Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Detecting design: specification vs. liklihood.

This thread is offered as a neutral venue for anyone wishing to discuss Mark Frank's paper featured at Talk Reason, with an associated thread at Panda's Thumb.


Alan Fox said...

Mark Frank said...

My paper has become the subject of a small debate on Panda's thumb and Uncommon Descent. As I am banned from UD and some ID people are banned from PT. I will point the discussion to this neutral blog.

Here is a copy of Dave Scott's post and my reply on PT.


We keep getting told that the Dover (Kitzmiller) decison was the end of Intelligent Design. Judge Jones ruled that ID is just creationism in a cheap tuxedo. Yet physicist and regular contributor to Panda’s Thumb, Mark Perakh, is still struggling to dispute Dembski’s design detection math. I don’t get it. Is Mark in the business of arguing with cheap tuxedos or have rumors of ID’s death been highly exaggerated?

And just for kicks, the paper itself begins with a hugely flawed example and continues to use the flawed example through the end. The author begins by using for an example of specified complexity a poker program which is observed to deal a royal flush on the very first hand. It is then put foward that most people would reasonably presume the program was flawed. No problem with that presumption - a betting man would bet that the program is flawed. The problem is in equating this with Dembski’s specified complexity. A royal flush happens on average in one of every 2.5 million hands. That seems like long odds but in Dembski’s reasoning it’s not even close to long odds. Dembski says that the odds against something must be one in 10 to the 150th power before a design inference can be made. If the author changes his example to getting dealt 25 royal flushes in a row he’ll have an example of specified complexity aligned with Bill Dembski’s definition. One royal flush ain’t nearly enough except to make the paper specious to the casual observer who doesn’t know about Dembski’s Universal Probability Bound.


When I said Dave's comment was silly I was referring only to the first paragraph (for some reason I didn't see the second when I was browsing UD and I apologise for missing it). In this paragraph he claims that it is some sense hypocritical or contradictory or wrong (?) to criticse Dembski's work after the Dover trial has decided against ID. I do not believe it is worth discussing this accusation.

In the second paragraph Dave takes issue with the use of a Royal Flush as an example of specification - claiming that it is not nearly improbable enough. I think he needs to read both Dembski's paper and mine. I used that example because Dembksi himself uses it (on page 19) and Poker is familiar to many readers. Dembski makes it clear that specification is a matter of degree ranging from patterns that can easily be met through to the highly improbable. If Dave preferred I could have written the paper with an example of two or three consecutive Royal Flushes. That is not the point. Even three Royal Flushes in a row is just as probable as any other three defined hands in a row and we need to ask why it is surprising.

7:23 AM, July 04, 2006

Alan Fox said...

Just thought I'd paste your comment here, Mark, so it will be easier to find, should anyone wish to respond.

blipey said...

Dave seems, as do many IDiots, to not comprehend the idea of extrapolation. I think that this is the number two reason they do no experiments. The top reason, of course, is that they are not interested in doing any experiments.

Even if they were, however, I doubt that they could design (remarkable, really) an experiment that would be of any use. As proven by Ghost of Paley and a slew of others, IDiots can't get their heads around what a model is, what one might logically do with it.

Alan Fox said...

On Dembski's blog. Mark says:
Dave I am utterly confused as to whether you want me to post or not. If you permit it then I will repeat the point here which I made on PT and on Alan Fox’s blog.

Unfortunately, Mark, confusion is probably part of the plan. Dave's motives are political. Critical analysis is the last thing he wants to indulge in. Comments you make there are not guaranteed to appear or remain. Those that eventually do will receive a -ds. annotation appearing to demolish your argument, and your rebuttal will not appear, thus seeming to concede the point.

DaveScot doesn't play fair, I'm afraid. (Understandable, if you have a political agenda and have picked ID as a running mate.)

Mark Frank said...

Alan - you are right. I shouldn't take the bait. I have decided to ban myself from UD whatever my official status.

secondclass said...

In trashing Mark's example, Dave is inadvertently trashing virtually all of Dembski's examples also, almost none of which involve probabilities as small as the UPB.

Good job, Dave.

P.S. Dave, have you read any of Dembski's books? I would seriously like to know.

blipey said...

I would be more than mildly surprised if DaveScot had read any of Dembski's books. As has been stated before, he really isn't the same sort of animal as the rest of the ID crowd (at least the Disco kind).

He's in it completely for the supposed political gain he can receive from being the big man in the Wingnut Tent.

Kind of like Ann Coulter--but without the balls.