CSI was [Re: Comment to Bill Hamilton

John W. Burgeson (burgy@compuserve.com)
Thu, 6 Mar 1997 09:18:23 -0500

Brian Harper writes, in part:
>>Let me address my concerns confusions) in a round about
>>way by mentioning first Murray Gell-Mann's "effective
>>complexity" (EC). Previously I indicated that I thought
>>that Gell-Mann's approach was similar in some ways with
>>Dembski's. [as a side-light, I view complexity and
>>information content as being essentially the same
>>thingies. I can elaborate on this more if needed].

I come to this discussion late; don't know much (if anything)
about the above. Elaboration might be useful if VERY basic.

>>Interestingly, a primary motivation for Gell-Mann [G-M]
>>coming up with this new complexity measure is precisely
>>what we have been talking about previously. G-M doesn't
>>like algorithmic complexity [AC] since, according to AC,
>>random thingies have the highest complexity (information
>>content). The idea of EC is to weed out from some object
>>or observation that part of the description which is
>>random (lacking any pattern, irreducible). So, first
>>we separate out the patterned part of the description.
>>EC then is the algorithmic complexity (shortest description)
>>of the patterned component.

I understand (I think) what you mean -- but an example would be good.
The problem seems to be -- how do you determine what parts are
"random." How do you know you have not labeled part of the object
as "random" when it is, actually, a pattern you have not yet been able
to discern?

>>At this point, I think the similarities with Dembski are
>>obvious. Dembski goes further and divides what G-M calls
>>effective complexity into two categories, the good and the
>>bad according to whether or not the pattern can be identified
>>independent of its actuation. [Bill missed a good opportunity
>>here. He could have labeled random as "ugly", then he
>>could talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly ;-)].

That actually looks like a good teaching device for this subject.
One introduces, first, case 3, the archer aims and hits
a target, as "good." Then case 1, the archer hits just the barn
side, as "bad." Then, finally, case 3, the archer hits the barn
side & draws a post-shot target, the "ugly."

>>1) In Dembski's examples there is an intelligent agent either
>>identifying or actually fabricating a pattern. Does Bill
>>believe that patterns actually exist independent of their
>>being identified by an intelligent agent?

What Bill "believes" seems irrelevant here. Do you mean "what Bill

Who is the IA here, the creator or the observer?

>>2) How to satisfy the independence condition? This was the
>>point of my NL example.

Lost you. Sorry. What is an "NL?"

>>3) Labeling patterns that cannot be specified independently
>>of their actualizations as "bad" or as "fabrications" is
>>highly prejudicial. Such patterns may still correspond to
>>something functional.

I think this is the same as I aluded to above; it seems to me this is
a "break/no break" point. I don't see a solution.

>>4) Dembski's examples preclude the possibility that the arrow
>>and the target are not independent, ...

Had not thought of this. It seems (to me) to be related to #3 above.

Interesting ideas. They need to be run by the ID folks.

Burgy (gone after this until early next week)