Yes, Tom English was right to warn us not to buy the book until the authors establish that their mathematical analysis of search applies to models of evolution.
But some of us have bought (or borrowed) the book nevertheless. As Denyse O’Leary said: It is surprisingly easy to read. I suppose she is right, as long as you do not try to follow their conclusions, but accept it as Gospel truth.
In the thread Who thinks Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics should be on your summer reading list? at Uncommon Descent, there is a list of endorsements – and I have to wonder if everyone who endorsed the book actually read it. “Rigorous and humorous”? Really?
Dembski, Marks, and Ewert will never explain how their work applies to models of evolution. But why not create at list of things which are problematic (or at least strange) with the book itself? Here is a start (partly copied from UD):
- It is not a textbook, it is a tract: The authors expect their readers to know important verses of the Bible by heart (“Secondly we believe a la Romans 1:20 and like verses that the implications of this work in the apologetics of perception of meaning are profound”), but that they have not heard of the most common technical terms (“JPG: pronounced JAY-peg”). The maths is used not to enlighten, but to impress: it is not just preaching to the choir, it’s preaching to the choir in Latin.
- The nature of this book allows the authors to skip over all the problems of their ideas and omit difficult definitions: while they talk about “searches” for dozens and dozens of pages, they never define what a “search” is.
One of the most problematic sentences is on page 173: “We note, however, the choice of an [search] algorithm along with its parameters and initialization imposes a probability distribution over the search space”.
Does it really? They authors have tried to show this in a couple of ways in various papers, and each of their approaches seemed to be ridden with further problems. So, they just side-step this crucial bit of their theory.
- The conclusion for the section on proportion betting seems to be wrong (Section 220.127.116.11.12 “†Loaded Die and Proportional Betting”.) The authors claim:
The performance of proportional betting is akin to that of a search algorithm. For proportional betting, you want to extract the maximum amount of money from the game in a single bet. In search, you wish to extract the maximum amount of information in a single query. The mathematics is identical.
But if there are two fields of equal size, and I lost my keys in the first one with probability 2/3, in the second one with probability 1/3, it makes sense to search the whole of the first field, and only afterwards the second one. On average, it takes longer to switch between the fields with probabilities 2/3 and 1/3, respectively (even if switching does not take any time) – that’s because the doubling rate parameter does not apply to this problem.