Defining "complexity"

I don’t see how that is the case. For instance, the following strings of letters represent the outcome of a series of 50 coin tosses (H= heads, T= tails)


Number 1 could be said to be the more complex of the two, because number 2 could be summarized as simply “50 heads in a row”, whereas the first would require a more complicated description.

However, neither is more improbable than the other.

Also, I’m quite certain that if an ID proponent was gambling money on the outcome of the tosses, he would accept (1) as random, but would be convinced that (2) was designed by some cheater.

How do you determine the probability of a biological organism without taking into account the process which formed it and the complete history of all its ancestors?

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Or ‘any’ definition. Especially in a thread where giving a definition is specifically the topic of discussion.

Sure, do it in the appropriate places. This is a thread to define complexity, not complain about other things.

I can, but if pressed I could also give a working definition. But if that definition is incompatible with yours, then it doesn’t help the conversation.

So trying to understand what, specifically, the question is asking is an evasion? How does ID explain asiugfo? Remember, if you ask for clarification or definition your evading the question.

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You compute its probability of occurrence under the chance hypothesis.

So this sentence is complex under ID meaning of the word.

You’re plain wrong here. This sentence is complex, whatever the way it was produced.

There is no such thing as ‘the chance hypothesis’. Presumably you mean by the phrase, ‘the not-designed hypothesis’. But ‘not-designed’ isn’t a process – it’s all possible processes that don’t include design. So how do you calculate the probability?

ETA: Also, you defined ‘complex’ as ‘improbable’. Did you actually mean ‘improbable apart from design’?


Which chance hypothesis? You’re assuming there is only one, which is obviously a false assumption.

Example: what’s the chance of rolling a 6?

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A valid point. I am one who likes to keep threads “on topic”.

Well if anything, I posted my (seemingly odd) answer to Faizel’s question partially because I thought this was a good discussion to have. His question went unasked for over a week. I had a feeling a response like mine might get the dialog going some more. Which it seemed to do.

At the same time, if you noiticed, there was a subtle commentary on the topic in broad. I actually recall once hearing an evolution respond to the ‘increased complexity’ topic by responding with “well corn is more complex than humans”.

That’s an interesting point.

It is highly improbable that an author would write the exact combination of words that comprise Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Yet, there it is.

And it is also highly improbable that the exact sequence of mutations that led to the existence of the bacterial flagellum would have occurred. Yet, there it is.


here is a line of text as an example
asdij gifje okaosd rtokdifg qwoe fpg

Both lines contain 36 characters (including spaces). Which is more complex?

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Without knowing how that person was defining complexity, I can’t speak to the validity of it. I am sure that I could, if I wanted to, come up with a definition of ‘complexity’ such that corn was more ‘complex’, but I could come up with another that put humans on top. This is why clear definitions are important.


Please explain exactly how I am wrong.

Did you generate that sentence by typing random characters?
Is the probability of generating that sentence by random characters exactly the same as the probability of it being written as a response in this thread?
Or does what you call something matter even when you’re completely wrong?

Either one of these is correct, or I’m not wrong at all.

Over to you.

Is an ear of corn more complex than a fertilised human ovum?

I see only 36.

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I didn’t count them, I just looked at the cursor column. Which is, I now remember, the next one over.

Complexity should obviously be determined based on the number of nested long terminal repeat retrotransposon insertions one’s genome possesses. In which case, corn has human beat by a mile!



WAAAAAY more complex than humans, but probably less complex than Paris japonica.

Incidentally, I once had a chat with a postdoc working on salamander genome assembly. Sounds like it’s a nightmare!

The probability of getting that particular sentence (a string of words) by chance alone is certainly possible but highly improbable, but the chance of getting any sentence doesn’t suffer the same degree of improbability.

More importantly, you generated that sentence not by chance, but conscious effort, so computing the probability of forming that sentence by chance seems irrelevant.

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