# CSI Comedy

A robot is presented with a collection of 2000 randomly configured fair coins. The robot orients them all to heads. How much CSI is evidenced by the 2000 coins after the robot is done with them? I said 2000 bits. Winston said 0 bits. Other IDists said something in between.

If IDists can’t agree on such a simple example, then why use the CSI convention to analyze designs? I have lobbied instead to use deviations from expectation as an indicator as to how credible it is to reject the chance hypothesis for an artifact.

Whether ID is true or not is a separate issue from the issue of metrics which IDists can agree on. KairosFocus lobbies heavily for his FSCO/I.

Why even calculate bit values for CSI? The primary issue with the Explanatory Filter is whether the chance hypothesis can be rejected. By chance, I mean a process that maximizes uncertainty. An uncertainty maximizing process can easily be rejected as an explanation for the 2000 coins being heads through basic probability.

What if we just found the 2000 coins long after the robot is gone and all the observer had to go on was the set of 2000 coins? Would the CSI number still be 0 bits as Winston asserted?

At this point it doesn’t matter so much who is right. The fact there is no agreement on what should be a trivial example does not inspire enthusiasm from me. At that point I said, it was becoming prohibitive to use CSI as a means of implementing the Explanatory Filter. It is too cumbersome, adds too many confusion factors.

here was a differing view by Winston Ewert and our exchange, plus some of my protests:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/computer-science/csi-confusion-remember-the-mechanism/

Mark Frank’s view:

Sal

This is not as irrelevant to Darwnism as you think. The answer will depend on:

a)what you define the target as e.g all heads or all the same or at least 1999 the same and so on.

b)what assumptions you are making about how the coins got that way – was one tossed and then some natural mechanism duplicated it 1999 times or were 500 tossed and then some neutral mechanism duplicated it three times or was each individual coin tossed.

The point being that it is nonsense to talk about the CSI in an outcome. It depends on the target and the chance hypothesis you are assuming which underlies it. Demski’s own formula makes that clear. Your example makes the point rather nicely.

Why make the 2000 fair coin example needlessly difficult? Does invoking unnecessary fancy math and information theory add force to the arguments or does it just add confusion? Maximized uncertainty is not expected to make 100% coins by many sigmas, therefore we can reject the chance hypothesis. Simple!

If CSI methods can’t reject the chance hypothesis in such a simple manner, then IDists ought to reconsider using CSI arguments in the first place.

## 69 thoughts on “CSI Comedy”

1. stcordova: I’m obviously not defending everything Bill said nor promoting all his methodologies, hence the title of the OP.I would disagree the EF is worthless if all unknown hypotheses are eliminated. Estimates of how things came to be will have some uncertainty associated with them.Eliminating some chance hypotheses are of value.

So if you want me to disagree with Bill’s statement the EF is worthless unless all chance is eliminated, I’ll disagree.

So you believe that the EF (Explanatory Filter) works but CSI does not?

Is the EF then anything other than the statement “Well, the hypotheses I can think of that involve natural evolutionary processes can’t explain this, so I guess it must be Something Else”?

2. [hotshoe_ says]: You, SalCordova, you are a word I can’t say. Not here, anyways.

Sorry, hotshoe – the word is not the issue. Please don’t do this.

Thanks.

I know, Elizabeth, it’s not the word, it’s the fact of taking a poke at Sal while admitting I have some such word in mind …

I apologize abjectly for straining the spirit of the rules here which I am well aware of. I’m not pleading ignorance, and I’m not trying to get away with violating the spirit while pretending that everything’s okay because I’m (mostly) within the letter.

All the same, I wouldn’t edit a word of my comment, even if I could now. I re-read it several times before I hit the post button. It said what I meant and I stand by my choices.

What Sal just did is just awful, and he should be called on it. Sal, in responding to JonF’s secular comments about Dembski/EF, suddenly decided to show his christian evangelist side, to tell us that he (Sal) chooses to dis-believe naturalistic explanations solely because they don’t accrue the heavenly payoff he’s wagering on, and to scold JonF personally for being on the “wrong” side of the wager. I don’t doubt at all that Sal is sincere in his statement. He’s not lying about himself; why would he be? But he should be ashamed of himself for doing that here.

Sal made it personal. I’m not wrong for being human enough to react to that.

3. hotshoe_: Sorry, hotshoe – the word is not the issue. Please don’t do this.

Thanks.

I know, Elizabeth, it’s not the word, it’s the fact of taking a poke at Sal while openly showing that I have many such words in mind …

I apologize abjectly for straining the spirit of the rules here which I am well aware of.I’m not pleading ignorance, and I’m not trying to get away with violating the spirit while pretending that everything’s okay because I’m (mostly) within the letter.

All the same, I wouldn’t edit a word of my comment, even if I could now.I re-read it several times before I hit the post button.It said what I meant and I stand by my choices.

What Sal just did is just awful, and he should be called on it. Sal, in responding to JonF’s secular comments about Dembski/EF, suddenly decided to show his christian evangelist side, to tell us that he (Sal) chooses to dis-believe naturalistic explanations solely because they don’t accrue the heavenly payoff he’s wagering on, and to scold JonF personally for being on the “wrong” side of the wager.I don’t doubt at all that Sal is sincere in his statement. He’s not lying about himself; why would he be?But he should be ashamed of himself for doing that here.

Sal made it personal.I’m not wrong for being human enough to react to that.

4. So you believe that the EF (Explanatory Filter) works but CSI does not?

EF works to eliminate some hypotheses, I don’t think it formally proves ID. So a a qualified yes.

As far as CSI, I don’t think it works operationally even for IDists even if Bill’s math is right, so a qualified “yes, I don’t think it works”. It certainly doesn’t work for me. The “comedy” in the OP I think illustrates one of the problems that was a deal breaker for me.

5. Neil,

Why have you ruled out the possibility of an intelligent god using a naturalistic mechanism?

Sorry for the delay in responding, I actually had to think about how to respond.

I don’t formally rule it out, I operationally rule it out.

A DNA-RNA-PROTEIN replication cycle or anything of comparable complexity doesn’t seem evolvable even in principle. All the parts have to be in place to make such an algorithmic metabolism possible. A step-wise scenario doesn’t seem plausible from a pre-biotic soup.

God uses naturalistic celestial mechanics to orbit problems. I have no problem with that. We have experimental evidence affirming celestial mechanics is a good enough approximation for the evolution of planetary positions.

As far as the first life, experimental evidence seems to me to refute a gradualistic pathway for the origin of life. Pre-biotic materials decay, dissociate and naturally evolve away from assembling into such complex systems we call life.

The real, natural course of chemical evolution is away from living systems, therefore if God is the creator, seems to me he didn’t use evolution but rather a miraculous process.

6. stcordova: The real, natural course of chemical evolution is away from living systems, therefore if God is the creator, seems to me he didn’t use evolution but rather a miraculous process.

Yes, of course, which miraculously results in malaria killing innocent children too young ever to have sinned themselves, much less to have heard the good news about Jesus and accepted him into their hearts as a ticket to god’s forgiveness.

Yes, of course, I’ll just fall on my knees to worship that Creator and its miracles. Be right back, I’ve got to find my kneepads.

7. stcordova:
Tom English,
Nice to hear from you! Yes, please lets call the whole thing off.I don’t participate much in defense of ID’s use of information theory arguments anymore.I’ve certainly called the whole thing off.

So why are you still using information theory arguments? All anyone has to do is read your OP to see you haven’t given it up at all. You’ve simply gone from 500 coins to 2000. Why?

8. Gregory:
Can anyone else here offer an explanation/help me to understand what is wrong or so hard about acknowledging that ‘artifacts/artefacts’ are designed-manufactured BY DEFINITION?

Well, let’s see:

Genes and proteins are not produced by spontaneous processes in living systems. They are produced by molecular machines … and are therefore manufactured molecules, i.e., molecular artifacts.

– Marcello Barbieri

Produced by a machine. Manufactured. Artifact.

Therefore, designed. By definition.

Agreed?

9. stcordova:As far as CSI, I don’t think it works operationally even for IDists even if Bill’s math is right….

There’s some doubt in your mind about whether Bill’s math is right? Am I reading you correctly?

Perhaps you should settle that question before you go making judgments about what can or cannot be shown as a result. My .02.

10. stcordova: EF works to eliminate some hypotheses, I don’t think it formally proves ID.

What would a formal proof of ID look like. Surely you can answer that question. If not, how do you know the EF doesn’t qualify as a formal proof of ID?

11. Mung,

What would a formal proof of ID look like.

A set of axioms, followed by a series of statements, each of which follows logically from preceding statements or axioms, with the last statement being “Therefore ID.”

12. Thanks keiths,

I don’t think anyone has ever presented ID as anything other than an inference to the best explanation. [Sal maybe?]

A set of axioms, followed by a series of statements, each of which follows logically from preceding statements or axioms, with the last statement being “Therefore ID.”

Is that your idea of ID? It requires or claims to be a formal proof?

13. Mung: Well, let’s see:

Genes and proteins are not produced by spontaneous processes in living systems. They are produced by molecular machines … and are therefore manufactured molecules, i.e., molecular artifacts.

– Marcello Barbieri

Produced by a machine. Manufactured. Artifact.

Therefore, designed. By definition.

Agreed?

🙂 🙂 🙂

14. There are codes in both life and culture, and both life and culture have evolved through natural selection and natural conventions . In culture we find something analogous to genotypes, though they depend up an extrasomatic memory. We also find something analogous to phenotypes, such as artifacts.

– Michael T. Ghiselin

Poor Gregory, No label left to stand on.

15. Mung:

Is that your idea of ID? It requires or claims to be a formal proof?

What would a formal proof of ID look like.

16. stcordova: I’m obviously not defending everything Bill said nor promoting all his methodologies, hence the title of the OP.I would disagree the EF is worthless if all unknown hypotheses are eliminated. Estimates of how things came to be will have some uncertainty associated with them.Eliminating some chance hypotheses are of value.

Why? What value? Especially in light of the fact that nobody anywhere has ever applied the EF to a realistic biological or related hypothesis, and to me it seems extremely unlikely that anyone ever will. Is the :”utility” of the EF solely theoretical and inapplicable to biology?

If you were wanting me to defend a phrase in isolation by Bill, I won’t.

I haven’t asked you to defend Billy’s phrases in isolation. I’m asking you to acknowledge you mischaracterized his claims in order to claim that the EF can be applied. I think you’re both wrong, but your characterization of his claims was wrong and you won’t admit it.

I say the EF has value even if some chance hypotheses are eliminated.

Cool! Please explain. What value does it have if the best possible answer for your side is “either it’s designed or something we haven’t considered produced it”?

If I’m wrong I’m wrong, but what do you have to gain if you’re right millions of years from now?Why is the question of worth of relevance?YOU brought up the question of worth!

Er, no. I mentioned utility. Not worth. Although Billy did. Obviously in the meaning of “having no use, importance, or effect” and meaning useless. Talk to him if you have a problem with that.. He’s the one who said “On the other hand, if things end up in the net that are not designed, the criterion will be worthless.” I.e if the EF ever produces a false positive it’s worthless/useless, at least for his purposes.

Worth in the world of uncertainties weighs payoffs and losses of being right or wrong.

Obviously not in this case. “having no use, importance, or effect”.

So if you want me to disagree with Bill’s statement the EF is worthless unless all chance is eliminated, I’ll disagree.From the standpoint of making rational wagers about what is true, the worth of an estimate must be weighed also in terms of payoffs.If mindless processes have made life, and if we conclude that is the case, there is no payoff to that as Bertrand Russell articulated so well in Man’s Freedom to Worship

I’m speaking of scientific utility. if you think the EF has some scientific utility,let’s see your exposition.

You are making your wager on unknown mechanisms with ZERO payoff for being right.I’m making my wager also on an unknown mechanism (at least not directly known like Moses and the Apostle Paul claim to know), but there is an associated payoff.

I think advancing knowledge is a payoff, and I’m wagering on a largely known mechanism (evolution) and many partly known possible mechanisms (OOL, and with many mechanisms yet to discover). You, however, cannot produce any unambiguous scientific evidence for any payoff, much less the particular hoped-for payoff that you have chosen. Odin’s gonna be pissed at you.

Of course you are entitled to your beliefs, and even your silly appeal to Pascal’s wager.

What the EF has demonstrated so far as the Origin of Life is concerned is there is indeed an unknown as far as naturalistic mechanism, and if Trevors and Abel and Yockey are correct, maybe unknowable or non existent even in principle.The EF has eliminated known chance hypotheses as well as the known law hypotheses.

Wow, that’s fantastic!!!!one!!1eleventy-one!! Where has this been done? Where are the calculations?

Or maybe nobody’s actually applied the EF to the many hypotheses that are in play on OOL? Gosh, you wouldn’t be telling a porky here, would you?

17. Mung: Well, let’s see:

Produced by a machine. Manufactured. Artifact.

Therefore, designed. By definition.

Agreed?

Nope. That’s an analogy, not a definition.

18. So machines have ‘minds/Minds’ now, according to Mung’s IDism?!

No, machines don’t intentionally ‘design’. They are made to ‘manufacture’ according to human designs/commands, i.e. under the direction of human beings. ‘Man-u-fac-ture’ = la main, made by the (human) hand.

It’s obvious that IDists are trying to wildly revise a number of common definitions to suit their ideological purposes. The hijacking of ‘design’ is just one. They won’t succeed because too many people see through their tricks and reject their politics, including theists who Mung might usually defend. IDists’ so-called ‘science’, as even IDist/YECist stcordova notes, is sub-par and distorted by ideology. And the massive field of ‘design theory’ is too big to be obscured by IDism’s passing shadow.

How many things in the universe are *not* ‘artefacts’ then, according Mung’s flakey IDist vocabulary? Nature is an artefact, organisms are artefacts, molecules & genes are artefacts. What then isn’t an artefact according to IDists?

There are, nevertheless, a few biosemioticians, such as Barbieri, who prefer to speak of ‘natural artefacts’, ‘molecular artefacts’ and ‘manufactured nature.’ This is not a surprise attempt to twist grammar (biologistically), even among non-IDists. But they are by far outweighed by the common definition that artefacts are human-made things. That’s what I along with most others mean by ‘artefact;’ man-made (not mechanism-made or organism-made).

Mung doesn’t seem to realise or intentionally forgets that, 1) he goes against Dembski’s IDism, which claims IDT is not a ‘mechanistic’ theory, and 2) Ghiselin is very far from being a friend of what Mung seems to want out of this whole pomo IDist fantasy ‘implicationist’ campaign that seeks to take ‘intelligent effects’ out of psychology & anthropology & implant them like foreigners into cosmogony.

Mung acts typically like most IDists: looking at things on the barest of surfaces & quoting people trying to twist & manipulate them so that they seem to support IDism, even if those who spoke the words reject IDism. Mung’s IDist PR is primitive & par for the course.

Will Mung now at least admit the strong, clear logic of distinguishing between uppercase Intelligent Design (Discovery Institute ‘modern’ IDT) and lowercase ‘intelligent design’ (classical monotheist ‘design arguments’ + all non-DI uses of ‘design theory’), which most recently WL Craig has endorsed? Listen closely for the crickets, folks! 😉

Mung is still not answering direct questions that undermine his IDism (and apparently also ‘creationism’, as he referred to himself as a ‘creationist’) in the other thread, as is typical for IDists with artificially selective attention spans and narrow mindsets. But hey, very few people in the world really believe that IDists are themselves ‘intelligent designers’ in the way that they are promoting uppercase Intelligent Design.

Bottom line – do what your personality feels called to do: Mung can rub peanut butter all over his face, run out in the streets wearing only a hula-hoop, yelling at the top of his lungs at all passersby that he’s been hired by Bill Gates to artefactualise all of nature(!), if he wants & desires. No one is going to take him seriously.

Mung should understand that it is people like him who have made it so appealing to be ‘no friend of IDism’, even for those who are Abrahamic theists not too dissimilar to the majority of humble monster IDists.

Too busy, done here. Mung can have the last word & stcordova already has.

19. A process that maximizes the entropy of tossing a coin 2000 times would be one in which each toss was equally probable. Pretty sure this follows from information theory. So once again Salvador is wrong.

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