[ExI] aaahnold's hidden message

Claus Bornich clausb at gmail.com
Thu Oct 29 12:48:51 UTC 2009

-----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:


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.


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