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Must CSI Include the Probabilities of All Natural Processes — Known and Unknown?

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Over on another thread, there has been some discussion (among other things) about whether the concept of CSI must include a calculation of probabilities under all natural processes.  There are a number of interesting issues relating to CSI that might be worth exploring in more detail (including Learned Hand’s comments @47 of that thread, and the issues I mentioned @139).

For now, however, I want to simply flag an issue that has been harped on for years by various individuals (Liddle, ribczynski, and in the recent thread, keith s and wd400).  In summary, the argument is that without knowing all the probabilities of all possible natural processes we cannot ever be certain that some natural process didn’t produce the biological system in question, say, the bacterial flagellum.  And since we cannot be certain that some natural process didn’t do it, then we cannot ever be certain that it was designed.

The primary problem with such an argument is that it pretends to deal in certainties — exhausting all possible natural processes, known and unknown, that might have produced such a system.  In practice, it is essentially a claim that unless we are omniscient, we can never conclude design.  Apart from the wildly one-sided approach to such a position, it ignores the fact that intelligent design is about drawing reasonable inferences.  No-one has ever claimed to be able to do an exhaustive analysis of all possible natural causes, including those that haven’t been well defined or even thought up yet.  Nor does any branch of science proceed on such a basis.  Rather, we draw upon what we do know, the processes that we are aware of, and then make reasonable inferences.  That is why it is called a “design inference,” not a “design deduction” or an “exhaust-all-other-possibilities-before-we-can-say-anything” approach.  The inference to design operates, as does all reasonable scientific effort, on the basis of known processes.

Part of the discussion on the prior thread has focused on whether a natural process, like Darwinian evolution, has any reasonable probability of producing a complex, functional biological structure such as the bacterial flagellum within the resources of the known universe.  For those who don’t have the time or the stomach to wade through all the comments in the prior thread, I offer the following more succinct summary of this particular issue, in the form of a hypothetical (but, unfortunately, very true to life) conversation between an ID Proponent and a Darwinist:

ID Proponent:  Everyone from Darwin to Dawkins acknowledges that many biological systems appear designed.  Nevertheless, rather than just assuming design, in order to be scrupulously careful in our analysis we are also going to examine known natural processes to see if they have a realistic chance of forming such biological systems given the resources of the known universe.  [ID Proponent adds additional details about specification, etc., and then says:]  We’ll call this concept CSI.  Now when we look at such biological systems, say, the bacterial flagellum, and do some basic calculations on even the most fundamental informational structures required to construct the system, it appears the system contains CSI.

Darwinist:  Wait, wait!  Your calculation of CSI must include all known natural processes.  You forgot to include in your calculation my theory, which is that random mutations can be selected and preserved over time to form more complex and more functional structures.  We don’t need to form things all at once.  The bacterial flagellum came about through slight, successive changes.

ID Proponent:  Sure.  I’m happy to include known natural processes.  Have we ever seen something like a bacterial flagellum arise through Darwinian evolution?

Darwinist: No.  But that is only because it takes too long.  Indeed, my theory includes the idea that it takes so long that we shouldn’t expect to see such systems arising.  Or, alternatively, under a version called “punctuated equilibrium” that it happens quickly and in rare, largely unobserved situations.  In either case, we should not expect to see it happen.

ID Proponent:  Um, that seems pretty convenient, doesn’t it?  But OK.  Let’s include the probabilities of such a system coming about through Darwinian evolution.  What are the odds of the bacterial flagellum arising through your theory of Darwinian evolution?

Darwinist:  No-one knows.  We can’t do the calculation.

ID Proponent:  Well if there is no well-recognized way of calculating the probabilities of Darwinian evolution producing the bacterial flagellum, then I suppose I can’t calculate it either.  However, that . . .

Darwinist:  Aha!  I knew it.  You can’t do the calculation!  Therefore, your CSI concept is bunk and I win.

ID proponent:  Hold on just a minute, let me finish.  Let’s think through this.  You are telling me that I need to take into account the probabilities of your theory producing the bacterial flagellum, and then you say that under your theory you don’t know what the probabilities are?  So what do you want me to include?  After all, it is your theory, not mine.  I am only interested in known natural processes, so if we don’t know whether your theory has any reasonable probability of producing the system in question then there is nothing to include.  At most, I guess we could add a caveat to our calculations that our number doesn’t include the probabilities of Darwinian evolution because no-one knows what those probabilities are.  Would that make you happy?

Darwinist:  No, you must include a calculation of probabilities under Darwinian evolution in order for your concept of CSI to be valid.  Otherwise, CSI is bunk.  You said you were going to include all natural processes in your calculation.

ID Proponent:  As I said, I am willing to include in CSI the probabilities of all known natural processes.  But I am not going to make up probabilities for some unknown, unconfirmed, process.  Again, if you have some details to offer about your theory that would allow us to include it in the calculation, I’m happy to do so.

Darwinist:  Nope.  Can’t be done.  I’m not going to tell you what the probabilities are under my theory.  But if you want to critique my theory and show that my theory isn’t plausible, you’ll have to come up with the probabilities of my theory on your own.

ID Proponent:  Hang on.  If I want to critique your theory I have to add some details to your theory that it currently doesn’t have?  Shouldn’t you be interested in knowing whether your theory has any reasonable probability of producing something like the bacterial flagellum?  Shouldn’t Darwinist theorists be anxiously and studiously analyzing what reasonable probabilities Darwinian evolution can overcome, what it can be expected to produce given the resources of the known universe, the “edge of evolution” so to speak?

Darwinist:  We don’t need to provide any such calculations because we believe Darwinian evolution did it.  And if you can’t provide the calculations for our theory then you can’t critique our theory.  Therefore your idea of CSI is bunk and we win!

 

101 Replies to “Must CSI Include the Probabilities of All Natural Processes — Known and Unknown?

  1. 1
    keith s says:

    For context, this all began when Eric made a claim he couldn’t substantiate.

    I wrote:

    Eric, to wd400:

    The question was, what are the odds of a biological system (DNA sequence, protein, etc.) coming about by chance.

    No, it wasn’t. ‘Chance’ is not the same as ‘natural processes’. Here is the question:

    Eric Anderson:

    I hope you aren’t saying that we have to be able to calculate, with precision, the precise probability of a system arising through purely natural processes before we can determine whether CSI exists.

    [Emphasis added]

    keiths:

    You don’t need a precise value, but you do need to show that it is less than Dembski’s UPB.

    Eric:

    Which is trivial to do with many biological systems and has been done many times.

    I asked you to link to an example. You couldn’t.

    Now you are calculating something entirely different and trying to pass it off as an answer to the question.

    Can you supply an answer to the original question, or not?

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Good summary EA.

    Of course, when you ask many Darwinists about the probability of their theory being correct you draw a blank stare. Of course it is correct. It isn’t even proper to call it a theory. It is a fact, fact, fact (here faces turn red, spittle begins to fly and feet begin to stamp). It is nonsense to ask the probability of an event after it has occurred. Why, the probability of Darwinian evolution having occurred is exactly 1.

  3. 3
    keith s says:

    Eric:

    The primary problem with such an argument is that it pretends to deal in certainties — exhausting all possible natural processes, known and unknown, that might have produced such a system. In practice, it is essentially a claim that unless we are omniscient, we can never conclude design.

    You can blame Dembski for that, as I explained to vjtorley recently:

    vjtorley:

    You also write that you have to consider all possible evolutionary pathways. Now, I’m willing to grant that this might be impractical for a flagellum, or even for a simple cell, but for a 100-amino-acid protein? Come on. Pull the other leg. There’s absolutely no good reason why biochemists couldn’t calculate the odds of a single molecule emerging.

    I replied to that same point on the other thread:

    You’re forgetting that P(T|H) includes “Darwinian and other material mechanisms”. It’s not enough to calculate the odds of a long protein assembling spontaneously.

    That was the mistake that Dembski made with the flagellum in No Free Lunch — treating it as a “discrete combinatorial object” instead of considering all possible evolutionary pathways to it.

    vjtorley:

    I also object to your phrase, “all possible evolutionary pathways.” A more rational criterion would be: “all known evolutionary pathways, after making diligent inquiry.” In real life, we make decisions based on what we know. Of course they’re fallible, but that’s life.

    That would be fine, except for this: Dembski claims that his method produces no false positives.

    He writes:

    Only things that are designed had better end up in the net. If this is the case, we can have confidence that whatever the complexity-specification criterion attributes to design is indeed designed. On the other hand, if things end up in the net that are not designed, the criterion will be worthless.

    I want then to argue that specified complexity is a reliable criterion for detecting design. Alternatively, I want to argue that the complexity-specification criterion successfully avoids false positives.

    Intelligent Design, pp. 141-142 [Emphasis added]

    Dembski has written a check he can’t cash. If he can’t guarantee that he has accounted for all possible evolutionary pathways, then he can’t guarantee that his method avoids false positives.

    By Dembski’s own criterion, his method is “worthless”.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: We must avoid conflating that which is imaginable or posed as a grand search for golden search hope, with what is plausibly observable. In systems often thought to have been around on our planet for c 4 BY, things of sufficient plausibility to show up, are reasonable. That plausibility needs to be backed by observed results or we have empty metaphysical speculation and selective hyperskepticism dressed up in lab coats. Where, I have pointed out that variational patterns in proteins etc reflect what has actually happened, in a further context where fold clusters indicate a deeply isolated islands of function pattern while we need hundreds to start cell based life and we need many more to cover body plan needs. All of this simply underscores that FSCO/I is not observed as a product of blind chance and mechanical necessity, and is a routine product of design. KF

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    keith cannot grasp the fact that he cannot demonstrate that unguided evolution can produce CSI. That is all he has to do to refute Dembski yet he has failed to even try to do so.

    Dembski’s check is well covered.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    KS, message domination by repetition of talking points does not answer to the challenge of warrant you must provide for FSCO/I originating by anything but the trillion case context of reliably coming from design. Until you answer to that by empirical observation, you are simply dressing up ideological speculation and selective hyperskepticism in the lab coat. KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe, correct. KF

  8. 8
    keith s says:

    KF,

    What’s with your recent fixation on “message domination”?

    Also, doesn’t the phrase “repetition of talking points” trigger the slightest bit of self-awareness in you?

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    keiths

    If he can’t guarantee that he has accounted for all possible evolutionary pathways, then he can’t guarantee that his method avoids false positives.

    If Dembski isn’t omniscient he can’t make an inference to the best explanation? Talk about stacking the rules of the game.

    This reminds me of an old joke. The plane is going down and the pilot comes back to the cabin where there are two passengers, his best friend and his mother-in-law.

    Pilot: “We only have one parachute for the passengers and there are two of you. We are going to have to use an equitable method to choose which of you gets it. Fortunately, I have just such a method. I will ask you trivia questions about the sinking of Titanic and the first person who gets a wrong answer goes down with the plane.”

    Pilot to his best friend: “What year did the Titanic go down?”

    Best friend: “1912”

    Pilot: Correct.

    Pilot to his mother-in-law: “What were the names and birthdates of all of Titanic’s passengers?”

  10. 10
    Moose Dr says:

    This CSI topic sounds like a horse being beaten into the ground over and over again. I present Dembski’s definition as sited in a recent blog post here:

    What is specified complexity? An object, event, or structure exhibits specified complexity if it is both complex (i.e., one of many live possibilities) and specified (i.e., displays an independently given pattern). A long sequence of randomly strewn Scrabble pieces is complex without being specified. A short sequence spelling the word “the” is specified without being complex. A sequence corresponding to a Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified.

    This definition from Dembski makes no attempt to bring RM+NS or any other natural process into the definition of CSI. Dembski, in his NFL theorem shows why he believes that RM+NS are incapable of producing CSI as defined above. Dembski then concludes that no other natural processes can produce CSI either because all of them will suffer from the NFL problem.

    Lastly, once Dembski has established NFL, he contends that, in light of NFL, CSI becomes a reliable design detector. The definition of CSI, therefore, is not contingent upon how the CSI came to be. It is the characteristics of the NFL theorem that allows one to use CSI as a design detector.

    CSI + NFL = design.

  11. 11
    wd400 says:

    Arguments are so much easier when you write both sides…

    Dembski defined CSI as including the term P(T|H). That means you need to calculate this quantity if you are going to apply CSI.

    You can’t replace P(T|H) with some unrelated number, like the probability of getting a specific run of 300 amino acids picking are random with uniform probability (which you presented in other comment) and claim to be saying anything about biology.

    If you want CSI to mean something other than that then by all means proivde another definition. Then show that biology has it , and then show that proposed explanations for biological diversity are unlikely to create it.

  12. 12
    keith s says:

    Barry:

    If Dembski isn’t omniscient he can’t make an inference to the best explanation? Talk about stacking the rules of the game.

    Yes, and he did it to himself, as I showed above. He should never have claimed that his method could not produced false positives. That was a huge mistake.

  13. 13
    Joe says:

    wd400:

    Dembski defined CSI as including the term P(T|H).

    That is part of the EQUATION that determines if the specification is the result of a intelligent design or not.

    With respect to biology CSI is defined as Crick defined biological information.

  14. 14
    Daniel King says:

    He [Dembski] should never have claimed that his method could not produced false positives. That was a huge mistake.

    Did he have a choice? I suspect that he thought it necessary to argue for absolute certainty or be subject to all sorts of embarrassing statistical questions.

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    Is there any thread at UD that was not inspired by Keith S?

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    If someone ever shows it [Dembski’s methodology] produces false positives you will have something to talk about. Your whining and promissory notes just don’t cut it.

    Are keith and Daniel that ignorant that they don’t realize that science is a tentative enterprise and all scientific inferences of today are open to falsification from scientific discoveries of tomorrow? Really?

  17. 17
    Joe says:

    There must be an ONH of threads inspired by keith s…

  18. 18
    Mung says:

    wd400:

    If you want CSI to mean something other than that then by all means provide another definition. Then show that biology has it, and then show that proposed explanations for biological diversity are unlikely to create it.

    You make me laugh. Really. Well no, not really. I am not laughing. Am I the only one to see the irony here?

  19. 19
    wd400 says:

    Mung — what’s the point of CSI?

  20. 20
    wd400 says:

    That is part of the EQUATION that determines if the specification is the result of a intelligent design or not..

    Yes.. and that means you need to include this quantity if you are going to calculate CSI.

  21. 21
    Mung says:

    wd400:

    Mung — what’s the point of CSI?

    What’s the point of attempting to quantify anything at all?

    I’d like to hear your take on the criticisms of kf and gpuccio for not limiting themselves to CSI as defined by Dembski. Did you miss those? That’s where the irony enters.

    ID’er 1: consider this …

    Critic: But that’s not CSI as defined by Dembski.

    ID’er 2: consider this …

    Critic: But that’s not CSI as defined by Dembski.

    ID’er: But it’s in the spirit of Dembski.

    Critic: If you want CSI to mean something other than that [as defined by Dembski] then by all means provide another definition. Then show that biology has it, and then show that proposed explanations for biological diversity are unlikely to create it.

    Done and done. And the response is not to take the definition seriously, but to assert that it isn’t CSI as defined by Dembski. LOL!

    Heads I win tails you lose.

    It’s not about the point of CSI. It’s about the two-faced hypocrisy of the critics of CSI.

  22. 22
    wd400 says:

    I’d like to hear your take on the criticisms of kf and gpuccio for not limiting themselves to CSI as defined by Dembski

    I’ve absolutely no idea what KF talks about when he posts here, apart from a strange belief in teh power of log transforms.

    Last time I tried to engage with GP on these topics he claimed to be calculating Dembski’s CSI. Whatever his numbers mean, he doesn’t do anything to assess whether selection could generate them.

    I thought the point of CSI was to show evolutionary processes couldn’t create some features of biology. If that’s the case then CSI-users will need to do what I laid out.

  23. 23
    Me_Think says:

    Mung

    It’s not about the point of CSI. It’s about the two-faced hypocrisy of the critics of CSI.

    Have you considered the fact that CSI or its derivatives don’t work because they are not meant to measure design in real world ? Just like white noise landscape based NFL or dreamland Law of conservation of Information ?

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    wd400:

    Mung — what’s the point of CSI?

    You’ve been here a long time. Too long to be asking such stupid questions.

    Dembski explained the point of CSI, and the pint of CSI has been traced back at least as far as Orgel 1973.

    Orgel addressed complexity and specification and yes, even information. CSI. What’s the point of CSI? Read Orgel.

  25. 25
    keith s says:

    keiths:

    He [Dembski] should never have claimed that his method could not produce false positives. That was a huge mistake.

    Daniel King:

    Did he have a choice? I suspect that he thought it necessary to argue for absolute certainty or be subject to all sorts of embarrassing statistical questions.

    True, but at least there would have some wiggle room in trying to evade those embarrassing statistical questions.

    I think Dembski just didn’t realize the implications of his “no false positives” claim. It’s one of many examples of his shortsightedness and illogic.

  26. 26
    Mung says:

    Me_Think:

    Have you considered the fact that CSI or its derivatives don’t work because they are not meant to measure design in real world?

    There are no derivatives of CSI. Didn’t you read my post?

    You just don’t get to have it both ways.

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    keiths, what’s your opinion? Are there derivatives of CSI or not?

    How would you answer people who complain that derivatives of CSI are not CSI?

  28. 28
    keith s says:

    Eric:

    ID Proponent: As I said, I am willing to include in CSI the probabilities of all known natural processes. But I am not going to make up probabilities for some unknown, unconfirmed, process.

    It isn’t just unknown processes that you’re omitting. Evolution is a known process, yet you cannot quantify the probability under the hypothesis of evolution. Why? It’s simple: you can’t know and quantify all of the possible evolutionary pathways. I wrote:

    keiths on June 14, 2013 at 8:56 am said:

    Dembski is notorious for scoffing that

    ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories.

    His statement was mocked for obvious reasons, but it was also unintentionally prophetic. He’s right that ID’s job isn’t to match evolution’s “pathetic level of detail” — ID has to exceed that level of detail in order to establish the value of P(T|H). Without a value for P(T|H), or at least a defensible upper bound on its value, the presence of CSI can never be demonstrated — by Dembski’s own rules.

    Think of what that would involve in the case of biology. You’d not only have to identify all possible mutational sequences leading to the feature in question — you’d also have to know the applicable fitness landscapes at each stage, which would mean knowing things like the local climatic patterns and the precise evolutionary histories of the other organisms in the shared ecosystem.

    If he didn’t realize it then, Dembski must certainly see by now that it’s a quixotic and hopeless task. That may be why he’s moved on to “the search for a search”.

  29. 29
    Mung says:

    wd400:

    I’ve absolutely no idea what KF talks about when he posts here, apart from a strange belief in the power of log transforms.

    That’s a shame, really. You are one of the very few ID critics here at UD who might say something worth reading and responding to.

    If that’s all you have managed to take away from the posts by kf here at UD it speaks volumes.

    wd400:

    Last time I tried to engage with GP on these topics he claimed to be calculating Dembski’s CSI. Whatever his numbers mean, he doesn’t do anything to assess whether selection could generate them.

    Nevertheless, I have provided two examples of people who post regularly here at UD, and who regularly defend their arguments. Both their arguments incorporate the essential concepts.

    You don’t deny this.

    wd400:

    If you want CSI to mean something other than that then by all means provide another definition. Then show that biology has it, and then show that proposed explanations for biological diversity are unlikely to create it.

    Done and done. KF and Gpuccio are two examples.

  30. 30
    Me_Think says:

    Mung,
    I have followed Gpuccio’s recent thread. It deals with calculating dFSCI of English Language (specifically Sonnets). He ran into trouble when trying to calculated dFSCI for ATP synthase.

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    Me_Think:

    I have followed Gpuccio’s recent thread. It deals with calculating dFSCI of English Language (specifically Sonnets). He ran into trouble when trying to calculated dFSCI for ATP synthase.

    So?

    Did Gpuccio provide a definition? Was it different from CSI as defined by Dembski?

    If your answer is yes and yes, do you mean that the issue you have with Gpuccio is that his particular derivation of CSI failed to show that proposed explanations for biological diversity are unlikely to create it.

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    Eric, Walter ReMine provided calculations and submitted them to relevant journals, so they just refused to publish them.

    Nothing new here, they claimed.

  33. 33
    Mung says:

    Eric:

    Apart from the wildly one-sided approach to such a position, it ignores the fact that intelligent design is about drawing reasonable inferences.

    No reasonable inference could lead to an inference of design. Ever. Never. It follows that unguided evolution is the best explanation.

    This can be shown by asserting that there are trillions of ways that guided evolution could produce what we observe, but only one way that unguided evolution could produce what we observe.

    Therefore the “one chance in hell” hypothesis must be correct. Occam sez so.

  34. 34
    Mung says:

    If intelligent designers can produce trillions of objective nested hierarchies, and unguided evolution can produce only a single objective nested hierarchy, then it is reasonable to infer that intelligent design is a better explanation than unguided evolution for any give ONH.

  35. 35
    Eric Anderson says:

    keith @3:

    You still seem fixated on the idea that we have to account for every possible naturalistic scenario, known and unknown. And you argue that this was Dembski’s position. That is a misrepresentation. The quote you provide @3 from Dembski certainly does not state that. Nor does any reasonable or charitable interpretation of the quote.

    Dembski seeks to avoid false positives. That is a worthwhile goal.* And it has been a successful goal. No-one has ever shown that the design inference produces a false positive.

    What you are demanding is omniscience before we can draw any reasonable inference about the most likely cause of a biological system. That is just silly. Dembski never claimed that such omniscience was necessary, notwithstanding your strained interpretations to the contrary.

    —–

    * We might note here for the record that, in stark contrast, materialistic evolutionary theory has no such humble or rigorous intent. It claims a grand, sweeping, all-encompassing, take-no-prisoners approach that cannot admit to even a single aspect of biology being purposefully designed. On the evidence, it is clear that evolutionary theory has produced innumerable false positives due to its lack of rigor.

    —–
    By the way, I wasn’t able to track down the Dembski quote you kept referring to on the other thread in which he refused to calculate the probabilities of the bacterial flagellum arising through purely natural processes. Were you able to find the quote? Less germane, but I’m curious to see his statement.

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    It hardly matters.

    Intelligent designers can produce trillions of objective nested hierarchies and unguided evolution can produce only a single objective nested hierarchy.

    It is therefore reasonable to infer that intelligent design is a better explanation than unguided evolution for any give ONH.

  37. 37
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry:

    “Of course, when you ask many Darwinists about the probability of their theory being correct you draw a blank stare.”

    Which is pretty much what happens when you ask an IDist about the probability of their theory being correct.

  38. 38
    keith s says:

    Eric:

    Dembski seeks to avoid false positives.

    Much more than that. If he can’t guarantee that they won’t happen, he regards his criterion as “worthless”. He writes:

    Only things that are designed had better end up in the net. If this is the case, we can have confidence that whatever the complexity-specification criterion attributes to design is indeed designed. On the other hand, if things end up in the net that are not designed, the criterion will be worthless. [Emphasis added]

    Look at those bolded words, Eric, and read them out loud.

    If Dembski wants to avoid false positives, then P(T|H) must account for every hypothesis that might push it above the UPB.

    Dembski foolishly created an impossible task for himself, which is why neither he nor anyone else has successfully calculated P(T|H) for a naturally occurring biological system.

  39. 39
    Learned Hand says:

    Dembski talks about this problem in Specification: The Pattern that Signifies Intelligence. As I read him, he rejects the idea that he has to know all possible chance hypotheses, because “the mere possibility that we might have missed some chance hypothesis is hardly reason to think that such a hypothesis was operating.”

    But he acknowledges that he does have to “have a good grasp of what chance hypotheses would have been operating” in order to eliminate H. That sinks CSI as he wants to use it, as applied to life.

    Dembski needs to know the odds of a flagellum (or whatever else) evolving in order to eliminate the “chance” (actually more than just chance, so let’s say “evolutionary”) hypothesis. H in this case isn’t something he can sweep under the “mere possibility that we might have missed some chance hypothesis” rug. Evolution is a pretty well-understood phenomenon, and there is a lot of background to support it as a hypothesis.

    Dembski acknowledges this; as I recall (I can’t find the quote) he deals with it by pointing to irreducible complexity: if the thing couldn’t have evolved, then the evolutionary hypothesis is excluded, and CSI exists. (Which is a neat trick, but again rules out CSI as a design-detection tool; it’s circular if you’re assuming a priori that the subject is unevolvable.)

    I don’t think Dembski needs to know the odds of every junkyard-tornado hypothesis to run his CSI numbers. (Although they’ll only be as good as his guesses about H.) But as he tries to use the calculations, he and I agree that he needs to know the odds on evolution. And there, he does need to consider whether all the possible evolutionary pathways are known. We’re still way outside the “mere possibility that we might have missed some chance hypothesis” window, because even creationists admit that evolutionary pathways exist.

    If he can’t calculate the odds of every possible evolutionary pathway–and I don’t think anyone believes he can–then CSI isn’t jut circular, it’s an argument from ignorance: I don’t know specifically how this might have evolved, so I’m going to exclude all the possibilities. (As opposed to discarding all completely unknown and unknowable possibilities; evolutionary hypotheses are distinguished, again, because even (most) creationists admit they happen.)

    In other words, given the limited availability of information about specific evolutionary steps over the past umpteen million years, when it comes to things like flagella Dembski will never “have a good grasp of what chance hypotheses would have been operating” sufficient to calculate CSI. It’s a bit like trying to calculate all the forces acting on a satellite; if you don’t know its exact altitude, you can’t calculate gravity precisely. But if you ignore it, you’re going to have an inaccurate calculation.

    If Dembski had been willing to accept inaccurate calculations, ironically, he’d be on much firmer footing. But he wanted to be immune to false positives, and made some rather bold claims. In Mere Creation, for example, he asserted that “whenever the Explanatory Filter attributes design, it does so correctly.”

    Not if you don’t know the odds of the competing hypotheses on the table, and not if you ignore the possibility that you might not know of other avenues. Dembski’s pride wrote a check his math can’t cash.

  40. 40
    keith s says:

    Barry:

    Of course, when you ask many Darwinists about the probability of their theory being correct you draw a blank stare.

    Mark Frank:

    Which is pretty much what happens when you ask an IDist about the probability of their theory being correct.

    Particularly in Barry’s case, since he’s still trying to learn what ID is, exactly.

  41. 41
    Learned Hand says:

    Barry:

    “Of course, when you ask many Darwinists about the probability of their theory being correct you draw a blank stare.”

    Which is pretty much what happens when you ask an IDist about the probability of their theory being correct.

    Or whether Intelligent Design has actually been confirmed detecting design in the real world. Or whether there are any plans to start testing its tools.

  42. 42
    keith s says:

    Learned Hand:

    Dembski acknowledges this; as I recall (I can’t find the quote) he deals with it by pointing to irreducible complexity: if the thing couldn’t have evolved, then the evolutionary hypothesis is excluded, and CSI exists. (Which is a neat trick, but again rules out CSI as a design-detection tool; it’s circular if you’re assuming a priori that the subject is unevolvable.)

    This may be the quote you’re thinking of:

    Consider therefore an irreducibly complex system whose irreducible core contains numerous diverse parts that are minimally complex relative to the minimal level of function they need to maintain. Such a system clearly resists the divide-and-conquer approach typical of Darwinian gradualism. Richard Dawkins has memorably described this gradualistic approach to achieving biological complexity as “climbing Mount Improbable.” Climbing Mount Improbable requires taking a slow serpentine route up the backside of the mountain and avoiding precipices. For irreducibly complex systems that have numerous diverse parts and that exhibit the minimal level of complexity needed to retain a minimal level of function, such a gradual ascent up Mount Improbable is no longer possible. The mountain is, as it were, all one big precipice…

    An irreducibly complex system is a discrete combinatorial object.

    No Free Lunch, p. 290

  43. 43
    keith s says:

    Eric:

    By the way, I wasn’t able to track down the Dembski quote you kept referring to on the other thread in which he refused to calculate the probabilities of the bacterial flagellum arising through purely natural processes. Were you able to find the quote? Less germane, but I’m curious to see his statement.

    He didn’t refuse to do the calculation. He actually tried to do it in No Free Lunch, but he made the same error you’re making: treating the system in question as a “discrete combinatorial object” (see the quote above).

    Anyway, he later admitted that the attempt failed. Here’s the comment; note that it is the same infamous comment in which Dembski disavowed the explanatory filter:

    I wish I had time to respond adequately to this thread, but I’ve got a book to deliver to my publisher January 1 — so I don’t. Briefly:

    (1) I’ve pretty much dispensed with the EF. It suggests that chance, necessity, and design are mutually exclusive. They are not. Straight CSI is clearer as a criterion for design detection.

    (2) The challenge for determining whether a biological structure exhibits CSI is to find one that’s simple enough on which the probability calculation can be convincingly performed but complex enough so that it does indeed exhibit CSI. The example in NFL ch. 5 doesn’t fit the bill. The example from Doug Axe in ch. 7 of THE DESIGN OF LIFE (www.thedesignoflife.net) is much stronger.

    (3) As for the applicability of CSI to biology, see the chapter on “assertibility” in my book THE DESIGN REVOLUTION.

    (4) For my most up-to-date treatment of CSI, see “Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence” at http://www.designinference.com.

    (5) There’s a paper Bob Marks and I just got accepted which shows that evolutionary search can never escape the CSI problem (even if, say, the flagellum was built by a selection-variation mechanism, CSI still had to be fed in).

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    WD400:

    It seems we no speaka da Mathe-matics joins no speaka da Ingles.

    My “strange beliefs” in the power of log transforms are:

    SB 1: Oh, old Mr Smith must have seriously misled me when he taught me that logs are exponents of a base, base^power = number, so that laws of indices apply to logs.

    SB 2: As a direct consequence of SB 1,

    log (A*B*C) = log A + Log B + log C

    SB 3: even weirder, I believed the information theory tradition dating to Hartley et al, that (on a posteriori probability being 1] identified and used logs of inverted probabilities as information metrics:

    >> . . . Ip = – log p, in bits if the base is 2. That is where the now familiar unit, the bit, comes from. Where we may observe from say — as just one of many examples of a standard result — Principles of Comm Systems, 2nd edn, Taub and Schilling (McGraw Hill, 1986), p. 512, Sect. 13.2:

    Let us consider a communication system in which the allowable messages are m1, m2, . . ., with probabilities of occurrence p1, p2, . . . . Of course p1 + p2 + . . . = 1. Let the transmitter select message mk of probability pk; let us further assume that the receiver has correctly identified the message [[–> My nb: i.e. the a posteriori probability . . . is 1]. Then we shall say, by way of definition of the term information, that the system has communicated an amount of information Ik given by

    I_k = (def) log_2 1/p_k (13.2-1) >>

    SB 4: Thus, if we take the Dembski 2005 expression, and apply the above we see:

    Chi = – log2[10^120 ·phi_S(T)·P(T|H)]

    Becomes:

    Chi = I_p – [Threshold]

    And we may apply a reasonable extension to identify functional specificity of the information [through a dummy variable S], and a reasonable solar system (or cosmic scope) to set up a metric model that can be tested empirically in its own right:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold

    On trillions of cases, it is known to be highly reliable, for reasons linked to the needle in haystack search challenge for blind chance and mechanical necessity involving the 10^57 atoms of our solar system at 10^14 tries/s, and for 10^17 s.

    Where, I trust the extended Orgel cite HT Mung will now be acknowledged as giving support to my longstanding point that state-specification by a chain of Y/N q’s is a reasonable info metric. Which is actually closely tied to a way of measuring info used by Shannon in his paper of 1948 and which I first met in basic digital electronics when we were introduced to the notion that an on/off switch or hi/lo value for an RS/D/JK latch or flipflop, or N/S for a magnetic naterial etc. store one bit each.

    Though, I should expect on track record, no concessions message dominance tactics to continue.

    Please, think again.

    KF

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    KS, description is not obsession. When we see clear evidence of objector responsiveness to evidence, fact, logic etc we will have grounds to hope that we are not dealing with attempts to dominate thought without reference to truth, right etc. And when we see clear evidence of objectors policing their ranks regarding the abusive and falsely accusatory, that hope will move to a higher level. When we see some evidence that the accusatory and patently false narratives on the roots, structure and motivations in design thought are repudiated, we will have reason to believe that we have moved beyond a ruthless agit-prop attack and enabling by those who should know and do better. KF

  46. 46
    Joe says:

    wd400:

    I thought the point of CSI was to show evolutionary processes couldn’t create some features of biology.

    Don’t think. CSI is an argument against UNGUIDED evolution. And no one can demonstrate unguided evolution producing CSI. Go figure

  47. 47
    Joe says:

    If Dembski wants to avoid false positives, then P(T|H) must account for every hypothesis that might push it above the UPB.

    There aren’t any such hypotheses to account for. Obviously you have no idea what you are spewing.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe, if there were mechanisms that drastically reduced the odds of OOL or origin of major body plans by creating 100 – 1,000 kbits or 10 – 100+ mn bits of novel genetic info on resources available, they should be readily observable. When the elephant is not seen in the room, it is strong evidence one is not there. And again, scientific knowledge is cumulative and revisable on fresh evidence but is constrained by evidence already in hand. On that evidence, we have vera causa support for design as cause of FSCO/I which means it should be at the table for serious consideration. We ONLY have such evidence for design as source of FSCO/I, on trillions of cases observed. So in fact what is well supported, for ideological reasons inadvertently exposed by Lewontin et al, is suppressed in favour of what fits a dominant school of thought’s favoured narrative. Message domination, not cogent inductive logic, seems to be ruling the roost for establishment science, science education, a lot of the media, and in many sectors of the Internet. And now, here at UD we are facing a major push. KF

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I hope, post Mung’s devastating extension of the Orgel quote, those who were snidely and mockingly dismissive of the summary term FSCO/I are having second thoughts. I trust, on seeing how Orgel readily accepts that the y/n q chain is a first level info metric, they will revise their dismissal of someone who in another life actually taught telecommunications (to the point where last week my former student and now minister of Comms and works etc who has that portfolio here, reminded me that I taught t/comms to him) and taught digital electronics might actually have an inkling on such things. No concessions to IDiots message domination rhetorical tactics have plainly back-fired. Gotta go get ready for a meeting. KF

  50. 50
    Joe says:

    kairosfocus:

    Joe, if there were mechanisms that drastically reduced the odds of OOL or origin of major body plans by creating 100 – 1,000 kbits or 10 – 100+ mn bits of novel genetic info on resources available, they should be readily observable.

    Absolutely, but our opponents love to hide behind the curtain of father time. The sad part is they think that is scientific.

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe, a minute. The numbers on the config spaces vs the accessible resources on sol system or observed cosmos make a hollow boast of such appeals to time. KF

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: That is also why we must point to OOL in Darwin’s pond or the like. The probability hyps at work there are not in serious doubt, those of phys and chem with thermodynamics key player. The vNSR self replication facility needs to be accounted for, and there is nothing in sight to do so. OOL is the root of the ToL and any attempt to evade it boils down to major question begging.

  53. 53
    Zachriel says:

    Eric Anderson: Must CSI Include the Probabilities of All Natural Processes — Known and Unknown?

    Um, you forgot the formula for CSI. Dembski’s is

    chi = – log2 [ 10 ^ –120 * phi~S(T) * P(T|H) ]

    Is that what we are using? If so, then it’s important to understand that phi~S(T) and P(T|H) must be independent clauses. The latter is usually construed to mean some sort of probability distribution, not every possible natural process.

    As for your imagined conversation, it ignores the strong evidence for branching descent, which provides us the important historical context necessary for understanding organic history. You can always point to areas of history we don’t understand, but that doesn’t undermine the overall pattern. If we can show complex adaptation in many cases, we don’t have to have evidence in every single case, much less make some sort of probability calculation.

  54. 54
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: If intelligent designers can produce trillions of objective nested hierarchies, and unguided evolution can produce only a single objective nested hierarchy, then it is reasonable to infer that intelligent design is a better explanation than unguided evolution for any give ONH.

    Your premise is incorrect. Unguided evolution can produce a vast number of different objective nested hierarchies. There is a great deal of contingency in evolution.

    The nested hierarchy allows us to rule out special creation, but not guided evolution.

  55. 55
    wd400 says:

    I can speak English well enough, and am pretty good a math too.

    However, I find it very difficult to extract any meaning from your posts (littered, as they are, with your own acronyms two dollar words that mean nothing and unlinked clauses).

    This is a case in point

    SB 4: Thus, if we take the Dembski 2005 expression, and apply the above we see:

    Chi = – log2[10^120 ·phi_S(T)·P(T|H)]

    Becomes:

    Chi = I_p – [Threshold]

    What? You just blythly replaced p(T|H) for an unrelated probability. Whatever you now do with “Chi” you aren’t testing any biologically relevant hyptothesis (which is, I guess, what you mean by all this needle in a haystack business).

    I don’t know how to say this: if you want you ideas to be taken seriously then you should carefully explain them in plan English. As it stands, I scroll past your comments at about the same rate I do BA’s, as they are as likely to contain a meaningful contribution.

  56. 56
    Joe says:

    Zachriel:

    Unguided evolution can produce a vast number of different objective nested hierarchies.

    LoL! Humans produce nested hierarchies.

  57. 57
    Joe says:

    As for your imagined conversation, it ignores the strong evidence for branching descent, which provides us the important historical context necessary for understanding organic history.

    Family trees are examples of branching descent. There isn’t anything with family trees that supports your claims.

  58. 58
    Joe says:

    The nested hierarchy allows us to rule out special creation,

    That is incorrect and demonstrates ignorance of nested hierarchies. Linnean Taxonomy if based on the the hypothesis of a common design via a special creation.

  59. 59
    Eric Anderson says:

    keith s @43:

    I thought that might be the Dembski quote you were referring to. I haven’t talked to him personally about this issue, so I can’t say whether he ever “admitted the attempt failed.” The quote you provided @43 certainly doesn’t say that. He simply says that his example “doesn’t fit the bill.” Meaning, presumably, that the bacterial flagellum is too complex to be “simple enough on which the probability calculation can be convincingly performed.”

    What you don’t seem to grasp, I fear, is that more functional complexity does not mean that the calculation would run in favor of something like Darwinian evolution.

    Quite the contrary. We’re right back to the ridiculous argument you’ve been making all along. Namely, because no-one knows how to run a probability calculation with precision on something like the bacterial flagellum, that we therefore cannot draw any reasonable inferences regarding the origin of the bacterial flagellum. That is nonsense.

    Let’s take a single component or a few components and run some basic calculations on them. And they clearly exceed the probability bound and contain CSI. Then we add more complexity — an astonishing amount more — to the point that we can’t even do the calculation. Any rational person would quickly realize that that addition of complexity adds to the combinatorial problem Darwinian evolution has to overcome. But in an unbelievable manifestation of twisted logic the Darwinist says: “Aha, now it is so complex that no-one can run a calculation. So, therefore, you can’t prove that my (vague, general, unspecific, wholly-lacking-in-details) theory about random mutations and natural selection couldn’t have done it.”

    Let’s cut to the chase:

    Is there anything at all — any system you can imagine, any string of characters, any functional machine — that Darwinian evolution would not reasonably be expected to produce within the resources of the known universe? Is there anything at all beyond its powers?

  60. 60
    Pachyaena says:

    Test post.

  61. 61
    Pachyaena says:

    45 kairosfocus November 26, 2014 at 4:57 am

    KS, description is not obsession. When we see clear evidence of objector responsiveness to evidence, fact, logic etc we will have grounds to hope that we are not dealing with attempts to dominate thought without reference to truth, right etc. And when we see clear evidence of objectors policing their ranks regarding the abusive and falsely accusatory, that hope will move to a higher level. When we see some evidence that the accusatory and patently false narratives on the roots, structure and motivations in design thought are repudiated, we will have reason to believe that we have moved beyond a ruthless agit-prop attack and enabling by those who should know and do better. KF

    ———————————

    KF, you do exactly what you accuse others of and you do it in spades. I doubt that it’s possible to be a more willfully dishonest, domineering, abusive, enabling, illogical, fact-less, evidence-less, obsessive, slanderous, low, wrong, ruthlessly attacking, patently falsely accusatory hypocrite than you are.

  62. 62
    Pachyaena says:

    mung said: “There are no derivatives of CSI.”

    A couple of questions to mung and all other IDers: Are CSI, FSCO/I, dFSCI, and FSC exactly the same thing? Are fits and bits exactly the same thing?

  63. 63
    Pachyaena says:

    Joe, your comments in numbers 50 and 58 further confirm your belief in and adherence to special creation – young earth creationism. From your YEC position, will you explain all of the details of special creation, and how all of the history of the earth, including every life form that has ever existed, occurred in a 6,000 year time span?

  64. 64
    Pachyaena says:

    Barry, since you IDers rely on Dembski’s CSI claims and since Dembski’s claims are worthless, you really shouldn’t sneer at non-IDers who point that out. Instead, you should be sneering at Dembski, and at yourselves for swallowing and promoting worthless claims.

  65. 65
    Pachyaena says:

    Moose DR said: “The definition of CSI, therefore, is not contingent upon how the CSI came to be.”

    That completely contradicts what Joe has said many times. Joe claims that CSI (and ID overall) is “all about origins”. I have never seen another IDer say that Joe is wrong, and I’ve been looking for a long time.

  66. 66
    Pachyaena says:

    Joe sneered: “Are keith and Daniel that ignorant that they don’t realize that science is a tentative enterprise and all scientific inferences of today are open to falsification from scientific discoveries of tomorrow? Really?”

    Joe, you’re accusing Keith and Daniel of things that aren’t true and your accusations are just more of your diversionary tactics that have nothing to do with whether CSI is real and calculable, and I seriously doubt that you or any other IDer will be able to establish that CSI is real and calculable tomorrow or any other day in the future.

  67. 67
    Pachyaena says:

    Barry, I see that you’ve reneged on your final warning to Joe even though he continues to be as rude as ever.

  68. 68
    Joe says:

    Pachy

    Joe, you’re accusing Keith and Daniel of things that aren’t true

    It is true and evidenced by their comments. OTOH you cannot make your case. Go figure

  69. 69
    Joe says:

    Pachy:

    Joe, your comments in numbers 50 and 58 further confirm your belief in and adherence to special creation

    Perhaps in your very limited mind. Unfortunately that means nothing to the rest of the world.

  70. 70
    Zachriel says:

    chi = – log2 [ 10 ^ –120 * phi~S(T) * P(T|H) ]

    Thought P(T|H) was supposed to essentially represent the length of the string, and the probability of it occurring randomly. So is P(T|H) a probability distribution or not?

  71. 71
    RDFish says:

    The essential confusion of ID is the assumption that there are two different types of causes in the world. ID calls the first type of cause “natural causes”, meaning “causes that proceed according physical law”. The second type of cause it calls “intelligent causes”, which are supposed not to follow physical law. ID attempts to show that certain features of the universe cannot have arisen by means of “natural causes”, and this supposedly justifies the conclusion that these features are best explained by “intelligent causes”.

    The mistake, of course, is the assumption that there is any such thing as a cause that somehow transcends physical cause. ID often refers to physical processes as “unguided”, implying that in contrast “intelligent causes” are “guided” by something that is not itself a physical process. But of course this notion that intelligent actions of living things transcend physical cause is nothing but a metaphysical assumption – empirically untestable, and highly controversial. The fact that ID is predicated on the reality of this dualism means that ID is an exercise in metaphysics and nothing more.

    Once you remove this metaphysical assumption from ID, what ID is left with is “Certain features of the universe cannot currently be explained by means of any known cause. Therefore, some other, currently unknown cause must be responsible”.

  72. 72
    Pachyaena says:

    Joe said: “OTOH you cannot make your case.”

    Joe, you make a case against yourself, this blog, and ID every time you post a comment.

  73. 73
    Eric Anderson says:

    RDFish @71:

    That is wrong on so many fronts. And you know it.

  74. 74
    Pachyaena says:

    Eric Anderson, what’s wrong with what RDFish said?

  75. 75
    keith s says:

    Eric #59:

    I thought that might be the Dembski quote you were referring to. I haven’t talked to him personally about this issue, so I can’t say whether he ever “admitted the attempt failed.” The quote you provided @43 certainly doesn’t say that. He simply says that his example “doesn’t fit the bill.” Meaning, presumably, that the bacterial flagellum is too complex to be “simple enough on which the probability calculation can be convincingly performed.”

    Come on, Eric. The flagellum is depicted on the cover of the book (No Free Lunch), and the calculation appears in a section entitled Doing the Calculation. Dembski’s goal was to provide a convincing probability calculation, but in his own words, his calculation “didn’t fit the bill.” In other words, he failed.

    As have you. You claimed that such calculations were “trivial” and had been done “many times”. Yet you haven’t provided or linked to a single example of what you promised, which was a calculation of the probability of “a [biological] system arising through purely natural processes”.

    Instead, you’re trying to substitute the much easier but irrelevant calculation of the probability that something arose purely by chance.

    “Natural processed” and “pure chance” are not the same, as you know (and have been reminded many times).

    Can you back up your claim, or not? Provide an example of a calculation showing the probability of a biological system arising “through purely natural processes.”

    If you can’t, then withdraw your claim.

  76. 76
    keith s says:

    Eric #59:

    Quite the contrary. We’re right back to the ridiculous argument you’ve been making all along. Namely, because no-one knows how to run a probability calculation with precision on something like the bacterial flagellum, that we therefore cannot draw any reasonable inferences regarding the origin of the bacterial flagellum. That is nonsense.

    What’s nonsensical is your misrepresentation of my position.

    Take another look at our exchange:

    Eric:

    I hope you aren’t saying that we have to be able to calculate, with precision, the precise probability of a system arising through purely natural processes before we can determine whether CSI exists.
    [Emphasis added]

    keiths:

    You don’t need a precise value, but you do need to show that it is less than Dembski’s UPB.

    Eric:

    Which is trivial to do with many biological systems and has been done many times.

    Contrary to your strawman, I am not asking for “a probability calculation with precision on something like the bacterial flagellum”.

    I’m asking you to provide what you claimed you could provide. If it’s “trivial” and has been done “many times”, as you say, then it should be easy. Right?

    You claim to be able to do it:

    Let’s take a single component or a few components and run some basic calculations on them. And they clearly exceed the probability bound and contain CSI.

    Let’s take your favorite example: a functional protein of 300 residues or so.

    Pick one and give us the probability that it arose through purely natural processes. Show your work.

    Remember, “through purely natural processes” does not mean “through pure chance”.

    Good luck.

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    Pachy, I am sorry but you are resorting to the turnabout accusation tactic, another sign of the agit-prop message dominance pattern. If you are serious, there is open to any objector a chaenge to host a pro evolution essay that addresses the full tree of life from root to twigs, which if grounded on observational evidence that warrants causal adequacy would in one stroke destroy not only this blog but devastate design thought. The UD owner has recently put into the pot, that a solid answer on a pivotal issue in it (effectively blind chance and necessity origin of FSCO/I . . . which descriptive term FYI comes directly from the remarks of Orgel and Wicken in the 1970’s) , would lead to the closing of UD blog. So, I have every right of fair comment to respond to the pattern of refuted and corrected talking attack points reiterated to the point of dreary familiarity and manifest fallacy of the closed mind, on terms familiar from the world of agit-prop. By contrast, I have laid out at length what my case is, here at UD and elsewhere as doubtless you are quite familiar. That offer I noted is of two years standing and remains inadequately responded to to date; I take the above remarks by you as an informal offer to take it up. KF

  78. 78
    keith s says:

    kairosfocus:

    Pachy, I am sorry but you are resorting to the turnabout accusation tactic, another sign of the agit-prop message dominance pattern.

    [Sinister music plays]

    I’ll bet he’s an evomat Alinskyite puppy beater, too.

    KF, the reason the “evomat” message is dominant (at least in scientific circles) is that we have the better message.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    EA

    I should note that Shannon’s H metric is in effect a weighted statistically driven probability rooted sum, i.e. it reflects the well known pattern that sampling of a population picks up its patterns, including frequencies that estimate population probabilities.

    Let me clip section A my always linked note:

    To quantify the above definition of what is perhaps best descriptively termed information-carrying capacity, but has long been simply termed information (in the “Shannon sense” – never mind his disclaimers . . .), let us consider a source that emits symbols from a vocabulary: s1,s2, s3, . . . sn, with probabilities p1, p2, p3, . . . pn. That is, in a “typical” long string of symbols, of size M [say this web page], the average number that are some sj, J, will be such that the ratio J/M –> pj, and in the limit attains equality. We term pj the a priori — before the fact — probability of symbol sj. Then, when a receiver detects sj, the question arises as to whether this was sent. [That is, the mixing in of noise means that received messages are prone to misidentification.] If on average, sj will be detected correctly a fraction, dj of the time, the a posteriori — after the fact — probability of sj is by a similar calculation, dj. So, we now define the information content of symbol sj as, in effect how much it surprises us on average when it shows up in our receiver:

    I = log [dj/pj], in bits [if the log is base 2, log2] . . . Eqn 1

    This immediately means that the question of receiving information arises AFTER an apparent symbol sj has been detected and decoded. That is, the issue of information inherently implies an inference to having received an intentional signal in the face of the possibility that noise could be present. Second, logs are used in the definition of I, as they give an additive property: for, the amount of information in independent signals, si + sj, using the above definition, is such that:

    I total = Ii + Ij . . . Eqn 2

    For example, assume that dj for the moment is 1, i.e. we have a noiseless channel so what is transmitted is just what is received. Then, the information in sj is:

    I = log [1/pj] = – log pj . . . Eqn 3

    This case illustrates the additive property as well, assuming that symbols si and sj are independent. That means that the probability of receiving both messages is the product of the probability of the individual messages (pi *pj); so:

    Itot = log1/(pi *pj) = [-log pi] + [-log pj] = Ii + Ij . . . Eqn 4

    So if there are two symbols, say 1 and 0, and each has probability 0.5, then for each, I is – log [1/2], on a base of 2, which is 1 bit. (If the symbols were not equiprobable, the less probable binary digit-state would convey more than, and the more probable, less than, one bit of information. Moving over to English text, we can easily see that E is as a rule far more probable than X, and that Q is most often followed by U. So, X conveys more information than E, and U conveys very little, though it is useful as redundancy, which gives us a chance to catch errors and fix them: if we see “wueen” it is most likely to have been “queen.”)

    Further to this, we may average the information per symbol in the communication system thusly (giving in terms of -H to make the additive relationships clearer):

    – H = p1 log p1 + p2 log p2 + . . . + pn log pn

    or, H = – SUM [pi log pi] . . . Eqn 5

    H, the average information per symbol transmitted [usually, measured as: bits/symbol], is often termed the Entropy; first, historically, because it resembles one of the expressions for entropy in statistical thermodynamics. As Connor notes: “it is often referred to as the entropy of the source.” [p.81, emphasis added. The section then goes on to show that on the informational view of entropy in Physics, that is not surprising, as entropy measures the average missing info to specify microstate given the thermodynamic parameters that define macrostate . . . including citing G N Lewis on that.]

    A population sample of reasonable size and approach, will therefore embed an estimator of probabilities per the stochastic patterns of observation. And those will be what we are warranted to accept. As in, we deal with best current explanation per empirical warrant in science.

    This is the root of the point I have made over and over again based on empirical warrant and knowledge of relevant information observability, that the observed information content reflects the underlying probabilities so if one transmutes from the algebra of probabilities to that of information, one deals with what is needed.

    Information, as Orgel’s extended quote supports (and as I have been pointing out all along only to be brushed aside dismissively) can be estimated from observed info-carrying contingencies, e.g. here 2 bits per base of D/RNA, and 4.32 bits per AA in proteins. That is what the chemistry and physics warrants, the source of mechanical and/or stochastic constraints on presumed blind chance and mechanical necessity. That is we have a chaining chemistry that is free among the bases, it is deeply isolated islands of fucntion and the after the fact of chem-phys driven chaining that we happen up[on such an island. Where as I have long pointed out we face maximally sparse needle in haystack search such that there is no good reason to expect to find the hundreds of proteins needed for 1st cell based life whether in AA sequence space or in D/RNA base space.

    For the latter, I am reminded of Meyer in Sig in the Cell, p. 302:

    Shapiro and Miller have noted that he bases of RNA are unstable at temperatures required by currently popular high temperature origin-of-life scenarios . . . At 100 degrees C, adenine and guanine have chemical half-lives of only about one year; uracil has a half-life of twelve years; and cytosine a half-life of just twelve days . . . Stanley Miller concluded in 1998 that “a high temperature origin of life involving these compounds [the RNA bases] is therefore unlikely.” Miller further noted that, of the four required bases, cytosine has a short half-life even at low temperatures . . .

    Notice, how physics and chemistry are used by Shapiro and Miller as in this case rough indicators of very low probabilities? And, how this directly speaks to a major school of thought that has been widely promoted on OOL?

    Now, the world of life offers us a distribution that we may observe, across especially protein families, which allows us to see how flexible AA members in the chain are, and still retain once achieved fucntion. That implicitly points to the likelihood of getting tot hat function, and gives us a life history tested stochastic estimator of the shape and size of the island of function in AA sequence space. The only such empirical estimator we have.

    They consistently yield high information estimates, as Durston et al showed in their 2007 paper. (A paper BTW which builds on the H metric.)

    Coming back, we have an estimator of information which points to the weighted logged probability sum and what actually has dominated observations. (And log transformations are just that.)

    Up against it we have a shift the burden of proof exercise in dismissing the evidence we do have. Observational evidence should not be allowed to be dismissed by speculation; in science. And particularly, sparse search rooted in atomic and temporal resources is a major constraint, so that searches for golden searches in abstract higher order spaces face the fact that for a set of cardinality W, a sample based search is a subset. The set of subsets is of cardinality 2^W, where for just 500 bits, W = 3.27*10^150.

    Those who would dismiss such considerations need to answer to the cat out of the bag 1997 statement by Lewontin that speaks tot he prevalent attitude among evolutionary materialist elites by way of a review of Sagan’s last book:

    the problem is to get them [hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [NYRB, 1997. If you imagine this to be quote mined etc etc, I suggest that you read the fuller cite and notes at teh linked.]

    Philip Johnson’s reply of November that year is cogent:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    In trying to understand the whys and wherefores of this exchange, we must never overlook the problem of that imposed a priori materialism, mind-closing ideological bias.

    KF

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    KS, I suggest to you, that the astute onlooker who surveys the recent exchanges at and around UD, will find abundant reason to see that the less than happy conclusion that we are dealing with message dominance, zero concessions to “IDiots,” agit-prop tactics rather than a serious actual discussion on the merits, is warranted. A very good case in point is the lack of due responsiveness to the extended 1973 Orgel quote that fully justifies that FSCO/I and CSI as discussed by design thinkers is indeed organically connected to what Orgel and Wicken put on the table in the 1970’s. With a particular note on how a string of Y/N q’s that specify state from a field of possibilities is a metric of information. One that is as common as information metrics on file sizes on your computer. Where also, the just linked shows how, after several years you have failed to properly represent the way that design thinkers infer using a design inference explanatory filter, instead setting up and knocking over a strawman that you have insisted on endlessly recirculating in the teeth of cogent correction for weeks, on angels pushing planets, rain fairies and whatnot. If you want to know why I am drawing the conclusion that I am seeing a very familiar pattern from what I saw especially Marxist agitators do decades ago, look no further than such cases. KF

    PS: Kindly cf here as a further point of reference for that conclusion.

  81. 81
    Zachriel says:

    Zachriel: chi = – log2 [ 10 ^ –120 * phi~S(T) * P(T|H) ]

    Thought P(T|H) was supposed to essentially represent the length of the string, and the probability of it occurring randomly. So is P(T|H) a probability distribution or not?

    kairosfocus: I should note that Shannon’s H metric is in effect a weighted statistically driven probability rooted sum, i.e. it reflects the well known pattern that sampling of a population picks up its patterns, including frequencies that estimate population probabilities.

    That seems to be a yes. Is that correct?

  82. 82
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    KeithS says,

    Pick one and give us the probability that it arose through purely natural processes. Show your work.

    Remember, “through purely natural processes” does not mean “through pure chance”.

    I say,

    Could “algorithmic process” serve as a proxy term for “purely natural processes” in your view?

    no argument here just a question

    peace

  83. 83
    Joe says:

    keith s:

    Remember, “through purely natural processes” does not mean “through pure chance”.

    Remember if you think that “through purely natural processes” does not mean “through pure chance”, it is up to YOU to demonstrate it.

    We are waiting…

  84. 84
    Eric Anderson says:

    keith:

    I’ve given you a chance-based calculation, as a ton of other people have done over the years, including faithful evolutionists who have looked at the issue and used that as a starting point. Yes, it is trivial to do so. That is all I’ve ever claimed, so stop harping on that point. I understand that you don’t like it, because it cuts against your position and you imagine (though you have never described or assessed such a thing in any detail) that there are some other natural processes out there that need to be taken into account.

    I’m still waiting for you to let me know of a natural process that is not chance-based. Once you describe such a thing in some detail, maybe we can include it in the calculations.

  85. 85
    Zachriel says:

    Eric Anderson: Must CSI Include the Probabilities of All Natural Processes — Known and Unknown?

    Here is Dembski’s calculation for specified complexity.

    chi = – log2 [ 10 ^ –120 * phi~S(T) * P(T|H) ]

    Is that what we are using? If so, then it’s important to understand that phi~S(T) and P(T|H) must be independent clauses. The latter is usually construed to mean some sort of probability distribution, not every possible natural process. Do we treat P(T|H) as a probability distribution?

  86. 86
    Eric Anderson says:

    Pachyaena @74:

    RDFish knows what is wrong as he has been around the block for a long time. But briefly:

    – As with any historical science, both intelligent design and traditional evolutionary theory seek to provide the best explanation for past events that cannot currently be examined or studied in real time. A natural part of making one’s case in the historical sciences is to demonstrate the inadequacy of competing hypotheses. Intelligent design proponents have made their case for the inadequacy of something like Darwinian evolution by looking at what is required to produce such structures. Ironically, it seems to be only researchers like Behe who are actually doing the work to determine what Darwinian evolution can actually accomplish; Darwinists just assume it as a matter of faith.

    The careful work of intelligent design proponents like Behe to analyze the capabilities of Darwinian evolution contrasts sharply with the way in which Darwinists, for their part, analyze the competing design hypothesis. Most wilfully misrepresent it; many make purely religious/philosophical-based attacks based on grade-school-level arguments about things like “bad design” or “evil in the world” and similar nonsense. If there are any metaphysics involved in the evolution/design debate, they are far more prevalent on the anti-design side of the aisle. RDFish knows this.

    – Perhaps more importantly, intelligent design makes a positive case, by pointing out that we have examples (billions of them) of information-rich structures, translation mechanisms, functional machines, and similar types of systems that we see in living organisms. And in every case in which we know the provenance of such systems, it has always, without exception, been the product of a designing intelligence. Thus, intelligent design is based primarily on what we do know about how such systems arise and the real-time, verifiable cause and effect processes we see in the real world.

    This contrasts sharply with the evolutionary storyline, which has never provided a single live example of a complex functional structure coming into being by, say, Darwinian processes. Rather, it just asserts that they all did, as a matter of fiat.

    – Finally, RDFish makes some reference to intelligent design not following natural laws or transcending physical laws and such. This is just silly. Designers all follow natural laws when they design things. But they aren’t limited to what natural processes would normally produce on their own. RDFish confuses two very different things: (i) creating something in accordance with the requirements of natural laws (which every designer always does), and (ii) saying that something came about on its own through nothing more than the interaction of natural laws (which, in the case of complex functional structures, no-one has ever witnessed).

  87. 87
    Pachyaena says:

    kairosfocus said:

    “Pachy, I am sorry but you are resorting to the turnabout accusation tactic, another sign of the agit-prop message dominance pattern. If you are serious, there is open to any objector a chaenge to host a pro evolution essay that addresses the full tree of life from root to twigs, which if grounded on observational evidence that warrants causal adequacy would in one stroke destroy not only this blog but devastate design thought. The UD owner has recently put into the pot, that a solid answer on a pivotal issue in it (effectively blind chance and necessity origin of FSCO/I . . . which descriptive term FYI comes directly from the remarks of Orgel and Wicken in the 1970?s) , would lead to the closing of UD blog. So, I have every right of fair comment to respond to the pattern of refuted and corrected talking attack points reiterated to the point of dreary familiarity and manifest fallacy of the closed mind, on terms familiar from the world of agit-prop. By contrast, I have laid out at length what my case is, here at UD and elsewhere as doubtless you are quite familiar. That offer I noted is of two years standing and remains inadequately responded to to date; I take the above remarks by you as an informal offer to take it up. KF”

    And:

    “KS, I suggest to you, that the astute onlooker who surveys the recent exchanges at and around UD, will find abundant reason to see that the less than happy conclusion that we are dealing with message dominance, zero concessions to “IDiots,” agit-prop tactics rather than a serious actual discussion on the merits, is warranted. A very good case in point is the lack of due responsiveness to the extended 1973 Orgel quote that fully justifies that FSCO/I and CSI as discussed by design thinkers is indeed organically connected to what Orgel and Wicken put on the table in the 1970?s. With a particular note on how a string of Y/N q’s that specify state from a field of possibilities is a metric of information. One that is as common as information metrics on file sizes on your computer. Where also, the just linked shows how, after several years you have failed to properly represent the way that design thinkers infer using a design inference explanatory filter, instead setting up and knocking over a strawman that you have insisted on endlessly recirculating in the teeth of cogent correction for weeks, on angels pushing planets, rain fairies and whatnot. If you want to know why I am drawing the conclusion that I am seeing a very familiar pattern from what I saw especially Marxist agitators do decades ago, look no further than such cases. KF

    PS: Kindly cf here as a further point of reference for that conclusion.”

    KF, there’s nothing “fair” in your comments so I have every right of fair comment to respond to the pattern of your refuted and corrected talking attack points reiterated to the point of dreary familiarity and manifest fallacy of the closed mind, on terms familiar from the world of agit-prop.

    KF, you do exactly what you accuse others of and you do it in spades. I doubt that it’s possible to be a more willfully dishonest, domineering, abusive, enabling, illogical, fact-less, evidence-less, obsessive, slanderous, low, wrong, ruthlessly attacking, patently falsely accusatory hypocrite than you are.

  88. 88
    Pachyaena says:

    Are any IDers going to respond to this:

    mung said: “There are no derivatives of CSI.”

    A couple of questions to mung and all other IDers: Are CSI, FSCO/I, dFSCI, and FSC exactly the same thing? Are fits and bits exactly the same thing?

  89. 89
    Joe says:

    With respect to biology you are not going to have CSI without FSC, meaning if you have CSI then you have FSC. If you are talking about CSI wrt biology then you are talking about FSC.

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    Pachy, sorry to have to break the news, but there you did it again. KF

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    Pachy, I will note that functionally specific complex organisation and associated information is rooted in a common phenomenon noted to be also characteristic of life forms by Orgel and Wicken in the ’70’s. When the function is digital code such as D/RNA, we have digitally coded functionally specific info; a key subset. Complex Specified information is a generalised super set that does not tie specification to observed functionality, which will be linked to a wiring diagram of some sort. As I long pointed out and as Orgel noted much longer ago, the chain of y/n q’s that specifies the state is a metric of info, in bits. More complex metrics can be based on statistical patterns. Fits are functional bits, so used as an abbreviation by Durston et al, in the context of a metric based on the H metric. KF

  92. 92
    Pachyaena says:

    Joe, you apparently have a bad memory. On your blog you said: “If you knew anything you would know they are the same thing FSC = CSI = FSCO/I.” (bolding in original)

    http://intelligentreasoning.bl.....epost.html

    According to KF you are not ‘correct’ and according to you KF is not ‘correct’. One or both of you must do better.

  93. 93
    Pachyaena says:

    KF, yep, I spoke the truth again.

  94. 94
    Pachyaena says:

    keith s said: “I’ll bet he’s an evomat Alinskyite puppy beater, too.”

    Well of course I am, and I’m an evil homosexual nazi too. :p

  95. 95
    Joe says:

    Pachy, Please show me where KF says I am not correct, ie that we disagree.

  96. 96
    keith s says:

    Eric:

    I’ve given you a chance-based calculation…

    Exactly. It’s a classic bait-and-switch. You promised a calculation of the probability based on “purely natural processes”, but you’re trying to substitute a calculation based on pure chance. That kind of crap might work with the regulars here, but it isn’t going to fly with critics or with intelligent onlookers.

    …it cuts against your position and you imagine (though you have never described or assessed such a thing in any detail) that there are some other natural processes out there that need to be taken into account.

    I’m still waiting for you to let me know of a natural process that is not chance-based.

    It’s called “evolution”, Eric. You may have heard of it.

    Evolution includes a powerful non-random element called “selection”. How powerful? Run Dawkins’ Weasel with selection, and it converges in a few seconds. Run it without selection, and you’d better have several quintillion lifetimes to spare.

    Yet the calculations you cite fail to take selection into account. They’re useless for fulfilling your promise.

    You’ve been involved in the ID debate for over a decade, Eric. There’s no excuse for continuing to misrepresent evolution this way, particularly when folks have been pointing out your mistake for years.

  97. 97
    Pachyaena says:

    Eric Anderson, you could have saved yourself a lot of typing by just honestly admitting that you believe ‘God-did-it’. It’s so very tiring to wade through the dishonest, empty, contradictory, sciency sounding pseudo-scientific claims that you IDers make that are all based on your religious beliefs.

    I’ll touch on some of the things you said:

    “The careful work of intelligent design proponents like Behe to analyze the capabilities of Darwinian evolution …”

    Please tell me that you’re joking. See this for a start:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_Behe

    “…contrasts sharply with the way in which Darwinists, for their part, analyze the competing design hypothesis.”

    “Darwinists”?

    Many scientists, science writers, and other people who study evolution, including some who are religious, have thoroughly analyzed the claims of IDers and found them to be worthless.

    “Most wilfully misrepresent it; many make purely religious/philosophical-based attacks based on grade-school-level arguments about things like “bad design” or “evil in the world” and similar nonsense. If there are any metaphysics involved in the evolution/design debate, they are far more prevalent on the anti-design side of the aisle.”

    “ID” is a willful misrepresentation. “ID” is based on and driven by religious/philosophical/metaphysical creationist beliefs and the infamous wedge strategy.

    “Perhaps more importantly, intelligent design makes a positive case,…”

    No, IDers constantly attack “Darwinism” and science, and baldly assert a lot of dishonest, contradictory, unsupported, pseudo-scientific nonsense.

    “…by pointing out that we have examples (billions of them) of information-rich structures, translation mechanisms, functional machines, and similar types of systems that we see in living organisms.”

    So, life forms/living organisms are “structures” and “machines”. Is the designer-creator a construction worker and mechanic?

    And don’t you IDers often claim that intelligent design isn’t mechanistic-mechanical and that the ID inference, hypothesis, theory, or whatever you call it isn’t a mechanistic-mechanical inference, hypothesis, theory, or whatever you call it?

    “And in every case in which we know the provenance of such systems, it has always, without exception, been the product of a designing intelligence.”

    Your assertions are based on your assertions that life forms/living organisms actually are “structures” and “machines”. Are you a “structure” and a “machine”?

    “This contrasts sharply with the evolutionary storyline, which has never provided a single live example of a complex functional structure coming into being by, say, Darwinian processes. Rather, it just asserts that they all did, as a matter of fiat.”

    “Darwinian?” Look at who is misrepresenting evolutionary theory. And what do you mean by “a single live example of a complex functional structure” and “coming into being”? Try not to misrepresent evolutionary theory with your answers.

    “Finally, RDFish makes some reference to intelligent design not following natural laws or transcending physical laws and such. This is just silly. Designers all follow natural laws when they design things. But they aren’t limited to what natural processes would normally produce on their own.”

    Actually, your arguments are silly. Look, you IDers believe that the biblical-koranical, allegedly transcendental, supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, unlimited, uncaused god designed-created everything, including all physical/natural processes and laws (don’t bother trying to deny that) yet you turn around and put limits on it when you think it’s convenient for your arguments. Make up your minds.

    “RDFish confuses two very different things: (i) creating something in accordance with the requirements of natural laws (which every designer always does),…”

    Yep, you put limits (requirements) on your allegedly unlimited designer-creator-god. If it exists I don’t think it will be happy about that.

    “…and (ii) saying that something came about on its own through nothing more than the interaction of natural laws (which, in the case of complex functional structures, no-one has ever witnessed).”

    There you go misrepresenting evolutionary theory again, and what do you mean by “complex functional structures” and “came about”?

    I have a couple more questions for you: When a landslide dams a river and a lake is one of the results, are the dam and/or the lake complex functional structures? Are the dam and/or the lake intelligently designed?

  98. 98
    Pachyaena says:

    P.S. Eric, if you’re going to call evolution or evolutionary theory “Darwinian”, the least you should do is include selection as Keith pointed out. Darwin definitely included (natural) selection.

  99. 99
    Pachyaena says:

    Joe said: “Please show me where KF says I am not correct, ie that we disagree.”

    Joe, I didn’t say that KF “says” you’re not correct. I said according to KF you’re not correct and according to you KF is not correct. Here’s the evidence:

    On your blog you said: “If you knew anything you would know they are the same thing FSC = CSI = FSCO/I.” (bolding in original)

    KF says: “When the function is digital code such as D/RNA, we have digitally coded functionally specific info; a key subset. Complex Specified information is a generalised super set that does not tie specification to observed functionality…”

    And:

    “FSCO/I is instantly recognisable as an objective phenomenon.

    […]

    Third, actually Dembski and Meyer use terms that cover much the same ground, and Behe in speaking of irreducible complexity speaks to a subset. For that matter, GP in emphasising dFSCI, speaks to another subset.

    CSI is an abstracted super-set where specification is abstracted. In NFL pp. 144 and 148, WmAD stresses that in biological life specification is on function.’

    And:

    “[–> cf dFSCI as so often used by GP, a subset of FSCO/I]”

    Joe, do sets = subsets = super sets? Are they the same thing?

  100. 100
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: I should note that Shannon’s H metric is in effect a weighted statistically driven probability rooted sum, i.e. it reflects the well known pattern that sampling of a population picks up its patterns, including frequencies that estimate population probabilities.

    chi = – log2 [ 10 ^ –120 * phi~S(T) * P(T|H) ]

    In Dembski’s formula for specified complexity, is P(T|H) a probability distribution? In other words, a measure of the chance of the string occurring randomly? For clarify, please start your answer with a yes or no.

  101. 101
    Pachyaena says:

    “For clarify, please start your answer with a yes or no.”

    Zachriel, you’re asking for a miracle. 🙂

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