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“SETI is dead; SET your I on ID.”

Thumbnail for version as of 22:48, 20 September 2010

Weeds surround SETI's Array/Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill

In “Earth Uniqueness Up; SETI Down” (Creation-Evolution Headlines, July 29, 2011), we learn:

Some astronomers are seriously considering that life might be rare or unique on our rare (or unique) planet. If so, hopes for finding sentient aliens on the celestial radio dial drop accordingly. The 50th anniversary of the first SETI search came, unfortunately for search enthusiasts, at a time when funding is harder to get.

New Scientist has been running a series called “Existence” for the purpose of examining big questions about the origin of the universe, life, and consciousness. Most of the articles try to give atheist answers to arguments of intelligent design.

Ah, someone noticed.

In “Why is the universe just right for us?” for instance, Marcus Chown tried to explain away fine-tuning arguments with responses that physical constants might be interconnected, or are not as finely tuned as they seem, or that the multiverse hypothesis provides a way out. Even so, he could not explain away the incredibly “fortuitous” dark energy parameter.

As we say here, “The cat can explain everything except the fact that the goldfish is missing.” Headlines is philosophical:

It really is kind of sad to see weeds grow around the Allen Telescope Array, built, like one of the designers said, “in a time of irrational exuberance, [that] ended in the great recession.” For one thing, it is sad to see any money wasted. For another, it kept the SETI people busy on a project unlikely to succeed instead of employed in possibly more damaging work (like Darwin Party Enforcers). And lastly, the SETI hype gave us a lot of material for Stupid Evolution Quotes of the Week. SETI is dead; SET your I on ID.

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3 Responses to “SETI is dead; SET your I on ID.”

  1. It is largely irrelevant for ID whether life exists elsewhere, and whether we can find it. To the extent SETI search techniques are based upon sound science, and, yes, even upon ID principles, it should be acknowledged as a legitimate field of inquiry.

    I can think of a whole lot of other activities less worthy of funding than SETI.

  2. From the quote within the article, saying…

    “For another, it kept the SETI people busy on a project unlikely to succeed instead of employed in possibly more damaging work (like Darwin Party Enforcers). ”

    For a brief time, SETI also propagated a hopeful myth, known as the principle of mediocrity. Unfortunately for SETI and its faithful, lack of funding exceeded the strength of evidence for the principle of mediocrity. That alone should be sufficient to show that there isn’t much more than blind, underfunded faith to keep the principle of mediocrity alive in any remaining hold-outs.

    But there is hope for the principle of mediocrity! Just employ a multitude of unknown, unobserved (and unobservable) universes, call it science and apply for funding!

  3. 3

    Chuckle. The universe is just right for us for exactly the same reason the hole is just right for the shape of the puddle. A different universe would contain different phenomena, all of which would be “just right” for that universe. And this is true for all possible universes. (Or alternatively, isn’t it amazing that we all fit inside our skin so exactly, even when our weight changes quite drastically?)

    SETI is a project intended to satisfy simple curiosity – is there anybody out there? Of course, knowing nothing about anyone who might be out there, we have to start with a set of parochial assumptions – that they’re much like us in those respects we might detect. But the chances of BOTH this assumption being correct, and that someone walking by during the brief moment when the window is open, were never very high. The SETI project always struck me as quaint and quixotic, but harmless.

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