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# Progress!!! Mathgirl Concedes that “Specified Complexity” is a Meaningfull Concept (if her friends are using it)

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Newsflash: ID proponent William Dembski did not coin the term “specified complexity.” That term was coined by celebrated evolutionary materialist Leslie Orgel to describe the criteria by which living organisms are distinguished from non-living matter.

In a previous post I challenged mathgirl to show us why “specified complexity” as used by one of the most famous evolutionary materialists in history is a meaningless concept. In her response she concedes that Orgel’s use of the term is valid, but that when Dembski is using the term he is referring to a different concept.

Progress! Mathgirl finally concedes that the term “specified complexity,” at least as used by Orgel, is a meaningful concept.

Sadly, mathgirl has deluded herself into believing that Orgel and Dembski are using the term in different ways. Let’s examine that claim. Again, Orgel’s formulation of specified complexity:

. . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.

Leslie Orgel, The Origins of Life (1973), p. 189.

Dembski describes the concept this way:

A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex. A long sentence of random letters is complex without being specified. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified.

William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design (1999), p. 47.

Even the most casual observer must conclude that Orgel and Dembski are describing in different ways precisely the same concept.

Conclusion: Mathgirl is OK with the concept of specified complexity so long as it is being used by evolutionary materialists. She says the exact same concept is utterly meaningless if it is being used by ID proponents. Sad really.

M. Holcumbrink "So for DNA alone we have all the hallmarks of software: semiotics, hierarchical nesting, error correction, multi layered encryption, compression, etc. (i.e. software engineering writ large). But let’s not jump to conclusions! Where’s the POSITIVE evidence for design?! " --- I agree. This is possible way non-coding DNA is arranged: 1.Cell needs the whole DNA (98% is "junk") otherwise it wouldn't spend tremendous resources to copy-replicate it. 2. Scientists from Harvard found the DNA fills certain volume inside nucleus in shape of Peano curve. That provides for well organized structure instead of chaotic tangle. 3. DNA Skittle visualization tool ( free download) clearly shows repetitive patterns interchanging with randomly distributed nucleotides in non-coding DNA. Also, interference and modulation type patterns are visible. 4. One dimensional string could be periodically marked for bending and assembly of two dimensional matrix (like QR code). Next it is possible to layer (stack) multiple two dimensional data matrices to fill volume. 5. Combining previous three points it is possible to envision form of data storage as a purpose for non-coding DNA. It is possible we are dealing with three dimensional chemical data storage system. 6. Similar to holographic recording I would expect huge storage capacity and inherent information redundancy. Smaller, broken off section of holographic recording will show the whole picture but with lower resolution. I would also expect powerful dynamic encryption as the basic information should be kept away from irresponsible users.Eugen
April 29, 2011
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I have responded to MG's latest in the CSI newsflash thread, here. We now need a little more than constantly repeated hyperskeptical talking points.kairosfocus
April 29, 2011
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You see Mathgrrl, the only way your objection can make any sense at all, is if you can substantiate a distinction where one relationship is a code, while another only acts as a code. Without that distinction, then you cannot say there is an "equivocation". I do not believe that you can make that distinction, therefore your claim of an equivocation is absolutely meaningless. Prove me wrong.Upright BiPed
April 29, 2011
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Mathgrrl,
You are attempting to put words in my mouth.
The words you need to concern yourself with are those that you typed out. Please address the question I asked regarding the specific objection you made: The only way you could interpret the presence of an equivocation would be if you knew of a distinction. So please be specific. On what grounds do you make the distinction that one relationship acts as a code, while another relationship is a code?Upright BiPed
April 29, 2011
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Upright BiPed,
You stated (leaving no doubt whatsoever of your position) that the inference to design was not supported by the presence of a semiotic code in DNA.
That's not quite accurate. Based on the limited hints you've provided of the actual argument I am assuming that you have in mind, I noted that you seem to be confusing the map with the territory.
I have now asked you four times to substantiate your claim… How do you know when one thing is a code and another is not a code. You have repeatedly refused to substantiate this claim which you’ve already made.
You are attempting to put words in my mouth. I never made any claims about codes. As I've pointed out a couple of times already, you have not clearly stated your argument nor summarized the evidence you believe supports it. If you choose to do so, I will happily discuss it further with you. If you want to simply continue to accuse me of making claims that I have not, this conversation is at an end. Do you, in fact, have a positive argument for ID based on semiotics?MathGrrl
April 29, 2011
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My dear interlocutors, I apologize for disappearing for the past week; real world responsibilities intervened. I am attempting to continue the discussion in the two most active child threads of my original guest post. I hope you'll continue as well.MathGrrl
April 29, 2011
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Mathgrrl: “You loosely model biochemical structures and reactions using the language of semiotics”. Upright, these people are all the same. They simply don’t understand the implications of there being semiotics in biological life. But in Mathgrrl’s case, she doesn’t seem to even understand that there are, in fact, semiotic conventions being utilized at all; all she sees are “biochemical structures and reactions”. But on top of that, I don’t even think she understands what semiotics even is. Otherwise, why would she say “language of semiotics”? That’s like saying “language of grammar”. Mathgrrl: “What is your positive evidence for ID? What is your argument from semiotics?” Yep. All the same. Always conflating evidence with proof. At first they just ask for evidence, and the more powerful the evidence becomes (e.g. semiotics), they switch from evidence to proof. So for DNA alone we have all the hallmarks of software: semiotics, hierarchical nesting, error correction, multilayered encryption, compression, etc. (i.e. software engineering writ large). But let’s not jump to conclusions! Where’s the POSITIVE evidence for design?! “But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” I’d like to see mathgrrl give a rigorous mathematical proof for why she believes moai have an intelligent origin, as opposed to being the result of wind and water erosion.M. Holcumbrink
April 26, 2011
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It now appears that Mathgrrl may have made the economical decision to step away from the thread. Cheers...Upright BiPed
April 22, 2011
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April 20, 2011
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Upright BiPed,
You keep asking me to make my point, but my point has already been made, and it is one that you very much already understand, since you’ve already directly responded to it – on more than one occasion.
I've responded to my interpretation of your statements, based on similar arguments from equivocation I've seen in the past. The few hints you've given to your thought process suggest to me that you are mired in a similar fallacy. You have not, however, clearly stated your argument nor summarized the evidence you believe supports it. Rather than continuing to speculate on what it is you are trying to say, I have invited you to provide more clarity.
Please be specific. On what grounds do you make the distinction that one relationship acts as a code, while another relationship is a code? Also, please tell me how this proposed distinction has been independently validated.
I have already replied as much as possible based on the limited amount of detail you have provided for your position. You appear to be confusing the map with the territory and equivocating on certain terms in an attempt to define your intelligent designer into existence. Unless and until you provide a detailed argument, I can say little more. If you do have a positive argument for ID based on semiotics, I would be interested in hearing it.MathGrrl
April 20, 2011
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Mathgrrl, The pattern of behavior I am repeating is my attempt to get you to justify your already-spoken objection. You keep asking me to make my point, but my point has already been made, and it is one that you very much already understand, since you’ve already directly responded to it - on more than one occasion. When you wrote the following text, did you not understand what you were typing on your keyboard? Yes, you did -or- No, you did not?
Your argument hinges on mistaking your map for the territory. You loosely model biochemical structures and reactions using the language of semiotics, then equivocate to conclude that a semiotic agent is required. Basically, as I said before, you’re trying to define your terms such that an intelligent agent is required. That’s not particularly compelling or interesting.
And what about this following passage, were you again not aware of the words you were stringing together to form these coherent sentences?
Using semiotic language to describe a biochemical process is not, in and of itself, problematic. The issue arises when one equivocates between that language in the limited context it is originally used and the implications of that language in a broader context. Using the language of semiotics to describe a physical process does not logically support the inference to a semiotic agent being responsible for that process.
April 19, 2011
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R0bb:
1) The Caputo example is simple and repetitive
That is like saying flipping a coin 41 times and getting 40 heads is simple and repetitive. :roll:Joseph
April 19, 2011
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Upright BiPed,
LOL, you’ve brought up the “pseudo-Socratic” objection once again.
When you repeat a pattern of behavior, people will tend to notice. The problem with this pattern is that, whether deliberately or not, it leads to long discussions that reach no conclusion. This stems from the basic problem that by asking questions you avoid making clear statements. ID is supposed to be a scientific endeavor. Real scientists state their hypotheses clearly and provide the evidence that supports them.
Please be specific. On what grounds do you make the distinction that one relationship acts as a code, while another relationship is a code? Also, please tell me how this proposed distinction has been independently validated.
And here you go again, attempting to turn the burden of proof around without ever making your position clear. Please man up and say what you mean. What is your positive evidence for ID? What is your argument from semiotics? If you've got it, bring it on!MathGrrl
April 19, 2011
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kairosfocus, I'll repeat my point, since you haven't addressed it: 1) The Caputo example is simple and repetitive. 2) You said that simple, repetitive sequences are not complex according to Dembski. 3) Dembski characterizes the Caputo sequence as complex, as do you. I didn't ask you to explain the Caputo case, nor did I challenge the design conclusion. I'm just pointing out that your previous statement about simple, repetitive sequences is wrong.R0bb
April 19, 2011
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Robb: You are strawmanning, ansd twisting meanings. The point of the Caputo case is that the distribution of the outcome over 41 election cycles of the head of the ballot list -- held to be on fair coin tossing or the like -- was 40 D, 1 R. the complexity, as you know or should know, comes form the number of possibilities in 41 runs of a two-outcome variable [for simplicity]. The simply describable specificity is that he observed outcome was from well into the null hyp rejecting region of the distribution on the assumption of fair coin tosses. The common sense conclusion -- supported by the facts that (a) the coin tosses were not public and (b) the "run" vanished once the bad publicity of the trial had shone a light on the game -- is that he outcomes were not by happy accident but by design. Please, do better than that next time around. And, BTW, could you please look at the reduction of the Demsbski metric to information past a threshold form over in the Newsflash thread. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
April 19, 2011
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kairosfocus:
Think of the Caputo elections case on what being in the far tail of a distribution on the null hyp of chance may mean in terms of making the alternative hyp a better explanation, as an illustration in point. One long since used by Dembski, and turned into a major occasion to throw up a cloud of confusing dust.
Yes, the repetitive Caputo sequence is Dembski's most oft-used example of specified complexity. Yet you claim: "Simple repetitive orderly sequences are NOT complex, not for Orgel, not for Wicken, not fro Thaxton, not for Abel-Trevors, not for Durston, not for Dembski." Are you going to inform Dembski that the Caputo sequence is actually not complex?R0bb
April 19, 2011
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MG: Talking point at 42 to SB: answered here. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
April 18, 2011
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MathGrrl:
I want to learn enough about CSI to be able to test whether or not evolutionary mechanisms are capable of generating it.
Then why do you keep equivocating? ID is not anti-evolution so your continued use of "evolutionary mechanisms" is meaningless. ID claims that blind, udirected processes cannot generate CSI from scratch.Joseph
April 18, 2011
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Mathgrrrl, LOL, you’ve brought up the “pseudo-Socratic” objection once again. What is this, the third or fourth time you’ve trotted it out? I note that it surfaces with roughly the same frequency in which someone asks you questions which you wish to avoid. Perhaps there is a connection. Here is a question I know you have an answer for: Did you type the following text?
Your argument hinges on mistaking your map for the territory. You loosely model biochemical structures and reactions using the language of semiotics, then equivocate to conclude that a semiotic agent is required. Basically, as I said before, you’re trying to define your terms such that an intelligent agent is required. That’s not particularly compelling or interesting.
If it is true that you typed those thoughts, then you already know what the issue is because you’ve responded directly to it – and not just once. Did you type these words as well:
Using semiotic language to describe a biochemical process is not, in and of itself, problematic. The issue arises when one equivocates between that language in the limited context it is originally used and the implications of that language in a broader context. Using the language of semiotics to describe a physical process does not logically support the inference to a semiotic agent being responsible for that process.
Yes? You did type these words, or did you not? In doing so, did you not explicitly demonstrate that you clearly understood what was at issue? Yes? Then stop it with the obfuscation and stalling. Answer the question: “Please be specific. On what grounds do you make the distinction that one relationship acts as a code, while another relationship is a code? Also, please tell me how this proposed distinction has been independently validated.”Upright BiPed
April 18, 2011
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StephenB,
Mathgrrl: Evolutionary processes are perfectly capable of generating CSI.
I never said that. I want to learn enough about CSI to be able to test whether or not evolutionary mechanisms are capable of generating it. Thus far it is not sufficiently well defined for me to do so. Based on some ID proponents' personal definitions of CSI, it appears that evolutionary mechanisms can generate it, but those aren't the same as Dembski's CSI.MathGrrl
April 18, 2011
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Noesis,
There are times when people attempt to discuss topics other than the one you find most important. Everyone knows at this point that you regard semiosis as that utmost “miracle of rare device” in biological systems. In my opinion, Mathgrrl erred in letting you distract her from Dembski’s (2005) notion of complex specified information.
I agree. I'm interested in learning about positive evidence for ID. CSI seemed like the most likely candidate. I'll continue to focus on maintaining that . . . um, focus.MathGrrl
April 18, 2011
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Upright BiPed, I'd hoped to get back to this topic on Sunday, but after spending most of Saturday meditating with some friends and getting in touch with our inner goddesses, I needed Sunday to prep for the week. My weekend has left me in a very pleasant mental state, though, so I hope we can have a productive discussion.
Using the language of semiotics to describe a physical process does not logically support the inference to a semiotic agent being responsible for that process.
Well (lol, Mathgrrl) that is what is to be determined. That determination does not come about by edict, it comes from reasoning with the evidence.
I’m not saying anything about those distinctions, I’m merely pointing out that one can’t define an intelligent agent into existence.
I am not defining an agent into existence. If there is an inference to the existence of an agent, that inference is coming from the evidence itself, not from me.
If you have a scientific hypothesis and supporting evidence that you believe provides positive evidence for ID, I would be very interested in seeing it. Have you written it up in detail anywhere that you can easily reference? If not, would you be willing to do so in this thread? I have noticed, both while lurking here and in a few interactions directly with you, that you sometimes have a tendency to ask questions rather than simply stating your case. I want to make it clear at the outset that I'm not interested in some pseudo-Socratic dialog. If you really do have a positive argument for ID based on semiotics, please present it as clearly, directly, and succinctly as possible.MathGrrl
April 18, 2011
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Onlookers (and Noesis): The strawman tactic talking points in 36 just above are corrected in more specific details in the CSI News Flash thread, here. Before constructing such strawmen to knock over, N should have first read and taken to heart UD WAC 30 -- one scroll up and two clicks away, for years, on every page of this site -- to see a fairer view of the case of the Explanatory Filter, and he should have taken time to look at how Dembski and Marks actually developed and measure Active Information, in light of especially the discussion in ch 4 of NFL [Google book excerpt that has a good slice of the crucial chs 3 - 4] on the subtle fallacies in evolutionary algorithms. Such a fairer view would acknowledge the fundamental rule of the needle in a haystack search challenge, leading to warranting the inference that if you are found in an unusual and specific zone of interest you are not likely to be there by random chance; as, the odds on such a null hyp would overwhelmingly point to your being elsewhere. (Think of the Caputo elections case on what being in the far tail of a distribution on the null hyp of chance may mean in terms of making the alternative hyp a better explanation, as an illustration in point. One long since used by Dembski, and turned into a major occasion to throw up a cloud of confusing dust. The pattern of selectively hyperskeptical, too often closed minded and supercilious objectionism to the design thought approach is very clear.) To be in such a zone of interest is much more credibly explained on prior knowledge and intent, i.e. active information that has dramatically narrowed down the scope of search to a zone of interest. In short, the explanatory filter, CSI and active information are stages in a developing account of how design injects active information to solve the needle in the haystack problem, and in so doing leaves behind the marker trace, CSI. Yes, there are points of adjustment and elaboration, but the fundamentally progressive and coherent pattern is clear from a fair reading of NFL in the back-light of onward developments. In particular, I draw attention tothe initial post in teh CSI News Flash thread, which draws out the actual significance of CSI on Dembski's metric thusly:
Chi = – log2 (10^120 * phi_s(T) * p (T|H) becomes, on transformation and rounding up: Chi = Ip – 500, in bits beyond a threshold of complexity . . .
Is it mere coincidence that, after a WEEK of such being pointed out in multiple threads, the objectors who for weeks were trumpeting how the Chi metric is mathematically ill defined and meaningless have been conspicuous for evasion and silence, starting with MG herself? (And BTW, on this transformation of the metric, MG's four challenges were -- again -- specifically responded to in the thread just linked, from 19 on. The gap between number of looks and numbers of comments [the UD ratio is usually ~ 10:1 from an unscientific look-see], especially objecting comments, in that thread is telling.) Erecting and knocking over strawmen is often rhetorically effective -- unless it backfires, but that is not the way to gain a sound understanding of the situation. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
April 18, 2011
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Noesis,
Folks here are such “true believers” that they generated a piteous outcry when Dembski admitted that the explanatory filter was dead. Having posted an embarrassing “best thing since sliced bread” retraction once, you can count on it that he will not make a similar mistake. CSI did not pan out. Dembski has moved on, but there is a strong disincentive for him to admit that he has.
He hasn't "moved on" for goodness sakes, the Law of Conservation of Information is another nail in the coffin for evolution, it's not a replacement of CSI. You seem to think that a guy could only have one point of view or observation, which is ridiculous, and don't presume to know his mind and psychologize him, this irritates me to the point of moderating you.Clive Hayden
April 17, 2011
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Noesis, Your attempt to step in for Mathgrrl and have me disqualified on a rules violation in duly noted. However, the reality of fhe observation is more important than Mathgrrls math, and my objection is a direct challenge to the conclusions she has already stated. She either has answers for the questions above, or she doesn't.Upright BiPed
April 17, 2011
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Notice how Dembski has abandoned CSI, apart from rehashing earlier claims to get some verbiage for a new book, and has turned to active information. I would very much enjoy seeing someone attempt to reconcile the Law of Conservation of Information (active information) developed by Dembski and Marks in the new Nature of Nature volume with the Law of Conservation of Information (complex specified information) developed by Dembski in No Free Lunch. I seem to have missed Dembski's explanation of how the new Law of Conservation of Information relates to the old. It strikes me as odd to reuse the term, and to refrain from commenting on the reuse. Folks here are such "true believers" that they generated a piteous outcry when Dembski admitted that the explanatory filter was dead. Having posted an embarrassing "best thing since sliced bread" retraction once, you can count on it that he will not make a similar mistake. CSI did not pan out. Dembski has moved on, but there is a strong disincentive for him to admit that he has.Noesis
April 17, 2011
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N (& SB): Kindly see here [and/or here over at IOSE], on Dembski's 2005 expression for the Chi-metric and what it transforms into by simply breaking out the log-product expression. This builds on VJT's efforts that culminated in his CSI-lite discussion. In a nutshell:
Chi = Ip - 500, in bits beyond a reasonable complexity threshold
Then observe the result when this is applied to MG's four questions here on. Note also how the Durston FSC metric easily integrates with the transformed Chi expression (by providing empirically grounded Ip values for 35 protein families), here. MG's obvious attempt to discredit the CSI concept by projecting the talking point that it was mathematically meaningless and incoherent -- notice how Dembski plainly builds on the earlier work and descriptive concepts by Orgel and Wicken -- has now collapsed. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
April 17, 2011
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[A] Mathgrrl: Evolutionary processes are perfectly capable of generating CSI. ID: Only intelligent agents can produce CSI. Mathggrl: What is CSI? ID: Whatever you thought it was when you claimed that Darwinism can produce it. [B] Mathgrrl: I have four questions to ask and here they are: ID: Your questions are uninformed and cannot be answered without first being made relevant. We can help you fine tune those questions and make them relevant, but it will require some dialogue and cooperation. Mathgrrl: I have four questions to ask and here they are. I can't believe so many ID proponents are playing these two games.StephenB
April 17, 2011
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Upright BiPed, There are times when people attempt to discuss topics other than the one you find most important. Everyone knows at this point that you regard semiosis as that utmost "miracle of rare device" in biological systems. In my opinion, Mathgrrl erred in letting you distract her from Dembski's (2005) notion of complex specified information.Noesis
April 17, 2011
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Joseph: Shannon measured info-carrying capacity, towards one of his goals: metrics of the carrying capacity of comms channels -- as in who was he working for, again? CSI extended this to meaningfulness/function of info. And in so doing, observed that this -- due to the required specificity -- naturally constricts the zone of the space of possibilities actually used, to island[s] of function. That specificity-complexity criterion links: I: an explosion of the scope of the config space to accommodate the complexity, to II: a restriction of the zone of the space used to accommodate the specificity (often to function/be meaningfully structured). In turn that suggests that we have zones of function that are ever harder for chance based random walks {CBRW's] to pick up. But intelligence does so much more easily. Thence, we see that if you have a metric for the information involved that surpasses a threshold beyond which a CBRW is a plausible explanation, then we can configently infer to design as best explanation. Voila, we need an info beyond the threshold metric. As in: Chi = Ip - 500 bits QED. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
April 17, 2011
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