This entry was posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008 at 9:21 pm and is filed under Humor.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. The trackback link is: http://telicthoughts.com/hobbies-and-friends/trackback/
This seems like a good place to take up Todd's challenge:
Todd B.That's pretty much always been my view on the issue. I wouldn't say anything is impossible, but in the entire history of humanity no one has figured out an objective way to identify design. I think the ID movement needs to focus on this problem within a more confined environment. If they truly cared about design detection and not pushing religion or proving god then my advice would be to start by proving that artifacts made by other animals are "intelligently designed." If you could, say, develop a methodology that could indicate a beaver damn is designed while also indicating that a driftwood dam isn't designed then you might have a methodology that could be meaningfully applied to other areas. Or perhaps a methodology that could distinguish arrow heads from triangular rocks. In trying to develop such a methodology I think it would become obvious that more information is needed than just what the artifact itself provides. For example, knowledge of beavers would seem to be required in order to identify a beaver dam as a designed artifact.
So let's start with beaver dams and assume that we do not know that beavers exist. How would Mike Gene's Design Matrix do in evaluating them?
Let me go do some real quick research on beaver dams. Meanwhile, if there are any experts out there, feel free to chime in.
OK, we are assuming that we have no independent knowledge of beavers, and seeing how the Design Matrix would do at evaluating beaver dams. From the vast amount of research that I did in the last 1/2 hour, here's what I've come up with so far:
Analogy: How much alike are these "dams" to our dams. Ours are usually made regular shaped material, either wood (old fashioned) beams or planks, stones, bricks, or poured concrete. These "dams" are made of irregularly fashioned timber, sometimes with rather large logs, but usually from smaller trees. But very often the ends come to almost a point, as if something was cutting around a small tree trunk, until they got too small to stand up and fell over. Occasionally, the logs are piled in a regular fashion, but most of the time it seems to be haphazardly. In addition to the wood, there is also plenty of dried mud and stone, filling in the spaces between the wood.
But what is interesting is that what is very often associated with these "dams" are "lodges" in the pond upstream from the dams. I call them lodges, because they are piles of the same kind of wood, mud and stone, but it's difficult to establish that they were formed by the force of currents in streams or rivers. And when we explore the lodges, they usually have a number of submerged "entrance ways" and are divided into two compartments.
Analogy: Very often these dams are rather long. I think I remember the longest on record being 875 meters. So how should we score them on Analogy? I'm inclined to give them about a +1.5. They are built haphazardly, but then if we were in a hurry, we would build them that way also. I'm inclined to give the lodges a slightly higher score, since they seem to have a higher degree of inner complexity, with entrance ways, and separate compartments. Probably a +3.
Discontinuity: It's not clear to me whether or not these dams are things that could come about without design. I'm inclined to think that if so, it wouldn't happen very often. I would like to see experiments carried out to see what happens when a large number of short logs of varying sizes are washed into a stream or river, from a flood. Right now, I'd give dams a +2. Lodges a +3.
Rationality: We understand why dams are built — to control water flow and create reservoirs. It makes sense. Perhaps a +3.
Foresight: If we adopt the hypothesis that the dams were designed to create ponds in which to place lodges, that would suggest a degree of foresight. Would +3 be too high?
Overall score for dams: +2.125 — too low for a confident design conclusion. But strong enough to make us look for more evidence.
Overall score for lodges: +3 — stronger score, but still plenty of room for doubt.
My evaluation of beaver dams and lodges, based on flimsy research, suggests that they may be intelligently designed. Anybody else want to give it a try? Todd?