Re: SETI sci.astro.seti newsgroup created

Robert J. Bradbury (
Tue, 2 Nov 1999 18:08:51 -0800 (PST)

On Tue, 2 Nov 1999, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> I wrote:
> >
> > It depends on the purpose of an individual's belief and/or the purpose of
> > the religion. If you want to believe in [...]
> > If you want to believe in [...]
> > If you want to believe in [...]
> > If you want to believe [...]
> Gaack! Bleah! Ptooey! I hope you were being sarcastic.

Only to a limited degree. I grant the probabilities on my suggestions seem to be very small indeed. But to someone living in the 14th century the probability of the planets revolving around the sun or planes carrying people in the sky would seem very small as well.

The problem with probability assessments is that many of them depend on the knowledge implicit in your reality. It may turn out that the gravitational microlensing obervations *are* explained by mini-black holes in association with large molecular gas clouds (one proposed solution), if so we are going to have to adjust our universe view because we do not have a mechanism for creating such a highly arbitrary solution. As you have said, "Truth" doesn't care.

We don't know the limts to evolution. I can only draw one reasonable line in the sand and say, "What would things look like if these were the real limits?".

What if the Universe runs on a set of laws that are as "editable" as the genetic program you run on? The "reality" 15 years ago was that you couldn't even *read* a genetic program, much less edit it. If you had asked a average collection of scientists in 1985 whether we would be able to create synthetic bacteria they would have laughed at the question. Yet we are on the brink of that today. If you go back 40+ years and asked if we could "read" genomes, they would have laughed as well.

The entire point being that what you *believe* in is highly context dependent. If you cannot point out clearly and concretely where something violates the laws of physics (and that the laws of physics are immutable) then you had better allow for the "improbable" being "possible". As a side note, if the expansion of the universe does turn out to be slowing down it would be an "interesting" crack in the wall of the time invariance of the "laws" of physics.

> > You can also view religions as being quite valid if the local ET/SIs
> > who set up our game as an experiment have a really sick sense of humor.
> Or if the Power has persistent motives created by a reigning theocracy.

I question whether these motives could be enforced over interstellar distances.