4.6.09

Irregular Ground Rules: Taleb on the Presence of Intelligence

Central to the ongoing debate between creationists and evolutionary theorists is the presence of intelligence: is there intelligence present in or behind the reality of existence? The presence (or absence) of an intelligent designer is the crux. Without it, there is no creator. But without it there can be no discussion either.

In the other species that I’ve taken to studying, there are no others that are studying (empirically provably) their origin and or existence. I am yet impose my own impressions upon the inquisitive expressions of the Orangutan, but here—the presence of my intelligence, observation, and summation—make my summations questionable. In Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s words, “However, our presence in the sample completely vitiates the computation of the odds” (118).

See the issue—I can only prove that discoveries can be inadvertent, that narration can create a fallacious view of reality, or argue from silent evidence that the earth is the lucky .00001% of the universe wherein the precise elements existed to produce life; I can only argue these things in the presence of my own intelligence (limited as it is).

By Taleb’s own assessment, it is only a matter of possibility that the life-diversity of the earth would come into existence because of the scope and expanse of imaginable attempts (universally speaking). And yet, despite the presence of human intelligence and reasoning, it is actually more likely that his own book would have been written already, without him, before him.

But it wasn’t. It took him, and the presence of his intelligence to set the guidelines for discussion that insists on the absence of intelligence in empirical defense of creation. In my interactions with all manner of other species, I have never been so limited in my argumentation. Taleb must check his own cognitive intelligence at the door if the same rules are to apply on both sides of the table.

Taleb writes, “Most of the debate between creationists and evolutionary theorists (of which I do not partake) lies in the following: creationist believe that the world comes from some form of design while evolutionary theorists see the word as a result of random changes by an aimless process. But it is hard to look at a computer or car and consider them the result of aimless process. Yet they are.”

Agreed—these are the inadvertent discoveries of humans—intelligent humans who were trying to do something. By Taleb’s own position, he should have ample evidence from turtles and ameba that significant movements in technology, medicine, knowledge, awareness, understanding, or any other facet of study, result regularly from equally incidental attempts. Where is the turtle’s equivalent of a computer? Where is the ameba’s equivalent of a laser?

The presence of the human intelligence in each of Taleb’s examples invalidates argumentation against intelligence. Not that his interpretation of these narrative anecdotes is irrelevant, but they are invalid as documented evidence for the position of non-intelligent existence.

Taleb has no problem saying that the presence of earth in predictability models for creationist verses evolutionist perspectives skews the visible evidence-erroneously—toward intelligence design. By contrast, the presence of human intelligence seeking something, and finding something larger or more significant, is assumed equally supportive evidence of his position. See the tautology? By Taleb’s own rules, the presence of the human intelligence in any of the inadvertent discoveries invalidates these cases as evidence for his position. Furthermore, his assessment and interpretation of these anecdotes further distances him from the objective assessment.

Historically, it’s been the position of evolutionists that support of their case will be the finding of other examples of life beyond earth (remember the excitement surrounding the Martian rock that seemed to have a “microbe” petrified in it; it turned out to be nothing more than a strange formation within the rock). Now, Taleb argues that it is more likely the absence of evidence which equally proves the evolutionary theory. In short, everything proves the theory.

That is, in the presence of the intelligence of humanity.

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