Some Help for IDists: Benford’s Law

Guys, as your scientific output is lacking at the moment, allow me to point you towards Benford’s law:’s_law

Benford’s law, also called the first-digit law, refers to the frequency distribution of digits in many (but not all) real-life sources of data. In this distribution, the number 1 occurs as the first digit about 30% of the time, while larger numbers occur in that position less frequently: 9 as the first digit less than 5% of the time. This distribution of first digits is the same as the widths of gridlines on a logarithmic scale. Benford’s law also concerns the expected distribution for digits beyond the first, which approach a uniform distribution.


TSZ team: Can we build this into a statistically testable (Null hypothesis?) ID Hypothesis?

This one piqued my interest:

“Frequency of first significant digit of physical constants plotted against Benford’s law” – Wikipedia

56 Replies to “Some Help for IDists: Benford’s Law”

  1. Lizzie


    You’re right, the need for moderation does tell its own story, it’s just not the story you think it is. The story it tells is that design-deniers tend to be vile trolls, and giving them free reign on a blog like Uncommon Descent is a recipe for disaster.

    Go to the comments section of any I.D. article posted across the Internet. See how uncivil the design-deniers tend to be. U.D.’s moderation policy helps keep that nonsense under wraps, and, as a frequent reader, I thank them for it. Quite frankly, I shudder to think of how many vitriol-spewing, foul-language-filled comments U.D. moderators must delete every week.

    As we know, everyone who proves themselves to be respectful will have their comments approved. If a low percentage of comments are being approved, then that can only mean a low percentage of commentators are being respectful.

    Jared, I was not a “vile troll” at UD. Check my posts. Nor were many other who have also been banned there. I wasn’t even banned for trolling. I don’t know why I was banned, but the post hoc reason was because I expressed (here, not there, and after the ban) a view that Barry considered incorrect.

    Yes, trolls exist, and some of them are anti-ID, but some of them are pro. JoeG was banned here for posting a porn link. And if you want to see trolling, check Guano here, and see who you think the troll-posters are.

  2. petrushka

    If life forming naturally is a relatively rare event, then this intelligently-designed life will quickly overtake abiogenesis as the most prevalent cause for life throughout the cosmos.

    No one denies that the panspermia scenario could be correct. It just doesn’t have anything to do with evolution or even with OOL. It just moves the origin to a different time and planet.

  3. Lizzie

    Jared: Jared

    Jared: Sure; it’s unreasonable to plead to an explanation which is nonexistent. Translation: You can’t have intelligent design without an intelligent designer.

    I completely understand your argument. I just think it sucks.

    My counterargument is that the argument for design, as so eloquently explicated by many I.D. proponents, is significantly stronger than your argument that a designing intelligence could not have existed prior to Earth-based life, thus, I side with I.D.

    Their reasoning and evidence trumps your reasoning and evidence.

    To be blunt, I find your position irrational, and I’ll tell you why.

    Your position requires that nature, in itself, be capable of producing advanced intelligence, like human beings, while simultaneously requiring that no such intelligence could have existed prior to that which exists on Earth.

    See the problem? If nature is capable of producing advanced intelligence, then that undercuts the premise that no advanced intelligence could have existed prior to that were familiar with on Earth.

    Now, your predictable follow-up will be that if nature, in itself, is capable of creating life, then I.D. becomes superfluous. I disagree. If nature is capable of creating intelligence (you say it is), and this intelligence is capable of bioengineering, then we must be open to the possibly that any life we discover anywhere throughout the cosmos is a product of that intelligence, including ourselves. Yet you’re completely hostile to that possibility. How strange.

    To develop this idea further, here’s a quick thought experiment:

    Let’s say the our own bioengineers create life, and we seed that life on five other planets throughout our solar system. That would mean that of the six planets we known which contain life, five of them would be known to be the result of intelligent design.

    Do you see where I’m going with this? All if takes is one sufficiently advanced intelligence, anywhere throughout the cosmos or beyond, to create life and to seed it elsewhere. And, if that created life is designed to developed advanced intelligence, the process will grow, exponentially.

    If life forming naturally is a relatively rare event, then this intelligently-designed life will quickly overtake abiogenesis as the most prevalent cause for life throughout the cosmos.

    In short: Not even abiogenesis-supporting atheists have a reasonable excuse for dismissing I.D., a priori, and yet, from my experiences, most of them do.

    Of course, these are the same people who often reject the basic laws of logic, and claim to be free thinkers while simultaneously denying free will. I think it’s safe to say that logic isn’t their strong suit. :D

    This post is helpful. Jared, please feel free to post it as an OP. If not, I may elevate it myself.

    (Not that I agree with it, but it’s so refreshing to have an actual argument-rebuttal-counter-rebuttal exchange! Makes this site worth having).

  4. Lizzie



    “We can argue about the reasonableness of my priors, but it’s clear that a design inference is perfectly possible and can be perfectly valid.”

    As science? So you’re willing to go beyond Todd Wood’s version of faith-based ID?

    I’m perfectly willing, in principle, to make a design inference. I do not share Todd Wood’s approach that we should assume an ID, and then try to figure out how He did it (it’s a He in Todd’s case).

    If there is good evidence that something was designed by an intelligent, intentional agent, I am perfectly willing to accept that evidence. As I think I made very clear.

  5. Richardthughes Richardthughes

    Agree that its worth elevating. But doesn’t ID undercut itself with it’s “probabilistic resources” argument?

  6. petrushka

    Granville Sewelle is over ar UD arguing that evolutionists ignore an elephant in the room. My question is why is the elephant invisible?

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