Intelligent Design

KF Cuts to the Chase (Again)

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My last post elicited some extremely interesting responses. As a reminder, we are considering the following two strings of text, the first of which resulted from haphazard banging on a keyboard and the second of which is the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy:

#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,

Jeffrey Shallit is on record saying:

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

In my last post I asked various ID critics the following 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?”

My thinking has evolved on this point, and upon reflection I have decided it was a meaningless question (to which I also got the answer wrong). I have decided the question is like asking which is more blue, the sky on a cloudless day or Beethoven’s 9th Symphony? Only one of those things partakes of blueness at all. Therefore, asking which of the two things is “more blue” is meaningless.

Similarly, only one of the two strings in question partakes of randomness at all. Therefore, asking which is “more random” is meaningless. It follows that Shallit was more wrong than I thought when he said string #2 was more random than string #1. Shakespeare carefully arranged every single letter in string #2. Therefore, with respect to any meaningful definition of “random,” string #2 exhibits ZERO randomness. Therefore, to speak of it as exhibiting “more” randomness than any other string, much less a string generated by haphazard keyboard banging, is absurd.

KF, as he so often does, cut to the heart of the matter and helped me think this through with his comment 107:

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.

KF also points us to this excellent paper: Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information:

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).

A final note: Mark Frank [74] and RObb [76] point to Bill Dembski’s work and appear to suggest that Dembski would agree with Shallit, i.e., that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of text achieved by banging away at a keyboard, and Daniel King [84] mocks me for failing to realize this.

Gentlemen, when your conclusion is absurd on its face, you really should stop and re-think it before you post it. And Daniel, you should be careful to ensure that you are correct before you mock someone. Otherwise, you look foolish. In response I will state the obvious and give you a clue.

The obvious: Dembski would not agree that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are random in any meaningful sense of that word. He would conclude those lines were, without the slightest doubt, designed.

A clue: Re-read Dembski’s work. Here is a line you should start with from one of the papers linked by Robb. “As with Shannon information, there is a disconnect between Kolmogorov complexity and conceptual information.”

115 Replies to “KF Cuts to the Chase (Again)

  1. 1
    REC says:

    I think we also would have to conclude the first passage is designed.

    It shows complexity–(more or less vs. random is debated, but it is complex). It also has a specified function. Copying and pasting it into google allows tracking of all UD posts where it has been used, and all posts elsewhere commenting on it.

    So Barry has produced complex, specified information by “randomly” banging on his keyboard.

  2. 2
    JGuy says:

    I wonder which would be classified as more random.
    #1 (yes, now a becoming famous sequence:P But here taken as it was first presented):

    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
    This one?

    ________________________________

    #2 (where each letter below could have been any…but it just so happens that they are not different):

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    …or this one?

    There are a lot more characters in the second sequence. Yes, I know the answer is obvious, but I think given the question… whether any might argue #2 is more random would be interesting to know.

  3. 3
    PaV says:

    This comment by Splatter, . . .

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

    . . . positions the entire discussion.

    What Splatter is unable to see is this: Kolmogorov Complexity is nothing more than an instance where someone has taken their “informal ideas” regarding “information,” and has attempted to make these “ideas” formal using mathematical language and symbols. It is a mathematically formalized intuition about what complexity and information are.

    Meanwhile, Shallit remains blindly attached to Kolmogorov Complexity despite its obvious shortcomings.

    What Splatter and, in a very exagerrated way, Shallit are doing is simply insisting that their favorite notion of what “information” is the ‘be-all and end-all’ of information theorizing.

    Ironically, what Dembski has done is exactly this: he has taken his intuition about what ‘information’ is and given it a formal, mathematical expression. So, when Dembski proposes his “ideas” (intuitions) about “information,” his “math” is attacked. And, when Shallit’s “math” is attacked, we’re told that this attack is no more than “informal ideas.” (You can’t win with Darwinists and materialists because they are fully committed to their way of thinking, no matter how illogical they become at times. This is why Dembski isn’t publishing books on ID anymore: the willful nonacceptance of his proposals by those who claim to be mathematicians and scientists, so far has ‘science’ become degraded.)

    Shallit, who, apparently, willfully misunderstands Dembski’s works instead of making any kind of effort to truly understand it, sticks to the inanity of his beloved Kolmogorov approach to ‘information.’ To Shallit–and I assure of this from personal experience—String#1 and String#2 are no different from one another. He does not believe in “patterns.” To him, there are simply ‘strings.’ He wouldn’t recognize a “pattern” if it hit him in the face. Once you understand this, then you will understand that from atop his “Ivory Tower,” Shallit is now looking down his nose at you, Barry, and the rest of us here at UD. He refuses to see how wrong he is about Dembski’s works, about how poorly he understands Dembski, and how silly he looks in doing so.

    Let’s hear it for the willfully blind!

  4. 4
    News says:

    A minor question: Haphazard banging on a keyboard is, for a number of reasons, not strictly random.

    Consider physical factors, including keyboard layout (one assumes the QWERTYUIOP board was used here), size of board and hand, etc., personal patterns in when to move right or left, idiosyncratic decisions about what would produce greater randomness … doubtless others that sharp minds can think of.

    The random part is: No meaning is associated with the input, and therefore no meaning is associated with the output.

    You were trying to produce enough characters for a demo but did not intend to convey any information.

    So it would be quite remarkable if the output did in fact convey any information. Something like Sagan’s Contact? 😉

    But, for example, if someone asked me to do the same random characters demo – not only would I produce different sets of characters, but a neuroscientist might be able, by studying dozens of tests of both of us, predict with 98.99% accuracy which of us typed each.

    The randomness refers to the fact that no intended information is conveyed. But the information that O’Leary typed it and not Arrington might happen to be discernible anyway. That’s information too, though it can be discerned without attributing any significance to the text typed.

    Why I ask: What about random number generators? Would they be any use here? They might not have the same problem that human examples do, that the human being naturally has experiences and habits that could unintentionally impart information.

  5. 5
    JGuy says:

    REC@1

    As you know, the tracking function is Google’s function. What you are describing is how identifiable the sequence is posthoc…. That is more or less a measurement of the sequence’s uniqueness – not any obvious function. If you make it useful in the way described, then you are adding an intelligently applied use of the existing Google search function. And the sequence would not do anything in your scenario apart from you incorporating intelligence. As such, in your scenario, you have taken something essentially random, and incorporated it into a mechanism you pieced together using intelligence and intention – e.g. you intend to find certain conversations on the web. Now, if I found that sequence in a program – which essentially your algorithm is, then I would call THAT algorithm intelligently designed. But the sequence alone has no function apart from your new mechanism. Just my thoughts. Anyway, your comment seems like a bunch of bamboozle to me.

  6. 6
    JGuy says:

    Any system which has some kind of biases, as you described, I think can not produce a truly random sequence. Perhaps especially where the biases are periodic. As such, I can’t think of anything that can produce a truly random sequence. Perhaps, the best that I’ve seen is using a particle detector and using the clicks from the measurement device as a randomness generator. But that probably even has some biases… such as maybe somewhat periodic fluctuations in neutrino passing through the system which might affect radioactive decay rates at a minimal amount..but it is some.

  7. 7
    News says:

    But JGuy at 6, such a bias must necessarily be far less. No?

    The difficulty is that human beings are so full of information that much of it likely leaks out unintended, so we might consider finding a comparatively simple means of generating strings of nonsense – to reduce the information bias associated with anything human.

    Something that couldn’t possibly have meant anything, where there is nothing further to detect.

  8. 8
    JGuy says:

    Yeah. It’s all random enough for all practical and other analytical purposes. And I’m supporting the point that people should not be sidetracked with the detectability of underlying bias in Barry’s random text. I suggest if anyone wants to make random appearing text again here, them maybe just use a SHA 256 or better hash algorithm… And concatnate several different hashes to avoid people red herringing. 😛

  9. 9
    Splatter says:

    PaV:

    What Splatter and, in a very exagerrated way, Shallit are doing is simply insisting that their favorite notion of what “information” is the ‘be-all and end-all’ of information theorizing.

    No, I didn’t insist on any particular definition of terms. I was careful to make that explicit.

    I supplied one possible interpretation and pointed to the mathematical framework I’d work it out in. This interpretation made sense of what Barry was saying, so I was being charitable. Why all the hostility? All I am saying is, show me, for this example, using your own preferred methods, how you reached the conclusion you did.

    I’m not sure how else to put that. In any other mathematical scenario a request for clarification wouldnt meet such resistance, except perhaps evolution yarn-spinners themselves.

    Mapou, thank you for replying to my earlier post where I provided some code to show that one part of a bit-genome could evolve to protect another part of the genome, rather than contribute to fitness directly.

    The purpose of the exercise was to show that people who thought a repair mechanism could coevolve weren’t “out to lunch”. They were probably just thinking along these lines.

    I am aware that the bit-for-bit correction mechanism I coded in was a priori. On the other hand, it is simple.

    So far, with one or two exceptions, I have provided some code or maths to explain my ideas. I think this removes ambiguity from the proceedings – that’s why I made the original comment.

    People on here could stand to be a little politer – especially to newcomers (and advocates of their one position no less!)

  10. 10
    Sebestyen says:

    I wonder which would be classified as more random.

    It really depends on what aspect you focus on. If you focus on the amount of different characters and their order, string 1 is certainly more “random”.

    However, if you imply that there’s a code behind it, it could theoretically be the opposite way around (albeit rather unlikely). You could use one-time pad encryption to encode practically every string in the A’s, but of course the practical use of this is nil.

    In the end everything hinges on the additional information you have about the strings in question. The quote from Shakespeare certainly has zero randomness as correctly demonstrated, simply because we know the “code” works and what it represents. We even know how the string came into existence although this is irrelevant to the question wether the string is random or not.

    DNA is similar. We know how it works (at least rudimentary) and what it does. And although we don’t know when and how it came into existence, we can tell for certain that it is a code with a randomness level that’s low enough to provide the data to form living beings.

    With the “famous sequence” it’s also the same only that this time we know there’s no code underlying, but only because we’ve been told that it was made by haphazard banging on the keyboard. If we didn’t know that we certainly couldn’t tell from the string itself if it is a code at all and if it represents something meaningful.

    Another example would be this: “Piet” Code Example
    It may look like a random picture made with “MS Paint” but in fact it represents program code in the language “Piet” that solves the “Towers of Hanoi” problem. More examples

    To sum it up: In my opinion it is impossible to derive the randomness of any given string using mathematical methods without knowing the code.

    Sebestyen

  11. 11
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry

    Re-read Dembski’s work. Here is a line you should start with from one of the papers linked by Robb. “As with Shannon information, there is a disconnect between Kolmogorov complexity and conceptual information.”

    This is quite extraordinary. I cannot decide whether you  did not read Dembski’s paper, read it and did not understand it, or just hoped no one would follow up the reference.  What Dembski is saying here is that Kolmogorov complexity is not a sufficient measure of his concept of information. He does use it as a measure/definition of random:

    Kolmogorov complexity measures the degree to which a given bitstring follows a pattern. The more a bitstring follows a pattern, the shorter the program required to reproduce it. In contrast, if a bitstring exhibits no patterns, it is simply random, and a much longer program will be required to produce it (p3)

    Also this definition of random – Kolmogorov complexity continues to play a vital role in his definition of information. It is just that he claims it is not sufficient and adds additional ideas to it.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    REC: Turning the first string after the fact into a key, is not turning it into FSCO/I. There is no inherent functional constraint on the original string that would demand that its config be close to what it is in Hamming space or it will not work. Before you impose a second order procedure of search via Google. Functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, FSCO/I, is not a paint the target after the fact on where the arrow landed exercise. KF

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Just to remind, good dictionaries such as AmHD draw up their definitions by summarising usage by credibly informed speakers or writers . . . i.e. dictionary definition is an inductive exercise, pointing back to general patterns of serious usage and careful distinctions in that usage. So, we need to again focus, rather than cavalierly dismiss:

    ran·dom (rndm)
    adj.
    1. Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective: random movements. See Synonyms at chance.
    2. Mathematics & Statistics Of or relating to a type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution.
    3. Of or relating to an event in which all outcomes are equally likely, as in the testing of a blood sample for the presence of a substance.
    Idiom:
    at random
    Without a governing design, method, or purpose; unsystematically: chose a card at random from the deck.
    [From at random, by chance, at great speed, from Middle English randon, speed, violence, from Old French, from randir, to run, of Germanic origin.]
    random·ly adv.
    random·ness n.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    Notice, a flat-random distribution is only the third sense of “random,” here.

    PPS: Under Chance, we see:

    chance (chns)
    n.
    1.
    a. The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause. [–> note, ASSIGNABLE]
    b. A force assumed to cause events that cannot be foreseen or controlled; luck: Chance will determine the outcome.
    2. The likelihood of something happening; possibility or probability. Often used in the plural: Chances are good that you will win. Is there any chance of rain?
    3. An accidental or unpredictable event.
    4. A favorable set of circumstances; an opportunity: a chance to escape.
    5. A risk or hazard; a gamble: took a chance that the ice would hold me.
    6. Games A raffle or lottery ticket.
    7. Baseball An opportunity to make a putout or an assist that counts as an error if unsuccessful.
    adj.
    Caused by or ascribable to chance; unexpected, random, or casual: a chance encounter; a chance result.
    v. chanced, chanc·ing, chanc·es
    v.intr.
    To come about by chance; occur: It chanced that the train was late that day.
    v.tr.
    To take the risk or hazard of: not willing to chance it.
    Phrasal Verb:
    chance on/upon
    To find or meet accidentally; happen upon: While in Paris we chanced on two old friends.

    Idioms:

    by chance
    1. Without plan; accidentally: They met by chance on a plane.
    2. Possibly; perchance: Is he, by chance, her brother?
    on the off chance
    In the slight hope or possibility.
    [Middle English, unexpected event, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *cadentia, from Latin cadns, cadent-, present participle of cadere, to fall, befall; see kad- in Indo-European roots.]
    Synonyms: chance, random, casual, haphazard, desultory
    These adjectives apply to what is determined not by deliberation but by accident. Chance stresses lack of premeditation: a chance meeting with a friend.
    Random implies the absence of a specific pattern or objective: took a random guess.

    Casual often suggests an absence of due concern: a casual observation.
    Haphazard implies a carelessness or a willful leaving to chance: a haphazard plan of action.
    Desultory suggests a shifting about from one thing to another that reflects a lack of method: a desultory conversation. See Also Synonyms at happen, opportunity.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: K-compressibility reflects the empirical fact that orderly patterns are highly compressible and real world codes have significant redundancy. A truly random pattern, will resist encoding, and a flat random one the most. So, the shortest way to represent the string is to quote it. In the case of BA’s string 1, you can get similar strings fairly easily, but the same string pretty much requires quoting it . . . I suspect elaborate algors that capture its redundancies and try to encode, to decompress will take more info than is required to simply cite it. By contrast, quote the first twelve lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy (for someone with reasonable access) can compress string 2 very well thank you. Sort of like the story of Edison asking a Mathematician to give him the volume of a light bulb. Days later the Mathematician was busy at work, doubtless trying to specify a function to give the solid of revolution that would be flexible and well behaved, perhaps even modelling blowing and rolling. Edison then fetched a beaker and dipped the bulb in, reading off the differential. Sometimes, common sense is good enough. KF

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Seb, the common implicit demand that the design inference be a universal decoder algorithm (or in fact a one size fits all universal algorithm) is an imposition of what a simple glance at theory of computation would tell us is patently infeasible. Instead, the design inference starts form show us function that is functionally specific, then on that we can see why beyond a modest threshold of complexity of the relevant equivalent descriptive string under some code [setting up the yes/no q’s chain to specify], and given that specific function results from specific and rare configuration, soon the atomic and temporal resources of the solar system or observable cosmos are overwhelmed on the assumption of blind search using chance and mechanical necessity only. As in looking for a needle in an astronomically large haystack when constrained to pick a one-straw sized sample at hazard. KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: As posts in this thread testify, intelligently directed configuration routinely solves that needle in the haystack problem, by using insight, knowledge and skill. So, FSCO/I becomes a reliable signature of design. Glorified common sense rather than rocket science, but very powerful.

  17. 17
    Box says:

    MF #11: What Dembski is saying here is that Kolmogorov complexity is not a sufficient measure of his concept of information.

    It follows that meassuring the compressibility of the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy is just silly.

  18. 18
    Mark Frank says:

    #17 Box

    It follows that meassuring the compressibility of the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy is just silly.

    Did you read the rest of my comment (or even better Dembski’s paper)? Dembski says that Kolgomorov complexity is not sufficient as a measure of information but it is a necessary component of his measure (which is specified complexity). So he would measure the compressibility of the soliloquy as part of the process of assessing its information content.

  19. 19
    Box says:

    Mark Frank #18,

    you are obviously a bright person, so you understood what I meant, didn’t you? …. Ok, here it goes:

    It follows that meassuring the compressibility of the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy …

    [and leave it at that / and flatly ignore the specified information, as if this is not central to the issue at hand / and simply declare Hamlet’s soliloquy to be “more random” than string #1]
    …. is just silly.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, I cite myself as clipped in Op by BA as headlined:

    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.

    Please pay attention to the clip and discussion here with the illustration from the 9 year old peer reviewed paper by Trevors and Abel, namely Fig 4 that shows the relevant contrasts to randomness for say genome strings [text strings are linguistically functional] in the context of K-compression.

    KF

  21. 21
    Mark Frank says:

    #19 Box

    Well I thought I understood what you said but your second comment confuses me. You have repeated your original line and inserted some text in bold that seems unrelated. It also raise some questions.

    1) No one declared what “the issue at hand” is. I thought it was all about whether one piece of text was more random than the other are you implying it is something else?

    2) Why do you say “flatly ignore specified information” when I wrote “Kolgomorov complexity is not sufficient as a measure of information but it is a necessary component of his measure (which is specified complexity)”

    In summary – I have no idea why you think measuring the compressibility is just silly, but if it is silly then so is William Dembski who makes it central to his ideas on specific complexity and information.

  22. 22
    Barry Arrington says:

    MF: “This is quite extraordinary.”

    It is beyond extraordinary; it surpasses dumbfounding, that anyone would suggest, much less insist upon, calling Hamlet’s soliloquy “random” in any meaningful sense of that word.

    Mark, perhaps I am misunderstanding you. Are you suggesting that Dembski would conclude that Hamlet’s soliloquy is random?

  23. 23
    johnnyb says:

    A few notes from the sidelines:

    1) There is more than one conception of randomness. You are focusing on the philosophical concept of randomness, but there are other, valid concepts of randomness. A few conceptions:

    a) philosophical randomness = unplanned, haphazard
    b) correlational = two thing are random with respect to each other if they are uncorrelated
    c) predictability = a process is random if its output is unpredictable

    Shallit is using (c), which is understandable, since (c) is the definition used in most conceptions of Specified Complexity and other Dembski-ish methodologies.

    2) Now, agents are expected to have both specification and complexity. Complexity means that the results are not predictable (i.e. the (c) definition of randomness – it should lack compressibility). Specification, though, means that it conforms to some sort of a prior pattern. Conforming to a pattern means that it is, in fact, compressible.

    3) Most stand-ins for Kolmogorov complexity (i.e. gzip) are not very good for detecting specification. In Algorithmic Specified Complexity, Ewert noted that the specifications for intelligent processes usually have shorter descriptions but longer run-time. This is not the sort of compression achievable with gzip. For instance, a partial specification for a valid computer program would be “one that does not have any infinite loops”. This is a small specification, but the run-time complexity for computing it is basically infinite. Therefore, programs like gzip can’t compress based on this specification. Ewert noted that law-like models have much simpler run-time models. This is the sort of compression that gzip is capable of, and, in fact, Shallit found a law-like model in the random text (Arrington had strings of “asd” from banging on his keyboard.

    4) Also in Algorithmic Specified Complexity Ewert notes that compressibility for agent-produced material can be greatly aided by a “context”. Humans operate within contexts, and knowing the operating context greatly improves compressibility. In fact, the additional compressibility can help you determine if you are using the right context or not. I don’t have the data on this, but I imagine that if you used an English dictionary (which would be a partial specification for Shakespeare), you would find his work to be more compressible.

    5) Just as a summary side-note – creativity is both predictable and unpredictable. As some have said, it borders on the edge between chaos and predictability. Thus, specified complexity and similar ideas balance these notions. When randomness is defined as unpredictability, creativity looks random, because it is unpredictable. When randomness is defined as unplanned, creativity looks nonrandom, because it is goal-directed and contextual.

  24. 24
    DiEb says:

    It is beyond extraordinary; it surpasses dumbfounding, that anyone would suggest, much less insist upon, calling Hamlet’s soliloquy “random” in any meaningful sense of that word.

    That’s just a strawman: no one claimed that Hamlet’s verses were random.

  25. 25
    Splatter says:

    As I pointed out, it is only “random” given the knowledge of the entropy of the processes which produced them. Sebestyn said as much in two places.

    We know about Shakespeare and keyboard mashing, which is why we make an informal judgement that the latter is random.

    For this analogy to hold for DNA (which I guess is what’s in the background here), we need to know the statistics of sequences that “intelligent sources” produce. But that would beg the question.

    It would be good to have a repo of code samples or proofs, so long as we maintain that ID is mathematical. Otherwise, we can argue from intuition and experience, in a human way. But ID can’t draw upon the authoritative status of maths to garner support, only to jettison it when specifies are requested. What’s it to be?

  26. 26
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry

    Mark, perhaps I am misunderstanding you. Are you suggesting that Dembski would conclude that Hamlet’s soliloquy is random?

    You are misunderstanding me. I will try to be clearer. I am suggesting that he would find the other string even less random than the soliloquy.

  27. 27
    Mark Frank says:

    Johnnyb

    Shallit is using (c), which is understandable, since (c) is the definition used in most conceptions of Specified Complexity and other Dembski-ish methodologies

    Thanks. Perhaps Barry will accept the point more readily from you.

  28. 28
    Joe says:

    Barry, Dembski has said that only intelligent design can produce randomness as defined by statistical probabilities. That means that Hamlet would appear to be totally random by that methodology. And that should tell us there is something amiss with the methodology.

    And seeing tat no one can predict what a designer will design then all designs are random, in that context. Again that suggests there is something amiss with the methodology.

  29. 29
    johnnyb says:

    “Dembski has said that only intelligent design can produce randomness as defined by statistical probabilities.”

    Incorrect. Please supply a reference.

    “That means that Hamlet would appear to be totally random by that methodology.”

    Even if your first quote was correct, this would not follow.

  30. 30
    Mark Frank says:

    #27 No Joe – Dembski has said that only intelligent design can produce strings with low randomness as defined by Kologomorov complexity if the result is sufficiently improbable based on leading chance hypotheses. I think I need to start running a class on ID basics for you guys – nothing critical just explaining what Dembski has actually written.

  31. 31
    cantor says:

    In the set of all possible strings, most strings are random (in the sense that they cannot be significantly “compressed”). However, it cannot be formally proven that a *specific* string is complex (if the complexity of the string is above a certain threshold).

    Furthermore, whether any *particular* string is random (not significantly Kolmogorov-compressible) depends on the specific universal computer that is chosen.

    .

  32. 32
    Tim says:

    MF,

    As I read you, I get the feeling you are being too clever by half. When you write,

    I am suggesting that he [Dembski] would find the other string [the gibberish] even less random than the soliloquy.

    you are seem to be relying on K’s definition and specifically its compressibility. I think we all know that once it has been typed, the gibberish has the same (or lesser) randomness than the soliloquy as there is little if no room for compressibility for that specific string.

    However, isn’t it the point of the BA’s typed gibberish that any gibberish would be an acceptable string for the command (written professionally in C++) TYPE GIBBERISH. According to K, such a compressed command produces far more randomness than any such code (which would be necessarily longer) that produced the soliloquy.
    Please, clarify your position because right now it seems as though you have tried to smuggle in the specificity. For now, I will stop short of accusing you of that.

  33. 33
    JGuy says:

    Sebestyen@10

    Right. A sequence can appear random and have all kinds of real information. And if it does appear random, you’re going to need an interpreter or code to decipher it. These require intention and foresight. And whenever that is found, I think you have a shut case for intelligent agency having been at work.

  34. 34
    JGuy says:

    Feel free to reuse. :D:

    |__________________________________|

    Ë?ÛlÉ}³ä)JþõÍv, à¨Ôr ?÷ÿV??wPÙÁ?|Å2§/7{Êl%´ùM(-èø?ì?³sYÖ?[?&Ñtt£=üÅúºc,C£’?+?M?????sNO?ª%½±;®?WJ,N?A-I#·ô÷mdÒ?ü#nF®·ë??n§?«u²’??/T:M`í%9Áaç?°Ö?ôuIÅX?áõ\iè»?9¢??´}u¾Æl?1Á@¶+N ÔÝë¸k?P؁3+aðr&D?wK\;èÔTøå§0ýY÷¶®?§±,ô¶ð¯Ädtÿwí{˒ɨsZñÛßuÈÎR­æ$?/?3Jº´RØ?9qzqnKÚfS¨[8³±?hªË·?m¨ðó,ˬúWÏÈX·9þÆCñ?]êÛ?|g?PlÛ?gír???.Z·ÈÚ½.hFã??Dëpmm?Èx5֐ºªUl]ã9pÇüÄ/¤&?þT6Û¢VB?x÷”Ì?]X?qÉߏ)²+_[ë?ÍQ­àG­á?yƨäºÊgõú=æ~<?gÓµ§Ogøå5¥CcÏç¶Òð?§`ÑÍ?R/?Ø?º(«§á¤Àæ Ìùi¢DF~¾cÂêO&(YÀúH¼}"Ðìù?î:E5­÷9Læ)»Ori@d??[®nÄ?'ÈOmYÏðw¿?<áÈ[?§?·?ëP~$Â4P;K
    |__________________________________|

    –the new randomists–

    Technically, since this is a pile of hash values subsequently converted to ascii… it’s not really classically random (for lack of better term). But it works.

  35. 35
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    Dembski has said that only intelligent design can produce strings with low randomness as defined by Kologomorov complexity if the result is sufficiently improbable based on leading chance hypotheses.

    Mark, R0bb provided the article that supports what I said

  36. 36
    Joe says:

    Here is the reference for Mark Frank and JohnnyB:

    Randomness by Design

  37. 37
    PaV says:

    Splatter:

    I supplied one possible interpretation and pointed to the mathematical framework I’d work it out in. This interpretation made sense of what Barry was saying, so I was being charitable. Why all the hostility?

    When Shallit mocks Barry, is that hostility? And when I point out the fallacy in your argument, is that hostility?

    I’m sure you’re going to ask: what fallacy?

    It is the fallacy that there is some kind of mathematical language that expresses “information” explicitly and correctly, and that is how all “information” should be gauged.

    I pointed out that EVERY definition of “information” is some kind of intellectual intuition that has been given some kind of mathematical expression. IOW, you were being dogmatic without even realizing it. I just asked you to take note of the move your argument makes, and that it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    Again, it is ironic that when Dembski provides a mathematical basis for information, his underlying intuitions aren’t attacked, but his math. And then when Barry attacks Shallit’s maths—pointing out the incredulity of using his mathematical description to deal with information (“conceptual information” in Dembski’s lexicon)—you attack his intuitions, saying that he’s proposing some kind of “informal idea” rather than mathematical rigor. You cannot separate the intuitions of human logic and the mathematics that are then applied. But intuition is a priori, and hence, the more important of the two.

    Let me put it to you another way: isn’t it obvious that Kolmogorov Complexity can in no way lead us to a true understanding of “information” as a notional vehicle that humans use? Isn’t that just plain to see?

    It’s simply the end of the story when one can complacently assert that the first 12 lines of Lear are more random than an overtly given random string of characters? If you want to use KC to analyze binary strings, fine. But to call this form of “information” what we as humans instinctively understand as “conceptual information” is no more than a kind of pontificating equivocation.

    My whole point in the previous post was to simply point out that Shallit is being dogmatic—and perversely wrong—in his views; and that you, Splatter, were being dogmatic as well.

    Of all the defintions given for “conceptual information,” Dembski’s, by far, is the best. But, you either accept its logic or you don’t. ID simply says: look at biological systems, which even the evolutionists say have a genetic “code,” and then think about the improbability of it all. It’s simple. But, if you have a pre-determined outlook, nothing will change your mind. And, so, we find people who quibble over Dembski’s use of equiprobable distribution (even when studies suggest that this is reasonable when it comes to nucleotides) and then, as in the case of Shallit, suggest that there is no such thing as a “pattern,” while completely—and willfully—refusing to grapple with Dembski’s writings on the topic.

    The more honest approach would be to simply say: “I refuse to believe.”

  38. 38
    Mark Frank says:

    #32 Tim

    The command “TYPE GIBBERISH” cannot be relied upon to produce a specific string of gibberish unless that string is somehow included in the programme – so the command is not a compressed form of a specific string. The point of K’s definition is that a non-random string can be created with an algorithm using only a few items from a set of universal instructions (hence Cantor’s reference to a universal computer). This is the definition that Dembski uses (actually he confuses the issue later in some of his papers by apparently expanding the concept to any set of instructions – but I belief that to be a fault in his paper – he certainly begins by defining random in K terms).

  39. 39
    Sebestyen says:

    And whenever that is found, I think you have a shut case for intelligent agency having been at work.

    Pretty much, yes.

  40. 40
    Barry Arrington says:

    I have communicated with Dembski, and he assures me that he would consider Hamlet to be completely non-random. He pointed me to the same paper Joe links @ 36. Randomness by Design. Dembski’s point is that randomness can never be established in isolation as Shallit attempts to do. Randomness can only be established in relation to patterns. Take any string (which Dembski calls the “candidate space”). We compare the candidate space with a selected “pattern space.” If a given candidate space violates all of the patterns in the pattern space, then the candidate space is random. If the pattern space is “meaningful English text” then obviously the candidate space (i.e., Hamlet) does not violate all of the patterns in the pattern space. It is, therefore, not random.

  41. 41
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark, you are simply wrong when you say Dembski would employ a Kolmogorov Complexity analysis and assign some degree of “randomness” to Hamlet. This makes your little jab at the end of 30 all the more unseemly.

  42. 42
    HeKS says:

    @Barry

    Off-topic, but I’d thought you’d be interested in this:

    Guillermoe does it again

  43. 43
    DiEb says:

    I have communicated with Dembski, and he assures me that he would consider Hamlet to be completely non-random.

    That was never in doubt. You have to pose the right question to get a meaningful answer.

  44. 44
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark, I am going to sum up with this. Concluding that Hamlet is totally non-random has the benefit of corresponding with the glaringly obvious fact of the matter. As a corollary to that observation, any analysis that leads to a conclusion that Hamlet is “random” in any degree (i.e., more or less random than some other string) drains the concept of “random” of all practical meaning.

  45. 45
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS, further shooting at Guillermoe would be boring. He presents no challenge. OTOH, you could use his methods of obfuscation and distraction to add a post to Eric Anderson’s Darwinist Debating Tactics series. That would be instructive.

  46. 46
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEB @ 43. What question would you pose?

  47. 47
    HeKS says:

    @Barry

    That’s a possible idea. Where is this series to be found and how do I add to it?

  48. 48
    DiEb says:

    There is a difference between asking “Is as sperm whale small?” (answer obviously “no”) “is a sperm whale smaller than a blue whale?” (answer obviously “yes”).

    You should have asked “is String #2 less complex than String #1” and “is String #2 less random than String #1” instead of “is String #2 random”.

  49. 49
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS, here is the first entry. Just link to it. I am thinking about gathering them together as a resource.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....y-shallit/

  50. 50
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEB Shallit said String #2 was “more random,” not I. If you have a problem with the use of the word “random” as opposed to “complex” your problem is with Shallit, not me.

  51. 51
    DiEb says:

    BA,

    please reread my previous comment. It’s not about the word “random” opposed to “complex”, is about an absolute statement opposed to a relative one.

  52. 52
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEb, please re-read my response to your previous comment. If we are concerned with the issue of “more random” why should I ask whether it is “more complex”? “Random” and “Complex” are not synonyms.

  53. 53
    DiEb says:

    To be precise: J. Shallit said that String #2 was “more random” than String #1, but not that String #2 was random….

  54. 54
    DiEb says:

    If we are concerned with the issue of “more random” why should I ask whether it is “more complex”?

    So, did you ask whether String #2 was more random than String #1?

  55. 55
    jw777 says:

    There seems to be some confused conflation with “random” and “rare” or “distinguished.”

    The soliloquy is more unlikely, more singularly unique, but certainly not random.

    However, this is one of those all or none types of debates. If the premise is that everything is random, then x is random. Front loaded premise. So tired, so banal.

  56. 56
    Tim says:

    MF,
    I cite myself:

    However, isn’t it the point of the BA’s typed gibberish that any gibberish would be an acceptable string for the command (written professionally in C++) TYPE GIBBERISH. . . Please, clarify your position because right now it seems as though you have tried to smuggle in the specificity.

    To which you replied, in part,

    The command “TYPE GIBBERISH” cannot be relied upon to produce a specific string of gibberish . . .

    which completely ignored my point! Please, replace “a specific” with “any” (again, helpfully italicized and bold) and clarify your position.

    I fear the accusation of smuggling approaches. Oh, and let’s not waste time on how “TYPE GIBBERISH” would be coded. Can we not agree that such code would be far more compressed than that for the soliloquy?

  57. 57
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry

    What you report about Dembski appears to contradict what he has written in the papers but there is a fair amount of wriggle room in your words. After all no one has claimed that the Hamlet excerpt is random.

    Dembski is going to tend to be loyal to a fellow IDist, his response is going to be framed by the way you made the enquiry, and then you are going to interpret what he wrote. All of these things will contribute to distortion of the message.

    Did you communicate by e-mail? If so, perhaps you could reproduce the dialogue (put it somewhere and link to it rather than a massive comment) so we can see exactly what he wrote? Until then I can only go by what he has written for public view not what you report he wrote.

  58. 58
    Mark Frank says:

    #54 Tim

    Sorry I misread your comment – but now I just don’t see your point. So any gibberish would be an acceptable output from TYPE GIBBERISH – so what?

  59. 59
    cantor says:

    55 Mark Frank October 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    …no one has claimed that the Hamlet excerpt is random.

    ???

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

    .

  60. 60
    Mark Frank says:

    BA  44

    Mark, I am going to sum up with this. Concluding that Hamlet is totally non-random has the benefit of corresponding with the glaringly obvious fact of the matter. As a corollary to that observation, any analysis that leads to a conclusion that Hamlet is “random” in any degree (i.e., more or less random than some other string) drains the concept of “random” of all practical meaning.

    Well as we said all along, it depends what you mean by random. If you mean every single character was placed as intended by Shakespeare then that is not true. If he was to be shown the text now it would appear to him as if it had undergone a certain amount of randomisation. If you mean that every character was placed deliberately by someone for a reason then that is true.
    However, that is only one definition of random based on the prior knowledge that the string is designed and the variations from Shakespeare original were not random fluctuations in the printing process. There are other defnitions, including Kolmogorov complexity. If you want to say that all the people working on these other definitions are wasting their time because it drains the word “random” of any meaning I guess that is your privilege.

  61. 61
    Mark Frank says:

    #57 Cantor

    Yes it is more random than string 1 but that is not the same as saying it is random. A mouse is more intelligent than an ant – but that is not the same as saying a mouse is intelligent. It is recognising that randomness is a matter of degree (and both strings are pretty low on the scale)rather a binary division into random and non-random.

  62. 62
    HeKS says:

    Barry, would you care to join R0bb and I here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-518021

    We’ve been discussing your challenge about a natural process producing 500 bits of CSI and I can’t seem to convince him that you meant a natural process had to produce a pattern with 500 bits of CSI in a calculation that is relative to the actual natural process that produced it, not in a calculation based on a process that didn’t produce it.

  63. 63
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark Frank:

    Yes it is more random than string 1 but that is not the same as saying it is random.

    Of course, string 1 is random gibberish achieved by banging at a keyboard. You are literally saying that Hamlet is “more random” than gibberish achieved by banging on a keyboard, and that is insane.

    It is recognising that randomness is a matter of degree (and both strings are pretty low on the scale)rather a binary division into random and non-random.

    Randomness certainly can be a matter of degree, which I have admitted all along. It does not follow that ALL strings of text are random to some degree, which is what you are saying.

    However, that is only one definition of random based on the prior knowledge that the string is designed and the variations from Shakespeare original were not random fluctuations in the printing process.

    A complete misrepresentation of what I have written. Read comment 44 again.

    If you want to say that all the people working on these other definitions are wasting their time because it drains the word “random” of any meaning I guess that is your privilege.

    I don’t know to whom you are referring, but it is an objective fact that anyone who says a string from Hamlet is “random” in any meaningful sense of that word is stupid or insane.

  64. 64
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEb:

    To be precise: J. Shallit said that String #2 was “more random” than String #1, but not that String #2 was random….

    So a string can be “more random” than another string without being actually random to any degree at all?

    Madness.

  65. 65
    DiEb says:

    @BA:

    You can earn 1$/year, so, not much at all. Still, you earn more than the chap who gets .02$/year…

    Your string #1 was just not a good example of a random string. Randomness is an important concept, e.g., one would generally advice you against using chunks of string #1 as a password…

  66. 66
    DiEb says:

    BA, I always try to answer your question. Here is one for you – again:

    Did you ask W. Dembski whether String #2 was more random than String #1?

  67. 67
    Box says:

    From the OP: “(…) only one of the two strings in question partakes of randomness at all. Therefore, asking which is “more random” is meaningless.”

    DiEb: Did you ask W. Dembski whether String #2 was more random than String #1?

  68. 68
    idismyth says:

    This entire string of comments, and those on the previous strings that this one evolved from, are quite hilarious. Barry first tries to demonstrate that it is possible to objectively (mathematically?) identify an intelligently designed string of characters by presenting two character strings, one of them being from Hamlet, by the fact that one is less random than the other (he assumed that it would be Hamlet’s words). But when it is clearly demonstrated that Hamlet’s words are actually more random, he blows a gasket.

    The only way that you can conclude that Hamlet’s word are less random than the other string is to know in advance that Hamlet’s words were designed. I am sure that this is not the point that Barry was trying to make. After all, what would be the point?

    But rather than accept this graciously, he goes on the attack, calling people stupid and insane. But before this, he uses the Definition Deficit Disorder tactic. Irony is fun.

  69. 69
    Barry Arrington says:

    Box is right. I did not ask Dembski a meaningless question.

  70. 70
    Barry Arrington says:

    idismyth:

    But when it is clearly demonstrated that Hamlet’s words are actually more random [than a string of gibberish]. . .

    Sigh. Will you please listen to yourself?

  71. 71
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEb:

    You can earn 1$/year, so, not much at all. Still, you earn more than the chap who gets .02$/year…

    If I have absolutely no money how can I have more money than someone else?

    If a string has absolutely no randomness, how can it be “more random” than any other string?

  72. 72
    Mung says:

    PaV:

    It is the fallacy that there is some kind of mathematical language that expresses “information” explicitly and correctly, and that is how all “information” should be gauged.

    We should attempt to come up with a name for this fallacy!

    By analogy, arguing over whether F, C, or K was the proper way to define temperature.

  73. 73
    StephenA says:

    If I have absolutely no money how can I have more money than someone else?

    If a string has absolutely no randomness, how can it be “more random” than any other string?

    You could have no money and still be wealthier than the chap who is in debt up to his eyeballs.
    Of course, for that analogy to work there would have to be something that could be considered the opposite of randomness. It would be measured in the same sort of units as randomness (probabilities?), but would be it’s opposite. And when this ‘anti-randomness’ was applied to something random, that thing would become less random.

    Huh. If you consider design to be a kind of anti-randomness the analogy holds up quite well, at least at first glance. Did not expect that.

  74. 74
    Mung says:

    Mark Frank @ 61:

    Mark, this has top rank right up there among the most incoherent arguments you’ve ever put forth here at UD. For what it’s worth, I deleted my initial response and opted for a less mocking path.

    Would you care to revisit your comments @ 61 and revise them? Perhaps they fail to accurately reflect what you really intended to convey.

    Fair warning.

    cheers

  75. 75
    Box says:

    StephenA: You could have no money and still be wealthier than the chap who is in debt up to his eyeballs.

    But you cannot have more money than the debtor.

    BA: If I have absolutely no money how can I have more money than someone else?

  76. 76
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Statistically, you can take a random sample or you can take a biased (intentionally designed selected) sample.

    That’s another obvious use of randomness vs design. Biased samples are designed to show certain results (i.e. asking public opinion from a sample of people who all voted in favor of the issue in question).

  77. 77
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Following the above, supposedly, the quote from Hamlet is more random.

    So, we do some research: “How often does the term “sleep” appear in a sample of random text?

    Interestingly, it appears 5 times in a relatively short selection of random text.

  78. 78
    Mung says:

    DiEb:

    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.

    I get the feeling DiEb would argue we can’t really measure it if it’s not really there, while otoh Mark Frank would argue that even if we can measure it, that doesn’t mean it’s really there.

  79. 79
    idismyth says:

    Nobody is suggesting that the Shakespeare words are random. But without the foreknowledge of English, there is no way that we would know this. Frankly, I forget Barry’s original purpose for presenting the two strings. But even by Barry’s definition, given after the fact (I.e., without aim or purpose…), the first string absolutely fails the randomness test because he freely admits that he produced the string with the aim and purpose of presenting a series of random characters.

    Calling people insane and stupid does not change the fact that Barry was wrong.

  80. 80
    Tim says:

    MF, (too many comments ago) you asked, “so what?” So according to KC, any gibberish is, exactly because of the “compressability” of the code that produces it, more random than the soliloquy in question. Yet, you have continually insisted that it is less random.

    In light of this, please clarify your statements.

  81. 81
    Tim says:

    @79 I dis myth writes,

    Nobody is suggesting that the Shakespeare words are random

    But @26, MF wrote,

    I am suggesting that he [Dembski]would find the other string even less random than the soliloquy.

    With is logically equivalent to finding the soliloquy more random than gibberish. So, I dis myth, are you going to stick with your statement? Is this one of those “well, I-didn’t-mean-purely-random,-just-more-than-gibberish-type” random statements?

    Furthermore, you imply that purposeful attempts at obtaining random outcomes mean the outcomes are a priori purposeful. Are you really going to stick with that?
    I smell troll.

  82. 82
    Mark Frank says:

    Real life has caught up with me and I no longer have time to participate in this debate. Barry has decided that anyone using a definition of random that makes string 1 less random than string 2 is insane. That is a long list including some leading figures in mathematics, information theory and, I would maintain, William Dembski. But in the end that is his decision.

  83. 83
    Mark Frank says:

    And as a final note in response to Mung I will try to clarify what I meant by #61.

    There is a difference between declaring things to be random or not random – a binary classification – and declaring things to be more or less random. Wealth (which is referred to above) is a good example. If you have total assets of $10 then you are wealthier than someone who has only $5 but no one would describe you as wealthy. So no one would describe the Hamlet piece as random even though it is more random by some accepted measurs than the piece generated by pounding on a keyboard. Does this makes sense?

  84. 84
    HeKS says:

    @Mark Frank,

    I hope you won’t disappear entirely. I was hoping to discuss with you some issues related to your comments about Bayesian analysis but I’ve been busy with work. I’m no expert when it comes to Bayes Theorem, but it seemed to me that some of the comments you were making as to how it should fit into weighing the options in an abductive argument based on prior probabilities may have been problematic (though I think that was in a different thread). Perhaps the opportunity to discuss this stuff will present itself again in the future.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  85. 85
    Mark Frank says:

    #84 Heks

    I didn’t plan to disappear entirely. It is just this particular debate about randomness that has become excessively time consuming and unproductive.

    Mark

  86. 86
    HeKS says:

    @Mark Frank #85

    Ok, great. I think what I wanted to discuss was in the Phillip Johnson / Bayesian Priors thread but I can’t quite remember. I’ll take a look when I get a chance and then we can discuss it a bit.

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    IDS: Yes, it is by our knowledge of English across the centuries that we recognise complex, specific functionality in the string from Hamlet. On that strength, we THEN address, can such be credibly accessed by a blind chance and necessity search/sample of the population of possibilities? The answer on search window to scope of config space and necessary isolation of such islands of function is obvious. No. This illustrates the power of the design inference on detection of FSCO/I and to tax that with, oh you are not producing a universal decoder algorithm is first irrelevant. Second, as a glance at theory of computation will assure us that such a universal algorithm is utterly implausible, it is in effect saying unless you do the near or actual impossible as well, I will not listen to what you are doing successfully. Please rethink. KF

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    MF: Pardon but if something B is “more random” than A, it implies assignment of a common infusion of randomness to both. Further, A is a product of haphazard keystrokes which is strongly though not flat even distribution across ASCII characters random. So, the assertion is that B is more random than that as assigned by K-compressibility. This is patently flawed, as B is coherent text in English with every letter etc in a carefully chosen, intelligently directed, world class awesome place. B is not random at all, and the abuse of K-compressibility that wants to suggest that it is, is nonsense. I again suggest you read the Trevors and Abel 2005 paper on OSC, RSC and FSC, to clarify the three distinct possibilities, with particular attention to Fig. 4. Otherwise, with all due respect, you are in danger of obfuscating rather than elucidating truth, by manifesting the contemptuous attitude of zero concessions to those IDiots that is without excuse. KF

  89. 89
    the bystander says:

    Using compression to test randomness is height of stupidity. If we take jGuy @ 2 strings, the 1st string compresses to 380 bytes and 2nd string (all As) compresses to 105 bytes with Winrar. It shows that the 1st string is more random – which is true ! So will Shallit argue that in this case the compression technique is wrong ?

  90. 90
    Joe says:

    The sad part about this random debate is if you know how to do the calculation Jeffrey did then it is a given that you would know that sequence 2 was designed and as such shouldn’t even have been attempted to be compressed.

    People whining about prior knowledge when in fact it takes prior knowledge in order to do the calculations.

  91. 91
    Dionisio says:

    This discussion seems very interesting, but it’s above my pay grade.
    Here’s a kind of ‘ot’ issue that I would like to bring it up to your attention, in order to hear your opinion on it:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-518218
    Thank you.

  92. 92
    DiEb says:

    Using compression to test randomness is height of stupidity. If we take jGuy @ 2 strings, the 1st string compresses to 380 bytes and 2nd string (all As) compresses to 105 bytes with Winrar. It shows that the 1st string is more random – which is true ! So will Shallit argue that in this case the compression technique is wrong ?

    Why should he? AAAAA… is less random than OipaFJ…, which is less random than To be,…

  93. 93
    DiEb says:

    @BA:

    Box is right. I did not ask Dembski a meaningless question.

    You may think that this question “Is String #2 more random than String #1?” is meaningless. But it is relevant one, as you state:

    Mark Frank [74] and RObb [76] point to Bill Dembski’s work and appear to suggest that Dembski would agree with Shallit, i.e., that the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy are “more random” than a string of text achieved by banging away at a keyboard, and Daniel King [84] mocks me for failing to realize this. Gentlemen, when your conclusion is absurd on its face, you really should stop and re-think it before you post it.

    You may be surprised by W. Dembski’s answer!

    But all of us should take your advice at heart:

    you should be careful to ensure that you are correct before you mock someone. Otherwise, you look foolish.

  94. 94
    Box says:

    The deeper reason as to why Hamlet’s soliloquy is unmeasurable by gzip is that the intelligent designer Shakespeare is a oneness. And this oneness – and its top-down causation – is reflected in Hamlet’s soliloquy.
    How? The information in these lines cannot be explained “bottom-up”. On the contrary the information/meaning comes from above. The letters derive meaning from words, the words derive meaning from sentences, the sentences .. and so on.
    This ripple effect of information/meaning into widening circles of context – only ending with Shakespeare – will be for ever irreducible to data bits.
    And that’s why a materialist, like Shallit, fails.

  95. 95
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Danny Macaskill: The Ridge – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ_IQS3VKjA
    The Ridge is the brand new film from Danny Macaskill… For the first time in one of his films Danny climbs aboard a mountain bike and returns to his native home of the Isle of Skye in Scotland to take on a death-defying ride along the notorious Cuillin Ridgeline.

  96. 96
    Eric Anderson says:

    And, yet again, some commenters veer immediately off course, questioning the true “randomness” of the first string, navel-gazing about whether anything is ever really random, and on and on.

    Look, forget about the first string Barry created. Come up with your own truly random string and substitute it in place of the first string. Then deal with the real issue, which is specification.

    At one end of the spectrum is something truly random (whatever you in your heart of hearts may think is a good example thereof). At the other end of the spectrum is a truly non-random, deterministic, law-like process. Somewhere in the middle — sometimes closer to one end, sometimes closer to the other, based on whatever measurement criterion we want to use — are specifications.

    Whether a designed string is “more” or “less” random than some non-designed string depends on the particular example in question. More importantly, it is largely irrelevant to the real issues involved in the design inference.

  97. 97
    Eric Anderson says:

    Follow up to 96:

    Let me put it this way:

    The only purpose of assessing “randomness,” or Shannon entropy, or complexity, or any similar characteristic of an object is to ascertain whether or not we are dealing with necessity, in other words, whether we are dealing with a deterministic, law-like process. Randomness/entropy/complexity can help us make that determination.

    Once that determination is made, we are done with randomness/entropy/complexity. It doesn’t bring anything else useful to the table in helping us determine whether something was designed. At that point we have to turn to specification, which is a different concept entirely.

    Trying to use randomness as a determiner of design is a category mistake. It cannot get you where you are trying to go. It is not capable of being used to make that determination. It can only shed more heat than light, as the recent discussions have underscored.

  98. 98
    Roy says:

    There is far too much repetition of long segments containing widely separated keys in that first string for it to have been produced by “haphazard banging on a keyboard”.

    Roy

  99. 99
    Upright BiPed says:

    It is the fallacy that there is some kind of mathematical language that expresses “information” explicitly and correctly, and that is how all “information” should be gauged.

    And let us not forget, there is an intractable physical reason this is the case.

  100. 100
    vividbleau says:

    Heks RE 86
    The thread I think you are looking for had “ID” as part of it. I think that is the one. I too had questions for Mark in that thread but he disappeared. Hope he responds. I am curious has to how he knows that evolution is probable even though he doesn’t know what the probability is exactly. I am also curious has to how he calculates the probability of Gods existence as essentially 0.

    Vivid

  101. 101
    vividbleau says:

    Heks
    ” How is ID Different” is the thread. Started by BA Oct 4. Paul Giem had questions that went unanswered as well.

    Vivid

  102. 102
    HeKS says:

    @vividbleau

    That was it. Thanks a lot.

    HeKS

  103. 103
    SteRusJon says:

    Eric,

    Thanks for your attempt to focus the discussion where it should be in your post #96 and #97.

    Some time back, years now I think, I challenged in these threads one Alan Fox, with a pair of roughly equal length texts. My example asked him if there was any difference between some “gibberish” and the instructional “hello world” program often found in computer programming texts. The denial on his part was a wonder to behold. He refused to acknowledge the obvious property displayed by the simplest of computer programming.

    What amazes me in these discussions is the unscientific attitude of these people. There is an obvious quality, property, of text sequences such as the “hello world” and Hamlet’s Soliloquy not exhibited by “gibberish” that begs for scientific qualification and quantification independent of the existential issues of ID . If properly done, with scientific rigor, the results could be confidently applied by either side of the issue of the ID question.

    My suspicion- ID opponents fear the outcome of the application of the scientific method to the question.

    Stephen

  104. 104
    Mark Frank says:

    VB, HeKS

    I responded on the How is ID Different thread as requested.

    As I am here anyway.

    SteRusJon – I don’t think anyone is denying there is an important difference between string 1 and string 2. The initial debate was purely about whether one was more random than the other in according to a precise (and widely used) definition of random. Counter-intuitively it turns out to that there is good (not conclusive) evidence that it is the Hamlet sequence. Somehow it seemed to get sidetracked into a discussion about which string is more meaningful, or contains more information. That’s when I dropped out.

    However, while we are sidetracked 🙂

    I was amused by Box’s comment on #94 which happened to touch on something I know a bit about.

    The deeper reason as to why Hamlet’s soliloquy is unmeasurable by gzip is that the intelligent designer Shakespeare is a oneness.

    I have only a vague idea what this sentence means but one thing is for certain – many people other than Shakespeare combined to produce the precise arrangement of characters in string #2 and there is almost certainly some variation that is just accident not designed by anybody. 

    * We do not have access to the words of Hamlet as written by Shakespeare. All we have is the two quartos – which were probably created from a combination of things such as prompt copies and people writing down what they remember the actors saying – and the folio which was more formal but written several years after his death.

    * The three versions differ considerably and none are the same as string #2 which is the result of several scholars working on the different versions and coming up with their best guess.

    * There was no standard spelling in Shakespeare’s time. The chances of him spelling all the words the same way as either the quartos, or the folio, or string #2 are negligible.

    * Although there was such a thing as printing in Shakespeare’s time, it would have been far too expensive for the few copies needed for an acting company.  He must have written it out in hand. He or someone else would then have used the master copy to duplicate, by hand, the other texts that were needed – prompt copy, actors parts and cues, etc. So there was plenty of scope for misreading and accidental error in duplication.

    I don’t think oneness is the right word somehow.

  105. 105
    HeKS says:

    @Mark Frank,

    I saw that. I’ll comment when I get some time. Currently trying to resolve some bugs for work.

  106. 106
    Silver Asiatic says:

    MF #104

    I don’t think anyone is denying there is an important difference between string 1 and string 2.

    I think that’s what this entire (often absurd) discussion has been about. Some have claimed that string #2 is more random and then walked away after that. It’s a childish game, in my opinion. But beyond that, what is the “important difference” between the two strings? How do you define it?

    For one thing, I observe you saying quite a lot about string #2 — you go into some fascinating historical details on how it was designed.

    So, one obvious difference is that there is virtually nothing to say about string #1 except that it shows some slightly non-random elements and through design-detection some have recognized it as coming from standard keyboard combinations.

    But back to my questions: You’ve asserted that there is an important difference between the strings (and nobody denied this). Could you explain how you arrived at that conclusion? I’ll guess that you find more than one important difference also – right?

  107. 107
    cantor says:

    104 Mark Frank October 8, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Counter-intuitively it turns out to that there is good (not conclusive) evidence that it is the Hamlet sequence.

    If you select a compression algorithm that includes an unabridged English dictionary, the Hamlet sequence compresses more. So to mockingly claim that Hamlet is “more random” simply because it is less compressible using one specific algorithm (gzip), as Shallit did, seems disingenuous.

    .

  108. 108
    Mark Frank says:

    #107 Cantor

    As I understand it, (and I do not pretend to be an expert) KC compression, which is the established criterion for randomness Shallitt is using, includes restrictions on the types of compression algorithm that can be used. A compression algorithm that included an English dictionary would not be permissable.

  109. 109
    Eric Anderson says:

    SteRusJon:

    My suspicion- ID opponents fear the outcome of the application of the scientific method to the question.

    That is precisely what is going on.

  110. 110
    SteRusJon says:

    Eric,

    Mark briefly responded to my comment to you above. He repeated his diverting tactic.

    In the originating post 274 of the thread “On not putting all your theological eggs into one basket” Barry asked a question in reference to the two text examples. I quote with context.

    Both groups are complex. One group was constructed through random strokes on a keyboard. The other was designed. Can you tell which is which?

    Certainly you can. And just as certainly it is not the degree of complexity that allows you to tell the difference. If anything, the random group is more complex than the designed group.

    If the designed group is less complex than the chance group, there must be something other than complexity that allows you to detect design. What do you think that something is?

    Where, pray tell, is there a challenge to identify how they share randomness? The challenge is to identify what makes one obviously different than the other. That challenge requires the ID opponent to consider non-physical realities such as ideas, concepts, messages, functionality, meanings, specificity etc. A place that the ID opponent refuses to go. Mark wrote that when the conversation was dragged back on to the actual topic he lost interest. He a simply stated that he is not interested in the central question of the ID paradigm. If that is so, why is he here?

    Sadly, from my perspective, Mark confirmed that he is among the obstinate obstructionists to addressing the realities exampled by the text from Hamlet and the “hello world” example I once used. In place of addressing the issue really at hand he would rather divert to telling us how multiple minds, instead of just a single mind, are the source of the Hamlet passage and his knowledge of that fact.

    ID opponents- What properties or characteristics are present in Hamlet’s soliloquy and the “hello world” program that are not present in any random text string that suits your fancy? How can we go about putting those empirical observations onto a firm scientific footing? Are you going to advance science or continue to obstruct?

    Stephen

  111. 111
  112. 112
  113. 113
    Eric Anderson says:

    SteRusJon: Well said.

  114. 114
    Eric Anderson says:

    kf@11:

    You’ve got to be kidding me — it was a moth!? I hope not a peppered one. 🙂 That was one of the “bugs” in the evolutionary storyline that got everything off track.

  115. 115
    Mung says:

    HeKS:

    I saw that. I’ll comment when I get some time. Currently trying to resolve some bugs for work.

    There are no intelligently designed bugs. Eliminate the intelligently designed code and you’ll expose the bug.

    Contact me for banking information.

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