We recently wrote What Are We Learning from SETI?, in which we reported about a new project in the UK relating to the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Even with our Curmudgeon senses, it never occurred to us that the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — could do anything with it.
But we should have known better. Back in November of last year we posted Klinghoffer Opines on SETI, when Klinghoffer informed us:
Guillermo Gonzalez notes that “While these exoplanets are being discovered, astronomers are discovering additional constraints on the habitability of planetary systems.”
Yes, that Guillermo Gonzalez. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, see Ball State University Hires Guillermo Gonzalez. He’s a co-author of the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. The claim is that we’re alone in the universe, because that’s how the designer — blessed be he! — wanted it to be.
Klinghoffer also said this about SETI:
In the total absence of evidence for actual life out there, the more common those conditions are, the more special — i.e., not readily evolved by natural means alone — life must be.
Okay, remembering that the Discoveroids think SETI is a waste of time, we turn to their blog and find this: Royal Support for ID: UK Funds SETI Project. They say, with bold font added by us:
The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is predicated on a notion familiar to theorists of intelligent design: that it is possible to distinguish intelligent causes from natural causes.
Ironically, though, most SETI supporters are ardent Darwinians. They just don’t get it. They call ID religion, but find its principles very useful for detecting intentional design from the intelligence of aliens.
The very real differences between SETI and the Discoveroids’ “theory” are explained here by Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute: SETI and Intelligent Design. He says:
In short, the champions of Intelligent Design make two mistakes when they claim that the SETI enterprise is logically similar to their own: First, they assume that we are looking for messages, and judging our discovery on the basis of message content, whether understood or not. In fact, we’re on the lookout for very simple signals. That’s mostly a technical misunderstanding. But their second assumption, derived from the first, that complexity would imply intelligence, is also wrong. We seek artificiality, which is an organized and optimized signal coming from an astronomical environment from which neither it nor anything like it is either expected or observed: Very modest complexity, found out of context. This is clearly nothing like looking at DNA’s chemical makeup and deducing the work of a supernatural biochemist.
Let’s get back to the Discoveroids’ article. It’s all balderdash, so we’ll jump right to their final paragraph:
Any alien detecting the effects of our civilization — say the Voyager spacecraft, now approaching interstellar space — would be justified in concluding it to be a product of intelligence. If it would be absurd for aliens to dream up a theory that the spacecraft “evolved” out of interplanetary dust, it would surely be just as absurd were SETI researchers to find an alien civilization and attribute it to natural causes. SETI researchers are ID advocates in spite of themselves.
So there you are. The Discoveroids claim that their nonsensical theory of intelligent design is great science because it’s endorsed by SETI researchers. Yes, and crop circle researchers can similarly claim that their bizarre beliefs are validated by geometry, just as ancient astronaut “theorists” are validated by archeology, and moon-landing denialists are validated by … whatever.
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