PINEHURST, N.C. – David Gossett – yes, that David Gossett – is competing in this week’s U.S. Open, but before we get into the circuitous route he’s taken from U.S. Amateur champion to PGA Tour champion to mini-tour player trying to scratch and claw his way back, let’s examine just how he got here. He played in an 18-hole local qualifier in Austin, Texas, but lost the chance to advance to a sectional qualifier in a playoff. After that, he had to compete in another four-hole playoff, beating fellow blast from a more recent U.S. Open past in Beau Hossler, just to earn alternate status. So Gossett traveled to the Memphis, Tenn., sectional just hoping that his number would get called – and it did. He then proceeded to shoot 66-69 and, well, here he is, competing alongside the world’s best players for the first time since withdrawing from his last PGA Tour start more than four years ago. “I hope to win the golf tournament,” he insists. “I wouldn’t throw down a $150 entry fee if I didn’t think I could win.” The journey from sectional qualifier alternate to U.S. Open champion would be a script ripe for Hollywood – and it would inversely mirror that of his career arc until now. Gossett was all-everything as an amateur. He was a two-time All-America selection at the University of Texas, won the 1999 U.S. Amateur and made the cut at the next year’s Masters Tournament. Upon turning professional, while still a member of the developmental circuit that was then known as the Buy.com Tour, Gossett won the 2001 John Deere Classic to claim his full PGA Tour status. A star, it appeared, was born. Except it all went wrong within a few years. In 2002, he made the cut in 18 of 29 starts with three top-10s. Not bad at all. The next year, he made the cut in 18 of 28 starts with one top-10. Still fine. The year after that, he made the cut in two of 25 starts with no top-10s. And it just went downhill from there. He missed the second stage of Q-School numerous years in a row. One time he missed advancing by about 10 shots. If there was a low point, that was it. 114th U.S. Open: Full tee times 114th U.S. Open: Articles, videos and photos “I kind of got my wires crossed trying to get better and improving my mechanics,” he explains. “I felt there for a while I needed to improve my mechanics to do better than 80th and 100th on the money list on the PGA Tour. I wasn’t contending in the majors or having a crack at winning these type of tournaments. I changed my method on what I did, and it didn’t go so well. There were a couple of years of playing really poorly.” He states this matter-of-factly. There is no wistful pining for the good ol’ days, no outward annoyance at having to rehash the story of how his career went south. In fact, if you ask him, Gossett doesn’t think it’s a sad tale at all. He just believes the second act to his career hasn’t been written yet. “I’m 35 years old,” he says. “When I grew up, when I was 10 years old, players played in their peak at 35 and they were comfortable, more at ease where they were in life, more experienced and they seemed to win these major championships. “A few years later, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Tiger Woods came by and kind of rewrote the experience and now there’s a different age group playing this year than it was in 1999 or 1989 U.S. Open. So I absolutely know and believe that physically, obviously, I can do it. It’s just a function of continuing down the road and doing it.” He has three kids now, ages 3, 15 months and 5 months. He primarily plays on the Adams Tour these days, sponsored by what he jokingly refers to as “David Gossett and Company.” After all these years, after all the frustration and hardship, he still has a sense of humor about it. “I keep telling my wife the private plane is in the shop,” he says with a smile. “Can’t find the mechanic.” Maybe it’s like the old saying: Gotta keep laughing to avoid crying. If Gossett has shed tears along the way, they’ve long since dried up. He isn’t here at Pinehurst to rekindle the past, but instead to keep on plugging away toward the future. The guy who was once a can’t-miss kid isn’t ready to concede that he’s missed. He’s still trying to prove that it’s a work in progress. “I don’t want to quit,” he says. “I don’t to want to give up on my dream. This is what I want to do. So I’m going to keep after it.”
SANTO ANTONIO DA SERRA, Portugal – Bad weather disrupted the Madeira Islands Open for a second straight day on Friday as organizers were forced to suspend the first round again. Play was stopped after heavy rain flooded the greens on the Clube de Golf Santo da Serra course, with Denmark’s Joachim B. Hansen holding the clubhouse lead after a 4-under 68. He was one shot ahead of England’s Andrew Marshall and French pair Adrien Saddier and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet. The four were among roughly half the field able to complete the first round. Play is scheduled to resume on Saturday. On Thursday, heavy winds sweeping the Portuguese archipelago kept play from starting and led to organizers reducing the event to 54 holes. Last year, heavy fog during the first three days of the event forced organizers to reduce it to 36 holes.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Jeff Maggert didn’t let the missed putts haunt him when he faced the most pressurized one of the day. Maggert won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first Champions Tour major title, beating Kevin Sutherland with a 3-foot par putt on the first hole of a playoff. He missed from a similar distance on No. 17 and failed to hole other modest putts over the final nine holes in a day-long, back-and-forth Shoal Creek scramble. ”No one likes to miss 3-footers,” Maggert said. ”It doesn’t matter if you’re a 20-handicapper or a golf pro. When you miss a few of them, you start to second-guess yourself. On 18, I said, ‘Hey, you missed it, no big deal, on 17. Let’s just go to your routine and your game plan and try to put a good stroke on it.’ ”I was nervous, shaking a little bit.” It didn’t show in his stroke on the straight-on putt. Sutherland two-putted for bogey to set up Maggert for the winning shot on the 18th hole. Maggert closed with an even-par 72 to match Sutherland at 14-under 274. Sutherland had a 71. Maggert’s only previous Champions Tour win came in Mississippi last year in his first start on the 50-and-over tour. He won three times on the PGA Tour, the last in the 2006 St. Jude Classic. Sutherland had his second runner-up finish of the year and remains stuck at one career win in 544 tournaments spread across the PGA, Champions and Web.com tours. Maggert won $345,000 and moved into the points lead after the first of five majors. Sutherland’s tee shot on the playoff hole dropped into the left bunker a few feet from the lip and about 130 yards from the green. His next shot landed near fans lining the fairway and he was left needing a long putt to make par. Sutherland said a nearly day-long struggle with his driver ”reared its ugly head at the last moment and got underneath the lip of the bunker and didn’t have much of a play really. Couldn’t get it to the green.” He said jitters weren’t a problem, though. ”I was as relaxed as you could possibly be,” Sutherland said. ”I was much more relaxed on the 19th hole than I was on the first hole.” Jeff Hart and Gene Sauers both shot 69 to tie for third at 11 under, three shots back. Michael Allen (68), Bernhard Langer (70), two-time winner Tom Lehman (69) and defending champion Kenny Perry (70) were 9 under. Both players parred the 18th hole the first time to force the playoff. Maggert needed to make a three-footer to stay alive, similar to the one he missed on the previous hole. ”Second time’s the charm,” Maggert said, adding that the shot on 17 ”was a putt that I was expecting to walk up and tap it in.” It was a change-up after Maggert had birdied the final two holes each of the previous two days. Maggert’s the first 36-hole leader to hold on for the win at the tournament since Tom Watson in 2003. Maggert and Sutherland traded birdies on No. 15 to remain deadlocked after jockeying for position the past two days and then set up similar tap-ins on 16. Sutherland had reclaimed the edge with an eagle on the par-5 third hole, while Maggert bogeyed for a three-stroke turnaround. He regrouped with a birdie on No. 6 while Sutherland had three bogeys on the first nine holes for a 1-over 32. Maggert had three-putted from five feet on No. 12, saying he had trouble gauging the speed of the greens after overnight rains. Hart, meanwhile, managed his first top-three finish on the Champions Tour, having finished no better than 29th in his three previous events this season. He extended his string without a bogey to 54 holes and finished with a birdie. Hart’s two bogeys was the fewest in a Tradition. ”At that point, I didn’t care where I finished,” Hart said. ”But I didn’t want to blow the non-bogey string on the final hole.” Sauers ended with back-to-back birdies. He has finished in the top three over the last two majors he’s played, losing a playoff to Colin Montgomerie in last year’s U.S. Senior Open.
IRVING, Texas – Steven Bowditch positioned himself Saturday for his second PGA Tour win in Texas. Hometown favorite Jordan Spieth might have to keep waiting for his first. Bowditch shot a 4-under 65 on Saturday in the AT&T Byron Nelson to take a two-stroke lead and leave Spieth six shots back heading into the final round. On a mostly sunny day that started with the second straight three-hour delay because of earlier rain, Bowditch got to 13-under 195. The Australian, who won the Texas Open last year in San Antonio for his lone PGA Tour title, was much steadier a day after a wild second round of seven birdies and six bogeys. “I was able to grind it out and still create not a bad golf score yesterday when things were looking not so good,” Bowditch said. “It was pretty important yesterday I felt just to put myself in position to go again.” Dustin Johnson was in the group tied for second after the day’s low round of 62 on the rain-altered par 69 at TPC Four Seasons. AT&T Byron Nelson Championship: Articles, videos and photos Jonathan Randolph, playing with Spieth and sitting 266 spots behind him in the world ranking, briefly held the lead but went in the water on 18 for a double bogey that dropped him into a tie with Johnson, Texan Jimmy Walker, Scott Pinckney and Jon Curran. Pinckney shot 64, Randolph 65, and Walker and Curran 67. Spieth had a 68. The Masters champion was tied for 18th. “I just didn’t have it,” said Spieth, whose first PGA Tour start was in the Nelson as a 16-year-old amateur five years ago. Curran, the rookie who shared the second-round lead with Bowditch and Walker, rallied with three straight birdies late in the round. Clouds gradually disappeared during the afternoon and the forecast is clear for Sunday. But the course is still soggy enough that the normally par-4 14th will remain a pitch-and-putt par 3 barely longer than 100 yards for the third straight round. PGA Tour officials believe it’s the first par-69 course in records going back to 1983. Threesomes will play off both tees again Sunday to give the course more time to dry, and the final par total will be 277 after the first round played at the normal 70. “All the players were talking about it at the start of this week, it’s more than likely going to be a 54-hole tournament, even possibly a 36-hole tournament,” Bowditch said. “To be sitting here Saturday night – I think it’s a perfect day tomorrow – it’s pretty amazing.” Bowditch, who held the lead alone after the first round, battled some marshy conditions to stay on top. The 31-year-old who lives in the Dallas area had his only bogey at No. 9, when his tee shot went way right into a water hazard and he had to take the drop in a mushy part of the rough. The squish of his footsteps could be heard as he spent several minutes discussing his lie with rules official Peter Dachisen before finally hitting. Bowditch shook his head as he walked while the ball rolled onto a cart path behind a bunker left of the hole. He missed a par putt. “We couldn’t find anywhere to drop it,” Bowditch said. “So, just took time. Probably happened all day with everyone.” Spieth, the world No. 2 and FedEx Cup points leader, missed short birdie putts on his first two holes and never could make a strong push despite another large gallery urging every shot to go in. That almost happened on the best spectator hole, the par-3 17th, when Spieth’s tee shot landed less than a foot from the pin before backing up and settling about 8 feet away. Fittingly on a frustrating day, Spieth left the putt on the edge of the cup, bending down to stare at it for a few seconds in case it dropped before the Dallas native tapped it in. “When I was walking up there I was a little upset it wasn’t a tap-in,” said Spieth, who finished second in the other three Texas events this year – including the water-logged Colonial last week – and got his other tour win at the Valspar Championship in Florida a month before the Masters. “It was a really cool shot. Fun to hit. Crowd went crazy.” Randolph played a six-hole stretch in 5 under, including an eagle at the par-5 seventh. He was a stroke up on Bowditch after making about a 25-footer at the par-4 12th, with Bowditch pulling even again after almost driving the green on the 323-yard, par-4 11th. Johnson, who won the Cadillac Championship at Doral in March for his first win since a six-month hiatus for personal reasons, had four birdies in five holes on the front and finished his round by putting his approach at the par-4 18th inside 5 feet for a birdie. “It’s a fun course to play,” said Johnson, who has finished seventh or better in three of his past four Nelson appearances going back to 2009. “Got to hit all kinds of shots. If you’re hitting the ball well, you can make a lot of birdies.”
RENO, Nev. – Zack Sucher took the first-round lead in the Barracuda Championship, scoring 18 points Thursday in the PGA Tour’s only modified Stableford event. Sucher had nine birdies in his bogey-free round at Montreux Golf and Country Club for a three-point lead over Patrick Rodgers. Under the modified Stableford format, players receive 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, 0 for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse. ”I think it’s the format I needed with the year that I’ve had,” Sucher said. ”Like, ‘All right, let’s go out and like don’t try to post a number, just make a bunch of birdies.”’ Sucher has made only four cuts in 16 starts in his first season on the PGA Tour. The 28-year-old former Alabama-Birmingham player won the Web.com Tour’s Midwest Classic last year. ”I had last week off, which was nice,” Sucher said. ”Worked on a few things with my coach, and they all panned out good today. … I kept it in play and, obviously, I putted really well, which was the key.” Rodgers had eight birdies and a bogey. ”I scored it really well today,” Rodgers said. ”Took advantage of the easy holes and made a lot of birdies when I had chances to. I felt comfortable on the greens. The greens are nice and smooth this morning. And I was obviously really happy with it.” The 23-year-old from Stanford has earned enough money through sponsor exemptions to become a special temporary member of the PGA Tour. With just over $800,000, most of that from a runner-up finish in the Wells Fargo Championship in May, he is virtually assured of a PGA Tour card for next season. Rodgers won the Web.com Tour’s Colombia Championship in February. ”Obviously, starting on the Web and getting a win under my belt gave me a lot of confidence and freed me up to take advantage of some opportunities out on tour,” Rodgers said. ”To take advantage of that there in Charlotte and lock up special temporary status was huge and has really freed me up this summer. Although I haven’t played my best as of late, I feel really comfortable with where I am and I’m excited about next year being out here full time.” Ricky Barnes was third with 14 points. After bogeys on the par-4 14th and 17th, he closed with a birdie on par-5 18th. ”You hate kind of giving two points back on the last four holes when you really haven’t missed a shot, haven’t been in much trouble,” Barnes said. ”So to get that last one, after hitting a good drive and a good second shot, we just misjudged about a club on the second shot, it was a good finish.” David Toms and J.J. Henry were tied for fourth with 13 points, and Robert Garrigus, Billy Hurley III, Andres Romero, Jonas Blixt and Tom Hoge followed at 12. Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy closed with a double bogey for a minus-1 total. Last year, he finished with a tournament-record 49 points for a five-point victory.
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – Stroke-play medalist Travis Vick held off Patrick Welch 2 and 1 on Wednesday in the first round of match play in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. The 16-year-old Vick, from Houston, lost three of four holes to take a 1-up lead to the par-5 17th, then hit a 4-iron approach to set up a winning two-putt birdie. ”It’s a good feeling, a sigh of relief,” Vick said. ”It’s a tough position to be in. I was subconsciously thinking, ‘If I lose this match being 4 up, that’s kind of embarrassing’.” Vick topped the 64 match-play qualifiers at The Honors Course by three strokes, opening with a course-record 64 and finishing at 8-under 136. Welch, also 16, is from Providence, Rhode Island. He won the inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National as an eighth-grader. In the second round, Vick will face Teddy Zinsner of Alexandria, Virgina. Zinsner beat Adrien Pendaries of France 3 and 1. Second-seeded Eugene Hong of Sanford, Florida, beat Manuel Girona Spain, 5 and 4. Cole Hammer of Houston also advanced, beating Fisher Vollendorf Fayetteville, Arkansas, 2 and 1. Hammer qualified for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
ENDICOTT, N.Y. – Michael Bradley shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. The 52-year-old Bradley had five birdies and a bogey in the rain-delayed round to reach 11-under 133 at En-Joie Golf Club. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, he’s seeking his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. Bart Bryant and Marco Dawson were tied for second. Bryant, the 2013 winner at En-Joie for his lone Champions title, had a 67. Dawson shot 70. Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open Wes Short Jr. (65), Clark Dennis (70) and Tom Gillis (69) were 9 under, and Kenny Perry (69) was 7 under with first-round leader Doug Garwood (73), Mark Calcavecchia (69), Woody Austin (71), Jerry Haas (68) and Scott Parel (68). Perry won the 3M Championship two weeks ago in Minnesota. Bernard Langer, the 2014 winner, was 5 under after a 69. Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 71 to get to 1 under. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour’s 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, was 6 over after rounds of 73 and 77.
Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Share Life Sciences On Origin of Life, Synthetic Chemist James Tour Delivers Chastisement to Jeremy EnglandDavid [email protected]_klinghofferAugust 11, 2017, 11:35 AM Recommended As a postscript to Brian Miller’s reply to MIT physicist Jeremy England, see this from the famed synthetic organic chemist James Tour, writing for the online journal Inference. In “An Open Letter to My Colleagues,” Tour sets out this way:Life should not exist. This much we know from chemistry. In contrast to the ubiquity of life on earth, the lifelessness of other planets makes far better chemical sense. Synthetic chemists know what it takes to build just one molecular compound. The compound must be designed, the stereochemistry controlled. Yield optimization, purification, and characterization are needed. An elaborate supply is required to control synthesis from start to finish. None of this is easy. Few researchers from other disciplines understand how molecules are synthesized.His colleagues are fooling themselves if they imagine otherwise. He gets around to England, not naming him except in a footnote, at the end:If one understands the second law of thermodynamics, according to some physicists,15 “You [can] start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant.”16The quote, remarkably, is from Jeremy England in an interview with Natalie Wolchover for Quanta. Tour also cites England’s article “Statistical Physics of Self-Replication,” in the Journal of Chemical Physics, and one of the most absurdly titled God-bashing articles we’ve come across, “God is on the Ropes: The Brilliant New Science That Has Creationists and the Christian Right Terrified,” by Paul Rosenberg writing for Salon. Rosenberg quotes England from the same Quanta article, “[U]nder certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.” Oh, really, does it?Tour goes on, referring to the notion that random atoms will become a plant if given plenty of light and plenty of time:The interactions of light with small molecules is well understood. The experiment has been performed. The outcome is known. Regardless of the wavelength of the light, no plant ever forms.We synthetic chemists should state the obvious. The appearance of life on earth is a mystery. We are nowhere near solving this problem. The proposals offered thus far to explain life’s origin make no scientific sense.Beyond our planet, all the others that have been probed are lifeless, a result in accord with our chemical expectations. The laws of physics and chemistry’s Periodic Table are universal, suggesting that life based upon amino acids, nucleotides, saccharides and lipids is an anomaly. Life should not exist anywhere in our universe. Life should not even exist on the surface of the earth.17It’s somehow more satisfying that England isn’t identified in the body of the article, but only in a footnote. That is a memorable instance of a senior scientist quietly taking a junior colleague out behind the woodshed. For more on the general subject, see Tour’s slashing 2016 lecture, “The Origin of Life: An Inside Story.”Image: James Tour, via University of Waterloo/YouTube.H/t: Granville Sewell. TagsChemistryJames TourJeremy EnglandJournal of Chemical PhysicsMITNatalie Wolchoverorigin of lifePaul RosenbergPeriodic TablephysicsQuantaRice UniversitySalonsynthetic chemistry,Trending Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Evolution Intelligent Design
A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Medicine The Costs of Defensive ScienceSarah ChaffeeMarch 15, 2018, 12:11 PM Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man 4.0.4I used to compete in speech and debate, and one topic I had to study was medical malpractice. In our highly litigious society, physicians and other health-care professionals often practice what is known as “defensive medicine.” This means they overuse extra tests and other services to protect themselves, or avoid taking on high-risk clients. They seek cover in case of a bad outcome.Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, and in small amounts maybe it wouldn’t be a big issue. But a paper in the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA Internal Medicine cites a study finding that defensive medicine costs $46 billion each year.Here’s one story from the American Academy of Family Physicians website:One family physician with firsthand knowledge of the use of guidelines in litigation is Dan Merenstein, M.D., of Washington, D.C. As a third-year resident trained in a shared decision-making model, in 1999 he discussed the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening with a 53-year-old male patient who subsequently declined to have a prostate-specific antigen test. Merenstein didn’t see the patient again until four years later, when the patient became a plaintiff in a lawsuit, seeking damages from Merenstein and his residency. The patient had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the years following his physical exam with Merenstein.…Practicing FPs should proceed carefully. Merenstein, now a fellow at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, at one point questioned whether he would return to practice medicine. He currently sees only urgent-care patients and admits, “I order more tests now, am more nervous around patients; I am not the doctor I should be.”But Merenstein says he still believes in evidence-based medicine.“I hope I’ll go back to the way I should practice, but I’m not sure,” he says. “I don’t want to go through that again.”When I read that it struck me as somehow…familiar. Dr. Merenstein practiced “evidence-based medicine,” in line with his training, according to what he held to be “the way I should practice.” And in his professional life, he got burned for it. Now he practices what you might call avoidance-based medicine, trying to keep himself safe.Compare this to the situation of evolution critics and the way that, out of an abundance of caution, they keep quiet about their ideas. Scientists, professors, and students hold their tongues because they are afraid of career repercussions. They’ve heard of colleagues who stepped out of line and were shunned by the scientific academic community or otherwise had their professional lives ruined. They take refuge from smothering orthodoxy in what you might call defensive science.Defensive medicine is a problem because a physician’s chief concern should be for his patient, not for the cost of his malpractice insurance. Similarly, a scientist should be free to objectively consider and advance new ideas — in short, practice evidence-based scientific inquiry — not just adhere to the official positions of influential professional organizations.In both medicine and the study of biological origins, there are prices that come from being forced into a defensive posture. In medicine the cost is measured in billions of dollars, and in the quality of health care. In biology, there’s a human cost as scientists and educators work under a cloud of threat, apprehensive that someone may find out about their private doubts and convictions.There’s a heavy cost for us all, too, if we care about the pursuit of truth. We want to know what’s true about how life arose and diversified, but the demand for orthodoxy works to keep us in the dark.As a result of defensive medicine, various kinds of tort reform have been proposed. In the context of origins science, for scientists, professors, and students, the solution is academic freedom, aka Free Science.Photo source: National Institutes of Health, via Wikimedia Commons. Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Sarah ChaffeeNow a teacher, Sarah Chaffee served as Program Officer in Education and Public Policy at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. She earned her B.A. in Government. During college she interned at Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office and for Prison Fellowship Ministries. Before coming to Discovery, she worked for a private land trust with holdings in the Southwest. Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Tagsacademic freedomAmerican Academy of Family PhysiciansAmerican Medical AssociationBaltimoreDan Merensteindefensive medicinedefensive scienceevidenceevolutionFree ScienceinsuranceJAMA Internal MedicineJohns Hopkins UniversitylitigationmalpracticemedicineorthodoxypatientsphysiciansRobert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars ProgramWashington D.C,Trending Recommended Evolution Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share
Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Recommended Tags“fair lottery” modelAleksandar Milosavljevićalgorithmic significance methodBIO-Complexitycookie jarextremenessGeorge D. Montañezhypotheseskardis valuemodelsp-valuespermutationspecification functionsspecification massspecified complexitystatistical hypothesis testingtail probabilitiesWilliam Dembski,Trending Editor’s note: We have been reviewing and explaining a new article in the journal BIO-Complexity, “A Unified Model of Complex Specified Information,” by George D. Montañez. For earlier posts, see:“BIO-Complexity Article Offers an Objective Method for Weighing Darwinian Explanations”“Measuring Surprise — A Frontier of Design Theory”“Unifying Specified Complexity: Rediscovering Ancient Technology”How can one decide among competing explanations? In everyday life, we use an assortment of techniques to weigh and reject explanations for the phenomena we observe. For example, when walking into the kitchen and observing a trail of crumbs and an opened cookie jar, we can often infer that a child has enjoyed a before-dinner treat. When confronted, the child’s explanation that cookie monsters ate the missing treat is rejected without much reflection, given our knowledge of the world and its regularities.Science requires us to be more precise when rejecting explanations. We aspire to quantify how plausible or implausible explanations are before rejecting them. For probabilistic explanations (namely those that propose some probabilistic process as an explanation for the event observed), we can precisely characterize how likely or unlikely an observation is under the proposed process, and we can reject the processes put forward as explanations (called hypotheses or models) which do not make the observation likely. Doing so rigorously is what we call statistical hypothesis testing.Rejecting Explanations and Low-Probability EventsWhen we observe an event we often seek to understand by what process it occurred. Given enough observations, we can formulate a model of the process, which for randomized events will typically be a probabilistic model. This model, created to explain what we observe, should render the observations reasonably likely (this, of course, is why the model was proposed in the first place). When a model proposed to explain our observations does not render the type of events we observe likely, we tend to reject that model as a plausible explanation of the events observed.Consider a state lottery where someone related to a lottery official wins six jackpot lotteries in a single year. Under a “fair lottery” model, a past lottery winner is extremely unlikely to win another jackpot in the same year, let alone five more. Such an unexpected event will send us (and state regulators) looking for alternative explanations to this rare event, rejecting the “lucky fair lottery” model as a plausible explanation.However, low probability alone cannot be used to reject models. Take, for example, a deck of 52 distinguishable playing cards, randomly shuffled and placed on a table in a row. Any particular random sequence of cards (called a permutation) has a probability of roughly 10 − 80 of occurring, which is about the same probability of taking a random electron from the known universe (somewhere from a gas cloud thousands of light years away, for example) and having someone else randomly choose the same exact electron out of all the possible electrons they could have chosen in the universe. If any probability can be considered small, surely this probability qualifies. This means the specific sequence of cards observed was extremely unlikely under the random shuffle model, even though that was the true explanation for the event.This seeming paradox disappears when we ask “what is the probability of the event observed or any more extreme occurring?” This is a better question. Once we ask that question, we see that the probability that we would observe a sequence with a probability of 10 − 80 or smaller under the random shuffle model is actually 1! It is guaranteed to occur, since every permutation has the same small probability of occurring. Counter-intuitively, a set of enough small-probability events can add up to one large-probability event. So our observed event wasn’t actually surprising at all, when describing the event as “a low-probability sequence is observed.” This tells us that we should consider classes of surprising events when deciding whether or not to reject models as explanations.Grouping Surprising Events: P-ValuesScientists often make use of p-values (sometimes viewed as tail probabilities) in determining when models are poor explanations for observed events. The p-value is the probability of observing an event at least as extreme as the one actually observed, under the proposed model. When an event has very small p-value, this can be used as evidence against the proposed explanation.P-values avoid the low-probability “paradox” we encountered earlier by considering not just the observed event but also any that is at least as extreme as the one observed. By doing this, when all events are low-probability events under a model (such as for a uniform probability distribution on a very large space), we will not reject the proposed model simply because we observe a low-probability event occurring: the p-value in that case will be large. However, if not all events are equally low-probability, yet we observe one (leading to an extremely small p-value under that definition of extreme), we would have evidence against the model in question.We see that mere improbability of a particular outcome isn’t enough to justify rejecting a model. However, small tail probability is. P-values use “extremeness” of test statistics as a threshold to compute tail probabilities.There are other ways to compute tail probabilities, using different functions to measure extremity. Specified complexity provides an alternative way of computing tail probabilities which can be used to reject proposed explanations of events.Specified Complexity and Hypothesis TestingA recently published paper in BIO-Complexity (Montañez 2018) by machine learning researcher and computer science professor George D. Montañez makes the connection between specified complexity and statistical hypothesis testing explicit. This connection was independently discovered by Aleksander Milosavljević (Milosavljević 1993) and William Dembski (Dembski 2005), who both showed (to varying degrees) that specified complexity models can be viewed as hypothesis test statistics, similar to p-values. Montañez fleshes out this relation, demonstrating that every p-value hypothesis test has an equivalent specified complexity hypothesis test, and every canonical specified complexity model can be used to bound tail probabilities in a way similar to p-values. Remarkably, specified complexity hypothesis tests can also be used in some situations where p-values cannot be computed, such as when the likelihood of a particular observation is known but nothing else about the distribution outside of that value (whereas analytic p-values will typically require knowing something about the form or shape of the distribution).This property of specified complexity models is not just of academic interest. The paper gives a table with computed cutoff values for specified complexity hypothesis tests, allowing applied researchers to make use of the computed values directly as they do with other statistical hypothesis test tables. This could allow specified complexity models to be used in fields other than intelligent design (as they have been with Milosavljević’s algorithmic significance method (Milosavljević 1993, 1995)), and to be used by those without advanced mathematical training.Bounding Tail Probability Using Specification FunctionsAs we saw, low probability is not enough to rule out explanations, but the combination of low probability and high specification is. The paper explains:The addition of specification is what allows us to control these probabilities. Considering probabilities in isolation is not enough. While unlikely events can happen often (given enough elements with low probability), specified unlikely events rarely occur. This explains why even though every sequence of one thousand coin flips is equally likely given a fair coin, the sequence of all [tails] is a surprising and unexpected outcome whereas an equally long random sequence of heads and tails is not. Specification provides the key to unlocking this riddle.What is it about observing large specification values (in conjunction with low probability of the observation) that produces small tail probabilities as a result? Montanez continues:…[S]ince the specification values are normalized, few elements can have large values. Although many elements can have low probability values (thus making the occurrence of observing any such a low-probability event probable, given enough of them), few can have low probability while being highly specified.Thus, we can think of specification functions as placing a form of “specification mass” over a space of possible outcomes, where this mass is conserved (as is real mass). We can concentrate the mass in one area of the space only by decreasing it in other areas. This implies that we cannot place large amounts of specification mass on many outcomes simultaneously. Thus, observing concentrated specification mass (i.e., a large specification value) on a single outcome makes it special and surprising: not every outcome can be like that. This not-every-outcome-can-be-like-that-ness is exactly what p-values and small tail probabilities are meant to capture. And because the outcome in question has low probability, we are assured the hypothesized process doesn’t favor it, making it occur often. This combination of low probability and high specification is what powers specified complexity hypothesis tests.Blindly Choosing Special SequencesHaving obtained a specification value for your recently discovered numeric sequence of prime numbers and learning that specified complexity models can be used as hypothesis test statistics, you decide that you’d like to rule out the hypothesis that the sequence was blindly chosen at random from among the space of all possible sequences of the first thirty-one positive integers. Of those, there are 31-11 possible sequences of the same length as your observed sequence. Under a blind uniform probability each of these has the probability 31-11 of individually occurring. Therefore, your probability estimate p(x) under the proposed model is 31-11. You combine this with your previous estimates of r and ν(x), to obtain a kardis value of κ(x) = r [p(x) / ν(x)] = 600000·(31-11/1) ≈ 2.36 × 10-11.Taking the negative log base-2 of this number, you obtain a specified complexity value of roughly 35 bits, which according to the table of test-statistic cutoff values given in the Montañez paper would allow you to reject the blind chance hypothesis at a significance level smaller than 0.0001 (actually, much smaller). Given that significance levels of 0.01 are often cited as grounds for rejection of a hypothesized model, you confidently reject the uniform chance hypothesis as an explanation for the sequence observed.But what about other random and semi-random processes? Just because you were able to reject a uniform chance model for the sequence does not necessarily mean that some other randomized process, one that is not uniform, couldn’t be responsible. What would such an explanation need to look like to avoid rejection under such hypothesis tests? You remember a section in the paper dealing with minimum plausibility baselines that may be relevant, but before continuing on, a warm nuzzle from Bertrand your dog reminds you that it is time to call it a night. A new day will bring new opportunities for investigation, with the added benefit of having a well-rested mind and body.BibliographyDembski, William A. 2005. “Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence.” Philosophia Christi 7 (2): 299–343. https://doi.org/10.5840/pc20057230.Milosavljević, Aleksandar. 1993. “Discovering Sequence Similarity by the Algorithmic Significance Method.” Proc Int Conf Intell Syst Mol Biol 1: 284–91.———. 1995. “Discovering Dependencies via Algorithmic Mutual Information: A Case Study in DNA Sequence Comparisons.” Machine Learning 21 (1-2): 35–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00993378.Montañez, George D. 2018. “A Unified Model of Complex Specified Information.” BIO-Complexity 2018 (4). http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2018.4.Photo credit: Personal Creations, via Flickr (cropped). 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