Intelligent Design

Has Jeffrey Shallit’s Fundamentalism Driven Him Barking Mad?

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In recent days Jeffrey Shallit and I have been discussing the differences between a random string of text and a designed string of text. I put the two strings up in this post; Shallit responded in this post; I responded to Shallit in this post; and Shallit replied here.

After all of this back and forth, the one question that remains is the question in the title to this post. Has Jeffrey Shallit’s fundamentalism driving him barking mad?

To remind readers, here are the two strings:

#1:
OipaFJPSDIOVJN;XDLVMK:DOIFHw;ZD
VZX;Vxsd;ijdgiojadoidfaf;asdfj;asdj[ije888
Sdf;dj;Zsjvo;ai;divn;vkn;dfasdo;gfijSd;fiojsa
dfviojasdgviojao’gijSd’gvijsdsd;ja;dfksdasd
XKLZVsda2398R3495687OipaFJPSDIOVJN
;XDLVMK:DOIFHw;ZDVZX;Vxsd;ijdgiojadoi
Sdf;dj;Zsjvo;ai;divn;vkn;dfasdo;gfijSd;fiojsadfvi
ojasdgviojao’gijSd’gvijssdv.kasd994834234908u
XKLZVsda2398R34956873ACKLVJD;asdkjad
Sd;fjwepuJWEPFIhfasd;asdjf;asdfj;adfjasd;ifj
;asdjaiojaijeriJADOAJSD;FLVJASD;FJASDF;
DOAD;ADFJAdkdkas;489468503-202395ui34

#2:
To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Shakespeare vs. Keyboard Pounding: Which is “More Random”?

I constructed the first string of letters by haphazardly running my hands across my computer keyboard. The second string is obviously the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy. In his first post Shallit made the following statement:

String #2’s [Shakespeare] compressed version is bigger and therefore more random than string #1 [keyboard pounding]: exactly the opposite of what Arrington implied!

Dear reader, when you read that statement you probably concluded that Shallit had made an error, that he had gotten confused and transposed string #1 with string #2. But you would be wrong. Shallit was in earnest when he said that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of text I composed by haphazardly running my hands across my computer keyboard.

In my response I wrote this concerning Shallit’s conclusion:

That is a sentence only a highly educated idiot could have written.

Now when I made that observation I assumed that Shallit did not actually mean what his words literally said. I assumed that like a fighter pilot who has succumbed to “target fixation,” he had lost sight of the hazard that his meaning would be misunderstood. And when I heard he had posted a response, I expected he would back off and explain how I had misunderstood him. I was wrong. In his reply, far from backing off his “Shakespeare is more random than keyboard pounding” lunacy, he actually doubled down and mocked me:

Ahh, the traditional ploy of the scientifically illiterate: your conclusion (about evolution, global warming, the roundness of the earth, scientific theory of disease) disagrees with my preconceptions. Therefore you are the idiot! Very Silly People have used this ploy for hundreds of years. So far it’s not working so well for them.

Shallit reaches a conclusion that is absurd on its face. I point that out. Instead of backing off the absurd conclusion, Shallit mocks me and says my pointing out that his conclusion was absurd was a mere “ploy” by someone who is “scientifically illiterate.”

Now we know that Jeffrey Shallit is a Darwinian fundamentalist, and fundamentalism by its nature often causes its adherents to make strange, even irrational, statements. Materialist fundamentalism especially is a very demanding religion. But rarely have I witnessed such a pristine example of fundamentalist lunacy: A highly-educated college professor willing to make an absolute fool of himself rather than admit he was wrong.

Can a Lawyer Comment on Shallit’s Lunacy?

Shallit takes several jabs at me in the nature of “how dare a CPA question me.” First, it is not clear why Shallit calls me a CPA. My bio clearly states that I left public accounting to attend law school. I am a lawyer. What can a lawyer bring to this topic? In Darwin on Trial Phillip Johnson wrote:

I am not a scientist but an academic lawyer by profession, with a specialty in analyzing the logic of arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments. This background is more appropriate than one might think, because what people believe about evolution and Darwinism depends very heavily on the kind of logic they employ and the kind of assumptions they make. Being a scientist is not necessarily an advantage when dealing with a very broad topic like evolution, which cuts across many scientific disciplines and also involves issues of philosophy. . . .the leading scientific figures have always assumed that nonscientist readers can understand the essential evidence. But evidence never speaks for itself; it has meaning only in the context of rules of reasoning which determine what may be considered and what counts as evidence. Those rules of reasoning are what I particularly want to examine.

In summary, lawyers bring training in logic, reasoning and the evaluation of evidence issues to the table, and as this exchange demonstrates, that training can be useful in dissecting the ramblings of fundamentalists like Shallit.

Randomness

Shallit:

I said string #1 was not as random as string #2 (in the sense of being more compressible)

Finally, we get to something that makes a modicum of sense. Shallit’s lunacy is at least partially explained by the fact that he chooses to operate solely within the confines of algorithmic complexity theory. As Wikepedia explains:

In particular, files of random data cannot be consistently compressed by any conceivable lossless data compression algorithm: indeed, this result is used to define the concept of randomness in algorithmic complexity theory.

Shallit’s target fixation is laid bare.  Shallit’s bizarre statement was caused by the intellectual blinders he has fastened to his face. Like the man in this picture, intellectual blinders can cause you to fall off into a hole of lunacy.

download

The following are the first two definitions of “random” in my dictionary:

Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern:

Statistics. Of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen.

It may well be true that string #1 is more compressible than string #2 using some compressibility algorithm. But what does that have to do with the ID debate? My point has always been that string #1 is obviously random (using the first definition of random) and string #2 is obviously designed (it is the opposite of the first definition of random). “Ah ha,” Shallit says, “I have just demonstrated that string #2 is more random by running the strings through a compression algorithm.  Therefore, Barry is wrong.”

Talk about willfully missing the point. Shallit fixates on the second definition of “random” and insists that “designed” is not the opposite of “random.” That may be if one uses the second definition of random, but it is glaringly obvious that ID uses “random” in the first sense, and in that sense “random” is in fact the opposite of designed, which brings us back to where were started:

The first string of text is random in the sense that it was made “without definite aim, reason, or pattern.” The second string is not random in the sense that it was in fact made with “definite aim, reason, or pattern.” The two strings are of nearly equal complexity. Yet one is obviously designed. How can we tell the designed string from the random string? Because not only is the second string complex, but also it conforms to a specification.  Therefore, we conclude that the second string is rich in specified complex information and is therefore designed, not random.  Any suggestion that the second string is “more random” than the first string is absurd on its face if we use any common sense definition of “random.”

128 Replies to “Has Jeffrey Shallit’s Fundamentalism Driven Him Barking Mad?

  1. 1
    cantor says:

    It may well be true that string #1 is more compressible than string #2 using some compressibility algorithm.

    “The fact that a specific string is complex cannot be formally proven, if the complexity of the string is above a certain threshold”

    So, if your second string (Hamlet) is above that threshhold, then Shallit’s statement is wrong, even using his definition of complexity.

  2. 2
    Neil Rickert says:

    Dear reader, when you read that statement you probably concluded that Shallit had made an error

    No. As a mathematician, I could easily see that Shallit was correct.

    Shallit reaches a conclusion that is absurd on its face.

    The truth sometimes seems absurd on its face. As a lawyer, I expect that you come across such situations from time to time.

    First, it is not clear why Shallit calls me a CPA.

    I wondered about that (i.e. about Shallit’s remark) too. But I’m not a psychologist, so I’ll stick with the math.

    The first string of text is random in the sense that it was made “without definite aim, reason, or pattern.”

    But now you are getting into questions of motivation and intention. The term “random” has no such implications.

    I could easily come up with a string that you would see as more random than either of your two strings, yet was made with definite aim, reason and pattern. Part of that aim happened to involve encryption, and ciphertext happens to look very random.

    If somebody took that Shakespearean text, and translated it to Turkish, the result would probably look a lot more random to you (unless you happen to speak Turkish). Appearances can be deceiving, and I’m pretty sure you know that from your work as a lawyer.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    ‘But now you are getting into questions of motivation and intention. The term “random” has no such implications.’

    Indeed, the term ‘random’ does have such implications, Neil – according to your own words; whether the intention is not to convey a meaning or to convey a coded meaning.

    Barry gave no indication that the first text, which he stated to be random, was anything but random; no indication at all that it was code.

    In short, whether a text that looks like a random jumble of letters, is random or a coded message, both of the latter reflect reflect an aim on the part of the author, however void of meaning the gibberish of the former.

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    Sorry. I meant to address you by name, Neil.

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    I should have said, the term ‘random’ would have implications of intentionality, however, inane and unlikely, if the subject is deliberately executed by a human being.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    Or even for a perfectly rational intentionality, such as for calling Bingo numbers.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Neil Rickert:

    But now you are getting into questions of motivation and intention. The term “random” has no such implications.

    Dictionary:

    1. proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern:

    I’ve always known better than to trust a dictionary when there’s a mathematician around to tell us the implication (or lack thereof) of a term.

  8. 8
    DiEb says:

    BA,

    what do you tell your clients who insist on using “common sense definitions” of legal terms?

  9. 9
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry
    You offer two definitions of random:

    1) Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern:

    2) Of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen.

    Shallit quite clearly says he us using definition (2) and shows that string 1 is more random than string 2. You even appear to accept it.
    You then argue that he is mad because he didn’t use definition (1).  This seems a bit unreasonable given that he never pretended to use it. However, if you want to use that much less rigorous definition there are consequences for ID. If you define random as “Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern:” then in order to determine if it is random you have to know whether it was created with aim, reason or pattern. So you can’t use it as a way of detecting aim, reason or pattern which seems to rule it out as a method of detecting design. If ID is to be useful then it has to present some mathematical method of examining a string without making any assumptions about why or how it was produced, for example the method Shallit used.

  10. 10
    Box says:

    We see it quite often these days: materialists completely misunderstanding the point ID-proponents are trying to make. Here we see Barry discussing the glaring difference between a text composed by haphazardly running his hands across his computer keyboard and the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy. Next we read the blatherings of some confused materialist who mistakenly discerned that Barry is talking about compressibility of strings – of all things …
    Where is all the disorientation coming from? Or is getting it wrong the last line of defense?

  11. 11
    ppolish says:

    Neil, it makes sense that it is easier to mistake random for non random than vice versa.

    Easier to mistake random for design than design for random. You know, the “appearance of random” fools a lot of folks.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    semi related:

    Have random chance or the necessity of a law ever ’caused’ anything to happen in the universe?
    Contrary to what many people, especially atheists, seem to believe, chance and necessity are not ‘causal mechanisms’ in and of themselves. To put it more clearly, chance and necessity have never ’caused’ anything to happen in this universe!
    For instance, when people say that something ‘happened by chance’ they are not actually appealling to a known causal mechanism but are instead using chance as a ‘placeholder for ignorance’ as to an actual causal mechanism. Stephen Talbott puts the situation like this,,

    Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Stephen L. Talbott – Fall 2011
    Excerpt: In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
    This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....randomness

    In other words, when people say that something “happened randomly by chance”, usually a mishap, they are in fact assuming an impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings.
    Although the term “chance” can be defined as a mathematical probability, such as the chance involved in flipping a coin, when Darwinists use the term ‘random chance’, generally it’s substituting for a more precise word such as “cause”, especially when the cause, i.e. ‘mechanism’, is not known. Several people have noted this ‘shell game’ with the word ‘chance’..

    “To personify ‘chance’ as if we were talking about a causal agent,” notes biophysicist Donald M. MacKay, “is to make an illegitimate switch from a scientific to a quasi-religious mythological concept.”

    Similarly, Robert C. Sproul points out: “By calling the unknown cause ‘chance’ for so long, people begin to forget that a substitution was made. . . . The assumption that ‘chance equals an unknown cause’ has come to mean for many that ‘chance equals cause.’”

    Thus when an atheist states that something happened by chance, we have every right to ask, as Talbott pointed out, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”

    Moreover, law or necessity, like ‘random chance’, also does not have causal adequacy within itself. In other words, law is not a ‘mechanism’ that has ever ’caused’ anything to happen in the universe but is merely a description of a regularity within the universe. The early Christian founders of modern science understood this distinction well,,,

    Not the God of the Gaps, But the Whole Show – John Lennox – 2012
    Excerpt: God is not a “God of the gaps”, he is God of the whole show.,,, C. S. Lewis put it this way: “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.”
    http://www.christianpost.com/n.....how-80307/

    Here is an excellent C.S. Lewis ‘doodle video’ that get this distinction between mere description and causal agency across very well,,,

    “In the whole history of the universe the laws of nature have never produced, (i.e. caused), a single event.”
    – C.S. Lewis
    The Laws of Nature (Have Never ‘Caused’ Anything) by C.S. Lewis – doodle video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_20yiBQAIlk

    Here is an excerpt of an article, (that is well worth reading in full), in which Dr. Gordon busts Stephen Hawkins delusion that description and agency are the same thing.

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: ,,,The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy.
    This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world,,,
    Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.,,,
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Thus, contrary to how atheists imagine reality to be structured, they, in their appeal to chance and necessity as to being causally adequate within themselves, have appealed to vacuous explanations for ‘causal mechanisms’. ,,,
    ,,”vacuous explanations for causal mechanisms” reminds me of Lawrence Krauss’s argument against God from a few years ago in his book ‘A Universe from Nothing’,,

    Not Understanding Nothing – A review of A Universe from Nothing – Edward Feser – June 2012
    Excerpt: A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. So when physicist Lawrence Krauss begins his new book by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional philosophical theology, we know it isn’t going to end well. ,,,
    ,,, But Krauss simply can’t see the “difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one.” The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary. There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ng-nothing

    To put those philosophical arguments more simply, atheistic materialists do not have a causal mechanism to appeal to to explain how the universe originated, nor do they have a causal mechanism to explain why anything continues to exist in the universe, nor do they even have a causal mechanism for explaining how anything, any particle in the universe, moves within the universe!

    Here are a few notes along that line:

    The Kalam Cosmological Argument (argument from the beginning of the universe) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CulBuMCLg0

    God Is the Best Explanation For Why Anything At All Exists – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjuqBxg_5mA

    Aquinas’ Third way (argument from existence) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V030hvnX5a4

    Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover argument) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

    As to the ancient first mover argument of Aquinas, the double slit experiment is excellent in illustrating that the ‘unmoved mover’ argument is valid.

    In the following video Anton Zeilinger, whose group is arguably the best group of experimentalists in quantum physics today, ‘tries’ to explain the double slit experiment to Morgan Freeman:

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything real? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    Prof. Zeilinger makes this rather startling statement in the preceding video that meshes perfectly with the ‘first mover argument’::

    “The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.”
    Anton Zeilinger

    If that was not enough to get Dr. Zeilinger’s point across, at the 4:12 minute mark in this following video,,,

    Double Slit Experiment – Explained By Prof Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6101627/

    Professor Zeilinger states,,,

    “We know what the particle is doing at the source when it is created. We know what it is doing at the detector when it is registered. But we do not know what it is doing in-between.”
    Anton Zeilinger

    i.e. “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    – Michael Egnor

    Supplemental quote:

    “Joel Primack, a cosmologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, once posed an interesting question to the physicist Neil Turok: “What is it that makes the electrons continue to follow the laws.” Turok was surprised by the question; he recognized its force. Something seems to compel physical objects to obey the laws of nature, and what makes this observation odd is just that neither compulsion nor obedience are physical ideas.,,,
    Physicists since Einstein have tried to see in the laws of nature a formal structure that would allow them to say to themselves, “Ah, that is why they are true,” and they have failed.”
    Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion pg. 132-133

    Verse and Music:

    Acts 17:28
    For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    Mark Schultz “I Am” – music
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hILaSh78yHQ

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark Frank and Neil Rickert, are the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy “random” in any meaningful sense of that word?

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    MF: “. . . for example the method Shallit used”

    You mean the method he used to conclude that the 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard? Palm. Forehead.

  16. 16
    Dr JDD says:

    Mark – you say Shallit claims string 1 is more random than string 2 but the whole point of this post is that Shallit is claiming string 2 is more random.

    Now I am not a mathematician but how can you simply claim because the condensed form (I.e. I assume spaces removed – but that itself is a fallacy as a space is a option on a keyboard, used to generate the string of characters) is longer it is more random?

    Surely you have to take the probability of each character event. If we assume that string 1 is generated from all possible characters on a keyboard (as we see such characters present) then when we can determine randomness from this – and the probabilities might show some bias but largely would demonstrate good randomness.

    However when you look at the second string, you could conclude that in the very lack of non-alphabetical characters shows less randomness in itself vs string 1. But let’s be generous and assume in fact that this string is limited to alphabet characters and spaces. Despite this assumption, we still see clear evidence of non-randomness. For example, we see the incidence of t-o-space-b-e-space sequence occur twice within the first 20 characters! Further we see more incidences of other repetitious characters throughout the string highly indicative of non-randomness – remember we are dealing with each position having the random chance of 1 in 27 occurrence. Further, just the high use and frequency of the space could be argued as non-randomness.

    Of course the weakness here is that you are assuming equal probability for each character but you cannot even compare string 1 to 2 for randomness if you don’t make that initial assumption.

    ps-am I the only childish reader who laughed at the unfortunate typo of Shallits name as “Shattit”?

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEb @ 8.

    DiEb, I saw you piling on in the combox to Shallit’s post. I’ll answer your question when you answer this: Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    MF:

    Shallit quite clearly says he us using definition (2) and shows that string 1 is more random than string 2. You even appear to accept it.

    Exactly the opposite of what Shallit said Mark. He says string 2 is more random. Do you agree?

  19. 19
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank, Shallit’s use of definition 2 shows just how narrow-minded he is.

  20. 20
    cantor says:

    Rickert wrote:

    No. As a mathematician, I could easily see that Shallit was correct

    The fact that a specific string is complex cannot be formally proven, if the complexity of the string is above a certain threshold.

    So if the second string (Hamlet) is above that threshhold, then Shallit’s statement is wrong, even using his definition of complexity.

  21. 21
    Mapou says:

    Rickert:

    No. As a mathematician, I could easily see that Shallit was correct.

    This is such a condescending statement. First, it is an argument from authority (i’m an expert, therefore I’m right). Second, what does “could” mean? We know it’s a conditional but what are the conditions? In this context, you’re obviously just straddling the fence, i.e., talking on both sides of your mouth. The question is, can you or can you not see that Shallit’s is correct? Yes or no? If yes, where is the argument?

    Oh, yeah. I forgot. You’re a mathematician and your knowledge of the subject is so much above the heads of us mere mortals, it would be a waste of your time to explain it to us. I got it.

  22. 22
    DiEb says:

    On a blog founded by William Dembski to serve the intelligent design community, I’d expect that the concepts and ideas of information theory are not ridiculed out of ignorance.

    That said, yes, I agree with J. Shallit…

    I suppose, I can now expect an answer to my question: what do you tell your clients who insist on using “common sense definitions” of legal terms?

  23. 23
    Splatter says:

    Maths is central to solving this matter. Informal ideas about randomness are irrelevant. Why do you prompt all these confrontations lately, BA? 😉

  24. 24
    Barry Arrington says:

    Splatter @ 22: Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?

  25. 25
    cantor says:

    Splatter wrote:

    Maths is central to solving this matter. Informal ideas about randomness are irrelevant.

    The following is not an informal idea. It is a formally proven mathematical result:

    The fact that a specific string is complex cannot be formally proven, if the complexity of the string is above a certain threshold.

    So Shallit’s proud compression claim, approved by Rickert, has no formal standing.

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    BKA:

    Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?

    DiEb:

    yes, I agree with J. Shallit

    Astounding.

  27. 27
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEb:

    what do you tell your clients who insist on using “common sense definitions” of legal terms?

    I say “fine.” BTW, there is no analogue among legal terms for saying the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard.

  28. 28
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark, Neil, Splatter,

    DiEb has taken the plunge into lunacy with Shallit. Will you join him? I repeat my question: “Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?”

  29. 29
    Mapou says:

    Splatter @23:

    Maths is central to solving this matter. Informal ideas about randomness are irrelevant.

    If a concept or hypothesis cannot be explained in simple language that the average intelligent layperson can understand, it’s a sure sign that it’s either nonsense or deceit. Indecipherable language is how the high priests of ancient state religions deceived and abused society. History repeats itself with the new high priests of the current state religion.

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    Funny the parallels we sometimes see in these debates.

    Barry is just a CPA and Robert Marks is just an engineer.

    I wonder why the videos of Marks teaching mathematics at the University of Washington got pulled from YouTube.

  31. 31
    Box says:

    Barry #26,

    We seem to have reached a point where reasonable debate seems increasingly elusive.
    In post #10 I suggested that ‘getting it wrong’ is the last line of defense for the materialist. I was mistaken. Emulating insanity seems to be the last stop.

  32. 32
    Mapou says:

    Mung:

    Funny the parallels we sometimes see in these debates.

    Barry is just a CPA and Robert Marks is just an engineer.

    Yes, and Rickert is a mathematician and thus his opinion is more valid. 😉

  33. 33
    Aleta says:

    Barry says, “It is glaringly obvious that ID uses “random” in the first sense [that it was made “without definite aim, reason, or pattern”], and in that sense “random” is in fact the opposite of designed, which brings us back to where were started.

    It seems to me that in general random is not the opposite of designed. For instance, seasonal weather patterns are not random. They do, of course, contain some elements of chance, but the major features are products of all sorts of interacting natural processes that act according to regular laws. Weather events are without aim, reason, or purpose (but not without pattern), but I don’t think anyone claims they are therefore random.

    Saying that “random is the opposite of designed” in respect to strings of letters might make sense because strings of letters are things that in general are only made by humans, or devices made by humans – they don’t occur naturally and are not the product of any natural forces. But if Barry’s statement that ID uses “random” as the opposite of “design” is meant to apply in general to all phenomena, then I think that dichotomy is wrong. Perhaps Barry can clarify if he means just in respect to strings of letter, or to a more general characterization of how things come about.

    I realize that this remark isn’t aimed directly at the main discussion going on, but it does seem related to the fact that people need to have some common understanding of the meanings of words in order to have a productive discussion. Barry is using a common definition of random and Shallit a specific definition from a branch of mathematics. The fact that the don’t agree is because they aren’t using the same definition – neither one is wrong in respect to the definition they are using, but both are wrong in respect to the definition the other person is using.

  34. 34
    Aleta says:

    Here’s another point: Barry is taking into account that string #2 has meaning to an English language speaker and is recognizable as a famous passage. From that perspective, it is clearly not a random string. Shallit is not taking meaning into account at all – he is treating both strings as pure mathematical entities. If Barry had chosen a famous passage from the Upanishads, translated it into some obscure language, and left out the spaces between words, it might not be so obvious which string is random (in respect to Barry’s meaning of not having aim, reason, or pattern) and which is not.

  35. 35
    cantor says:

    Aleta @ 33 wrote:

    neither one is wrong in respect to the definition they are using

    Not.

    Shallit’s is wrong, even with respect to his own definition. See posts 1, 20, and 25.

  36. 36
    OldArmy94 says:

    If I was from the planet Schnabazan, and I had never encountered any Earth languages or alphabets, I would look at both strings with bewilderment. Neither would hold any meaning for me. After a few minutes, I might be able to discern that each had a different pattern of symbols; however, I might conclude that the first string was as meaningful as the second. The ONLY difference between the two is that someone has assigned meaning to the second series of symbols. Otherwise, it would mean nothing, just as the first means nothing. To me, that is the fatal error in materialist thinking; there is no meaning aside from what intelligence assigns to it.

  37. 37
    Mapou says:

    Aleta @34,

    I don’t think either you or Shallit see the fault in your arguments. The very fact that string #2 is intelligible to someone who speaks English is a sign that it has non-random patterns in it. A language is a system of non-random patterns and rules. These are mathematical entities. We now have algorithmic classifiers based on deep learning that can be fed a text (such as MacBeth) and, on the basis of the non-random patterns alone, create a classification of the structure of the language the text is written in.

  38. 38
    Mapou says:

    OldArmy94 @36,

    You’re completely out to lunch, man. I don’t know where to begin. You may be uneducable, so it’s not worth the effort.

  39. 39
    Mapou says:

    In my opinion, Shallit should grow some nads and admit he’s in error. Otherwise he is just another forgettable materialist wuss.

  40. 40
    Mung says:

    Something Aleta wrote caught my eye.

    From the OP:

    …but it is glaringly obvious that ID uses “random” in the first sense, and in that sense “random” is in fact the opposite of designed, which brings us back to where were started:

    When ID uses “random” is it always used in the first sense? That is a valid question.

    If ID also uses “random” in some other sense then it is important to distinguish the senses in case we be guilty of equivocation.

    Perhaps it is in fact glaringly obvious that ID uses “random” in the first sense, but it is in fact equally glaringly obvious that ID uses “random” in a sense different from the first sense.

    Some of the objectors appear to believe that ID uses the term “random” in more than one sense.

    Do they have a valid objection?

  41. 41
    Mapou says:

    Mung @40, you fell into Aleta’s trap. There is only one definition for random, not two. Aleta made it up. He is just bloviating out his asteroid orifice.

  42. 42
    Aleta says:

    to Cantor: you referenced the sentence, “The fact that a specific string is complex cannot be formally proven, if the complexity of the string is above a certain threshold.”

    Can you explain more about what that means, and how it makes Shallit wrong “in respect to his own definition”? My understanding is that Shallit is using a definition that merely looks at whether the string can be compressed using certain standard algorithms within a particular mathematical field. I don’t think measuring the complexity of a string is part of that field – maybe I’m wrong about that. Can you describe what the complexity of those two strings are, how they are measured, and what “the certain threshhold” is?

    And I’d like to point out that I’m not arguing that one string is more random than the other – I’m mostly pointing out that Barry and Shallit are not using definitions of random that have much in common, and so of course they don’t agree. I’m more interested in people having discussions about this and related topics by agreeing on definitions and finding common ground whenever possible.

    And to Mapou: what have I done to deserve your rudeness?

  43. 43
    Mapou says:

    Aleta:

    And to Mapou: what have I done to deserve your rudeness?

    I don’t like you. You are using arguments that you know to be false. You’re a weaver of lies and deception.

  44. 44
    Mung says:

    Mapou:

    Mung @40, you fell into Aleta’s trap. There is only one definition for random, not two.

    You didn’t read the OP, where Barry accused Shallit of having blinders on?

    Barry:

    Talk about willfully missing the point. Shallit fixates on the second definition of “random” and insists that “designed” is not the opposite of “random.”

    Mapou:

    There is only one definition for random, not two.

    Whatever. Take it up with Barry.

  45. 45
    Mapou says:

    Mung, the only reason that Shallit is making a mountain out of this mole hill, it’s that Barry picked a “random” string of characters that was not really random and the samples are not long enough. It’s easy to press certain substrings of characters repeatedly on a keyboard.

  46. 46
    Mung says:

    Mapou, there is either a single definition of random or there is not a single definition of random.

    Barry admitted to at least two. You contradicted Barry.

    Don’t shoot the messenger. Please.

  47. 47
    Joe says:

    Barry,

    It should be noted that the way random is used with respect to biology, (blind watchmaker)evolution and mutations is Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern. This is evidenced by the fact all mutations are classified as either copying errors, mistakes or accidents. And natural selection is infamous for not having an aim, reason or pattern. However, because NS is contra definition 2, it is called non-random.

  48. 48
    Mapou says:

    Mung, I could be wrong but I was under the impression that Barry was using two definitions for argument’s sake.

    Still, I don’t think the output of a compression algorithm is a true measure of non-randomness. A CA is looking for compressibility and will ignore trivial repetitions that do not add to a significant reduction in the size of the output file. This is true especially when working with small strings. A true hierarchical Bayesian or deep neural net classifier will likely find less randomness in string #2 than in #1. This would be even more pronounced if the sample sizes were bigger.

    I use a neural net classifier in my speech recognition research. It routinely finds structure in the sound files that I had no idea existed.

  49. 49
    Aleta says:

    Thanks to Mung for his post at 40, which relates to my first main point. In general, and not just in respect to strings, as used in ID, is “random”, meaning without aim, reason, or pattern,

    a) the opposite of design, and
    b) the only meaning of random

  50. 50
    Joe says:

    It seems as if Shallit et al., are using the fact that since not everyone on the planet recognizes and understands Shakespeare written in English to say that somehow invalidates the specification criteria. And if Hamlet was in Chinese we infidels who cannot read Chinese would think it was random. Also seeing that since some encryption code could possibly spit out the first sequence as an encrypted form of Hamlet (for example), we don’t really know if that sequence is random.

    What’s the point? Is it to show that some things that appear random are actually intelligently designed? Or is it that some things that are intelligently designed may appear to be random due to ignorance?

  51. 51
    Aleta says:

    Joe writes, ” Or is it that some things that are intelligently designed may appear to be random due to ignorance?” That’s a good point.

    I’m trying to think about this in a way that makes the determination of randomness not dependent on meaning. Let’s assume we have 60 characters (26 letters, lower and upper case, and 8 punctuation marks), and let’s assume that it can’t be taken for granted that they all appear with equal probability. Then assume we find a string of 500 of these characters without knowing anything about how they came about other, and assume they don’t appear to have any of the characteristics of any known language, or human languages in general. How could we tell if the string was random or not? What does that question mean, and what would we look for to answer it? Or is it essential that we find that it means something to somebody before we can say for sure that it is not random? Or is it essential to know something about how the string was created (its causal history)?

    Thoughts on these questions?

  52. 52
    Mapou says:

    What’s the point? Is it to show that some things that appear random are actually intelligently designed? Or is it that some things that are intelligently designed may appear to be random due to ignorance?

    Good point Joe, although I’m sure we can recognize patterns in any language, even dead languages. So Shallit is wrong on that point too.

    Repetition (hence predictability) is the key to non-randomness. Therein lies the problem with the materialist stance that calls for life originating from random chemical interactions. The argument is that any probability that self-replicating molecules can emerge from random processes is good enough to explain life on earth. This is why they love to accuse IDists of arguing from incredulity.

    The problem I see is that, in a vast chaotic and dynamic system, any pattern formed randomly is immediately destroyed. There is absolute zero chance of life emerging spontaneously out of dirt. In order to have any kind of order, creative forces must outnumber destructive forces. Simple molecules will certainly form in a chemical soup due to existing chemical and physical laws but the constructive forces are not numerous enough to lead to self-replicating lifeforms. Any molecular group will be destroyed long before it becomes complex enough to replicate. Chaos destroys order. It does not create it.

  53. 53
    Neil Rickert says:

    Mapou:

    This is such a condescending statement. First, it is an argument from authority (i’m an expert, therefore I’m right).

    This is nonsense. I was not claiming authority. I was providing context. “Random” is a technical term in mathematics, and its usage within mathematics is different from ordinary non-technical usage. I was alerting people to that background, because it affects what I mean by “random”.

  54. 54
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry

    Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?”

    It depends on your definition of random. If you define random as all characters are equally likely to appear in the string and are independent of each other then I agree with Shallit. If random is defined as created without aim or purpose then I disagree. But of course I know you are averse to defining terms so I suspect you will revert to the argument: “I am obviously right therefore you are wrong”.

  55. 55
    Box says:

    MF: It depends on your definition of random.

    Mark Frank, do you agree that it is bizarre, to say the least, that Shallit assumed that Barry used the term “random” in the sense of being more or less compressible?
    Don’t you agree with Barry that it is “glaringly obvious that ID uses “random” in the first sense, and in that sense “random” is in fact the opposite of designed (..)”?
    If you do agree, can you point us to the cause of the mix-up in Shallit’s brain chemistry?

  56. 56
    Mark Frank says:

    #55 Box

    Shallit did not define random as more or less compressible. He defined random as “each message is generated by a stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols”. This is a very common definition in the ID literature and Dembski goes to some length to defend it based on the Principle of Indifference. Shallit uses compressibility as an imperfect but practical way of measuring to what extent a string is random according to this definition.

    So I cannot agree to either sentence.

  57. 57
    Box says:

    Mark Frank, thank you for the correction. I should have written:

    do you agree that it is bizarre, to say the least, that Shallit assumed that Barry’s use of the term random was in a context of two strings of text which were both “generated by a stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols”?
    Isn’t it glaringly obvious that at least one of the texts was not generated by stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols?

  58. 58
    DiEb says:

    Barry Arrington has demonstrated how difficult it is for a human being to come up with a truly random string. The guys at Bletchley Park would have loved it if B. Arrington had been responsible for the “random” indicator and message settings of the enigma machine…

    As for the complexity: When he presented his strings for the first time, B. Arrington wrote: ” If anything, the random group is more complex than the designed group.” J. Shallit writes: ” And the results are clear: string #1 is, as measured by gzip, somewhat less complex than string #2. ” Again, J. Shallit gave one kind of measurement, just highlighting the fact that not everything is “obvious” in information theory.

  59. 59
    Mark Frank says:

    Box

    To save space let us call “generated by a stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols” R1.

    It is glaringly obvious that one string was not R1. It is less obvious on first sight that the other was also not R1. Shallit used compressibility as evidence that not only was the other one not R1 but it was even less likely to have been generated by an R1 process than the Hamlet soliliquy. A rather interesting discovery I would have thought.

  60. 60
    Joe says:

    Neil Rickert:

    “Random” is a technical term in mathematics, and its usage within mathematics is different from ordinary non-technical usage.

    In what way is the alleged ordinary usage also non-technical? In what way does the mathematical usage make it technical?

  61. 61
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    He defined random as “each message is generated by a stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols”./blockquote>

    That is one way to define it. However that misses the point of the debate which is to to determine design from happenstance accidents.

    So what’s Shallit’s point? Is it to show that some things that appear random are actually intelligently designed? Or is it that some things that are intelligently designed may appear to be random due to ignorance?

  62. 62
    Mark Frank says:

    Box

    On reflection my comment #58 was slightly wrong. I should not have written:


    Shallit used compressibility as evidence that not only was the other one not R1 but it was even less likely to have been generated by an R1 process than the Hamlet soliliquy

    I should have written:

    Shallit used compressibility as evidence that not only was the other one not R1 but it was even more likely to have been generated by a non-R1 process than the Hamlet soliliquy

    A subtle but significant difference.

  63. 63
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    But of course I know you are averse to defining terms so I suspect you will revert to the argument:

    Mark, that is baby talk. Random has been defined. All one has to do is get a dictionary, read and understand the definitions. Then one must be able to take those definitions, look at the context and figure out which apply. Obviously that ability was way over Shallit’s head.

  64. 64
    Aleta says:

    This string comes from a much larger character set than Barry’s examples – maybe 200 or so different possible characters. Is it random according to the common definition of having aim, reason, or pattern? How could one tell? What investigation could you do to answer that question?

    ÙØGH”Û?ëVà.´#*‹ ¬€í´~
    8ç‘)I? É$ÍÜÿ“?r
    ?ú?Œ¯œ·Í8Ç|±{‹ì;ˆ@?K8–,ÛW£sv??n¿_ºêÌŸ¯ÎÿE-còY©¢Uifϯ?Ì
    U#XÊkÚÏ”Œ‡p®•:Ô’¯ø?mà>[û9Üj+©ÃöÈÇk[nÚ…ì(=Wº•?@?怰‘ê0X? ê%Vã®\Œ?a=??†Í•œ«Æ$ÉÉèµBe«hÂF}ú?^}Ûpå¥?¯cóƒ{0£|ƒ#0„4J ‘€2ªÖÒZ?e}·à¿-ïOSc:?ôo[™(?5?á‰?µÃ÷?óC $r:§íj&?§}ÿY”ÇÜ :Á†œX@?8pA§-?^pØz»?fÇ|ZU!e?IF‡?`Ã[Ûù®ì8ÖÀ9È.C?0̧ÿæßóüIp~»´Øo—(^YÛô«=AæʧV@I$0?]8t
    ÑòØ%â?W y9ËKiáé+
    ˆó?À?éV ?‘€?1’‚Âê?5l0¬?(?”?È?”®œëbr3oŸQ?£?+=C8??wÊf&ÍtA>[R’?·\ëRBÑ?
    §//?ç??ÔaôGƃ»‚ó]ƒ6?T5œ5#äç„ÊlI…ØêÎà…䇋?€\?¸.Í´O±w›?†ÑàsignVªJë‘,?V8è?ñÚÕúp
    æ~,°?*sKØ{

  65. 65
    Aleta says:

    Oops – meant “Is it random according to the common definition of NOT having aim, reason, or pattern?”

  66. 66
    Barry Arrington says:

    Neil,

    You seem to have missed my question @ 28. At least you haven not answered it. I will aks it again.

    “Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?”

  67. 67
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    “Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?”

  68. 68
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark Frank:

    Shallit did not define random as more or less compressible.

    Now you are just making stuff up. From Shallit’s post:

    I said string #1 was not as random as string #2 (in the sense of being more compressible)

  69. 69
    Aleta says:

    Hi Barry. Is the string I posted at 64 as random, or more or less so, than the string you made by running your fingers over the keyboard. How would one go about answering that question? Or, the opposite question: is the string I posted designed?

  70. 70
    Sebestyen says:

    @Aleta: I believe the only way to differentiate between random gibberish and non-random code/language is to know the code/language it’s supposed to be in.
    Any string that contains two or more different characters could be a code and I don’t think there is any way to prove or disprove this by using mathematical analysis.

    This string looks more like random gibberish:

    Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook.

    In fact it’s the “Hello World” program written in the minimalistic language “Ook!”. But how could you tell?

    Sebestyen

  71. 71
    Barry Arrington says:

    BKA:

    Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?

    Mark Frank:

    It depends on your definition of random. If you define random as all characters are equally likely to appear in the string and are independent of each other then I agree with Shallit. If random is defined as created without aim or purpose then I disagree.

    Thank you Mark. You came to the exact conclusion I did in the OP. Now Mark, what is the answer to the next question in the OP?

    It may well be true that string #1 is more compressible than string #2 using some compressibility algorithm. But what does that have to do with the ID debate? My point has always been that string #1 is obviously random (using the first definition of random) and string #2 is obviously designed (it is the opposite of the first definition of random).

    Here’s a hint. You will search the ID literature in vain for even a hint that “random” is defined as strictly as Shallit has defined it.

  72. 72
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry
    #68

    Now you are just making stuff up. From Shallit’s post:
    I said string #1 was not as random as string #2 (in the sense of being more compressible)

    He also wrote in the first post:

    Needless to say, Arrington …. doesn’t specify what he means by “group of random letters”. I think a reasonable interpretation would be that he is imagining that each message is generated by a stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols.

    and later

    If we want to test this in a quantitative sense, we can use a lossless compression scheme such as gzip, an implementation of Lempel-Ziv. A truly random file will not be significantly compressible, with very very high probability. So a good test of randomness is simply to attempt to compress the file and see if it is roughly the same size as the original.

    It is clear from this that his definition of randomness is “stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols” and that compressibility is a test for this notion of randomness. The phrase you quoted is a shorthand or possibly a slightly sloppy statement on his part.
    #71

    It may well be true that string #1 is more compressible than string #2 using some compressibility algorithm. But what does that have to do with the ID debate? My point has always been that string #1 is obviously random (using the first definition of random) and string #2 is obviously designed (it is the opposite of the first definition of random).

    I answered that in #9  [referring to definition 1]:

    if you want to use that much less rigorous definition there are consequences for ID. If you define random as “Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern:” then in order to determine if it is random you have to know whether it was created with aim, reason or pattern. So you can’t use it as a way of detecting aim, reason or pattern which seems to rule it out as a method of detecting design. If ID is to be useful then it has to present some mathematical method of examining a string without making any assumptions about why or how it was produced, for example the method Shallit used.

    And in #56 [referring to definition 2]:

    Shallit did not define random as more or less compressible. He defined random as “each message is generated by a stochastic process where each letter is generated independently, with uniform probability, from some finite universe of symbols”. This is a very common definition in the ID literature and Dembski goes to some length to defend it based on the Principle of Indifference.

  73. 73
    Box says:

    What we are dealing with is the plain old simple MNSTED (the me no speaka the English distraction), only now it’s being deployed as a group tactic.

  74. 74
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry

    You will search the ID literature in vain for even a hint that “random” is defined as strictly as Shallit has defined it.

    Look at Dembski Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence page 9 where he goes to some length to define “more random” as “less compressible”. As discussed above this is not exactly the same as Shallit’s definition which uses compressability as a measure of randomness not a definition – but it is a very strict definition and much closer to definition 2 and than 1.

  75. 75
    cantor says:

    Aleta @ 64 wrote:

    This string comes from a much larger character set than Barry’s examples – maybe 200 or so different possible characters. Is it random according to the common definition of having aim, reason, or pattern? How could one tell? What investigation could you do to answer that question?

    ÙØGH”Û?ëVà.´#*‹ ¬€í´~
    8ç‘)I? É$ÍÜÿ“?r
    ?ú?Œ¯œ·Í8Ç|±{‹ì;ˆ@?K8–,ÛW£sv??n¿_ºêÌŸ¯ÎÿE-còY©¢Uifϯ?Ì
    U#XÊkÚÏ”Œ‡p®•:Ô’¯ø?mà>[û9Üj+©ÃöÈÇk[nÚ…ì(=Wº•?@?怰‘ê0X? ê%Vã®\Œ?a=??†Í•œ«Æ$ÉÉèµBe«hÂF}ú?^}Ûpå¥?¯cóƒ{0£|ƒ#0„4J ‘€2ªÖÒZ?e}·à¿-ïOSc:?ôo[™(?5?á‰?µÃ÷?óC $r:§íj&?§}ÿY”ÇÜ :Á†œX@?8pA§-?^pØz»?fÇ|ZU!e?IF‡?`Ã[Ûù®ì8ÖÀ9È.C?0̧ÿæßóüIp~»´Øo—(^YÛô«=AæʧV@I$0?]8t
    ÑòØ%â?W y9ËKiáé+
    ˆó?À?éV ?‘€?1’‚Âê?5l0¬?(?”?È?”®œëbr3oŸQ?£?+=C8??wÊf&ÍtA>[R’?·\ëRBÑ?
    §//?ç??ÔaôGƃ»‚ó]ƒ6?T5œ5#äç„ÊlI…ØêÎà…䇋?€\?¸.Í´O±w›?†ÑàsignVªJë‘,?V8è?ñÚÕúp
    æ~,°?*sKØ{

    It’s the preamble to the US Constitution. I will post the OTP if anyone doubts this.

  76. 76
    R0bb says:

    Barry:

    You will search the ID literature in vain for even a hint that “random” is defined as strictly as Shallit has defined it.

    Only if you exclude Dembski’s work from your search.

    He uses the term “random” in the sense of Kolmogorov randomness, as Shallit does, quite regularly throughout his work, starting from his “first significant contribution to intelligent design” (his own description of this paper), to his recent work.

  77. 77
    Aleta says:

    Cantor: You are being facetious, I presume. 🙂

    Any serious answer to the question, from anyone?

  78. 78
    cantor says:

    Aleta October 5, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Cantor: You are being facetious, I presume.

    No I am not.

    Here’s the OTP (in hex):

    8EA6B83320F1FB6F8E3990644B944C4C
    AB54C4E5CDE110647E5D83B17A3D5E54
    AC7108EDB591B37000696F4DDA4B77AC
    C9F3C5A018A65CDC14F9891BF8254D2D
    5DF558FB026DCA1C1813265A7C1ADE3D
    D683BFF78F848A36594900977589CB3B
    1A13BDCA1FA8626730502CA308FA9BE6
    EDE901DBFC56BDE67783D84F1F8F4832
    9F5CFC0C44DBE3827BADE7083403B7EA
    82085932DCF051235ACAA0C0E3855D37
    4B45CA513E868E3BE951044F5E53A69A
    F0F0CDA756ACE5C8D42C018B1BA72508
    885A382A7218FB3289C00C4CC60D94F0
    5B717010EF15E14642F04D6A724FB167
    F540D9B3BE2C5A165D77D9849F429A3D
    7333554C800A29F05C46191F85E61FDA
    B1935E9A2D00451C5E878819527F5D77
    CE7515DF2D4AAEAF005E55AFF5E83163
    354B517D1E61C1424D7E04B0765ABAEE
    C0CF5A02E72F2E7F2144161F2620A77E
    7805B13273BAD7
    .
    Go ahead, try it. It will decode your cyphertext into the US Constitution Preamble.

  79. 79
    Aleta says:

    I have no idea how to use what you posted to see if the string I posted is the Preamble. Can you tell me how I would do that?

  80. 80

    Aleta,

    Whether or not we can know if the first string is random or not is irrelevant. We know the 2nd string is not. ID doesn’t claim to prevent false negatives, but rather claims that, above a certain threshold, it can find ID positives with near certainty.

    Can this be done without knowing the code language and what it means? Well, in biology this is a moot question. We do know the code language and what various node strings of information mean in terms of how they are translated by molecular machines into shapes that have specific functions.

    We are talking about information node strings used by a 3D printer system to produce specific functional shapes. So yes, we – at least in a basic sense – know the language and meaning of many of the language strings and we work every day to decipher more of it to use for our benefit.

    We can also tell when those strings contain errors, because they start producing non-functional shapes or shapes that begin to destroy the functionality of the entire system – like accumulating copy errors that begin to degrade the functional nature of first a sentence, then a paragraph, then a chapter, then the entire book.

    I will point out to you that your example is in fact a testimony about the difference between what we can expect a random system to produce and what intelligence can produce; no amount of actual random node accumulations can produce a specified, complex function such as the preamble to the US Constitution.

    IOW, if we found your node string somewhere and simply assumed random forces had accumulated those nodes, there would be no reason to investigate further; but if we felt that there might be an intelligently designed code contained in it, we might be able to break the code, translate it and then gain some knowledge.

    It would be nonsensical to attempt to “decode” a string of nodes believed to have been cobbled together randomly – that would be like trying to decode the complex, specified functional meaning of a string of rocks that fell during an avalanche. One must first hypothesize that a string of nodes has nonrandom, specified, functional meaning to bother attempting to decode it in the first place.

  81. 81
    cantor says:

    79 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I have no idea how to use what you posted to see if the string I posted is the Preamble. Can you tell me how I would do that?

    http://bit.ly/1vEvLNm

  82. 82
    Aleta says:

    Cantor: I don’t think there is any reason to be snide. I read the Wikipedia article on OTP. You are saying that what you posted will decode what I posted into the Preamble. How would I actually do that? For instance the first two characters in your string are 8E. The first two characters in my string are ÙÃ. How do you show that these represent the word “We”?

  83. 83
    Neil Rickert says:

    Barry Arrington:

    You seem to have missed my question @ 28. At least you haven not answered it. I will aks it again.

    “Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?”

    I did not miss that. It is not a question that I can address. There is too much missing information.

    What does “haphazard” mean in these circumstances. Does “qwertyqwertyqwerty” count as haphazard? Does “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” count as haphazard?

    [For those who wonder, that “quick brown fox …” sentence was often the only thing that a typewriter repairman could type efficiently. It was a test sentence that touched every letter.]

    Was the Shakespearean text a random selection from Shakespeare?

    As a mathematician, I use “random” in a technical sense. My normal usage wants to look for a plausible mathematical model (a sample space with probabilities). It is hard to get that from your question.

    An alternative technical usage is in terms of compressibility, which was what Shallit used.

    When I said that Shallit was correct, I meant that he was correct with respect to his technical usage of “random”. I really cannot judge non-technical usage of “random”, because that’s not how I use it. I find non-technical usage to often be misleading and confusing. My examples of an encrypted message, or of Shakespeare translated into Turkish were intended to illustrate how misleading it can be.

  84. 84
    Daniel King says:

    Mark Frank @74, R0bb @76, both within about an hour after

    Here’s a hint. You will search the ID literature in vain for even a hint that “random” is defined as strictly as Shallit has defined it.

    The knowledge of ID’s history and rationale exhibited by some of its critics is impressive.

  85. 85
    cantor says:

    82 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Cantor: I don’t think there is any reason to be snide.

    Don’t be calling me names Mr Aleta. Trust me, you don’t want to be getting into a pissing match with me.

    I am being civil with you because your posts have been civil (so far).

    I gave you those references to be helpful. Your posts gave the impression you hadn’t made any attempt to educate yourself.

    To decode your cyphertext, simply sequentially XOR each binary byte of your cypher with each binary byte of the OTP. The OTP will decode your cipher into the US Constitution preamble.

    .

  86. 86
    cantor says:

    42 Aleta October 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    to Cantor: you referenced the sentence, “The fact that a specific string is complex cannot be formally proven, if the complexity of the string is above a certain threshold.”

    Can you explain more about what that means, and how it makes Shallit wrong “in respect to his own definition”?

    It means that, above a certain level of complexity, it is not possible to know which of two strings is more (or less) “random”, in the sense of compressibility.

    If Shallit knows this, then I am calling his bluff.

    I Shallit doesn’t know this, then perhaps he is not as knowledgeable as his posturing would suggest.

    .

  87. 87
    Joe says:

    Shallit makes the incorrect interpretation, calls it reasonable and then refutes its use. That is called a strawman

  88. 88
    Joe says:

    In order to know if there is or isn’t an equal probability of being selected you have to know what the selective options are. IOW the alleged “technical” definition is wrought with technical problems.

  89. 89
    Aleta says:

    Hi Cantor. I wasn’t calling you names. But I think sending me a cute little link to how to google was snide – I was applying an accurate adjective to what you did, I think.

    But I can also assure you that my string will not decode to the US Preamble, because I know where it came from, and that’s not it. In fact, I know whether it was randomly generated from a program which choose from those characters, or not.

    So unless you’d like to demonstrate that my string is the Preamble encoded somehow, I’m going to assume that you are stringing me along (pun intended) for your own purposes.

  90. 90
    cantor says:

    89 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I think sending me a cute little link to how to google was snide – I was applying an accurate adjective to what you did, I think.

    unless you’d like to demonstrate that my string is the Preamble encoded somehow, I’m going to assume that you are stringing me along (pun intended) for your own purposes.

    OK, have it your way: gloves off.

    What part of “XOR the bytes” don’t you understand?

    Or maybe it would be simpler for you just to list what you *do* understand about mathematics and computer programming, and I can hold your hand and walk you through it from there.

    .

  91. 91
    Splatter says:

    Barry @ 24: Do you agree with Shallit that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of characters resulting from haphazard banging on a keyboard?

    This is what I mean by more need for mathematical rigor: what do you mean by “more random”? Randomness can be measured in various ways, and you’d need to show me how I can attach actual numbers to each sequence. Then I can tell you which is more random.

    If S is a process which generates 100 characters from Shakespeare at random, and M is a process which generates 100 characters of keyboard-mashing at random, then I would say that M is more random than S (in the sense of Shannon entropy). If we assume that both sequences came from either S or M, then we can reasonably classify the first as arising from S and the second as arising from M. Given that the most we can say is:

    “Given our knowledge or S and M, we can conclude with reasonable certainty that the first sequence arose from a process which is less random than that from which the second sequence arose.”

    Is that close enough? I imagine this is where your intuition of randomness arises from (though I might be wrong). It is wrong to talk of the randomness of a string – we should talk about the randomness of the process which generated the string. In all this I am thinking along Shannon lines, and it doesn’t satisfy the appetite of an ID-hunter – except as a sugary snack that dissolves in the mind after a while 🙂

    More robust ID reasoning might proceed along the lines of compressibility, etc.; but again, I’d love to see numbers of a C program which can make the judgement you made mechanically.

    Suppose I have a sequence xyyxyzyyxyzyyxyzyzyxyyxyxyz. If this sequence were encountered in nature, should I conclude that an intelligence or mind produced it? It is possible that if many thousands of xs ys and zs were encountered (e.g. from an ET transmission), we could conclude that it was communicating something, if we could relate it to some common objective world. Suppose the sequence encoded the positions of all the stars as they appear in the night sky on Earth in a fairly unforced way. To guard against posthoc reasoning a la Bible codes, etc., suppose once someone had spotted this pattern and noticed that it predicted half the stars in the sky, the sequence continued to predict the other half successfully. That sequence might count as ID, I guess. It could be an ET computer relaying the sequence of course – but we would expect that it was intentional (even if the nature of the intent was alien to us). Is that specified complexity? The sequence conforms to an improbable but meaningful pattern. The genetic code is improbable in the sense that of all the DNA sequences imaginable, it is rare; it is specific in the sense that it describes how to build fully-functioning organisms (epigenetics aside).

    That said, a sequence of stones rising from the base of a mountain to the summit encodes how to reach the top. For each stone, pick another stone nearby which is higher off the ground 🙂 Perhaps the genetic code is like that: it is a material thing which ended up the way it is, and seems to code for something, but only when viewed from that perspective.

    I dunno. Thoughts?

    [Aside 1: I’m not ready to follow Shallit into any lunacy, as you put it. I find the man quite obnoxious and rude. I wouldn’t follow him anywhere.

    Aside 2: Why do you pick so many fights these days?? 1 in 4 UD posts seem to be extensions of your oneupmanship with other pundits. With respect, please desist!]

  92. 92
    Aleta says:

    I’ve taught math through calculus and beginning programming. I understand binary and xor. I assume you are referring to the ascii codes for the characters displayed on the screen. My fourth character is G and your fourth character 6, which are 01000111 and 00110110 respectively. The XOR of those is q, which is not the 4th character in the Preamble.

    Now I may have made a false assumption (perhaps you didn’t mean in reference to ascii codes), or made a mistake, but I am sufficiently mathematically skilled for you to explain how the 4th letter of your code and the 4th letter of mine become the 4th letter of the Preamble.

  93. 93
    Upright BiPed says:

    UD needs to start a vault of the most stupid things ever said in the defense of materialism.

    These beauties need not rot in the shadows of the search function, they should be paraded around in the light, so that their authors can forever defend them.

  94. 94
    Mapou says:

    Why is randomness so important to ID and Darwinian evolution? Can anybody please write a short answer that captures the essence of the debate?

  95. 95
    Splatter says:

    My attitude is essentially that of Neil Rickert above (@83). For my part (if not his—I don’t know) I’d be interested to see whether complexity of sequences could be proven to denote intent. But the “rhetorical” quarter of ID, which uses dictionary, rather than formal definitions of, say, “random” and “complex”, I find hard to get on with. That was the essence of my original post on here. I wasn’t trying to elevate the conversation to the level of mathematics in order to exclude anyone, or insult anyone for mathematical illiteracy. ID is supposed to have mathematical foundations – so it’s reasonable to inquire after them.

  96. 96
    Splatter says:

    Why is randomness so important to ID and Darwinian evolution?

    Mathematically: for the same reason randomness is “important” to modelling dice-rolling. It enables us to get a meaningful mathematical handle on something in which not all the causes relevant to the process are visible or measurable by us.

    Culturally: Randomness (or actually, I think, uniformity) is thought to correspond to a lack of intentionality or deliberation. These qualities have traditionally been associated with God, so the more random evolution is (and nature generally), the less God is involved or required. This is a cultural force which makes evolution appealing to many. Also the multiverse.

  97. 97
    Aleta says:

    And actually, as I think more about this, I see that it’s possible that you could have created your string to map my string to the preamble, and then sent me the code that did that, in which case your code would map my code back to the Preamble if done properly, even though that is not how my code was created. In this case you would be treating my code as the key, not as the source to be decoded.

    If that’s what you’ve done, then it’s a neat trick that avoids the real issue at hand.

  98. 98
    Mapou says:

    Splatter @95, there is no reason that a formal definition of randomness cannot be stated in a language that anybody can understand, IMO.

    IMO, the reason that certain complex systems denote intent has to do with chaos and time. Complexity does not just appear. It is formed over time. In a non-intentional or chaotic system, no highly complex sequence can form because it is quickly destroyed by the destructive forces in the system. This is the reason that living organisms have a gene repair mechanism that goes to great lengths to fight random mutations and ensure that DNA sequences are conserved. No organism could survive without this mechanism. So if evolution is caused by random mutations and selection, how does the gene repair mechanism know which mutated sequence to repair?

    Furthermore, I think the same argument for intent is also valid for ordinary matter. Particles, too, were designed.

  99. 99
    Mapou says:

    As a follow-up to 98, no gene repair mechanism can evolve without a gene repair mechanism. Evolution = Snake eating tail.

  100. 100
    Splatter says:

    I guess an evolutionist would argue that the gene repair mechanism co-evolved with the genes they repair.

    I agree that ideas about randomness can be expressed in plain English (or whatever). But where confusion abounds (and it seems to on these forums), would it not be wise to fall back on standard notation and ideas from mathematics as a means to reduce the contention – and rancor?

    The formation of complex structures in spite of destructive forces in the system is an obstacle for materialism, I agree. But configurations that are stable in the face of counteracting influences (speaking loosely) are likely to persist and grow in abundance – and I think that is how the Darwinists reason. Certainly Dawkins thinks this way.

  101. 101
    Mapou says:

    Splatter:

    I guess an evolutionist would argue that the gene repair mechanism co-evolved with the genes they repair.

    Which is why evolutionists are out to lunch. That’s not even wrong, IMO.

  102. 102
    cantor says:

    92 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 11:46 am

    My fourth character is G and your fourth character 6

    You have a reading comprehension problem. Or perhaps ADD.

    In post 78, it was clearly stated that the OTP was posted in hex:

    Here’s the OTP (in hex):

    The 4th byte in the OTP is 33h, not “6”.

    97 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    And actually, as I think more about this, I see that it’s possible that you could have created your string to map my string to the preamble…

    If that’s what you’ve done, then it’s a neat trick that avoids the real issue at hand.

    Of course that’s what I did. It should have been immediately obvious.

    And if you had the attention span to think about it even for a minute, you’d realize it goes directly to the heart of “the real issue at hand”.

    .

  103. 103
    Aleta says:

    Hi Cantor: Given your condescending rudeness, the smart thing for me to do would be to bow out of this conversation. However, I’ll ask again. Is the string I posted random or not? What procedures would one use to go about investigating that question? It is obviously not subject to the “I know it isn’t random because I see it’s Hamlet’s soliloquy” test. What more sophisticated tests could one use?

    Can you give a clear, concise answer to that question?

  104. 104
    Splatter says:

    Consider this code. We start with 1000 organisms encoded by 8 bit genomes. If the first bit of the genome is 1, the organism has a 95% chance of survival; otherwise the chance is 40%. If an organism survives it has a single offspring. The probability of a bitwise mutation in the offspring is 1 in 100. The fifth bit, if set, repairs the first bit to “true”. The sixth bit repairs the second bit, etc. You will notice if you run this code, that the first and fourth bits are favoured. The first bit obviously aids survival. The fifth bit enables survival indirectly by repairing the first.

    Consequently, the assertion that a repair system can’t coevolve with function in principle is faulty, I think I’ve shown.

    This is what I mean by words not being enough (though important). You need proofs, or simulations, or something.


    ninit = 1000;
    orgs = rand(ninit, 8) <= 0.5;

    ngen = 100;

    Q = zeros(ngen, 8);

    for g = 1:1000

    ps = zeros(size(orgs, 1), 1);
    ps( orgs(:,1)) = 0.95;
    ps(~orgs(:,1)) = 0.4;

    mask = rand(size(ps)) <= ps;

    orgs(~mask,:) = [];

    mut = rand(size(orgs)) <= 0.01;
    orgs(mut) = ~orgs(mut);

    orgs(orgs(:,5),1) = true;
    orgs(orgs(:,6),2) = true;
    orgs(orgs(:,7),3) = true;
    orgs(orgs(:,8),4) = true;

    Q(g,:) = mean(orgs)';

    fprintf('Gen = %d, Orgs = %d\n', g, size(orgs,1));
    fprintf('Mean fitness: %f\n', mean(orgs)');

    pause;

    end

  105. 105
    Splatter says:

    I meant first and fifth, apologies.

  106. 106
    Aleta says:

    To be clear, the reason I am asking is because my thought at this point is that there isn’t any way to determine whether the string I posted is random or designed without knowing something about these things:

    a) how was the string produced – a question about its causal history,
    b) if it “means” anything or not in any possible “language”, and/or
    c) the “aim or reason” for the string, other than just to be a random string.

    I guess I don’t believe reliable information about the randomness of the string, according to Barry’s definition of “Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern” can be determined just by looking at the string itself without reference to these other elements concerning its history, meaning, or purpose.

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    If one has a proposed definition of randomness that assigns the first twelve lines of the Hamlet soliloquy to being even remotely regarded as random, on the face of it, the definition (as used . . . abused?) fails.

    Period.

    No excuses or clever Emperor’s fancy new robes talking points can rescue it.

    And we thought that was just a tale for kids . . .

    Instead, we need to go back to the analysis of strings provided by Trevors and Abel about a decade ago, contrasting order, randomness and functional sequence compressibility. Their Fig 4 will provide food for thought and perhaps BA may wish to add it to a PS to the OP for reference.

    BTW, it gives a very nice illustration of islands of function.

    Let me clip the abstract:

    Genetic algorithms instruct sophisticated biological organization. Three qualitative kinds of sequence complexity exist: random (RSC), ordered (OSC), and functional (FSC). FSC alone provides algorithmic instruction. Random and Ordered Sequence Complexities lie at opposite ends of the same bi-directional sequence complexity vector. Randomness in sequence space is defined by a lack of Kolmogorov algorithmic compressibility. A sequence is compressible because it contains redundant order and patterns. Law-like cause-and-effect determinism produces highly compressible order. Such forced ordering precludes both information retention and freedom of selection so critical to algorithmic programming and control. Functional Sequence Complexity requires this added programming dimension of uncoerced selection at successive decision nodes in the string. Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).

    Shallit’s primary technical error is to fail to see that functional organisation is ALSO a contrast to randomness, that is in turn also distinct from repetitive order. (This has been a commonplace of ID thought at least since Orgel’s seminal remarks in 1973.)

    A functional, largely aperiodic coded sequence will resist compression a lot more than opopopop . . . n times. Just, not as hard as a flat random one. Where also, many random patterns are not flat uniform distribution random but have every right to the term.

    And meaningless, purposeless outcomes driven by chance are legitimately regarded as random.

    Similarly, a falling tumbling then settling die is random though its processes are deterministic — the chaos of eight corners and twelve edges leads to uncontrollable contingency through clashing uncorrelated causal chains and hey presto a classic random outcome generator. By contrast something like Zener noise is apparently directly random tracing to quantum effects. Though, it is not flat.

    I have repeatedly talked about my Dad’s phone book as poor man’s random number table trick, based on uncorrelated clashing chains.

    In fact, the discussion of the contrast chance (and randomness) vs mechanical necessity vs design as intelligently directed contingency is reasonable. So is the view of chance and randomness in terms of credibly undirected contingency that tends to follow stochastic patterns.

    If this sort of scorched earth obfuscation to the point of willfully clinging to patent absurdities is what objectors to design thought are now embracing, that plainly means the basic design case is increasingly clearly the strong horse.

    KF

  108. 108
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Again and again I see the demand that design theory produce a universal decoder algorithm. This is unfair and a strawman, as there is utterly no good reason in theory of computation to expect such an algorithm to exist, so it is another way of saying no reasonable degree of evidence will be acceptable to such an objector — selective hyperskepticism. And, if intentional after correction, patently dishonest and disrespectful. Instead, first, show your function, then assess complexity beyond 500 – 1,000 yes/no questions to specify the function, then discuss whether one can show a case where blind chance and necessity can credibly produce such in light of the needle in haystack search challenge implied. There are trillions of examples that show such by design, including posts in this thread. With ZERO credible examples tot he contrary.

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: People make a good enough for government work evaluation of randomness all the time based on observed statistical distributions, a sufficiently long pattern to credibly reveal a reasonable random distribution from tossing a die is more than good enough for practical purposes, and by contrast long enough suspicious runs point to non-random processes. As we all know — just ask the Houses in Las Vegas. I suggest that these objectors take a little while to look at statistical process control and the use of control charts and the like.

  110. 110
    cantor says:

    103 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Cantor: Given your condescending rudeness…

    Earth to Aleta: You started the fire at post 82, and I warned you, but you ignored my warning.

    Apparently you can dish it out, but you can’t take it.

    .

  111. 111
    Joe says:

    The problem with using the word “random” in the technical sense is as Dembski pointed out and Shallit demonstrated-> intelligently designed prose will be more random than an attempt to be random.

  112. 112
    cantor says:

    103 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Is the string I posted random or not?

    Yes. And No. It depends on the receiver. And your definition of “random”.

    I see you learned nothing from posts 35 and 75.

    .

  113. 113
    Joe says:

    On another note:

    The second sequence clearly exhibits specified complexity as defined by ID, but does it contain any information? Meaning, does it reduce uncertainty? Does it have any meaning? Does it function for something other than musings in a play?

  114. 114
    Joe says:

    Aleta- the pattern in 64 appears random. And it would depend on the context as to whether any investigation is warranted.

    For example if we received that over some secure channel we could assume it was an encrypted message. That tells us there is at least an attempt of communication.

  115. 115
    cantor says:

    106 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    To be clear, the reason I am asking is because my thought at this point is that there isn’t any way to determine whether the string I posted is random or designed without knowing something about these things…

    You need to read and re-read WJM’s post #80 until you understand it:

    80 William J Murray October 5, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Aleta,

    Whether or not we can know if the first string is random or not is irrelevant. We know the 2nd string is not. ID doesn’t claim to prevent false negatives, but rather claims that, above a certain threshold, it can find ID positives with near certainty.

  116. 116
    Aleta says:

    But Cantor, I haven’t been snide, rude, or condescending – you have. I have pointed those things out, but I have not been uncivil in return.

    It was snide of you to post the cute little “do you know how to google” link, and I pointed that out. That’s all. Then you said that maybe you needed to hold my hand, that maybe I had a reading comprehension problem, and that somethings should have been immediately obvious. Those were rude and condescending statements.

    It’s not worth my time to try to discuss things with people who behave this way, so I will end my discussion with you.

  117. 117
    Aleta says:

    Joe writes, “For example if we received that over some secure channel we could assume it was an encrypted message. That tells us there is at least an attempt of communication.”

    Yes, that would be an example of knowing something about the background history of something can help us know whether it is random or not.

  118. 118
    Aleta says:

    And to William J Murray: can you positively, then, identify the string I posted as designed?

  119. 119
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Regarding the OP, has anyone calculated the uncertainty of the two given strings?

    By my count, if we assume that the characters in each respective string are equiprobable, then:

    #1: 2909.48 bits
    #2: 2969.93 bits
    Delta: 60.45 bits

    On that measure it looks like string #2 has more uncertainty. However if we make no such assumption, and factor in the frequency of the characters as they occur in the string, then:

    #1: 2544.10 bits
    #2: 2460.50 bits
    Delta: 83.6 bits

    In this case, it appears that string #1 has more uncertainty than #2, and is thereby less compressible. Imo, the latter is the more objective measure because it makes no assumption about the equiprobability of the characters in the set, but measures uncertainty by the frequency of occurrence of each character in its respective string.

    I’m curious if anyone has arrived at similar numbers, or different ones, and by what measure.

  120. 120
    cantor says:

    116 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm
    I haven’t been snide, rude, or condescending

    Your response to my attempt to provide you with the information you requested was rude and uncalled-for.

    When I pointed this out, you doubled-down instead of apologizing.

    I warned you about a pissing match. Apparently you can dish it out, but you can’t take it.

    .

  121. 121
    cantor says:

    118 Aleta October 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm
    can you positively, then, identify the string I posted as designed?

    What part of “ID doesn’t claim to prevent false negatives” don’t you understand??

    .

  122. 122
    Mapou says:

    Splatter:

    Consider this code. We start with 1000 organisms encoded by 8 bit genomes. If the first bit of the genome is 1, the organism has a 95% chance of survival; otherwise the chance is 40%. If an organism survives it has a single offspring. The probability of a bitwise mutation in the offspring is 1 in 100. The fifth bit, if set, repairs the first bit to “true”. The sixth bit repairs the second bit, etc. You will notice if you run this code, that the first and fourth bits are favoured. The first bit obviously aids survival. The fifth bit enables survival indirectly by repairing the first.

    Consequently, the assertion that a repair system can’t coevolve with function in principle is faulty, I think I’ve shown.

    How can you say this when you start out with a gene repair mechanism that is already specified a priori? Come on, man. You got to do better than that.

  123. 123
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Addendum to my #119. Slightly different numbers using the UTF-8 character set, but the same relative result.

    Uniform method:

    String #1: 2837.16 bits
    String #2: 2879.50 bits
    Delta: 42.31 bits

    Frequency method:

    String #1: 2476.91 bits
    String #2: 2378.55 bits
    Delta: 98.36 bits

    When considering the frequency of characters as they appear in their respective strings, #2 appears to be around 98 bits lighter than #1, meaning the Shakespeare string is inherently more compressible, even though it is longer than the undirected string.

  124. 124
    Eric Anderson says:

    Discussions about “randomness” often go quickly awry, as the concept has several meanings and some people deny the existence of randomness at all.

    I’m not sure much will be resolved by arguing over whether string #1 is more “random” than string #2 unless people are using the same definitions. If Shallit wants to focus on compressibility, fine. But he needs to understand and acknowledge that in that case, his entire beef about the randomness of the two strings amounts to a tempest in a teapot. It is not even relevant to the larger issue, which has to do with specification.

    Indeed, the entire question of compressibility (or, as Shallit focused on in my exchange with him recently, Kolmogorov information, or the Shannon metric, or any other compressibility/transmission algorithm) is largely irrelevant for purposes of determining specification and design. (Yes, there can be some limited utility in ascertaining sheer complexity, but that is it.)

    As I stated in my recent exchange with Shallit:

    Again, [Shallit’s focus on Kolmogorov information is] missing the issue entirely. Shallit has either not read up on what is required for complex, functional, specified systems or he hasn’t understood what he has read. Hint: Kolmogorov information isn’t going to get you anywhere. And no, it isn’t an answer to what Hunter pointed out on his blog. And, no, it isn’t related to where Adami was trying to go, which is the paper that started this whole discussion.

    Let’s keep the eye on the ball. The issues is specification. Getting distracted with compressibility and what is more “random” than something else allows Shallit to play endless games and continue to spew his juvenile vitriol, all the while avoiding the real central issues.

  125. 125
    kairosfocus says:

    Functional specification, especially. Joined to complexity implying 500 – 1,000+ y/N questions to identify the functionally specific config.

  126. 126
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Eric @ 124, yes, it should be entirely beside the point. But according to the OP, the claim was that string #2 was “more random” due to being less compressible. By the numbers, this doesn’t appear to be so (ignoring the false equivalency). I could be in error, but if my numbers are accurate, the “less compressible” distraction is not valid; not just because it ignores specification, but because it’s not supported by the objective amount of uncertainty in the strings. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to check the assumptions of the detractors, just in case they’re wrong on the face of it.

  127. 127
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    BTW, it’s not like the anti-ID position will ever acknowledge the objective validity of specification anyway. Shallit’s claim, although it misses the point (and perhaps intentionally) is quite possibly wrong. It looks like string #2 is indeed more compressible, and hence “less random” by his own standard of measurement.

    Again my numbers may be in error; but if not, by all measures put forward, the Shakespeare text is “less random”. 😉

  128. 128
    Barry Arrington says:

    Further comments on this issue should be posted here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ase-again/

Comments are closed.