The Discoveroids and Their Magic Inference

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.

OoooooooooooohThe 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.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “The Discoveroids and Their Magic Inference

  1. I went over to ‘Rare Earth Redux’, an article about minerals that didn’t actually seem to mention rare earths. Is it possible that the Discoverrhoids came across the phrase ‘rare earth’ in a scientific paper and misunderstood its significance?

  2. More likely the Discoveroids want to co-opt the definition so it means what they claim it means, regardless of any other definition. In the near future anyone who uses the term ‘rare earth’, even if they are talking about minerals, will be touted by the DI as supporting Intelligent Design, much in they try and co-opt the idea of intelligent design (lower-case ‘i’ and ‘d’) as being support for Intelligent Design (upper-case ‘I’ and ‘D’). (id vs ID).

  3. If you believe in an intelligent designer = God, then given that premise you can infer anything you want. Need a miracle – no problem.

  4. The Curmudgeon:
    “Their “design inference” is a useless contrivance in the context of science …”

    Absolutely true in the context of science, but “design inference” is of great use to the Discoverrhoids in their promulgation of Oogity-Boogity.

    Since everything the Discovery Institute puts out amounts to nothing but one big snow job, shouldn’t it be known as the Blizzard of Id?

  5. How can the courageously anonymous propaganda vendors at the D.I. not see design inference in everything they look at? They have no choice but apply it wherever they see something that inspires them to take up their trusty pens. To them the spilled milk on the floor must exhibit I.D. or the house of cards collapses right there in the kitchen. There is no half way point as usual, it is all or nothing. The big question really is “When it’s obviously the work of the devil, is it still i.d.?”

  6. Most articles from the DI remind me of a some guy in an office whose job is to crank out an article every now and then. The boss comes by, raps on the door, and asks if the copy is ready. The guy panics, says, I’ll have it by close-of-day, hasn’t a clue what to write, so scribbles out some gibberish with the usual darwinist jabs and a few quotes from other DI authors to sound scholarly. It’s all crap, but it’s good enough, meets the deadline, and gets published.

    On the other hand, it sounds like the student who’s had six weeks to work on his term paper, it’s now after midnight and the paper is due today. He scribbles down some crap, throws in some sciency sounding jargon, takes a few tokes, and thinks he sounds brilliant.

    Seriously, do these guys take themselves seriously?

  7. Rob asks: “Seriously, do these guys take themselves seriously?”

    No, they don’t. They have discovered, however, that they can squeeze money from drooling donors. I seriously doubt that any of our favorite Discoveroids could hold a job that required them to produce anything of value, and I think they know that.

  8. Even in global death, they believe they could separate natural causes from intelligent causes. That’s the design inference.

    It may be possible to recognize effects in the atmosphere’s of other planets similar to the effects that we cause in our own atmosphere. We thus see our work elsewhere, and we deduce that something very like ourselves did it.

    Unlike the DI, we do not deduce that the creatures themselves were designed. Thus, theDI’s “design filter” is most definitely not being used – else everything would be seen as designed.

  9. 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.

    News flash: it’s not that unique, nor is it mysterious.

    As for the availability of all those “minerals and elements” at the earth’s surface, it’s directly due to the presence of oxygen, which combines with another common element, silicon, to form rock–which, it turns out, traps other elements in its crystal structure, so that even the heaviest don’t sink to the core. (Oxygen also combines with carbon and other elements to form carbonates, which likewise tie up elements which might otherwise disappear from the planet’s surface.)

    Mars apparently has a similar chemistry. It may not have much oxygen in its atmosphere, but its crust is full of the stuff. Whoops–there goes Earth’s “uniqueness” in that regard.

  10. Gag ….wretch…..literally. No further comment possible.

  11. The problem with the Tooters is that they don’t have an earth scientist on staff.

    If only they had an earth scientist. If only, if only …