A phrase used by William Dembski in a (I was about to say node there, I must be an addict) an essay about intelligent design1. An example given to explain this ..odd.. phrase is that of an extraterrestrial message in the form of a (long) string of primes. The 'complexity' in this sequence is in the length (!) and the 'specified' is in the choice of primes. That is, one prime would'n't be complex while many random numbers would'n't be 'specified'.

Apart from the idiosyncratic definition of complex, the real problem is in the specification. Who specified primes? The (supposed) aliens chose the sequence and we specified which sequences are 'intelligent'. Arguments about S.E.T.I. aside (I mean it!) the definition seems meaningless :

"Specified complexity is reliably correlated with the effects of intelligence"

If (specified = intelligent) then this statement is trivially true. We are intelligent, and if we specify a sequence to be intelligent then it is defined to be so. It's the opposite of GIGO - intelligence in, intelligence out.
1 : www.discovery.org - find the article yourself.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.