Measuring Specificity in CSI

The Pixie

Well-known member
CSI - complex, specified information seems to be an important concept in ID. I would like to explore the "specified" part of that in this thread.

Another poster said:

I was giving an ad lib answer when I stated that specificity was added in. I didn't intend it to mean that the observer could haphazardly add in specificity. By add in, I meant to the definition. But nice try. Shannon does not regard meaning while CSI does. Shannon is used to measure the complexity of the information while specificity is a measure of it functionality and meaning. This is how I understand CSI and not speaking as an associate member of the Discovery Institute.
Okay, so specificity is a measure of it functionality and meaning, that is fair enough, but how are these things being measured?

If specificity is a measure of meaning, then does its value change depending on the user? What looks like a bunch of random characters to one person, could be meaningful to another if the latter can read the language.

In what sense does a passage of text have functionality?

Or is functionality just throw in to ensure this is particularly about DNA, and in fact a book, for example, does not actually contain CSI? But then, in what sense does a string of bases have meaning?
 
Last edited:

CrowCross

Well-known member
Or is functionality just throw in to ensure this is particularly about DNA, and in fact a book, for example, does not actually contain CSI? But then, in what sense does a string of bases have meaning?
A book and DNA contain different types of information.

One is intelligently created and read by people...the other is intelligently created and read by organelle.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
A book and DNA contain different types of information.

One is intelligently created and read by people...the other is intelligently created and read by organelle.
I think this is it. CSI means whatever you want it to mean. For a book, it means one thing. For DNA, it means something else.

There is no way to actually measure it, we just pretend to. Just declare a book has high CSI! Just declare DNA has high CSI! Who cares if it is patently a different type of information, as you readily concede?

At the end of the day, it is all just taken on faith.
 

CrowCross

Well-known member
I think this is it. CSI means whatever you want it to mean. For a book, it means one thing. For DNA, it means something else.

There is no way to actually measure it, we just pretend to. Just declare a book has high CSI! Just declare DNA has high CSI! Who cares if it is patently a different type of information, as you readily concede?

At the end of the day, it is all just taken on faith.
I'm still trying to figure out your argument.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
I'm still trying to figure out your argument.
My point is that ID is just a veneer, with nothing behind it. It has the illusion of science, and throws around terms like "complex specified information" that sound technical, but scratch beneath the surface, and there is nothing there!

ID has no substance. It is just pseudo-science.

ID is as easy to dismiss as it ever was.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
I'm still trying to figure out your argument.
The point is how do you measure CSI? What are the units? What is the test?

If I want to measure distance, I know what the units are, I know how to measure. If I tell you that that thing over there is a foot long, you can easily check, come back to me and say "No, it's only 8 inches." And you can demonstrate that to anybody.

So if I want to measure the CSI of some thing - what are the units? How do I test it? When I claim "Well that thing over there is 47 CSI-units", how do you check that so you can tell me I'm wrong, it's actually 72 CSI-units?

Does a text have the same number of units when it's in English as when it's in French? Or Navajo? What if it's in a dead language that nobody can now read? What if it's just gibberish to us because we don't even know that it's in a language?

Can things be a little bit CSI? Or a lot CSI? Are there degrees of CSI-ness? How are they measured?

All of these questions and otehrs like them are easy to answer regarding distance, or weight, or anything else we measure. So what are the answers for CSI?
 

CrowCross

Well-known member
My point is that ID is just a veneer, with nothing behind it. It has the illusion of science, and throws around terms like "complex specified information" that sound technical, but scratch beneath the surface, and there is nothing there!

ID has no substance. It is just pseudo-science.

ID is as easy to dismiss as it ever was.
What you are doing is making simple claims that you can't support...basically you're not being anything near scientific in your rebuttle.

You seem to deny there is a coded information within the DNA that can be read by organelle copied by organelle and then used to make other organelle and biological components.

The only veneer is the white wash you try to use to make ID go away.
 

CrowCross

Well-known member
The point is how do you measure CSI? What are the units? What is the test?

If I want to measure distance, I know what the units are, I know how to measure. If I tell you that that thing over there is a foot long, you can easily check, come back to me and say "No, it's only 8 inches." And you can demonstrate that to anybody.

So if I want to measure the CSI of some thing - what are the units? How do I test it? When I claim "Well that thing over there is 47 CSI-units", how do you check that so you can tell me I'm wrong, it's actually 72 CSI-units?

Does a text have the same number of units when it's in English as when it's in French? Or Navajo? What if it's in a dead language that nobody can now read? What if it's just gibberish to us because we don't even know that it's in a language?

Can things be a little bit CSI? Or a lot CSI? Are there degrees of CSI-ness? How are they measured?

All of these questions and otehrs like them are easy to answer regarding distance, or weight, or anything else we measure. So what are the answers for CSI?
Complex specified information....

There becomes a point when one looks at the information and determines it is complex and specified to accomplish a designed purpose.

For example a storm may wash some logs into a pile. That's the information. But is it complex? No. Does it carry out a designed purpose? Once again no.
These same logs could be cut and stacked upon each other and form a house. The house is the information. Is it complex? Yes. Unlike the pile of storm washed logs random chance could not create the log house. Does it carry out a designed purpose? This time the answer is yes.

Perhaps one form of measurement of CSI is to determine the odds of it existing by random chance compared to the odds of some other formation or placement of logs.
What are the odds of a storm washing logs into the shape of a house? The odds are pretty much zero. What are the odds of washing the logs into any other formation or placement? Pretty close to 100 %

There becomes a point when looking at the information the odds of it forming by random chance are low enough to determine that there was intention, design and function in the information.

With Mt. Rushmore the odds of it forming by natural causes such as wind blowing sand and erosion etc. is so low one can immediatly see the intelligent design.

Sometimes the odds are somewhere between 1-100 % and intelligent design can't be confirmed. The layout of what has been called the Cydonian city of Mars might be an example. When the information is looked at closer in the future it will be easier to determine the odds as to whether the features such as the face, pyramids and angles of the surface features of what has been observed has been designed by intellgence or simply natural formations.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
Complex specified information....

There becomes a point when one looks at the information and determines it is complex and specified to accomplish a designed purpose.

For example a storm may wash some logs into a pile. That's the information. But is it complex? No. Does it carry out a designed purpose? Once again no.
These same logs could be cut and stacked upon each other and form a house. The house is the information. Is it complex? Yes. Unlike the pile of storm washed logs random chance could not create the log house. Does it carry out a designed purpose? This time the answer is yes.

Perhaps one form of measurement of CSI is to determine the odds of it existing by random chance compared to the odds of some other formation or placement of logs.
What are the odds of a storm washing logs into the shape of a house? The odds are pretty much zero. What are the odds of washing the logs into any other formation or placement? Pretty close to 100 %

There becomes a point when looking at the information the odds of it forming by random chance are low enough to determine that there was intention, design and function in the information.

With Mt. Rushmore the odds of it forming by natural causes such as wind blowing sand and erosion etc. is so low one can immediatly see the intelligent design.

Sometimes the odds are somewhere between 1-100 % and intelligent design can't be confirmed. The layout of what has been called the Cydonian city of Mars might be an example. When the information is looked at closer in the future it will be easier to determine the odds as to whether the features such as the face, pyramids and angles of the surface features of what has been observed has been designed by intellgence or simply natural formations.
So there's no actual method of measurement except "Hmm....looks complex and specified to me." And you seriously expect this to pass for science? Come on.

How do you determine the odds of something happening? What is the threshold? If whatever magic formula comes up with odds of 10-1, is it specified complexity? How about 100-1? 1,000 to 1? Can things be more specifically complex than other things? If you say that something is specifically complex and I say it's not, how do we resolve that? What's the measure? How is it objectively determined? How do you deal with the fact that whatever odds you assign, they always have to be provisional, to the extent that "The probability of X happening is <some large number> to 1, unless there is some natural force that tends to make it happen"?

But put all that aside right now. Let's say that somewhere (carefully hidden) the DI has the measuring stick for specified complexity hidden away, but when they bring it out, it can determine - to the satisfaction of all - that X or Y is specifically designed to 100 specific-design units or whatever they are.

Then let's say that they use that measuring stick and determine that some biological construct (off the top of my head, the human inner ear) is specifically complex and further, according to their measure, there is no natural force that could have made it happen. In other words, the human inner ear is indisputable evidence of design.

Now what? Do we all stop investigating the human inner ear because presumably the creator made it so that it won't break? Do we try to investigate it further to determine how the creator made it so that if it does break, we might have an inkling of how to fix it? Do we continue to investigate it to try and work out how it might have evolved? What do we actually do when - hypothetically - ID comes up with a definite conclusion about something?

I ask because as far as I can see, even if ID is 100% correct, even if it is science, and even if it could somehow prove there are some biological bits created by a creator, it doesn't change anything at all. Science will still go on investigating those bits (as science continues to investigate everything, even 'settled' science), trying to find out how they could have evolved (and thus ID be wrong on this particular biological bit). Its only apparent purpose, no matter how successful, is to get "This bit appears to have been designed by a creator" into science text books.

And you call that science?
 

CrowCross

Well-known member
So there's no actual method of measurement except "Hmm....looks complex and specified to me." And you seriously expect this to pass for science? Come on.
My post explained it....you seemed to miss it.
How do you determine the odds of something happening? What is the threshold? If whatever magic formula comes up with odds of 10-1, is it specified complexity? How about 100-1? 1,000 to 1? Can things be more specifically complex than other things? If you say that something is specifically complex and I say it's not, how do we resolve that? What's the measure? How is it objectively determined? How do you deal with the fact that whatever odds you assign, they always have to be provisional, to the extent that "The probability of X happening is <some large number> to 1, unless there is some natural force that tends to make it happen"?

Can you determine the odds of having a royal straight flush dealt to you?
But put all that aside right now. Let's say that somewhere (carefully hidden) the DI has the measuring stick for specified complexity hidden away, but when they bring it out, it can determine - to the satisfaction of all - that X or Y is specifically designed to 100 specific-design units or whatever they are.

Then let's say that they use that measuring stick and determine that some biological construct (off the top of my head, the human inner ear) is specifically complex and further, according to their measure, there is no natural force that could have made it happen. In other words, the human inner ear is indisputable evidence of design.

It is as you have no way to evolve one by random chance.
Now what? Do we all stop investigating the human inner ear because presumably the creator made it so that it won't break? Do we try to investigate it further to determine how the creator made it so that if it does break, we might have an inkling of how to fix it? Do we continue to investigate it to try and work out how it might have evolved? What do we actually do when - hypothetically - ID comes up with a definite conclusion about something?

Why would we stop investigating the human ear just because it's created by ID?
I ask because as far as I can see, even if ID is 100% correct, even if it is science, and even if it could somehow prove there are some biological bits created by a creator, it doesn't change anything at all. Science will still go on investigating those bits (as science continues to investigate everything, even 'settled' science), trying to find out how they could have evolved (and thus ID be wrong on this particular biological bit). Its only apparent purpose, no matter how successful, is to get "This bit appears to have been designed by a creator" into science text books.

And you call that science?
I think you ought to try again...this post has been dismissed.
Secondly you didn't really address my post.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
My post explained it....you seemed to miss it.
Your post didn't explain it at all. Your post said that we can come to a point where we look at something and decided it's specifically complex. That is not explaining anything.
Can you determine the odds of having a royal straight flush dealt to you?
Yup. Not even hard. It's 5/13 * 4/51 * 3/50 * 2/49 * 1/48. Which is a probability of about .00015. And even if I couldn't do it, it can quite easily be done by anybody with even a basic knowledge of probability.

Show me the same calculation for specific complexity.
It is as you have no way to evolve one by random chance.
Firstly, nobody is talking about random chance.

Secondly, your statement doesn't even address what I asked.
Why would we stop investigating the human ear just because it's created by ID?

I think you ought to try again...this post has been dismissed.
Secondly you didn't really address my post.
So you won't even address my question. Not surprised.
 

CrowCross

Well-known member
Your post didn't explain it at all. Your post said that we can come to a point where we look at something and decided it's specifically complex. That is not explaining anything.

Yup. Not even hard. It's 5/13 * 4/51 * 3/50 * 2/49 * 1/48. Which is a probability of about .00015. And even if I couldn't do it, it can quite easily be done by anybody with even a basic knowledge of probability.

Show me the same calculation for specific complexity.

Firstly, nobody is talking about random chance.

Secondly, your statement doesn't even address what I asked.

So you won't even address my question. Not surprised.
Please get back on topic and address my post.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
What you are doing is making simple claims that you can't support...basically you're not being anything near scientific in your rebuttle.
I am not claiming to be "scientific". This is an internet forum, not a science paper!

My simple claim is that CSI is nonsense, and more specifically that the "specified" is an ad hoc term that meansd whatever is convenient at the time and cannot be measured.

The support for that is the abject failure of IDists to show how it is measured. Cisco Qid make the claim it could be measured, then fled for the hills when asked how. You clearly have no answer either.

You seem to deny there is a coded information within the DNA that can be read by organelle copied by organelle and then used to make other organelle and biological components.
I have not commented on that at all. This thread is about the "specified" part of CSI, and how that is measured.

The fact that you want to drag the conversation away from "specified" is furthgr evidence IDists do not really know what they are talking about when they throw the term around.
 

CrowCross

Well-known member
I am not claiming to be "scientific". This is an internet forum, not a science paper!

My simple claim is that CSI is nonsense, and more specifically that the "specified" is an ad hoc term that meansd whatever is convenient at the time and cannot be measured.

The support for that is the abject failure of IDists to show how it is measured. Cisco Qid make the claim it could be measured, then fled for the hills when asked how. You clearly have no answer either.


I have not commented on that at all. This thread is about the "specified" part of CSI, and how that is measured.

The fact that you want to drag the conversation away from "specified" is furthgr evidence IDists do not really know what they are talking about when they throw the term around.
Here's how I see it.
I presented a reply with some answers back in post 9.

Do you deny the opening statement?
There becomes a point when one looks at the information and determines it is complex and specified to accomplish a designed purpose.

If so, how do you deny it considering the examples I presented?

How are those examples different from a kinesen motor protein that walks across a microtubule and delivers a package to the place it was instructed to deliver it to?

How about the way the proteins fold to form a rotor, stator, driveshaft, bushings , propellor etc. in a flagellum.

How would the code in your computer evolve to direct a text that you created to be displayed on your screen then sent to a printer that reproduces the image on a piece of paper...compare...to a DNA code that also carries instructions that tell the "machines" to copy it, read it and build what it is instructed to build?

Each stage along the assenbly line is the result of stored information that is used to build a complex and specific "product".

You evo minded seemed to be more amazed that a process that can perceive a thought and manipulate it, store it and act upon it could have beaten the odds over and over and over and over again...somehow....and then ridicule the concept that it was intelligently designed arriving from a code when an egg and sperm meet.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Here's how I see it.
I presented a reply with some answers back in post 9.

Do you deny the opening statement?...
Okay, I am going to reply to that post, that come back to this later.

Complex specified information....

There becomes a point when one looks at the information and determines it is complex and specified to accomplish a designed purpose.
Do I deny that? Absolutely! That is the point of the thread.

How do we determine it is "complex and specified to accomplish a designed purpose"?

This is the crux of the ID argument - that we can determine it is complex and specified to accomplish a designed purpose - and I say that ID has failed to give a formal methodology with which to do that.

For example a storm may wash some logs into a pile. That's the information. But is it complex? No. Does it carry out a designed purpose? Once again no.
These same logs could be cut and stacked upon each other and form a house. The house is the information. Is it complex? Yes. Unlike the pile of storm washed logs random chance could not create the log house. Does it carry out a designed purpose? This time the answer is yes.
There are things we can see are designed for a purpose and so we can conclude they are designed.

What a brilliant insight that is!

All we have to do is determine if something has a "designed purpose" and we can determine if it is designed.

Perhaps one form of measurement of CSI is to determine the odds of it existing by random chance compared to the odds of some other formation or placement of logs.
What are the odds of a storm washing logs into the shape of a house? The odds are pretty much zero. What are the odds of washing the logs into any other formation or placement? Pretty close to 100 %
Ah, so you want to do probability calculations.

How do we determine the probability of the cytochrome-c protein arising from a process of variation and selection? I have seen calculations for random assembly of a protein, but have never seen selection modelled. Perhaps you can point me to where IDists have done that.

Then we need the probability of design. For a house, that is relatively easy as we know designers of houses exist. How can we estimate the probability of a designer for the cytochrome-c protein? I am pretty certain IDists have never done that.

So again, this looks like a case where IDists make claims, but when you scratch beneath the surface there is nothing there. But perhaps I have it wrong, and you can should me the probability calculations.

There becomes a point when looking at the information the odds of it forming by random chance are low enough to determine that there was intention, design and function in the information.
I look forward to you showing me the calculations.

With Mt. Rushmore the odds of it forming by natural causes such as wind blowing sand and erosion etc. is so low one can immediatly see the intelligent design.
Sure, because we can estimate the probability of there being a possible designer - it is 1.

Sometimes the odds are somewhere between 1-100 % and intelligent design can't be confirmed. The layout of what has been called the Cydonian city of Mars might be an example.
The Cydonian city of Mars is a great example of people seeing design because they want to see design, rather than because there is design.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Here's how I see it.
I presented a reply with some answers back in post 9.

Do you deny the opening statement?
Yes.

There becomes a point when one looks at the information and determines it is complex and specified to accomplish a designed purpose.
We can look at something and determine is s designed, but not based on a consideration of information.

Look at archaeology, look at forensic science. These people routinely determine if something is designed, and they do so without calculating information.

Can you tell me the "designed purpose" of malaria?

How are those examples different from a kinesen motor protein that walks across a microtubule and delivers a package to the place it was instructed to deliver it to?
The kinesen motor protein is just like the log jam. We know of no designer who would do it, and we know of a natural, unintelligent process that could produce it.

How about the way the proteins fold to form a rotor, stator, driveshaft, bushings , propellor etc. in a flagellum.
Again, this is just like the log jam. We know of no designer who would do it, and we know of a natural, unintelligent process that could produce it.

How would the code in your computer evolve to direct a text that you created to be displayed on your screen then sent to a printer that reproduces the image on a piece of paper...compare...to a DNA code that also carries instructions that tell the "machines" to copy it, read it and build what it is instructed to build?
No one is claiming computer code appears through a process of variation, inheritance and selection.

Each stage along the assenbly line is the result of stored information that is used to build a complex and specific "product".
Again, this is just like the log jam. We know of no designer who would do it, and we know of a natural, unintelligent process that could produce it.

You evo minded seemed to be more amazed that a process that can perceive a thought and manipulate it, store it and act upon it could have beaten the odds over and over and over and over again...somehow....and then ridicule the concept that it was intelligently designed arriving from a code when an egg and sperm meet.
We do indeed ridicule the concept that it was intelligently designed, for reasons already explained.
 

rossum

Well-known member
I have seen calculations for random assembly of a protein, but have never seen selection modelled. Perhaps you can point me to where IDists have done that.
I am not aware of any IDist doing such calculations, they always seem to omit natural selection.

However, I have done a simple calculation which does include natural selection. Unsurprisingly, the time to evolve a protein is a lot shorter, reducing from 6.35 x 10^130 years for the non-selective model to 2,096,000 years for the model including natural selection.

See The Evolution of Boojumase for the calculation. Unfortunately Google decided to display it in a proportional font rather than a fixed width font, so the tables do not look as they should.
 

CrowCross

Well-known member
Yes.


We can look at something and determine is s designed, but not based on a consideration of information.

Look at archaeology, look at forensic science. These people routinely determine if something is designed, and they do so without calculating information.

Can you tell me the "designed purpose" of malaria?


The kinesen motor protein is just like the log jam. We know of no designer who would do it, and we know of a natural, unintelligent process that could produce it.


Again, this is just like the log jam. We know of no designer who would do it, and we know of a natural, unintelligent process that could produce it.


No one is claiming computer code appears through a process of variation, inheritance and selection.


Again, this is just like the log jam. We know of no designer who would do it, and we know of a natural, unintelligent process that could produce it.


We do indeed ridicule the concept that it was intelligently designed, for reasons already explained.
Basically all you have done is presented an objection without real reason.

Nature has tell tales which you seem to ignore. If you saw a hole in the ground...for the most part somewhat round you could point at it being dug by an intelligent being or perhaps natural like a sink hole....but if the hole in the ground was rectangle in shape and had 4 90 deg corners...well, the odds that it was designed go way, way up.
 
Top