ARCHIVE: Signals from space aliens or random chance?

ThePhy

New member
You did. And several others have. But did he? I haven't seen it so I asked him. If he already has answered then he is free to ignore the question.
Knight’s proposal in the OP was a very reasonable one – not at all unlike what SETI would love to have happen.

It wasn’t the answer that we all agreed on that was the problem, it was Knight’s hijacking our answer as support for his aberrant interpretation of what that answer then means.
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Knight’s proposal in the OP was a very reasonable one – not at all unlike what SETI would love to have happen.

It wasn’t the answer that we all agreed on that was the problem, it was Knight’s hijacking our answer as support for his aberrant interpretation of what that answer then means.
I won't speak for Knight, but my interpretation is that you recognise design in a message from space but not in life.
 

ThePhy

New member
I won't speak for Knight, but my interpretation is that you recognise design in a message from space but not in life.
Many things that look to be “design” in life can arise via natural processes in human-sensible timeframes.

By contrast, the likelihood of random chance creating Knight’s message is almost dead zero over the time SETI has been active. And we know there is at least one example of intelligent (somewhat intelligent) life in the universe – us. Many of us are not so enamored with our own self importance to think we are the only intelligent life.

So allowing for the very reasonable possibility of “other” intelligent life that could send such a signal, and the extremely low chance that it is random, opting for an intelligent source is the most reasonable option.
 

Nathon Detroit

New member
Many things that look to be “design” in life can arise via natural processes in human-sensible timeframes.
That's only if you assume that everything we observe isn't designed.

After all.... if God (or some other force) designed reality then all natural processes are designed.
 

ThePhy

New member
That's only if you assume that everything we observe isn't designed.

After all.... if God (or some other force) designed reality then all natural processes are designed.
I have no objection with that approach at a fundamental level in nature. But this comes very close to defining God as nature.

If he set in motion all of the fundamental laws of nature, then many of the derivative things in nature that science observes must then be results of his handiwork. Things (to be discussed outside of this thread) like a very old earth, no Flood of Noah, evolution of species, evidence that the universe was the result of some “big bang” type event, etc.

Hide God under it all, nothing changes. I think He does not exist, your scientist buddies think He does. But in the lab, where we investigate science, side by side I and the believers garner the same results.

And, in line with the OP, either way there is no reason to think other intelligent life forms couldn’t do what nature is unlikely to do in a short time – send a complex intelligent message.
 

kmoney

New member
Many things that look to be “design” in life can arise via natural processes in human-sensible timeframes.

By contrast, the likelihood of random chance creating Knight’s message is almost dead zero over the time SETI has been active. And we know there is at least one example of intelligent (somewhat intelligent) life in the universe – us. Many of us are not so enamored with our own self importance to think we are the only intelligent life.

So allowing for the very reasonable possibility of “other” intelligent life that could send such a signal, and the extremely low chance that it is random, opting for an intelligent source is the most reasonable option.
What are the odds that we actually catch the message from intelligent life? Like you said, SETI has only been operating a short time so what are the chances that the intelligent beings sent a message so that we caught it in that time window? I guess there are a lot of factors involved in that......
 

ThePhy

New member
What are the odds that we actually catch the message from intelligent life? Like you said, SETI has only been operating a short time so what are the chances that the intelligent beings sent a message so that we caught it in that time window? I guess there are a lot of factors involved in that......
Since the message was in modern-day English, that would indicate that the sender beamed our way with the intention of us seeing it very close to the present time. (That presents a new array of unanswered questions.)

In a broader sense, if an alien civilization chose to sling an intelligent message (probably not in any spoken language) into space, it is rather unlikely their sending and our receiving would be chance to be in sync. If they broadcast messages regularly over enormous times (millions of years) then the odds go up.

But on the flip side, if our capability to receive the message is new, then the likelihood that random chance would generate it in that same brief window of time is far less likely than if we had been listening for tens of thousands of years. Intelligent life still gets the nod as the likely culprit.
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
I have no objection with that approach at a fundamental level in nature. But this comes very close to defining God as nature.

If he set in motion all of the fundamental laws of nature, then many of the derivative things in nature that science observes must then be results of his handiwork. Things (to be discussed outside of this thread) like a very old earth, no Flood of Noah, evolution of species, evidence that the universe was the result of some “big bang” type event, etc.

Hide God under it all, nothing changes. I think He does not exist, your scientist buddies think He does. But in the lab, where we investigate science, side by side I and the believers garner the same results.

And, in line with the OP, either way there is no reason to think other intelligent life forms couldn’t do what nature is unlikely to do in a short time – send a complex intelligent message.
It sounds like you're trying to concede the point in a way that will only generate more disagreement. Are you saying that it might be perfectly reasonable to work under the assumption that God created the world?
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Many things that look to be “design” in life can arise via natural processes in human-sensible timeframes.
Uh ... so? :idunno:

By contrast, the likelihood of random chance creating Knight’s message is almost dead zero over the time SETI has been active.
It is dead zero regardless of the time involved. A random signal will always be constrained by physical reality which will always force a 'mess' to appear. The only way to generate meaning is via intelligence. Perhaps you might want to argue that it is still possible to generate a photograph from noise or a sentence from random letters. If so I suggest you extend the odds by raising the number we already have by itself.

Do you believe it is possible for an intelligent source to produce random numbers?
 

NotSamHarris

New member
As for the original question: I'd think the message is from an intelligent source. Some restrictions apply: what was the size of the sample, what was the process that produced the sample, was the decoding of the message done in an ambiguous way etc.

A random signal will always be constrained by physical reality which will always force a 'mess' to appear.

If by this you mean that the radio signals are not produced by a truly random process, then you are right. That is one of the reasons the signal would be a sign of intelligence.
 

ThePhy

New member
It sounds like you're trying to concede the point in a way that will only generate more disagreement. Are you saying that it might be perfectly reasonable to work under the assumption that God created the world?
If God created the laws of nature that science is striving to understand, and then let them take their course, I would not mind. From a scientific viewpoint, in that case what difference would you get in scientific studies as opposed to a committed atheist scientist, who looks at nature as just the name for the way the world works?

Occam’s Razor says if the overhead of putting a God under it all adds nothing, then don’t.
 

ThePhy

New member
It is dead zero regardless of the time involved. A random signal will always be constrained by physical reality which will always force a 'mess' to appear.
Since you refuse to follow the math on this problem I see no point in arguing it with you.
Do you believe it is possible for an intelligent source to produce random numbers?
Yes
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
As for the original question: I'd think the message is from an intelligent source. Some restrictions apply: what was the size of the sample, what was the process that produced the sample, was the decoding of the message done in an ambiguous way etc.
Let me get this straight. If you read one message or a million pages and found one coherent message you would regard it as of intelligent origin, but if you read 10001000 and found one you would consider it randomly generated?

If by this you mean that the radio signals are not produced by a truly random process, then you are right. That is one of the reasons the signal would be a sign of intelligence.
The radio signals are produced by a source that has no intelligence. We call that random. But what random means in a mathematical sense is that one bit of data has no bearing on what the next bit will be. Such randomness is impossible to generate either naturally or artificially.

That is why we can be absolutely certain that an intelligent message is sourced by intelligence. Because it defies the messiness that will be inherent in any message delivered by natural processes.
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
If God created the laws of nature that science is striving to understand, and then let them take their course, I would not mind. From a scientific viewpoint, in that case what difference would you get in scientific studies as opposed to a committed atheist scientist, who looks at nature as just the name for the way the world works? Occam’s Razor says if the overhead of putting a God under it all adds nothing, then don’t.
If you are not willing to look beyond what you are capable of measuring then I suppose you are right.

Since you refuse to follow the math on this problem I see no point in arguing it with you.
The maths states that a random signal will just as likely produce an intelligent message as it will any other given message. The maths does not have the capacity to show us that a message is intelligently sourced. We do that ourselves because we are capable of recognising intelligence. Natural processes do not have the ability to produce intelligence, even with infinite attempts, because they have no way of controlling the physical world in order to make sense of processes that mangle meaning. If natural processes were mathematically random then you would be right in saying that there is a chance intelligence is not involved. Natural processes are not random (though we call it that). They generate noise.

Then you can go make a fortune in computer security.
 

NotSamHarris

New member
If you read one message or a million pages and found one coherent message you would regard it as of intelligent origin, but if you read 10001000 and found one you would consider it randomly generated?

No. Just that before jumping to conclusions I'd need more data about the data. But given that the data would be "pure", unbiased, decoded in an unambiguous way, then the source for the message would likely be an intelligent one. But if the size of the sample and the decoding process would also generate loads of other kinds of messages, out of which some make sense but most just produce random words or something similar, I'd conclude that the noise is random and we just have a decoding process that is biased to produce messages that seem "intelligent" to as.

The radio signals are produced by a source that has no intelligence. We call that random. But what random means in a mathematical sense is that one bit of data has no bearing on what the next bit will be. Such randomness is impossible to generate either naturally or artificially.

That is why we can be absolutely certain that an intelligent message is sourced by intelligence. Because it defies the messiness that will be inherent in any message delivered by natural processes.

You are right that true randomness is hard to generate. But we can get close enough to simulate it.

If you create a computer program to generate three random letters, you have about a 50% chance of getting "god" with 12,183 tries. This is a simple program that we can run billions and billions of times and then check the frequency of "god". It will be very close to the mathematical prediction.

Are you saying that the program produced "god" because it was not truly random?
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
No. Just that before jumping to conclusions I'd need more data about the data. But given that the data would be "pure", unbiased, decoded in an unambiguous way, then the source for the message would likely be an intelligent one. But if the size of the sample and the decoding process would also generate loads of other kinds of messages, out of which some make sense but most just produce random words or something similar, I'd conclude that the noise is random and we just have a decoding process that is biased to produce messages that seem "intelligent" to as.
That's simply unresponsive to the OP.

You are right that true randomness is hard to generate. But we can get close enough to simulate it.
You think so? In order to get the odds that the maths dictate for any rare event you are going to have to have pure random numbers. Anything short of a computer capable of churning out a string of random numbers that is of the same magnitude as the odds is going to make the likelihood of noise looking like intelligence impossible. You're then going to have to keep producing those random numbers until the message is detected .. something in the order of gaboozillions the age of the universe .. when you finally do strike gold you're going to have to deal with the fact that intelligence is behind the message anyway .. :chuckle:

If you create a computer program to generate three random letters, you have about a 50% chance of getting "god" with 12,183 tries. This is a simple program that we can run billions and billions of times and then check the frequency of "god". It will be very close to the mathematical prediction. Are you saying that the program produced "god" because it was not truly random?
You're assessment does not address the issue or the scale of the problem. Yes, random numbers can be generated that look like the real thing, but that does nothing to offset the problems you have in trying to recognise intelligence in noise. The problems humans have in producing random numbers is far more problematic for natural processes to try and overcome.

The simple fact is that to produce intelligent messages requires intelligence. Nature and noise will never do it.
 

NotSamHarris

New member
The simple fact is that to produce intelligent messages requires intelligence. Nature and noise will never do it.

So.... a signal "hello there" produced by an intelligent agent but the exact same signal produced by random noise would be just random noise. I get you. It's just impossible to tell if the signal is exactly the same, mind you.

A bigger point is that nature has produced intelligence, not the other way around. :sherlock:
 

Nathon Detroit

New member
Updated scoreboard....

Updated scoreboard....

10 out of 10 non-believers agree! Probabilities are not a likely cause of order. Yet their very foundational beliefs are grounded in dramatically less probable events.

Mark Mr Jack down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Count Layla in for intelligence being the source of the signal.

Mark PlastikBuddha down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Pekkle down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark ThePhy down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Granite down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark FedUpWithFaith down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Johnny down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Edmond_Dantes down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

And the latest entry....

As for the original question: I'd think the message is from an intelligent source.

Mark NotSamHarris down for attributing the signal to intelligence.
 

drbrumley

New member
10 out of 10 non-believers agree! Probabilities are not a likely cause of order. Yet their very foundational beliefs are grounded in dramatically less probable events.

Mark Mr Jack down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Count Layla in for intelligence being the source of the signal.

Mark PlastikBuddha down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Pekkle down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark ThePhy down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Granite down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark FedUpWithFaith down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Johnny down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Mark Edmond_Dantes down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

And the latest entry....



Mark NotSamHarris down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

Oh man, this is great.Keep up the good work Knight.
 
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