Confusion by design about design

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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?

71 Comments

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.

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.

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?

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.

“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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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?)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bi[…]1274;p=47933

Rich

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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!

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!

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.

“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,

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

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.

Good read. I really like following your blog as the articles are so easy to read and follow. You’ll have to follow-up.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on January 21, 2007 9:59 PM.

Junk DNA, Linguistics and the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design was the previous entry in this blog.

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