Dispatches from the Creation Wars

2007 Final Four

Wouldn’t you know it? The first time in as long as I can remember that I’m not in a single NCAA tournament pool and I run the table. On March 12, when the tournament was announced, I picked Ohio State, UCLA, Florida and Georgetown for the final four and all 4 teams are in. They didn’t exactly sail through. Ohio State had two extremely close calls to survive, and Georgetown needed overtime to beat a North Carolina team that simply collapsed, missing something like 20 of their last 22 shots. But those are the final four teams. So who moves on? Florida and Ohio State in the final game, Ohio State wins it all. That was my prediction two weeks ago and I’m sticking to it.


  1. #1 J-Dog
    March 26, 2007

    Ed – You should have signed up for the SciBlog Pool! Not to brag, but IF the Buckeyes win, so do I, even if I only have 3 of the final four teams….(stinking KS ruined it for me). To compensate for my lucky picks, the competition is all better at science and writing than I am.

  2. #2 egbooth
    March 26, 2007

    Great minds think alike. Our final four and championship predictions are identical, Ed. The only difference is I get $50 if it turns out right. Tell you what, if I win the pool I’ll buy you a beer if you ever make it up to Madison, WI.

  3. #3 Jeff Hebert
    March 26, 2007

    See Ed, this is a perfect example of what I call the “Anti Tilton Rule of Betting”. Former Dallas televangelist Robert Tilton (he of the “Farting Preacher” fame) posited that by sending him money in an envelope along with a card stating what you wanted God to do for you in exchange for that money, whatever you asked for would come to pass.

    In gambling, however, the exact opposite is true. You can come up with a scenario that is 100% accurate, as you have done in this case, Ed. But if you actually put money on that prediction, the “Anti-Tilton Rule” takes effect and that result is thereby guaranteed not to occur.

    Ironically, by refusing to put your prediction to paper in a way that could have resulted in your financial benefit, you assured that the prediction could come true. Had you gambled or entered a trackable contest, those teams never would have made it. Hoyas, Gators, Bruins, and Buckeyes everywhere thank you for your financial restraint.

  4. #4 Aaron M
    March 26, 2007

    I hope you’re right, Ed, as that’s what I’ve got in my office pool. Unfortunately, those are the only two F4 teams I got right. The UNC game was depressing; like watching an entire team forget how to play basketball.

  5. #5 Deepsix
    March 26, 2007

    I can only get interested in women’s college basketball. Mainly, I enjoy watching God coach. Her name is Pat Summitt. Amen.

  6. #6 Enigma
    March 26, 2007

    Totally off topic, Ed, but I just noticed that previous entries no longer have the date they were put up above. As in, all the entries from the 24th of January would be together under a heading that had that date. Now all the posts are still in chronological order, but the date headings are gone. Has it been like this for a while and i just didn’t notice it? Is it purposeful, or a server glitch? Just curious, although i like having the date headings, as it makes it easier to find stuff.

  7. #7 Mikerm
    March 26, 2007

    Is anyone else having trouble getting the Seed sci-blogs to load completely? Ever since they added that video ad I only see the last three posts no matter how long I wait.

  8. #8 kehrsam
    March 26, 2007

    By the way, Ed, I know you praised those little vids, but they really are lame. When it comes to simplistic pop science, Bill Nye does a waaaay better job than that.

  9. #9 Thought Provoker
    March 26, 2007


    Please excuse the rude spamming. I thought you might be interested in this. If not please dispose, move or ridicule at will.


    For the many who don’t know me, my handle is Thought Provoker. I have some thoughts I would like to share. It is my hope they will provoke some thinking. Baring that, let them provoke laughter.

    For a little history from my perspective. I got introduced to the ID movement and Dr. Behe during the Dover trial. I went from Dr. Behe’s IC to Dr. Dembski’s ID Alternative called “telic properties in nature”. However, I was immediately disinvited from Uncommon Descent. In case it needs to be spelled out, most people would, and have, considered me anti-ID.

    I ended up at Telic Thoughts (TT). Mike Gene and TT intrigued me. We have had our ups and downs. However, I was a tolerated guest and, occasionally, was encouraged to participate more. I learned a few things during my time there.

    Dr. Dembski’s telic properties in nature may have been a general reference to EAM (TT’s Joy provided me with the hint I needed). However, EAM still leans heavily on “intelligence” (ability to learn/adapt) as opposed to just “telic”(purposeful). To the irritation of many TTers, I looked for why intelligence was required as opposed to simply purpose. The result was figuring out ID’s information theory argument boils down to a general statement that only intelligence can create intelligence without getting too picky about the meaning of the word “intelligence”.

    Being an electrical engineer, I start thinking about a feedback loop. How do you create a sine wave output? Use a sine wave input and amplify it. Where do you get the input? From the output. It is called an oscillator circuit. Nothing magical or supernatural about it (except, maybe, the AA battery).

    One of Joy’s pet peeves is that she feels Evolution Biologists don’t look outside their own discipline enough. Whether or not that is true, the physicist Steven Hawking’s work is freely available via the web and, unlike some other PhD types, he explains both the math and logic in a way that it can be understood and vetted by anyone who wishes to do so. Steven Hawking isn’t infallible (he famously lost a bet with another physicist) but he knows a lot more about cosmetology than I do (understatement).

    Here is a link where he explains the concept of time as just another dimension like North/South directions on a globe with the South Pole being the beginning of time and the North Pole being the end of time. Questions about events before the beginning of time are like questions about locations South of the South Pole. Both are paradoxical, but neither requires the supernatural.

    I realize some people don’t accept this explanation as the Truth (capital “T”). This is where NOMA (Non-Overlapping_Magisteria) comes in. What I have come to realize in my TT travels is that NOMA is probably at the root of the Culture War (please be gentle with the “DUH” comments). I also noticed NOMA transcends the religious/atheist divide. A standard four-quadrant map comes to mind, with the x-axis ranging from active atheist to devout fundamentalist and the y-axis ranging from no separation (OMA) to absolute separation (NOMA), making the quadrants religious-OMA, atheist-OMA, religious-NOMA and atheist-NOMA. A dot for individuals could be placed on the map to review which quadrant each fell into. Previously, I would have placed myself in the atheist-NOMA quadrant. Now, I am not sure for reasons I’m about to explain. There is a lot more to discuss about NOMA, but that would take too much space.

    The passion in the ID/Evolution debate comes when someone (from either side) tries to claim the one and only OMA Truth. This is the elephant-in-the-livingroom that has to be addressed. So, without further ado, I boldly use the Hawking Model as my starting point for a proposed, OMA Truth that meets the various claims and goals of both sides of the issue. I am sure that some will not like this choice. To these people, I suggest they write a beginning to end proposal like this one and allow it to also be vetted publicly.

    The Hawking Model includes the multiverse paradigm…
    “The picture Jim Hartle and I developed, of the spontaneous quantum creation of the universe, would be a bit like the formation of bubbles of steam in boiling water. The idea is that the most probable histories of the universe, would be like the surfaces of the bubbles. Many small bubbles would appear, and then disappear again. These would correspond to mini universes that would expand, but would collapse again while still of microscopic size…. A few of the little bubbles, however, will grow to a certain size at which they are safe from recollapse.”

    A complaint to this is that the multiverse still doesn’t solve the improbability problem. In other words, why is this universe so lucky. I suggest changing the bubbles analogy to lightening strikes. The only universes that get beyond the recollapse stage are those that can complete the circuit from the beginning to the end of time. Think of the improbability of a lighting striking hitting a specific, small piece of metal out of acres of other targets. However, when that piece of metal is a lighting rod that completes a circuit, the improbable becomes very probable.

    I offer this as a reason for a telic universe. The purpose of the universe is to be internally consistent. The universe must do what it needs to complete the consistency circuit from the beginning to the end of time, or it won’t exist. “Retrocausality” is a term that came up in TT. Here is the link to the newspaper article that initiated the discussion. A future state (cause) that completes the consistency circuit will influence the historical time-path (effect) much like a lightening strike steers towards a lightening rod.

    This proposed model may help explain why this universe appears finely tuned. It had to be, or it wouldn’t have even started. It may also explain why historical events appear too fortuitous (retrocausality). But why life? Why intelligent life?

    In case there was any illusion this would resolve the Culture War, it ends here. I am going to stipulate that in some yet-to-be-determined way, intelligent life is helpful in completing the consistency circuit of the universe.

    I approach this next part with dread. To complete the picture, I feel I have to discuss potential reasons why intelligent life is needed for our universe to be consistent. One trivial answer (and not very believable) is that our SETI activities has provided just the right amount of focused electromagnetic energy to assist in allowing a symmetrical collapse at the end of time. The reason I bring up this silly example is to illustrate that while the universe needs to reach the end of time, intelligent life may not have to. To the contrary, intelligent life may have already outlived its usefulness.

    However, there are a few Billion people out there who are predisposed to believe at least some kind of intelligence will exist at the end of time. Let’s call this intelligence an “Intelligent Designer”. The explains how the purpose of intelligent life is to eventually grow into the Intelligent Designer. Now, what is the purpose of the Intelligent Designer? Well, for one, the designer could use retrocausality to create intelligent life. This is the oscillator circuit mentioned earlier. Beyond that, I will just assume an Intelligent Designer would be useful in completing the consistency circuit of the Universe in other ways too.

    There are many, many details left out of this presentation. For example, several people at TT insist a lack of progress in the origin of life research and certain features at the molecular level (DNA, proteins, etc) posit some kind of outside intervention like an Intelligent Designer. As I said, any illusion that this resolves the Culture War is for naught. However, I hope this broad brush outline will be used as a framework to add details like OOL. Alternatively, I hope it provokes others into offering counter proposals to the same level of logical closure (even if lacking detail).

    I think the hole I have dug for myself is pretty deep, so I am going to stop now. BTW, “pathetically obvious” wouldn’t be unexpected reaction to this. It could also be claimed that this is just a restatement of various Anthropic Principles. I wouldn’t disagree with that either and I apologize for not giving all the people who deserve credit their due. I have no interest in claiming this as my idea. My real interest is in getting it presented and observing the reactions. I will gladly answer any questions you may have. Comments and suggestions are also welcome. However, I am on business travel until Friday, 30 March so my time for responding will be limited. From 30 March to 8 April, I will be on vacation where I will be without any access to a computer at all (family enforced).

    Thought Provoker

    P.S. I am looking for anyone willing to host comments on their blog. I have an unknown blog I could use, but if anyone is interested in a small spike in traffic (maybe a very small spike) please feel free to copy this whole and start a thread with it. I will understand if a blog owner wishes to add a disclaimer about my thoughts.

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