Someone I correspond with sent me this. It’s a good example of how the design inference has been employed for practical matters.
On the subject of stacked stones in the wilderness, here is a little story that may be interesting. In my legal practice my most prominent pro bono case was to seek the first-ever posthumous Presidential pardon, for the first-ever black graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper, class of 1877. He was court-martialled in a racially-motivated prosecution in 1881 and dismissed from the Army. (Pres. Clinton issued the pardon in 1999).
After leaving the Army Lt. Flipper became a special agent for the U.S. Department of Justice, as part of a special court established to resolve land title disputes arising from the U.S. takeover of territory that had been Mexican and before that Spanish. The Mexican and Spanish governments had issued land titles to individuals for much of the land that transferred to US sovereignty, and the treaties said the US would honor these titles. Conflicts arose, however, between people claiming ownership via an old Spanish or Mexican title document, and people claiming part of the same land via a US title document. The special court was set up just to resolve these disputes. Lt. Flipper’s Army field training made him an excellent person to do the field work, and his facility with languages (he was fluent in French and Spanish) meant he could read the Mexican documents.
One of Lt. Flipper’s jobs was to take the Mexican title documents and go out into the wild to see if the boundary markers described in the documents were there. There were various characteristic stone stacking patterns used, but weathering could cause these to deteriorate. Thus he became an expert in interpreting piles of stones in the wilderness. He had to judge whether a pile was natural or man-made, and if man-made, whether it was really a boundary-marker or was piled up for some other reason. He testified under oath in some 240 cases, including several that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. These court records can still be found — I’ve read some of his testimony in the files of the Supreme Court.
Thus we have documented instances where the government of the United States has taken expert testimony concerning whether a design inference should be drawn based on a pile of stones; and ownership of land valued in large sums of money depended on those judgments.