Posted by: Jeremy Fox | March 3, 2012

From the archives: Are there inherently complex ecological phenomena?

Another favorite from the archives, in which I explain why community assembly is like a chess endgame–and why sometimes neither can be comprehended by human beings.


  1. This post, along with “are some general ecological concepts TOO general? (May 12, 2011), and “Species pools and the fallacy of composition” (November 22, 2011), are posts I keep going back to. If you want to start a philosophy category on this blog, these have my vote.


    • I’m sincerely flattered by the thought that there are any posts on this blog that anyone would want to keep going back to. Thanks.

  2. Ever thought of spin doctoring inherent complexity into an antidote against irreducible complexity? If inherently complex things, like chess endgames, can be understood by unintelligent algorithms but not by intelligent designers …

    • Clever thought, although I wouldn’t say that the algorithms “understand” these complex chess endgames. Computers can play them perfectly because they literally just have all the moves stored in memory.

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