Criminal Investigation and Intelligent Design

This article argues that criminal investigation is applied intelligent design.

When a cop seeks motive or to investigate conformity to modus operandi, he or she is actually using concepts foundational to intelligent design. Specifically, the investigator assumes the teleological nature of intelligence and that intelligence is the source of complex specified information (CSI).

Investigators also employ a foundational method underpinning both the theory of evolution and the theory of ID when building a case account. That approach being abductive reasoning or inference to the best explanation.

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause. Intelligent design involves many concepts including irreducible complexity and others, but I am a particular fan of establishing the likelihood of intelligent design through the concept of specified complexity as formulated by William Dembski.

Dembski provides the following examples to demonstrate the concept: “A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex. A long sentence of random letters is complex without being specified. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified.”

A modus operandi is also specified and complex. When a detective perceives a number of events to be consistent with a modus operandi, that investigator rationally speculates there may be a common agent or set of agents at work.

A common mode of operation could alternatively be explained by coincidence or structural and environmental patterns, but these explanations become increasingly unlikely as the pattern of information persists over time and increases in specified complexity. At a certain point it becomes most likely, though never certain, that there is an intelligent cause. The fact that detectives are often right provides significant empirical validity for intelligent design.

When an investigator seeks to establish motive they perform a seperate application of intelligent design. They are assuming the teleological nature of intelligence. Motive is a necessary for any teleological actor by definition. Economics agrees with this assumption of motive and teleology within humans, further specifying that the motive is the maximization of utility. It could also be argued that the rational actor model and the Austrian Action Axiom both validate intelligent design.

When an investigator seeks to build an account of a case or sequence of events they are using abductive reasoning. Darwin utilized abductive reasoning, or inference to the best explanation, to support his theory of evolution. This method is also used by ID proponents to support the theory of intelligent design.

The validity of intelligent design entails some expected validity for its presupposed definition of intelligence. This is cool because there is a big debate right now over how to define intelligence and whether or not it is actually a thing.


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