The Mastermind Effect

mastermind
The Mastermind(r) game by Invicta Plastics

As discussed in the introduction, some scientists today are expending much of their intellectual energies on the One Unifying Theory of Everything; the elusive, complex formula that could, or will, explain how the universe and life came into existence?

With regard to Darwin’s theories, they can be likened to players in a game of Mastermind (with due recognition to Invicta Plastics Limited). You may have come across this game which includes colored counters (or pegs) that one player arranges sequentially in a code. His opponent has to crack the code, first by guessing the choice of counters, then, on subsequent attempts, by following the clues the code-maker provides. The true code, set by the code-maker, we can liken to scientific truth, i.e. the way things “really are” according to generally acceptable “norms,” or facts, if you prefer.

The attempts to break the code, we can liken to the theories associated with Darwin’s survival of the fittest. It is not incorrect to say that these theories are “attempts,” as there is certainly no little conflict, indeed there are often fatal (immutable), irreconcilable conflicts, between the prevailing theories. Only when all, or at least a large percentage, of the “counters” fall into place can the theory be transformed into a fact.

Let us imagine that our code has, say, 23 components; each component being any one of 2000 colors. One player slots 15 of his counters into the correct place and in the right sequence. Perhaps this is a great achievement. The previous record was held by another player who achieved only 9 correct placements. Spectators are aghast. Surely this code must be the one to follow, after all it has over half of the counters in the correct place! The coding community rally round. No-one has achieved this until now; the code-breaker has to be applauded, even awarded. The color combination he has chosen is so reminiscent of many other previous attempts, and the owners of those attempts are only too delighted to be associated with the latest champion and to join in the applause. Perhaps some of the adoration will come his way. After all, maybe it was his choice of colors that led to the champion’s eventual success!

[graphic of 23 counters showing code-maker’s color sequence]

But the code is actually wrong! A partial fit is not really a fit at all. In fact, it could be a step in the wrong direction… The rules of Mastermind state that the code-maker must award a black peg (or red peg in the above game variation) for each counter that is not only the right color but is also in the right position. He must also award a white peg for each counter which is the right color, but is in the wrong position. So, how does the code-breaker know which counters have been awarded the black pegs, which have been awarded the white pegs, and which have achieved no reward at all? He first of all recognizes a pattern, then proceeds to postulate a theory on whether this pattern will result in a 23 black peg score. On his first attempt, he is only awarded 7 black pegs and 8 white pegs. But the pattern he has in mind appears to be vindicated by the presence of the 7 black awards. He re-hashes his code, based on his theory and his thread of logic, and places his colored counters down. Now he gets 6 black pegs and 12 white ones. Is his theory correct? He has now lost a valued black award peg — one of the colors he removed on this attempt must have been correct on the previous attempt. But he has gained four somewhat valuable white pegs. Does he continue with his pattern and stubbornly insist that it will be vindicated by future attempts? Or does he admit his mistake and postulate a completely different alternative pattern? Likewise, does the scientist produce an alternative theory, or stick to his original theory come what may?

An interesting example of the Mastermind Effect can be seen from an experiment conducted in 1974 from the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. A picture was conceived containing simple representations of items such as a human stick figure, the huge Arecibo radio telescope, DNA, and other entities.

arecibo
This image was intended to indicate the presence of “dynamic” principles

(Note that the above image has been thoughtfully color-coded for ease of recognition. The original image was intended to be constructed in just black and white.) The drawing consisted of 1,679 “bits” composed of 73 rows and 23 columns. Each of these “bits” was either white or black (on or off). The signal was transmitted using a shift in the frequency to represent each of the two types of bit. The inference was that, should any intelligent alien life receive this signal, they should be able to reconstruct the bits into the correct number of rows and columns. The recipients of the message were given a clue: the use of prime numbers (73 and 23 both being primes) — mathematics is considered to be a universal “language,” crossing most other communication boundaries. After reconstructing these bits into the appropriate pattern, the further inference was that such intelligent beings would readily recognize that the signal was sent using the “dynamic” principles explained in this volume, by virtue of the deliberate construction of the patterns within the picture. Now, here is an interesting paradox: the shape that makes up the human, the stick figure, consists of only 30 or so dots. That would be enough, it seems, to raise the eyebrows of any alien (should he, she, or it have eyebrows) and point them in the general direction of “Hey, maybe some intelligent entity did this?” These 30 “bits” — dots if they are printed, or blips if they are sent via a radio signal — are symmetrical, and convey the idea of uniformity, a figure having limbs of usefulness, and a head on top giving the appearance of something that controls the entity as a whole. The figure bespeaks intelligence, as well as the designer and originator (of the 1,679 blips deliberately targeted toward their planet) being manifestly intelligent. Is there a paradox here? Do these well-arranged, carefully organized blips, convey the idea of intelligence to any would-be alien possessing at least a similar level of intelligence?

A great deal of effort and money was poured into this 1974 project. Surely any positive result, however small it might have been, would have vindicated the project and no doubt sent many a serious head bent toward the laboratory bench once more.

man

But where is the paradox? It is in the argument of some scientists who choose to claim that there is “no evidence” for the prescient design of the universe. Compare the simplistic uniformity of these 30 “bits” that constitute the human figure in the Arecibo picture with the immense complexity of the human brain, or the order, congruity, supreme economy, and elegance of the DNA code, or even the placement of all the external features of the human head: two eyes for perfect, 3D, bifocal vision; two ears thoughtfully placed at the side of the head and shaped for optimum sound capture; a nose that happens to point downwards (thankfully) and conveniently has two nostrils; a mouth, lips, teeth, cheeks, tongue, throat, that all work in elegant unison, in graceful symphony, and for multiple purposes… and so on, contributing seemingly ad infinitum to the Consequential Entities. A classic example of Prescient Evolution!

Furthermore, do we not see any originality here? If someone was shown a picture, or a model, of a working, functioning android (a robot resembling a human) possessing an array of impressive gadgetry, would they not find the question “Who made it?” to be compelling? If the first men or women ever to set foot on a remote Pacific island encountered a rock on which was etched “John Fitzwilliams, 19 November 1878,” would they conclude that freak winds or tropical storms had worn a random path in the rock? Would they not, rather, come to a natural, plausible conclusion that an entity possessing a measure of intelligence did that?

Does the requirement for “scientific evidence” have to involve something that can be measured in a laboratory using tests that are developed, tried, and tested using the value of experience? Something can be regarded as scientific evidence when a theory or hypothesis is tested objectively by someone other than the one who developed and followed through on the hypothesis, such as in an experiment or in a controlled environment. Would the above etched rock be regarded as “scientific evidence?” Maybe a forensic scientist would answer “no” without being able to use his or her usual scientific instruments and methodology on the rock and perhaps to confirm that the rock has not been transported from another location. Let’s assume that this rock projects up from deep underground and is confirmed to be very much a permanent part of this island. Now what if we were to leave out the word “scientific” and simply ask, “Does the existence of the etching in this rock give evidence that we are not the first to set foot on this island?” For practical purposes, our intrepid visitors would unhesitatingly answer “yes.”

Similarly, let us suppose a traveler has been given a map, along with some notes indicating the path he must take on his impending journey. Some landmarks along the route are described in the order they are expected to be encountered: a large warehouse with a chimney at the back and a huge car park at the front, a man-made lake in the middle of a park, a building with a foundation stone bearing wording written at the time of the building’s construction, and so on. As our traveler encounters each of these landmarks and compares them with the bequeathed instructions and the route marked out on his map, would you say that he was happy he was going in the right direction and that he had full confidence that he will indeed eventually arrive at his intended destination?

The traveler, it seems to me, is very unlike the “dogmatic” scientists referred to earlier who expend so much mental energy searching for the answers to the timeless questions of how the universe, and mankind in particular, came into existence without the aid of any prescience. Like the Mastermind code-breaker, there are logical indications that point in another direction; indications, evidence, that his current line of reasoning is not going to result in the satisfying answers he or she seeks. But there are scientists who have studied mathematics and physics, and other academic disciplines, for many decades, and they are highly motivated to find the “unifying theory of everything” to the exclusion of the remotest possibility that other forces were at play that current scientific theory is unable to explain.

Einstein once said:

“Time and again the passion for understanding has led to the illusion that man is able to comprehend the objective world rationally by pure thought without any empirical foundations — in short, by metaphysics.”

This reasoning is perhaps anathema to some scientists, who would balk at the criticism and continue with their research regardless. The sheer excitement of this intellectual exercise may be far too compelling! But is it practical? Like the traveler with his map, would it make sense for him to draw a line from his present position to where he thinks his destination ought to be, and then spend his lifetime pursuing that course? No doubt we are reminded of the discussion of the proverbial “blinkers” from the Introduction (the Home page). It would certainly not be wise, especially in view of the following conclusion to this section:

To return to the Mastermind illustration, then: the attempted code of our intrepid code-breaker was wrong. Not only was the entire code “wrong,” but the pattern that he had in mind when placing his colored counters down was a long way from the pattern the code-maker had set out. You may remember he received 7 black pegs, telling him that seven of his counters were not only of the correct color, but were also in the correct location. Of course, you see, he saw a sequence of colors, a pattern, and assumed the 7 correct counters corresponded with, and vindicated, his initial thesis. But they didn’t. The black peg awards were for other counters, randomly placed within the code! … This is the “Mastermind Effect.”

This example aptly fits the theories associated with the “unifying theory of everything.” If a theory is put forward that, after careful analysis and thorough testing, proves to be a fact and becomes generally and irrefutably accepted into the science curriculum, it usually remains unchallenged thereafter. The Mastermind Effect, in this case, would result in a full complement of 23 black pegs — 23 perfect counters of the correct color and in the correct place. No-one could come forward with an alternative theory that proved to have a better fit! Any inferior theory that was put alongside it now would be missing one or more reward pegs. Are there any theories connected with an uncontrolled beginning and development of the universe and life that fit this description?

Why is it that scientists put forward theories in the first place? Is it not because they don’t know the answers? They are searching for the truth and wrestling with perhaps a meager supply of facts, maybe only one or two of our proverbial Mastermind counters (as in the example of so-called junk DNA). The fewer the counters, the greater the risk of failure.

At this point, let us tie in the thought developed in the Introduction (the Home page) to this blog. You may recall the statement:

“The Curiosity Paradox endeavors to prove that scientists who assert that the universe cannot be the product of Prescient Evolution, are not following the genuine scientific path to the truth.”

Taking this line of reasoning a little further, let us ask another question: Is it possible that intelligent life (that is, a highly-ordered intelligent life that could re-assemble and comprehend the Arecibo picture), exists elsewhere in the universe? Would any scientist answer a firm ‘no’? I’m sure that, if he or she did answer ‘no,’ there would be an avalanche of objections from open-minded scientists who resist the temptation to discount a theory without a firm basis. There are very serious attempts made by prominent scientists to make contact with any would-be alien intelligent life. To quote Jodie Foster’s character in the film Contact (based on the late Professor Carl Sagan’s book), when she was speaking about the vast expanse of space: “If it’s just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.”

So there could be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe! In fact, proponents of Darwin’s theory of evolution are only too ready to open up a discussion on the possibility of life “evolving” on some distant earth-like or Goldilocks planet. If ever we do encounter or discover such life, will it be inferior or superior to human life? Would anyone risk such a degree of arrogance as to deny any possibility of life being superior to humans? Could such life have intelligence that just might, by the principles of natural selection in its remote world, be vastly superior to humans? Maybe this life began its development many eons of time before life on earth ever got started. What form would this life take? Would they be so powerful and so superior to humans that they had actually found all the answers that evolutionists seek? It would certainly not be inconceivable, then, that they conducted experiments, just as scientists do today, and that they achieved even greater, more effective results. They therefore would have a superior understanding of the components of life, the building blocks of proteins, of DNA, and of all the forms of life on their planet! How envious some scientists might be to find that they had not only reproduced the very “beginnings” of life, but were able to produce life, to animate the inanimate!

Is the above scenario possible? Coming back to our discussion above of the “open-minded” scientist who would certainly not want to “discount a theory without a firm basis,” is there any scientific objection to this theory of our intrepid alien producing life? Scientists who avidly promote evolution could not, and no doubt would not, want to object to this scenario. Their own aspirations are to fully comprehend the origins and development of life on earth and to benefit from the wealth of scientific knowledge ascertained along the way. It is therefore entirely plausible to speculate on the existence of this highly intelligent alien. Professor Brian Cox, of Manchester, UK, University said on this:

“There must be planets out there with civilisations far in advance of our own.”

To object to this possibility would require an extremely effective argument that would undermine the theory of evolution, and would fly in the face of the principle that science is the unbiased search for truth. And so we come to yet another paradox. It is perhaps one of the major paradoxes dealt with in this work, and will serve to partly explain the title. If there is the distinct possibility of the existence of highly intelligent, alien life, then there is the “distinct possibility” based on this unassailable scientific reasoning (even from the point of view of the most ardent proponent of Darwinian evolution) that there is another entity even higher that proves to be the designer of the universe, and of human life. Does that suddenly invoke objections on the part of some readers? … Why? Are not advocates of the blind, undirected, process of evolution the first to see support for the theory when some possibility of “remote life” is reported somewhere in outer space? What would the admission of the possibility of prescience in the origin and development of the universe lead to? The objection laid out by the “anti-Prescient Evolution” proponents is “But such an idea is not testable.” Of course, the real objection to this line of reasoning is that it leads to religious discussions, and religion is a very different field from science. Understandably, the prevailing view of religion amongst so many scientists and scientific thinkers, is that it is based on “primitive” ideas, that many religious adherents stubbornly maintain their beliefs even if they fly in the face of the “scientific facts” discussed above; and worst of all, so often it is abundantly clear that religious beliefs foster hatred and war. No wonder those who possess logical, rational, reasonable minds, and who sincerely believe that science is the one search for truth, have managed to convince themselves (and to be convinced by the intelligentsia of the scientific world) that Darwinian evolution must be the “truth” … that there is no possibility of the Prescient Evolution of the universe or of life on earth…

The remainder of this work builds on the argumentation against this line of reasoning.

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