Part 1: Jerad’s DDS (“Darwinist Derangement Syndrome”)
Sometimes one just has to stop, gape and stare at the things Darwinists say.
Consider Jerad’s response to Sal’s 500 coin flip post. He says: “If I got 500 heads in a row I’d be very surprised and suspicious. I might even get the coin checked. But it could happen.” Later he says that if asked about 500 heads in a row he would respond: “I would NOT say it was ‘inconsistent with fair coins.’” Then this: “All we are saying is that any particular sequence is equally unlikely and that 500 heads is just one of those particular sequences.”
No Jerad. You are wrong. Stunningly, glaringly, gobsmackingly wrong, and it beggars belief that someone would say these things. The probability of getting 500 heads in a row is (1/2)^500. This is a probability far far beyond the universal probability bound. Let me put it this way: If every atom in the universe had been flipping a coin every second for the last 14.5 billion years, we would not expect to see this sequence even once.
But, insists Jerad, it could happen. Jerad’s statement is true only in the trivial sense that flipping 500 heads in a row is not physically or logically impossible. Nevertheless, the probability of it actually happening is so vanishingly small that it can be considered a practical impossibility. If a person refuses to admit this, it means they are either invincibly stupid or piggishly obstinate or both. Either way, it makes no sense to argue with them. (Charity compels me to believe Jerad will reform his statements upon reflection.)
But, insists Jerad, the probability of the 500-heads-in-a-row sequence is exactly the same as the probability of any other sequence. Again, Jerad’s statement is true only in the trivial sense that any 500 flip sequence of a fair coin has the exact same probability as any other. Sadly, however, when we engage in a non-trivial analysis of the sequence we see that Jerad’s DDS has caused him to succumb to the Darwinist error I call “Miller’s Mendacity” (in homage to Johnson’s Berra’s Blunder).* Miller’s Mendacity is named after Ken Miller, who once made the following statement in an interview:
One of the mathematical tricks employed by intelligent design involves taking the present day situation and calculating probabilities that the present would have appeared randomly from events in the past. And the best example I can give is to sit down with four friends, shuffle a deck of 52 cards, and deal them out and keep an exact record of the order in which the cards were dealt. We can then look back and say ‘my goodness, how improbable this is. We can play cards for the rest of our lives and we would never ever deal the cards out in this exact same fashion.’ You know what; that’s absolutely correct. Nonetheless, you dealt them out and nonetheless you got the hand that you did.
Miller’s analysis is either misleading or pointless, because no ID supporter has ever, as far as I know, argued “X is improbable; therefore X was designed.” Consider the example advanced by Miller, a sequence of 52 cards dealt from a shuffled deck. Miller’s point is that extremely improbable non-designed events occur all the time and therefore it is wrong to say extremely improbable events must be designed. Miller blatently misrepresents ID theory, because no ID proponent says that mere improbability denotes design.
Let’s consider a more relevant example. Suppose, Jerad and I played 200 hands of heads up poker and I was the dealer. If I dealt myself a royal flush in spades on every hand, I am sure Jerad would not be satisfied if I pointed out the (again, trivially true) fact that the sequence “200 royal flushes in spades in a row” has exactly the same probability as any other 200 hand sequence. Jerad would naturally conclude that I had been cheating, and when I had shuffled the deck I only appeared to randomize the cards. In other words, he would make a perfectly reasonable design inference.
What is the difference between Miller’s example and mine? In Miller’s example the sequence of cards was only highly improbable. In my example the sequence of cards was not only highly improbable, but it also conformed to a specification. ID proponents do not argue that mere improbability denotes design. They argue that design is the best explanation where there is a highly improbable event AND that event conforms to an independently designated specification.
Returning to Jerad’s 500 heads example, what are we to make of his statement that if that happened he “might” get the coin checked. Blithering nonsense. Of course he would not get the coin checked, because Jerad would already know to a moral certainty that the coin is not fair, and getting it “checked” would be a silly waste of time. If Jerad denies that he would know to a moral certainty that the coin was not fair, that only means that he is invincibly stupid or piggishly obstinate or both. Again, either way, it would make no sense to argue with him. (And again, charity compels me to believe that upon reflection Jerad would not deny this.)
Part 2: Why Would Jerad Say These Things?
Responding to Jerad’s probability analysis is child’s play. He makes the same old tiresome Darwinist errors that we have had to correct countless times before and will doubtless have to correct again countless times in the future.
As the title of this post suggests, however, far more interesting to me is why Jerad – an obviously reasonably intelligent commenter – would say such things at all. Sal calls it SSDD (Space Shuttle Denying Darwinist or Same Stuff, Different Darwinist). I call it Darwinist Derangement Syndrome (“DDS”). DDS is somewhat akin to Tourette syndrome in that sufferers appear to be compelled to make inexplicable statements (e.g., if I got 500 heads in a row I “might” get the coin checked or “It could happen.”).
DDS is a sad and somewhat pathetic condition that I hope one day to have included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. The manual is already larded up with diagnostic inflation; why not another?
What causes DDS? Of course, it is difficult to be certain, but my best guess is that it results from an extreme commitment to materialist metaphysics. What is the recommended treatment for DDS? The only thing we can do is patiently point out the obvious over and over and over, with the small (but, one hopes, not altogether non-existent) chance that one day the patient will recover his senses.
*I took Ken Miller down on his error in this post.