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Grudge Match. psd_1 V Genya: SETI@home

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posted on Apr, 14 2004 @ 08:14 AM
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[size=0]psd_1 has accepted a challenge from Genya following a discussion in the SETI@home forum. psd_1 alleges that SETI@home is a diversion. Genya Disputes this. The Gauntlet has been thrown down and the challenge accepted. The two of them now step in to the ring to settle this dispute. So begins the Grudge Match.

The topic for this debate is "SETI@home is a diversion."

psd_1 will argue for this proposition and will open the debate.
Genya will argue against this proposition.

Each debator will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

No post will be longer than 800 words and in the case of the closing statement no longer than 500 words. In the event of a debator posting more than the stated word limit then the excess words will be deleted by me from the bottom. Credits or references at the bottom count as part of the post.

Editing is Strictly forbidden. This means any editing, for any reason. Any edited posts will be completely deleted.

Excluding both the opening and closing statements only one image or link may be included in any post. Opening and Closing statement must not carry either images or links.

As a guide responses should be made within 18 hours. If the debate is moving forward then I have a relaxed attitude to this. However, if people are consistently late with their replies, they will forfeit the debate.

Judging will be done by an anonymous panel of 11 judges. After each debate is completed it will be locked and the judges will begin making their decision. Results will be posted by me as soon as a majority (6) is reached.

This debate is now open, good luck to both of you.

[Edited on 14-4-2004 by Kano]




posted on Apr, 14 2004 @ 10:45 AM
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There are many diversions that have been placed in the public's view to deceive and redirect attention throughout history. Propaganda, dissinformation, dissemeniation, etc. This has been used by the powers that be to control the way the masses view reality, a way to subdue the population at large.

Recently on ATS I have created a thread voicing my opinion that I believe SETI@Home is one of the many diversions our government has placed in order to redirect the public's attention. Genya was quick to refute my claims and challenge me to this debate which I have accepted.

It is my belief that SETI@home was created to give the illusion that NASA and our government are still trying to establish communication with alien life using simple radio wave technology. This technology is far too simple and if a more advanced civilization did exist why would they use such an archaic technology to communicate?

It is my belief that the data that SETI@home crunches is simply"white noise" and is really just a regular screen saver. Although we do not have a "smoking gun" it is also my belief that the goverment has already been in contact with many different alien life forms and is hiding behind SETI@home's claim that contact has yet to be established.

We know our government deals in deception and repression of information, why would alien communication be any different? SETI@Home gives hope that one day we will find a signal telling us we're not alone.... The truth is that we have never been alone, yet devices such as SETI keep the sheep hoping and dreaming of something that is already reality.



posted on Apr, 15 2004 @ 02:59 PM
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Firstly, I would like to thank Kano for enabling this debate to be conducted in this forum: to publicly acknowledge my debt for the time so generously given by the adjudicators in assessing this debate; to hope that all observers find this discussion to be stimulating and, by no means least, wish my honourable friend, psd_1, the best of luck and good fortune in this exchange. Greetings to all!

As my esteemed colleague psd_1 states, he recently posted a thread that in effect described SETI@home as being a diversion. Several people responded and, thanx to being directed to this particular thread by a valued friend and colleague, I took part in the discussion that had developed in the interim. It seemed (to me) that neither the “pro” - nor the “anti” - SETI@home scenario could be evaluated dispassionately by those involved, as each “side” seemed quite entrenched in their relative positions, hence this debate.

Perhaps it is useful that I give a brief outline of what SETI@home is before I embark on counter arguments to Mr psd_1’s allegations of “Diversion”? I do not want to assume that our readership nor, indeed, our judges know much about the program. Please forgive me if I appear to patronise here – it is not my intention.

The “SETI” in SETI@home is an acronym: “Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence”. The “@home” tag means, simply, that many individuals’ computers are used to do the required “number crunching”.

SETI@home could be thought of, therefore, as a “supercomputer” that analyses radio signals (the “white noise” alluded to by psd_1) that have been recorded by radio telescopes, notably the 1000 foot radio telescope at Arecibo. This “supercomputer”, however, isn’t one machine but millions of computers, mainly owned by individuals (like me), who “allow” their machines to run a small program which analyses these radio signals to see if they contain anomalous data, namely Gaussians, triplets, peaks or pulses, which might be attributed to intelligence emanating from outside of the Earth.

The idea to use home computers to do this apparently occurred in a conversation between David Gedye and Craig Kasnoff at a Christmas party in Seattle, Dec. 1994.

Now, my friend psd_1 claims this to be a “diversion”. Ultralingua says:

Diversion
1. A turning aside (of one's course or attention or concern): "a diversion from the main highway."
2. An activity that diverts or amuses or stimulates.
3. An attack calculated to draw enemy defence away from the point of the principal attack

I will try to show in the following debate that SETI@home is not a diversion but that it is a scientific method of analysing data which otherwise might be too expensive to do if left to individual academic establishments. What a waste of data this would be, IMO, as we might overlook proof positive of alien existence!

I now have pleasure in returning the debate to Mr psd_1 to see how he expands on his thesis. Over to you, my esteemed friend psd_1!

Words = 499



posted on Apr, 20 2004 @ 11:14 AM
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Many appologies for my delay in response, I was in rather poor health....

In response to Genya's rebuttle...

While I agree that the process SETI@Home uses enabling many computers to crunch data is useful I believe SETI@Home remains a diversion.

1) There is no way to prove that the data each individual computer is crunching is actual data acquired by SETI from scanning the skies.
2) There is no way to prove that the results that SETI@Home which is posted on their site is actual and factual.

My belief is that the masses need some positive reinforcement. They need to be provided with a sense that they are taking part in something bigger. Giving people the belief that their computer is helping and might actually find evidence of alien communication keeps the masses at bay and not questioning if communication has already existed for some time.

While it is true that there are people, many here on ATS, that aren't easily fooled by government propagnda the bulk of the population. They vote and think that they can make a difference. They watch CNN and think that they are informed. SETI@Home is diverting public attention from something that is reality to something that is a pipe-dream.

Yes it would be a waste of data if we didn't scan the skies, but it is my belief that this data is provided knowling without any substance or significant signals embedded.

-psd_1



posted on Apr, 20 2004 @ 04:40 PM
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I was very sorry to read of your recent illness, psd_1, and trust that you regain your health and strength quickly. I’m sure our observers and judges will join with me in sending you our collective best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Well, Sir, your illness has not affected your wit nor intelligence one jot!! I fine riposte indeed. Psd_1, I salute you!

You infer that the concept of Internet-scale distributed computing, as exampled by SETI@home, is an interesting concept but then you seem to doubt the integrity, validity and provenance of the data as distributed by SETI@home? Furthermore, you then state that any results obtained from the “so called” analysis - and are subsequently published - are, in fact, “inventions” or constructs? Serious charges, as falsification of results within research establishments, universities and academia, throws great mistrust into any work that is conducted by those establishments.

Let’s have a look at some facts, rather than hyperbole, to see if we can find any credence for your POV psd_1?

Bodies involved with SETI@home.

University of California Berkeley – established around 1866 - Berkeley ranks first nationally in the number of graduate programs in the top 10 in their fields. (97% of Berkeley's programs made the top 10 list.) Berkeley ranks first nationally in the number of "distinguished" programs for the scholarship of the faculty [32 programs] (Source National Research Council). This august body is where SETI@home “lives” and where the data is distributed from and subsequently returned to.

Arecibo radio telescope – the world’s largest radio telescope, opened on 1st November 1963, and operated by Cornell University which was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White.

Planetary Society - The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman to encourage the exploration of our solar system and the search for extraterrestrial life.

Psd_1, it may, indeed, be possible that these organisations are deceiving the public – if it was *proved* to be the case that there was falsification occurring, their reputations wouldn’t be damaged at all, would they?

Data analysed (at April 19th 13:58:18 2004 UTC)

Total Users = 4 964 637
Results received = 1 344 402 287 Work units
Total CPU time = 1 894 676.117 years
Floating point operations = 4.827354e+21 (that is a BIG number!)
Average CPU time per work unit = 12 hr 20 min 43.9 sec

Now, what seems the more likely explanation of where this data was obtained psd_1 - from the radio telescope, as Berkeley claims, or from somebody contriving the data?

Results publication





The mere fact that these “best signal” candidates can be observed by any other radio telescope in the world seems to rule out deception, IMO?

Let’s move on a little psd_1. You state:

“My belief is that the masses need some positive reinforcement.”

Now, I’m intrigued by this concept you have for “masses”? I presume (and you’ll be quick to correct me, I’m sure, if I’m wrong!!) that you mean “people”??

Look critically, please, at the data I provided above: namely, there are approximately 5 million people in the world who run SETI@home. Now, let’s assume the world’s population is approximately 6 500 000 000. So, we are talking about 0.077% of the entire world – if these are “the masses” you refer to, my honourable friend psd_1, then I do not see how you can justify your claim? Your next statement will undoubtedly show me the error of my thinking here!

If I’m really generous, based on the case above, and accept that perhaps even 20% are “positively reinforced” by SETI@home, can you tell me WHY running the program makes somebody incapable of also looking for other evidence of ET existence?


To recap psd_1:

1 Can you provide evidence that Berkeley, Cornell, Arecibo or the Planetary Society have falsified data, as this would badly tarnish these organisations credibility?

2 Please demonstrate how 5 million people worldwide can receive sufficient data to keep them “crunching”, if this isn’t derived from the Arecibo radio telescope?

3 Show how this data (if false) – isn’t vilified, rather than verified - by other radio telescopes (that might chose to check up on the results) over the past five years or so?

4 Please explain your definition of “masses” – my own was based on the total world population – you might choose just the population of the United States, of course?

5 I would be very interested in seeing how you demonstrate the “exclusive” part of your thesis: namely, that you some how “give up” looking for other evidence of ET once you “buy into” SETI@home

Once again, I wish you a full and speedy recovery to full and robust health psd_1. Back it comes to you Sir!!

Words = 793



posted on Apr, 21 2004 @ 10:30 AM
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It is clear that my advesary is an excellent debator, well versed and highly intelligent. I am impressed with your replies, for they have made me think long and hard about this discussion.

In response to your recap:
1)Can you provide evidence that Berkeley, Cornell, Arecibo or the Planetary Society has NOT falsified data in attempts to cover up and divert the public's attention regarding governmental/alien communications?
2)With the current technology of today it would not be difficult to create a program that would basically develop false data and provide that data to people using SETI@Home.
3)While cross checking data does occur I believe that with enough time and work you can prove or disprove anything...
4)My definition of "masses" is the general public. "General" in the sense that this is the bulk of the population that readily belives the malarky that their governement provides. They also believe that their vote can make a difference and that the democratic system actually provides freedom.
5)I don't suggest that you give up looking for ET when you jump on board SETI. I am suggesting that SETI@Home gives you a false sense of security in the fact that you believe that a search for communication is underway. By provding a hope that one day a signal will be found from aliens the government is providing a diversion of public attention. Instead of probing the government to see what they really know we download SETI@Home and keep the faith that this is how we do our part in the search for intelligent life.

Genya, clearly you are the more experienced debator. My arguments have been filled with beliefs while yours has been loaded with statistics and figures. And although I can argue that these stats can be procured by the powers that be I am fighting a losing battle....

-psd_1


Originally posted by Genya

To recap psd_1:

1 Can you provide evidence that Berkeley, Cornell, Arecibo or the Planetary Society have falsified data, as this would badly tarnish these organisations credibility?

2 Please demonstrate how 5 million people worldwide can receive sufficient data to keep them “crunching”, if this isn’t derived from the Arecibo radio telescope?

3 Show how this data (if false) – isn’t vilified, rather than verified - by other radio telescopes (that might chose to check up on the results) over the past five years or so?

4 Please explain your definition of “masses” – my own was based on the total world population – you might choose just the population of the United States, of course?

5 I would be very interested in seeing how you demonstrate the “exclusive” part of your thesis: namely, that you some how “give up” looking for other evidence of ET once you “buy into” SETI@home

Once again, I wish you a full and speedy recovery to full and robust health psd_1. Back it comes to you Sir!!

Words = 793



posted on Apr, 21 2004 @ 03:14 PM
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Thank you very much for your praise psd_1 – it is much appreciated, though undoubtedly undeserved. I, too, complement your good self on your replies to my questions, which I feel need discussion.

1 Evidence to show that “…Berkeley, Cornell, Arecibo or the Planetary Society has NOT falsified data…”? By inference: as the results are published and are available for scrutiny by anybody, there would be a tremendous outcry (IMO) if another radio observatory’s results didn’t collaborate those published by UC Berkeley et al i.e. there would be charges of falsifying data. This hasn’t occurred during the life of SETI@home i.e. since 1999 when the program started. If it hasn’t, why might that be – surely the probability is because the data is derived from where it is said to come from, namely the Heavens?

2 That “…today it would not be difficult to create a program that would basically develop false data…”. There is a philosophical principle called “Occam’s Razor”. Simply put, this states

"Of two competing theories or explanations, all other things being equal, the simpler one is to be preferred."

Therefore, I would direct your attention to this and ask which “theory” is *more* likely? That the data is “simply” collected from Arecibo, distributed to SETI@home users and returned, to add to the data already collected and published, as *I* would contend.

OR

*Your* theory that somewhere a computer produces data, in sufficient quantities, to satisfy the demands of SETI@home users? Please remember the effective “size” of the “supercomputer” that is used to analyse the distributed data:

“Total CPU time = 1 894 676.117 years

Floating point operations = 4.827354e+21”


Where would such a computer be housed? Why bother? Which is the “simpler” explanation? That, to me, (using Occam’s Razor) suggests that the former theory has more credence than *your* theory psd_1. You will – undoubtedly! – correct me if my logic is at fault here!

3 “…occur I believe that with enough time and work you can prove or disprove anything...”. That is an example of a “non-sequitur”: this literally means "it does not follow". If we used this logic, psd_1, I think *I* could argue that the Moon is made of cream cheese (there is evidence for this from folklore after all) and you would have a hard time convincing me that it wasn’t! I don’t intend to do this – don’t worry!!

4 We seem to agree here that “…"masses" is the general public”..”. However, whilst I find your following arguments about the “general public” interesting (with regards to voting systems, etc) I don’t think you’ve addressed my statistics – namely that 5 million people (those who at some stage decided to download SETI@home) represent – in reality – less than 0.1% of the worlds population. Therefore, I have to refute your claim that SETI@home is a tool that keeps “masses” of people contented – what about the *other* 99.9% of the worlds population who *don’t* run SETI@home (and probably have never even heard of it??).

Therefore, whilst I won’t contest your point about “freedom, democracy etc” (as this would be off topic) I fail to see how SETI@home can– in *any* way - be “responsible for causing a distraction”. Sorry psd_1…

5 “By provding (Sic) a hope that one day a signal will be found from aliens the government is providing a diversion of public attention.” I understand what you are saying here psd_1, but I disagree, I’m afraid. To *me* the program is *another* tool that we can use that *might* capture evidence of ETI. Or, perhaps, some other important astronomical event, due to physical characteristics in a star or galaxy. When pulsars were discovered in 1967, by Bell and Hewish:

“…They couldn't rule out "little green men" at this point, and they half-kiddingly named the signal LGM1. But that left them with a dilemma: Who could they tell? And what would they say…?” here

Their search wasn’t “SETI-orientated”, incidentally, but the point I’m making is that SETI@home is “science” – it provides for the collection of data that *might* reveal *something*. That it *hasn’t*, isn’t (to me) the point – because if we *don’t* “listen” we *aren’t* ever going to hear, are we? And *that* seems such a waste of our technology at this present time psd_1.

What a pity if ET called and we couldn’t be bothered to listen…

I am flattered that you think that I am the more experienced debater psd_1. I suggest this is *because* I can back my arguments with “…statistics and figures…” rather than having to rely on “…arguments (which) have been filled with beliefs… ”.

“Belief” has its place in the world, no doubt, psd_1. Belief in God, or in fairies, or even that the Moon is made of cream cheese. As for SETI@home being a diversion? Hmm…

Over to you psd_1!! Good luck!

Words = 800



posted on Apr, 24 2004 @ 05:48 PM
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I unfortunately have to concede this debate for I am still very sick and cannot devote enough time to this.



posted on Apr, 24 2004 @ 06:49 PM
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Ok, psd_1 concedes, Genya is the victor.

Well done guys, and I hope you get well soon psd_1.



posted on Apr, 26 2004 @ 03:14 AM
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Hi psd_1, kano, judges and observers

I'm very sorry that continued illness has meant that you can no longer take part in this debate psd_1 but your health is more important that discussing the relative merits of running SETI@home for sure!!

Very best wishes for a speedy recovery psd_1 and thank you for a "fair fight" whilst we were thus engaged. Another time perhaps...



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