The Discoveroids have finally written something with which we can have some fun. They just posted two separate items at their creationist blog — neither one has a byline — and they both have similar titles. This morning they posted Rare Earth Redux: Design Inference, Anyone?; and last night they put this up: Extinct Aliens Could Yield a Design Inference.
Note that they both refer to the design inference. What is the definition of “inference”? The on-line dictionary we use provides three definitions:
1. the act or process of inferring.
2. something that is inferred: to make rash inferences.
3. Logic. [a] the process of deriving the strict logical consequences of assumed premises. [b] the process of arriving at some conclusion that, though it is not logically derivable from the assumed premises, possesses some degree of probability relative to the premises. [c] a proposition reached by a process of inference.
Note that an inference is nothing like a scientific hypothesis. The National Center for Science Education has definitions right here. They define hypothesis as: “A tentative statement about the natural world leading to deductions that can be tested. If the deductions are verified, the hypothesis is provisionally corroborated. If the deductions are incorrect, the original hypothesis is proved false and must be abandoned or modified.”
There’s also this: Scientific Hypothesis, Theory, Law Definitions. They say: “A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.”
Another set of definitions is provided by the National Academy of Sciences: Definitions of Evolutionary Terms. They say: “Hypothesis: A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation. Scientific hypotheses must be posed in a form that allows them to be rejected.”
Why are we spending so much time on definitions? Because the terms used by the Discoveroids are fundamental for understanding their lack of scientific rigor. Their “design inference” is a useless contrivance in the context of science, because it’s untestable.
Now let’s see what the Discoveroids have to tell us. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us, starting with their first post, the one about aliens. They discuss SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and two possible reasons for the negative results obtained so far — either we’re all alone, or civilizations are few because they tend to self-destruct. They talk about a suggestion that we look for “the chemical signature of a world filled with rotting corpses, the radioactive aftermath of nuclear warfare, or the debris left over from a Death Star scenario where an entire planet gets blown to bits.”
What can the Discoveroids do with that? You’ll be amazed. They tell us:
We see here the makings of a design inference.
Oooooooooooh — a design inference! Let’s read on:
It might be called Cosmic Forensics. … It is, after all, a search for extinct extraterrestrial intelligence (SEETI).
Like SETI, SEETI depends on the researcher being able to tell the difference between a purposeful act and a natural act.
After babbling a bit, that post ends with this:
The SEETI thinkers are looking for signs of intention. Even in global death, they believe they could separate natural causes from intelligent causes. That’s the design inference.
Impressive, huh? Evidence of a deliberately destroyed civilization suggests intelligence. Somehow, that lets the Discoveroids infer that the whole universe was also the result of intelligence. Not too big a leap, is it?
Now lets look at their next post, the one about the allegedly unique nature of the Earth. The Discoveroids tell us about an article suggesting that Earth’s mineral varieties may be unique in the cosmos, because so many mineral compounds are the result of this planet’s biological processes. Look what they do with that:
How does this intersect with intelligent design? The minerals could be byproducts of microbial activity, not intelligence. Still, it’s intriguing that life as we know it depends on a seemingly un-natural distribution of minerals.
Oooooooooooooh — it’s intriguing! They continue:
The unique availability of so many elements and minerals at the surface of the Earth could merit a design inference, when considered in addition to all the other factors that make it habitable, as discussed in The Privileged Planet.
Oooooooooooooh — The Privileged Planet, co-authored by Discoveroid Guillermo Gonzalez! Here’s the powerful conclusion to this dynamic duo of posts:
Astrobiology, like SETI and SEETI [link to the first article discussed above], despite their confidence in Darwinism, end up making pretty good cases for intelligent design.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Their design inference is nothing more than an untestable wild guess. It falls far short of being a scientific hypothesis. But we think it’s equal to your Curmudgeon’s Uranus Inference, which provides a plausible explanation for the babbling of the Discoveroids. Wait — on second thought, the Uranus Inference is far superior, because unlike the Discoveroids’ magic designer — blessed be he! — the Seventh Planet actually exists.
Addendum: For a related, earlier post, see The Discoveroids and Their Magic Filter.
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