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In case you're wondering, I keep trying to branch off new threads because the old one isn't remotely about Skeptic Magazine or Global Warming anymore.

I guessed that this was a phrase coined by either Behe or Dembski. Googling gave me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specified_complexity and, Bingo!, it's a phrase made up by Dembski.

Thanks for the link. I had thought Bryan and actually come up with the phrase himself, in order to put a label on the process of conversion from DNA strings to the actual implementation: a living organism. Now I see it's something else entirely.

From that article, I think it's clear that Dembski didn't actually originate the phrase "specified complexity," rather he abused an existing term and changed it to mean something convenient to him. As Thomas D. Schneider points out, Dembski uses "specified" means whatever Dembski wants it to mean.

http://www.lecb.ncifcrf.gov/~toms/paper/ev/dembski/specified...

As I understand it, "specified" in this case means "nonrandom." I think it's a terrible way to use the word "specified," but it's an important distinction to make. "Specified complexity" when applied to DNA refers to the fact that certain sequences in DNA actually do something useful, rather than just being random noise.

To return to my string analogy, the string "cgsvtiohauawalnfga" is complex in the sense that it isn't repetitive. "cgscgscgscgscgscgs" is just as long, but simple because it contains a pattern with few variables. If DNA were simple, any segment of say 10 codons would look pretty much like any other.

"cgsvtDECEITwalnfga" is complex, but the sub-string "DECEIT" is English word, and thus in some sense nonrandom. It could be produced by a random process, but the final sequence of letters is significant. The DNA analogy is segments that actually code for proteins, rather than doing nothing like most of it.

In essence, Dembski's "specified complexity" argument is the Million Monkeys With Typewriters argument all over again. His objection is that the monkeys won't produce Shakespeare. Or for a closer analogy with DNA, coherent English with random garbage between the words.

As I pointed out earlier, it's easy to see that this isn't true, provided you have a mechanism with duplicates strings, and another mechanism periodically weeds out strings and prefers strings which contain English substrings. In other words, reproduction and natural selection.

This is Thomas D. Schneider's argument referenced in the Wikipedia article, that Dembski is neglecting reproduction, death, and natural selection in his model. In short, he removes evolution from his model, and then points out that it doesn't evolve.

- Gus
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