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Title Author Date
Complexified Specificity Eriksen, Poul Willy May 14, 2006
Hi!

While Perakh's article "A Free Lumch in a Mousetrap" is in general an excellent article, it has an important - but understandable - flaw, more precisely a misunderstand of Dembski's argument.

It's in section 6, "Is complexity equivalent to low probability?". Perakh concludes with using flat, triangular snow crystals as an example
that the answer is no. But here Perakh unfortunately forgets that in Dembski-land words don't necessarily have their usual meaning. The word "complexity" in "specified complexity" means "statistical complexity", which in turn means "low probability". So, it isn't that "complexity necessarily *translates* into low probability", it is that "complexity *is* low probability".

Actually, a specification is the better, the simpler it is. Think about poker. A "Royal Flush" is a simple description compared to, say, "ten of Diamonds, two and five of Hearts, King of Spades, and seven of Clubs". However, there are four different Royal Flushes, but only one of the latter hand, so a Royal Flush actually has the higher probability of these two.
It's just that in poker "ten to Ace of the same suite", aka a "Royal Flush", has a special significance, whereas "ten of Diamonds, two and five of Hearts, King of Spades, and seven of Clubs" doesn't. A specification is a simple pattern, the simpler the name, and even names count! If someone was to cheat in poker, would you expert that one to "design" a Royal Flush
or "ten of Diamonds, two and five of Hearts, King of Spades, and seven of Clubs"?

So, according to Dembski, a design inference is warranted, not when we have something that has a low probability (the "complexity" part) and at
the same time a simple, recognizable pattern (the "specified") part.

In Dembski-land "snow crystal" is simple than "flat, triangular snow crystal", because the first uses only two words, while the second uses four words. Remember, somebody makes the design inference, so it's up to the semiotic capabilities of that somebody, what's designed or not!

Best regards and keep up the good work :-)

Poul Willy Eriksen