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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

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Serious Notions with a Smile


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Mark Perakh's Web Site


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Title Author Date
Complexified Specificity Eriksen, Poul Willy May 14, 2006

While Perakh's article "A Free Lumch in a Mousetrap" is in general an excellent article, it has an important - but understandable - flaw, more precisely a misunderstand of Dembski's argument.

It's in section 6, "Is complexity equivalent to low probability?". Perakh concludes with using flat, triangular snow crystals as an example
that the answer is no. But here Perakh unfortunately forgets that in Dembski-land words don't necessarily have their usual meaning. The word "complexity" in "specified complexity" means "statistical complexity", which in turn means "low probability". So, it isn't that "complexity necessarily *translates* into low probability", it is that "complexity *is* low probability".

Actually, a specification is the better, the simpler it is. Think about poker. A "Royal Flush" is a simple description compared to, say, "ten of Diamonds, two and five of Hearts, King of Spades, and seven of Clubs". However, there are four different Royal Flushes, but only one of the latter hand, so a Royal Flush actually has the higher probability of these two.
It's just that in poker "ten to Ace of the same suite", aka a "Royal Flush", has a special significance, whereas "ten of Diamonds, two and five of Hearts, King of Spades, and seven of Clubs" doesn't. A specification is a simple pattern, the simpler the name, and even names count! If someone was to cheat in poker, would you expert that one to "design" a Royal Flush
or "ten of Diamonds, two and five of Hearts, King of Spades, and seven of Clubs"?

So, according to Dembski, a design inference is warranted, not when we have something that has a low probability (the "complexity" part) and at
the same time a simple, recognizable pattern (the "specified") part.

In Dembski-land "snow crystal" is simple than "flat, triangular snow crystal", because the first uses only two words, while the second uses four words. Remember, somebody makes the design inference, so it's up to the semiotic capabilities of that somebody, what's designed or not!

Best regards and keep up the good work :-)

Poul Willy Eriksen
Related Articles: A Free Lunch in a Mousetrap

Title Author Date
Complexified Specificity Perakh, Mark May 14, 2006
I like the title of Mr. Eriksen's comment – Complexifying Specificity. It has a nice sound – sufficiently obscure to suggest a hidden "scientific" meaning and at the same time having a slight tenor of derision aimed at Dembski's favorite term, Specified Complexity (SC) a.k.a. Complex Specified Information (CSI). Since Dembski's hopelessly muddled presentation of his CSI concept has decisively been shown meaningless by several critics (including articles on this site, such as the fine article by Elsberry and Shallit), perhaps Dembski could try scrambling out of the scrape he is so deep in now by switching to the term Complexifying Specificity instead of CSI. This may enable him to claim that this is his own novel concept, unlike Specified Complexity, which, aside from Dembski's inconsistent screeds, has a legitimate use.

Mr. Eriksen's overall opinion of my essay "A Free Lunch in a Mousetrap" seems to be positive, and I appreciate it. He thinks, however, that it contains a point showing my insufficient understanding of Dembski's concept of SC (which naturally implies Mr. Eriksen's better understanding of the question in point). I'd rather not discuss who understand this or that point better, as this is a matter of opinion, and everybody is entitled to believe in his own superior understanding of whatever subject is discussed.

Asserting that I misunderstand this or that point in Dembski's "theory" used to be an accusation by Dembski's acolytes (see, for example my post). Until now, however, it appeared only in posts by ID supporters. Mr. Eriksen's comment seems to be the first one where such a complaint came from somebody who generally shares my position.

Mr. Eriksen's thinks that, while I asserted that in Dembski’s view 'complexity "translates" into low probability,' in fact Dembski's position is better expressed as 'complexity "is" low probability'. Frankly, I see no substantial difference between the above two statements and therefore see no grounds for Mr. Eriksen's speaking about any "misunderstanding" on my part. Both statements can equally be applied to the description of Dembski's position, differing in unessential nuances, and therefore I see no reason to argue against Mr. Erikson's comment. The main point is that Dembski's position is contrary to both facts and logic, and in this Mr. Eriksen seems to agree with me.

Regarding Mr. Eriksen's point – that in Dembski-land words often mean not what they mean in the real world - I couldn't agree more with that, and I believe I have pointed to Dembski's inconsistent and often idiosyncratic usage of terms more than once.

Best wishes,

Mark Perakh
Related Articles: A Free Lunch in a Mousetrap