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Dembski's Trichotomy

# Dembski's Trichotomy

Posted in the Evolution Debate Forum

Logico
#1 Jun 29, 2013
In arguing for the design inference, Dembski essentially narrows down three fundamental modes of explaining an event:

(1) Regularity - "To attribute an event to regularity is to say that the event will (almost) always happen..."

(2) Chance - "To attribute an event to chance is to say that probabilities characterize the occurrence of the event, but are also compatible with some other event happening..."

(3) Design - "To attribute an event to design is to say that it cannot reasonably be referred to either regularity or chance..."

Dembski essentially states that one concludes design after the elimination of regularity and chance. At one point, he uses an opened safe with 10 billion possible combinations as an example of an inference to design. In essence, according to Dembski, the opening of the safe is a specified highly improbable event, and thus eliminates the modes of explanation by regularity or chance. Eventually, it seems that Dembski argues that chance and regularity alone is not sufficient to explain the origin and development of life, and thus there must be an inference to design.

The subject is: what do you think of this proposed "trichotomy" and what do you think of Dembski's probabilistic arguments with respect to the design inference?
LowellGuy
#2 Jun 29, 2013
Logico wrote:
In arguing for the design inference, Dembski essentially narrows down three fundamental modes of explaining an event:
(1) Regularity - "To attribute an event to regularity is to say that the event will (almost) always happen..."
(2) Chance - "To attribute an event to chance is to say that probabilities characterize the occurrence of the event, but are also compatible with some other event happening..."
(3) Design - "To attribute an event to design is to say that it cannot reasonably be referred to either regularity or chance..."
Dembski essentially states that one concludes design after the elimination of regularity and chance. At one point, he uses an opened safe with 10 billion possible combinations as an example of an inference to design. In essence, according to Dembski, the opening of the safe is a specified highly improbable event, and thus eliminates the modes of explanation by regularity or chance. Eventually, it seems that Dembski argues that chance and regularity alone is not sufficient to explain the origin and development of life, and thus there must be an inference to design.
The subject is: what do you think of this proposed "trichotomy" and what do you think of Dembski's probabilistic arguments with respect to the design inference?
If design is nothing more than "it doesn't look like chance or regularity," that is a false trichotomy. If it's not a plane and not a helicopter, the aircraft in question must be a blimp. Even if those were the only choices we knew about, it isn't valid if you don't first demonstrate the absolute impossibility of any other option.
Logico
#3 Jun 29, 2013
I suppose the difficulty begins in coming up with anything other than regularity, chance, or design that would explain an event. Presumably, an event of any given probability (high, intermediate, or low, based on Dembski's classification) falls under one these three modes of explanation.

So, logically, you would have to formulate a counter-argument. In other words, you would have to demonstrate that some events (at least one) occur by something other than regularity, chance, or design.

“What, me worry?”

Since: Mar 09

I'm a racist caricature!

#4 Jun 29, 2013
Logico wrote:
I suppose the difficulty begins in coming up with anything other than regularity, chance, or design that would explain an event. Presumably, an event of any given probability (high, intermediate, or low, based on Dembski's classification) falls under one these three modes of explanation.
So, logically, you would have to formulate a counter-argument. In other words, you would have to demonstrate that some events (at least one) occur by something other than regularity, chance, or design.
Wrong placement of the burden of proof. One need not prove him wrong. He needs to prove that design is the only possible alternative to chance and regularity. Until that is done, his claim is unsubstantiated and thus rejected.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#5 Jun 29, 2013
Logico wrote:
In arguing for the design inference, Dembski essentially narrows down three fundamental modes of explaining an event:
(1) Regularity - "To attribute an event to regularity is to say that the event will (almost) always happen..."
(2) Chance - "To attribute an event to chance is to say that probabilities characterize the occurrence of the event, but are also compatible with some other event happening..."
(3) Design - "To attribute an event to design is to say that it cannot reasonably be referred to either regularity or chance..."
Dembski essentially states that one concludes design after the elimination of regularity and chance. At one point, he uses an opened safe with 10 billion possible combinations as an example of an inference to design. In essence, according to Dembski, the opening of the safe is a specified highly improbable event, and thus eliminates the modes of explanation by regularity or chance. Eventually, it seems that Dembski argues that chance and regularity alone is not sufficient to explain the origin and development of life, and thus there must be an inference to design.
The subject is: what do you think of this proposed "trichotomy" and what do you think of Dembski's probabilistic arguments with respect to the design inference?
The problem with claiming probability is that it *always* allows the possibility of low probability events. The other problem is that he does not take on board that extremely low probability events still can and do occur, but in hindsight at least one of those low probability events are a certainty. For instance setting off in a random direction out of 360 degrees means each direction is only a 1 in 360 chance. But the fact we know that a direction is taken means we know that it has to be one of those paths, and each one is just as unlikely as each other. But the chances of one path being chosen is 100%.

A similar example would be all of the events that led to your eventual birth. If we rewind the video as it were, to the beginning of life the chances of producing you in particular are EXTREMELY improbable, so low in fact I'd wager the odds would be impossible to calculate due to the amount of variables involved. A chance meeting here, a split second there, it could make all the difference to the birth of just any one of those people along that long long lineage. The world population is over 7 billion at the moment, meaning there are currently over 7 billion potential outcomes, and that's not even taking any of the many many more dead people throughout history into account. Since we don't have video records for everyone who existed we don't have access to the information of all the potential variables that occurred, making an accurate calculation of probabilities impossible. All we can be sure of is that no matter what, each potential outcome is an extremely low probability event. Yet they occur all the time.

Dembski claims to be able to assign probabilities on a scale of biological history in its totality, so imagine attempting to calculate the odds of your birth from the moment life appeared on Earth, then multiplying that by every single life form that's ever existed. I'm not sure where he thinks he got the info for all those variables, but my guess would be somewhere in close proximity to his Gluteus maximus.

And finally he employs the logical fallacy of setting up his alternative as the default answer, that if other proposals are somehow proved wrong his is automatically taken as given, despite having zero evidence for it.

Besides, everyone knows his alternative is Goddidit with magic.(shrug)
Gillette
#6 Jun 30, 2013
The Dude wrote:
<quoted text>
Besides, everyone knows his alternative is Goddidit with magic.(shrug)
And that, by Dembski's admission, the alternative is the Christian God and no other. Hmmm, statistically, how many possible Intelligent Designers could there be?:)
Gillette
#7 Jun 30, 2013
When I first saw this thread, my initial reaction was "Oh, poor Dembski. Was he in an accident? Why did he need a trachiotomy?"

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LGK

Llanfechain, UK

#8 Jul 3, 2013
Logico wrote:
I suppose the difficulty begins in coming up with anything other than regularity, chance, or design that would explain an event. Presumably, an event of any given probability (high, intermediate, or low, based on Dembski's classification) falls under one these three modes of explanation.
So, logically, you would have to formulate a counter-argument. In other words, you would have to demonstrate that some events (at least one) occur by something other than regularity, chance, or design.
As I understand Dembski, he would be open to something else other than regularity, chance or design. It's perfectly possible. What did you have in mind?

The design inference is just that, inference. No-one to my knowledge, from the Discovery Institute claims design as the only explanation. They put it forward as a live & reasonable option. There's nothing inherently illogical about that if explanations are not pre-mandated a priori.

Personally, I think design on logical grounds alone is perfectly legitimate. ALL objections I've seen so far have an emotional aversion to design. Design may well be false or true as an explanation, I've heard Dembski many times & I'm sure he'd accept that. It's his opponents who can't accept any alternative to theirs.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#9 Jul 3, 2013
LGK wrote:
<quoted text>
As I understand Dembski
You do not. Even Dembski doesn't understand Dembski. He's a cowardly fence-sitter. An Earth age "agnostic".

Such a basic concept surely should be narrowed down just a tad if they hoped to have any sort of "theory" of ID.
LGK wrote:
he would be open to something else other than regularity, chance or design. It's perfectly possible. What did you have in mind?
The design inference is just that, inference. No-one to my knowledge, from the Discovery Institute claims design as the only explanation. They put it forward as a live & reasonable option.
It would be nice if they did. Unfortunately we're still waiting for them to do just that. It's been decades. Millenia even.
LGK wrote:
There's nothing inherently illogical about that if explanations are not pre-mandated a priori.
Actually I'd prefer it if they did do that. The day we get an explanation from them would be the day stuff falls up.
LGK wrote:
Personally, I think design on logical grounds alone is perfectly legitimate. ALL objections I've seen so far have an emotional aversion to design. Design may well be false or true as an explanation, I've heard Dembski many times & I'm sure he'd accept that.
Design is fine in principle, but...
LGK wrote:
It's his opponents who can't accept any alternative to theirs.
... it's just not fine in practice. That's why we can't accept there's an alternative simply because, as of this moment, there IS no alternative. All the IDCers have is that something did something, somehow, somewhere, at sometime, which, as everyone knows is just a cover for Goddidit with magic. That's total bollox and nothing at all close to an explanation. And believe me, that IS all the IDCers have, since I've been asking them for a long time to give us something just a little more substantial. So far they have failed miserably to step up to the plate. Heck, they're nowhere near to the starting line yet.

Other than continual books on apologetics, other than that nothing looks like it's gonna change for the fundies any time soon.

.

What's the "code", El?

See ya again in 6 months then? Reckon anything'll be different?

Me neither.

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Logico
#10 Jul 4, 2013
I'm not necessarily sure that ID proposes that the Christian God is the only explanation. For example, it seems intelligent design by an advanced extraterrestrial species isn't ruled out, for example. Even the universe being a vast computer simulation could be an example of design. I'm not saying that I find either of these views plausible. I certainly don't find the Christian God view plausible. I'm simply stating that ID is "God did it with magic" might be true, but it doesn't seem to be the only alternative (at least from what I've read).

“What, me worry?”

Since: Mar 09

I'm a racist caricature!

#11 Jul 4, 2013
Logico wrote:
I'm not necessarily sure that ID proposes that the Christian God is the only explanation. For example, it seems intelligent design by an advanced extraterrestrial species isn't ruled out, for example. Even the universe being a vast computer simulation could be an example of design. I'm not saying that I find either of these views plausible. I certainly don't find the Christian God view plausible. I'm simply stating that ID is "God did it with magic" might be true, but it doesn't seem to be the only alternative (at least from what I've read).
Other things aren't ruled out, no, but it's no coincidence that all ID proponents say that the designer would be the Abrahamic God.
LGK

UK

#12 Jul 4, 2013
Logico wrote:
I'm not necessarily sure that ID proposes that the Christian God is the only explanation. For example, it seems intelligent design by an advanced extraterrestrial species isn't ruled out, for example. Even the universe being a vast computer simulation could be an example of design. I'm not saying that I find either of these views plausible. I certainly don't find the Christian God view plausible. I'm simply stating that ID is "God did it with magic" might be true, but it doesn't seem to be the only alternative (at least from what I've read).
ID is a study of design not designer. It studies the FACT of design, not the AGENCY of design. It's important not to conflate the two.

“What, me worry?”

Since: Mar 09

I'm a racist caricature!

#13 Jul 4, 2013
LGK wrote:
<quoted text>
ID is a study of design not designer. It studies the FACT of design, not the AGENCY of design. It's important not to conflate the two.
And it's no coincidence that ID proponents all say it's the Abrahamic God that did the designing. And, it's no coincidence that there isn't a shred of scientific research about it, because it's a conclusion that's been arrived at first, just hoping for something...ANYTHING...to support it. Right now, though, there's just arguments from ignorance going for it. That ain't how science works.

What are cdesign proponentsists?
The Dude

#14 Jul 5, 2013
Logico wrote:
I'm not necessarily sure that ID proposes that the Christian God is the only explanation. For example, it seems intelligent design by an advanced extraterrestrial species isn't ruled out, for example.
Indeed. Except for the fact that the mooks who invented ID have since openly admitted that ID = Goddidit with magic. This can easily be seen in the Wedge Document and creationist textbook Of Pandas And People. Plus the fact the claims that the IDers make are that the universe itself shows "evidence" of design, so that would rule out aliens who would be a product of our universe just like us.
Logico wrote:
Even the universe being a vast computer simulation could be an example of design.
Case in point. Yeah, we really could all be living in the Matrix. Nice for philosophers to wax on about when they're bored, but there is so far zero science to support it.
Logico wrote:
I'm not saying that I find either of these views plausible. I certainly don't find the Christian God view plausible. I'm simply stating that ID is "God did it with magic" might be true, but it doesn't seem to be the only alternative (at least from what I've read).
Hypothetically speaking if we divorce the concept from its inherently religious roots you are correct. Unfortunately there have been no scientific alternatives presented. Science is perfectly open to this possibility, it's just that no-one has so far presented an alternative theory or evidence to support it.
LGK wrote:
ID is a study of design not designer. It studies the FACT of design, not the AGENCY of design. It's important not to conflate the two.
That's fantastic El. So basically all IDC can tell us is that something did something, somehow, somewhere at sometime. Why doesn't anybody teach this incredibly useful "theory" in schools? Of course back in the REAL world we find that we can actually determine mechanisms and characteristics of designers when design is determined.

I see you were not able to answer my questions again. As usual. Am I a prophet or what?

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