually made” near roads. That leaves a lot of wiggle-room. Then they purport to quote Redford:
There are many theories about what creates crop circles, from aliens to mysterious vortices to wind patterns, but they all lack one important element: good evidence. Perhaps one day a mysterious, unknown source will be discovered for crop circles, but until then perhaps they are best thought of as collective public art.
Okay. That’s not unreasonable — especially given the original perpetrators’ confession — but it’s far from a rigorous proof regarding all crop circles. (Don’t get worried, dear reader, we’re just saying that it’s logically impossible to rule out UFOs or supernatural forces as the cause — of crop circles or anything else.) Moving along, the Discoveroids say:
So while he cannot rule out non-human explanations, Radford puts the burden of proof on those who allege them. He has, in a sense, worked his way through Dembski’s explanatory filter. Having found chance and natural causes highly improbable, he landed on the only remaining explanation: intelligent activity.
Are the Discoveroids actually going to claim that because we’re all rather certain it’s people who make crop circles, we can be equally certain that their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — created the universe and all living things? Yes, apparently that’s their claim. Here’s another excerpt:
Remember that intelligent design theory is very limited in its aim. It doesn’t ask who the designer is. All it can differentiate is natural from intelligent causes. Identifying the designer of crop circles requires further sleuthing and more evidence. But a legitimate inference can be made to design even without the benefit of catching the designer at work via a camera or a confession. If there’s low probability and specification, it’s design.
Lordy, lordy — they really are saying that if you believe crop circles are made by people, then it makes perfect sense to believe that you and your DNA were made by the intelligent designer. This is a fantastically wonderful article! Here’s the end of it:
Crop circles, therefore, provide an interesting case where non-ID scientists typically infer design as the best explanation instead of limiting themselves to methodological naturalism [link to a Discoveroid article]. Let’s continue to argue they should use that same reasoning when looking at codes and machines in living organisms.
We couldn’t produce a spoof of Discoveroid reasoning even remotely as wild as that. Their post is an intellectual suicide note. It’s a rare day when your Curmudgeon is a happy man, but this is one of those days.
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