Saturday, June 6, 2009

Why "specified complexity" is totally fraudulent

ID advocates, led by William Dembski, use the phrase"specified complexity" to explain how it is possibleto recognize intelligent design.

In summary, Dembski claims that something can be identified as being intelligently designed if it is complex, performs a specific function (has specificity) and is unlikely to have been produced by purely random processes.

One example that Dembski uses is:

"A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex. A long sentence of random letters is complex without being specified. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified."

Dembski is right about "specificity". The word"artificiality" could be used in its place. You need that in order to identify intelligent design.

Mt. Rushmore is obviously intelligently designed for one reason: it shows the recognizable faces of four former US presidents. That is very artificial. Any four human faces would be difficult to explain, but four presidents? Completely artificial! Obviously the sculpture is intelligently designed.

The scam and the fraud occurs in the second word:complexity.

If you were to ask an English teacher what "complex" means, they would say something like "intricate".

The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines 'complex" as: a whole made up of complicated or interrelated parts.
Synonyms are: complicated, convoluted, elaborate, intricate, involved, knotty, labyrinthine, sophisticated.

None of those are even close to "unlikely".

That's because "unlikely" has NOTHING to do withthe word "complex".

Throwing 100 consecutive heads with a coin is VERY "unlikely", but it is actually less "intricate" than a more typically expected sequence such as "HTHHTTHH...TTHTHHH".

So why are they using a perfectly good word with a made-up definition that doesn't have anything to do with that word? Why doesn't Dembski use the phrase "specified unlikeliness" rather that "specified complexity"? Isn't that a MUCH better phrase? After all it doesn't require redefining or misusing any words.

Ah, but Dembski and the other ID advocates do this because of an ulterior motive. People have an inate sense of what "complexity" means. After all "complexity" is a fairly commonly used word. So if Dembski and the others can get people to accept the phrase "specified complexity" as a way of identifying intelligent design, then they can complete the fraud.

They do that when they talk about DNA.

Hoping that no one will notice, they begin touse the REAL definition of 'complexity' - one that has NOTHING to do with how they defined the word originally when they tried to explain "specified complexity".

Examples are easy to find.

Here's one from a web page at

"So much information is needed for a self-replicating cell that even the simplest one has over half a megabyte (that’s over 500,000 x 8 bits) of information in its DNA—see How Simple Can Life Be? ...

"Leading atheist Richard Dawkins himself admits:

“[T]here is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over.”

Here's something from Casey Luskin, one of the spokespeople for the Discovery Institute at

"Intelligent agents think with an 'end goal in mind, allowing them to solve complex problems by taking many parts and arranging them in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information):"

Note carefully the use of the word "intricate" here. Note also the avoidance of any word sassociated with "unlikely".

See what's going on? NOW they are using the REAL definition of "complex" - "intricate" or "complicated". There is nothing in any of these quotes that has anything to do with something being UNLIKELY. Instead they are using the REAL definition of the word when they try to demonstrate that DNA is intelligently designed. But they are completely ignoring how that word was defined when they explained the concept originally.

That is completely and utterly fraudulent!

So if you want to perform an intellectual fraud, here's how the ID advocates recommend that you do it:

1. Select a commonly used word.

2. Give that commonly used word a totally new and alien definition that doesn't even reflect what the word actually means to the people familiar with the word.

3. Create a phrase using that word with that new definition. Ignore the fact that there are perfectly good words that would explain the concept without needing to redefine anywords.

4. Convince everyone that in this context, the new, made-up definition makes sense.

5. Then, when you try to apply this new concept, use the ORIGINAL and well-accepted definition of the word. Completely ignore the made-up definition you used when describing your concept.

You have just committed intellectual fraud!


You can now be a professional ID advocate.

Randy C.

1 comment:

  1. The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines 'complex" as: a whole made up of complicated or interrelated parts.
    Synonyms are: complicated, convoluted, elaborate, intricate, involved, knotty, labyrinthine, sophisticated.

    My Volkswagen TDI is a specified complexity. It does not hurt my argument if I say it was impossible for a tornado or colony of ants to have constructed its turbo diesel goodness. The knotty and labyrinthine can-bus wiring would be impossible for anything other then a mind to have designed. Complexity can mean and imply that simplicity did not form my car from the ground up.

    You have failed to show any inconsistency of terms or redefinition. Specified Complexity is easy enough to understand.