Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dembski's Design Filter Does It Again . . . Sort of

Back a while ago I posted this: "Dembski Design Filter . . . Success?". It was about how the Discovery Institute (DI) took their 'design filter' and 'used it' to come to a conclusion that archaeologists had already come to using real science. Afterwards, the DI claimed some sort of victory . . . for what I am still confused about.

So let's think about this for a minute.  Wild Bill Dembski draws a line in the sand and claims that things on one side of the line are designed and things on the other side of the line are natural.  He claims that the line represents some arbitrary level of complexity and that nothing above a certain 'level of complexity' can be the product of a natural process.  However, he forgot to finish the job before departing the DI, because other mathematicians who looked at what he wrote have pretty much said that it's junk.  While I am paraphrasing, Dembski's response was actually more childish. His response was that pretty much every other mathematician on the planet wasn't smart enough to understand.  Yea, like Wild Bill is the smartest man on the planet.  Well he might be smart, because he's left the DI, but he failed to take his 'crap' with him.

You see, one of his problems is that he has no viable evidence supporting his assumption that natural processes cannot create complexity to any varying degree.  So that makes his 'line' one that cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy.  How can you determine 'complexity' when the very idea basically an opinion.  Look up complexity in the dictionary and you will see what I mean.  It's one of the most circular definitions I have seen.  Here's one:

"the quality or state of not being simple, the quality or state of being complex, a part of something that is complicated or hard to understand" (Merriam-Webster: Complexity)
Well, the DI is doing it again, "A Design False Positive? Applying the Design Filter in Archaeology" claiming some sort of success because they have determined something that archaeologists have already determined . . . again.  Seriously, does anyone believe the design filter is (1) a tool in use by archaeologists or (2) that there is anyone capable of using a tool that is as well defined as smoke?

I also disagree with the title.  Wouldn't a 'False Positive' be the case if their tool determined that the objects under archaeologist discussion had been found to be designed, when they weren't?  That would be a false positive.  A false positive is more like a positive results for the flu when you really don't have it.  Coming to the conclusion that the objects were not designed is a negative not a positive.  And the DI came the same conclusion the archaeologists came too after doing actual scientific work, doesn't sound like a false positive, does it?

Hmmm, so let's see.  How about an analogy.  Let's also keep it pretty simple, for the benefit of the DI.  You are a mechanic and you have a nut you need to tighten.  You grab the appropriate wrench and tighten the nut.  After you are done, along comes a DI marketeer who sees the tightened nut and claims the mechanic tightened it using his tool, a tool no one has ever seen.  The DI comes around after the fact and tries to use your work to bolster their nonsensical claims.  Isn't that what they are doing when they claim things like:
"Archaeology is intelligent design in action"
Are the archaeologists using Dembski's design filter?  Do they use any part of Intelligent Design 'theory'?  Does anyone?  Is there any part of design 'theory' that is capable of being 'used'?  I bet the archaeologists would be surprised if they bothered to read the DI's press release.  Of course the reality is nothing of the sort.  What this is, is an example of using intelligence, well that plus actual measurements, instruments, and analysis . . . you know the science-y stuff the DI seems to be allergic too.  Using intelligence is not the same thing as Intelligent Design, they just keep trying to make that sort of connection in hopes they can convince some folks that ID is something other than conjecture and wishful thinking.  What Dembski's filter has to do with intelligence is a bit beyond . . . well . . . everyone.

So the DI claims another victory for a tool that only seems to come out of the toolbox after all the work is done, but . . . it's a success!  Let's use toast them for yet another meaningless and unsupportable victory!

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