One of Dembski's approaches to determining whether a set of data is the result of design is whether it is compressible. Thus, the series of alleged dice throws 1111111111 is suspicious, while 4124262422 is not suspicious. One of Dembski's explanations is that the former can be easily compressed (e.g., with a run length encoding, say "1*10") while the latter cannot. McGrew offers the following objection: "We can tell instantly that novels and software code are the products of intelligent agency, though neither War and Peace nor Microsoft Word is algorithmically compressible." This is embarrassingly false. War and Peace and Microsoft Word are algorithmically compressible. For instance, take Microsoft Word:
$ wc -c WINWORD.EXESo, yes, Microsoft Word compressed by about a half. How about War and Peace?
$ bzip2 < WINWORD.EXE | wc -c
$ wc -c WarAndPeace.txtSo, the compressed version is 27% of the original. Oops! Seems like Dembski's criterion works for Word and War and Peace.
$ bzip2 WarAndPeace.txt
$ wc -c WarAndPeace.txt.bz2
However, we can easily make Dembski's criterion fail. I'll just do it with War and Peace because it's out of copyright.[note 1]
$ mv WarAndPeace.txt.bz2 WarAndPeace.compressedSo, when I try to compress the compressed version of War and Peace, I get a result that's 0.3% larger. In other words, the compressed version of War and Peace fails the Dembski criterion. Obviously, compression cannot always be iterated successfully, or we'd compress every finite text to nothing. But my WarAndPeace.compressed file is just as much the product of intelligent design as WarAndPeace.txt. In fact, it is the product of a greater amount of design: there is Tolstoy's authorship, and there is the Julian Seward's design of the bzip2 algorithm.
$ bzip2 WarAndPeace.compressed
$ wc -c WarAndPeace.compressed.bz2
Now, could there be an algorithm that could compress my WarAndPeace.compressed file? No doubt. For instance, I could decompress it with bunzip and then apply a more efficient compression algorithm, like LZMA. However, there is a limit to this approach.