PvM posted Entry 2851 on January 21, 2007 09:59 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2841

On UncommonDescent, GilDodgen quotes from Denyse’s comments

GilDodgen wrote:

Denyse wrote:

Bear with a simple lay hack here a moment: Why must we know a designer’s intentions in order to detect design?

If the fire marshall’s office suspects arson, do the investigators worry much about WHY?

Surely they investigate, confirm their finding, and turn the information over to other authorities and interested parties, without having the least idea why someone torched the joint.

ALL they need to be sure of is that the joint did not torch itself, via natural causes.

The observation Denyse makes is so obvious that one would need a Ph.D. in obfuscation not to see it. Common sense is not so common, at least among those with a foundational commitment to materialism.

Gil is right, Denyse’s observation is so obvious and wrong. Of course, in order for this to understand, it requires one to shed the veil of ignorance and determine how design is detected in real life and furthermore how intelligent design wants to detect “Design”. Note that I am distinguishing between design and Design to avoid the equivocation so commonly found in ID literature, leading to much confusion amongst its followers.

Denyse’s question is a valid one and in order to understand why one needs to know about means, motive and opportunity in order to detect ‘design’ such as determining in an arson or crime investigation if the cause was accidental, or purposeful. So far, we notice that crime and arson investigators have to determine ‘design’ versus accidental and the similarity between this and intelligent design may cause one to conclude that both take the same approach. But that is incorrect. First of all, lets point out that there is a third option: cause or causes unknown.

A good example of how in real life crime investigators go about determining cause is outlined in an excellent essay by Gary Hurd and discussed by me in this posting

Gary Hurd describes the death of a person because of a snake bite. “There are a variety of possibilities: accident, murder, suicide. Without more information about motive, means, opportunities it is hard to rule out any of these scenarios.” In fact, “cause or causes unknown” seems a fair starting point.

In other words, we need additional information in order to determine cause. So let’s add some side information and see what happens to our inquiry

The patient belonged to a religious group which believed that true Christians could handle snakes without any danger to their own lives. Snake handlers base their practice on the interpretation of Mark 16:17-18: “And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.”

This information suggests that an accident seems a likely explanation for the death of one of the participants in snake handling.

But wait, more side information comes in: there are in fact a variety of snake bites and there is some evidence that the arm with the snake bites was held down. Now murder becomes a likely candidate. In fact, we notice how sensitive our explanation is to changes in side information.

In order to determine suicide, accident or homicide, one needs to know more about the victim and potential suspects. Means, motive and opportunity become instrumental in determining not just guilt or innocence but also help establish the nature of the cause.

Arson investigators may find evidence of an accellerant and conclude arson. And yet, they may be wrong. In an episode of CSI we are introduced to an inmate who is about to die for setting fire to his house which killed his wife and son. The arson investigators detected the presence of accelerants. Seemed like a clear case. Especially since the accused had purchased a can of gasoline recently.

Yet a later investigation revealed two missing pieces: the first piece of information is that the wife had thrown a glass jar at the accused. The jar had missed him and had shattered in the closet where the fire had started. The second piece was that the wall outlet had in fact short circuited, creating sparks. Suddenly arson became an accident and an convict became an innocent man.

Another example of fire marshals reaching a wrong conclusion is explained in this Chicago Tribune report on a fire investigation gone awry:

The report reminds us that natural causes can mimick arson. The arson investigators had reached the conclusion of arson based on the following

In his report, the investigator for the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office announced that he had found more than 20 indicators of incendiarism. The indicators he cited as such were crazed glass, multiple origins, brown rings on a cement porch, low burns on walls in the Bedroom/hall area, V-patterns on walls, charring to the base of a screen door, a positive analysis for kerosene (“mineral spirits of kerosene”), burned wood under an aluminum threshhold, tiles burned from underneath, and an unnumbered occurrence of so-called “trailers,” “pour patterns,” and “puddle-configurations.”

But on closer scrutiny several of these findings had serious problems:

Trailers, pour patterns and puddle configurations: A decade ago, fire investigators would often look at a post-flashover fire scene and note various burn patterns of varying degree which appeared to be shaped like irregular pours of liquid. It was fairly common practice for the investigator to cite these patterns as proof of the use of an accelerant. With the advent of NFPA 921, it became more and more widely realized that post-flashover burning in a room or hallway produces floor burn patterns which cannot be differentiated from burns imagined to be caused by liquid accelerants.

and

Multiple Origins: The Fire Marshall reported multiple fire origins. Actual multiple fire origins create a powerful case for arson. However, multiple origins can only be demonstrated when two or more areas of fire are completely isolated from one another. In this post-flashover fire, all of the burn areas were clearly contiguous in the sense that they were at least joined by obvious radiation and/or conduction mechanisms. The finding of multiple origins was inappropriate even in the context of the state of the art in 1991.

The report continues in a devastating manner to unravel the findings of arson.

and yet a man may have been executed for a crime he may not have committed

Fire that killed his 3 children could have been accidental
By Steve Mills and Maurice Possley; Chicago Tribune
December 9, 2004

CORSICANA, Texas – Strapped to a gurney in Texas’ death chamber earlier this year, just moments from his execution for setting a fire that killed his three daughters, Cameron Todd Willingham declared his innocence one last time.

“I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit,” Willingham said angrily. “I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do.”

While Texas authorities dismissed his protests, a Tribune investigation of his case shows that Willingham was prosecuted and convicted based primarily on arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances. According to four fire experts consulted by the Tribune, the original investigation was flawed and it is even possible the fire was accidental.

Shows you how false positives, inevitable in ID’s approach, can have devastating consequences indeed. So why should arson investigators be interested in the how, the motives, means and opportunities? Seems this case explains it all.

Intelligent Design’s approach would have been devastating before the new reports became available and it would have concluded ‘arson’ based on the fact that no known chance or regularity explanations for the observations existed and thus that they must have been designed. Yet, this inference was based on ignorance rather than knowledge and the same situation would not have triggered a design inference once the new scientific knowledge of arson became available. Given the new circumstances, ID would be unable to conclude arson, and that would be the end of it. Yet, science would start where ID would abandon the case by looking for means, motives and opportunities that would better explain the data to determine if this was a case of foul play or an unfortunate accident.

The problem with Intelligent Design is that it really does not detect design as commonly understood, it detects ‘Design’: the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance. And as Febble and others have shown, this makes the design inference highly succeptible to false positives. In fact, by ID’s own definitions, natural processes cannot be excluded as the ‘designer’. Various excellent papers and articles have long since shown why ID cannot live up to its claims, why ID cannot compete with the null hypothesis of ‘we don’t know’ and why ID is doomed to remain scientifically vacuous and irrelevant.
In case of arson or homicide, at best ID can do is claim ‘design’, leading to an arson or homicide accusation without taking into consideration the relevant information. And because of this ID’s inference will be fraught with false positives, and uncertainties.

More examples of the cost of Denyse’s position can be found at truth in justice files, one man lost his life, the other was released from death row.

IDers may object that it was the ignorance of the investigators as to how features that may seem to point to arson could have happened naturally but that merely shows that ID can only rely on our ignorance to make its claims and that when our ignorance disappears, design inferences also disappear.

In fact, not only is ID useless to detect design, it also is not about detecting design as in arson or homicide cases, it is merely interested in detecting supernatural design. After all, what remains after natural processes of chance and regularity have been eliminated?

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Post a Comment

Use KwickXML formatting to markup your comments: <b>, <i>, <u> <s>, <quote author="...">, <url href="...">, etc. You may need to refresh before you will see your comment.




Remember personal info?

  


Comment #156928

Posted by stevaroni on January 21, 2007 11:34 PM (e)

Bear with a simple lay hack here a moment: Why must we know a designer’s intentions in order to detect design?

We don’t.

Typically, in any sufficiently complicated artifact, the intentions of the designer are irrelevant.

We don’t detect design based on his intentions, we detect it based on his methods

In the physical world design is implied when an artifact shows itself to be sufficiently artificial. When the creation of an object would have required materials and methods not rationally ascribed to nature.

Paley was able to detect a designer for his watch because we know those types of mechanical artifacts are not produced by any known natural process.

But had Paley lived in a world where timepieces from wristwatches to grandfather clocks ran wild in the woods, furtively coupling and producing an dazzling array of tick-tocking offspring and you couldn’t turn over a rock without disturbing a nest of machine screws, he would no longer be able to separate the hand of man from the (rather odd) natural world around him.

Likewise, suppose, for reasons best left unexplored, a man decided to recreate a perfect copy of a freeze-frame of video static.

Out of pebbles on a beach.

He labors for months, and produces a 50 foot wide mural exactly matching the picture. An immense amount of information and design, to be sure, but probably unrecognizable to the casual passerby because there are so many natural processes that move rocks around.

His intentions may be noble, but his methods are undetectable. It’s just not artificial enough to stand out.

That’s how we detect design, and that’s how we would detect the Unnamed Intelligent Designer (Who Is Not God).

UID(WING) would presumably have used some method not available to nature. (Had he not, he would be redundant and unnecessary). Why he did it is immaterial. That he did it should be detectable.

That is, if he did it. A presumption that, charitably put, has yet to be demonstrated.

Comment #156930

Posted by Carol Clouser on January 21, 2007 11:50 PM (e)

PvM,

All your (and Gary’s) analysis of the fire marshall’s detective work shows is that recognizing apparent intention is a useful clue as to how the fire got started. It doesn’t establish that if no particular intention or motivation is discernable then the fire must have started “by itself”. It could very well have been set purposefully and we cannot see the purpose.

It is in fact quite obvious that one need not know the particular intentions behind an event or structure to know that there were intentions.

Comment #156934

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on January 22, 2007 12:07 AM (e)

It could very well have been set purposefully and we cannot see the purpose.

An argument which is the perfect example of the vacuity of ID. Does not spur on research at all being quite content with “oh it must have been designed or purposeful”.

It is in fact quite obvious that one need not know the particular intentions behind an event or structure to know that there were intentions.

You didn’t read any of the part about the FALSE POSITIVES, did you? There were specific cases mentioned about people being convicted because it “looked like” there were intentions. Without any known motives anyone can point to a freak accident and claim “intention”.

Why do IDers always make arguments that have been rebutted; in this case in the very article it criticises?

Comment #156935

Posted by Anton Mates on January 22, 2007 12:09 AM (e)

Denyse O'Leary wrote:

Bear with a simple lay hack here a moment: Why must we know a designer’s intentions in order to detect design?

If the fire marshall’s office suspects arson, do the investigators worry much about WHY?

Ye gods, Denyse. If no human intended to set the fire, it’s not arson. Exploring intention is vital to any crime investigation.

It’s not usually vital to confirming design, as stevaroni says, because methods are more important. But if the question is arson…yes. Yes, you do need to know intentions for that one.

Sheesh.

Comment #156950

Posted by Ernst Hot on January 22, 2007 2:29 AM (e)

“a Tribune investigation of his case shows that Willingham was prosecuted and convicted based primarily on arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances.”

And this is just one reason capital punishment is wrong. The people responsible for this mans death should be prosecuted.

Comment #156952

Posted by dodo on January 22, 2007 2:35 AM (e)

“ALL they need to be sure of is that the joint did not torch itself, via natural causes.”

I think they are already very sure that the joint DID indeed torch itself by natural causes.

Comment #156957

Posted by Elizabeth Liddle on January 22, 2007 3:21 AM (e)

I like your example of the designer building a model of noise out of pebbles. But we don’t even need to go so far. Benford’s Law can be used to detect whether data is “natural” or whether it has been fiddled - in fiddled data, digits occur with equal probability (“randomly”) whereas in unfiddled data, they occur with probability given by Benford’s Law.

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/BenfordsLaw.html

In other words, you detect design by lack of CSI in the data.

You also raise a point I tried to raise on UD: that Dembski appears to distinguish between “natural law” or “necessity” or “regularity” in terms of what we know about causality. Whether CSI is “apparent” or “actual” in Dembski’s terms appears to depend on whether “new information” is added. And if we know all the causes, the pattern tells us nothing new. Therefore, design (“actual CSI”) is inferred directly from lack of knowledge.

I suppose that’s why he ended up with his Explanatory Filter, which simply turns statistical null hypothesis testing on its head.

So ID boils down to Designer of the Gaps. I don’t see any more there there.

Comment #156968

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 22, 2007 5:24 AM (e)

Benford’s Law can be used to detect whether data is “natural” or whether it has been fiddled - in fiddled data, digits occur with equal probability (“randomly”) whereas in unfiddled data, they occur with probability given by Benford’s Law.

This isn’t the best argument; someone aware of Benford’s “Law” can fiddle data using a computer program that assures the proper distribution. And perfectly valid natural data can fail the “Law”. In fact, applying this “Law” can hang an innocent man just like the bad arson analysis PvM discusses.

Comment #156969

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 22, 2007 5:30 AM (e)

P.S. Proper application of Benford’s “Law” is to identify suspicious data; further investigation is required to demonstrate fraud. A key element is demonstrating that the fraudster benefited from the change – i.e., the fraudster’s intent is critical to the analysis.

Comment #156971

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 22, 2007 5:40 AM (e)

If the fire marshall’s office suspects arson, do the investigators worry much about WHY?

If they want to figure out who committed the arson, then of course. But the IDiots don’t want to talk about whodidit for just one reason – so they can pretend that ID isn’t religion.

Common sense is not so common, at least among those with a foundational commitment to materialism.

Oops. So much for that pretense.

Comment #156973

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 22, 2007 5:46 AM (e)

“ALL they need to be sure of is that the joint did not torch itself, via natural causes.”

I think they are already very sure that the joint DID indeed torch itself by natural causes.

Bingo! Once again, IDiocy is merely a negative thesis, denying evolution – Denyse is sure that it didn’t occur.

Comment #156974

Posted by TomS on January 22, 2007 5:49 AM (e)

In detective stories, it is a commonplace that, to establish the perpetrator, one must establish Motive, Opportunity, and Means.

Is this trio just something that exists in detective stories, or is there a real-life legal statement of this?

(To go back to one of the original analogies for ID, there was the case of the rigged ballots, where the person was accused of placing Democrats regularly at the top of the ballot. If the accused had been a Republican, wouldn’t it have considerably weakened the case against him, for then what would be the Motive?)

Comment #156981

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on January 22, 2007 6:27 AM (e)

One more time: The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance is a barrel of fun.

Comment #156987

Posted by Elizabeth Liddle on January 22, 2007 6:46 AM (e)

Popper's ghost wrote:

This isn’t the best argument; someone aware of Benford’s “Law” can fiddle data using a computer program that assures the proper distribution. And perfectly valid natural data can fail the “Law”. In fact, applying this “Law” can hang an innocent man just like the bad arson analysis PvM discusses.

Well, exactly. My point is that design can look suspiciously like natural law, and natural law can look suspiciously like design. Which is why, of course, random number generators are so damn difficult to make.

Comment #156998

Posted by Doug on January 22, 2007 7:26 AM (e)

The big problem that I have with the comparison between an arson/crime investigation and ID is that for an arson/crime you are looking for “intelligence” still within the natural world (namely human). Therefore, you still have all the scientific methods and tools available to you in addition to other investigative tools, and in addition to that a vast amount of experience with other cases of similar “intelligent design” that you can use. For example, if you think a fire was set in a particular way, you can do experiments to see if you can reproduce the effect (or look at other cases for similarities), or other experiments to see if the suspect was even capable of such an action. All of that experience, plus the availability of scientific methods, is thrown out the window when you talk about ID. Try giving an arson case to someone who has absolutely no experience with arson and no access to past arson cases or experimental methods, and ask them to determine whether an actual fire was arson or natural, and they will have a much more difficult time than the typical investigator. Especially if you give the possible suspect infinite powers and no definable purpose or intention.

Comment #157001

Posted by Frank J on January 22, 2007 7:40 AM (e)

Popper's ghost wrote:

If they want to figure out who committed the arson, then of course. But the IDiots don’t want to talk about whodidit for just one reason – so they can pretend that ID isn’t religion.

Except that they often do talk about that – while neatly avoiding some of ID’s even bigger problems. Most IDers have admitted that (1) they personally believe the designer is God, (2) they have a religious motivation via the Wedge document, and (3) per Michael Behe’s Dover testimony, that the designer that they found (which may or may not be God) might not even exist anymore. They don’t advertise all that, of course, so they’ll continue to fool new audiences. But the more we keep dwelling on the “who” and “why” the more we keep taking their bait, and miss great opportunities to show fundamentalists that the most that ID can tell them is that God might be dead!

ID is giving us a perfect opportunity to expose its real failure, but we keep ignoring it in favor of obsessing over the designer’s identities and intentions – which is just what IDers want. Meanwhile, when real scientists do identify a designer, using the side information that ID lacks, they don’t just look for identity and motives, but also the “hows” and “whens.” In stark contrast, IDers are engaged in a massive, and increasingly active cover up of their designer’s “hows” and “whens.” Sure a few of them have slipped up. Some appeared to lean YEC, some OEC, and some (Behe) OEC plus common descent. And Dembski, despite being the king of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” has practically admitted that it’s “virtual evolution.”

Really, people, it’s time to stop letting them control the terms of the debate. It’s time for them to state unequivocally their testable hypothesis of what, when and how biological design was actuated – and of course to be clear on whether such implementation occurred during abiogenesis, or “in vivo” thereafter. And if they still have internal disagreements, they need to do what real scientists do - have healthy debates among each other before even thinking of whining about “naturalism.” Yet, after nearly 2 decades, not only do they have nothing of the sort, they are retreating from the few hints that that might ever happen.

If all that doesn’t convince you that ID leaders know that ID is a scam, and not just for the purpose of hiding the designer’s identity, consider this: The mutually contradictory creationist positions proposed testable accounts of the origin of life and species. All they needed to do was omit the designer’s identity and avoid legally risky words like “creation” to accommodate Edwards v. Aguillard. There was no legal need whatever for ID in its current format. Why risk being even less scientific (avoiding specific testable hypotheses), and more misleading (substituting testable accounts with more misrepresentations of evolution)? Simple. IDers knew that classic creationism was a scientific failure before it was a legal failure. And that for scientific, not legal reasons, ID, including the designer-free phony “critical analysis” and “big tent” strategy, is the only way to keep the scam going.

Comment #157002

Posted by Steverino on January 22, 2007 7:40 AM (e)

Again, where is there any evidence that the appearance of design proves design? Without the science or evidence to back this concept up, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking or…a leap of faith.

Comment #157019

Posted by Raging Bee on January 22, 2007 9:01 AM (e)

It doesn’t establish that if no particular intention or motivation is discernable then the fire must have started “by itself”. It could very well have been set purposefully and we cannot see the purpose.

More to the point here, it could have been set purposefully and we cannot PROVE, by means of available material evidence, that this is the case; in which case no one gets busted for arson. Just like the Universe could have been created by one or more Gods, but such creation is not detectable or provable by science; in which case we don’t spout unfounded drivel about “design” in a science class.

It is in fact quite obvious that one need not know the particular intentions behind an event or structure to know that there were intentions.

In the case of arson vs. unintended fire, we use physical evidence to determine whether a fire was intentionally set; and, if we find it was, we then move on to questions of who and why, using more physical evidence to guide the investigation. Again, this is quite inappropriate as an analogy to what ID does, since IDers routinely ignore evidence and rule out inquiry as to identity and motives.

Comment #157033

Posted by PvM on January 22, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

It is in fact quite obvious that one need not know the particular intentions behind an event or structure to know that there were intentions.

Sure, there will always be some instances where intentions are clear but in order for ID’s approach to be reliable one needs more than just elimination of known alternatives. One needs a positive explanation that can compete with ‘we don’t know’

ID however insists on not taking the latter step since it would undermine its supernatural goals.

Comment #157037

Posted by Les Lane on January 22, 2007 10:59 AM (e)

Bear with a simple lay hack here a moment:

Denyse’s admirable writing skills have captured the essence of intelligent design in this one brief sentence.

Comment #157039

Posted by Frank J on January 22, 2007 11:02 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

One needs a positive explanation that can compete with ‘we don’t know’

Classic creationism had several candidates, but not only did they fail scientifically, they contradicted each other to boot. Anti-evolution activists have known it for years. Hence the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID scam.

That’s comment 157001 in a nutshell.

Comment #157042

Posted by Rich on January 22, 2007 11:10 AM (e)

Here’s my take, compared with a real investigation, from the AtBC forum:

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/i…

Rich

Comment #157046

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on January 22, 2007 11:38 AM (e)

“In detective stories, it is a commonplace that, to establish the perpetrator, one must establish Motive, Opportunity, and Means. Is this trio just something that exists in detective stories, or is there a real-life legal statement of this?” (196574)

Not often. “Motive” is not usually an “element” of a criminal offense, with “motive” meaning why someone did what they did. “Intent” is different, and means that a person did something on purpose. Intent (with variations) is usually an element of a criminal offense (because purely accidental or involuntary actions are not usually criminal), but it seldom makes a difference “why” a person did what he did. There are some exceptions, such as some “hate crimes,” in which motive is an element.

Motive is often helpful as evidence and as a clue during a criminal investigation. If someone can be shown to have a particular motive (e.g., s/he hated the victim of a homicide) that is useful in focusing an investigation and is some reason to think that the particular person did the crime; someone with “no motive” is generally less likely as a perpetrator. And, as a practical matter, it is sometimes difficult to convict a suspect if no motive can be identified. People expect motives to be identified. So, in general, motive is relevant in criminal cases, but not usually necessary.

Comment #157049

Posted by Zachriel on January 22, 2007 12:24 PM (e)

TomS: In detective stories, it is a commonplace that, to establish the perpetrator, one must establish Motive, Opportunity, and Means. Is this trio just something that exists in detective stories, or is there a real-life legal statement of this?

One of the fundamentals of forensics is that “Every contact leaves a trace”. The purpose is to connect the cause to the effect. This is no different than any other scientific investigation. Typically, we would examine similar such cases from a library of such incidences. If it is suspected that a human perpetrated an arson, then motivation becomes important as that is a characteristic of humans.

Jeff Chamberlain: Not often. “Motive” is not usually an “element” of a criminal offense, with “motive” meaning why someone did what they did. “Intent” is different, and means that a person did something on purpose. Intent (with variations) is usually an element of a criminal offense (because purely accidental or involuntary actions are not usually criminal), but it seldom makes a difference “why” a person did what he did. There are some exceptions, such as some “hate crimes,” in which motive is an element.

Motive is very often a direct legal factor. Take a case of homicide. Did the killer have reasonable fear for his safety? Was he enraged? Or did he act in cold-blood? It is not sufficient to merely prove the killer intended to pull the trigger, but the motive is essential in determining whether a crime has been committed.

But even in cases where intent is all that is legally required, the determination of a reasonable motive is nearly always required to make a convincing argument of intention. That’s because we are attempting to find evidence linking cause and effect, and humans have certain characteristics, including motivations, that can be investigated.

Comment #157050

Posted by secondclass on January 22, 2007 12:41 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

After all, what remains after natural processes of chance and regularity have been eliminated?

Nothing. The idea of a cause that can’t be described in terms of chance, necessity, or a combination thereof is a logical absurdity.

Comment #157051

Posted by J. G. Cox on January 22, 2007 1:03 PM (e)

I would argue instead is that what O’Leary fails to recognize is that there is indeed knowledge of intention incorporated into what her fictitious fire investigators are doing; it is simply implicit. Her investigators are seeking patterns that, by virtue of large amounts of past data on arsonists, are known to be produced by humans intending to start fires. Her investigators can declare that a certain pattern of multiple initiation sites, presence of accelerants, etc. are the product of human agency because of actual historical experience with such human agents intending to start fires. It is these past data which allow us to declare that the presence of accelerants, and not the presence of the building to be burned, indicates that humans started the fire.

That is the same mistake that IDers make when comparing what they do (or rather, what they claim that they could do, since none actually make any formal attempts to detect design), to, say, determining if an artifact is natural or man-made. You can only make a guess if a pointy rock is natural or a product of human agency if you know something about the intentionality driving the human agency. I.e., we can declare some pointy rocks to be arrowheads because we know that people made arrowheads by intention.

Intelligent agency (not as defined by Dembski… febble did an excellent job of showing where that definition leads) requires intentionality. Thus the supposition of intelligent agency requires the assignment of intention. By refusing to assign intention, ID must necessarily default to the following intention: the designer intended things to be the way that they are. Supposing that intention is the scientific equivalent of saying that the universe was created 6,000 years ago with the appearance of age.

Comment #157054

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on January 22, 2007 1:38 PM (e)

Zachriel (#157049): Your “self-defense” example is perhaps one of the times when “motive” is required in a criminal case. I think these kinds of cases are comparatively rare in criminal law. (Note, also, that self-defense cases involve motivation as part of a “defense,” and not, strictly speaking, of a criminal offense itself – that’s a pretty technical point, however). I agree with you that evidence of motive is usually required as a practical matter, and I’m sorry if I did not make that clear enough in my original post. In criminal law, “intent” usually includes the normal (“foreseeable”) consequences of an action. If I point a gun at you and pull the trigger, I will normally be held to have “intended” to kill you. That, however, is not the way the word “motive” is usually used in criminal law.

Comment #157066

Posted by DougS on January 22, 2007 3:23 PM (e)

I don’t see the lack of motivation or intention being the main stumbling block in the ID/crime scene analogy. Although motive/means/intention is critical in determining exactly who was responsible for a crime/arson, I would think most investigators would be able to tell the difference between arson or natural causes without knowing the intention of the arsonist (which would come later in the investigation.) Certainly, anthropologists can look at very old bones and in many cases determine if the subject was killed by natural causes or by other humans (which is also a natural cause, but that’s besides the point), without knowing anything about the human.

The difference, I think, between the anthropologist looking at old bones and determining if the subject was murdered or died of natural causes and the ID investigator trying to determine biological ID, is that the anthropologist knows a great deal about humans … about their abilities, their tools, etc., and so can match up positive evidence that coincides with what we know about humans in that region and at that time period. Since ID claim to know nothing about the intelligence behind ID, what positive evidence could they possibly look for? The only evidence I’ve seen is completely negative, despite what they may contend.

Actually, I think the crime scene analogy is an excellent example of good science at work, and is probably more relatable to people than looking at ancient rocks (even ancient fossils), and highlights the difference between ID and good science. Scientists should try to make more use of this analogy to help teach people how science really works; especially the historical sciences where you are trying to reconstruct the past.

Doug

Comment #157078

Posted by DP on January 22, 2007 3:39 PM (e)

This is a great thread, generally civil and definitely well argued. In fact come to think of it, when I see Febble’s calm, rational and generous tone and compare it to DaveScot (like where he told someone to “STFU”) it makes me wonder how the ID camp can cover for such and obvious a-h. But I digress.

stevarino

Please explain this “UID(WING)”

Is this a variant of ID? Is it represented on a website somewhere?

Comment #157081

Posted by Steven Carr on January 22, 2007 3:44 PM (e)

Of course, it is impossible to reach a verdict of arson without also coming to the conclusion that the designer of the fire’s motive was to illegaly damage property and/or life, or to be negligent about what his actions might lead to.

A Hollywood special effects man is never charged with arson even if he duplicates the exact design of a fire that an arsonist would.

The motive is everything in determining a case of arson. The design of the incendiary cannot distinguish between arson and non-arson.

Comment #157083

Posted by RBH on January 22, 2007 3:51 PM (e)

From O’Leary’s piece quoted above

If the fire marshall’s office suspects arson, do the investigators worry much about WHY?

Having participated in the investigation of the cause of hundreds of fires over more than 30 years, I can say with confidence that one does take a great interest in WHY? Arson is a crime, and establishing motivation – insurance, revenge, etc. – is a core problem in arson investigation. Means, motive, and opportunity, Denyse.

Now, in establishing whether a fire was “naturally” caused or its cause involved a human act we go to method, as stevearoni pointed out. How did the fire start? For example, what was the source of the heat of ignition? Gathering evidence, one builds a mechanistic hypothesis of the origin and spread of the fire, and inquires whether a human being was a link in the chain of causation.

ID does neither of those. It neither builds a mechanistic hypothesis about fire origins and spread to establish “designer” involvement, nor does it inquire into motivations to establish “arson” – intentional fire setting. It is impotent from an investigative standpoint.

Pim’s examples demonstrate that the general theory of fire behavior that was brought to bear on the cases he mentions was faulty – we didn’t know what we thought we knew, and hence there were convictions of innocent people, false positives in design detection. Fire investigators in those cases depended on incomplete knowledge of “natural” causes, and erroneously inferred a human cause. With the development of new empirical knowledge, what were previously design inferences turned out to be false. In the same way, with the acquisition of new knowledge the gaps for the Designer become narrower and narrower. Folks who hitch their theological wagons to a horse called “Ignorance” are merely asking for trouble.

Comment #157085

Posted by Steven Carr on January 22, 2007 3:58 PM (e)

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

For example, as far as I know, people concluded that the statues on Easter Island were designed, long before they had a clue as to the motives of the designers.

Comment #157086

Posted by stevaroni on January 22, 2007 4:04 PM (e)

Please explain this “UID(WING)”

Sorry. It’s an acronym I made up in the previous paragraph to hilight the logical hoops that the ID crowd jumps through because they steadfastly refuse to say “we mean God”, when they, um, mean God.

UID(WING) = Unidentified Intelligent Designer (Who Is Not God)

Comment #157087

Posted by Henry J on January 22, 2007 4:06 PM (e)

Presumably, those statues look like things that people are known to have been able to build.

Also I think the word “build” is more appropriate than the word “design” in those places where “design” appears in these discussions. But then, that’s likely to be exactly why the IDers use it. (Sigh.)

Henry

Comment #157089

Posted by stevaroni on January 22, 2007 4:17 PM (e)

Steve Case writes…

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right … For example, as far as I know, people concluded that the statues on Easter Island were designed, long before they had a clue as to the motives of the designers.

Sure. In fact people still don’t really know for sure why the Easter Islanders built the Moi.

But they know the statues are man-made because nature doesn’t chip away basalt into hundreds of 20 foot torsos.

The problem is that the ID crowd is taking a shred of truthful argument and conflating it to mean something it doesn’t.

The ID line of argument is 1) you don’t have to understand God’s motives to create stuff, therefore 2) all the Darwinist demands for details are immaterial.

Once again, they’re using the Chewbacca Defense to avoid answering any specific questions at all, which, of course, they do whenever possible since specific answers would invite analysis, and analysis is bad for their side.

Comment #157091

Posted by PvM on January 22, 2007 4:22 PM (e)

Nothing. The idea of a cause that can’t be described in terms of chance, necessity, or a combination thereof is a logical absurdity.

Indeed, what remains may be the empty set, or if one insists that God works outside nature, then God.

Comment #157092

Posted by PvM on January 22, 2007 4:27 PM (e)

I believe that Denyse is in general wrong. Sure there will be some cases where the design inference can be made reliably but even in those cases there exist additional information sources. The issue is not that ID’s approach of elimination of regularity and chance can sometimes work, it’s that there is no way to determine how accurate such a determination is, and that it cannot even compete with ‘we don’t know’ as an explanation. In other words, ID is inherently unreliable, and contrary to IDers’ arguments very sensitive to side information, our state of knowledge and thus prone to false positives which would, in Dembski’s own words, render the approach useless.

This becomes particularly relevant in biology.

Comment #157095

Posted by Anton Mates on January 22, 2007 4:37 PM (e)

Steven Carr wrote:

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

For example, as far as I know, people concluded that the statues on Easter Island were designed, long before they had a clue as to the motives of the designers.

But not before they had a clue about intent. People in many different times and places have crafted artifacts of humanoid shape, so it was a reasonable hypothesis that the Easter Island moai were also intended to be such.

Not that methods weren’t important as well–if the moai weren’t covered in chisel marks and so forth, we might not be absolutely certain they were designed. But we’d probably be 99% sure of it based off human intent and opportunity alone.

Comment #157110

Posted by DougS on January 22, 2007 5:19 PM (e)

Steven Carr wrote:

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

For example, as far as I know, people concluded that the statues on Easter Island were designed, long before they had a clue as to the motives of the designers.

This is an excellent example of what I was saying in previous posts. In addition to the negative evidence of “we don’t know what natural phenomena could produce that result,” we also have several very good examples of humans building large human-like statues both from present and past civilizations (Mt Rushmore is a good example); plus it falls clearly within human abilities. It’s this positive evidence plus the negative evidence of unknown natural phenomena that leads us to conclude that it was made by the Easter Island inhabitants. In the case of biological ID, we are missing the positive evidence, since they refuse to reveal any details about the intelligence.

DougS

Comment #157120

Posted by Tiax on January 22, 2007 6:46 PM (e)

Taken from Dembski’s “The Explanatory Filter” (http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_explfilter.ht…)

“By selecting the Democrats to head the ballot 40 out of 41 times, Caputo appears to have participated in an event of probability less than 1 in 50 billion. Yet, exceedingly improbable things happen all the time. The crucial question therefore is whether this event is also specified-does this event follow a non-ad hoc pattern so that we can legitimately eliminate chance? But of course, the event is specified: that Caputo is a Democrat, that it is in Caputo’s interest to see the Democrats appear first on the ballot, that Caputo controls the ballot lines, and that Caputo would by chance be expected to assign Republicans top ballot line as often as Democrats all conspire to specify Caputo’s ballot line selections, and render his selections incompatible with chance.”

Notice that Dembski says that improbability is not enough, and that the intention (and identity) of the designer need to be used to make a “design inference”.

Comment #157121

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 22, 2007 6:52 PM (e)

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

What’s required is that she be specifically right about ID, but she’s not. The lack of any knowledge of the designer’s intentions is coupled with the fact that there’s no evidence of intent at all, or even of a designer, as well as there being an extremely well-supported theory of natural cause.

Comment #157127

Posted by Joe McFaul on January 22, 2007 8:22 PM (e)

“If the fire marshall’s office suspects arson, do the investigators worry much about WHY?”

Do they ever consider supernatural causes? Or do they apply known repeatable principles of chemistry and physics to arrive at their conclusions?

I suspect that exactly zero arsons have been accredited to supernatural causes. Analogies are not evidence but Denyse’s arson example isn’t even a good analogy.

Comment #157136

Posted by k.e. on January 22, 2007 9:55 PM (e)

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

Only where the level of critique matches her intelligence and preferably deliberately tailored to remain that way…she posts on UD doesn’t she?

Posted by Popper’s ghost on January 22, 2007 6:52 PM (e)

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

What’s required is that she be specifically right about ID, but she’s not. The lack of any knowledge of the designer’s intentions is coupled with the fact that there’s no evidence of intent at all, or even of a designer, as well as there being an extremely well-supported theory of natural cause.

Of course the argument rests ultimately on a lack of material evidence and or any convienient co-opted material evidence as proof of an imaginary object. The key being the imaginary object. Any statement can be made about imaginary objects nobody can prove you wrong or for that matter ….right.

When you can bottle it and sell it you’ll make a fortune…oh they already did…… just ask Hovind and Haggard.

Comment #157137

Posted by Gary Hurd on January 22, 2007 9:57 PM (e)

The problem of false positives is one that Dembski denies can happen using his “explanitary filter.” If fact he correctly acknowledges that his entire scheme fails if there are any possible false positives.

This is why in “Why Intelligent Design Fails” I only used deaths which appeared as homicide or suicide, but were in fact all accidental. There were others in an early draft that were a bit too sexually perverse, but also redundent, so I left them out.

Dembski likes to claim his “design detection” scheme is related to real world activities, but it is merely a sham.

Comment #157141

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 22, 2007 10:35 PM (e)

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

For example, as far as I know, people concluded that the statues on Easter Island were designed, long before they had a clue as to the motives of the designers.

Perhaps it would be better to say that O’Leary is “in specific” right about this, but not in general.

I don’t prefer the Easter Island statues as an example, since at least one “purpose” is instantly inferrable, which is that they “purposed” to produce anthropomorphic figures on that island. More abstract examples could be found, cuneiform graffiti on cliff walls, etc. (or the Indus “script” which some even deny is a script), which I think would support your point in a better way, IMO.

But leave that for now, since the basic point of finding “intentions”, “motives”, “capabilities”, and specific identifying characteristics, is to be able to link cause and effect, in classical sciences like evolution and anthropology. It needn’t be “purpose” instead of capability that links human to a design, but we need something. Using the broad sense of “purpose”, we might find a trap-door made of silk on some alien planet, and both the capabilities of some of our spiders and of the “purpose” of such trap-doors would likely identify much about the maker of that trap-door.

In courts cases intent matters very crucially. In paleo-anthropology, not so much. Intention is one of the causal factors that can be used in identifying a design and its maker (what IDists so conveniently forget is that we identify design in order to understand the causes, intentions, etc. that went into making said design), but it is only one and not by itself essential to figuring out much of interest regarding a human design. No science would be immune to matters of intention of any designer, of course, while a religious concept like ID is immune to that essential curiosity.

What we have to be able to do is to link specific agents with specific actions, or general characteristics of intelligence (like rationality, though it’s true of spiders as well in a limited way (“intelligence” is a very slippery concept, in fact)) with objects and actions. We have to know something about what an agent does, and how, which includes intent, but also many other factors which could as easily demonstrate “design”.

We’d expect to know something about the purpose of any “designer” of something as well-studied as life is by now if it were designed, of course, which is why we ask for the purpose of such “design”. It would be expected, at least a little of said “purpose” (if we studied aliens for as long as we’ve studied life (and they were at all like us) we’d know something about their “purposes”). That’s not what makes ID unscientific, though, since many causal factors could have been discovered if life were designed, when in fact none are.

Modus ponens: If p, then q. If homologies (in the related patterns that we observe) and “nested hierarchies”, then evolution. Q (evolution) is thus shown.

Modus tollens: If p, then q is implied. If life were designed we’d see unrestricted “borrowing” of solutions, and rational design. P (design) is thus shown not to be true, as the consequent is not observed.

It can be that simple.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #157142

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on January 22, 2007 10:38 PM (e)

Steven Carr: “it is impossible to reach a verdict of arson without also coming to the conclusion that the designer of the fire’s motive was to illegaly damage property and/or life….” (157081)

This is “intent,” not “motive,” in law. “Motive” might be, for example, “for the insurance money.”

Comment #157158

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 23, 2007 1:52 AM (e)

SC wrote:

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

Another example of stones, that for at least 700 years were thought to be designed by humans - the Runamo pseudo-runes.

“The site was mentioned in writing already by Saxo in the 12th century, who relates that King Valdemar sent his loremasters to Runamo to read the runes, but that they failed. Famous scholars throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries made repeated attempts at making sense of the thing, and some came up with long interesting readings about ancient kings and battles. Until geology and archaeology matured enough to be able to identify the formation as geology.

A long ancient crack in the bedrock has become filled with a crystalline mineral whose natural structure leads to transverse cracks looking like runes.”

( http://saltosobrius.blogspot.com/2006/10/runes-i… )

Comment #157181

Posted by Nic George on January 23, 2007 7:19 AM (e)

Joe McFaul said:

“I suspect that exactly zero arsons have been accredited to supernatural causes. Analogies are not evidence but Denyse’s arson example isn’t even a good analogy.”

I said much the same thing in a post at UD but they ignored me.

Comment #157203

Posted by GuyeFaux on January 23, 2007 9:32 AM (e)

explanitary filter

Hey, that’s a typo. It should be “Ex-planetary filter”.

Comment #157216

Posted by Henry J on January 23, 2007 11:02 AM (e)

Re “Hey, that’s a typo. It should be “Ex-planetary filter”.”

Ex-planet-ary? Something to do with Pluto? ;)

Comment #157220

Posted by Frank J on January 23, 2007 12:30 PM (e)

If I may use the word of the year, ID has been “plutoed” as a potential theory. Unfortunately it still “spins” just fine for most people, and not just religious fundamentalists.

Note how a casual read of the above comments – and that’s usually all that you can expect from ID’s target audience – suggests that, for evolution to be right, O’Leary needs to be wrong. But on closer inspection, even if O’Leary were completely right, it would still be evolution, common descent and a 4-billion year history of life; there are ways to falsify evolution, but O’Leary’s diversion, and ID in general, ain’t it. That’s the main point that must be drummed in to potential ID sympathizers. Otherwise even healthy disagreements among critics as to how ID fails is perceived as another weakness, and scores another point for ID.

Comment #157231

Posted by Henry J on January 23, 2007 1:46 PM (e)

Re “Unfortunately it still “spins” just fine for most people,”

Ah yes - the cultural revolution (so to speak :) in which the spinners keep going around in circles…

Comment #157233

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 23, 2007 2:07 PM (e)

Obviously the “natural causes” equivocation ought to be mentioned as well as the others.

Science considers arson to be due to “natural causes” insofar as it uses terms like “natural”.

We do conventionally distinguish between human cause and “natural causes” in crime scene investigations, medical practice, etc. This doesn’t change the fact that humans by all accounts must be as “natural” as anything else that is called “natural”, or the term must be forfeited altogether in science.

Is this linguistic blunder the true source of Dembski’s idiotic elimination scheme? The appropriately self-described hack O’Leary certainly rides that pony into the ground, demonstrating why she probably could not be a real journalist

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #157258

Posted by DP on January 23, 2007 4:21 PM (e)

Given the discussion about arson, Mt. Rushmore and Easter Island isn’t it true that the root error that ID commits is to confuse those things that are ‘in principle observable with those things that are intrinsically unobservable?

Sure they can say that the “Designer” could be extra-terrestrial and is therefore ‘in principle observable but Dembski’s own remarks about the Designer (what was it?) - something like: is one of immense power - seems to be code for God which makes this claim disingenuous.

The other thing is that most of the ID camp believes that the “Designer” is God anyway so when they invoke extra-terrestrials they’re talking about, mabe even hiding behind an abstraction that they don’t even believe in.

Comment #157272

Posted by Frank J on January 23, 2007 5:17 PM (e)

DP:

Glad you mentioned “most” because some IDers are agnostic (e.g. Berlinski). But as I say in comment 157001 above, those who think the designer is God mostly admit it. Which is why for years I have been begging fellow critics to stop with the “sneaking in God” charge and focus on how ID is nothing but a scam to cover up the flaws and contradictions in the anti-evolution strategies that preceded it.

Comment #157281

Posted by steve_h on January 23, 2007 5:53 PM (e)

Nic George wrote:

Joe McFaul wrote:

I suspect that exactly zero arsons have been accredited to supernatural causes. Analogies are not evidence but Denyse’s arson example isn’t even a good analogy.

I said much the same thing in a post at UD but they ignored me.

Only ignored? You were lucky.

IDers expect scientists to consider supernatural/non-material beings, but fire investigators never consider them as a cause of a fire, and always go about their work in the same way any materialist scientist would. Yet they don’t have Dembski et al on their cases as a result. They are not a good example for ID. I was banned at UD for saying, in jest, that they should also consider supernatural agents.

Comment #157395

Posted by Nic George on January 24, 2007 12:45 PM (e)

Is it even worth us trying to hold a critical discussion on UD when they either a) ignore us b)argue using complicated-sounding but meaningless terminology c) resort to name-calling d) ban us?

Comment #157419

Posted by Jeff Guinn on January 24, 2007 4:34 PM (e)

Isn’t Denyse O’Leary, in general right, even if she may be wrong in the specific instance of arson.

No, she is completely wrong, whether she is referring to fires, Easter Island monoliths, or Mt. Rushmore.

She is arguing from analogy. That is fine, as analogies can clarify complex concepts.

However, it is completely inappropriate, and serves only to obscure the concept, when the posed analogy is, in fact, not analogous.

Ignoring abiogenesis, which is a separate problem from evolution, all life is the output of one cycle and the input into the next cycle.

In other words, life is a completely recursive system.

Until they have babies, Fires, Mt Rushmore, monoliths and Paley’s watch are absolutly not recursive.

Using the product of a non-recursive process as an analogy for a completely recursive process is one of three things:

1. Ignorant.
2. Irremediably stupid.
3. Flagrantly dishonest.

Given the antics of the IDers, all three answers are unoubtedly correct.

Comment #157517

Posted by Lars Karlsson on January 25, 2007 4:12 AM (e)

But Jeff, lets be fair to them: bad analogies (arson, arrow heads) are the only things they have! If they didn’t have those, they would have to be …well… silent.

Comment #157713

Posted by Jeff Guinn on January 26, 2007 3:53 AM (e)

Lars:

Agreed.

But it appeared to me that folks were so focussed on rebutting the objection at hand that they lost sight of the bigger picture.

Comment #157719

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 26, 2007 4:16 AM (e)

those who think the designer is God mostly admit it. Which is why for years I have been begging fellow critics to stop with the “sneaking in God” charge

And for years you’ve been foolishly annoying people with a silly strawman. When the IDiots say “Sure I think the designer is God, but ID is science, not religion”, it’s not the first part that is the problem.

Comment #157720

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 26, 2007 4:28 AM (e)

Using the product of a non-recursive process as an analogy for a completely recursive process is one of three things

First, her analogy has nothing to do with recursivity, it has to do with whether it is required to know a specific intent before concluding that there is some intent; that arson isn’t a recursive process is irrelevant and does not by itself make it a bad analogy. Second, even if her analogy were terrible, that would not show that she’s wrong – a bad argument for something is not a good argument against it. There are good arguments against O’Leary, but not yours, which is doubly fallacious.

Comment #157721

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 26, 2007 4:35 AM (e)

BTW, recursivity is relevant in regard to Paley’s Watch, or Hoyle’s 747. But O’Leary did not claim that, because fires are designed, biological organisms must be too. One needs to pay at least a little attention to which argument is being offered before attempting to rebut it.

Comment #157740

Posted by Lars Karlsson on January 26, 2007 5:46 AM (e)

No, Denyse does not say something about recursivity or in any other way adress the fundamental differences between nonliving and living things, or between making inferences regarding a human designer and an unspecified but apparently supernatural designer. And least of all about the enourmous extrapolation one has to make from a human designing watches and motors to an unspecified but apparently supernatural designer designing living organisms and universes.

Instead we get arson investigations and somebody’s father identifying arrow heads (“Indian of the Gaps”). I wonder why…

Comment #157748

Posted by morgan-lynn lamberth on January 26, 2007 6:58 AM (e)

The design argument begs the question in assuming design for a purpose and that we were to be when natural selection has no purpose and therefore contradicts a designer .”End states are consequences[causalism]not foregone conclusions[teleology] of beginning states .” Therefore, even creationism in the wider sense- theisic evolution - cannot show design . There probaly is no god!

Comment #157749

Posted by morgan-lynn lamberth on January 26, 2007 7:03 AM (e)

The design argument begs the question in assuming design for a purpose and that we were to be when natural selection has no purpose and therefore contradicts a designer .”End states are consequences[causalism]not foregone conclusions[teleology] of beginning states .” Therefore, even creationism in the wider sense- theisic evolution - cannot show design . And the razor shows no need to posit a designer to buttress natural selection.Metaphysics depends o n science and should not contradict it. There probaly is no god!

Comment #157812

Posted by Jeff Guinn on January 26, 2007 11:11 AM (e)

Popper’s Ghost:

First, her analogy has nothing to do with recursivity, it has to do with whether it is required to know a specific intent before concluding that there is some intent; that arson isn’t a recursive process is irrelevant and does not by itself make it a bad analogy.

Yes, it absolutely does, because she is attempting to extend the conclusion from a non-recursive system to a recursive one.

It is in that extension that the analogy falls apart, because a recursive system can give, to a person who is ignorant of, or chooses to deny, recursion, the appearance of design where it simply does not exist.

An excellent parallel is language. It is recursive, just like life is. Language is also complex, and fulfills a specific purpose. Therefore, it “designed” with “intent” right?

The the English language’s anarchic spelling says otherwise.

Comment #159110

Posted by Marc on February 1, 2007 4:43 PM (e)

“In fact, not only is ID useless to detect design, it also is not about detecting design as in arson or homicide cases, it is merely interested in detecting supernatural design. After all, what remains after natural processes of chance and regularity have been eliminated?”

Well how about intelligent design by technological means. For instance, genetically modified crops …. Soon, if not now, we can genetically create new species. If this were done, would an examination of the resultant product of genetic manipulation, reveal tell tale indicators of technological genetic manipulation?

So, what remains aft. natural procesess and sup. design, well how about genetic engineering. Would there be tell tale signs. For instance when examining certain ancient structures, we can determine via radiographic and other objective inspection and measuring whether the structue is artificial vs. natural. Can we do this with genetic engineering?

Thanks,

Comment #159114

Posted by Marc on February 1, 2007 5:26 PM (e)

Excuse this second post. However, after reading through all of the comments/posts it appears that my question has been dealt with at least tangentially. Therefore, allow me to elaborate just a bit. And bear with the question for the sake of not just me but all who may have it–lol upon review not many. And, please try not to ascribe a motive to my question or to classify my religious/moral/scientific bent.

Assume, for the sake of this discussion, the following hypothetical, which hypothetical you don’t need to agree with in terms of its factual basis. Assume an either or situation. Either a particular species, human, is the product of evolution only, or, it is the product of genetic engineering. Assume now, that for purposes of our hypothetical only, come on, I know you can do it, that: there is a 50/50 possibility that one or the other is correct.

Now assume, as someone having a phd in the science of statistics and science of evolution, that you must bet on one or the other. In fact, assume that your have one million dollars, and you must bet on the outcome. Now, having no other knowledge than the fact that, in this hypothetical universe which equates to ours in every respect but one, i.e. the 50/50 likelihood and either or resolution, you must bet.

K, allow me to lead a bit, becuase because some of you are going to have a difficult time stretching that imagination. Now, further assume, you have the ability to examine the dna of humans in as detailed a manner as possible. In fact, dream job here, you have at your disposal all of the scientific tools you could ever need and an unlimited budget. You may use these to investigate the matter such that you may make an informed bet.

Are we good? And please don’t say I locked the 50/50 and therefore there can be no variance… Help me to avoid writing some long winded hypothetical and set of rules governing same - i see on proof i’ve already done that. Indeed, use that faculty of the human mind called imagination.

Now, what evidence would you look for to ascertain, as a matter of probability, which outcome is more likely. Oh yeah, and you are not allowed to look at the fossil record … k, though, you can to the extent that same contains dna which dna and its examination can be used. This goes not just for humans but also for any and all animals/organisms you would seek to use as comparative examples. By eliminating the fossil record I eliminate, yes a good tool, but also the avoidance of my question.

To help some out just a bit more. For those trying to imagine how there could be a 50/50 because can’t imagine a situation, assume, that we know for a fact that intelligent life designers (ILDs) were here before. Assume for a fact that we know, and I can’t tell you how, that said ILDs, at or about the same time, were responsible for the genetic engineering of human like intelligent creatures on 13,000 other worlds we have had occassion to examine and that on another 13,000 worlds we also examined, we know that natural processes, and not ILDs, gave rise to the human like intelligent creatures. Maybe this can help some of you who haven’t read a lot of sci fi or haven’t streatched the bounds of hypotheticals, speculation, and imagination recently as I beleive I have streched them all to their limit.

So, a million bucks. Please list for me the types of things you’d look for. And don’t say nothing. Certainly there must be something either way you would look for.

For example: I’d look at the dna of other animals whom we know to be the product of natural evolution to see if there was something very different about the two: number of errors, redundancies, lack of precursors…. I’m just a hack but certainly you all can think of something.

Indulge me and try not to have way too much fun, albeit, at my expense I fear.

Marc

Comment #159116

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 1, 2007 5:34 PM (e)

Look for the same things we used to figure it out in the other 26000 cases.

This is not a cheap answer or an evasion, since it is impossible to separate knowledge of the prior probabilities from knowing how these were derived; in your case, that’s the knowledge contained in 26000 instances.