## Friday, August 19, 2011

### Challenge: Identify this "Design Theorist"

Without using a search engine, see if you can identify this "design theorist" from quotes from his 1992 book:

• "The product of the total number of these identified relationships would thus give an overall probability' for assessing if what we are seeing ... favors a design --- or merely chance."
• "What is the probability for this being merely a random situation?"
• "Some critic will immediately leap up and shout, But, that's assuming a strictly random process.... [subject] is not a random process..."
• "Which gives less than one chance in a hundred million that this unique relationship ... is random!"
• "If we are looking at multiple levels of connection and association, Occam's Razor would tell us to choose the simplest model for it -- which here appears to be that we are looking at Design!"
• "What are the odds against that randomly occurring?"
• "The product of the two preceding probabilities ... leads to an overall probability of less than one chance in 70 trillion that this ... is the result of merely random forces!"
• "...is direct support for the Intelligence Hypothesis..."
• "...the overall probability is overwhelming-- That what we are observing ... [is] ... designed."
• "We are seeing `the products of Design' ... and all that that implies."

Hint: It is someone with the same kind of credentials and respect as our other beloved "design theorists".

John Pieret said...

It's almost a law ... yer talking about a Berkely prof.

Rumraket said...

Sounds like something the Isaac-Newton of information theory would say.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

I don't know who this person is, but he/she surely is mathematically sophisticated. Indeed, the question
"What is the probability for this being merely a random situation?"
presumes that one has a random variable, X, say, taking values in the space M of probability measures (on a compact subset K of R^d, say). Put it otherwise, he/she considers a probability measure (the law of X) on a space of probability measures (M) and he/she merely asks:
What is P(X = U), where U is the uniform probability measure on K.
Of course, any reasonable measure might be non-atomic, in which case, the probability is zero. So he/she is probably looking for P(d(X,U) < \epsilon), where d is a metric on M and \epsilon a positive number.

The mathematics of Creationism seem to be quite sophisticated.

Ted Herrlich said...

Gotta be Johnson. My first thought was Dembski, but he didn't manage to get published until must later in the 90's.

Jeff Orchard said...

Or is it our good friend Bill Dembski?

Jeff Orchard said...

Oops, I didn't see Ted's comment. Not Dembski, I guess.

John Stockwell said...

Are you sure that isn't "Design Terrorist"?

Is it Francis Beckwith?

Anonymous said...

My guess is Dinesh D'Souza. I don't think it could be Dembski, since, to give him some credit, I don't think he would make the freshman mistake of confusing the conditional probabilities P(A|B) and P(B|A) implicit in some of those quotes (such as the second one). My second guess would be Behe; however, I'd be surprised if he were capable of that mistake either.

But I'm probably mistaken, since I suspect Prof. Shallit posed the challenge with some surprise twist in store.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Anonymous: No, no, what is implicit in the second quote (what is the probability for this being merely a random situation?) is something much more sophisticated than the mixing up P(A|B) and P(B|A): see my comment above. The person who wrote this is mathematically sophisticated and as intelligent as his/her intelligent designer.

Anonymous said...

Students are going to be beating down the door to get into Prof. Konstantopoulos's class.

christine-da-pizzano said...

Adding to the difficulty of the challenge is that creationists echo one another all the time. But I'll take a stab at it and guess William Lane Craig.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Nobody got it.

These are all quotes from Richard Hoagland's book, The Monuments of Mars.

Hoagland is the guy who thinks the "face on Mars" is an artifact built by (i) Martians or (ii) earthlings in the past.

Christine said...

Having never heard of Hoagland till now, I would never have guessed. Ralph Greenberg, a mathematician at the University of Washington, has posted several commentaries concerning the proclivities of some to see miracles in random data, here:

http://www.math.washington.edu/~greenber/Randomness.html

(The third link thereat is a lengthy response to Hoagland.)

386sx said...

Brilliant similitude. He's probably even a scammer out to get everyone's money too. Just like the top ID honchos. The parallels are too good to be true. Dare I say intelligently designed.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

So I failed. This person (whom I've [been fortunate enough to have] never heard before) knows no mathematics. Oh well, he fooled me :-)

But is it his IDiocy label that makes him see faces on Mars? Millions of people see images and "experience" fictitious events all the time. People have seen Virgin Mary on a pizza", in the 70's there was a fellow who convinced everybody (in Europe at least--his books had been translated in dozens of languages) about the extraterrestrial nature of the Maya, etc. None of them are IDiots like this Hoagland, but, simply, plain idiots.

Curt Cameron said...

Takis, I think you've missed the point. Hoagland's comments are not about the "design" of life on Earth - I have no idea what his opinion is regarding biological evolution.

Hoagland's comments that Jeffrey posted are about the landscape features on the surface of Mars. He's using the same language that ID people use, but talking about something that is universally recognized as batshit-crazy.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Curt,

Thanks. Yes, I know that. I think, however, that whether they talk about life on Mars or life on Earth coming from Mars, etc., it all falls under the same category of idiocy--in my opinion. The worrisome thing is that these kind of people have supporters...

Tom English said...

Outstanding connection, Jeff. In a graduate AI section of 1991 or 1992, I used the "face" on Mars as an example of what data dredging would get you. And I knew of Hoagland at the time. But I had no idea he had written explicitly in terms of intelligent design.