Information theory proves design (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 06, 2020, 00:47 (410 days ago)

An exposition:

"When I first began to look into intelligent design (ID) theory while I was considering becoming an atheist, I was struck by Bill Dembski’s claim that ID could be demonstrated mathematically through information theory. (my bold)


"Dembski applies this line of reasoning in “The Explanatory Filter.” It is motivated by a similar consideration: how to distinguish a typical random sequence from non-random sequences after the fact. The standard way of testing hypotheses, developed in the 1920s by Ronald Fisher and thus called “Fisherian hypothesis testing,” requires that any hypotheses to be tested must be stated before the experiment is performed. Fisher did not provide a way for patterns to be detected after the fact. If we are wondering whether our universe or life forms show evidence of design, we must, of course, examine them after the fact. However, Kolmogorov’s theory of information shows that we can detect patterns after the fact because sequences that can be concisely described are rarer than sequences that require lengthy descriptions.

"Additionally, I found Dembski’s key indicator of intelligent design, “complex specified information (CSI)”, to be a more refined form of the information theory concept of “mutual information,” with the additional constraint that the random variable for specification is independent of the described event. This additional constraint results in the second keystone of intelligent design theory: the conservation of information.

"Dembski proved that searching for a good search algorithm (the “search for a search”) is no easier than performing the search for the primary target in the first place. The implication is that there is no shortcut by which natural processes of law and chance can produce information from chaos or increase the amount of existing information. Thus natural processes such as the various means by which evolution may occur cannot be said to create information.


"Intelligent design theory is sometimes said to lack any practical application. One straightforward application is that, because intelligence can create information and computation cannot, human interaction will improve computational performance. Addressing this observation there is a growing field known as “human computation” which investigates whether human-in-the-loop computation is more effective than a purely computational approach. It turns out that the answer is yes.


"After the years of study, I found that, rather being at odds with established information theory, Dembski’s Explanatory Filter is very much in line with well-known theorems. This left me wondering why there was so much controversy around his theory in the first place. I have still not been able to answer this question, but whatever the cause of the controversy, it is not lack of theoretical and practical justification."

Comment: Funny, this guy and I with clear research and careful analysis came to believe in ID. Why don't others? In fairness I should note I've been at a conference where Dembski presented.

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