In Section 4 of their article, Nemati and Holloway claim to have identified an error in a post of mine. They do not cite the post, but instead name me, and link to the homepage of The Skeptical Zone. Thus there can be no question as to whether the authors regard technical material that I post here as worthy of a response in Bio-Complexity. (A year earlier, George Montañez modified a Bio-Complexity article, adding information that I supplied in precisely the post that Nemati and Holloway address.) Interacting with me at TSZ, a month ago, Eric Holloway acknowledged error in an equation that I had told him was wrong, expressed interest in seeing the next part of my review, and said, “If there is a fundamental flaw in the second half, as you claim, then I’ll retract it if it is unfixable.” I subsequently put a great deal of work into “The Old Switcheroo,” trying to anticipate all of the ways in which Holloway might wiggle out of acknowledging his errors. Evidently I left him no avenue of escape, given that he now refuses to engage at all, and insists that I submit my criticisms to Bio-Complexity.
The notion that I must submit to Bio-Complexity is ludicrous, considering my past interactions with the editor-in-chief, Robert Marks, and a member of the editorial board, Winston Ewert. In 2011, I discovered that more than half of the introduction to Ewert’s thesis was copied from two articles by Dembski and Marks. There was no sign of quotation, and the articles were cited nowhere in the thesis. Stunningly, Marks was Ewert’s thesis advisor. That is, Marks approved a document that obviously plagiarized his own publications. And I reported the academic misconduct to EthicsPoint. Baylor University subsequently required Ewert to submit a revised thesis, including a preamble in which he admits to plagiarism in the original version. In all likelihood, Marks was censured privately. (I reported on the sordid affair here, here, and here.) The truly amazing aspect of Bio-Complexity is that more than half of the articles it has published were authored by Ewert. I have no more interest in legitimizing the journal than I have reason to expect fair handling of a submission exposing negligence in the review and editing of the article by Nemati and Holloway.
According to Nemati and Holloway (and their former advisor, Robert Marks), each and every measure of algorithmic specified complexity — there are infinitely many of them — is a quantification of the meaningful information in data. The first “fundamental flaw” in Section 4 is that the way in which the algorithmic specified complexity of the data is measured depends on how we refer to the data. Suppose that the expression refers to the data, and that You need not know how and are defined to recognize that is another way of referring to the data. The algorithmic specified complexity of the data should not depend on whether we refer to the data as or as This is something that most high schoolers grasp, and I am amazed to find myself explaining it here. According to the authors, the algorithmic specified complexity of the data must be measured in a way that depends upon the function when the data is referred to as If you measure algorithmic specified complexity as they prescribe, then there are cases in which the result is infinite when the data is referred to as and the result is a negative number when the data is referred to as
The second “fundamental flaw” is that an ostensible characterization of “conservation of complexity for ASC” turns out, when deobfuscated, to be a comparison of differently measured quantities of algorithmic specified complexity. For concreteness, let us say that is the data output by a process when is the data input to the process. In any claim that a quantity of algorithmic specified complexity is conserved in the process, the measure must be the same for the output as for the input. However, Nemati and Holloway use the function which represents the process, to make the measure of algorithmic specified complexity different for the output of the process, expressed as than for the input to the process, expressed as It is absurd to suggest that a quantity of algorithmic specified complexity is conserved in the process when ASC is measured differently for the output than for the input. In fact, the ASC measure applied to the output is customized to the process.
Eric Holloway will be sorely tempted to seize upon parts of this vague recap, and twist them to suit his purposes. Please keep it in mind that I supplied the mathematical details in “The Old Switcheroo,” and that Eric wants nothing to do with them. In the following appendix, I repeat three simple questions that he has yet to answer. The questions make it impossible for him not to see the two fatal flaws described in the preceding paragraphs. In the thread where I first posed them, he thus far has responded only with diversionary tactics. I believe that everyone should understand that if Eric Holloway is operating in good faith, then he will answer the questions before launching into rhetoric.
Appendix: Questions for Nemati and Holloway
Question 1. Is your definition of algorithmic specified complexity precisely equivalent to the definition given by Ewert, Dembski, and Marks in “Algorithmic Specified Complexity,”
even though you write in place of ?
Question 2. The identity follows from your definition of algorithmic specified complexity. Is the following extension of your inequality (43) correct?
Question 3. You refer to the upper bound on fASC as “conservation of complexity for ASC,” so you evidently regard fASC as algorithmic specified complexity (ASC). I observe that
where denotes the probability distribution of the random variable Have I correctly expressed fASC as algorithmic specified complexity?
It follows from the foregoing that your “conservation of complexity” is equivalent to
As explained in “The Old Switcheroo,” it is absurd to change from one ASC measure to another, and speak of conservation.