Unintelligent Design

Synopsis: Theory of Evolution and the argument from Intelligent Design are both wrong! Enter from left field: Theory of Unintelligent Design.

Discoveries in Science have dealt blow after blow to western religion:

– the Copernican revolution dethroned Earth from the center of the Universe
– Newtonian Physics and Astronomy reduced the heavenly bodies to collections of ice, rock, gas and plasma moving according to natural law rather than being pushed by Angels
– Quantum physics and modern cosmology replaced the Word with a Big Bang as the origin of the Universe
– Geology established the age of Earth to be about 4,000,000,000 years, overturning the Biblical calculation of 6,013 years
– Darwin’s theory of evolution demoted Adam and Eve from Cro Magnon to Homo Erectus
– Biochemistry allowed Man join the brotherhood of all life on Earth (rather than being made in God’s image — a single biochemical plan is the basis of all life — from microbe to man)

Since it has gone out of fashion to burn heretics at the stake, proponents of religion have to use gentler means of persuasion — i.e. to try giving a rational argument for the existence of a Higher Being. The argument for Intelligent Design says, basically, that life in general and humans in particular are too complicated, too well-designed, to have arisen by blind chance. In other words, evolution is a nice theory but it cannot be powerful enough to explain living beings today.

Now as far as Science goes, Darwinian evolution, after a long period of controversy, has become fairly established, and you can read Richard Dawkins for several very readable and entertaining accounts (Climbing Mount Improbable, The Blind Watchmaker are my personal favorites). As far as religion goes, trying to employ reason for promoting a non-rational practice sounds, well, irrational to me. I better appreciate the frank sidelining of reason by Zen, as in the Koan, “Does a dog have Buddha nature?” than Anselm’s ontological argument.

However, all this news about Creationism being sneaked into Science teaching in USA disguised as intelligent design from a few years ago (and these attempts have continued even after the Pennsylvania court case) got me thinking about various related issues, such as the evolution of intelligent design and the decrease of rationality in the past few decades.

This has lead me to ‘evolve’ a third theory that will be called Theory of Unintelligent Design (this theory has emerged from a process of “Lingustical Immaterialism“, which is a successor to Dialectical Materialsm — but Linguistical Immaterialism deserves a separate post).

So what is the Theory of Unintelligent Design? Very simple: Darwin got it backwards for the human race; the human race is clearly devolving rather than evolving — it is not survival of the fittest, it is survival of the fattest, survival of the fatuousest. And, surely, this cannot be a natural phenomenon, because the natural tendency for a species would be to undergo Darwinian evolution. So this must be the doing of Someone Up There, who for some yet-discovered reason, has it in for Us Down Here (see also: God Wants You dead).

Just look about you, and you will notice the ongoing metamorphosis from Homo Sapiens to Homo Insipidus. Here are some random observations that point to the coming downfall of Sapiens:

1. Some samples of the “particulars” column from bank account statements from different banks:

^IO^ For ^051445100005621^ Bank of India
(999/00034) Bank of Maharashtra
CEMTEX DECS Cr Bank of Maharashtra
MICR II CLG-SB Cosmos Cooperative Bank

The particulars column should shed light on what the transaction was about, where the money came from or where it went. The details above are either some bizarre machine code, or beside the point.

2. Times of India publishes a daily XXX Times feature, where XXX is the name of a city. This contains several comic strips and cartoons. Which is fine, except that the same small set of comics are endlessly recycled. And this is not a temporary aberration; it has been going on for several years. Either the editors are non-Sapiens, or they believe that the readership is not Sapiens.

3. Maharashtra State Electricity Board is perennially short of Electricity, so they have come up with a neat disincentive scheme. Although it is hard to decipher what the exact billing scheme is, it appears that if an ordinary house owner exceeds a threshold, say 100 units per month, the whole consumption of the month will be charged at a penal rate, right from the first unit. Now this appears unjust, but Electric power being a monopoly of the government, the consumer has no alternative. But the really neat scam piled on top of this is as follows: the meter reader comes and takes a reading of the electric meter, but there is no indication of what day he took the reading. So even if a house owner faithfully restricts his consumption to 100 units, the erratic meter reader can run up a bill of 101 units in the first month and 99 units in the next one. If the normal rate is 1 Rs/unit and the penal rate is 2 Rs/unit, the vendor just extracted 50% more money from the hapless user, just by varying the date of the meter reading (the arithmetic is left as an exercise for the reader).

And oh, I forgot to mention: there is a special surcharge for the privilege of no load shedding (planned blackouts)  in Pune. That worked well for a few months, but now Pune is back to daily 2 hour power cuts. But what about the surcharge? That still continues to be applied.

4. The Income Tax department (India) mandates that institutions such as banks cut tax at source (called TDS) on interest payment. For all these years, a bank issued a TDS certificate that could be used to get credit against the income tax to be paid. After all, it is the individual’s interest earnings that the banks had withheld and paid to as TDS. According to a new law, however, such credit will not be allowed unless the banks also upload the TDS details electronically to the income tax department. Now banks do not seem to be doing this diligently, since it’s just extra expense for them — and they do not even respond to my emails on this issue. This situation sounds like an Aesop’s fable:

A dog threatens the frogs in the garden that they should prevent the master’s horse from dirtying on the driveway, otherwise they will be made to pay for it.

You can guess how the fable unfolds.

5. Distance Education programs in India are mostly for the degree of Bachelor of Education. This implies that one can learn to teach without a proximate teacher, but one cannot learn any other subject without a proximate teacher. Proof for the truth of  “Those who can’t, teach”.

6. A national political party in India releases an election manifesto that promises to curb English language and use of computers if voted to power. Note that this is in the year 2009.

7. Only 4 out of 10 Americans believe in theory of Evolution.

8. A telephone company used to send me bills by email as pdf attachments. These days the attachment comes encrypted, with instructions on how to generate the password to decrypt it: the password is four letters of your name, followed by last 6 digits of your customer account number. The first time I got this, I thought, “My name is mentioned in email, so first four letters of the password are not too secure. But  clever of them not to use 6 digits of my phone number, which many people know”. But then the instructions continued, “your customer account number can be found in the Subject of this email” … Homo Moronicus strikes again!

9. Many people believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution came to him by divine inspiration.

10. The Flat Earth Society has not gone extinct.

The random observations given above all point to the same conclusion:  humans are devolving into lower primates (Except #9 — I put that in to see if you were awake).

Is the Theory of Unintelligent Design a scientific theory, of just, well, unintelligent design? Scientific theories must be falsifiable, so let’s see what testable predictions this theory makes. Here is a short list:

1. The number of nominations per year for Darwin Awards should show an increasing trend.

2. Notwithstanding the introduction of onboard GPS, automated landing software, computerized flight control systems, etc., passenger airplanes will continue to crash.

3. Despite the signing of the nuclear treaty, India’s growth story will flounder due to rising power shortages.

4. BOFH‘s will become extinct. That ecological niche will be tenanted by MCSA’s and their ilk.

5. We shall soon see the rise of the Firm Earth Society whose members believe that the continents do not move (i.e. theory of plate tectonics is on shaky ground)

6. If the human race is devolving, so are programmers. Hence we have the Turing Test from Unintelligent Design: Over time, human observers examining the behavior of software products will find it harder to conclude that the software was written by humans (and not lower primates). Notice the change in tone from “Soul of a New Machine” of 1981 to “software Sucks” of 2006.