Intelligent Design

ID exam question: When does design become obvious? And a challenge: Write a meaningful English sentence with the greatest number of alliterative M’s.

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In the last sentence of my last UD post I wrote: “A microbe did not mysteriously mutate into Mozart and his music, and most people, thankfully, are smart enough to figure out that this is a silly idea.”

In a comment I asked: “Is the ‘m’ alliteration in the last sentence of my post by design or by chance? Did you detect it? Explain.”

In a follow-up comment I challenged: “Had I written, ‘A microbe did not mysteriously mutate into Mozart and his music, and most people, mercifully, are much too smart to swallow this silly idea,’ would you have detected alliterative design? How many alliterative M’s would it take to make design an obvious, slam-dunk conclusion? Explain.”

No one commented on this, and I’d be interested in your thoughts. My bottom-line thesis is that design can be objectively detected, and that it’s not all that difficult.

If a few alliterative M’s can spark a conclusive design inference, what about nature and living systems? I propose that the only reason for denying design in nature is that it would make some people philosophically uncomfortable. They should just feel uncomfortable and get used to it.

So, how about my challenge? I got eight alliterative M’s in one meaningful sentence. Who can beat me?

31 Replies to “ID exam question: When does design become obvious? And a challenge: Write a meaningful English sentence with the greatest number of alliterative M’s.

  1. 1
    Carlos says:

    Somewhere in the past few days, I’d come across a quip from the evolutionary biologist Peter Medawar. He’d said that if he came across a species of fish with spots on its side, which in every case formed a picture of a known constellation, he’d seriously reconsider the evolution inference.

  2. 2
    Tom English says:

    “My bottom-line thesis is that design can be objectively detected, and that it’s not all that difficult.”

    Sure, you either give a strong argument for irreducible complexity or you compute the complex specified information. Your alliterative sentence is not IC, so you are left with computing the CSI. (Then you hope that someone doesn’t come along with a chance hypothesis under which the target has much higher probability than with the hypothesis you thought of.)

    Design inference is supposedly science, not a seat-of-the-pants affair.

  3. 3
    Tom English says:

    Carlos,

    Those spots would be protective coloring in a species that feeds close to the surface at night and is preyed upon from below.

  4. 4
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Yeah, except on cloudy nights…

  5. 5
    idnet.com.au says:

    My main message minimally mutated massively modifies my meaning.

  6. 6
    Karl Pfluger says:

    GilDodgen wrote:

    My bottom-line thesis is that design can be objectively detected, and that it’s not all that difficult.

    Gil,

    What is your objective method of design detection, and can you show us how it works, by example, when applied to a living system?

    If a few alliterative M’s can spark a conclusive design inference, what about nature and living systems? I propose that the only reason for denying design in nature is that it would make some people philosophically uncomfortable. They should just feel uncomfortable and get used to it.

    A few comments:

    1. Your sentence was part of a written English text, so we had already concluded it was designed before considering the presence or absence of alliteration.

    2. Your post really asks, “Is the alliteration in this designed sentence intentional or not?” In other words, did the word selection criteria include alliteration as a major factor? Yet we are constantly admonished by ID supporters that design criteria (i.e. the intentions of the designer) are outside the scope of ID, which is concerned only with the detection of design.

    3. Your rhetorical question in the above quote (“If a few alliterative M’s can spark a conclusive design inference, what about nature and living systems?”) seems to mean “If a few simple little alliterative m’s lead to a design inference, then how could something as complicated as a living system possibly be undesigned?”

    Two points in reply: a) as I noted above, the design inference was based on the fact that your sentence was English text, not that it was alliterative; and b) the logic seems to be: if a simple thing is designed, everything more complicated must also be designed. This is simply false.

  7. 7
    russ says:

    2. Your post really asks, “Is the alliteration in this designed sentence intentional or not?” In other words, did the word selection criteria include alliteration as a major factor? Yet we are constantly admonished by ID supporters that design criteria (i.e. the intentions of the designer) are outside the scope of ID, which is concerned only with the detection of design.

    Comment by Karl Pfluger — September 18, 2006 @ 3:58 am

    “Design” by definition requires “intention”. ID supporters only object when detractors say something like, “Why is the designer alliterating?” or “If the sentence was designed, why aren’t there 11 M’s instead of 10? Must be NDE.”

  8. 8
    tribune7 says:

    mmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmm good mind-bender.

  9. 9
    tribune7 says:

    He’d said that if he came across a species of fish with spots on its side, which in every case formed a picture of a known constellation, he’d seriously reconsider the evolution inference.

    Suppose he stumbled across a single fish whose side simply said ID is right? (Hey Gil do ‘s’s count?)

    Suppose he came across a fish whose side said ID?

    Or suppose we develope genetics to the point where fish breeders can sell fishes for your tank at home with the constellations on the side?

  10. 10
    russ says:

    Karl wrote: “3. Your rhetorical question in the above quote (‘If a few alliterative M’s can spark a conclusive design inference, what about nature and living systems?’) seems to mean ‘If a few simple little alliterative m’s lead to a design inference, then how could something as complicated as a living system possibly be undesigned?’

    Two points in reply: a) as I noted above, the design inference was based on the fact that your sentence was English text, not that it was alliterative; and b) the logic seems to be: if a simple thing is designed, everything more complicated must also be designed. This is simply false.”

    Comment by Karl Pfluger — September 18, 2006 @ 3:58 am

    Reply to a) So what if it was the use of English rather than alliteration that sparked the design inference. Are you saying that if you had no knowledge of the English language or any human language, you wouldn’t have infered design in Gil’s alliterative English sentence?

    Reply to b) I don’t think he’s saying “if a simple thing is designed, everything more complicated must also be designed.” as you’ve suggested, but rather, “If you can infer design in simple things with relatively little specification, why can’t you infer design in complicated things which contain far more complexity and lots more specification.”

  11. 11
    John A. Davison says:

    I recall one with the letter d.

    Defeat of deduct go over defence before detail, but it only has 4 ds. It was a reponse to the challenge to use defeat, deduct, defense and detail, all in one sentence.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  12. 12
    russ says:

    So, how about my challenge? I got eight alliterative M’s in one meaningful sentence. Who can beat me? – Gil

    Mindless, mendacious morons make much of micromutations, meanwhile maliciously machinating more malevolent moves against their maker.

  13. 13
    russ says:

    In 12 Methinks “micromutations” is not a word. Make it “microevolutionary mutations”, for a score of 14. 🙂

    “Mindless, mendacious morons make much of microevolutionary mutations, meanwhile maliciously machinating more malevolent moves against their Maker.”

  14. 14
    DaveScot says:

    Mindlessly meandering materialists, meanly marauding mental misfits making macroevolutionary mountains of microevolutionary molehills, magnify my misgivings moreso than most malicious malcontents masquerading as meaningful members of modern mankind.

  15. 15

    GilDogden wrote (in the OP):

    In the last sentence of my last UD post I wrote: “A microbe did not mysteriously mutate into Mozart and his music, and most people, thankfully, are smart enough to figure out that this is a silly idea.”

    In a comment I asked: “Is the ‘m’ alliteration in the last sentence of my post by design or by chance? Did you detect it? Explain.”

    Ok, let’s take the challenge somewhat seriously. First off, only an IDist/creationist would write this sentence. For evolutionists, it’s not single organisms that evolve, but populations. This tells us that the sentence does not have the purpose of refuting evolution, but some other purpose. This purpose might well be to show off the designer’s ability to make alliterations.

    Intelligence – the thingy that does ‘Intelligent Design’ – by definition changes probabilities. Since the sentence is meaningless, and there are N meaningless sentences of the same length as the one in question, and that one shows some artistic pattern, the specified complexity alert should go in yellow. Of course, a more precise calculation of probabilities is required for a final verdict; but I don’t have the time for that 🙂

  16. 16
    DLH says:

    In a marvel of microbiology, a microbe did not mysteriously mutate into Mozart and his melodious music, and mercifully, most men meticulously figure out this mercurialy mendacous matter after minimal meditation.

  17. 17
    kvwells says:

    Re the “constellation decoration inference.”

    gimme a break! Same as the ‘God’s name on the moon’ and ‘Made by Yaweh engraved in cells’. So much like a spouse saying to his/her counterpart:

    “Yes, you work three jobs to support me while I am unemployed, and Yes, you tell me you love me in a dozen different ways daily, and yes you buy me little gifts, and set apart at least an hour per day from your busy schedule just to give me ‘talky-time’, (etc ad nauseum), But until you show up with a dozen roses of the kind which only grow in an unknown location on the summit of Mt. Everest and which are completely unavailable anywhere else, and which crumble into dust as soon as they are picked, THEN I’ll believe you!

    A counselor would say this has much more to do with an inability in the object of affection to receive affection as genuine, than any lack of devotion. Think about it.

    conversely the ID challenge as put forth at UD seems simple:

    detail how NDE occured at the basic levels of life and/or reproduce it in a lab without intelligent direction (hope I got that right).

  18. 18
    GilDodgen says:

    DaveScot is the M master by a mile.

    On the subject of objectively detecting design: Remember the cartoon in Behe’s book of the explorer caught in the jungle trap? Design in this case was objectively detectable (someone or something set a trap in the jungle), not at all difficult to discern, and didn’t require anything fancy like calculating CSI.

  19. 19
    russ says:

    “Yes, you work three jobs to support me while I am unemployed, and Yes, you tell me you love me in a dozen different ways daily, and yes you buy me little gifts, and set apart at least an hour per day from your busy schedule just to give me ‘talky-time’, (etc ad nauseum), But until you show up with a dozen roses of the kind which only grow in an unknown location on the summit of Mt. Everest and which are completely unavailable anywhere else, and which crumble into dust as soon as they are picked, THEN I’ll believe you!”

    Comment by kvwells — September 18, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

    LOL!!!

  20. 20
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Gil wrote:

    On the subject of objectively detecting design: Remember the cartoon in Behe’s book of the explorer caught in the jungle trap? Design in this case was objectively detectable (someone or something set a trap in the jungle), not at all difficult to discern, and didn’t require anything fancy like calculating CSI.

    First, the fact that design is easily identified in one case does not mean this will be true in all cases. We need an objective method which will work for the hard cases as well as the easy ones, and which will not yield false positives.

    Secondly, “I know design when I see it” is the very antithesis of an objective method for detecting design. An objective method is algorithmic — it yields the same results, no matter who ‘executes’ it, as long as they execute it correctly.

    Allow me to repeat the question:
    What is your objective method of design detection, and can you show us how it works, by example, when applied to a living system?

  21. 21
    kvwells says:

    This bears consideration, perhaps:

    Draw a grid (6×6, say). Now try to color any amount of squares black to give the most apparently random pattern. Now the most apparently designed pattern. Is it easier to represent apparent design or randomness with more squares per side? Seems obvious that greater granularity would give greater opportunity for intuitive design/randomness detection, BUT, any pattern created to give an impression of randomness is itself designed, so:

    to rephrase Gil’s question,

    What logical system do we use to detect design that works equally well in systems that appear to be designed and those that appear to be random.

  22. 22
    kvwells says:

    Sorry, that was Karl Pfluger’s question.

  23. 23
    russ says:

    “Allow me to repeat the question:
    What is your objective method of design detection, and can you show us how it works, by example, when applied to a living system?”

    Comment by Karl Pfluger — September 18, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

    Karl, here’s the math stuff you requested:

    http://www.designinference.com.....cation.pdf

  24. 24
    Karl Pfluger says:

    russ,

    I wasn’t asking for Dembski’s method.

    I was asking for Gil’s method, which he says is objective, not that difficult, and doesn’t require the computation of CSI.

  25. 25
    GilDodgen says:

    What is your objective method of design detection, and can you show us how it works, by example, when applied to a living system?

    Machinery. Machines are designed. Living systems are full of them.

  26. 26
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Gil,

    I take it from your terse answer that your method of design detection is to:

    1. Examine a system to determine if it is (or contains) a machine.

    2. If it does, then it (or part of it) was designed, because all machines are designed.

    If so, you still have a few obstacles to surmount if you want to arrive at an objective method of design detection:

    1. You need an objective method for distinguishing machines from non-machines. Without this, the question “Is it a machine?” is subjective.

    2. You need to apply your method to living systems to determine which (if any) qualify as machines.

    3. You need to show that machines, as you’ve defined them, cannot arise except through design.

    I’m looking forward to your answers.

  27. 27
    improvius says:

    2. Your post really asks, “Is the alliteration in this designed sentence intentional or not?” In other words, did the word selection criteria include alliteration as a major factor? Yet we are constantly admonished by ID supporters that design criteria (i.e. the intentions of the designer) are outside the scope of ID, which is concerned only with the detection of design.

    Comment by Karl Pfluger — September 18, 2006 @ 3:58 am

    “Design” by definition requires “intention”. ID supporters only object when detractors say something like, “Why is the designer alliterating?” or “If the sentence was designed, why aren’t there 11 M’s instead of 10? Must be NDE.”

    Comment by russ — September 18, 2006 @ 6:20 am

    But “why” really is the operative quetion in this case. We already know the sentence is designed. All of the words were specifically chosen. The question is why did the writer choose so many words beginning with M? The sentence is alliterative whether or not it was intended to be so.

  28. 28
    Douglas says:

    Mercy me, malevolent, mischievous, macroevolutionary minions muster moribund, messy, muyopic memes, misleading mystified masses, marketing mundane, motley motifs, meanwhile militantly muzzling mature mathematical minutiae, misdirecting meaningful models, making mugwumps melodramatic merchandise, mobilizing multitudinous misanthropic milieus, mistakenly mounting maddeningly misguided missions, misestimating modalities, misbelieving, misunderstanding miscellaneous monotheistic matters – moreover, markedly masking mental misgivings.

    (52)

  29. 29
    Douglas says:

    “myopic”

    (1)

  30. 30
    kvwells says:

    (28) Magnificent!

    Unfortunately, Douglas, you’ll have to share your prize with a multitude of mythological monkeys…

  31. 31
    Douglas says:

    kvwells,

    Dang.

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