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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

Specified Complexity Depends Upon Implicit Design Conjectures


William Dembski's No Free Lunch contains the following passage:

The presumption here is that if a subject S can figure out an independently given pattern to which E conforms (i.e., a detachable rejection region of probability less than alpha that includes E), then so could someone else. Indeed, the presumption is that someone else used that very same item of background knowledge -- the one used by S to eliminate H -- to bring about E in the first place.

[No Free Lunch, p. 75]

Because Dembski's framework is based upon the elimination of alternative explanations, what we end up with here is the situation that Dembski is attributing the complement of the probability that can be assigned to chance hypotheses to an implicit design conjecture, the one that underlies a particular "specification". When the "saturated" probability of the alternative is less than 1/2, Dembski says that we should prefer "design" as our causal explanation, and because we have this relationship between the specification and the putative causal story, we thus are adopting that particular causal conjecture.

Some might object that if one considers Dembski's "Generic Chance Elimination Argument" (GCEA) to simply be in the class of statistical hypothesis tests where one may reject the null hypothesis, in this case Dembski's definition of a "chance" hypothesis, that there is no indication that any other conjecture becomes accepted as a consequence. But Dembski's body of argumentation excludes this interpretation, as he at every opportunity insists that having rejected "chance" hypotheses, one must thereby accept that "design" is the causal explanation for the event at issue. If we accept Dembski's argument, it follows that we are accepting not just "design" in the abstract as a result of a successful design inference (should a non-trivial, non-fictional one ever be instantiated using the GCEA), but also the particular implicit design conjecture that underlies the "specification" used in application of Dembski's GCEA to that event.