The Discoveroids’ Design Detector Is Back!

It’s been a few years since we wrote about the Discovery Institute’s Design Filter. The concept was conjured up by William Dembski, so it’s also known as William Dembski’s Design Inference. It’s the means by which the Discoveroids use their “theory” of intelligent design to detect the handiwork of the intelligent designer of the universe — blessed be he! Our all-time favorite example of its application is Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore ….

The Discoveroids’ only problem is that they really 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. Otherwise, it isn’t designed. In all their examples, they start with their conclusion and then retrospectively claim that their design filter told them so.

And they have one other problem — the inventor of the filter has bailed out — see William Dembski Is “Moving On”. Perhaps that was because he learned of The Curmudgeon’s Design Detector, and a few months later Curmudgeon Computes Specified Complexity.

Anyway, the Discoveroids have decided to promote their design detector again, so this just appeared at their creationist blog: Answering Critiques of Specification in William Dembski’s Design Filter. It has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

On a new episode of ID the Future [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!], host Robert Crowther interviews Eric Holloway, Associate Fellow at the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence, about Holloway’s recent article [link omitted] answering a common criticism of intelligent design theory.

We don’t know who Holloway is and we know nothing about the Bradley Center. But if the Discoveroids are interviewing someone from there, we can pretty much assume it’s a creationist outfit. Oh, wait. Two years ago, Klinghoffer praised Holloway at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog — see Human Computation — A “Practical Application” of Intelligent Design. Next — as expected — the Discoveroids say:

Download the podcast or listen to it here. [Link omitted!]

Okay, that’s out of the way. Now they tell us:

The criticism centers on William Dembski’s explanatory filter for detecting design, especially Dembski’s crucial innovation, which was to include specification as the filter’s final step.

Only a fool would criticize Dembski’s filter! The Discoveroids continue:

Critics say specification is an ad hoc addition, conjured up by ID theorists for no good reason except to prop up ID theory. No one else uses it, they say.

No one else uses Dembski’s filter? Could that be true? Let’s read on:

They’re wrong, says Holloway. Dembski accurately formalized a filter we use so often that we’re like fish in the sea. We are unaware of it because it’s ubiquitous.

We assume they meant to say it’s like a fish being unaware of water. Anyway, the Discoveroids’ post ends with this:

To prove his point, Holloway comes armed with powerful examples from information theory, communication theory, and cryptography.

Wowie — we’re impressed! How about you, dear reader?

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “The Discoveroids’ Design Detector Is Back!

  1. Charley Horse X

    The DI should tell us what DOESN’T get captured in the filter. My thought on their filter is that the entire Universe is captured by it. The DI has never suggested any different.

  2. A visitor to Mount Rushmore, which has the images of four US Presidents, asks a local about those images.
    The local says, “They were intelligently designed.”
    The visitor is not impressed by the answer.
    But then the local goes on to say, “Just like the trees and the insects. They were intelligently designed, too.”
    The visitor says, “As far as what you’re telling me, those images might have just grown there like the local plant and animal life. ‘Intelligent design’ is not very informative.”

  3. FWIW, Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence is part of the DI

  4. Thanks, Paul Braterman. That explains a lot.

  5. Derek Freyberg

    Dembski’s still into ID, even if not in the DI.
    Here’s the latest entry on his website:
    “Maxwell’s Angel — New Talk by Paul Ashby
    August 28, 2020 by Bill Dembski
    My friend and colleague Paul D. Ashby, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, recently gave the following talk on behalf of the C.S. Lewis Society of California:
    [link to video]
    In this new video, Dr. Ashby uses information theory to show that Darwinian materialism cannot explain the development or existence of life and that intelligent design is essential.”
    You can take the Dembski out of the Discotute, but you can’t take the Discotute out of the Dembski.

  6. Michael Fugate

    https://centerforintelligence.org/about/staff-and-fellows/
    But he works for the DI and the Blyth Institute of Theological Engineering
    https://www.blythinstitute.org/site/
    PhD in engineering from Billy Bob Baylor Baptist U. Baylor enslaver, Confederate supporter, Baptist minister.

    From a recent Holloway edited Blyth book
    “Applied Theology: Exploring the Utility of Theological Method in Scientific Research with Genomic Research as an Example”
    James D Johansen
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-james-d-johansen-22381281
    He has a PhD from Liberty U!

    But ID has nothing to do with conservative Christianity let alone religion.

  7. I don’t want to know what is designed. I want to know what is NOT designed. And how was that determined

  8. Michael Fugate

    It is comic – like Mt. Rushmore, if human intelligence designs something something is designed by human intelligence. Amazing!

  9. chris schilling

    “Dembski accurately formalized a filter we use so often…We are unaware of it because it’s ubiquitous.”

    Sounds a lot like Axe’s ‘intuition’ as a means to inferring design. And about as useful.

  10. I took a look at that video. It began with a bad exposition of thermodynamics. I couldn’t see what someone could learn about thermodynamics from it. I didn’t have the patience to find out how he had an alternative to evolution. T

  11. Michael Fugate

    Functional proteins are not specified in the same manner as 50 coin flips are. There is only one way to get 50 heads, but many ways to get an insulin molecule with about 50 amino acids that works to regulate glucose. There is no specified insulin.

  12. This is of course a dialectic remorse of politics, for politics is so fundamentally and incestuously shaped by religion and the superstitions of the suspensions of realities that support it that it fosters a wonder of what we unique animals of the world are doing to ourselves in tribal posturings of so-called civilized discourse. I find it compelling but also discouraging that you describe with a jargon and cant of failed theories and remonstrances of empty doctrines that Darwin discredited with a look at the world that science has proven the truth of. You are living in a dead world of a language of fundamentals that doesn’t cut the grade of tomorrow’s demands of a more daring and perfect universe. A different and more unusual look would behoove you to look at a future of remorseless consequences in order to survive the objectives of your empty rhetoric of absolutes. Nothing will continue otherwise.

  13. @MichaelF: of course there is specified insulin – all insulin has specified complexitiy, because neither “specified” nor “complexity” has any …. specified meaning. Consult the link our dear SC provided – he has provided the correct formula for specified complexity.

  14. There are many possible insulins, but the number of possible insulins is vastly smaller than the number of possible proteins of the same size. We Do indeed need a process (as Tomas as pointed out to us, intelligent design does not even rides the level of being a princess) to explain its existence. That process is called natural selection.

    It may reasonably be objected that the insulin could not have evolved to meet an existing need to enable glucose uptake, since ancestors without it but needing it would have perished. In response, I would propose the following, which is clearly implicit in Shubin’s Some Assembly Required; No feature is essential at the time when it first evolves, for if it had been essential, the organisms within which it involved would have perished for lack of it. It is only once it has arisen by a process of improvement, that it can be Incorporated within further structures to the point where it becomes essential. The vertebrate backbone, evolved from a primitive stiffening rod, is a good example.

    Is there a name for this principle? I think it deserves one. And surely other people have already formulated it in about as many words; does anyone have a reference?

  15. @Paul Braterman
    Exaptation?

  16. @TomS, That explains how some features have arisen, but doesn’t deal with the apparent paradox of how organisms managed to survive without them while those features were evolving, by whatever means, if they are necessary for survival

  17. There is this book
    Thomas H Frazzetta
    Complex Adaptations in Evolving Populations
    Sinauer, 1975

  18. Paul Braterman asks: ‘Is there a name for this principle?”

    I’m not aware of a generally accepted technical name, but there are many times when we need something — a paper clip or whatever — and we can’t find it. So what do we do — leave the task undone and let the papers fly around? No, we do the job with something else. We improvise. So I would refer to the principle as improvisation.

  19. @The Curmugeon
    What you are describing is simply evolution, and an older term applied to evolution is “bricolage”.

  20. A better analogy is on-line banking, At least in the UK, although I would guess that there has been similar development in the US. At first a convenience, once widely establish it enables banks to close local branches, and stop sending out paper statements, making it more and more difficult to conduct one’s business without it

  21. Electricity.
    Today, when there is a natural disaster, a snow storm, hurricane, whatever, one of the major problems is loss of electricity. We cannot live without it.

  22. @TomS, Exactly. One might call this “evolved necessity”.

  23. Dr. Dr. Billy D his own self dismissed the Nixplanatory Filter as useless. Kinda hard to defend it when the inventor his own self says it’s rubbish.

    After decades the Tooters don’t have a functional definition of “design” or metrics to measure it. But that’s like saying old Doc Bill has yet to specify and build a working framastat or flux capacitor although he did come very close to discovering the formula for the Finagle Factor.

  24. Michael Fugate

    Does one get the feeling that some engineers embrace ID because it implies their work emulates God’s? Writing complex specified computer code makes them feel like God creating DNA? Do they see a project as if it were creation week?

  25. Every time this comes up, I have to point out: Was New Hampshire’s late “Old Man in the Mountain” designed?

  26. Everything is designed.
    Even things which don’t exist. Even impossible things are designed.

  27. I’ve discover the what I’m talking about is sometimes called Muellerian two-step evolution. A feature revolves that conveys an incremental advantage, and the lineage possessing that feature then continues to evolve in a way that presupposes its existence. There is often, also, a degree of exaptation, since the feature in question may itself undergo modification. Flight feathers are good example of all this

  28. A penitence of sorrow I will not
    recognize in the crumbled solace
    of a willful ignorance
    you did not remember of a childhood
    bereft of recognition
    The person grown now passed by in that
    delicate time
    unremembered in rhyme
    or time and
    that became a consequence of sorrow’s
    clime of a yesterday with its lost perfection
    of loves’s resign
    You stand therefore before the crime of
    tomorrow’s blindness of sight and sign
    Your indicate remorse of saying,
    Of course