[ExI] aaahnold's hidden message

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Thu Oct 29 23:46:50 UTC 2009

2009/10/29 Claus Bornich <clausb at gmail.com>:
> -----Original Message by spike-----
>>>The Taxifornia governator has been accused of sending an obscene message to
>>>his political opponents in the form of a seven letters which start each line
>>>of his memo.  He is claiming a coincidence, but the local news calculated it
>>>at 8 billion to 1, by taking 26^7.
>>>I noticed that the C is a scrabble three point letter, the F and the Y are
>>>all worth four points and the K is a five pointer.  So I grabbed a huge hunk
>>>of text, wrote a script to calculate letter frequencies starting a sentence
>>>and came out with about 1 in 600 billion that this was a coincidence, and
>>>this doesn't even take into account the space being in the right place:
> Spike,
> Isn't this exactly the sort of flawed argument which creationists and
> the anti-evolution crowd use? I'm sure the probability of humans
> evolving is a lot smaller than your above estimates. Even the odds for
> many of the tiny incremental steps towards what we are today are
> pretty astronomical. Yet, I think we all agree that they did happen.
> Each mutation is random and although only results which improve the
> chances of survival are selected for it was surely anything but
> inevitable that we ended up with two legged, big brained monkeys with
> hands suited to make tools and vocal cords capable of complex speech.
> Not to mention that any probability calculation is only as good as the
> accuracy and completeness of the data, as well as the level of
> understanding of how that data interacts.
> When you look at the probability of any one thing in particular
> occurring it seems very unlikely. Probabilities are great for
> predicting odds, but tell us very little about what actually occurs.
> Rolling a six on a die a hundred times in a row is very unlikely, but
> not impossible. I don't really care either way about Arnold's message,
> but if you start looking for patterns you will find them everywhere.

The probability of any *particular* configuration of the Universe
coming about may be incredibly small, but the probability that the
Universe will be in *some* configuration may approach one. For
example, there may be a very high probability that intelligent life
evolves at least once somewhere in the Universe, even though the
intelligent life thus evolved may calculate their particular existence
on their particular planet as being extremely unlikely.

It is different if the unlikely event is pre-specified. If a series of
stars went nova so as to spell out "I am the Lord your God, so fuck
you, atheists" then I would have to admit that something unusual was
going on.

Stathis Papaioannou

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