I finally found the phrase “Specified Improbability” in Bill’s recent writings:
The design inference, as I developed it, looks to a marker of design, what I call specified complexity or specified improbability, and from there reasons to a designing intelligence as responsible for this marker. –
See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/10/design_inferenc064871.html#sthash.Af6bmEbu.dpuf
I thought he used the phrase in a letter he wrote to me a long time ago which he gave permission to publish. He did not use the phrase in that letter, so my recollection was wrong. But the letter was interesting in its own right.
The letter was trying to resolve 2 questions. Here is what I said:
>There are 4 different diagrams of the EF:
>They seem essentially equivalent, but could you clarify that or mention
>which one you prefer. The critics are burying us because of that point.
>2. mention whether detecting the gentically modified foods is candidate
>model for the explanatory filter. I completely see that it is, but the
>I hope it won’t take too long for you, but if you can help me, I and the
>IDEA members and fellow IDists at ARN would be deeply grateful.
Bill’s response on 12/05/2004 which he gave permission to publish:
I saw essentially only two explanatory filters, one which appeared in THE DESIGN INFERENCE, and the other which appeared in NO FREE LUNCH. They are equivalent. But more importantly, the filter is just a tool for assessing specified complexity. That’s why in my current writings in which I summarize my work on design detection, I don’t even mention the filter. Instead I’ll refer to the “complexity-specification criterion.” Complexity here refers to improbability, specification to a particular type of pattern.
As for genetically modified foods being a candidate for a design-theoretic
analysis (in terms of the complexity-specification criterion or, equivalently, in terms of the explanatory filter), my first reaction is to say “sure they are.” The issue then is whether whether a successful design-theoretic analysis can be carried out on these foods showing that they are indeed designed.
You are free to post the two previous paragraphs on the ARN site.
When I complained about the critics “burying us on that point”, I was new to the ID debate. I didn’t realize it was a standard tactic for critics to mince words and stress irrelevancies because the critics had really no substance to their position — all they could do was make a big deal of the same concept being expressed in various ways. To their credit, they wasted a lot of my time, created a lot of trouble for me by highlighting the differences in the diagrams of the Explanatory Filter.