Shorter Richard Sternberg: Beginning to Decipher the SINE Signal:

If science fiction weren’t fiction, ID would be really good science.

In responding tangentially to our earlier criticism of him for employing arguments of a paranoid schizophrenic nature which treated movies as if they were evidence of how science works, Sternberg pens an essay in which we’re to pretend that we find monoliths on Earth’s two moons and they send us crazy signals that make our computers suddenly intelligent.

He quotes a hypothetical critic replying:

We think you’re a nice guy, but your arguments are insane.

Assuming for the moment he’s referring to my earlier reply, I think he’s missing the point. I wrote:

Now, I’m not claiming that Sternberg is anything – paranoid schizophrenic or scientist – like John Nash. I’m saying that the ID argument is hard to distinguish from the ravings of paranoid schizophrenics.

It’s true that I was calling his arguments insane (and his new ones still are), but I never said I think he’s a nice guy.

Note also that Sternberg can’t even keep his own bizarre moon analogy right. The moons are supposed to be like the genomes of rats and mice, and the monoliths are repeated motifs in the genome that don’t have anything to do with making computers homicidal. His analog also have lunar scientists who are meant to be the equivalent of evolutionary biologists, who think that the monoliths aren’t products of evil aliens, and who “argue that we already knew all there was to know about that moon back in 1859.”

By analogy, then, he’s claiming that evolutionary biologists say that we knew all there was to know about the genome in 1859. This seems unlikely.


  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    March 18, 2010

    What’s his point, that all of the false positives for design through history were actually true positives? Or just the ones that were based in religion were right?

    After all, people are rather more likely to “detect design” where it isn’t, than to deny it where it actually exists. Of course it wouldn’t do for Sternberg to actually discuss the science demonstrating that humans are prone to assume design and purpose where it isn’t, probably in part because it is safer to assume a wild animal is near you by purpose (likely, to eat you) than to assume that it is not.

    But hey, you can always conjure up a lame (derivative) fiction where the bias is the opposite of what it is, and to pretend that your opponents are they. After all, you can always count on the marks to suspect that their beliefs are rejected in science “by design,” rather than via methods designed to reduce the biases by which Sternberg and the DI operate.

    Glen Davidson

  2. #2 Doc Bill
    March 19, 2010

    Attempt no landings.

    Alas, if Sternberg could only write as well as Clarke, he might be able to earn a respectable living on his own rather than being a stooge of the Disco Tute.

  3. #3 Marion Delgado
    March 19, 2010

    That “article” is tendentious, but it’s also insane rambling madness. If it were printed, I’d toss it across the room.

  4. #4 Mike from Ottawa
    March 19, 2010

    By analogy, then, he’s claiming that evolutionary biologists say that we knew all there was to know about the genome in 1859. This seems unlikely.

    That’s very charitable. Looks more like lying, which would be just more in the same vein as his persecution narrative.