We’ve written several times about the Discovery Institute’s Magic Filter. It’s the means by which the Discoveroids use their “theory” of intelligent design to detect the existence of a transcendent designer of the universe. Our all-time favorite example of its application is Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore … .
They claim that “secular scientists” routinely use Discoveroid methodology, but won’t admit it, because that would somehow unmask the fraud of “Darwinism.” For example, see Aliens & the Discoveroids’ Design Filter, and also Discoveroids: Salmon Can Navigate, Therefore …, and also Intelligent Design Is Science: Cryptology Uses It.
The problem is that the Discoveroids don’t have a design filter. When they see something they already know is the product of design (like Mt. Rushmore), they say it’s designed. When they want something to be the product of design (like DNA), they declare that it is. When they don’t want design (as with alien signals) they say the signals are natural. In all those cases they start with their conclusion and then retrospectively claim that their design filter told them so.
Today, without realizing it, they’re exposing the fraud of their filter. Their new article, with no author’s by-line, is Bad Design Inferences Can Land Innocent People in Jail. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
We’ve noted forensic science in previous discussions of sciences that show intelligent design in action (along with archaeology, informatics, cryptology, and others). … Crime labs routinely piece together clues to separate natural from intelligent causes in murder cases, and calculate the probabilities that clues are not due to chance.
Yes, even Sherlock Holmes used the Discoveroids’ design filter. Then they say:
When there is strong motivation to find a particular outcome, however, forensics can not only yield wrong answers, but put innocent people in jail.
Gasp — the design filter isn’t infallible! Its findings can be distorted by an investigator’s motivations. They tell us:
Courtrooms have long trusted forensic analysts as expert witnesses. Highly motivated prosecuting attorneys try to wring confident assertions from their expert witnesses about DNA matches to a suspect, ammunition links to his weapon, and the like. Often, defense attorneys lack the expertise to counter the assertions, and a jury can be swayed by what appears to be strong evidence of guilt.
Is it possible that “highly motivated” creationists could try to wring design implications from natural occurrences, and gullible people could be “swayed by what appears to be strong evidence of”
guilt design? The Discoveroids seem untroubled by that concept. After discussing a few instances of people who were wrongfully convicted of crimes, they say:
Would these errors have been prevented by proper application of the Design Filter? As with criminal justice, natural causes are “innocent till proven guilty” of intelligent design. The burden of proof is on the forensic analyst to show that a given phenomenon could not have happened by chance. Only through sufficiently small probabilities can chance be eliminated.
Interesting. They place the burden of proof on their design filter, and then they claim that they always meet that burden:
One major boost for certainty in a design inference is the magnitude of the improbability of chance. In their recent film Origin, Illustra Media used Biologic Institute scientist Doug Axe’s calculation of chance generating a single functional protein of 100 amino acids in length, under ideal conditions, as 1 in 10 to the 161st power. Such an inconceivable number exceeds William Dembski’s “Universal Probability Bound” (1 in 10 to the 150th power) by 11 orders of magnitude — 100 billion times less probable. Clearly, if something is so improbable it will never ever happen in the entire universe, it’s not going to happen if it is 100 billion times less probable!
Very impressive! But it’s something we previously described. When a creationist babbles about “the odds” against life, or DNA, or any complex structure appearing as a result of “random” forces, that’s their ever-popular strawman — the Theory of Spontaneous Assembly of Very Complex Molecules from Start to Finish from Utterly Isolated Atoms — commonly known as TSAVCMSFUIA.
Would Axe’s calculations withstand rigorous cross-examination? The Discoveroids respond to that question:
A sharp defense attorney might cross-examine the forensic analysis with pointed questions: How do you know it is that improbable? How was this figure calculated? Axe would explain his methods for measuring the degree of functional space within configuration space for proteins of that length. He would explain, additionally, that the amino acids have to form peptide bonds, not just any bond. And they would have to be left-handed. Writing on the whiteboard in court, he could justify his calculation. He might even show that his value underestimates the real improbability.
Wow — Axe “would explain,” and he “could justify” what he’s claiming. The Discoveroids continue:
This, friends, is the level of certainty to be had in the design inference for life. … There is no reasonable doubt that the origin of life occurred by design. One has to believe in miracles upon miracles to say chance could surmount such enormous, unthinkable, preposterous improbabilities.
No reasonable doubt! And now we come to the end:
Scientists don’t reject design in cases involving far, far less robust calculations. Even a hiker infers design intuitively when seeing three rocks stacked on top of each other. How much more should one recognize design when the probability of chance is so absurdly low?
You gotta admit, dear reader, the Discoveroids have met their burden of proof. The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — has been proven to exist beyond any reasonable doubt. The design filter is infallible!
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