The Design Inference, 2nd Edition, 25th Anniversary Edition

The second edition of The Design Inference will be out in September 2023, exactly 25 years to the month after the first edition appeared in print. Below is the table of contents for the new edition. I was the solo author of the first edition. My colleague and good friend Winston Ewert is a full co-author on this second edition.


Table of Contents

Foreword by Michael Egnor

Introduction to the Second Edition

1 The Challenge of Small Probabilities

1.1 Historical Backdrop

1.2 The Reach of Chance

1.3 Life in the Short Run

1.4 Chance as a Side Effect of Intelligence

1.5 From Chance Elimination to Design

2 A Sampler of Design Inferences

2.1 Intellectual Property Protection

2.2 Forensic Science

2.3 Data Falsification in Science

2.4 Financial Fraud—The Madoff Scandal

2.5 Randomness

2.6 Cryptography

2.7 SETI: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

2.8 Directed Panspermia

3 Specification

3.1 Patterns That Eliminate Chance

3.2 Minimum Description Length

3.3 Events and Their Corresponding Patterns

3.4 Recognizing Patterns That Signal Design

3.5 Prespecifications

3.6 Specification-Induced Rejection Regions—The Idea

3.7 Specification-Induced Rejection Regions—The Math

3.8 Modes and Tails of Probability Distributions

4 Probabilistic Resources

4.1 Calculating Probabilistic Resources

4.2 Relative Versus Absolute Probabilistic Resources

4.3 Variations in Absolute Probabilistic Resources

4.4 Avoiding Superexponentiality by Not Double Counting

4.5 Minimizing Absolute Probabilistic Resources

4.6 Universal and Local Probability Bounds

5 Logic of the Design Inference

5.1 The Man with the Golden Arm

5.2 The Generic Chance Elimination Argument (GCEA)

5.3 Key Concepts and Predicates

5.4 The Design Inference as a Deductive Argument

5.5 From Design to Agency

5.6 The Explanatory Filter

5.7 Probabilistic Modus Tollens

6 Specified Complexity

6.1 Brief History of the Term and Idea

6.2 Description Length

6.3 Practical Approximation of Description Length

6.4 Specification and Complexity

6.5 Frequentist Interpretation

6.6 Bayesian Interpretation

6.7 Contextual Factors

6.8 Examples

7 Evolutionary Biology

7.1 Insulating Evolution Against Small Probabilities

7.2 Resetting Darwinian Evolution’s Bayesian Prior

7.3 John Stuart Mill’s Method of Difference

7.4 The Challenge of Multiple Simultaneous Changes

7.5 What to Make of Bad Design?

7.6 What’s Wrong with These Calculations?

7.7 Where to Look for Small Probabilities in Biology?

Epilogue: Beyond the Design Inference—Conservation of Information

Appendix A: A Primer on Probability and Information

A.1 The Bare Basics of Probability

A.2 Conditional Probability and Independence

A.3 Bayes’ Theorem

A.4 The Bayesian Approach to Statistical Inferences

A.5 The Fisherian Approach to Statistical Inferences

A.6 Random Variables and Search

A.7 The Privileged Place of Uniform (or Equi-) Probability

A.8 The Universality of Coin Tossing for Probability

A.9 Information as Constraint on Contingency

A.10 Shannon Information

A.11 Connecting Information to Probability and Computation

Appendix B: Select Related Topics

B.1 New Specifications from Old

B.2 Transformations of Specifications

B.3 Perturbation Neighborhoods

B.4 The Uniformizability (or Normalizability) Problem

B.5 Stopping and Waiting Times

B.6 Probabilistic Hurdles to Irreducible Complexity in Biology

B.7 The Origination Inequality

B.8 The Drake Equation

Appendix C: The First Edition of The Design Inference

C.1 Endorsements Appearing in the Hardback First Edition

C.2 Subsequent Endorsements for the First Edition

C.3 Preface to the First Edition

C.4 Acknowledgments for the First Edition

C.5 Transitioning from the First to the Second Edition