Aplologies straight away for clogging up such an excellent site with this old chestnut but in the light of GEM (Kairosfocus) having apparently directing a long OP at me over some exchanges in an earlier thread, and as Kairosfocus has closed comments I feel I ought to take an opportunity to respond here. I’ll put everything else below the fold.
The original point at issue cropped up when I posted a link to Elsberry and Shallit’s list of eight challenges in a previous thread, having had the list, which I had forgotten about (it was published in 2003, after all) drawn to my attention by a comment by Jeff Shallit himself, pointing out the list was still unanswered. Kairosfocus responded with:
>>1 Publish a mathematically rigorous definition of CSI>>
It has long since been shown, objections and censorship games notwithstanding, that reasonable quantitative metrics for FSCO/I and so for CSI, can be built and have been built. Indeed Durston et al have used such to provide a published list of values for 15 protein families.
Since then, I have been trying to clarify Kairosfocus’ claim that a “reasonable metric” for CSI [has] “been built”. As Durston’s FSC (functional sequence complexity) does not seem to exactly correspond to Dembski’s CSI, I suggested concentrating on Dembki’s concept. For the same reason I ruled out Kairosfocus’ own personal invention which currently appears to be FSCI/O (a sort of acronymic amalgam of FSC and CSI).
(However, I was sufficiently motivated to find these two threads on UD where Kirk Durston posts quite a few comments before mysteriously withdrawing. It seems from some of the comments that Kairosfocus was impressed by Durston. Larry Moran – Moran is a professor of biochemistry at Guelph and Durston was a Ph D student there in 2009 – was a little less impressed and there have been inferences that academic disapproval may have prompted Durston’s abrupt departure from UD comment columns.)
In the back-and-forth of the thread on Elsberry and Shallit’s challenges, Kaiosfocus finally responds:
25 –> AF then introduces a novel case, demanding that I address it (it was in fact already taken up by Joe):
Try the nine residue polypeptide, oxytocin . . .
26 –> AF knows or should know that 9 AA’s are represented by 27 mRNA bases, and come form a space of 20^9 possibilities for relevant protein space, where the maximum number of bits per 20-state element (disregarding redundancies) is 4.322, yielding ~ 39 bits as carrying capacity; well within the 500-bit limit for FSCO/I. He also knows that it is bio-functional. So, on a simple model of informational capacity adequate for this purpose, we already know that oxytocin is not beyond the threshold where design would be inferred. Chi_500 = 39 – 500; i.e. we are 461 bits short of the relevant threshold of exceeding the search capacity of the solar system’s 10^57 atoms.
So, Kairosfocus seems to be agreeing with my take that a CSI calculation for a protein sequence merely depends on a count of
nucleotides residues. This is an analysis that results in two sets of proteins; shorter or longer than an arbitrary threshold. This would seem to be trivial and useless, merely telling us one thing we already know. And as Elsberry has emphasized with the now apparently redundant explanatory filter, you can’t rule out unknown possibilities and default to “design”.
So to Kairosfocus, the challenge remains unanswered. I agree with Elsberry and Shallit. There is no valid concept known as complex specification that can be used to distinguish designed from undesigned entities.