# ARCHIVE: Signals from space aliens or random chance?

#### SUTG

##### New member
Is there a time frame in that experiment that it's more probable you will get your result?

No.

#### ThePhy

##### New member
Thank you.

Therefore the odds of the signal from space are just as likely now as they are into the future.

The "need for time" issue has now been officially put to bed.
Knight left hints in this thread that this was what his perception of probabilities was. I am not sure what it will take to dissuade him, or even if it is possible. But it is comforting for him to be willing make a pointed claim that flies in the face of one of the most established parts of mathematics.

#### FedUpWithFaith

##### BANNED
Banned
Thank you.

Therefore the odds of the signal from space are just as likely now as they are into the future.

The "need for time" issue has now been officially put to bed.

You need to take a probability and statistics course Knight, you don't have a clue what you're talking about and/or your dogma is preventing you from understanding. Plenty of easy examples have been shown you that a 10 year old should have understood.

If I toss a coin what are the chances on the next throw that it will come up heads? What are the chances it will come up heads after I've tossed 10 heads in a row? Now what are the chances of me tossing 11 heads in a row?

The laws governing the probabilistic information/signal transmission were developed by Claude Shannon over 50 years ago. All of today's sophisticated telecommunication and encryption schemes owe their existence to him. If you really want to understand it's all out there for you. Billions have been spent developing encryption schemes that essentially try to make information look as random as possible. Without signal detection algorithms no encryption could ever be broken.

The algorithms needed to determine the chances that randomness can completely account for any given signal are well known. This isn't even an issue of debate anymore among people who have any understanding. Such algorithms can never "prove" a signal is non-random just as no atheist can prove there is no god (or for than matter you can prove there is one). But they can tell you the chances of a given signal are 1000:1, 10000000:1, or 10 to the 211 power. At would level of probability do you yourself decide to believe that the signal comes from intelligent aliens - 1000:1, 10000:1, etc.?

#### SingedWing

##### New member
SUTG, Layla, ThePhy and the like.....

Now that we can rule out the "need for more" as the excuse that the signal from space isn't a product of random chance why do you folks still appeal to it being a product of intelligence and NOT random chance?

Because that would be the best guess in this scenario. If an earth full of life were not here one day and then a week later was here my best guess would have to be some kind of really intelligent (and impatient) thing created it. But I still wouldn't be 100% sure.

When in 7th grade art class I dropped a crayon on the floor. Three of us watched as this crayon, which had a 5% bevel, stood on end. It looked like a stop action movie. Very strange. We all decided that we should erect an alter around it. As we worshipped the craqon the art teacher came by and scooped it up and threw it back into the box.

I have a coupleof choices as to why this thing happened or why all three of us believe it happened. Intelligent intervention by god in this case would not be my first choice but it is possible.

#### Nathon Detroit

Bingo!

Therefore there should be no reason that anyone else should bring up anything like "there hasn't been enough to time to generate such a complex message" etc.

The "need for time" issue is dead.

#### SUTG

##### New member
The last person that called me wrong...well, he was right. But not this time.
5 dice, each with 6 numbers. The possible combinations are 6x6x6x6x6 = 7,776. Take away 4 since you cannot roll a 1, 2, 3, or 4. 7,772 is the right answer.

When you say you cannot roll a 1, 2,3, or 4 of course you are referring to the sum of all of the dice added together, right? Since there are five dice, you have to roll at least a five since 1+1+1+1=5.

What does the number 1/7,772 represent to you in this experiment? It represents the odds of a certain combination of numbers on the dice, not the odds of a certain sum. To see what I am getting at, and why this is true, consider what number is more likely to be rolled with five dice, the number 5 or the number 15:

The odds of getting a five are 1/7,772 since you need to roll 1,1,1,1,1 with each of the numbers representing a particular die.

But what are the odds of getting 15? Not 1/7,772. You can roll a 15 in many different ways:

3,3,3,3,3
4,2,3,3,3
2,4,3,3,3
5,1,3,3,3
5,3,3,3,1
etc...

Even if you could only roll a 15 in the 5 ways I listed above, the probability would already be up to 5/7,772. But, of course, it is much higher. There are many ways of rolling a 15, but only one way to roll a 5 (all ones) or a 30 (all sixes).

When you made your osiginal post, you used x to stand for the sum of all the dice, and made this clear by saying that you could not roll a 1,2,3 or 4.

Just a nitpick, it doesn't really change the rest of what you said.

#### Nathon Detroit

Knight left hints in this thread that this was what his perception of probabilities was. I am not sure what it will take to dissuade him, or even if it is possible. But it is comforting for him to be willing make a pointed claim that flies in the face of one of the most established parts of mathematics.
Are you saying you would like to change your answer? By all means, don't let me stop you.

Is there a span of time that is necessary to produce the signal from space?

You have already acknowledged the signal could have been generated on day one so I really have no idea why you would want to further argue this dead point.

#### Nathon Detroit

You need to take a probability and statistics course Knight, you don't have a clue what you're talking about and/or your dogma is preventing you from understanding. Plenty of easy examples have been shown you that a 10 year old should have understood.

If I toss a coin what are the chances on the next throw that it will come up heads? What are the chances it will come up heads after I've tossed 10 heads in a row? Now what are the chances of me tossing 11 heads in a row?

The laws governing the probabilistic information/signal transmission were developed by Claude Shannon over 50 years ago. All of today's sophisticated telecommunication and encryption schemes owe their existence to him. If you really want to understand it's all out there for you. Billions have been spent developing encryption schemes that essentially try to make information look as random as possible. Without signal detection algorithms no encryption could ever be broken.

The algorithms needed to determine the chances that randomness can completely account for any given signal are well known. This isn't even an issue of debate anymore among people who have any understanding. Such algorithms can never "prove" a signal is non-random just as no atheist can prove there is no god (or for than matter you can prove there is one). But they can tell you the chances of a given signal are 1000:1, 10000000:1, or 10 to the 211 power. At would level of probability do you yourself decide to believe that the signal comes from intelligent aliens - 1000:1, 10000:1, etc.?

Intelligent life form??? Or... a product of random chance?

#### Nathon Detroit

Lets mark another one down for intelligent design.

Because that would be the best guess in this scenario.
Why?

#### PlastikBuddha

##### New member
Mark PlastikBuddha down for attributing the signal to intelligence.

But why?

What compels them to believe this signal is a product of intelligence and not the product of blind chance and luck? After all, if a tennis ball can pass through a brick wall by chance and a picture of Marilin Monroe juggling fish can be generated by throwing random pixels together why not a simple message from outer space?
Because there isn't a mechanism that can generate such compelxity. When SETI searches the skies presently it's not as if they are sorting through random letters that could conceivavbly form a message- the things they receive are actually pretty simple. A message like that would require not one, but three "impossible" coincidences:
That some source of EM emissions should randomly generate that specific message.
That this message be coded in such a way that it can be transferred via the medium in question.
And most improbably, that it take place within range of our observation during the brief period of time when we happen to be looking for it.
The tennis ball trick or Marilyn Monroe may happen during the lifetime of the universe, although the chances are vanishingly small, but I'd say the message is much more impossible because it must be so specific in terms of creation, location, and time. The other events are not limited in that way. If were talking about a particular tennis ball and a particular table, for instance, the odds would become even more astronomical.
Why all of you appeal to intelligence for a somewhat simple series of signals yet are confident that random chance can (and will) produce ridiculously complex things like tennis balls slipping through brick walls?

It makes me wonder....

How do you folks distinguish a product of intelligent design between a product of random chance?
The same way everyone else does.

#### SUTG

##### New member

OK, we agreee there. They are rolling the dice from January 1st 2009 until January 1st 2011, and it does not matter on which day I schedule my visit. No matter which day I choose, I will have an equal possibility of seeing them roll the desired result.

Noww, let me ask you this. Does it matter if I schedule my visit for more than one day? If I decide to schedule my visit for three weeks will it increase my chances of seeing the desired result?

#### chickenman

##### a-atheist
Gold Subscriber
Hall of Fame
When you say you cannot roll a 1, 2,3, or 4 of course you are referring to the sum of all of the dice added together, right? Since there are five dice, you have to roll at least a five since 1+1+1+1=5.

What does the number 1/7,772 represent to you in this experiment? It represents the odds of a certain combination of numbers on the dice, not the odds of a certain sum. To see what I am getting at, and why this is true, consider what number is more likely to be rolled with five dice, the number 5 or the number 15:

The odds of getting a five are 1/7,772 since you need to roll 1,1,1,1,1 with each of the numbers representing a particular die.

But what are the odds of getting 15? Not 1/7,772. You can roll a 15 in many different ways:

3,3,3,3,3
4,2,3,3,3
2,4,3,3,3
5,1,3,3,3
5,3,3,3,1
etc...

Even if you could only roll a 15 in the 5 ways I listed above, the probability would already be up to 5/7,772. But, of course, it is much higher. There are many ways of rolling a 15, but only one way to roll a 5 (all ones) or a 30 (all sixes).

When you made your osiginal post, you used x to stand for the sum of all the dice, and made this clear by saying that you could not roll a 1,2,3 or 4.

Just a nitpick, it doesn't really change the rest of what you said.

Thanks for clarifying that, SUTG. I'm thinking of it in terms of a combination of numbers: 33,651; 16,224; etc. I slipped off track with the 1,2,3,4 comment. So forget the "minus 4"...there are 7,776 combinations possible.

Thanks!

cm :chicken:

#### DoogieTalons

##### BANNED
Banned
Is there a wavefunction associated with the tennis ball? Is the height of the energy barrier presented by the wall finite (though maybe astondingly large)?
Well as a thought experiment you have to assume some constants.. like the same ball wall every time except the arrangement of the atoms. Or the ball/wall would wear out long before the atomic forces.

#### SingedWing

##### New member
Lets mark another one down for intelligent design.

Why?

If a car were speeding toward me it would be my best guess that I should jump out of the way instead of counting on quantum probability. Same thing here. I should look for more messages in that part of the sky.

But now that you asked. How is the message encoded? That really has a lot to do with my level of certainty. Is is AM, FM, or PM? Are you talking about ascii encoding? Was there punctuation? Have the searchers found any other garbage character streams in the data?

You have your answer. I would be alert and watchful, waiting for the intelligence to call again. Do you seriously think I didn't drop more crayons on the floor after that one stood up?

#### chickenman

##### a-atheist
Gold Subscriber
Hall of Fame
You need to take a probability and statistics course Knight, you don't have a clue what you're talking about and/or your dogma is preventing you from understanding. Plenty of easy examples have been shown you that a 10 year old should have understood.

If I toss a coin what are the chances on the next throw that it will come up heads? What are the chances it will come up heads after I've tossed 10 heads in a row? Now what are the chances of me tossing 11 heads in a row?

The laws governing the probabilistic information/signal transmission were developed by Claude Shannon over 50 years ago. All of today's sophisticated telecommunication and encryption schemes owe their existence to him. If you really want to understand it's all out there for you. Billions have been spent developing encryption schemes that essentially try to make information look as random as possible. Without signal detection algorithms no encryption could ever be broken.

The algorithms needed to determine the chances that randomness can completely account for any given signal are well known. This isn't even an issue of debate anymore among people who have any understanding. Such algorithms can never "prove" a signal is non-random just as no atheist can prove there is no god (or for than matter you can prove there is one). But they can tell you the chances of a given signal are 1000:1, 10000000:1, or 10 to the 211 power. At would level of probability do you yourself decide to believe that the signal comes from intelligent aliens - 1000:1, 10000:1, etc.?

I've taken probability and statistics courses (quantitative analysis). The calculations are used for predicting behavior. I'm also in telecommunications and am familiar with the models they use. Again, they are used for predicting behavior and likelihood of circuits reaching x% of some capacity, calling patterns, etc.

Your idea is easily testable with the dice analogy. It's been stated before, and it's not an oversimplification. If I plan on rolling 5 dice 100 times, then I can make some sort of prediction (based on probability calculations) of how many times whatever combination will pop up. But those are purely theoretical numbers. If that combination hasn't shown up by the 99th roll, the odds for me rolling that combination on the 100th roll are exactly identical to the odds on the first roll.

I know you must be very smart, given your credentials you stated earlier. But your bias is clouding your thinking.

#### FedUpWithFaith

##### BANNED
Banned

Intelligent life form??? Or... a product of random chance?

I'd like to see you answer my quesrions for a change rather than simply give flippant nonsense or simply obfuscate by asking another question.

But I'll show you the courtesy you won't show me. I'll answer your question.

Your question betrays a lot of ignorance on your part. SETI isn't looking for signals like that nor are the physical means they are using to detect intelligent signals amenable to getting an English message. Only once a signal had a very high probability of being of intelligent non-random origen would the considerable resources needed be applied to figure out what form the message took. The message would probably come in the form of a universal "language" like mathematics, not English - which for me would be a clear sign of a hoax.

But if I stretch my incredulity and accept your premise and have to assume it is no hoax then the probability that such a string of letters (which depends on the letter coding method of the sender that you did not specify) could have appeared by chance , even in the entire 14 billion years of the Universe, is miniscule (but not zero). I'd believe in God if provided evidence of much lower probability.

Another thing you don't understand is how degrees of freedom work in probability and statistics. Every day the universe exists you argue we have more and more random signals that might appear intelligent. That's true. But we also have more random signals that aren't intelligent that we have to mathematically discount. This is a classic data mining problem that people who try to predict the stock market often get trapped by. They find patterns that look statistically significant but aren't. Good statisticians must adjust the apparent statistical significance of event by adjusting for degrees of freedom, i.e., all the opportunities to see something that isn't there. One such adjustment is called a Bonferroni adjustment. I had to use it all the time in my research lest I tell my fellow scientists I discovered something that really didn't happen.

#### Gerald

##### Resident Fiend
This is a bit long, I apologize in advance for that but there is no way for me to ask this question any more brief than this.

Imagine that you visiting your friend for the weekend and your friend works for the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), I am sure you are all familiar with them, they sit around all day, everyday for the last 48 years or so scanning the universe for signals that come from the darkness of space looking to see if any of these signals demonstrate the hallmarks of intelligence i.e., some type of pattern. Said in short... they search the heavens for intelligent life in the universe.

And in all those years the SETI project has had really only one "wow" moment where a signal resembled something "other" than random noise. Now of course this "wow" moment didn't really amount to much other than a few characters lined up a tad more orderly than usual. I attached the "wow" signal below so you could see the minor order in the sea of randomness.

But lets imagine that on the weekend you were visiting something much more than a "wow" moment occurred. Lets imagine that a signal was detected emanating from the depths of space that read.....

"people of earth, we would like to introduce ourselves to you we are a race of intelligent creatures that lives in a galaxy far, far away and we want to communicate to you that you are not alone in the universe."

Obviously, this message would be one of the most incredible discoveries in the history of mankind.

But what would you believe? Would you believe it was actually sent from an intelligent life source from another galaxy? Or would you believe it was merely an amazing coincidence of chance that caused a random signal to just appear to have that amazing understandable order?

What many of you have been arguing in another thread leads me to believe that you COULD NOT determine that the message was from an intelligent source and instead it was simply "bound to happen" sooner or later because of the probability of random things eventually looking ordered (by chance). In the thread I referenced ThePhy stated that a tennis ball if thrown against a brick wall enough times would occasionally "slip through" a solid brick wall every now and then simply because the atoms and molecules might line up just right. In fact, he argued that it would, and will, happen several times if the ball was thrown enough.

Notice what thePhy stated on the other thread...
Therefore ThePhy's argument is... "it's bound to happen!"

Now, I am pretty sure that a signal coming from outer space that had 40 words in a comprehensible order... (i.e., "people of earth, we would like to introduce ourselves to you we are a race of intelligent creatures that lives in a galaxy far, far away and we want to communicate to you that you are not alone in the universe.") is still FAR, FAR, FAR, more likely to occur by chance than a tennis ball passing through a brick wall or a picture of Marilyn Monroe juggling fish, accidentally generated on a computer screen by random pixels.

Therefore, I would love an honest answer from all of you to the following question.... (finally I get to my question)

Would you be able to determine based on that signal from space that their was intelligent life in the universe, and they were trying to communicate with us? Or would you deny the existence of intelligent life and write off the message as being merely the product of random chance that was "bound to happen"?

What would be your assumption and why?

So, we have a radio signal originating from a point in deep space that is received as the message you described above.

Given that radio signals have never been observed to spontaneously organize themselves as you describe, my conclusion would have to be that the signal is artificial in origin.

I can go no further than this, because there is insufficient data to ascertain whether space aliens sent the message.

#### FedUpWithFaith

##### BANNED
Banned
I've taken probability and statistics courses (quantitative analysis). The calculations are used for predicting behavior. I'm also in telecommunications and am familiar with the models they use. Again, they are used for predicting behavior and likelihood of circuits reaching x% of some capacity, calling patterns, etc.

Your idea is easily testable with the dice analogy. It's been stated before, and it's not an oversimplification. If I plan on rolling 5 dice 100 times, then I can make some sort of prediction (based on probability calculations) of how many times whatever combination will pop up. But those are purely theoretical numbers. If that combination hasn't shown up by the 99th roll, the odds for me rolling that combination on the 100th roll are exactly identical to the odds on the first roll.

I know you must be very smart, given your credentials you stated earlier. But your bias is clouding your thinking.

What you said it correct and agrees completely with what I said. You haven't told me what my bias is or what the nature of my conclusion is that's incorrect.

We all believe on a probabilistic basis whether we realize it or not. Some of us can back our internal probabilistic reasoning by reasoning with probabilities in the real world as works in this case. Others simply subconsciously assimilate all the stuff they think they know or feel and can say "I'm pretty sure Jim is telling the truth (maybe 80-90%), Obama will be the next president (maybe 60-70%) or that God exists (maybe 95%)." The brain is engineered that way.

#### Nathon Detroit

I'd like to see you answer my quesrions for a change rather than simply give flippant nonsense or simply obfuscate by asking another question.
Listen pal... this is my website and my thread. I will do what I want, when I want, and how I want. If you don't like it, leave!

Everyone else seems to be capable of having a meaningful conversation, I am sorry that you can't seem to find it within yourself to carry on conversations with people you may disagree with.

But I'll show you the courtesy you won't show me. I'll answer your question.

Great lets scan the next couple paragraphs for signs of intelligence from you....

Your question betrays a lot of ignorance on your part. SETI isn't looking for signals like that nor are the physical means they are using to detect intelligent signals amenable to getting an English message. Only once a signal had a very high probability of being of intelligent non-random origen would the considerable resources needed be applied to figure out what form the message took. The message would probably come in the form of a universal "language" like mathematics, not English - which for me would be a clear sign of a hoax.

But if I stretch my incredulity and accept your premise and have to assume it is no hoax then the probability that such a string of letters (which depends on the letter coding method of the sender that you did not specify) could have appeared by chance , even in the entire 14 billion years of the Universe, is miniscule (but not zero). I'd believe in God if provided evidence of much lower probability.
So we can put you down for intelligent design as the source of the message.

Thanks! :up: