MathGrrl’s CSI Thread

MathGrrl has made considerable progress in trying to pin down the concept of CSI on Uncommon Descent.  The discussion there is becoming rather slow because of the number of comments and is also confused by a number of other discussions on different topics.  So I have created this thread for any continuing discussion.  My congratulations to Mathgrrl  – I hope the debate continues here.

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307 Responses to “MathGrrl’s CSI Thread”


  1. 1 MathGrrl March 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Mark,

    Thanks so much for setting this up! I’ll add my original post from UD here and vjtorley’s detailed response to provide some context.

  2. 2 Pachyaena March 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Apparently MathGrrl has been banned from UD by the gutless moderator Patrick. Patrick says her arguments are just the same old stuff that has already been debunked and he expects her to provide something new if she wants to be allowed to post there. What’s funny about that is that he allows the usual gang of idiots at UD to keep on posting that same old religious crap over and over and over again that they always use to prop up their agenda. Those guys just won’t provide a straight answer to a straight question.

    If there is something to ID, I’d like to see it, but I’m never going to be convinced of anything by endless references to the shroud of Turin or some painting in California, or any other religious mumbo jumbo.

    What I’d really like to see is William Dembski and Michael Behe responding to the questions MathGrrl asked. Like PZ Myers, they mostly let their minions do their speaking for them. Maybe MathGrrl should contact Dembski and Behe and ask them to come to this site to answer her questions.

  3. 3 MathGrrl March 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    After repeatedly asking for a mathematically rigorous definition of CSI at UD, kairosfocus responded with definition that raised more questions, for me, than it answered. Here’s my response to him, detailing four scenarios for which I’d like to see a detailed CSI calculation. (So far, only vjtorley has risen to the challenge and only for one scenario.)

    kairosfocus,

    For instance, the commonly encountered metric of functionally specific bits can be very simply assessed for protein coding DNA, at 2 bits per base;

    If this is your definiition of CSI, known evolutionary mechanisms are demonstrably capable of generating it in both real and simulated environments. Consider the specification of “Produces X amount of protein Y.” A simple gene duplication, even without subsequent modification of the duplicate, can increase production from less than X to greater than X. By your definition, CSI has been generated by a known, observed evolutionary mechanism with no intelligent agency involved.

    Schneider’s ev uses the specification of “A nucleotide that binds to exactly N sites within the genome.” Using only simplified forms of known, observed evolutionary mechanisms, ev routinely evolves genomes that meet the specification. The length of the genome required to meet this specification can be quite long, depending on the value of N. By your definition, CSI has been generated by those mechanisms. (ev is particularly interesting because it is based directly on Schneider’s PhD work with real biological organisms.)

    Ray’s Tierra routinely results in digital organisms with a number of specifications. One I find interesting is “Acts as a parasite on other digital organisms in the simulation.” The length of the shortest parasite is at least 22 bytes. By your definition, CSI has been generated by known, observed evolutionary mechanisms with no intelligent agency required.

    The Steiner Problem solutions described at the site linked above use the specification “Computes a close approximation to the shortest connected path between a set of points.” The length of the genomes required to meet this specification depends on the number of points, but can certainly be hundreds of bits. By your definition, these GAs generate CSI via known, observed evolutionary mechanisms with no intelligent agency required.

    By the standard you set here, CSI is by no means an indicator that an intelligent agent is involved in the creation of a particular artifact.

  4. 4 MathGrrl March 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Here’s the crux of vjtorley’s detailed response to me, showing for the first time that I’m aware a detailed calculation of CSI for a real biological system using Dembski’s own algorithm.

    . . .

    One of the scenarios you listed was gene duplication. I provided you with links to two articles by Jonathan M., showing that it doesn’t result in an increase of information. Your response? “What, specifically, is wrong with the specification I provide for the gene duplication scenario?” Que?

    Since you are fixated with CSI, then I shall refer you to Dembski’s paper, Specification: The Pattern that Signifies Intelligence . Let’s see how much you really know.

    On page 24 of his paper, Dembski defines the specified complexity Chi (minus the context sensitivity) as -log2[(10^120).Phi_s(T).P(T|H)],
    where T is the pattern in question, H is the chance hypothesis and Phi_s(T) is the number of patterns for which agent S’s semiotic description of them is at least as simple as S’s semiotic description of T.

    Now suppose a gene in an organism gets duplicated. Humans have about 30,000 genes. Duplication of just one gene in the human genome will very slightly lengthen the semiotic description of the genome. If we let (AGTCGAGTTC) denote the random sequence of bases along the gene in question, and …….. signify the rest (which are also random, let’s say), then the description of the duplicated genome will be ……..(AGTCGAGTTC)x2 instead of ……..(AGTCGAGTTC). In other words, we’re just adding two characters to the description, which is negligible.

    OK. What about P(T|H)? Given the chance hypothesis, and the length of the human genome (about 3×10^9 base pairs), the probability of a particular genome sequence is 1 in 4^(3,000,000,000). A gene has about 100,000 base pairs, so for a genome with a duplicated gene, P(T|H) is 1 in 4^(3,000,100,000).

    If the original genome is random, then Phi_s(T) will be 4^(3,000,000,000). In section 4, Dembski says that for a random, maximally complex sequence, Phi_s(T) is identical to the total number of possibilities, because the sequence is incompressible. For the duplicated genome, Phi_s(T) will be about the same, since our description is virtually identical (all we added to the verbal description was an “x2″, despite the fact that we now have an extra 100,000 bases in the duplicated genome).

    For the original genome, Phi_s(T).P(T|H) equals 4^(3,000,000,000)/4^(3,000,000,000), which equals 1. For the duplicated genome, Phi_s(T).P(T|H) equals 4^(3,000,000,000)/4^(3,000,100,000), which equals 1/4^(100,000). 4 is about 10^0.60206, so 1/4^(100,000) is approximately 10^-60206.

    For the original genome, Chi = -log2[(10^120).Phi_s(T).P(T|H)] = -log2[(10^120)]. log2(10)=3.321928094887362, so 10^120=(2^3.321928094887362)^120, or 2^398.631371. Hence Chi = -log2[(10^120)] or -398.631371.

    For the duplicated genome, Chi = -log2[(10^120).10^-60206], or -log2[10^-60086], which is -log2[(2^3.32192809488736)^-60086], or -log2[2^-199600], or 199,600.

    Now on page 24, Dembski defines a specification as a pattern whose specified complexity is greater than 1. For such a specification, we can eliminate chance.

    I note that for the duplicated genome, the specified complexity Chi is much greater than 1, so Dembski’s logic seems to imply that any instance of gene duplication is the result of intelligent agency and not chance. And it would be, if we imagine that each extra base in the duplicated genome was added to the original genome, one at a time. For the odds of adding 100,000 bases independently, which just happened to perfectly match the 100,000 bases they were sitting next to, would be staggering. But that’s not how gene duplication works. Rather, a whole gene is copied, “holus bolus”, and the copy usually sits next to the original. The extra bases are not added independently, in separate events, but together, in a single copying event. And although the occurrence of the copying event at this particular point along the human genome may well be random, the actual copying process itself is law-governed, and hence not random.

    I therefore conclude that CSI is not a useful way to compare the complexity of a genome containing a duplicated gene to the original genome, because the extra bases are added in a single copying event, which is governed by a process (duplication) which takes place in an orderly fashion, when it occurs.

    . . .

  5. 5 Eugen March 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Mathgrrl

    if you are in moderation on UD, welcome to purgatory.

  6. 6 Vincent Torley March 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Regarding CSI: on page 24 of his paper, “Specification: The Pattern that specifies Intelligence”, Professor Dembski defines the specified complexity Chi (minus the context sensitivity) as -log2[(10^120).Phi_s(T).P(T|H)],
    where T is the pattern in question, H is the chance hypothesis and Phi_s(T) is the number of patterns for which agent S’s semiotic description of them is at least as simple as S’s semiotic description of T.

    Here’s how I would amend the definition:

    Chi=-log2[(10^120).(SC/KC).PC], where SC is the Shannon complexity, KC is the Kolmogorov complexity (here defined as the length of the minimum description needed to characterize a pattern) and PC is the probabilistic complexity, defined as the probability of the pattern arising by natural non-intelligent processes. I envisage PC as a summation, where we consider all natural non-intelligent processes that might be capable of generating the pattern, calculate the probability of each process actually doing so over the lifespan of the observable universe and within the confines of the observable universe, and then sum the probabilities for all processes. Thus PC would be Sigma[P(T|H_i)], where H_i is the hypothesis that the pattern in question, T, arose through some naturalistic non-intelligent process (call it P_i). In reality, a few processes would likely dwarf all the others in importance, so PC could be simplified by ignoring the processes that had a very remote chance of generating T, relatively speaking.

    According to my definition, a string having a high ratio of Shannon complexity (here defined as the length of a pattern when it is compressed in the most efficient manner possible) to Kolmogorov complexity (here defined as the length of the minimum description needed to characterize a pattern) is more likely to be a product of design – especially if its probabilistic complexity is low. The (10^120) factor covers all events happening in the lifespan of the observable universe. Thus we can say that if Chi=-log2[(10^120).(SC/KC).PC] is greater than 1, then it is reasonable to conclude that T was designed.

    As an illustration of how Shannon complexity and Kolmogorov complexity might differ, consider the first 100 digits of pi. The Shannon complexity of these digits is 100, as they follow no set pattern and therefore cannot be compressed. However, the Kolmogorov complexity (in English) is only 22 (the length of the phrase, “first 100 digits of pi”). The ratio of the two is approximately four. The probabilistic complexity of these 100 digits is, I would say, pretty close to zero – certainly less than 10^-120. Thus if I saw a signal from outer space containing these digits in a sequence, I’d infer design.

    Can anyone think of any plausible counter-examples to my amended definition of CSI?

    • 7 Mark Frank March 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

      Vjtorley

       

      I am afraid that it seems to me that this rule for inferring design seems to take some of the problems of Dembski’s definition and makes them even worse.  In summary it is unclear, and it offers no justification for why we can infer design.  I will try to explain in more detail – and apologise for the length.

      It isn’t clear

      SC

      I don’t understand SC. Incompressible in what sense?  Shannon defined the maximum compressibility of a message, but, as I understand it, this relies on having an underlying probability model of the possible elements in the message i.e. noise.  If you know that the source is extremely likely to generate the digits of PI then receiving the digits of PI tells you almost nothing – it is the variation that is informative. Perhaps you are simply referring to the lack of repetitions?  But even the expansion of PI has places where the same digit repeats many times. Perhaps you are assuming a probability model of each element being equally likely to take all possible values and being independent of all other elements?

      The specification

      The big issue behind all of Dembski’s work has been finding an objective  way of specifying the outcome – i.e. what is it we are calculating the probability of . In this paper he uses Kolmogorov complexity to define the specification – all strings with equal or less KC. This definition is ambiguous and fails – but it is an attempt. But you are using SC and KC in a completely different way.  You are simply adjusting the probability of an outcome by this ratio – but you don’t say what the outcome is.  This leaves the whole specification issue untouched.  For example, if the string in question is 10 coin tosses and you get HHHHTHHHHH what is your specification? Is it exactly those tosses in that order, any sequence which has exactly one T, any sequence with just one tail or just one head?

      Where is the justification?

      One of the big problems with Dembski’s work is that he does not provide any justification.  He asserts that the probability of meeting a pattern that is as simple as the observed one is a measure of design – but makes  no attempt to justify this assertion except a rather vague analogy with Fisherian significance testing (which has largely been discredited by the statistical community in favour of Neumann-Pearson, comparative likelihood or Bayesian inference).  Your criterion makes even less attempt to justify itself – all you do is appeal for counter examples.  You don’t even have a probability – you have a probability multiplied by a seemingly arbitrary ratio (SC/KC).

      How we actually detect design

      Any proposed criterion for detecting design has to show why it is superior to the well established approaches for detecting any kind of hypothesis.  This is what Sober does in Evidence and Evolution.  He takes Bayesian inference and the method of comparative likelihoods and applies to the question “was life designed”.  I.e. he compares the likelihood of an outcome given design with the likelihood given natural causes.  This gets round the problem of specification as long as both use the same specification.  It is based on standard inference methods with a strong mathematical and statistical foundation.  And it makes instant sense.  In the “contact” situation the string of prime numbers is evidence for intelligence because the probability of this string arising given natural causes is incredibly low as it is for all others strings – but the probability of being generated given an intelligence with a knowledge of mathematics and a desire to communicate is comparatively very much higher.  I would argue that to use this approach at all reasonably you need to have some idea of what the comparative hypotheses are – “design” and “chance” are just too broad.  But I think this is required for any kind of inference about causes. 

  7. 8 MathGrrl March 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Eugen,

    I don’t think I’m in moderation. I posted this morning.

    I see that vjtorley responded. When I get some time later tonight or tomorrow morning I’ll see if I can reply back.

  8. 9 Pachyaena March 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Regarding who is banned (or in moderation) at UD, I got MathGrrl mixed up with Maya. So, just substitute Maya for MathGrrl in my first paragraph above. Everything else remains the same.

  9. 10 MathGrrl March 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Here’s what I posted on UD. I hope vjtorley will continue to participate here.

    vjorley,

    Thank you for your posts. This will be my very last one on this thread.

    Thanks for all your work on actually computing CSI. I hope you’ll continue to participate on Mark Frank’s blog.

    Regarding CSI: on page 24 of his paper, Dembski defines the specified complexity Chi (minus the context sensitivity) as -log2[(10^120).Phi_s(T).P(T|H)], where T is the pattern in question, H is the chance hypothesis and Phi_s(T) is the number of patterns for which agent S’s semiotic description of them is at least as simple as S’s semiotic description of T.

    Here’s how I would amend the definition:

    Chi=-log2[(10^120).(SC/KC).PC], where SC is the Shannon complexity, KC is the Kolmogorov complexity (here defined as the length of the minimum description needed to characterize a pattern) and PC is the probabilistic complexity, defined as the probability of the pattern arising by natural non-intelligent processes.

    While I understand your motivation for using Kolmogorov Chaitin complexity rather than the simple string length, the problem with doing so is that KC complexity is uncomputable. For most sequences, the most that can be said is that the minimal description is no more than the length of the string plus a constant related to the language being used to describe it. That raises the same issues related to the use of the length of the sequence in Dembski’s formulation.

    I envisage PC as a summation, where we consider all natural non-intelligent processes that might be capable of generating the pattern, calculate the probability of each process actually doing so over the lifespan of the observable universe and within the confines of the observable universe, and then sum the probabilities for all processes.

    This is another term that is impossible to calculate, although in this case it is a practical rather than a theoretical limitation. We simply don’t know the probabilities that make up PC. We don’t even know all the processes — that’s why we continue to do research.

    Computing PC based on known processes and assumed probabilities will certainly lead to many false positives. This version of CSI is therefore more a measure of our ignorance than of intelligent agency, just as Dembski’s is.

    Can you think of any plausible counter-examples?

    That’s not how science works. If you’re proposing a new metric, you need to clearly and rigorously define it, which you’ve made a good start at, and show how it actually measures what you claim it measures with some worked examples. Personally, I’d like to see it applied to my four scenarios.

    One problem you’ll immediately encounter is identifying artifacts that are not designed, so that you can show that your metric doesn’t give false positives. That’s a metaphysical question that is sure to raise challenges from some ID proponents, no matter what artifacts you choose.

  10. 11 lastyear March 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Mathgrrl,

    One problem you’ll immediately encounter is identifying artifacts that are not designed, so that you can show that your metric doesn’t give false positives. That’s a metaphysical question that is sure to raise challenges from some ID proponents, no matter what artifacts you choose.

    This is the key issue to me. I’ve tried to pin the ID crowd down on this one, because their argument always comes back to “the whole universe was designed for life”. For some reason, they ignore the gaping contradiction between the idea that you can empirically detect designed objects from non designed ones, and the idea that the entire universe was designed.

    • 12 Alan Fox March 16, 2011 at 7:12 am

      I think I recall someone posting at Telic Thoughts, “computerist”, producing something on the lines of the usual log2 calc in protein sequences. When pressed on detail he responded along the lines of “what’s the problem? Everything’s designed, anyway!”

  11. 13 Mark Frank March 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    A bit of wild conjecture. It is interesting to think what a counter-example to vjtorley’s criterion for CSI would be. Mathematically I can’t make much sense of his formula but I think qualitatively it could be described as an outcome which has these properties:

    Improbable from all known natural causes
    Not compressible, in a rather loosely defined way but he gives irrational numbers as an example
    Can be generated through a relatively short algorithm

    And yet is not designed.

    I would guess the world is full of such cases. Take almost any naturally generated binary data which has a roughly equal number of zeros and ones and where the values are more or less independent of each other e.g. whether the maximum temperature at a location exceeds (1) or is less than (0) the maximum temperature for the previous day. These values will not be entirely independent of each other – but reasonably close. Take a string of 1000 such bits.

    Any such string is certainly very improbable. 2^1000 if the values were truly independent.

    It is my guess that the many (if not all) such strings can be interpreted as the first 1000 bits of an irrational number the digits of which can be generated by a relatively simple algorithm (There are after all far more irrational numbers than rational ones). MathGrrl you may be able to confirm this – it is above my pay grade in maths. But in any case it only needs for such examples to crop up once in a while to act as counter examples.

    What confuses is that it would be remarkable if the sequence corresponded to a well-known irrational number such as e or pi. But this is not required by according to the definition above.

  12. 14 Mark Frank March 17, 2011 at 11:29 am

    MathGrrl

    I just want you to know that I continue to follow your determined but courteous campaign on UD (and you will see I have made a small intervention) – although without vjtorley I fear that you are suffering from diminishing returns.

    Mark

  13. 15 MathGrrl March 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Mark,

    Thanks for that. I agree that the thread is reaching the end of its useful life. I’ll check it again tonight and see if it makes sense to continue asking for examples of CSI calculations.

    It will be a good resource for future UD discussions even if it ends now.

  14. 16 Toronto March 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    MathGrrl:

    What’s amusing is that kairosfocus isn’t jumping on vjtorley for agreeing with you!

  15. 17 MathGrrl March 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Toronto,

    It’s a big tent!

  16. 18 Eugen March 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Mathgrrl

    I’m not mathematician so I’ll not go too far with this. Just to have general concept, is CSI related to material objects only? What does it measure or describe relating material objects?

  17. 19 Petrushka March 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    is CSI related to material objects only?

    What would a non-material object be like?

    I know that Carl Sagan suggested in “Contact” that pi might have embedded sequences that would point to a designer, but pi seems to be indistinguishable from a random sequence, at least in the sense of containing every possible finite string.

  18. 20 Alan Fox March 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    From the UD thread:

    Mathgirl, I think you are hilarious.
    This is what I think you should do. Send Dr. Dembski an email telling him to provide a mathematically rigorous definition of CSI for you. There, problem solved.

    This is a great suggestion, Mathgrrl. You should try it. From time to time,I have emailed some academics for clarification on sundry points and have almost invariably received courteous and helpful replies. The last two, notably, were Richard Lenski and Jack Szostak. I am sure Bill Dembski would respond equally graciously to an enquiry from you. If it were me, I might even post the fact in the UD thread. 😉

  19. 21 Eugen March 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Petrushka

    Non material object would be data stream,math function,matrix etc as opposed to hammer,shovel and apple.

  20. 22 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Is the CSI thread at UD closed to comments? I don’t see a comment box, but I was just able to successfully comment on a separate thread.

    If someone can comment there, could you please mention to CJYman that I have responded to his last post? Here’s that response:

    CJYman,

    “I found your calculation related to titin to be confusing, frankly. You didn’t provide a mathematically rigorous definition of CSI that I saw and you didn’t go into as much detail as did vjtorley.”

    Seriously? Which part did you have trouble with as compared to the definition of CSI that was provided by Dembski in his “Specification …” paper. Did you actually read through all the comments I provided in those links? Do you have any questions that were not brought up in those links that I didn’t provide answers to?

    As a matter of fact, yes. I found comments by Zachriel and Mustela Nivalis in particular that you failed to address adequately. As discussed above, with vjtorley and others, Dembski’s paper leaves too much to interpretation and doesn’t provide sufficiently detailed example calculations to allow others to measure CSI. vjtorley’s conclusion that known evolutionary mechanisms can generate CSI, in stark contrast to the claims of many ID proponents on this site, emphasizes the confusion around the definition of CSI.

    I accept his conclusion since it is perfectly consistent with what I have been trying to explain to you. Evolutionary Algorithms will indeed produce CSI, but only if CSI previously exists. But EAs will not generate CSI *where non exists.* Now what complaint do you have?

    My issue is that this is not the claim being made by other ID proponents here and is not consistent with what Dembski, the originator of the CSI metric, has written.

    That being said, I find your claim interesting because it seems to suggest that evolutionary mechanisms can transfer CSI from the environment to a population of organisms. Is my understanding correct? If so, we have no disagreement — terminology issues aside, that is exactly what modern evolutionary theory says.

    “Applying your definition to the other three scenarios I described would also be very helpful to others attempting to recreate your calculations.”

    Ask me again this summer, if you are truly interested, and we will go through them together.

    I think my continued participation here demonstrates my interest. I look forward to working through the examples with you.

    In the end, no one here has shown the origination of CSI without previous CSI.

    That’s not the case. vjtorley showed how a gene duplication event that increases the production of a certain protein generates CSI. That is known to occur in real biological systems. Where is the “previous CSI”? How exactly can we measure it?

    I am not arguing against anyone showing that evolution can produce a pattern that can be measured as containing CSI. I agree, and have told you on at least a few occassions, that an EA can produce a CSI pattern as an outcome.

    I appreciate the clarity. It seems that you and vjtorley differ with the ID orthodoxy, as represented by many proponents here.

    However, that CSI is only produced from a sufficiently complex program that itself, as has already been explained to you by myself and others (especially KF), also contains CSI since their structure is at least on the same level of complex specificity as our comments on this blog.

    The example calculated by vjtorley was for a real biological system, not a simulation. Even in the case of simulations, it’s essential to distinguish between the simulation and what is being simulated. From reading the threads you referenced, I think you understand this. So, are you saying that there is CSI in the model of the environment, in the model of the evolutionary mechanisms, or both?

    If you disagree with me, and in order to show a flaw in my argument, you will have to actually show a situation where CSI was produced by scratch or an EA was generated which then in turn produced CSI, by only law+chance absent intelligent input or any previous CSI.

    Why does vjtorley’s calculation not qualify as CSI “by scratch”? Where, exactly, was the CSI injected from? How, exactly, could that CSI be measured?

    I think you have a potentially interesting variant of CSI, but from what I can see so far it will only support a cosmological ID argument, not an evolutionary ID argument. Is that correct?

  21. 25 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Alan,

    From the UD thread:

    Mathgirl, I think you are hilarious.
    This is what I think you should do. Send Dr. Dembski an email telling him to provide a mathematically rigorous definition of CSI for you. There, problem solved.

    This is a great suggestion, Mathgrrl. You should try it. From time to time,I have emailed some academics for clarification on sundry points and have almost invariably received courteous and helpful replies. The last two, notably, were Richard Lenski and Jack Szostak. I am sure Bill Dembski would respond equally graciously to an enquiry from you. If it were me, I might even post the fact in the UD thread.

    I may do that, although it might require me to give up my pseudonymity. I’m also thinking of asking one of the people with UD posting privileges to create a new thread based on vjtorley’s CSI calculation. Do you think any of them would be willing to do so?

    • 26 Alan Fox March 18, 2011 at 10:47 am

      Based on past performance, No. It must be quite depressing to be an ID proponent these days. If I were one, I’d love to have some positive news about a new development in ID “theory”. Constantly recycling tired material must be soul-destroying. Plus I guess it is no fun for them when critics point out the threadbare state the concept. Hence the tendency to limit discussion (for example) by closing inconvenient threads.

      • 27 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

        I’ve tracked down a couple of email addresses for Jonathan M, who authored the original post for that thread, and asked him if he’d be willing to start a new one.

        Hope springs eternal.

  22. 28 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Eugen,

    I’m not mathematician so I’ll not go too far with this. Just to have general concept, is CSI related to material objects only? What does it measure or describe relating material objects?

    I sincerely wish I knew. I’ve been trying very hard to get precise definition of CSI and some examples of how to calculate it from the people on UD who are making claims about it, but my luck (with the exception of vjtorley) hasn’t been good.

    As an aside, isn’t “non-material object” a contradiction in terms?

  23. 29 Eugen March 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Mathgrrl

    Oops, hasty and clumsy. Non-material is confusing description. We should rather say abstract objects/entities.

    For ex. my ideas which make program modules are abstract entities/objects.Modules are logically interlocked ,algorithmically arranged ideas impressed onto electronic matrix. My ideas are non spatial and non material therefore I need intermediary medium in the form of electronic matrix.
    Ideas acting from electronic matrix via established rules are extremely powerful and do control physical reality. Outside world does not make my modules but it can have influence on them if I allow it. If allowed, this influence will happen only under highly controlled rules and will have limited capability. Randomness must be carefully controlled.

    Re. CSI

    Measuring means comparing something to the unit of measurement. When measuring distance we use meter, a standard base unit of distance and compare everything in the universe to that unit.

    What does CSI measure and what are we comparing CSI to if we are to use it to measure something? No examples? If we are not sure of it’s basic concept why even insist on mathematical formula?

    Does it compare non repetitive orderly pattern in the system to pure randomness? Repeating patterns must be considered ,too as they can be part of the non repetitive orderly pattern.
    Anyway I’ll leave this part to experts.

    • 30 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      My ideas are non spatial and non materialMy ideas are non spatial and non material

      No, they are instantiated in electrical and chemical potentials in your physical brain.

      • 31 Eugen March 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

        “My ideas are non spatial and non materialMy ideas are non spatial and non material

        No, they are instantiated in electrical and chemical potentials in your physical brain.”

        Ha, I’m a robot? When I was kid I wanted to be a robot (or a monkey). These days I want to be Charlie Sheen for a week. 🙂

  24. 32 Alan Fox March 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Eugen asks:

    What does CSI measure and what are we comparing CSI to if we are to use it to measure something?

    That’s what everyone* would like Bill Dembski to tell us. Saying things like “this has more CSI than that that” implies a measurable quantity of CSI. So… what is it and how do you measure it???

    • 33 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      Exactly. Eugen, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that those of us questioning CSI have an obligation to define and explain it.

      ID proponents are making the claim that CSI is a reliable indicator of intelligent agency. It is incumbent upon those making the claim to define their terms and support their arguments.

  25. 34 Alan Fox March 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    *forgot to add – everyone that still think the question is worth asking.

  26. 35 lastyear March 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Regarding CJYman’s comment…

    However, that CSI is only produced from a sufficiently complex program that itself, as has already been explained to you by myself and others (especially KF), also contains CSI since their structure is at least on the same level of complex specificity as our comments on this blog.

    This is the fine tuning argument again. The universe was designed for life, just as the computer simulation was designed to produce “CSI”. The argument is over. Although he doesn’t even realize it, CJYman is believes in theistic evolution.

  27. 36 Eugen March 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    “It is incumbent upon those making the claim to define their terms and support their arguments.”

    Sorry it came across wrong. I agree those who make the claim should come and support it. I have few questions of my own.

    If I remeber correctly on one of the UD posts you concluded how evolution can increase CSI , no? If so ,you do understand basic concepts of CSI ?

    • 37 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      I agreed with vjtorley’s conclusion that, based on his definition of CSI which he derived from Dembski’s discussion of the concept, CSI can be generated by known evolutionary processes.

      Other ID proponents do not agree. The reason for this is that CSI is not rigorously defined. If you disagree, please present the rigorous mathematical definition and provide some examples of how to calculate it.

  28. 38 MathGrrl March 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Eugen,

    I’m moving this out of the reply hierarchy since that seems to only allow a couple of levels of nesting.

    “My ideas are non spatial and non material”

    No, they are instantiated in electrical and chemical potentials in your physical brain.

    Ha, I’m a robot?

    That does not follow. Do you disagree that your ideas are manifested as chemical and electrical patterns in your physical brain?

  29. 39 Eugen March 18, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Scenario 1

    100 members of one species lived in a warm little pond. Suddenly climate changed for colder which killed 50 of them. Surviving obviously had small genetic variation which gave them advantage to survive. The rest of the 50 members continued reproducing after passing trough the natural selection filter.

    How much did CSI increase by this evolutionary natural selection filter?

  30. 40 Alan Fox March 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    How much did CSI increase by this evolutionary natural selection filter?

    What’s CSI? We need to know so that we can think of a way we can measure it.

  31. 41 Pachyaena March 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I have some questions and comments for vjtorley (Vincent Torley), based on what you’ve said on UD, here, and on these pages: http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/thomas4.html.

    Did your God create and design the universe?

    Do you believe that angels exist?

    What’s the difference between inanimate and animate matter?

    Did your God create humans in the image and likeness of God?

    Why do you call your God “He”? How do you know it’s a “He”, rather than a she, or an it, or something else?

    Who or what created your God?

    Does your God have a wife or a girlfriend? If not, where did “He” get the idea for females?

    Do you believe that the Devil exists? If so, who or what created the Devil, and is the Devil male or female?

    Do you believe that your God constantly manipulates the universe and everything in it, and has the power to change anything and everything?

    What exactly is the difference between a “lower” animal and a “higher” animal and how can the distinction be precisely determined across the entire animal kingdom?

    Who or what is the authority by which lower and higher animals should be labeled as lower and higher? Why do you refer to them in that way?

    Is there anything that your God cannot do?

    Do atoms have specified complexity?

    Did (or does) the Big Bang have specified complexity?

    Does the universe, on the whole, have specified complexity?

    Does slime have specified complexity?

    Does a dead body have specified complexity, say, an hour after death?
    Assume that the body is still intact. Also, please answer regarding a human body, and an earthworm body.

    Is the ID “movement” strictly a scientific endeavor or must a God and/or religious beliefs be included?

    You said: “I hope to convince some of them that we in the Intelligent Design movement have thought long and hard about our philosophical position, that we are capable of answering the best objections that can be raised against it…”

    You say it’s a philosophical position. Do you have any scientifically verifiable evidence of ID, without inferences, religion, beliefs, probabilities, improbabilities, or speculation? Since you say you (actually “we”) can answer the best objections that can be raised against ID, then please start by answering all the questions raised by MathGrrl. I would appreciate answers to my questions too.

    I have more questions and comments that I will post later. I’d like to see your response to these first.

  32. 42 kairosfocus March 19, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Comment:

    I will say very little here, save that if one wishes to play the game of the infinite regress of objections, one can always make another viewpoint seem like nonsense. But it comes at the price of self referential incoherence via selective or radical absolute skepticism.

    When I saw someone above wishes to dismiss the fact that D/RNA bases come in four possibilities — G/C/A/T or U — for a given position, and so exhibit 2 bits worth of information storage capacity per location in a D/RNA molecule, that was inadvertently telling on what is going on. (Of course, the actual coded chains show some redundancy and variability in frequency so reducing the actual information stored — as opposed to the raw capacity — in the codes. This immediately gives us a set of related metrics on information stored in D/RNA chains.)

    As to the sophomoric pretence that CSI and/or FSCI are vague or even “meaningless” terms — MG said this last over at UD — I pose again the challenge I did to MG over at UD; pardon I there meant to quote Orgel. If these are meaningless and vague terms, were Orgel and Wicken (the root sources) “meaningless” when they said:

    ________________

    Orgel, 1973: >>. . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. [The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189.]>>

    –> Note the roots of CSI: “specified complexity.”

    Wicken, 1979: >> ‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. >>

    –> Note the roots of FSCI: “Organization, then, is functional[ly specific] complexity and carries information.” [Parenthesis added to bring out the point.]
    __________________

    I think the answer is self-explanatory. And, whatever objections you may have to particular models, such are not meaningless. Functional bits, are a commonplace in a digital world, 1,000 bits does specify an unsearchable scope of 1.07*10^301 states, and coded algorithmic or linguistic information is generally specific. That is why in all known cases of origin, they trace to intelligence.

    As to the notion that by begging the question of the FSCI required to get you to an island of function, you can then pretend that hill climbing within such an island is manufacturing information out of thin air, by blind chance and necessity without intelligence, that falls of its own weight; self-refuted.

    GEM of TKI

  33. 43 kairosfocus March 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    F/N: I find it rich that in a context where atheists demand to make a definition of atheism that conveniently allows them to duck the challenge of warranting a worldview on comparative difficulties –across factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power on first principles of right reason and warranted, credible first truths — they wish to project a loaded definition on design thought.

    But then, self-servingly loaded definitions now seem to be a standard rhetorical device of evolutionary materialists: for science, for atheism and for design theory.

    I again draw attention to the very useful New World Encyclopedia discussion, and its definition:

    ___________________

    >> Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” [1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things.

    Greater clarity on the topic may be gained from a discussion of what ID is not considered to be by its leading theorists. Intelligent design generally is not defined the same as creationism, with proponents maintaining that ID relies on scientific evidence rather than on Scripture or religious doctrines. ID makes no claims about biblical chronology, and technically a person does not have to believe in God to infer intelligent design in nature. As a theory, ID also does not specify the identity or nature of the designer, so it is not the same as natural theology, which reasons from nature to the existence and attributes of God. ID does not claim that all species of living things were created in their present forms, and it does not claim to provide a complete account of the history of the universe or of living things.

    ID also is not considered by its theorists to be an “argument from ignorance”; that is, intelligent design is not to be inferred simply on the basis that the cause of something is unknown (any more than a person accused of willful intent can be convicted without evidence). According to various adherents, ID does not claim that design must be optimal; something may be intelligently designed even if it is flawed (as are many objects made by humans).

    ID may be considered to consist only of the minimal assertion that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent agent. It conflicts with views claiming that there is no real design in the cosmos (e.g., materialistic philosophy) or in living things (e.g., Darwinian evolution) or that design, though real, is undetectable (e.g., some forms of theistic evolution) . . . >>

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Intelligent_design

    ____________________

    One hopes that those who adhere to a minimal standard of reasonableness, respect and civility in discussion will now bear that in mind in future.

  34. 44 Eugen March 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Mathgrrl

    Scenario 2 and conclusion

    Surviving members of the species from Scenario 1 continued to reproduce for a long time. Suddenly food supply changed which caused 50% of members to die. Surviving members had slight genetic variation that allowed them to take advantage of the new food supply.

    Conclusion

    It appears that natural selection works like a passive filter that allows some existing small genetic variation to become prominent and another attenuated. It is possible that there is pre adaptation genetic set which slowly gets filtered out by NS after so many cycles. At the end of the last filtering cycle species become extinct.

    99.9 % of all species that ever existed became extinct by this process. It is hard to envision how passive filter described as natural selection can create CSI or anything else.

  35. 45 Toronto March 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    kairosfocus:

    CSI is meaningless if the “specified” portion of the term is considered in hindsight.

    If a client were to come to you and promise you a detailed specification of the functionality he requires in a product that he wants you to design, but only after you deliver the product first, you would throw him out of your office.

    This is the ID position for biology.

    Show me how you determine what functionality the designer is specifically looking for before design.

    If you can’t do that, attempting to calculate the improbability of the result meaningless.

    The way ID is using CSI, is only descriptive and after the fact.

    This would qualify a lottery win as rich in CSI.

  36. 46 kairosfocus March 19, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Toronto:

    I decided to pass back again.

    Pardon, but you seem to have a difficulty seeing the difference between:

    a: ghweirjgeg8ui3rhvb

    b: ddddddddddddddddddd

    c: this is a functionally specific text

    If something has to meet the condition of communicating under a code, and/or of functioning in a particular, organised working system — like object code for a microcontroller program, or even R/DNA chains that must specify folding, working proteins — then plainly to see that it is specific (in Wickens’ wiring diagram sense [and remember a string data structure is wired like that: s-t-r-i-n-g]) in order to be functional is not “meaningless.”

    The same extends to the net list for a nodes, arcs and interfaces diagram that specifies the “exploded view” of a composite entity, or the wire-mesh triangles of a complex 3-D object. If you doubt me on this, reassemble your car engine at random, or with imprecisely shaped parts and see if it works.

    I note, finally, that in haste to dismiss me, you are ducking the real challenge: to address Wickens and Orgel on their terms, and in their OOL/ OO complex bodily organisation context.

    After all it is they who are discussing “specified complexity” and wiring-diagram, functionally specific complex, information-rich organisation.

    GEM of TKI

  37. 47 kairosfocus March 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Pardon: Wicken . . .

  38. 48 Toronto March 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    kairosfocus:

    “Pardon, but you seem to have a difficulty seeing the difference between:

    a: ghweirjgeg8ui3rhvb

    b: ddddddddddddddddddd

    c: this is a functionally specific text”

    You have just demonstrated ID’s problem.

    From looking at the strings, I see that:

    a: ..is a product key for software

    b: ..is a sequence of carriage returns

    c: ..is a sentence meaningful only to someone who reads English

    I therefore conclude correctly I think, that all three contain CSI.

    You however, being the designer of the strings, may not have specifically intended that.

    Was I right?

    Only you can tell me.

  39. 49 MathGrrl March 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    kairosfocus,

    It’s good to see an ID proponent from UD join us here.

    Unfortunately, your posts suffer from the same flaw that I pointed out in the now closed thread on UD: No math.

    You, among others, are making the claim that CSI is a reliable indicator of intelligent agency. In order to support that claim, you must rigorously define CSI so that it can be calculated objectively. It would also be enormously helpful if you would provide a few examples of how to calculate it, to eliminate any potential confusion.

    vjtorley performed the calculation for one example and came to the conclusion that known evolutionary mechanism can generate CSI. CJYman has agreed with that conclusion.

    If you disagree, please provide your rigorous mathematical definition of CSI and apply it to the same scenario as did vjtorley. For your reference, that scenario is:

    Consider the specification of “Produces X amount of protein Y.” A simple gene duplication, even without subsequent modification of the duplicate, can increase production from less than X to greater than X.

    The other three scenarios I suggested are:

    Schneider’s ev uses the specification of “A nucleotide that binds to exactly N sites within the genome.” Using only simplified forms of known, observed evolutionary mechanisms, ev routinely evolves genomes that meet the specification. The length of the genome required to meet this specification can be quite long, depending on the value of N. (ev is particularly interesting because it is based directly on Schneider’s PhD work with real biological organisms.)

    Ray’s Tierra routinely results in digital organisms with a number of specifications. One I find interesting is “Acts as a parasite on other digital organisms in the simulation.” The length of the shortest parasite is at least 22 bytes.

    The Steiner Problem solutions use the specification “Computes a close approximation to the shortest connected path between a set of points.” The length of the genomes required to meet this specification depends on the number of points, but can certainly be hundreds of bits.

    Let’s see some actual definitions and calculations of CSI.

  40. 50 MathGrrl March 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Eugen,

    It is hard to envision how passive filter described as natural selection can create CSI or anything else.

    If you’ll define CSI with mathematical rigor and show some examples of how to calculate it, we can determine whether or not known evolutionary mechanisms can generate it or not. Until you do so, the term is meaningless.

  41. 51 Eugen March 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Mathgrrl

    “If you’ll define CSI with mathematical rigor and show some examples of how to calculate it, we can determine whether or not known evolutionary mechanisms can generate it or not. Until you do so, the term is meaningless.”

    Never mind math,

    why not deal with concepts first. That’s why I provided some practical examples. OTOH, if term is meaningless why say evolution can increase CSI ( supposedly meaningless thing ).

  42. 52 kairosfocus March 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    MG & T:

    The above is a playing out of the usual games.

    T, you full well know the difference between random contingency, determined fixed pasterns and intelligent text in a recognisable language.

    The rest extends from that.

    MG, you are again ducking the significance of the point made by Orgel and Wicken. In addition, you seem to be deaf to the meaning of things like: “I have a 320 GigaByte hard drive.”

    A typical protein has 300 AA’s specified by 3 * 300 4-state elements, covering info capacity, 1,800 bits.

    All of which are straightforward observable and measurable and calculable quantities. Similarly, 2^1800 possibilities is a lot more than 2^1000, which is a lot more than 2^500 or 10^150, the number of Planck-time states the atoms of our observed cosmos will go through across its thermodynamic lifespan, 50 mn times the timeline since the big bang as usually specified. And, Planck time is about 10^20 times faster than strong nuclear force interactions, the fastest we observe.

    Odds of getting to such a functionally specific entity by blind watchmaker chance plus mechanical necessity on eh gamut of our observed cosmos are vanishingly small. But, intelligences put together things of that and bigger complexity and specificity, routinely.

    So, which is the best, empirically justified explanation for observed FSCI [the most relevant form of Orgel-style CSI], why?

    Again, you need to address the question of whether Wicken and Orgel were just making empty noise, or they were addressing a meaningful, observable phenomenon. Ever had to build a computer from basic components? Was the wiring diagram important or not to that? Do you build houses, bridges or nuke power plants without carefully designed blueprints showing how to put them together?

    Is a blueprint a matter of a precise mathematical definition, or is it an engineering specification for building something that will work?

    Think about it.

    Good night

    GEM of TKI

  43. 53 Alan Fox March 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Eugen:

    OTOH, if term is meaningless why say evolution can increase CSI ( supposedly meaningless thing ).

    You make a very fair point. I happen to think CSI is meaningless but I think others may be “assuming for the sake of argument…”

  44. 54 Toronto March 19, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    kairosfocus:

    “Is a blueprint a matter of a precise mathematical definition, or is it an engineering specification for building something that will work?”

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    1) Show me the engineering specification for building a biological structure that will work when it’s completed according to the spec.

    2) Show us the math that drives you to a different conclusion than MathGrrl, vjtorley and CJYman came to.

  45. 55 MathGrrl March 20, 2011 at 12:23 am

    kairosfocus,

    More words, still no math. Show me how to calculate this supposed metric.

  46. 56 MathGrrl March 20, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Eugen,

    As Alan points out, I was referring to vjtorley’s calculation and taking his definition for the sake of argument. You appear to be using a different definition of CSI. Please do tell us what it is and show how to calculate it.

  47. 57 kairosfocus March 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Toronto:

    Try the DNA in the living cell, and the associated functionally specif organised executing machinery.

    You will find my main discussion of that here, on the von Neumann architecture for a kinematic self-replicator:

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2010/06/origin-of-life.html#vnsr

    MG:

    Pardon, but, you are repeating like a broken record.

    Why not instead address the mathematical points already introduced above, and in the previously discussed, instead of making infinite regress serial objections as if you do not have to step up to the table of empirically tested comparative difficulties and offer an explanation of how FSCO/I — the relevant subset of CSI (understood per Orgel and Wicken . . . are their remarks “meaningless” too? . . . ) — credibly originates on blind trial and error selection on an equally blind random walk in an arbitrarily large config space?

    As for your evs avidas etc, I have long since pointed out that these confine their “searches” to the interiors of islands of function arrived at by highly intelligent design with oodles of FSCI known to be artifacts of intelligence.

    The challenge — repeatedly pointed out, and just as repeatedly ignored or question-beggingly brushed aside — is to get to such islands, and not to express implicit information within those islands, similar to how the apparent complexities of the Mandelbrot set arise from a simple equation and a specified algorithm for when limits are exceeded. Hill-climbing within an island of function by throwing out a ring of random points then picking the one that gies best uphill, does not cut it on explaining the origin of FSCO/I.

    I suggest you read here:

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction-and-summary.html#fsci_sig

    And, here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/id-foundations-4-specified-complexity-and-linked-functional-organisation-as-signs-of-design/

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I have notified the UD folks of this thread, in the current “we will” discussion someone alluded to above . . . [No link, as I am unsure of the limit to hot links here and three already is pushing it.]

  48. 58 MathGrrl March 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    kairosfocus,

    Pardon, but, you are repeating like a broken record.

    That is because you are continuing to fail to answer the basic questions I’m asking. I’m starting to get the impression you cannot do so.

    Let me make them explicit once more:

    Do you agree with vjtorley’s calculation of CSI?

    Do you agree with his conclusion that CSI can be generated by known evolutionary mechanisms (gene duplication, in this case)?

    If you disagree with either, please show an equally detailed calculation so that I can understand how you compute CSI in that scenario.

    If your definition of CSI is different from that used by vjtorley, please provide a mathematically rigorous definition of your version of CSI, here in this thread. Not more words, not more references, just the actual mathematical definition, please.

    In addition to the gene duplication example addressed by vjtorley, please show how to calculate CSI using your definition for these three scenarios:

    Schneider’s ev uses the specification of “A nucleotide that binds to exactly N sites within the genome.” Using only simplified forms of known, observed evolutionary mechanisms, ev routinely evolves genomes that meet the specification. The length of the genome required to meet this specification can be quite long, depending on the value of N. (ev is particularly interesting because it is based directly on Schneider’s PhD work with real biological organisms.)

    Ray’s Tierra routinely results in digital organisms with a number of specifications. One I find interesting is “Acts as a parasite on other digital organisms in the simulation.” The length of the shortest parasite is at least 22 bytes.

    The Steiner Problem solutions use the specification “Computes a close approximation to the shortest connected path between a set of points.” The length of the genomes required to meet this specification depends on the number of points, but can certainly be hundreds of bits.

    Let’s see the actual math supporting your claims.

  49. 59 MathGrrl March 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Correction: The “Pardon, but, you are repeating like a broken record.” is from kairosfocus’ previous post. I missed the block tag.

  50. 61 Toronto March 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    kairosfocus:

    “Try the DNA in the living cell, and the associated functionally specif organised executing machinery. ”

    The CSI promoted by ID however, does not take into account the specified functionality before construction.

    It is content to work backwards from current functionality and claim because it works, that is what was intended.

    Viewed in this way, CSI has no pre-defined goal, just like evolution.

    This means that CSI, just like evolution will accept anything that works.

    CSI is meaningless without a prior specification.

    How can you measure probability without a goal?

  51. 62 kairosfocus March 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    MG:

    Pardon, but there you go again.

    The CSI and FSCO/I concepts were adequately identified and defined by the end of the 1970’s by Orgel and Wickens, et al, before the origin of the Design Theory movement.

    The ultimate roots of the concept, as my linked on thermodynamics, discusses [and as TMLO elaborated, which I was commenting on], lies in the groundings of statistical thermodynamics, and the question of converting heat to work. My already linked note discusses that, with sufficient mathematical detail to see what is going on.

    On the information theory side, the point lies in the distinction between information carrying or storing capacity as discussed by Shannon et al — measured classically in bits — and the sort of functional (and by that function, meaningful) information familiar from text or from computer programs. Complex, coded, functionally specific information, in our routine and reliable observation, comes from designers, and the underlying issue of the nature of symbolic language, shows why.

    Above, I have built on the well accepted generally used metrics of functional bits, commonly used in ICT. Just so, DNA in particular stores such digitally coded FSCI, at the rate of up to 2 bits per symbol: G/C/A/T or U. As a direct expression, the average 300 AA protein requires 900 4 state elements to specify, thus, 1,800 bits of storage capacity.

    All of this, rests on well established principles of digital information that I and many others have routinely used to design and develop digital information systems.

    But, on the infinite monkeys analysis as repeatedly discuss4ed and linked above, 2^1,800 possible configs implies a config space of ~ 7.15*10^541 cells. Such is so vastly beyond the maximum plausible search capacity of the observed cosmos [10^150 states] that such a space is not practically searchable to get to islands of function. The odds of blind trial and error on equally blind random walks, getting to such an island, are a practical zero. On the very same infinite monkey search grounds that directly parallel the foundation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    That’s just for one of the hundreds to thousands in a typical living cell. Proteins that have to fold right — and fold domains are deeply isolated in config space, and then function.

    More elaborate models and calculations can be made, but on your track record you will simply ignore or try to find points to make objections that are utterly beside the material point. I refer you — again — to Durston et al and their extension of H, the average information per symbol, and to Dembski’s island of function based metric. The bottom line is we are dealing with competing explanations: cause by blind material forces of chance and necessity vs intelligent cause. Once FSCI enters the picture, the latter is infinitely better as an explanation.

    And indeed, the force of just he analysis and the balance of observations to date is strong enough that you are in the position of the proposer of a perpetual motion machine of the second kind. To overturn the analysis and observations — your nearest library or internet terminal suffice to give thousands of tests — you need to show a case where on observation, FSCI originated by chance plus necessity without injection of intelligently created active information.

    This last is the fatal flaw of ev etc.

    Your repeated failure to show such, multiplied by the attempt to turn about the proper burden of proof, is inadvertent eloquent testimony that you plainly cannot meet the challenge on the merits.

    G’day again,

    GEM of TKI

  52. 63 Zachriel March 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    kairosfocus: Why not instead address the mathematical points already introduced above

    Didn’t see any math above. When calculating CSI, is the complexity measure independent of the specificity measure? How do you calculate complexity? How do you calculate specificity?

  53. 64 Zachriel March 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    kairosfocus: In addition, you seem to be deaf to the meaning of things like: “I have a 320 GigaByte hard drive.”

    Is that the same as 320 gigabytes of CSI?

  54. 65 Toronto March 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    kairosfocus:

    “Your repeated failure to show such, multiplied by the attempt to turn about the proper burden of proof, is inadvertent eloquent testimony that you plainly cannot meet the challenge on the merits.”

    vjtorley looked at MathGrrl’s challenge, did the math and agreed that she was right.

    Where is your math that shows the two of them are wrong?

  55. 66 Toronto March 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    kairosfocus:

    “The bottom line is we are dealing with competing explanations: cause by blind material forces of chance and necessity vs intelligent cause.”

    You are trying to elevate ID to the level of evolution as an explanation for the diversity of life.

    ID has no stand-alone evidence however and thus does not qualify as a competing theory.

    Please address vjtorley and MathGrrl’s CSI calculations and show me that ID has merit as a stand-alone science.

  56. 67 MathGrrl March 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    kairosfocus,

    You have not addressed a single one of my questions nor have you provided any calculations in this thread to support your contention that CSI is a reliable indicator of intelligent agency.

    Unless and until you do so, your claims are unsupported.

    Let’s see the math.

  57. 68 Eugen March 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Toronto

    a: ghweirjgeg8ui3rhvb

    b: ddddddddddddddddddd

    c: this is a functionally specific text”

    You have just demonstrated ID’s problem.

    From looking at the strings, I see that:

    a: ..is a product key for software

    b: ..is a sequence of carriage returns

    c: ..is a sentence meaningful only to someone who reads English

    I therefore conclude correctly I think, that all three contain CSI.

    You however, being the designer of the strings, may not have specifically intended that.

    Was I right?

    Only you can tell me.

    —-

    May I instead ?

    Hi Toronto

    We have to stay within the context, TO. If not then strings a: b: c: can mean anything to anybody. We look at information within context. Looking at the same information from different contexts is not an ID problem.

    Here is a practical example easy to visualize:

    If we look at the strings a,b,c within context of motion control programing we would get a very different results.

    a: ghweirjgeg8ui3rhvb would produce chaotic motion but fortunately we employ software limits, hard limits , acceleration limits etc to prevent self destruction of the motion arm.

    b: ddddddddddddddddddd is little better. It would produce motion in the same direction ,again until all the above safety limits are reached.

    c: this is a functionally specific text (rather motion) would execute specific motions within the context of motion control software/hardware setup. All the above safety limits will still be employed and also error control and recovery programs will be on standby. I’ll mention it but it’s probably obvious that parts of b: type string can be used in c:

    You may not know but motion program would be only a minor part of the main program . It takes much more effort and resources to plan and setup all the safety, error controls and recovery programs than the motion program . This will help us one day on a different thread maybe , to understand why 98% DNA is non-protein coding. Of course there’s no doubt I will provide all the crazy ideas.

  58. 69 MathGrrl March 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Eugen,

    If not then strings a: b: c: can mean anything to anybody.

    This is one of the problems with providing a mathematically rigorous definition of CSI. How, exactly, does one create an appropriate specification.

    If you know, please do so for the four scenarios I detailed.

  59. 70 Toronto March 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Eugen:

    “We have to stay within the context, TO. If not then strings a: b: c: can mean anything to anybody. We look at information within context.”

    You are 100% right which is a problem for ID. How do you know what context the designer intended?

    You’ve shown me yet another way of looking at a string and thus coming up with a different value of CSI.

    An observer, according to what you and I have demonstrated, cannot know what functionality is specified without asking either of us what our context was.

    This means you cannot look at a structure or string of information and determine it’s CSI without knowing the designer’s intention.

    ID claims you can calculate CSI based on only the observer’s chosen context, without regard to the designer’s context.

    “Looking at the same information from different contexts is not an ID problem.”

    Yes it is since the calculation of CSI is dependent on context.

  60. 71 Pachyaena March 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    kairosfocus used the term “observed cosmos”. I’ve always thought of the word “cosmos” as meaning pretty much the same thing as ‘universe’. I just looked at the definition of cosmos on Wikipedia and, as usual, there is more than one meaning. The one that is emphasized is “orderly or harmonious system”.

    It could be argued that the cosmos is, or is not, orderly or harmonious, but one thing that is certain to me is that we humans have not found or figured out everything that goes on in the cosmos/universe. In other words, we have not observed everything. There are lots and lots and lots of things we don’t know, and it’s very likely there will always be things that we don’t know.

    All of the theories, hypotheses, speculations, beliefs, agendas, experiments, guesses, assertions, inferences, and calculations we humans have or make regarding the ultimate sources, causes, forces, and processes in or of the cosmos are based on limited, incomplete data/information/observations. We humans have a LOT to learn.

    Of course some things can be and have been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, but there are many unverified things asserted as though they are proven facts. I doubt that any sane person would argue against the fact that liquid water is wet, but many would (and do) argue about the unknowns in or of the cosmos.

    Now I’m not saying that just any theory, speculation, hypotheses, belief, etc. should be taken seriously until it’s absolutely, positively proven wrong, but I am suggesting that any ‘sides’ of the materialistic evolution vs. ID debate should just say ‘This is the verifiable evidence we have so far and we’re conducting research to see where the evidence may lead.’ and they should make damn sure that the evidence they present is actual and verifiable and isn’t just speculation/inferences based on what they want to believe. In fact, no inferences/speculations at all should be made.

    Beliefs, agendas, probabilities, improbabilities, inferences, hypotheses, speculations, or guesses don’t and won’t prove anything. Only discovery and verification will.

    I often see people (on either side) using the term “the best explanation”. Frankly, that term doesn’t mean much to me and it usually just means ‘I don’t know, but don’t want to admit it.’ The best explanation (of anything) is the one that is correct and is backed up with verifiable evidence of ALL its claims.

  61. 72 Toronto March 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Pachyaena:

    “The best explanation (of anything) is the one that is correct and is backed up with verifiable evidence of ALL its claims.”

    This means that ID would have to find verifiable evidence of the designer, which I agree that they should do.

  62. 73 Pachyaena March 21, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I’m going to throw some things out here. Just consider it thinking out loud.

    Yes, to prove that an intelligent designer designed anything or everything, I would think that ID proponents would also have to prove who or what the designer is. I suppose they could say that design could be proven without knowing who or what the designer is, but to be complete they would have to fill in all the gaps, or at least the critical ones.

    To prove design they would at least have to show that something could not have come about any other way than through intelligent design. Since kairosfocus used the term “observed cosmos” it seems to me that since the entirety of the cosmos hasn’t been observed, we humans can’t be sure of all the possibilities that could be behind the origin and diversity of life (and a lot of other things).

    The same burden of proof rests on materialistic evolution proponents. Even though there’s no verifiable evidence of a designer, there’s also no verifiable evidence that strictly material causes/processes are responsible for the origin and diversity of life. Unless that can be proven to the last little tidbit, and all the critical gaps are filled with verifiable evidence, the possibility of a designer of some sort remains.

    I think that one of the things that bugs me the most is the certainty in which people on either ‘side’ express themselves when talking about things that are not verified and are based on beliefs, agendas, or inferences. Many of the interpretations and inferences made by scientists aren’t agreed upon by other scientists, and the same thing goes for interpretations and inferences made by ID proponents. There is endless debate about evolution among scientists, whether materialistic or otherwise, and there is also endless debate about ID and its religious connection by ID proponents and religious people. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and real, verifiable evidence is often secondary to those opinions, unfortunately.

    You all may have noticed that I have referred to “materialistic evolution” and “evolution”. To me they can be considered different, although many people wouldn’t see it that way. Some people accept evolution but think that a designer manipulated or guided the evolution in at least some way. Others accept evolution but think that a designer absolutely, positively manipulates every detail of every living thing at all times. Still others don’t accept evolution at all and think that every living thing is or was created as-is by a designer, and cannot and did not evolve. And still others think that evolution is and was strictly materialistic and that no designer of any kind could possibly exist or be involved with the origin and diversity of life in any way whatsoever.

    There are so many variations in the way people perceive the origin and diversity of life that it’s hard to keep up with them all. Science doesn’t help the matter either due to all the disagreements between scientists on the interpretations of so-called ‘scientific evidence’, and the variable inferences made from those variable interpretations.

    Yeah, some people say there is “consensus” on some things but what the fuck is consensus? Two people agreeing? Three? One hundred? Ten thousand? A million? Does it depend on who the people are and how many degrees they have or how many papers they’ve had published? So-called ‘consensus’ doesn’t prove shit. And if it did, the religious people of the world would have a lot more ‘proof’ than any evolution proponent. There are far more people in the consensus that ‘God did it’.

    It ought to be obvious to everyone that the popularity of an idea, theory, belief, agenda, inference, etc. is not evidence or proof of its validity.

    In my mind, evolution occurred and occurs, but all the details are still unknown.

  63. 74 Toronto March 21, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Pachyaena:

    You’ve given me a great idea.

    If I were Dembski, I’d tell my students to go out on the web and post on sites like this to make it seem like there’s a real controversy between ID and evolution.

    They wouldn’t have to back up ID since there isn’t any evidence anyways and yet, state boards of education that want to introduce creationism into science classes could say, “See, the jury’s still out on this one!”

    It’s creationism/ID’s best bet. 🙂

    • 75 Pachyaena March 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      That’s an interesting point. Something can have apparent but not necessarily authentic importance by becoming controversial, and the controversy can be created through the self-serving promotion of a personal agenda. I think that’s the case with many agendas.

      Many ID proponents would say that Darwin was pushing his self-serving agenda and creating a false controversy based on an empty theory when he proposed evolution through natural selection in the 1800s, and that materialistic evolution proponents are still doing that today.

      Many evolution proponents would say that ID proponents are the ones who are pushing their self-serving agenda (especially their religious/political agenda) by proposing an empty theory and creating false controversy over it.

      Either side would likely say that the other side is trying to make their claims seem more important and credible, by creating controversy through the exaggeration of their alleged ‘evidence’.

      Frankly, I think that both sides are guilty of that, although not necessarily equally. Both sides treat it as though it’s a ‘war’ that must be ‘won’, at just about any cost.

  64. 76 Maya March 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Toronto,

    If I were Dembski, I’d tell my students to go out on the web and post on sites like this to make it seem like there’s a real controversy between ID and evolution.

    That’s crazy talk. What kind of delusional headcase would do something that ridiculously useless and stupid?

    • 77 Pachyaena March 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Wow, trolling for better grades. Who woulda thunk it?

      I wonder if Dembski would give me an A+ for getting banned at Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula? 🙂

      • 78 Alan Fox March 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm

        Not getting on your case but, if you are not prepared to support the claim that you were banned at PT, please stop mentioning it. It undermines your credibility!

  65. 79 kairosfocus March 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Onlookers and participants:

    I decided to pass back to look.

    The continued scoffing and hyperskepticism, laced with the odd bit of vulgarity above, do not commend this thread to any serious point by point engagement.

    I particularly notice that after repeated requests to address the work of those who actually originated the terms and concepts that are being discussed, there is no cogent addressing of Orgel and Wicken. I therefore draw the conclusion that I am addressing the closed, ideologised mind, not any serious engagement of real questions on their merits.

    Onlookers, cf my corrective remarks on that subject, in context:

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Selective_Hyperskepticism.htm#clsdmind

    My conclusion that this discussion is futile, is compounded by the above on what does our “observed cosmos” — in the context of the dating of the singularity at 13.7 BYA! — mean. Put it this way: if you wish to reduce all to a wider (unobserved) chaos, fine, you have just reduced your rationality to self referential absurdity; for the process of reasoning, living and thinking in this world requires the assumption of order as a first principle of right reason.

    On those first princi0les and first truths, in context, onlookers, please see:

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Selective_Hyperskepticism.htm#wcts

    I will, however, pause to address just one specific point that stirs my interest: a product key.

    I know the intent was to scoff at the distinction between random, determination and meaningful events in chains, but it points to the heart of the matter. For, such a product key exists in the context of being on an island of function for a software system. But to protect intellectual property, a password to use the system is required. That password usually has some preset coded elements, and a random portion that defines a particular user.

    What is crucial is that the key must specifically fit a set up system, and it is complex enough not to crack. It is FSCI, based on DESIGN.

    In short, yet another case where FSCI is shown, on known cases, to be a reliable sign of design.

    Beyond that, it seems that some above either are ignorant of or wish to skeptically pretend ignorance of the information theory roots of the calculation presented on functional bits in digital systems.

    Onlookers, I suggest you look at the short survey from the note always linked for every comment I have ever made at UD (please note Eqns 1 – 6 in context):

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Info_design_and_science.htm#infois

    In short, the calculation above is utterly unexceptional, and is based on commonplace praxis with digital technology.

    Good day,

    GEM of TKI

    • 80 Pachyaena March 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      kairosfocus, have you ever read “Games People Play” by Eric Berne?

      You apparently do like to play games. It’s obvious that you are very interested in this thread but you try to make it sound like you’re just casually stopping by and don’t have the interest or the time to really get involved. What are you afraid of? Is it that you feel safer at UD where the biased mods will control who says what? Is the UD echo chamber your sanctuary? Do you really feel that it makes your claims more credible by voicing them to people who mostly agree with you in the first place?

      I can’t help but wonder how many comments have been blocked at UD that might (or would) have changed the context of the lopsided discussions there.

      You said:

      “My conclusion that this discussion is futile, is compounded by the above on what does our “observed cosmos” — in the context of the dating of the singularity at 13.7 BYA! — mean. Put it this way: if you wish to reduce all to a wider (unobserved) chaos, fine, you have just reduced your rationality to self referential absurdity; for the process of reasoning, living and thinking in this world requires the assumption of order as a first principle of right reason.”

      That is a pretty good example of gobbledegook. Where did you come up with the “chaos” part? Are things that haven’t been observed automatically “chaos”? Are you saying that what humans have observed so far is all that they have to observe to make absolute, final conclusions about the cosmos/universe? Are you afraid that things may be discovered that will prove your beliefs are wrong? Do you want humans to stop looking for actual evidence so that your beliefs aren’t threatened?

      Is there enough evidence in the “observed cosmos” (to date) to prove that your beliefs are justified and verifiable? Is anything that is outside your beliefs simply “chaos” that doesn’t deserve any attention?

      Since vjtorley doesn’t seem to be anxious to answer the questions I posed to him above, maybe you’d like to respond to them “point by point”? After all, he did say “we”, which includes you and all other ID proponents.

  66. 81 kairosfocus March 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    F/N: Onlookers, cf here on cosmology and related themes:

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2010/06/cosmology-and-timelines-of-world.html

  67. 82 Toronto March 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    kairosfocus”

    <blockquote? "I particularly notice that after repeated requests.."

    MathGrrl has made repeated requests to you to show your math for calculating CSI in four specific cases.

    vjtorley made that effort.

    Why can’t you?

    Have you already done it and come to the same conclusion as vjtorley?

  68. 83 Toronto March 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    kairosfocus:

    I’d like to thank you for your presence here and your interest in this ID/Evo debate.

    What I’d like to see however, is more of a real connection with you.

    I get the feeling that when you address us, you believe that we are students that need to be taught and lectured.

    That’s not the case as there are some very competent people on our side as well.

    If you’re relationship to us is one of student to professor, none of our points is going to be taken with the weight they actually carry.

    You are treating us the way you think mainstream science is treating ID.

    You’ve got to open your mind in this debate and recognize that you are speaking to your equals.

    Show us that respect by answering the questions that are actually addressed to you.

    • 84 Mark Frank March 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      I get the feeling that when you address us, you believe that we are students that need to be taught and lectured.

      Toronto this is rather astute. For a year or two I have avoided getting into any kind of discussion with KF – not because of what he says but because of how he says it.

  69. 88 Toronto March 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Maya:

    You’re right.

    I guess it’s just my imagination, running away with me. 🙂

  70. 89 Eugen March 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Maya

    ‘That’s crazy talk. What kind of delusional headcase would do something that ridiculously useless and stupid?”

    Zoom out to see a bigger picture. If you follow links you’ll end up at the actual course outline and see how college wants students to analyze atheist posts and other texts rather than “troll the net” . Atheists are not that easy to find in a small southern baptist city. The hardest place of all to find an atheist would be at the religious college in a small southern baptist city.

    I personally do not know any atheists for example. This kind of blog is the only place where I can talk to them and get some understanding of their worldview.

  71. 90 Maya March 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Eugen,

    Zoom out to see a bigger picture. If you follow links you’ll end up at the actual course outline and see how college wants students to analyze atheist posts and other texts rather than “troll the net” .

    Unlike many disgusting sights, this doesn’t actually look better from far enough to get the “big picture” you mention. The ID course requires this:

    (3) provide at least 10 posts defending ID that you’ve made on “hostile” websites, the posts totalling 2,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade).

    The apologetics course requirement isn’t much different:

    (2) You need to email the grader . . . your 3,000-word web posts on hostile websites (including links to your posts)

    There is nothing there about analysis. Any arguments against ID or Christian apologetics are assumed to be incorrect. Dembski is just using his students to troll.

    Atheists are not that easy to find in a small southern baptist city. The hardest place of all to find an atheist would be at the religious college in a small southern baptist city.

    I personally do not know any atheists for example.

    I’m willing to bet that you do. They just keep their views to themselves to avoid the often violent reactions they would get from those “loving” Christians.

  72. 91 Toronto March 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    kairosfocus:

    “I know the intent was to scoff at the distinction between random, determination and meaningful events in chains,….”

    The intent was to show you that without knowing the designer’s context/intent for a structure, trying to calculate it’s CSI is meaningless.

  73. 92 Eugen March 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Maya

    “(3) provide at least 10 posts defending ID that you’ve made on “hostile” websites, the posts totalling 2,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade).
    The apologetics course requirement isn’t much different:
    (2) You need to email the grader . . . your 3,000-word web posts on hostile websites (including links to your posts)”

    I missed (2) and (3) further down the page. Unusual type of course.

    I still wouldn’t think it’s trolling the same way I don’t think you are trolling when defending evolution.

    I’m willing to bet that you do. They just keep their views to themselves to avoid the often violent reactions they would get from those “loving” Christians.

    Violent reactions? I doubt it. Did anybody ever violently reacted against you when you told them you are an atheist (without rubbing it in their face) ?

  74. 93 Zachriel March 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    kairosfocus: The continued scoffing and hyperskepticism, laced with the odd bit of vulgarity above, do not commend this thread to any serious point by point engagement.

    We had asked if complexity and specification are independent measures, and how to calculate each. Did you answer somewhere on this thread?

    kairosfocus: Onlookers, I suggest you look at the short survey from the note always linked for every comment I have ever made at UD (please note Eqns 1 – 6 in context): http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Info_design_and_science.htm#infois

    From a cursory look at your link, it seems that you are calculating Shannon Information for a functional sequence. Is the Shannon Information of a functional sequence equivalent to CSI?

  75. 94 Pachyaena March 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Alan, you make it sound like you don’t believe that anyone could possibly ever be banned from Panda’s Thumb (and Pharyngula?). Is it because you support the site(s) and its (or their) agenda and believe that it (or they) always allow un-moderated free speech to anyone who wants to post there?

    If it isn’t for the reasons above then I really don’t see why you care whether I’m telling the truth about my bans or not. I am, but I only mentioned them in the first place to make a point about both ‘sides’ (or at least certain websites) being closed-minded when it comes to what they allow to be said/posted.

    From what I’ve seen so far, this site apparently lets people say what they like, which I appreciate (thanks Mark).

    I’m not all that concerned about my credibility here, and especially when only one person questions it. This is, after all, just one of millions of blog sites and I doubt that what is said, believed, or not believed here is going to change the world. It’s not that I think that what is said here is meaningless, but I try to keep it in the proper perspective. I realize that not everyone is going to believe everything I say or agree with me at all times but I figure that some things I say might be food for thought for some people.

    By the way, in my response to Maya I was just joking around about Dembski and my bans.

  76. 95 Alan Fox March 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I really don’t see why you care whether I’m telling the truth about my bans or not.

    Honesty is something I care passionately about. I try to be honest and I very much appreciate honesty from others. It makes a free and open exchange of view worthwhile.

    In this instance, either support the claim that you were banned from PT unfairly or retract it. Or don’t. I merely suggest you take either option in the hope that more constructive dialogue can ensue.

  77. 96 Toronto March 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Pachyaena:

    “If it isn’t for the reasons above then I really don’t see why you care whether I’m telling the truth about my bans or not.”

    You’re telling me you’re prepared to lie to me.

    Were you lying before?

    • 97 Pachyaena March 22, 2011 at 1:27 am

      Actually, I’m wasn’t telling you anything. I was addressing Alan, but since you chose to respond with a nonsensical statement and question I’ll respond to you thus: I don’t have to prove anything about my honesty to you, Alan, or anyone else here.

      I have seen lots of people claim that they were banned at UD, Panda’s Thumb, Pharyngula, or other sites and I never challenged their claim. Why should I? If they were lying, either I or someone else would likely figure it out sooner or later if they posted there after they claimed to be banned.

      Why are you (and Alan) so concerned with whether I was banned or not? I don’t believe that it’s just about being honest. I think it’s because you two probably believe that atheists, or at least the ones at Panda’s Thumb (and Pharyngula?) would never stifle discussion or do anything to shut someone up. The atheists on those sites are all open minded people who just want to freely and intelligently discuss the merits of any claims and would never dream of banning anyone, right? It’s only those despicable ID proponents who would stifle free speech and ban people who don’t agree with them. Gimme a break.

      PZ Myers loves to wield and brag about his banhammer and even has a section on his site listing the people he has banned.

      I think there’s another reason you and Alan want me to divulge my user names at PT and Pharyngula. You want to see what I said there because you probably figure I must have said some really bad things about evolution (and other things or people) to get banned. You probably think that I could be some sneaky ID proponent or Creationist who is trying to trick you and others here into saying something that I can then attack. A Trojan Horse, or something like that. If that’s what you guys think, your paranoia is showing.

      If I were to claim that I’m a world famous Rock Star, a highly respected Professor of Paleontology, that I climbed Mt. Everest, or instead that I’m an unemployed ditch digger who was recently 86’ed from a local tavern, would you expect me to prove that too? 🙂

      • 98 Alan Fox March 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

        Actually…

        …too.

        If you want to be taken seriously 5inasmuch as you want people to read your comments rather than scroll over them) you need to develop some integrity. A start would be not to make assertions you can’t or won’t support. I defend your absolute right to post nonsense on the internet (you are far from alone) but I claim the equivalent right to point it out.

        More simply…

        Stop claiming you were banned if you can’t demonstrate the fact.

  78. 99 Maya March 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Eugen,

    I still wouldn’t think it’s trolling the same way I don’t think you are trolling when defending evolution.

    When I get into a discussion, I fully intend to address the arguments with which I disagree. Dembski’s little vacation bible school exercise is simply rewarding drive-by trolling of sites he considers “hostile”.

    If the requirement were to engage in an online discussion with someone who disagrees with what you are learning in this course and write a paper describing their most convincing argument, it would be worthwhile. It’s not.

    I’m willing to bet that you do. They just keep their views to themselves to avoid the often violent reactions they would get from those “loving” Christians.

    Violent reactions? I doubt it.

    I know of a couple examples off the top of my head.

    Did anybody ever violently reacted against you when you told them you are an atheist (without rubbing it in their face) ?

    I’ve personally never been physically attacked, but I have been yelled at, called names, and threatened with eternal damnation after voicing my views in a class.

    Or is that okay since it counts as “rubbing it in their face”?

  79. 100 Toronto March 22, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Pachyaena:

    If it isn’t for the reasons above then I really don’t see why you care whether I’m telling the truth about my bans or not.

    I care about whether you’re telling the truth, regardless of the subject.

    If the truth isn’t important to you, how can I, Alan or anyone else trust what you say in a debate?

    Why does this have to be explained to you?

    You say

    • 101 Pachyaena March 22, 2011 at 4:56 am

      The truth is important to me. Proving to you that I was banned at some sites is not important to me. If you don’t believe me, fine, don’t believe me.

  80. 102 Toronto March 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Pachyaena: If you don’t believe me, fine, don’t believe me.

    Request granted.

    From now on, I won’t believe anything you say.

  81. 103 Eugen March 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Pachyena

    “If I were to claim that I’m a world famous Rock Star, a highly respected Professor of Paleontology, that I climbed Mt. Everest, or instead that I’m an unemployed ditch digger who was recently 86′ed from a local tavern, would you expect me to prove that too”

    You are Elvis,aren’t you?

    • 104 Pachyaena March 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm

      Nope, I’m his twin brother Jesse. I didn’t die at birth and have been living incognito in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico for a long time.

  82. 105 MathGrrl March 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Denyse O’Leary has kindly offered me the opportunity to make a guest post on UD. You can see it there now. I look forward to your participation.

    • 106 Pachyaena March 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      From the responses so far to your post there, it looks like about all you’re going to get is the usual bobbing, weaving, goal post moving, and some ridiculing remarks (like the one from bornagain77).

      It’s a shame that UD won’t allow comments from many people who would support your questions and comments and thereby make the discussion more balanced and informative.

      I can’t help but wonder if O’Leary invited you to post there in the hope of making you a target of ridicule. She knows that she and other moderators block many questions and comments, and she knows that she can make sure you are on your own there, or at least very close to it.

      It’s extremely chickenshit to invite you to post there knowing that you will be ganged up on by the resident religious kooks and that most or all people who question or disagree with the responses you get from the kooks will not be allowed to voice their questions or disagreement.

      If O’Leary or any of the other religious kooks at UD had any guts, they would allow free speech on UD and they would be eager to respond on sites like this one too. I guess it makes them feel safer to stick to their sanctuary where they can control what is said.

  83. 107 Toronto March 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    MathGrrl:

    I will definitely be following it, but for some of us, participation is no longer possible on UD.

    Those of us in “The Banned” will all silently shout out our support.

  84. 108 MathGrrl March 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Toronto,

    It’s always possible to provide references from UD to what you post here!

  85. 109 Toronto March 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    MathGrrl:

    Thanks. 🙂

    What’s sad is that we have to play these games of “Expelled” at all!

  86. 110 Eugen March 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Just tried to post at UD and still in moderation.

    I’ll wait here with my neighbor Toronto. We had 20 cm of snow last night so we’ll make a snowman.

  87. 112 Toronto March 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    vjtorley:

    When calculating CSI we have to first determine the probability of a gene G occurring given the chance hypothesis. In the case of the duplicated gene G2 this probability is still 1/4^(3,000,000,000), the same as the single gene G1. This is because the probability of G2 occurring given the duplication algorithm and G1 is exactly 1. So, the duplication adds nothing to the probability of occurring by chance.

    E.H. is not treating CSI the way it is treated in most cases.

    He has taken a dynamic view of “information” but CSI is supposed to be treated as a static calculation.

    In other words, ID’ists typically look at a structure, calculate it’s “informational” content in bits, determine its improbability and then compare it to a test UPB value. If above, design, if below, chance.

    What E.H. has done is take a snapshot of the “information”, pre-duplication, and then again after duplication and come to the conclusion that simce it was inevitable, no extra “information” was generated.

    In reality, it is now much harder to blindly generate this structure by chance regardless of how the extra bits appeared.

    The CSI value has also gone up since whatever the specific functionality was, that output has doubled.

    If the functionality has not doubled because of some negative feedback process, then the whole “information” element has undergone a change in specific functionality due to that feedback process that was triggered.

    Now the CSI will have completely changed with a non-linear corelation to the original.

    By adding specific function with a duplication, CSI goes up.

  88. 113 Eugen March 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    From PaV on UD comment #13

    “…. Give us your own sense of what you think specification is, and one of your own examples of what you think a specification is.”

    I think I was asking for similar clarification few days ago.

  89. 114 MathGrrl March 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Eugen,

    That whole thread is dedicated to getting an answer to that question. Since it is an ID concept, the answer should come from ID proponents, don’t you agree?

    • 115 Neil Rickert March 24, 2011 at 3:25 am

      Since it is an ID concept, the answer should come from ID proponents, don’t you agree?

      I certainly agree with that.

      You are doing a great job over there. It is interesting to see how unclear the ID proponents are of their own concept of CSI.

  90. 116 Alan Fox March 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Hyvin tehty, Mathgrrl!

    You seem to have built on the achievements of some earlier ID critics who were prepared to go that extra mile in an attempt to communicate. Fascinating to see how things will turn out.

  91. 117 MathGrrl March 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Alan,

    I stand on the shoulders of socks?

  92. 118 Eugen March 23, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Mathgrrl

    54 comments! You will not get much seep tonight!

    ” is an ID concept, the answer should come from ID proponents, don’t you agree? ”

    It’ll be “mama of all blog discussions”…

  93. 119 Pachyaena March 24, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I just tried to post a response to the “…Honest Exchanges…” post on UD. My response is “in moderation”. Some of my other responses have been blocked and then deleted in the recent past. So much for:

    “We never run from a confrontation, because we are confident in our position. We will debate the issues here and let the chips fall.”

    Those statements are as dishonest as it gets.

  94. 120 Mark Frank March 24, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Mathgrrl

    Your patience is extraordinary. You seem to respond to almost every comment however illogical, irrelevant or rude. I shall preserve the UD discussion in case anyone ever claims that the concept of CSI is straightforward and well understood by the ID community.

  95. 121 MathGrrl March 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Mark Frank,

    Your patience is extraordinary. You seem to respond to almost every comment however illogical, irrelevant or rude.

    You’re far too kind. I’m probably going to have to be more direct to keep the thread focused on my original questions.

    Oh yes, and I meditate. A lot. 😉

  96. 122 Toronto March 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Mark Frank:

    You will have great documented evidence that ID is simply a talking point lacking any science at all.

  97. 123 bill long March 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I wonder where the hell DEMBSKI is. Why hasn’t he jumped in there and provided the algorithms/maths for his concept in a clear and concise way?

  98. 126 Pachyaena March 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I submitted 4 comment posts on UD last night. ALL of them are honest and civil. NONE of them have been posted. They’re all still “in moderation”. I wonder how many comments by other people are being blocked?

    So much for: “We Welcome Honest Exchanges Here”. And: “It is my sincere hope that this site never becomes an echo chamber. Echo chambers are boring. We always welcome a (civil) discussion with those who disagree with us. We never run from a confrontation, because we are confident in our position. We will debate the issues here and let the chips fall.”

    Meanwhile, vjtorley is allowed to post comments like these:

    “Instead, Mr. Curcio’s letter betrays a jaw-dropping, bone-headed ignorance of history.”

    “I would have expected a more intelligent argument from a trained scientist and an historian than the farrago of nonsense contained in Frank Curcio’s letter. Mr. Curcio, you disappoint me.”

    For a site that welcomes civility, those remarks aren’t very civil.

  99. 127 Eugen March 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Pachyena

    Same here. I don’t understand that place. I think they should moderate only for bad language or similar.

    • 128 Pachyaena March 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      Eugen, if they were “honest” at UD they would only block comments that are threatening or otherwise over the top. It’s abundantly clear that they block comments simply because those comments question or disagree with the ID/religious party line, and they have been doing that for a long time. If they really were “confident in our position” they would freely allow questions and disagreements.

      Here is one of the posts I submitted last night, that hasn’t been posted. I submitted it to the “We Welcome Honest Exchanges Here” thread:

      Pachyaena

      03/23/2011

      6:02 pm
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      “Then why am I in moderation and why are others there too and why are many people blocked or banned from posting here? And don’t try to tell me that my comments or all the comments from others who have been blocked or banned are not “honest” or “civil”. It’s obvious that the blocking of comments and banning are only done to people who question or disagree with ID or religious beliefs, and it has nothing to do with honesty or civility.

      This site IS an echo chamber. You let bornagain77 and other ID proponents say whatever they like, including insulting, un-“civil” remarks, but you (UD moderators) block and ban many others who don’t worship the party line from posting comments and questions, and you have been doing that for a long time.

      How about you and the others who control this site, and all the ID proponents who post here, actually being “honest” and live up to your words?:

      “It is my sincere hope that this site never becomes an echo chamber. Echo chambers are boring. We always welcome a (civil) discussion with those who disagree with us. We never run from a confrontation, because we are confident in our position. We will debate the issues here and let the chips fall.”

      I’ll believe that when I see it in all threads and posts at all times, and when I see all the posts that have been blocked and deleted restored and posted, and when all the banned people are reinstated, and when all closed threads are reopened, and when no threads are ever closed, and when bans are never issued (unless someone is obviously threatening some else or doing something else that is obviously way over the top). And way over the top doesn’t mean people disagreeing with you.”

  100. 129 Eugen March 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Alan, Toronto, Mark etc

    Mathgrrl said on UD:

    2. Do you agree with his conclusion that CSI can be generated by known evolutionary mechanisms (gene duplication, in this case)?

    Excuse me but since when is gene duplication an evolutionary mechanism? Posters here always correct me how evolution applies after OOL and only on large number of cells/organisms. Therefore I learned evolution is RM + NS acting on statistically large number of cells or organisms. It is unfair to look at one process inside the cell and say that’s the place to look for evolution in action.

    I think we are starting with wrong example which is causing quite a confusion on UD.

  101. 130 Zachriel March 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Eugen: Excuse me but since when is gene duplication an evolutionary mechanism?

    Gene duplication as an evolutionary mechanism has been known for a century. Forty-some years ago, Susumu Ohno’s work led to the discovery that gene duplications were one of the most important factors in evolution.

    Ohno, Sex Chromosomes and Sexlinked Genes, Berlin: Springler-Verlag, 1967.

  102. 131 Toronto March 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Eugen:

    The point is that Dembski claims CSI can be a sole indicator of design when applied to an object of unknown origins.

    When an object has “x bits” of info, how do you derive how any “y bit” substring and its functionality were added to the object?

    The only way to know is to look at a historically earlier version of that object, if you can find it, and compare them, which invalidates his premise that you only need the object under test.

    This is also not a great help since without the duplication, the functionality of the two objects may be different.

    This is a good example since gene duplication happens.

  103. 132 Zachriel March 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Eugen: Therefore I learned evolution is RM + NS acting on statistically large number of cells or organisms. It is unfair to look at one process inside the cell and say that’s the place to look for evolution in action.

    Gene duplication is just one of many mechanisms. Duplicated genes often diverge, leading to increased genetic diversity. Mathgrrl is just using simple genetic duplication as an example. If it leads to an increase in CSI, then it is apparent that natural processes can create CSI.

    1) We take a functional gene sequence. Somehow or other, we calculate its CSI without regard to its supposed evolutionary history.

    2) We take a duplicated gene sequence. Again, we ignore its history, but only consider the actual sequence. We calculate its CSI.

    3) Compare the results.

    For this exercise to have meaning, CSI has to be an unambiguous measure. That is the heart of Mathgrrl’s question.


    {CSI actually refers to a threshold. The proper Dembskian term for the metric is specific complexity, but the terms are often used interchangeably, so we will continue to use CSI.}

  104. 133 Alan Fox March 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I wonder if Bob Marks might find time to respond to this:

    Hi Dr Marks

    I don’t know if you are aware of a thread at Uncommon Descent by a guest contributor, Mathgrrl, asking for a mathematical definition of CSI (complex specified information). The commenters are having a hard time providing the requested information and I wonder if you have time to contribute. I am sure your input would be invaluable.

    I look forward to reading any comment you may find the time to post.

    Alan Fox

  105. 134 MathGrrl March 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Alan,

    Thanks for reaching out to Marks. I’m growing concerned that the thread will reach the point where it takes too long to load before anyone answers the questions I raised.

  106. 135 Eugen March 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Zachriel Toronto

    “Gene duplication as an evolutionary mechanism has been known for a century.”

    Looks like I’m a century late to the party.

    Thanks, it’s good to know evolutionary mechanisms apply to genes.

    I’ll remember this next time I’m corrected not to use evolution on intra cell mechanisms or OOL. I never thought there was a demarcation line anyway. Evolution should work on every level. Si?

  107. 136 Zachriel March 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Eugen: Looks like I’m a century late to the party.

    Heh. That’s okay. A lot of IDers still haven’t caught up to 1859.

    Eugen: I’ll remember this next time I’m corrected not to use evolution on intra cell mechanisms or OOL.

    Evolution should apply to the origin of intracellular mechanisms, but they evolved so early in the history of life, and left scant evidence, that much is still unknown.

    Eugen: I never thought there was a demarcation line anyway. Evolution should work on every level. Si?

    As for the origin of life, it probably wasn’t a singular event, but a process that may have included some evolutionary mechanisms, especially late in the process. Everyone would love a unified theory of evolution and origins, but such a theory does not yet exist.

  108. 137 Eugen March 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Zachriel

    I appreciate your reasonable answer using words like should,probably and would. Many questions on cell mechanisms are not answered yet. Fortunately bio informatics and some other multi disciplinary approaches will yield the best results in the near future. It would be good to keep an open mind so one would not be left behind. I only have a glimpse of amazing possibilities. Your friend from 1859 could have no idea. Today ,we have no excuse to avoid considering new possibilities.

    This thread being about CSI what do you think on my Scenario 1 and 2 above.

  109. 138 Zachriel March 25, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Eugen: This thread being about CSI what do you think on my Scenario 1 and 2 above.

    Not sure which comment to which you are referring. Can you give me a date & time?

  110. 139 Zachriel March 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Eugen: This thread being about CSI what do you think on my Scenario 1 and 2 above.

    Not sure which comment you are referring to. Can you provide a date and time?

  111. 140 aiguy March 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Hey, nice to see all you here!

    I’ve been in UD moderation for some time now, so I don’t even try to post there any more.

    Mathgrrl, I think you’ve done a splendid job persevering in your quest for a good-faith debate at UD and dealing with the issues we’ve all encountered there.

    I’ve tried to make a different sort of argument there. I’m very sympathetic to the notion that there is something fundamental missing from our understanding of how complex form and function appears in biology, even without a mathematically rigorous way to judge exactly what signifies “complex form and function”. My objection to ID is that there is even more missing from our understanding of how complexity rises by means of “intelligent cause”, so much so that the claim that biological systems were “designed” is in fact entirely vacuous.

    • 141 Alan Fox March 27, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Hi aiguy

      I’m very sympathetic to the notion that there is something fundamental missing from our understanding of how complex form and function appears in biology, even without a mathematically rigorous way to judge exactly what signifies “complex form and function”.

      I guess we like ants from a nest in a gap in the pavement a few metres from the Empire State building, oblivious of it’s existence.

  112. 143 Pachyaena March 26, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Over on the calculation of CSI thread at UD, PaV said:

    “Second, the math is easy. Yes, the math is that difficult in “Specification”; but it isn’t that easy either.

    But, again, this is the easy part.”

    I may be guilty of a bit of quote mining but I found his statements so funny and nonsensical I just had to point them out here.

    By the way, the four comments I submitted at UD two days ago have not been posted. Instead of saying “We Welcome Honest Exchanges Here”, Barry Arrington should have said: ‘We Welcome Lopsided Dishonest Proselytizing Here’

  113. 144 Pachyaena March 26, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I’ve been thinking about some things for awhile and would like to hear what others think about them (especially ID proponents).

    When ID proponents talk about ID and complex specified information they refer to particular things, like bacterial flagellum, and “function”.

    They say that some things show or have CSI and/or function and some don’t. They often use comparisons between something like a rock vs. a human, or a bacterial flagellum vs. a block of wood.

    Here’s something from the calculation of CSI thread on UD, by M. Holcumbrink:

    “There are certain single piece parts in the aerospace industry that have thousands of features, which means it contains an enormous amount of information. A single rectangular chunk of aluminum, on the other hand, has very little information. I haven’t the faintest clue how to go about calculating the CSI that is contained in either of them, but I know that the difference between the two is considerable.”

    From what I’ve seen, most or all ID proponents would say that a chunk of aluminum has no CSI, but if the chunk of aluminum is fashioned into parts of an airplane, those parts, and especially when they’re assembled, do have CSI, and function, and that it’s measurable.

    Another thing ID proponents do is talk some about things at the molecular (or quantum) level but they seem to ignore what’s going on in the chunk of aluminum at the molecular or quantum level.

    I’m going to throw some thoughts and questions out here and see what you all think.

    Is everything at the molecular/quantum level complex, and does everything, at the molecular/quantum level, contain information?

    Even when the chunk of aluminum is fashioned into parts, and/or those parts are assembled, the aluminum in those parts is still the same substance it was before.

    Do the atoms in the chunk of aluminum perform a function? Do the atoms have information? Are the atoms complex?

    The chunk of aluminum, if “rectangular”, had to be fashioned by a ‘designer’. That ‘designer’ would have to be a human, unless and until it can be determined that alien life forms can do the same thing.

    Could the process of fashioning the aluminum into a rectangular chunk be described as complex and specified? Did it take information to fashion the aluminum into a rectangular chunk?

    Is the rectangular chunk itself complex, and/or specified, and/or does it have information, and/or does it have a function, at the molecular/quantum level or any other level?

    IF ‘God” created everything in the universe, why do only some things show or have CSI (according to ID proponents)? If ‘God” created everything in the universe, didn’t ‘He’ design and create the atoms that would be found in a chunk of aluminum, whether it’s rectangular or otherwise?

    Is design only considered design if humans can recognize it? In other words, was there “intelligent” design in nature before there were humans? Do any animals (besides humans) recognize any of the design that ID proponents attribute to a transcendental intelligent designer?

    Do any animals (besides humans) recognize design by humans? Do they notice/recognize human designed things that don’t occur naturally?

    I would think that if I were an ID and CSI believer I would see intelligent design and CSI in everything, everywhere. I find it interesting and a bit confusing that ID proponents claim that only some things show or have ID or CSI or function, especially when they attribute the entire universe to their creating and designing God.

  114. 145 Zachriel March 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Eugen: Scenario 1: 100 members of one species lived in a warm little pond. Suddenly climate changed for colder which killed 50 of them. Surviving obviously had small genetic variation which gave them advantage to survive. The rest of the 50 members continued reproducing after passing trough the natural selection filter. How much did CSI increase by this evolutionary natural selection filter?

    There’s no way to tell. First, there’s no unambiguous measure of CSI. Nor do we have any information about what ‘information’ allowed some to survive and others to die.

    Eugen: Scenario 2 and conclusion: Surviving members of the species from Scenario 1 continued to reproduce for a long time. Suddenly food supply changed which caused 50% of members to die. Surviving members had slight genetic variation that allowed them to take advantage of the new food supply.

    So, your idea is that each variant eventually reaches its demise for one reason or another. This is not uncommon, when species become highly specialized for very particular niches.

    Eugen: It appears that natural selection works like a passive filter that allows some existing small genetic variation to become prominent and another attenuated. It is possible that there is pre adaptation genetic set which slowly gets filtered out by NS after so many cycles. At the end of the last filtering cycle species become extinct.

    The difference is that there are sources of *novelty*. And novelty leads to diversity and divergence. So while one species may go extinct, its relatives may continue. Or not, as the case may be.

    Does that answer your question?

  115. 146 Pachyaena March 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Joseph, over at UD, is starting to show his true colors and is on the verge of blowing a gasket.

    Among other things, he says:

    “Honest exchanges are welcome, however it has become painfully obvious that MathGrrl et al don’t want an honest exchange…”

    Hey Joseph, the ‘exchanges’ at UD are dishonestly manipulated and controlled by the biased moderators. People like MathGrrl are trying to get honest answers to honest, reasonable questions, but the mods are blocking some comments, and you and most of the other ID proponents are trying every dishonest trick in the book to dodge the questions and cloud the issues.

    Any reasonable person can easily see that you’re just pissed off because some people don’t sheepishly obey your ‘Joseph said it, I believe it, and that settles it’ dogma.

    You’re a pompous, dishonest blowhard.

  116. 147 eric holloway March 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    MathGrrl,

    Do you accept mathematical calculations of CSI in scenarios other than the 4 you list?

    Eric

    • 148 Alan Fox March 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Not to speak for Mathgrrl but I am sure, if you have a mathematical calculation for any scenario (preferably biological!) it would be a start. Bring it on!

    • 149 MathGrrl March 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      Sorry for the delay in replying — I was mostly off the net for the weekend.

      What scenarios do you have in mind?

  117. 150 Eugen March 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Pachyena

    you are asking tough questions:

    ” Is everything at the molecular/quantum level complex, and does everything, at the molecular/quantum level, contain information? ”

    John Wheeler’s quote will give you an idea but that’s for another thread”

    It is not unreasonable to imagine that information sits at the core of physics, just as it sits at the core of a computer.
    It from bit. Otherwise put, every ‘it’—every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself—derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. ‘It from bit’ symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom—a very deep bottom, in most instances—an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is aparticipatory universe. (John Archibald Wheeler 1990: 5)

    • 151 Pachyaena March 27, 2011 at 12:43 am

      Hi Eugen, one of the problems I see with ID and CSI are the variable definitions of the word “information”. Like many other words it has a different meaning for different people. Like many ‘mainstream’ scientists, ID proponents can’t seem to agree on definitions. Just think of the word “species”.

      Awhile back I remember seeing a thread (don’t remember which site) where the definition of the word “information” was hotly debated.

      I may be wrong but it seems to me that MathGrrl’s questions, being mathematical in nature, are an attempt to get a relatively concrete definition of CSI (and ID?) and to weed out variable, vague definitions as much as possible. The responses to her questions on UD have brought up so many variables that it’s just a mass of confusion and goal post moving. The ID proponents can’t seem to define (or understand in some cases) the most important tool of their ‘theory’ (determining CSI that could not have come about via strictly material means).

      I’m not sure I understand Wheeler’s words completely but I think I get the main idea. That very deep bottom he mentions, whether ultimately material or immaterial, seems to be where the answers to the biggest questions may be found, but that “bottom” is tough to find.

  118. 152 Eugen March 26, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Zachriel

    ” The difference is that there are sources of *novelty” ”

    I assume you agree with my scenarios with the addition of source of novelty. What would this source be?

  119. 153 Pachyaena March 27, 2011 at 1:28 am

    In the CSI thread on UD, Upright BiPed said to JemimaRacktouey: “You need to concentrate on the evidence, not on me.”

    Since I’m not allowed to post there, I’ll say this here:

    Several people are concentrating on MathGrrl personally, including her motives and background. Talk about hypocrisy!

    The ID proponents on UD should “concentrate on the evidence” and produce it, if they have any. It doesn’t matter who asks the questions or what their motive or background is. If ID proponents are “confident in our position”, as Barry Arrington claims on UD, they should be able to deal with any questions from anyone, and they should stick to relevant answers to the questions and not play stupid, diversionary games.

  120. 154 Pachyaena March 27, 2011 at 8:41 am

    In the CSI thread on UD, PaV is trying to replace the term CSI (complex specified information) with specified complexity, and using the difference as an excuse to denigrate MathGrrl, and to avoid answering her questions. Well, Mark has pointed out the error of his ways, but I want to add some things.

    In the FAQ page on UD, I found some statements that contradict what PaV contends. The word “information” and the term CSI are used extensively on that page. Here are some quotes from that page, and I looked at less than half the page:

    “For a long time, Intelligent Design (ID) proponents, enlightened by current scientific knowledge and faithful to its methods, have been making specific and objective arguments about the origin of biological information. Nevertheless, many critics mistakenly insist that ID, in spite of its well-defined purpose, its supporting evidence, and its mathematically precise paradigms, is not really a valid scientific theory.”

    “Intelligent design moves backward: that is, it observes something interesting in nature (complex, specified information) and then theorises and tests possible ways how that might have come to be.”

    “Now, after nineteen centuries, we see that — per empirical observation — we evidently do live in a cosmos that exhibits fine-tumed, function-specifying complex information as a premise of facilitating life, and cell-based life is also based on such functional, complex, and specific information, e.g in DNA.”

    “ID affirms that design is the cause, or at least a main cause, of complex biological information.”

    “Furthermore, the only empirically well-supported source of functionally specific, complex information is: intelligence.”

    “By contrast, design is an empirically known source of the class of information – complex, specified information (CSI) — exhibited by complex biological systems.”

    “ID is a theory about the cause of complex biological information.”

    “In other words, according to ID theory, no observed unintelligent causal mechanism ever proposed for the generation of information — whether based on chance, necessity, a combination of the two, or any other blindly mechanical form of “cause” — is credibly capable of generating the CSI in biological information on the scope of our observed universe; which is often estimated to comprise about 10^80 atoms and to have existed for some 13.7 billions of years.

    This, of course, can in principle be easily empirically falsified by simply producing a case where on reliable observation, such forces of undirected chance plus necessity have credibly generated CSI. But, while there are literally billions of cases of intelligent causation of such CSI [think: Internet], there are notoriously, no credible cases of chance and necessity alone generating CSI.”

    Now, keep in mind that MathGrrl asked her questions on UD, the site with those statements (and more) on their FAQ page. She has been told that she should have just asked Bill Dembski privately and shouldn’t have pestered UD. Dembski writes on UD, and even if he didn’t UD (and ID proponents) should be ready and willing to answer questions that pertain to the statements on their site. Also keep in mind that no one forced anyone at UD to respond to MathGrrl. PaV complains that his time is valuable and that he’s wasting it on MathGrrl’s questions, even though he really hasn’t answered them. He says that MathGrrl expects answers and that her request is a demand. I don’t remember her saying that she expects anything, or that she is demanding anything. She asked the questions quite nicely. At this point in that thread I wouldn’t blame her if she did expect or demand answers.

    Notice also that in one of the paragraphs quoted above they say that ID has “mathematically precise paradigms”. From the looks of what’s been said in the CSI thread, it doesn’t appear that the ID proponents have mathematically precise paradigms for ID or CSI or specified complexity.

    I wish I could argue this on UD, but they won’t post my comments. Maybe someone who can post there would like to point out these things?

    Here’s a link to their FAQ page:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/

  121. 155 eric holloway March 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

    @ Alan Fox & MathGrrl

    The scenario is as follows:

    I wrote a simple competitive game where agents fight each other in a last man standing tournament. I wrote a couple AI agents and then played against them.

    I then ran a statistical test on the game histories of the different agents to see if the intelligent agent (myself) stood out significantly from the rest. For the game and the set of AI agents used my tests showed a very distinct difference between myself and most of the agents (but not all), p < 0.01.

    Here is a paper describing the experiment. Though, to be upfront, it really needs to be cleaned up and clarified.
    http://www.box.net/shared/u13u3agxqg (apologies for postscript file)

    I believe my statistical test maps directly to Dembski's CSI, but I still need to show the work.

    So, my research is not ready for prime time, but I am determining whether there is enough interest for me to take the time and fix it up.

    Like most things in my life, it will be awhile before I post anything on UD.

    Anyways, interested in your feedback,
    Eric

  122. 156 eric holloway March 27, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Also, I know very little about biology, so am not qualified to say anything about its application to biology. My background is computer science.

  123. 157 Zachriel March 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Eugen: I assume you agree with my scenarios with the addition of source of novelty. What would this source be?

    Let’s reread your conclusion.

    Eugen: 99.9 % of all species that ever existed became extinct by this process. It is hard to envision how passive filter described as natural selection can create CSI or anything else.

    If there is a source of fecundity, novelty, diversity and divergence, then it can. When the environment changes, some variants may be better adapted. They will tend to predominate in the population — with *variation*. Then as other environmental stresses occur, selection will occur among these new variants.

    In addition, some variants will separate into new populations and begin to move into new niches. Even if the original population is wiped out, the new population may survive while, figuratively or literally, living under a rock. It will then diversify, perhaps even re-invading the original niche.

  124. 158 Zachriel March 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    eric holloway: I wrote a simple competitive game where agents fight each other in a last man standing tournament. I wrote a couple AI agents and then played against them.

    The description of the game doesn’t seem clear. Do you have a web-based simulation?

    Consider that chess programs can easily beat human players, and even the best players have troubles determining whether they are playing against a human or AI.

    Maybe we’re misreading your paper.

  125. 160 Eugen March 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    eric holloway

    I read only first page of your paper and it looks interesting. I will print it out and finish reading when I have more time.

    Zachriel

    99.9 % extinction rate is statistically significant to prove RM + NS inability not only to produce new information but also to maintain the same.

  126. 161 Eugen March 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Jemima R said on UD

    “Any actual person working in design would look at those far-too-complex “designs” and say “I’d never ever design something in that way””.

    Wow! Is this person a troll? I wish I was not in moderation so I could say few words to him (her).

  127. 162 Zachriel March 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Eugen: 99.9 % extinction rate is statistically significant to prove RM + NS inability not only to produce new information but also to maintain the same.

    Sounds like you mean this as a mathematical proof. Consider the case in extremis. An individual reproduces, creating 1000 variants. Selection is absolute, and there are no other factors. All die, except one. Then this one reproduces 1000 new variants.

    Think of it as trial-and-error. You throw out 999 of a thousand keeping the best. Tinker some more, then throw out 999 again. It’s easy to see how this process could ratchet through the fitness space.

  128. 163 Eugen March 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Zachriel

    “Think of it as trial-and-error. You throw out 999 of a thousand keeping the best. Tinker some more, then throw out 999 again. It’s easy to see how this process could ratchet through the fitness space.”

    It’s possible for the process to move through fitness space like you described in the example.
    Again, process has boundaries that eventually lead to the dead end.

    Each organism has a small information repository so we can see how this process ends with a tremendous loss of information.

    If evolutionary mechanism could produce new information we would observe diametrically opposite situation compared to what we see today.

    For your optimism Zachriel you get one smiley 🙂 🙂 OK, two.

  129. 164 Zachriel March 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Eugen: Again, process has boundaries that eventually lead to the dead end.

    After the failure of one absolute statement, you introduce another.

    It depends on the fitness landscape. You might consider the extraordinary example of the mammalian middle ear, three very delicate bones that have to be in a precise relationship to work. Studies with embryoes indicates that two of the bones evolved from the reptilian jaw. If they evolved, then each step has to provide a selectable improvement in hearing while still allowing the jaw to work. How is that even possible? What magic is involved?

  130. 165 Eugen March 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Zachriel

    Lets keep it simple. This is an observed fact: 99.9% of species that ever existed are extinct . I will stand by my interpretation that fact means a tremendous loss of information overall. If you disagree, do you have some other explanation?

    Another thing:

    “process has boundaries that eventually lead to the dead end”

    Is this not true for majority of species so far? Isn’t it good enough sample size?

    OTOH, average species life span is 10 mil.years so no worries, we have a long way to go.

  131. 166 MathGrrl March 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    eric,

    I downloaded your file and will take a look at it tonight.

    • 167 MathGrrl March 30, 2011 at 2:20 am

      eric,

      I was hoping to look at source code so that I can understand what you’re doing. Are you willing to make it available?

      • 168 Eric March 30, 2011 at 3:42 am

        Would you mind emailing me, and I’ll send you a link to the online folder? I don’t want to have the full folder out here for public viewing.

  132. 169 Zachriel March 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Eugen: I will stand by my interpretation that fact means a tremendous loss of information overall.

    That’s correct. However, far more information was created during that period of time. That’s because of fecundity and sources of natural variation, such as mutation. Consider another simple example. We have a population with variation. It splits into two variant populations, with one of the two going extinct 99.9% of the time. After one millions splits, we have about 1000 variant populations, with 99.9% of the variants having gone extinct. The end result is more variety, not less.

  133. 170 Eugen March 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Zachriel

    Although I see overall decrease over long time spans it would be difficult to judge in individual events. I think you ‘ve been suggesting that it’s possible for novelty to arise and maybe that way increase information. Help me out here.

    In yours (or mine) example above for the surviving members of the species ,how can we tell if information in their DNA increased, decreased or it stayed neutral?

    We’ll face a few variables and questions:

    a) gain in function means increase in information?

    b) loss of function means decrease in information?

    Results :

    1) gain of function may help survival

    2) gain of function may lead to death

    3) loss of function may help survival

    4) loss of function may lead to death

    aa) It’s getting complicated.

  134. 171 bill long March 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    “If they evolved, then each step has to provide a selectable improvement in hearing while still allowing the jaw to work. How is that even possible? What magic is involved?”

    Indeed. Maybe it wasn’t a-telic. How can we know?

  135. 172 Zachriel March 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Baby steps. This was your statement:

    Eugen: I will stand by my interpretation that fact means a tremendous loss of information overall.

    Eugen: I think you ‘ve been suggesting that it’s possible for novelty to arise and maybe that way increase information.

    If we have a sequence, say “ABCDEFG” and we duplicate it with variation “ABCDXFG”, we now have two strings.

    BEFORE:
    “ABCDEFG”

    AFTER:
    “ABCDEFG”
    “ABCDXFG”

    AFTER has more information than BEFORE.

  136. 173 Eugen March 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Zachriel

    “I think you ‘ve been suggesting that it’s possible for novelty to arise and maybe that way increase information.”

    Yes, I said that but all this talk may be for nothing.

    First of all we should get clarification from our silent experts on a) and b) above.

    If a) and b) are correct then cases a) 2) and b) 3) are unexpected but possible.

    I don’t think measuring organism’s DNA information will be clear indication for anything.

    This makes the issue instantly boring.

  137. 174 Zachriel March 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Zachriel: AFTER has more information than BEFORE.

    Eugen, do you disagree?

    Eugen: If a) and b) are correct then cases a) 2) and b) 3) are unexpected but possible.

    Eugen: a) gain in function means increase in information?

    No. Functional capability can increase due to streamlining of a complex system.

    Eugen: b) loss of function means decrease in information?

    No. A function can be reduced when a system becomes more complex.

  138. 175 Eugen March 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Nah. It won’t work, Zachriel.

    a)
    No. Functional capability can increase due to streamlining of a complex system.

    b)

    No. A function can be reduced when a system becomes more complex.

    If you want to redefine a) and b) try to use clear and simple relation of (something) to information.

    What the heck is “streamlining of a complex system” anyway ? How would you put that into equation?

    Smiley for persistence 🙂

  139. 176 Flint March 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I’m very late to this particular party, but I did read through all the UD thread, and it has been enormously amusing.

    What surprises me is, nobody has seen the underlying semantic confusion leading to the universal inability to even take a stab at Mathgrrl’s request.

    Mainstream science sees design as a verb, a collection of processes, and all the designed things we see are simply side-effects of these processes. Accordingly, to understand the design of any object, it is absolutely necessary to know its history. The history IS the design.

    Conversely, ID sees design as a noun, as a property an object possesses, akin to mass or color. Dembski has suggested (but by no means fleshed out) CSI as a metric by which the property of design can be quantified and perhaps measured. Mathgrrl is (IMO disingenuously) requesting some definition of CSI rigorous enough to derive some measurement implementation that can be followed consistently, and that produces repeatably calculated units of CSI which by some future consensus map to objects in some intuitive way.

    Problem is, design may NOT be a property possessed by an object at all. Just as some sounds seem more musical to us than others, we might think the music-ness of a sound can be quantified and measured. Does “Here Comes The Sun” have more units of musicness than Beethoven’s Third? This might not be a meaningful question.

    What has never been made explicit in that entire long thread is that CSI is entirely dependent on design being a property, and makes no sense if design is a process. It is a metric for conceptualizing and perhaps calculating the amount of something that doesn’t exist in the first place.

    And of course, opponents of ID focus entirely on process. They demand to know who did the designing, and when and where and how. That is, the history of objects seen as outputs of a process. This approach is irrelevant if design is an intrinsic property. You can specify precisely what color a house is without knowing who painted it or how or when.

    And so Mathgrrl is asking how to calculate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, because Dembski said this is a calculable number. Nobody is asking whether angels “exist” in this sense.

    • 177 Pachyaena March 30, 2011 at 9:43 am

      It’s hard to tell but you seem to be arguing both sides of the debate and I’m having a little trouble understanding some of your points.

      I differ with you on some of the things you said. Mainstream science sees design as a verb and/or a noun. If science is looking at the process, it’s a verb. If science is looking at the result, it’s a noun.

      Scientists regularly find the result, such as a pot shard, and then try to determine the process (who made it, when and how it was made, how it was preserved, etc.).

      ID proponents say they do the same thing. They say they first “detect” a result (a designed thing) and then work backward to figure out the process. From the FAQ on UD:

      “Intelligent design moves backward: that is, it observes something interesting in nature (complex, specified information) and then theorises and tests possible ways how that might have come to be.”

      So, both ‘sides’ say they follow the same procedure except that science generally looks for material processes and results, and ID proponents look for transcendental, supernatural creator/designer processes and results.

      Whether MathGrrl is disingenuous or not is irrelevant. Either ‘side’ should be able to show verifiable evidence of their claims, no matter who asks the questions or why they ask them.

      It’s the ID proponents who claim to be able to calculate CSI, or specified complexity, and ID in general. ID proponents claim that ID and its particulars (CSI, FCSI, specified complexity, or whatever other terms they use) are calculable, and mathematically precise:

      “Nevertheless, many critics mistakenly insist that ID, in spite of its well-defined purpose, its supporting evidence, and its mathematically precise paradigms, is not really a valid scientific theory.” (UD FAQ)

      “ID theorists build on that powerful intuition using the well-established methods and principles of science and mathematics.” (UD FAQ)

      “Intelligent Design is . . . a scientific investigation into how patterns exhibited by finite arrangements of matter can signify intelligence.” (W. Dembski)(UD FAQ)

      Yet they can’t give MathGrrl a mathematically precise, scientific definition of ID, CSI, or specified complexity, etc.

      And speaking of colors or other intrinsic or extrinsic things, I wonder what ID proponents think of cephalopods that can change their colors and overall appearance, crabs that decorate themselves with detritus, and other organisms that can choose and change their appearance? What about the organisms that build their own homes or nests (e.g. stone fly larvae, many birds, beavers, people, alligators, some fish, etc.)?

      And what about Bowerbirds?

      What about Pikas, Acorn Woodpeckers, and other creatures that store food for the upcoming winter?

      What about Australian Pelicans that can find their way to far inland lakes after not being there for 10+ years?

      Would they attribute those abilities to the intelligence of the organism itself, or to the transcendental designer/creator? Front loading when the creature was created, hands on designed-in abilities along the way, or what? How could it be determined and proven?

      I doubt that MathGrrl believes that angels exist, and I don’t think it matters at all. I get the impression that she’s asking her questions based on what ID proponents believe and claim.

  140. 178 Zachriel March 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Eugen: If you want to redefine a) and b) try to use clear and simple relation of (something) to information.

    The most obvious definition is Shannon Information.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_information

    Eugen: What the heck is “streamlining of a complex system” anyway ?

    A Rube Goldberg machine is more complex than it needs to be to perform a given function.
    http://www.rubegoldberg.com/

    Keep in mind that it is your claim that extinction implies a *net* loss of information. We provided a simple counter-example. Then you seem to be quibbling over whether having a thousand different species has more information than one.

    Eugen, we asked a simple question. Which has more information? BEFORE or AFTER?

    BEFORE:
    “ABCDEFG”

    AFTER:
    “ABCDEFG”
    “ABCDXFG”

  141. 179 Eugen March 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Zach

    “… asked a simple question. Which has more information? BEFORE or AFTER?”

    BEFORE:
    “ABCDEFG”

    AFTER:
    “ABCDEFG”
    “ABCDXFG”

    Answer : after.

    You still didn’t give your definition for a) and b) but left ambiguity. In a similar way when I asked mathgrrl to give her own understanding of csi I got a non answer. Why don’t you describe things with your own words.

  142. 180 Zachriel March 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Eugen: You still didn’t give your definition for a) and b) but left ambiguity.

    a) and b) were questions.

    Eugen: a) gain in function means increase in information?
    b) loss of function means decrease in information?

    We suggested using Shannon Information, which is consistent with your answer to the BEFORE and AFTER question. So now, let us return to your claim.

    Eugen: 99.9 % extinction rate is statistically significant to prove RM + NS inability not only to produce new information but also to maintain the same.

    We used a trivial example to debunk this notion. We started with one species and ended with a thousand species, which is surely more ‘information’, more variety, more possibilities, however you define information. Yet, 99.9% of species went extinct during the process.

  143. 181 Zachriel March 29, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    To continue to analogy, suppose that a percentage of offspring species have one more amino acid added to the genome, or a gene duplication. Now, after thousands of splits, what will the population look like? Some will have very large genomes.

  144. 182 Eugen March 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Nope. It doesn’t work like that in the bio world.

    Looking at first example:

    BEFORE:

    “ABCDEFG”

    AFTER:
    “ABCDEFG” survived

    “ABCDXFG” died

    next try

    BEFORE:
    “ABCDEFG”

    AFTER:

    ABCDEFG died

    ABCDE survived

    Surviving variant has less Shannon information than parent. That’s why I’m trying to tell there are too many uncertainties.

    Astonishing information loss still stands.

    About a) and b) , question mark should have been in brackets meaning ” I think it’s correct but not sure”. Having said that feel free to suggest simple and clear redefinition.

  145. 183 Pachyaena March 30, 2011 at 10:41 am

    In regard to one of my posts above, and to be balanced:

    And speaking of colors or other intrinsic or extrinsic things, I wonder what material evolutionists think of cephalopods that can change their colors and overall appearance, crabs that decorate themselves with detritus, and other organisms that can choose and change their appearance? What about the organisms that build their own homes or nests (e.g. stone fly larvae, many birds, beavers, people, alligators, some fish, etc.)?

    And what about Bowerbirds?

    What about Pikas, Acorn Woodpeckers, and other creatures that store food for the upcoming winter?

    What about Australian Pelicans that can find their way to far inland lakes after not being there for 10+ years?

    Would they attribute those abilities to the intelligence of the organism itself, or what? Front loading when the creature first evolved, learning along the way, luck, chance, or what? How could it be determined and proven?

    And what about the very first individual of a species that does those things? The very first one couldn’t have learned it or inherited the ability or knowledge from its parents or any other previous one.

    What about the ability to learn? Can it be explained by material evolutionary means/processes? Is the evidence (if any) verifiable, observable, and mathematically rigorous?

    How can ‘instinct’ by material evolutionary means/processes be explained and verified? How is instinct passed from one generation to the next? Is there a rigorous mathematical formula for ‘instinct’ or the ability to learn, for all organisms?

  146. 184 Zachriel March 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Eugen: Surviving variant has less Shannon information than parent.

    In the original scenario, the genome size didn’t change. And as you have acknowledged, a thousand variants have more information than one.

    Eugen: Surviving variant has less Shannon information than parent. That’s why I’m trying to tell there are too many uncertainties.

    No. *YOU* expressed certainty that 99.9% extinction meant that information couldn’t increase. But that’s not correct. If you want to ponder other scenarios, that’s fine, but you have the acknowledge what we have determined so far.

    If genome sizes can increase or decrease, then it doesn’t take much of anything to show that information can increase. We start with ABCDEFG and end with ABCDEFGG. This can occur in nature due to gene duplication, for instance, and represents an increase in Shannon Information. If the genes then diverge, we might have ABCDEFGH.

    • 185 Eugen March 31, 2011 at 2:31 am

      Zachriel

      If:

      a) gain in function means increase in information(?)

      b) loss of function means decrease in information(?)

      and if:

      1) gain of function may help survival

      2) gain of function may lead to death

      3) loss of function may help survival

      4) loss of function may lead to death

      then

      a) 1) will increase information and all the other combinations will do the opposite.

  147. 186 Pachyaena March 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    In The CSI thread on UD, PaV said:

    “One has to identify the pattern associated with an event. And there is then a chance hypothesis that is associated with the pattern. Once all of that is established, then the math is easy.”

    And:

    “(1) MathGrrl’s request was not only unreasonable, but unachievable in the case of one, and likely in all four cases. That is, CSI, as defined in NFL, does not exist in the ev program; so how does one define what does not exist?

    (2) MathGrrl set up an impossible scenario: she asks for a CSI calculation for these programs, and then INSISTS, and I mean INSISTS, that it be based on Dembski’s “Specification” paper. Well, there’s this little bitty problem: Dembski, in his “Specification” paper, no longer talks about CSI, but, instead, “specified complexity”, and he also talks about “semiotic agents” and such.

    What happened was that she was being given proper answers from Dembski’s paper by a number of people here at UD, but she didn’t seem to understand the answers, and questions, given her. (Or else, she simply refused to answer the questions.)

    (3) For my part, I’m more familiar with CSI as Dembski presents it in NFL since I went through and digested it a couple of years ago. But it’s been six years since I read the “Specification” paper, and I wasn’t sure where that sat anymore. But, because of this putative “discussion”, I’ve had to reread it. While profitable, it has been an expenditure of time and energy foisted upon me simply in an effort to try and understand what MathGrrl was trying to get at.

    However, now have reread most of the paper, I now see that Dembski has reformulated CSI because of some of the (trivial) criticisms leveled against it over the years. Because of the added rigor needed to refute the rather trivial criticisms directed at CSI, Dembski chose to reformulate it mathematically, and now calls it “specified complexity”. In the Addendum to the paper, you can read where and how CSI and “specified complexity” match up. The net effect of these trivial criticisms is that mathematically things have become even a little harder to grasp, and CERTAINLY, would require more time and effort (simply because terms have been introduced into the equation that need to be determined), to DEVELOP a “rigorous mathematical definition” for the indicated scenarios. This would involve serious time, effort and work. Now why should we, here at UD, do this hard labor for MathGrrl. Let her do the work.

    My advice to MathGrrl is that she reread both NFL and the “Specification” paper until she fully understands it, and then tackle one of the remaining three programs she’s listed. I say three, because, patently, the ev program does not produce CSI, or, if you will, “specified complexity”.

    My further advice to her is: don’t waste your time, because you’re not going to be able to prove that either CSI—as defined in NFL—or “specified complexity”—as defined and developed in “Specification”.

    As to saying that there is no “settled understanding of CSI or specification”, this appears so because NFL is different from the “Specification” paper. The simpler concept is CSI. So MathGrrl should stick to NFL and try and prove that CSI, as defined by NFL, exists in one of those programs. That ought to keep her busy for a while.

    If there is no other point you take away from all of this, please understand that a specification and a chance hypothesis is DIFFERENT for every instance of supposed CSI (“specified complexity”). Notice she gave four instances. Why? Because they are different for each one—while the definition of CSI always remains the SAME! There are criteria that have to be met in all valid instances of CSI/specified complexity: these stay the same and form the “DEFINITION” of CSI. What the actual pattern is varies. What the actual chance hypothesis corresponding to the appearance of the ‘pattern’ also varies, etc., etc.

    One final point:

    I’ve maintained all along that MathGrrl’s demand is excessive. The proof of that is that she has failed to provide anything like it. The hard work is in developing the chance hypothesis. She’s failed to do this. And she hasn’t told us WHY she’s failed to do this. And, of course, her “specifications” are in error, or so they seem to me. Maybe she would like to begin by explaining WHY she thinks they represent the specifications inherent in the programs.”

    And:

    “She didn’t want us to give a “rigorous mathematical definition” of CSI, she wanted us to tear apart the programs and assess it using the notions of CSI. Why should I be expected to respond to such a request on my time and energy. Am I some kind of paid consultant? Is she Secretary of State, or the IRS Commissioner, and if I don’t do it, I’ll end up in big trouble?

    She seems like a big girl. Let her do the hard work if she’s so interested.

    2) We can calculate it. But it is a very labor and time intensive operation. Why are we supposed to make this calculation? Why isn’t she expected to show that she understands CSI and demonstrate that understanding by, herself, anaylzing these programs. If she came up with something disproving CSI, THEN, and ONLY THEN would it be incumbent upon the ID community to rebut her findings. Let her go first. I’ve got better things to do. As it is, I’ve wasted more time on this post than I care to think about. I’ve got Schneider’s paper and am reading it. It’s a big waste of time. Why? Because there isn’t any CSI there. And that ALWAYS proves to be the case with EA programs.

    3) Even Bill Dembski can’t “agree” on a definition of CSI. He no longer is using it, in a sense. He now is using “specified complexity”. Others here at UD want to stick directly in the “information” area and have our own intuitive ideas of what CSI should look like, and what we should be looking for in biological systems. Is there something wrong with this?”

    You also said that specified complexity has to be detected or determined and then the search for CSI can take place, or was it the other way around?

    You’ve said so many inconsistent and contradictory things that you’re just spinning in circles.

    vjtorley said:

    “Intelligence is non-computational. That’s one big difference between minds and computers. But although CSI is not computable, it is certainly measurable mathematically.”

    And:

    “as I use the terms, “calculable” means “capable of being assigned a specific numeric value on the basis of a mathematical formula whose terms have a definite meaning that everyone can agree on,” whereas “computable” means “calculable on the basis of a suitable physical description alone.”

    Hey PaV, you’re a whiny little bitch. Nobody made you respond to MathGrrl, she didn’t demand a damn thing, and instead of posting dozens of responses to her that avoided or detoured the issue, you could have just answered her questions. If nothing else, you could have just said you don’t know how to determine, calculate, or compute CSI, specified complexity, or ID.

    By the way, you and Joseph and vjtorley and Dembski and others don’t agree with each other on how to determine and calculate CSI, specified complexity, and ID. Why aren’t you arguing with each other? Is it because you all have the same religious agenda and it doesn’t matter to any of you how you promote it, as long as it is promoted? In other words, in spite of your lofty claims, ….facts, definitions, calculations, evidence, and mathematical formulas be damned, full speed ahead in trying to convince every last person on Earth that your God-did-it?

    And don’t forget that it was pointed out to you that you didn’t read everything Dembski had to say about CSI and “specified complexity”.

    Your attempts at erroneously moving the goal posts are really lame.

  148. 187 Eugen March 30, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Zachriel

    ” Surviving variant has less Shannon information than parent. That’s why I’m trying to tell there are too many uncertainties.
    No. *YOU* expressed certainty that 99.9% extinction meant that information couldn’t increase”

    I have nothing new, let me just repeat from previous posts:

    1– “I will stand by my interpretation that fact means a tremendous loss of information overall.”

    2– “Although I see overall decrease over long time spans it would be difficult to judge in individual events.”

    3– “That’s why I’m trying to tell there are too many uncertainties.”

    4– “I don’t think measuring organism’s DNA information will be clear indication for anything. “

  149. 188 Flint March 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    “So, both ‘sides’ say they follow the same procedure except that science generally looks for material processes and results, and ID proponents look for transcendental, supernatural creator/designer processes and results.”

    This is not my reading at all. As far as I can tell, design proponents ASSUME design in living organisms. Then they look for ways to establish that they must be correct. So Dembski has confected “CSI” and the EF. Both of which are proposed as mechanisms through the use of which we can rule out natural evolutionary processes.

    I would ask any design proponent what conclusion he would draw, if he applied such a test to himself and discovered that “objectively” he could have evolved naturally. Or more to the point, I would question whether such a result would be PERMITTED.

    The mainstream scientists is saying “Here are some facts. What tentative conclusion do they fit the best?” The design proponent is saying “Here is the conclusion. How can we best create support for it?”

    And so I suspect that there simply is no combination of definitions for either complexity or specification that can unequivocably rule out natural processes. Indeed, one neuroscientist pointed out on UD that according to Dembski’s definition of intelligence, the implicit selection decisions the environment imposes qualify as intelligence. She was banned for her troubles, unsurprisingly, despite being unfailingly polite.

    So my point is that the purpose of such things as the EF and CSI isn’t to make any determination where the conclusion has not already been drawn, but to ratify foregone conclusions. And the abject inability of anyone to supply a rigorous definition or useful implementation strongly implies that the foregone conclusions these techniques were created to defend, may not be correct. Which tends to be true of foregone conclusions.

    • 189 Pachyaena March 31, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Flint, I think it’s also safe to say that many people assume material evolution, have foregone conclusions about it, look for ways to create support for it, and try to establish that they must be correct.

      A material evolution proponent could be asked what conclusion he would draw, if he applied some sort of a test to himself, and discovered that ‘objectively’ he could have been intelligently designed, and whether such a result would be permitted.

      At this point in time, neither side has absolute proof of their ultimate contentions.

      • 190 Flint March 31, 2011 at 11:23 pm

        Seriously? My (rather extensive) experience is that this is simply not so, though I have seen such allegations on the part of those who simply do not understand the nature of tentative conclusions that explain evidence, as opposed to foregone conclusions that define what counts as evidence.

        In fact, historically the presumption of supernatural creation was supplanted (and not overnight) by evidence, not by assumption. I suppose you could say there was a philosophical sea change that resulted in the Age of Science; a suspicion that reality MATTERS, which became self-reinforcing as evidence-based explanations made ever-more-correct predictions.

        As a “material evolution proponent”, I have no problem with the position that I was intelligently designed by some indetectible, supernatural, omniscient and omnipotent entity, for purposes beyond my ken. After all, if this should be the case, how would I ever be able to evaluate it one way or another? It’s not like such a process (if it’s a process at all, since it’s completley undefined) can be either supported or rejected on the basis of any conceivable evidence. IN PRINCIPLE, there CAN BE no such evidence.

        And therefore, such a thing might be true, and it might not, and there we hit the wall and stay there forever. It’s not like this position can be tested, or that it makes any predictions, or that any possible observation can be inconsistent with it.

        But the reference to “absolute proof” is instructive in this context. In science, absolute proof is disallowed IN PRINCIPLE, it is regarded as unattainable. In science, evidence rules, and evidence can NEVER be 100% complete and unambiguous. And even if it were, and even if we KNEW that it were, conclusions would still be the product of interpretations, and multiple interpretations can closely fit even complete sets of evidence.

        So science doesn’t ask for absolute proof, it asks for increasingly firm support for a proposed explanation. The ID proposal suffers from the impossibility of either support OR rejection, because conclusions not based on evidence cannot be supplanted, rejected, or modified through evidence. The rules are entirely different.

  150. 191 MathGrrl March 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    eric,

    My email address is idmathgrrl@gmail.com.

    By the way, it has come to my attention that there is another person using the MathGrrl pseudonym, and her use actually predates mine. I am not the MathGrrl that comes up first in a Google search (I’m leaving her name out deliberately so as not to associate us in the search engines). Please don’t harass her because of anything I’ve said.

  151. 192 Rich March 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Hi MathGrrl – I’m guessing you already know about “after the bar closes”..?

    Looks like PaV is arming the villagers with pitchforks – they want to see if you’ll float. You are indeed a wicked child! ;-p

  152. 196 MathGrrl March 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Wow. And I thought Joseph was abrasive on UD. Do PaV or Upright BiPed post outside of UD? I suspect they might have similar impulse control issues.

    If Joseph ever does meet the clown, please post the video on YouTube.

    • 197 Pachyaena March 31, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      MathGrrl, I don’t know if PaV or Upright Biped post outside of UD but I suspect they do somewhere. If I come across anything I’ll let you know. Maybe someone else will come up with something.

      I too would like to see a video of Joe and the clown meeting. I’m sure that Joe is all bark and no bite though, and would end up running for his life. 🙂

  153. 198 ogremkv March 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Careful, Joe is something of an internet stalker and has no idea what ‘restraint’, ‘tact’, and ‘civil discussion’ mean. He’s also the ultimate in internet bully (IRL chicken) technology. I would encourage you to ignore him. (This is all demonstrable BTW.)

    I’m working on a series of posts, inspired by Joe that describe a lot of the issues that are being talked about here. Note, I said inspired by Joe, he’s not interested in actually learning, so the point would be wasted on him.

    Eugen, you might want to take a look. I think you’ve visited Cassandra’s Tears before. It was nice having a civil discussion, even with someone who disagreed.

  154. 199 Lou FCD April 1, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Pachyaena, After the Bar Closes can be found here.

    • 200 Pachyaena April 1, 2011 at 7:13 am

      Lou, maybe I misunderstood Rich but I thought he was saying that PaV was recently posting on ATBC. I went to ATBC and couldn’t find any posts by PaV.

      On another note, wouldn’t it be nice if all the forums could be blended together so that no one had to check several forums just to see what’s being said about the same topic?

  155. 201 Petrushka April 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    And what about the very first individual of a species that does those things?

    As a rule, there is no first individual that can do those things, just as there is no first member of a new species.

    • 202 ogremkv April 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      Petrushka, there are some ‘first members of a new species’.

      Plants that speciate via polyploidy and cannot interbreed with their parents would have a ‘first member’, even if we might be able to find it.

    • 203 Pachyaena April 3, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Was there a first person to climb or summit Mt. Everest, write lyrics to a song, sail solo across an ocean, control fire, make an arrowhead and an arrow, invent a light bulb, talk on a telephone, run a 4 minute mile, build a telescope, fly faster than the speed of sound, drive a ground vehicle faster than the speed of sound, knock out Mike Tyson, swim the English Channel, discover Neptune, step on the Moon, invent Velcro, etc., or did the entire human species do all that and more, together, at exactly the same time?

      • 204 Flint April 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

        Apples and oranges. We have identified numerous breeding populations of various species that seem to be in the process of branching, in that the population is separating into two groups which preferentially breed within those groups, and not much between groups.

        In fact, we’ve been able in some cases to quantify the degree of breeding isolation. Fifty years ago, breeding between groups only occurred 20% of the time, and now it’s 10% of the time. And breeding isolation is a critical step in speciation, because it ultimately means that heritable mutations do not get passed between groups, so they can evolve separately.

        Now, if there is only 10% cross-breeding between groups anymore, which group is the “new” species, and which individual within that group is the “first member” of that species? Speciation is the gradual process of diverging groups within a single original breeding population.

  156. 205 Petrushka April 2, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Plants that speciate via polyploidy and cannot interbreed with their parents

    I’m not sure that’s always true.

    But I was going to mention polyploidy, but settled for “as a rule.”

    It’s rare in animals. Oddly enough, creationists seldom discuss plant evolution. In the abstract, plant genomes are just as complex as those of animals, and yet plants can speciate in a single step.

    I wonder what the CSI increase is in a whole genome duplication event.

  157. 206 Pachyaena April 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Flint, which part of what I said are you applying this to:

    “Seriously? My (rather extensive) experience is that this is simply not so…”

    • 207 Flint April 3, 2011 at 2:43 am

      I guess that was kind of ambiguous. Sorry.

      I am disagreeing with your statement that those who base conclusions on evidence, ALSO start with their conclusions and whatever supports them is evidence, whatever doesn’t, isn’t. Or at least, that’s how I interpreted your assertion that “many people assume material evolution, have foregone conclusions about it, look for ways to create support for it, and try to establish that they must be correct.”

      And really, the dynamics of the scientific enterprise are quite the opposite. Real fame (and the bennies that come with it) isn’t to be found doing research that just adds yet more support to existing explanations. In science, the brass ring is to find replicable, unambiguous observations that are inconsistent with established conclusions.

      Beyond this, great care is taken in science to AVOID (rather than embrace!) confirmation bias. Hypotheses are formulated to look for refutation, not confirmation. Tests are constructed so that the null, the default, is in contradiction to the hypothesized results – that is, support for the hypothesis is difficult, nonsupport is presumed. And of course, there is peer review, and publication and replication of methods, etc. And the peers doing the reviewing are very often opponents who disagree with the proposed papers. And so on and on and on.

      And science recognizes that there will STILL be false positives and false negatives, which must subsequently be correct through further research. In practice, nearly every hypothesis fails.

      (And as an illustration, contrast all this to Dembski’s explanatory filter, which ASSUMES design as the default, unless some ill-define notion of “chance” or “regularity” seems more likely. This is the exact antithesis of how science works. Imagine if Dembski had made chance the default, to be presumed true unless design could be DEMONSTRATED. Or assume regularity as the default. See the difference? He has made his preferred condition the default, and constructed hopelessly simplistic alternatives, and decreed those to be exhaustive. This is hardly honest.)

  158. 208 Pachyaena April 4, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Flint, I’m not sure if your apples and oranges response was directed to me but I guess I should have said specifically that when I brought up “first person” I was responding to Petrushka’s comment:

    “As a rule, there is no first individual that can do those things….”

    I was indirectly suggesting that if a person can be the first to do something, any other individual animal can be the first of its species to do something too. It’s interesting to think about what drives certain individuals to do something novel.

    I’m still thinking about your post about science, hypotheses, etc., and will try to respond soon.

  159. 209 Flint April 4, 2011 at 3:57 am

    “I was indirectly suggesting that if a person can be the first to do something, any other individual animal can be the first of its species to do something too. It’s interesting to think about what drives certain individuals to do something novel.”

    OK, I guess I don’t understand the context of this observation. I suspect that everyone does something novel every day, in some way. Not due to some drive, but rather due to the essentially infinite range of circumstances in which all organisms find themselves.

    I wouldn’t want to be charged with the task of separating out those things which are “especially” novel, or “significantly” novel, or “meaningfully” novel, or the like.

    If there’s a distinction being drawn between individuals performing novel acts, and the biological process of species branching, then this distinction needs a great deal more clarification to avoid ambiguity or confusion.

    • 210 Pachyaena April 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      Flint, I was only referring to novel acts, not species branching. I’ll leave the species branching for another day.

      I think there is a “drive” in some individuals (and not just people) to do something novel, and often regardless of circumstances. Precisely where that drive come from raises some interesting questions.

      When it comes to which things are especially novel, or significantly novel, or meaningfully novel, I suppose it’s a matter of opinion, unless it’s obvious that the novel behavior is beneficial to the individual organism, or a population, or the entire species. Of course our opinions, as humans, don’t matter to other organisms. What we may see as an unimportant act may be real important to the organism doing it, or vice versa.

      • 211 Flint April 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

        Whoa, wait a minute. You are “raising interesting questions” about the origin of something you haven’t established even exists, or suggested any testable way to determine if it exists. That’s getting a bit ahead of yourself.

        It’s quite possible that if you consider a range of behaviors statistically, you’ll find a broad “behavior space”, with plenty of openings for novelty just at random.

        As for “regardless of circumstances”, I don’t understand what this might mean. All behaviors are done in some set of circumstances, and nearly all are at least partially if not mostly influenced by those circumstances. There was a first player to hit a home run, but certainly he wasn’t the first man to swing his arms. All the rest is circumstances.

  160. 212 Petrushka April 5, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Was there a first person …

    All these have incremental precursors.

    • 213 Pachyaena April 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      I understand that some acts have incremental precursors, but what were the precursors to the very first acts?

      • 214 Flint April 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

        Here you are simply ignoring the comment and repeating your question as though it didn’t exist. Do you not understand what “incremental” means in this context? There is NO SUCH THING as an entirely first act, and nearly every act is “somewhat” first. The first person to climb the mountain isn’t the first person to climb uphill. The first person to climb uphill isn’t the first person to walk. The first person to walk isn’t the first person to move. And so on and on and on.

  161. 215 Pachyaena April 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Flint, do you believe that every act a human has ever done or could ever do is just randomness based on an arbitrary “behavior space”? What about other organisms?

    What circumstances would make someone want to climb Mt. Everest? Would it be because they can move their legs, so they just randomly moved them and ended up randomly on the summit of the world’s highest mountain?

    What I mean by “regardless of circumstances”, is that some organisms, including some people, do novel things that are not necessary for survival, are or may be very risky, and have nothing to do with the circumstances of their home environment. If the novel act includes traveling outside their home environment, they’re disregarding the new and possibly harmful circumstances they will encounter.

    Of course people nowadays can find out some things about some foreign environments before going there for the first time but other organisms can’t. Many people don’t bother to gather any information before going to a foreign environment, or they don’t gather enough information, and sometimes they suffer or die because of it.

    I have to say that “novelty just at random” based on a broad “behavior space” sounds a lot like the argument for ID/CSI/etc. It sounds like you’re allowing a lot of arbitrary room for something that either should be strictly defined and based on solid evidence, or it should be admitted that no one actually knows what drives some individuals to do novel things.

  162. 216 Flint April 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    “—Flint, do you believe that every act a human has ever done or could ever do is just randomness based on an arbitrary “behavior space”? What about other organisms?”

    No, of course not. What I’m trying to say is that nearly all behaviors are to some degree responses to conditions over which control is incomplete. The behaviors might be entirely and non-randomly appropriate for those conditions.

    “—What circumstances would make someone want to climb Mt. Everest? Would it be because they can move their legs, so they just randomly moved them and ended up randomly on the summit of the world’s highest mountain?”

    Don’t be silly. As any mountain climber will tell you, the mountain is climbed because it’s there. I agree there is a (perhaps uniquely human) desire to do things that are new, different, and exciting. But the existence of mountains is something we do not control.

    “—What I mean by “regardless of circumstances”, is that some organisms, including some people, do novel things that are not necessary for survival, are or may be very risky, and have nothing to do with the circumstances of their home environment.”

    Yes, I know what you meant. If someone (let’s say) makes a movie, this is novel in the sense that nobody every made that movie before. Neither making it nor watching it is necessary for survival. A great deal of what we do is unnecessary for survival, and some of it is deliberately risky. It may be that human survival requires in many cases a quality of life that has elements of novelty and/or risk.

    “—If the novel act includes traveling outside their home environment, they’re disregarding the new and possibly harmful circumstances they will encounter.”

    Moving to new territory probably has multiple motivations, such as overcrowding, or the need for food, or even sheer curiosity. If you wish to regard curiosity as a “drive”, then I’ll agree it’s real. But why not just call it curiosity?

    “—I have to say that “novelty just at random” based on a broad “behavior space” sounds a lot like the argument for ID/CSI/etc. It sounds like you’re allowing a lot of arbitrary room for something that either should be strictly defined and based on solid evidence, or it should be admitted that no one actually knows what drives some individuals to do novel things.”

    Once again, I’m saying circumstances are largely beyond the control of the organism, which responds to those circumstances as appropriately as it can. But a very large range of responses might be workable; you’d expect new ones to be tried fairly regularly.

    What I object to is your assumption of a drive, which you seem to take for granted, and then you focus on what causes it. But maybe we understand “drive” differently. I personally see a complex constellation of circumstances, motivations, opportunities, coincidences and accidents which together inevitably result in novel behaviors. Inferring a “drive” from all this may be projecting a desired conclusion onto a perceived pattern. Kind of like asking WHY someone is making faces in the clouds. The faces aren’t in the clouds, they are in our own imaginations.

  163. 217 Petrushka April 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I agree there is a (perhaps uniquely human) desire to do things that are new, different, and exciting.

    The idea that exploration , even at risk, is a human trait is just silly. Anyone who’s watched mammals know that curiosity is an inborn trait, and sometimes it kills the cat.

    I don’t want to go all selectionist on this, but the advantages of exploration should be obvious. Within a fixed territory, the population will outgrow the food supply.

    • 218 Flint April 7, 2011 at 12:51 am

      Yes, good point. Curiosity is probably a selectable survival characteristic among many species, in the sense that curious individuals are in the long run more likely to avoid certain dangers even as they face others, and their ancestors in fact did so often enough to matter. Who can say how much fun cats get out of exploring?

      What I was trying to address was novel things considered more abstractly. Curious individuals will do things they have never done before, but that’s somewhat different from doing things NOBODY ELSE has ever done before, simply BECAUSE nobody else has done them. Cats don’t do the record-keeping necessary to know if some other cat somewhere some time in the past has done something. People do, partially for that very reason – to be THE FIRST to do it, whatever it is.

  164. 219 Petrushka April 7, 2011 at 1:20 am

    People do, partially for that very reason – to be THE FIRST to do it, whatever it is.

    People have culture and speech. There are precursors to these in the animal world also.

    We don’t see the incremental steps because our cousin species are extinct.

    • 220 Flint April 7, 2011 at 5:03 am

      Um, we seem to be missing one another here. I agree there are incremental precursors to every biological trait, and therefore the ramifications of those traits. There is nothing 100% new under the sun, even the most creative people stand on the shoulders of giants, and so forth.

      I do think that humans are distinctly human, despite the billions of years of biological lineage leading up to them, and in this sense are just as unique as any other species. Whether one human attribute is a “drive” to do something new, I’m not sure I really understand. I suspect humans have refined generalized curiosity in ways that are uniquely human, though in principle not a whole lot different from the ways other species have implemented the same basic trait.

  165. 221 Pachyaena April 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Flint, before I respond to the comments above, will you please tell me whether you think that insects, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, arachnids, bacteria, molluscs, birds, fish, or earthworms are or can be curious?

    Do you think that curiosity is a property of, or is at least connected in some way with, intelligence?

    Which of the creatures I mentioned, if any, would you consider to be intelligent?

    How would you define intelligence, and what kinds of organisms have it?

    Do you think that any organisms (including humans) have free will, in the sense that they can think or act beyond their built-in programming (instinct)?

    And do you think that all instincts are strictly something that was intrinsic when life first arose, or are instincts due to learned behavior from previous generations that is passed on in genes?

    Why does the word “drive” bother you? What if I had used the word ‘urge’, or ‘compulsion’, or ‘impulse’?

    • 222 Flint April 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Flint, before I respond to the comments above, will you please tell me whether you think that insects, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, arachnids, bacteria, molluscs, birds, fish, or earthworms are or can be curious?

      Depends on how you define curiosity. I know what it means for ME to be curious, but what appears to map to human curiosity on the part of my cat might seem entirely different to the cat. Which means we observe the external behaviors of all these various organisms, pick those which if they were human would reflect human curiosity, and either project human characteristics on them (in which case they are curious) or we don’t (in which case they are not).

      Do you think that curiosity is a property of, or is at least connected in some way with, intelligence?

      Beats me. Again, “intelligence” is a human projection onto non-human organisms. We have various operational definitions (solving a T-maze, etc.) but now you have TWO traits essentialy undefined for non-human organisms. And given this lack of useful definition, you could flip a coin seeking the less misleading answer to a poorly formed question.

      How would you define intelligence, and what kinds of organisms have it?

      I have no idea. Any sort of problem-solving task we dream up for any organism, is inappropriate for any other. So this is like asking whether kittens are cute and spiders are not. These are qualities we project, not qualities they possess inherently.

      Do you think that any organisms (including humans) have free will, in the sense that they can think or act beyond their built-in programming (instinct)?

      Good question. I know researchers have devised various tests which consist basically of presenting organisms with situations for which instinctive responses are inappropriate or dangerous, to see if some other response is used. And some organisms do “better” than others. But these are of course arbitrary tests, not at all measuring the degree of flexibility which is optimal for species survival. After all, what you call “free will” (behavior not hard-wired) may work AGAINST survival for some species.

      And do you think that all instincts are strictly something that was intrinsic when life first arose, or are instincts due to learned behavior from previous generations that is passed on in genes?Your questions consisently assume their own answers! I think instincts, being part of the neurological construction of an organism, evolved as the organism evolved. I don’t think it makes sense to speak of when life “first arose” – far more likely that the slow change from organic molecules through proto-life to life as we know it took at least tens of millions of years, at no point during which time could anyone point to anything and say “this is the first living thing.”

      Certainly, part of the makeup of any organism is intrinsic – that’s unavoidable. Pointing to some behavior and saying “this is not intrinsic” is impelementation-dependent.

      Why does the word “drive” bother you? What if I had used the word ‘urge’, or ‘compulsion’, or ‘impulse’?

      Depends on context. I don’t deny there are drives. But I’m cautious about equating the drive to reproduce with the putative drive to do something novel. One is hard-wired, and the other depends on a map or model which may not reflect the underlying biology.

      • 223 Pachyaena April 8, 2011 at 11:36 am

        Flint, thanks for your response. I’m putting some thought into what you and others have said and will try to respond soon.

  166. 224 Zachriel April 7, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Pachyaena: What I mean by “regardless of circumstances”, is that some organisms, including some people, do novel things that are not necessary for survival, are or may be very risky, and have nothing to do with the circumstances of their home environment. If the novel act includes traveling outside their home environment, they’re disregarding the new and possibly harmful circumstances they will encounter.

    There may be harm, but there may be opportunity. Even lowly plants will scatter their seed on the wind in the hopes that some will land on fertile ground.

    Among many animals, the male’s biological contribution to reproduction can be pretty minimal. As a consequence, in many mammals, the male will go to inordinate efforts to distinguish himself from other males. That might mean exuberate displays of bravery, or risk-taking in the hopes of a big payoff. Or excellence in raiment and deportment.

  167. 226 Alan Fox April 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Oh bugger!

    Ah, the power of sexual selection

  168. 227 Alan Fox April 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Mathgrrl upset a rather petulant commenter, Mung, by not responding to his comment. He has the gall to call Mathgrrl a fraud in this thread at ARN. Scroll down a ways.(The site is moribund and closed to new registrations; another indicator that ID has run it’s course.)

    • 228 Flint April 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm

      Mung is kind of comical, since he attacks MathGrrl’s competence rather than make any attempt to answer the original question.

      I will point out that MathGrrl could be a total idiot, could be Clarabelle the Clown, could have stumbled upon the original question while blind drunk, and that question is STILL unanswered. MathGrrl’s qualifications are totally irrelevant.

      I also point out that CSI lies at the very heart of any possible notion of Intelligent Design. Without SOME reasonable definition and means of calculation, CSI remains a meaningless phrase. And if CSI has no meaning, then ID itself has no meaning. So whether she meets Mung’s notions of competence or not, she has illustrate for anyone who cares to read that ID and CSI are empty phrases, pure doubletalk.

      I probably do not need to point out that attacking someone personally who asks a critically important question Mung can’t answer, is the essence of dishonesty.

  169. 229 Pachyaena April 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’m short on time right now but I just have to post some ‘interesting’ comments by Upright BiPed on UD, that could be applied to MathGrrl’s questions in the CSI thread on UD, or any other thread on UD where “fair” questions are asked:

    “I came back and was reading though the responses. I was humored by the way Jemima couldn’t stand at the front of StephenB’s question and simply answer it. She had to revert to a “rhetorical trick” instead. (Having to revert to a rhetorical trick is something Jemima has demonstrated repeatedly, and has been called on it. I believe a contributor on another thread used the phrase “intellectual coward” in that regard). Of course the reasons for this are obvious, but still, the hypocrisy of wrapping oneself in the blanket of Enlightenment only to be forced into ignoring evidence – is a sight to see.

    Then I finally got to her response to me. Geez.

    One of the things materialist ideologues forget when they come here is that we are all human beings. We all share humanity; we share what it is to interact as an individual among others. We share the tricks of the trade. When a person cannot confront a fair question and answer it, there is a reason.”

    And:

    “If someone should say to you that they have a credible explanation of some observation. And if they then provide to you reasoning that such phenomena have only be observed as the result of a very specific type of cause. And if during this exchange, you are not capable of refuting their observations or offering any counter-examples, then it certainly seems odd for you to quaintly respond “So where’s your evidence?” This kind of reaction is indistinguishable from simply refusing to acknowledge facts.”

    Am I the only one who thinks that Upright BiPed needs to take a closer look at his and his fellow ID proponents’ tactics?

  170. 230 Pachyaena April 12, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Hey MathGrrl, bornagain77 posted this on UD:

    bornagain77

    04/11/2011

    1:04 pm

    “Bruce David, there is a greater witness to the Bible’s validity,,, Besides the personal witness of Christ’s reality from millions of people who have experienced the presence of His spirit, many people, including myself, argue that the Bible itself is proof of God’s supernatural and personal involvement with man because, among other things, the Bible is ‘alive’, and I mean that in a way that specifically differentiates the Holy Bible from inanimate objects. This is because the words of the Holy Bible have in fact ‘come alive’ and spoken directly into my life, during times of extreme need in my life. Moreover this ‘coming alive’ of the Bible, has happened for others while I was in their in the presence:

    Strange But True – Miracle Testimony
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfNTNocmRjZGtkdg&hl=en

    Hebrews 4:12
    For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

    The Word Is Alive – Casting Crowns – music video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5197438/

    Here is an interesting point of authentication for the Holy Bible. The New Testament gospel is actually hidden within Genesis:

    The New Testament Hidden In Genesis – Chuck Missler – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4193378

    Interestingly, the Bible also has a ‘hidden watermark’ of a ‘heptadic structure of sevens’ which authenticates it as inspired by God:

    The Holy Bible – God’s Watermark Of Authenticity – Ivan Panin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4136566

    IS GOD A MATHEMATICIAN? – Ivan Panin
    Excerpt: It was in 1890 that Dr Panin made the discovery of the mathematical structure underlining the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. He was casually reading the first verse of the gospel of John in the Greek: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with the God and the Word was God…”. Dr Panin was curious as to why the Greek word for “the”‘ preceded the word “God”‘ in one case and not the other. In examining the text he became aware of a number relationship. This was the first of the discoveries that led to his conversion and uncovered the extensive numeric code.
    http://www.wordworx.co.nz/panin.html

    Here is a defense of the integrity of Ivan Panin’s impressive work on Bible Numerics from ‘higher level’ criticism:

    BIBLE NUMERICS EXAMINED — PART 2
    http://www.cuttingedge.org/news/n1363.cfm

    I’d love to see your interpretation of “Bible Numerics”, “God’s Watermark”, and anything else in his post.

  171. 231 Pachyaena April 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Flint, I’m still trying to find the time, and the clear thinking, to respond to yours and other peoples’ comments.

  172. 232 MathGrrl April 12, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Pachyaena,

    I’m pretty sure that bornagain77 and I don’t share enough common spiritual ground to have a productive discussion about that topic. I strongly suspect that he would take umbrage were I to equate the internal mental states I experience when meditating to his “knowledge” of Jesus’ existence and divinity.

    I’m also very sure that I don’t have time to watch all the youtube videos that would be referenced in such a discussion.

    MG

  173. 233 Alan Fox April 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    @ Mathgrrl

    Not sure if you are still following this thread but I was wondering if you are still able to post at UD after your recent encounter with blog owner and lawyer Barry Arrington? The threads and responses you elicited will serve as damning evidence for the vacuity of ID for the foreseeable future.

    Well done, Professor!

  174. 234 MathGrrl April 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Alan,

    I can still respond, but will not be surprised if attempting to get Mr. Arrington to display some simple common decency results in that changing.

    MG

    • 235 Mark Frank April 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      There are many fools on UD, some of whom are rude in a juvenile (Joseph) or pompous (KF) way. But Barry strikes me as more aggressive and vindictive than the others – far more interested in gaining points off people than any honest debate. Maybe it is the lawyer’s background.

  175. 236 Kristine April 14, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Maybe it is the monkey on his back.

    I don’t regret, after seeing their performance with Mathgrrl, flouncing out of UD myself.

    Their proclaiming “I win!” does not make it so, but it certainly makes them look 8 years old.

    Sheesh!

  176. 238 Toronto April 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Mark Frank:

    But Barry strikes me as more aggressive and vindictive than the others – far more interested in gaining points off people than any honest debate.

    It’s far more serious than that. In Colorado, Barry ran for the 7 member state board of education.

    This isn’t just fun for him, there’s a serious goal in his sights.

  177. 239 Petrushka April 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    It’s far more serious than that. In Colorado, Barry ran for the 7 member state board of education.

    So would it help or hurt him if folks found out he’s a bully?

  178. 240 Flint April 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    MathGrrl committed the sin of asking anyone in ID to actually define the core concept of their claims in some useful way – that is, in a way that a disinterested investigator could apply to distinguish design from nondesign reliably and unambiguously. The implication is all too clear – CSI is meaningless in practice, and until it is made meaningful, it’s just noise confected to rationalize foregone conclusions.

    And what can the ID folks DO when they can’t define meaningless terms? Why, they attack the person asking! What ELSE can they do? Seriously, can anyone even imagine Barry (or Joseph) doubting the beauty of their chosen emperor’s clothes simply because he’s naked?

    What’s interesting to me is the essentially authoritarian nature of these responses. The MERITS of CSI are 100% a function of who is defending and who is questioning them. So if CSI has no merits, it can ONLY be defended by attacking the authority (and character, honesty, etc.) of the questioner. It’s like flunking an arithmetic test and then accusing the teacher of being a child molester! MUCH easier than learning arithmetic. And Barry apparently believes that if he can get that charge to stick, this makes his arithmetic errors RIGHT.

    As Kristine points out, this is a profoundly childish approach. As though their cognitive development froze early in grade school.

    • 241 Pachyaena April 16, 2011 at 6:12 am

      Flint, you’re right about the ID proponents at UD. However, couldn’t the same things be said about the evolution proponents at Panda’s Thumb, The Wall, ATBC, Pharyngula, etc.?

      If the answer to that isn’t obvious already, try this: Sign up with a new user name on any of those sites and ask for actual evidence of evolution, speciation, and abiogenesis (especially macro-evolution and mathematically rigorous evidence) in both prehistoric life and in extant organisms. And ask for detailed evidence that ID, CSI, FSCI, specified complexity, irreducible complexity, telicity/teleology, and Creationism have been proven to be bogus based on “the evidence”, and especially on mathematically rigorous evidence.

      Here’s a good place to start:

      PZ Myers says this:

      “Creationism is not a theory, and has been refuted by the evidence. Evolution is made up of cold hard facts.”

      Ask him for the evidence and the cold hard facts of his claim. Ask that his alleged evidence and cold hard facts be detailed and not based on speculation, inferences, hypotheses, theories, beliefs, consensus, etc. Ask for a response from HIM. See how long it takes for you to be personally attacked by his loyal minions. See if you ever get a response from Myers himself, and if he actually does respond his words will virtually certainly be a personal attack and won’t have anything to do with the substance of your questions. Don’t be surprised if you also get banned.

      Try the same thing at Panda’s Thumb, The Wall, and ATBC.

      • 242 Pachyaena April 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

        I want to add that there’s a huge difference between a lack of evidence, and proclaiming that “the evidence” refutes a claim. Neither PZ Myers nor anyone else has evidence that refutes Creation. Besides, “Creationism” is actually a belief in Creation, and “Creationism” is absolutely real. Many people are Creation-ists.

        There’s a lack of evidence to show that Creation (or design) took or takes place, but that doesn’t prove that Creation (or design) didn’t or doesn’t take place. There’s also a lack of evidence that strictly materialistic abiogenesis or evolution took or takes place, but that doesn’t prove that it didn’t or doesn’t.

        PZ Myers is as full of it as the Creationists or ID proponents are when it comes to claims of evidence for ultimate causes.

      • 243 ogremkv April 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

        Bull cookies.

        If you go to these places with specific questions, then you will get specific answers. Anyone, with a 30 second google search, can find the evidence for evolution. It’s not a question pf patiently explaining it to you, it’s a question of doing some basic research on your own.

        Now, if you like, I can give you three sites with tons of evidence for you. I can’t walk you through it.

        Most of these places will assume that you have done some basic research prior to asking questions. Seriously, I’ve taken at least three classes that are almost exclusively evolutionary theory and I don’t certainly don’t know everything (or even that much beyond the basics).

        I’ll say it again, we can’t teach everyone, especially those who come with a pre-installed bias about evolution.

        Now for those sites. Read everything on every one of them. Then you’ll know enough about evolution and the evidence to start asking legitimate questions at the above sites.

        http://evolution.berkeley.edu/
        http://www.talkorigins.org/
        and my own blog here: http://ogremk5.wordpress.com/category/evolution/

        If you need additional evidence, then I would suggest going here: http://www.evolutionresearchnews.org/ which has links to dozens of journal articles and websites.

      • 244 ogremkv April 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm

        One more thing. Reality disproves creationism.

        No flood.
        No 6000 year old Earth.
        Pi does not equal 3.
        Spiders are not insects.
        Bats are not birds.

        There, done.

        Facts of evolution.

        You have parents. You are different than your parents. Done.

        Facts of macro-evolution.

        Hypothesis is that if macro-evolution is true, then we should find a particular kind of organism in a particular kind of rock of a particular age. Found. Done.

        There you go. And don’t you dare say, “Is that all?” I could flood this thread with individual pieces of evidence. At least a hundred on origins of life. Probably upwards of 75 speciation events (lab and observed). At least 1 macro-evolution paper (genus level speciation event). That’s just from my personal collection. If you want them, let me know your e-mail and I’ll get them to you.

  179. 245 Toronto April 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Petrushka:

    I think Barry’s political base consists of those who at heart, ARE bullies!

    They’d like the freedom to take ours away.

    Just imagine life in a country run by UD.

  180. 246 Toronto April 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Flint:

    As Kristine points out, this is a profoundly childish approach. As though their cognitive development froze early in grade school.

    Yes.

    That is precisely what we are dealing with, children who are afraid that something bad may happen to them if they don’t do exactly as they’re told.

  181. 247 Pachyaena April 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    ogremkv, you obviously missed my points. I was referring to the responses that someone would (and does) get when asking questions like I mentioned on the sites I mentioned. You’re well aware of the things that are said on those sites, aren’t you? To say that the things that are said are unkind and unhelpful would be the understatement of the century.

    Your reference to what is said on other sites about evolution are irrelevant. I’m well aware of what is said about evolution, on many sites, in scientific papers, and books.

    As I said, there’s a difference between Creation and Creationism. To be even more specific, I would say that Creation can also be divided into different definitions. Some people believe the story of Creation in the bible, but not necessarily the time frame, while others would think of it as a concept that has nothing to do with the bible or any religious beliefs. Some people believe that aliens from another planet created us and/or everything else. I think it’s obvious that PZ Myers thinks of it as a religious belief and especially a christian one. It’s also obvious that he doesn’t differentiate between a Young Earth Creationist and an Old Earth Creationist in his disdain for both. What you mentioned about a 6000 year old Earth only applies to YECs. The alleged flood has nothing to do with Creation. “Reality” does not disprove Creation. There is no evidence that disproves Creation or ID, in a non-religious form, especially when considering that either could have taken place billions of years ago. Creation of the Earth 6000 years ago, or anything like that date, is absurd of course, but PZ Myers didn’t say Creation 6000 years ago.

    The existence or differences between spiders and insects or
    bats and birds does not disprove Creation or ID, especially in a non-religious form.

    My relation to my parents is not a good example of evolution, and especially of macro-evolution. I am still the same species as they are. Taxonomically speaking, I would be labeled exactly the same as them. At most, I would be considered a slight variation.

    Finding a particular kind of organism in a particular kind of rock of a particular age does not prove macro-evolution (especially non-telic) and it does not disprove Creation or ID, especially in a non-religious form billions of years ago. And way too much credit is given to evolution (or the ToE) for allegedly predicting where fossils may be found. I have found thousands of fossils, and evolution (or the ToE) had nothing to do with finding them. I’ve also found some that contradict the conclusions or predictions of evolutionary consensus. Other people have too.

    Has anyone ever observed macro-evolution in nature?

    Can evolution (or the ToE) tell me where to find a ‘new’ species in a Borneo jungle and what that species will be?

    Can evolution (or the ToE) tell me where to find a transitional fossil between T-Rex and it’s closest known ancestor? Down to 50 square yards and at least partly on the surface would suffice. A mostly complete skeleton with GPS coordinates within a few feet would clinch the deal. 🙂

    • 248 ogremkv April 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      You obviously missed my point. The reason those people tend to be mean is because people are asking questions that should be answerable by anyone with a halfway decent 10th grade education.

      We shouldn’t have to go over the basics every time, someone who is willfully ignorant comes up and demands evidence that they can look up themselves in 30 seconds on the internet.

      I’ll also note, that to people who are not known trolls, the people on all of those sites are exceedingly helpful. However, asking troll-like questions is just identifying yourself as a troll.

      As far as the stuff about creation, there’s also no way to tell if the creator created everything last Tuesday and all our prior knowledge and memories being implanted that way. The creation you describe cannot be differentiated from known science.

      Creationism, that is ALL of the myths, of the creation event are disproven. All that’s left is some vague ‘creation event’ that can’t be any different than what science actually knows about, so why does it need to be not science?

      The only ‘creation’ in a non-religious form is that of science, and for all intents and purposes, we know how it happened. Will we ever know exactly? Of course not. But, then no scientist expects to ever know everything about stuff that happened anytime exactly.

      BTW: Your ‘logic’ also precludes the use of evidence in anything that we have not directly seen. Which means no criminal is guilty if the jury and judge didn’t see it.

      Now onto you questions.

      “My relation to my parents is not a good example of evolution, and especially of macro-evolution. I am still the same species as they are. Taxonomically speaking, I would be labeled exactly the same as them. At most, I would be considered a slight variation.”

      That’s a goal post shift. I used this to describe micro-evolution. Nowhere did I say that this was an example of above the species level of evolution. See, it’s tactics like this that make people mad at you when you go to Phryangula, PT, and AtBC.

      “Finding a particular kind of organism in a particular kind of rock of a particular age does not prove macro-evolution (especially non-telic) and it does not disprove Creation or ID, especially in a non-religious form billions of years ago. ”

      See, another misconception, and another mistatement. Did I ever say this PROVES macro-evolution. No. It is a remarkable piece of evidence that used the principles of evolution, geology, environmental science, etc as tools that can be used to develop further information. It’s just one of millions of pieces of evidence.

      “I’ve also found some that contradict the conclusions or predictions of evolutionary consensus. Other people have too.”

      Really, then why haven’t you published them? Why hasn’t anyone published documented evidence that fossils disprove evolution?

      Because, unlike dogmatic religions, science can change. There is not fixed ‘timeline of evolution’. Anyone who says that is wrong or lying. So far, NO fossils have ever been found that cannot be reconciled (and a lot more easily than religious stories can be reconciled) with previous information and known processes.

      “Has anyone ever observed macro-evolution in nature?”

      Yes, I told you that already. However, I will also say that it is exceedingly rare and if you had read my blog (which you obviously haven’t), you would know why. In fact, anyone who has claimed to have read so much ought to know why. Tell you what, why don’t you tell me why this would be such a rare occurrence, then we’ll all know that you do indeed understand this stuff.

      “Can evolution (or the ToE) tell me where to find a ‘new’ species in a Borneo jungle and what that species will be?”

      See, it’s questions like this that make me doubt you understand what evolution even is. It’s a nonsensical question.

      “Can evolution (or the ToE) tell me where to find a transitional fossil between T-Rex and it’s closest known ancestor? Down to 50 square yards and at least partly on the surface would suffice. A mostly complete skeleton with GPS coordinates within a few feet would clinch the deal. ”

      Another non-sensical question, which BTW, is stupid because I’ve already TOLD YOU what range of information can be developed.

      What science can tell us is when in the geologic record, and potentially what kind of rock that such a transitional form would be found.

      ANother reason that it is non-sensical is because that organism you ask for would be between the T.Rex and its parent. (Yes, the closest known ancestor of anything is its parent.)

      Or maybe you could go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrannosauroid and actually learn all about what is known about the Tyrannosauroids and their ancestors.

      So, in conclusion, I’m sorry that you were treated badly at those sites. Honestly, though, from two posts of yours, I can see why. Most of those places do not suffer fools gladly. You claim to have knowledge, yet you ask questions that are nonsense based on the knowledge you claim.

      Yeah, I can see why you were treated poorly. Learn more and think using evidence, reason, and logic, instead of dogma.

      • 249 Pachyaena April 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

        “You obviously missed my point. The reason those people tend to be mean is because people are asking questions that should be answerable by anyone with a halfway decent 10th grade education.

        We shouldn’t have to go over the basics every time, someone who is willfully ignorant comes up and demands evidence that they can look up themselves in 30 seconds on the internet.”

        If that’s true then the people on those sites should easily be able to answer such questions, without being “mean”. And don’t you think that the ID proponents on UD think the same thing? That people can do a simple search and find the answers to questions about ID and all its particulars? Don’t they often say that they’re tired of responding to the same old questions and comments?

        Apparently it has never occurred to either ‘side’ that no matter how many searches are done, and no matter how much information is looked at, there are questions that someone (like MathGrrl) may want to ask. For example, scientific information changes every day, and there are LOTS of disagreements, opinions, inferences, speculations, guesses, hypotheses, etc. Is it unreasonable to ask questions about the alleged ‘evidence’ of all those things?

        ID ‘theory’ also has disagreements, opinions, inferences, speculations, guesses, hypotheses, etc. Is it unreasonable to ask questions about the alleged ‘evidence’ of all those things?

        Oh, and you’re still missing MY point about the way people are treated on some websites, which was responsive to the point that was made about how people are treated on UD. You’re the one moving the goalposts, and on more than one point.

        “I’ll also note, that to people who are not known trolls, the people on all of those sites are exceedingly helpful. However, asking troll-like questions is just identifying yourself as a troll.”

        I didn’t say anything about trolls or known trolls. You’re moving those goalposts. Exceedingly helpful?? You’ve got to be kidding.

        “As far as the stuff about creation, there’s also no way to tell if the creator created everything last Tuesday and all our prior knowledge and memories being implanted that way. The creation you describe cannot be differentiated from known science.”

        You’re moving the goalposts again, and grossly misrepresenting what I said about Creation. Last Thursday?

        And when PZ Myers says Creation or Creationism, it’s obvious that he means any kind of creation, whether it was last Thursday or billions of years ago. To him, everything in the universe is strictly materialistic, random, chance, etc., and undirected in any way by anything. Maybe he’s right, but he doesn’t have proof of it. No one does, just like no one has proof of the opposite.

        “Creationism, that is ALL of the myths, of the creation event are disproven. All that’s left is some vague ‘creation event’ that can’t be any different than what science actually knows about, so why does it need to be not science?”

        So, you know all the “myths” about Creation that have ever been thought of, eh? You know what every person who has ever lived has thought about Creation or the possibility of it? Which particular “creation event” do you mean by the way? And what proof do you have that no creation of any kind by any means (except scientific) could have ever taken place?

        For purposes of clarification, it appears that you think of evolution and scientific as being strictly materialistic, non-directed (non-telic) and non-teleological. So, I’ll add to the question: What proof do you have that no telic, or teleological, creation could have ever taken place? Prove that either has been disproved.

        “The only ‘creation’ in a non-religious form is that of science, and for all intents and purposes, we know how it happened. Will we ever know exactly? Of course not. But, then no scientist expects to ever know everything about stuff that happened anytime exactly.”

        Oh, so there is creation but it’s that of science, whatever that means. For all intents and purposes? But not exactly? All? You speak for every one on Earth then?

        “BTW: Your ‘logic’ also precludes the use of evidence in anything that we have not directly seen. Which means no criminal is guilty if the jury and judge didn’t see it.”

        Irrelevant, and more goalpost moving.

        “Now onto you questions.”

        “My relation to my parents is not a good example of evolution, and especially of macro-evolution. I am still the same species as they are. Taxonomically speaking, I would be labeled exactly the same as them. At most, I would be considered a slight variation.”

        “That’s a goal post shift. I used this to describe micro-evolution. Nowhere did I say that this was an example of above the species level of evolution. See, it’s tactics like this that make people mad at you when you go to Phryangula, PT, and AtBC.”

        No, it’s not a goalpost shift. It’s a relevant response to what you said. I added “and especially macro-evolution” to be more thorough and encompassing. You’re the one who said “Facts of evolution.” and then made the comments about my relationship to my parents. I don’t see the word ‘micro’ in your statement. ‘Micro’-evolution is pretty meaningless anyway. It comes across as a lame excuse for not being able to verify macro-evolution. ‘Variation’ works just as well.

        “Finding a particular kind of organism in a particular kind of rock of a particular age does not prove macro-evolution (especially non-telic) and it does not disprove Creation or ID, especially in a non-religious form billions of years ago. ”

        “See, another misconception, and another mistatement. Did I ever say this PROVES macro-evolution. No. It is a remarkable piece of evidence that used the principles of evolution, geology, environmental science, etc as tools that can be used to develop further information. It’s just one of millions of pieces of evidence.”

        Well, in so many words you did say that finding a particular kind of organism in a particular…..etc., proves macro-evolution. Here’s what you said:

        “Facts of macro-evolution.

        Hypothesis is that if macro-evolution is true, then we should find a particular kind of organism in a particular kind of rock of a particular age. Found. Done.”

        That sounds like you’re calling it indisputable, concrete proof.

        I also see that you’re moving the goalposts yet again. “…the principles of evolution, geology, environmental science, etc as tools that can be used to develop further information.” Now it’s all that stuff, instead of just “Facts of macro-evolution”.

        “I’ve also found some that contradict the conclusions or predictions of evolutionary consensus. Other people have too.”

        “Really, then why haven’t you published them? Why hasn’t anyone published documented evidence that fossils disprove evolution?”

        Why do you assume that I haven’t published them? Where did I say they “disprove evolution”? I recommend that you learn how to read, and also do some research on fossils that contradict the conclusions or predictions of evolutionary consensus. When a fossil is found that doesn’t fit the current conclusions/consensus/predictions, it’s a ‘contradiction’. For instance, when a species is believed (by most or all workers) to have gone extinct 50 million years ago, but then a fossil of that species is found in 45 million year old sediments, that fossil contradicts the 50 million year conclusion/consensus./prediction. There are many examples of fossils that contradicted evolutionary theory conclusions/consensus/predictions when (or where) they were found. There are also many examples in extant organisms.

        “Because, unlike dogmatic religions, science can change. There is not fixed ‘timeline of evolution’. Anyone who says that is wrong or lying. So far, NO fossils have ever been found that cannot be reconciled (and a lot more easily than religious stories can be reconciled) with previous information and known processes.”

        Yeah, science can change, and it has to regularly, because it’s often wrong. Anything can be reconciled if people want it to badly enough.

        I agree that the religions humans have conjured up are dogmatic (and bullshit) but there’s a lot of dogma in science and evolutionary theory too. Some religions do change. In fact, all of them probably do in some ways. Whether the changes are worthwhile or not is debatable, and the same could be said about science and evolutionary theory. No matter what is put forth, some people are going to disagree with it. Humans are a stubborn and argumentative bunch.

        “Has anyone ever observed macro-evolution in nature?”

        “Yes, I told you that already. However, I will also say that it is exceedingly rare and if you had read my blog (which you obviously haven’t), you would know why. In fact, anyone who has claimed to have read so much ought to know why. Tell you what, why don’t you tell me why this would be such a rare occurrence, then we’ll all know that you do indeed understand this stuff.”

        Do you have an example of someone observing macro-evolution in nature? I’d be interested in seeing it.

        “Can evolution (or the ToE) tell me where to find a ‘new’ species in a Borneo jungle and what that species will be?”

        “See, it’s questions like this that make me doubt you understand what evolution even is. It’s a nonsensical question.”

        If ‘evolution’ can make predictions, then why is it a nonsensical question? Are the predictions ‘evolution’ can allegedly make kind of like the alleged prophecies in the bible? In other words, are they form fit after the fact? Are they so general and vague that they can be ‘reconciled’ if someone wants to badly enough?

        “Can evolution (or the ToE) tell me where to find a transitional fossil between T-Rex and it’s closest known ancestor? Down to 50 square yards and at least partly on the surface would suffice. A mostly complete skeleton with GPS coordinates within a few feet would clinch the deal. ”

        “Another non-sensical question, which BTW, is stupid because I’ve already TOLD YOU what range of information can be developed.

        What science can tell us is when in the geologic record, and potentially what kind of rock that such a transitional form would be found.”

        Ah, so it gets narrowed down to less than the entire Earth and somewhere within a bunch of millions of years. And of course it can also weed out the possibility of finding a particular fossil outside that predicted “range”, eh?

        “ANother reason that it is non-sensical is because that organism you ask for would be between the T.Rex and its parent. (Yes, the closest known ancestor of anything is its parent.)”

        Speaking of nonsensical, and more goalpost moving. It should be obvious that what I meant is a transitional fossil between T-Rex and its closest known ancestral, separate species. Some workers think that Daspletosaurus is the closest known ancestor of T-Rex. Whether that’s correct or not, can ‘evolution’ tell me where to look for the transitional species (fossils) between them? Can ‘evolution’ narrow it down to a continent, or maybe even a country? Should I look in Alberta, Montana, China or other parts of Asia? Somewhere else? Can ‘evolution’ predict how many species were between them?

        And since there’s disagreement on T-Rex’s closest known ancestor (see below between the asterisks for a bit of it), it hardly seems predictable as to where to look for transitional fossils, except to say to look in late Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, somewhere, and hope you get lucky. That isn’t much of a prediction. And what if a fossil has been redeposited in older or younger rocks, or in rocks that aren’t representative of the original sediments the fossil was in (e.g. lacustrine vs. marine)? Can evolution predict that too?

        *Daspletosaurus is usually considered to be closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex, or even a direct ancestor through anagenesis. Gregory Paul reassigned D. torosus to the genus Tyrannosaurus, creating the new combination Tyrannosaurus torosus, but this has not been generally accepted. Many researchers believe Tarbosaurus and Tyrannosaurus to be sister taxa or even to be the same genus, with Daspletosaurus a more basal relative. On the other hand, Phil Currie and colleagues find Daspletosaurus to be more closely related to Tarbosaurus and other Asian tyrannosaurids like Alioramus than to the North American Tyrannosaurus. The systematics (evolutionary relationships) of Daspletosaurus may become clearer once all the species have been described.*

        “Or maybe you could go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrannosauroid and actually learn all about what is known about the Tyrannosauroids and their ancestors.”

        I see a lot of confusion, disagreement, and unknowns there. There’s a lot left to figure out, if ever.

        “So, in conclusion, I’m sorry that you were treated badly at those sites. Honestly, though, from two posts of yours, I can see why. Most of those places do not suffer fools gladly. You claim to have knowledge, yet you ask questions that are nonsense based on the knowledge you claim.”

        So then, you do have proof of all your (and science’s) claims and no questions should ever be asked?

        “Yeah, I can see why you were treated poorly. Learn more and think using evidence, reason, and logic, instead of dogma.”

        What dogma?

  182. 250 Flint April 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Pachyaena,

    I’ll try to respond to your points as well as I can.

    Flint, you’re right about the ID proponents at UD. However, couldn’t the same things be said about the evolution proponents at Panda’s Thumb, The Wall, ATBC, Pharyngula, etc.?

    Depends on the model you’re using. I’ve noticed that this conflict is conceptualized by ID proponents as a political issue, as though one side favors food stamps and the other opposes them. But those at Panda’s Thumb, etc. view it as a scientific dispute, resting or falling on the basis of solid real-world evidence. In the case of food stamps, there are certainly legitimate differences of opinion about how society ought to work. But in the case of evolution, what matter is replicable scientific research results, which can determine in scientific matters whether a hypothesis is supported or refuted by evidence.

    Now, supposedly in principle one can scientifically establish the influence of the food stamp program on society. But whether a given influence is right or wrong remains a matter of preference. Evolution is not a matter of preference, but a matter of how biology actually works.

    If the answer to that isn’t obvious already, try this: Sign up with a new user name on any of those sites and ask for actual evidence of evolution, speciation, and abiogenesis (especially macro-evolution and mathematically rigorous evidence) in both prehistoric life and in extant organisms. And ask for detailed evidence that ID, CSI, FSCI, specified complexity, irreducible complexity, telicity/teleology, and Creationism have been proven to be bogus based on “the evidence”, and especially on mathematically rigorous evidence.

    Done that. When I see is references to peer-reviewed material in scientific publications. Abiogenesis is a very active area of research right now; there are many competing hypotheses, but there are also a great many efforts at actual research, which have inevitably supported or rejected many of these hypotheses. There are several excellent recent books about it, detailing that research within the context of proposed sets of hypotheses.

    No such thing exists for CSI. Note that I am NOT saying there’s no such thing as CSI, I’m only saying that there is no operational definition which competing groups of researchers can apply. And until any such testable definition exists, CSI remains an assertion, unsupported by examples.

    Now, irreducible complexity HAS been operationalized, and tested extensively. It has been scientifically demonstrated to be false in every formulation that has been proposed. Last I read, Behe has been reduced to denying that all biological structures can be derived from prior structures UNLESS every historical DNA change can be documented to his satisfaction. Of course, no such challenge is possible in reality. And as Behe demonstrated at Dover, no research undermining his claims can ever satisfy him!

    So once again, we’re back to the nature of the scientific enterprise. Until someone can define with some rigor exactly what CSI is, nobody can construct any methodology to test for it. The complaint is NOT that creationism is bogus, the complaint is that it is not scientifically testable in any way that has ever been suggested.

    PZ Myers says this:

    “Creationism is not a theory, and has been refuted by the evidence. Evolution is made up of cold hard facts.”

    This is misleading. PZ Myers isn’t talking about whether there is some creationist god diddling with reality. He’s talking about specific testable claims creationists make. Claims about a Great Flood or a young earth are demonstrably, unambiguously WRONG. They are refuted by enormous volumes of scientific research in biology, geology, astronomy, paleontology, and the like. These aren’t political issues.

    Ask him for the evidence and the cold hard facts of his claim. Ask that his alleged evidence and cold hard facts be detailed and not based on speculation, inferences, hypotheses, theories, beliefs, consensus, etc. Ask for a response from HIM.

    But this is rather unnecessary. PZ Myers need only point to the entire output of the scientific enterprise over the last 300 years, as detailed in millions of papers, textbooks, research results. And these results are derived from many tens of millions of TESTED hypotheses, most of which were refuted (and most of which still are; that’s how science works).

    And if you study science, you will notice how careful scientists are to asses the degree of empirical support, and this the probability of correctness, of their findings. Consensus arises in the scientific community from the weight of established results.

    (And incidentally, in science a THEORY means something very different from the common vernacular. In the vernacular, a theory is any hunch, guess, or ad hoc supposition. In science, a theory is a solidly based EXPLANATION of a wide range of replicated research results. Also, you are equivocating on the word “belief”. Saying “I believe food stamps are a waste of money” states a PREFERENCE. Saying “I believe it’s raining” states an observable, testable fact.)

    See if you ever get a response from Myers himself, and if he actually does respond his words will virtually certainly be a personal attack and won’t have anything to do with the substance of your questions. Don’t be surprised if you also get banned.

    Yes and no. My observation has been, creationists never cite studies or question findings. What they do is PREACH. They make some refutable claim, and people start off by linking to often dozens of SCIENTIFIC sources refuting that claim. Then the creationist repeats the same claim, without reading any of the links. He’s told to please read. He continues to preach. Eventually people become fed up and get hostile. I suspect this is because of what I’ve called the political model – the creationist is treating a scientific matter as a political debate. It is not.

    And yes, if someone continually refuses to adopt the scientific model in these discussions, then they have nothing SCIENTIFIC to offer, and their preaching is regarded as noise.

    I want to add that there’s a huge difference between a lack of evidence, and proclaiming that “the evidence” refutes a claim. Neither PZ Myers nor anyone else has evidence that refutes Creation. Besides, “Creationism” is actually a belief in Creation, and “Creationism” is absolutely real. Many people are Creation-ists.

    This strikes me as disingenuous. Let’s say I claim there is an elephant in the bedroom. Now, we examine the bedroom in detail, and we find no elephant. Is this a “lack of evidence”, and therefore fails to refute the claim? Many creationist claims (such as a young earth or a Great Flood) have unambiguously testable implications – and in science, an implication means that if A is true, B MUST be true.

    So scientifically let’s say we start at ground zero. We say “If there was such a flood, we should find X. If there was no such flood, we should find Y”. And let’s say that we can list THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of X and Y data. Now, we go out into the real world to see what we find. And we find that EVERY instance we can locate is a Y, and we find that there are ZERO instances of any X. How many MORE instances should we need, to decide that Y is more probably correct than X?

    Again, in science there is no such thing as PROOF. However, there IS such a thing as DISPROOF. Whether reality was POOFED up recently, by some alleged but utterly indetectible agency beyond any conceivable test, complete with every appearance of great age, cannot be disproved. But neither can it be supported. But eventually, the allegation of magic wears thin. Sure, the creationist god might have created reality last Thursday. Sure, there may have been a great flood but that god not only magically cleaned up every ramification of that flood, but replaced it with evidence that there was no flood. But even if this were true, it tells us nothing. It makes no testable predictions. It is scientifically useless.

    There’s also a lack of evidence that strictly materialistic abiogenesis or evolution took or takes place, but that doesn’t prove that it didn’t or doesn’t.

    But here, you run into the same basic problem. There in fact IS some evidence that “materialistic abiogenesis”, suggestive enough to drive a great deal of active (and productive research). Granted, at best that research can establish that abiogenesis is POSSIBLE.

    As for evolution, the solid evidence is scientifically incontrovertible. It is enormous, immediately testable. It makes predictions that can be tested, and all such tests have agreed. It can be replicated in the lab, and indeed it IS replicated in labs as part of undergraduate biology programs! Now, I suppose you could argue that some invisible magical agency is rigging up these tests to produce deliberately misleading results, for reasons we can never establish. But that argument strikes me as hollow.

    PZ Myers is as full of it as the Creationists or ID proponents are when it comes to claims of evidence for ultimate causes.

    I think this depends on what you mean by “ultimate causes”. What science can do is propose potential explanations for specific phenomena, and then test those proposals. Some proposals are refuted by those tests, and some are supported. Those that are supported suggest MORE tests, and the scientific process continues to iterate. Eventually, these tested proposals amount to a broader general explanation (a theory), which makes increasingly accurate predictions. And then we can say, well, this is probably how things work.

    Where creationists stumble is in their inability to suggest ANY valid tests for their claims. Assertions are not hypotheses – a hypothesis is formulated in a testable way. An assertion often is not. The Templeton Foundation has a standing offer of a million dollars in research support for anyone who can propose a SCIENTIFIC test of any ID assertion. So far, no takers.

    You are still seeing this as a political debate. PZ Myers has the entire weight of the history of the scientific enterprise behind his claims. What you have, it seems to me, is the rather peevish complaint that you don’t like his evidence, you think he’s a jerk, you think scientific ignoramuses preaching religion at science sites are treated unfairly.

    So I can only repeat: gods fall outside the boundaries of the scientific method. Science can make no comment about them one way or another, because there is IN PRINCIPLE no possible way to test for them. Science CAN, and HAS, identified TESTABLE claims, and those claims fail all tests.

  183. 251 Flint April 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    ogremkv:

    You obviously missed my point. The reason those people tend to be mean is because people are asking questions that should be answerable by anyone with a halfway decent 10th grade education.

    We shouldn’t have to go over the basics every time, someone who is willfully ignorant comes up and demands evidence that they can look up themselves in 30 seconds on the internet.

    You raise and dismiss several issues here that really ought to be identified and addressed more directly, at least in my opinion.

    First, halfway decent 10th grade educations in evolution in the US are very much the exception. In much of the country evolution simply is not covered. School teachers and administrators are painfully aware that covering evolution will cause hordes of angry parents to descend on their tranquil lives and be aggravitingly disruptive. And a distressingly high percentage of high school science teachers seem to BE creationists, and pursued that career for that very reason.

    And that’s not to mention the fairly effective creationist efforts at electing state legislators who are busily passing bills to encourage teaching “strengths and weaknesses of evolution” and other code phrases intended to protect the efforts of those creationist teachers, and appointing creationist judges. And of course creationists are working to elect creationist state school boards, often successfully. Creationist efforts are well funded and highly political.

    It’s probably impossible to underestimate how poor US education is when it comes to evolution.

    But second, and perhaps even more disturbing, these creationists aren’t really willfully ignorant. Many of them have done extensive research and memorization of the material at AnswersInGenesis and other creationist sites – the only ones that make sense to them. And those sites of course invariably describe a caricature of evolutionary theory distorted beyond all recognition.

    What’s disturbing is WHY these are the only sites that make sense to them. Creationism implies a model of reality that is internally consistent, socially endorsed, personally authored and authorized by God Himself. And that model teaches that all of reality, pretty much as it is now, was POOFED into existence all at once, presented to us on day 6 as a finished product.

    And this is why origin of species and origin of life are inseperable in the creationist mind. In his model, these were one and the same indivisible event. Further, the notion of slow and gradual, incremental and contingent biological changes over geological time is incomprehensible. There WAS no such time in his model.

    Piaget distinguished between assimilation (making new observations fit existing models) and accommodation (modifying the model to fit the observations). And evolution as properly understood requires no less than the total rejection of the creationist’s entire model, from early childhood on, and replacing it with something that violates core religious premises across the board, in defiance of his parents, his peers, and his church!

    So it’s nothing like a simple matter of spending 30 seconds on the internet learning better. Material that simply cannot be assimilated into the model is meaningless, impossible to relate to, confusing and incomprehensible. And even the most patient explanations of why this material MATTERS bounces off – there’s nothing for it to stick to. So it sounds like nonsense, like just another opinion, and a wrong one.

    • 252 ogremkv April 16, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      Flint, I agree with you. I retain the optimism that most people are like myself. That is, intellectually strong and courageous enough to accept the truth when one discovers it.

      That’s what I meant by voluntarily ignorant. They have been shown, but they refuse to accept.

      As far as the 10th grade stuff. I agree with that to, which is why I stipulated a decent education. Not teaching evolution in Biology is like not teaching the communitive property of addition in algebra or atomic theory in chemistry. It just doesn’t make sense without it.

      • 253 Flint April 16, 2011 at 8:23 pm

        Accommodation is hard. It’s not that they refuse to accept, it’s that their model simply precludes any understanding of what they’re being asked to accept. Whatsoever reinforces their model validates their convictions and makes sense, even if it is demonstrably incorrect or frankly imaginary. What doesn’t fit the model simply can’t signify. It MUST be interpreted in terms of the model, meaning it must be devalued as opinion, fraud, bad sportsmanship, bias, conspiracy, etc.

        I’m reminded of the model of “the heavens” as a shell, perhaps with transparent overlays, created by God. In Sputnik days, there was real concern about damaging it. As time passed and an entire space program repeatedly put people on the moon, this is (according to polls) regarded by a depressing percent of the US population as a massive fraud foisted on the American public by atheist politicians with the help of Hollywood special effects departments. And those who believe this credit themselves with the intellectual strength and courage to reject what’s clearly wrong, and never lose sight of THE TRUTH!

        So again, accommodation is hard. Models are extremely difficult to discard wholesale. Maybe some enhancements, some additions, some tweaking. But outright rejection isn’t in the cards.

        To put this in a different context, marital infidelity is widespread largely because the spouse’s model of marriage does not allow it. So the evidence has to be so obvious and unambiguous to penetrate that Tiger Woods could have a dozen bimbos on the side and his wife simply did not suspect for years. It’s damn hard to see what does’t fit.

        Oh, one more interesting factoid: Of all the creationist college students who enter and complete a degree in biology, 80% of them are STILL creationists when they graduate! There seems to be some stage of mental development beyond which that sort of education simply can’t penetrate. The model has “set up” and would probably survive a lobotomy.

        And hence, alas, the Jesus Camps and home schooling and other implicit recognitions that the indoctrination MUST take place early in life. By no later than adolescence, both creationist and scientific models have become ineradicable.

  184. 254 ogremkv April 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Here’s what all of the above can be boiled down to.

    Science doesn’t know everything, so therefore creation.

    That’s it. That’s all there is.

    P, I can point to evidence for everything I say.

    Feel free to point to evidence for ID, creation, or creationism. You can’t. It’s that simple.

    ID can’t even agree on the definitions of it’s main notions.

    You keep attacking science, why? It’s not easy. I told you, the basics will take you several years of college level coursework.

    Tell, you want, go over to my blog, ogremk5.wordpress.com and ask a sensible question and I’ll start explaining it to you. I will ask that you read the posts I mentioned to you before hand.

    You see, I assume that you still want to learn, when it appears obvious that you do not. I base this on your claim of having read a great deal about evolution and still asking questions that are utterly inane.

    You don’t like the area being narrowed down to a meter or so of rock spread out over a few hundred square miles, fine. Don’t like it. When I see ANY creationist, IDist, or myth get anywhere within two orders of magnitude of that level of accuracy, then you will have convinced me that there is value there.

    • 255 Pachyaena April 18, 2011 at 3:21 am

      “Here’s what all of the above can be boiled down to.

      Science doesn’t know everything, so therefore creation.

      That’s it. That’s all there is.”

      Wrong. I never said or implied that since science doesn’t know everything, therefore creation.

      “P, I can point to evidence for everything I say.”

      You can point to all the evidence you want, but you cannot prove that creation (or design), in some way by some entity, either telic or teleological or otherwise, has never taken place.

      “Feel free to point to evidence for ID, creation, or creationism. You can’t. It’s that simple.”

      Why should I? I never said or implied that there is evidence for ID, or creation. Creation-‘ism’ is absolutely, positively real. Creationism is a belief in creation, and many people believe in creation in some form by some entity or entities (often a ‘God’ or ‘Gods’). Some examples: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wic.html

      “You keep attacking science, why? It’s not easy. I told you, the basics will take you several years of college level coursework.”

      Attacking? Someone asking questions or pointing out facts is “attacking”? You sound like the overly defensive ID proponents on UD.

      “Tell, you want, go over to my blog, ogremk5.wordpress.com and ask a sensible question and I’ll start explaining it to you. I will ask that you read the posts I mentioned to you before hand.”

      Tell you what, start by explaining how creation (or ID if you want) in every imagined form has been disproved. Show the scientific evidence that proves creation (in any way at all) is impossible. You can leave out the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you like. 🙂

      “You see, I assume that you still want to learn, when it appears obvious that you do not. I base this on your claim of having read a great deal about evolution and still asking questions that are utterly inane.”

      Well, first of all, the questions I suggested are not necessarily ones I would ask. They were meant as examples to use to see what kind of response someone would get on the sites I mentioned. And what’s wrong with the questions anyway?

      You sure are sure of yourself and you jump to erroneous conclusions about me way too quickly. You have your mind made up and obviously believe that you know it all and that there’s nothing more to learn. You tout science just like a zealot touts their religion. You apparently see science as something sacred that shouldn’t be questioned. It’s blasphemy to question science or the people promoting it!! Yeah, whatever.

      “You don’t like the area being narrowed down to a meter or so of rock spread out over a few hundred square miles, fine. Don’t like it. When I see ANY creationist, IDist, or myth get anywhere within two orders of magnitude of that level of accuracy, then you will have convinced me that there is value there.”

      Hmm, a meter or so of rock spread out over a few hundred square miles, eh? How precise. Citation please.

      After I see the citation, I may have other comments.

      Oh, and I never said or implied that any creationist, IDist, or myth could predict anything.

      • 256 Flint April 18, 2011 at 4:30 am

        Pachyaena:

        Allow me to respond to some of your comments.

        You can point to all the evidence you want, but you cannot prove that creation (or design), in some way by some entity, either telic or teleological or otherwise, has never taken place.

        Yes, you are entirely correct about this. Creation is not subject to test, much less proof. But “you can’t prove me wrong” provides no useful support for any arbitrary assertion. I can claim there’s a teapot orbiting Jupiter, and you can’t possibly prove me wrong. But science has no purchase on untestable assertions, and cannot comment one way or another.

        Why should I? I never said or implied that there is evidence for ID, or creation. Creation-’ism’ is absolutely, positively real. Creationism is a belief in creation, and many people believe in creation in some form by some entity or entities (often a ‘God’ or ‘Gods’).

        Yes of course creationism is real. Throughout history, a great many people have fervently believed a great many things that cannot be established through empirical observation, nor rejected.

        Attacking? Someone asking questions or pointing out facts is “attacking”? You sound like the overly defensive ID proponents on UD.

        I think you are probably justified here. So long as you do not misrepresent what science is or how it works, making untestable assertions is not an attack.

        Tell you what, start by explaining how creation (or ID if you want) in every imagined form has been disproved. Show the scientific evidence that proves creation (in any way at all) is impossible.

        This depends on what you mean by creation. If you mean the assertion that gods exist or have performed some acts that cannot be investigated empirically, then you are correct. Science cannot comment on any gods.

        Well, first of all, the questions I suggested are not necessarily ones I would ask. They were meant as examples to use to see what kind of response someone would get on the sites I mentioned. And what’s wrong with the questions anyway?

        Nothing is wrong with questions per se. But often, the way questions are phrased or the implications they contain rest on misunderstandings. Much like “have you stopped beating your wife” ASSUMES ALREADY that you have beat your wife in the past, questions based on false assumptions are poorly formed. They can’t be answered directly, without first correcting those assumptions.

        You sure are sure of yourself and you jump to erroneous conclusions about me way too quickly. You have your mind made up and obviously believe that you know it all and that there’s nothing more to learn.

        This accusation is unfair. Nobody has claimed complete knowledge of anything.

        You tout science just like a zealot touts their religion. You apparently see science as something sacred that shouldn’t be questioned.

        I suggest this accusation is unsupported by what has been written here. The scientific method has proved over the centuries to be effective, useful, consistent, and surprisingly reliable. These are positive attributes. There’s nothing sacred about them. Science of course limits itself to those phenomena which can be directly or indirectly observed and tested. This is in some ways a broad scope, and in other ways it is tightly constrained. But within its domain, science has proved the most powerful tool for understanding our universe ever devised.

        Hmm, a meter or so of rock spread out over a few hundred square miles, eh? How precise. Citation please.

        I think this is intended as a reference to your prior questions, which ASSUMED a scope of evolutionary theory, which that theory simply does not possess. The theory simply does not, and cannot, and never will, encompass the precision you have attributed to it. This is what I meant about questions based on incorrect assumptions. Generally, the response has been that a VALID critique of any theory, requires an understanding of what that theory says. Criticizing a theory for not saying something not part of the theory, even if you THINK it should say such, reflects misunderstanding.

  185. 257 Flint April 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    ogremkv:

    You see, I assume that you still want to learn, when it appears obvious that you do not. I base this on your claim of having read a great deal about evolution and still asking questions that are utterly inane.

    Sheesh, this is like ships passing in the night. You can’t get through to him, I don’t seem able to get through to you.

    Evolution as scientists understand it simply cannot fit anywhere within the creationist model. Yeah, they’ve read a great deal about evolution, but have done so ONLY at creationist sites where the distortions, misrepresentations, and misinformation about evolution are necessitated by that need.

    Pachyaena’s questions ASSUME the creationist model, which means they ASSUME the validity of the preposterous caricature of evolution the model requires. And this is the only “understanding” of evolution POSSIBLE within that model. And lifelong socially-driven convictions are nearly impossible to discard wholesale. Not only must they be replaced by a new understanding that conflicts with everything they’ve ever been exposed to, gaining that new understanding requires that all of reality be seen from an entirely new, utterly foreign perspective. And that new perspective can only be seen has hostile and terrifying. They can’t DO it, and they can’t WANT to do it.

    So maybe I can talk more directly to you. You continue to encourage Pachyaena to examine mountains of relevant evidence, but you are ASSUMING that evidence MATTERS. And so long as you labor under this misapprehension, you will get nowhere. Creationism isn’t based on evidence at all; they don’t even grasp the concept. It’s based on a social and political philosophy derived from preferences, emotions, wishful thinking, and deliberately self-serving misunderstandings.

    So using evidence to try to counter convictions not based on evidence is like cutting water with a knife. Easy to do, you can do it all day long, and you have no effect at all.

    You might be interested in reading the accounts (the net has quite a few) written by ex-creationists who were able to shake off those chains. And what you read there, over and over, is that evidence had nothing to do with this enlightenment. ANY evidence was ignored, distorted, or rationalized away. What triggered the change was the perception of theological error. In other words, things that mattered, that made sense, to the creationist.

    And those things are instructive. Creationists are highly authority-oriented. Just COUNT the number of posts on Mathgrrl’s UD thread attacking her expertise, her character, her qualifications. Nobody pays any attention to the question itself, but they are obsessed with WHO ASKED IT. They don’t assess the Book of Genesis on the basis of what it SAYS, but rather on the bases of who was said to have written it.

    And so ex-creationists typically began doubting their doctrine because their leaders were perceived as being dishonest, or otherwise violating theological precepts. Kent Hovind started losing some worshipers NOT because everything he said was trivially refuted by even the most rudimentary observation. Rather, it’s because he cheated on his taxes and then lied about it. He lost some of his moral authority.

    And look at the KINDS of evidence Pachyaena finds meaningful. None of it has anything to do with natural systems; he’s concerned with attitudes, with what he regards as fair treatment. He continually visualizes the debate as political, as a matter of competing preferences and opnions and behaviors and perceptions.

    So I disagree with your summary, of science is not perfect therefore creation. You have it backwards. What it really boils down to is creation, therefore disagreement is wrong. Science is generally viewed, directly or by implcation, as just another competing faith, as theological error. Creationism isn’t a conclusion in any sense, it is a non-negotiable starting position. It is the filter through which all you say must pass through. If it doesn’t fit the model, it doesn’t make it through.

    And we’re also back to the issue of authority. If I have a source I regard as unimpeachable, full of Absolute Truths, and reality refutes it, then REALITY IS WRONG. Some creationists have actually come out and said this! And that means reality, all your mountains of evidence, really do not matter. They are discounted 100% before you start. So long as those interpretations of cherry-picked excerpts of scripture are regarded as inviolable, their authority trumps reality.

    You can be absolutely certain, OR you can be probably correct. You can’t be both. And absolute certainty provides many with the sort of psychological comfort attainable in no other way.

    • 258 Pachyaena April 18, 2011 at 3:42 am

      Flint, what you say about Creationists (or at least many of them) is true, although the same things could be said about anyone who has their mind completely made up even when there’s no evidence or the evidence is incomplete, but it doesn’t apply to me. I’m not a Creationist. I’m simply saying that some form of creation (or design) by some entity is possible, until proven otherwise. I’m also saying that that proof, if it exists, has not been found. The ‘ultimate causes’, whatever they are, have not been discovered or proven, at least by humans. Frankly, I doubt that they ever will be.

      • 259 Flint April 18, 2011 at 4:44 am

        Flint, what you say about Creationists (or at least many of them) is true, although the same things could be said about anyone who has their mind completely made up even when there’s no evidence or the evidence is incomplete

        I agree with you, certainty in the face of lack of evidence is foolish. But saying that minds are “completely made up…when evidence is incomplete” is a bit unfair. The best science can do is say “this explanation is PROBABLY correct, pending conflicting observations.” So one might be willing to go along with this, and regard it as TENTATIVELY the best explanation. Any scientist whose mind is “completely made up” about any explanations still in doubt, is incompetent.

        I’m simply saying that some form of creation (or design) by some entity is possible, until proven otherwise.

        Hopefully, we can agree that creation is simply not subject to proof or disproof. Creationism is an untestable assertion. It may or may not be correct, but there is IN PRINCIPLE no way to know, either way.

        The ‘ultimate causes’, whatever they are, have not been discovered or proven, at least by humans. Frankly, I doubt that they ever will be.

        I am inclined to agree with you, depending on exactly what you mean by “ultimate causes”. Science works incrementally, learning about observable causes. The search for the “ultimate” cause of anything is surely a fool’s errand. But one does not need to know the “ultimate cause” of disease, whatever that may mean, to know how to prevent or cure disease. Nor need to know the “ultimate cause” of food to satisfy hunger.

        Most importantly, the enterprise of science, the application of the scientific method, in fact increases our understanding of many things and many causes, all the time. Of course these understandings will never be complete, and will in some sense always be tentative and subject to modification. But in the interim, they are DAMN useful.

  186. 260 ogremkv April 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Flint, I understand all this. However, I cannot allow a misrepresentation of science to continue. If what’s-his-face wants to lie about his religion, that’s fine. I don’t care, it’s all fake anyway.

    If he wants to lie about science, then I have to step in. I’m not trying to change his mind. Morton’s demon has blocked all that. He’s effectively blind.

    I’ll go ahead and step out.

  187. 261 Pachyaena April 18, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Flint, for now, I ask that you consider these:

    You said: “Nobody has claimed complete knowledge of anything.”

    ogremkv, PZ Myers, and many others speak as though they are absolutely certain, and have solid scientific proof, that no creation (or design) of any kind by any entity (except humans) has ever taken place.

    ogremkv said: “Reality disproves creationism.”

    I’d like to see that proof, even if he meant creation.

    He also said things about evolution and/or science (Facts, Done, etc.) that are statements of certainty as proof against creation (and ID?).

    PZ Myers said: “Creationism is not a theory, and has been refuted by the evidence. Evolution is made up of cold hard facts.”

    He’s wrong on multiple counts. First, Creationism can accurately be described as a theory. He didn’t use the word ‘scientific’. Second, Creationism has NOT been refuted by “the evidence”. Creationism exists and is common. Third, Creation, which is what he should have said, also has not been refuted by the evidence. Some proposed kinds or stories of Creation or creation (take your pick) have been or could be scientifically refuted, but not all, by a long shot. Fourth, his statement about evolution is massively overstated when it comes to disproving creation, and according to many (or most?) ‘evolutionists’, evolution has nothing to do with creation anyway, so, according to what many evolutionists say his statement about evolution is completely irrelevant to creation or any discussion of it. Fifth, his use of the statement “cold hard facts” of evolution STRONGLY implies that he believes that “evolution” proves that any kind of creation has been refuted by those alleged cold, hard facts of evolution. The ToE has a long way to go before it proves (or thoroughly understands or explains) evolution, and especially strictly materialistic ‘macro’-evolution, let alone disproving creation.

    It should be obvious to anyone that Myers, ogremkv, and many others believe that “evolution” (more accurately the theory of evolution) and science in general has solid, ’empirical’, absolute proof that creation (or design) in any form, throughout the history of the universe, has been absolutely, positively refuted/disproved and is impossible. Myers’ entire train of thought (and his website) is devoted to ridiculing anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with his completely materialistic view of nature. Myers said it, his minions believe it, and that settles it!

    Myers and many others (on either ‘side’) have their minds completely made up, even though the evidence (especially of ultimate causes) is FAR from all in. And the ultimate causes (of origins, life and its diversity, speciation, consciousness, intelligence, instincts, etc., and the ultimate causes of the universe itself, are really what the debate is all about.

    • 262 Flint April 18, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      Pachyaena:

      ogremkv, PZ Myers, and many others speak as though they are absolutely certain, and have solid scientific proof, that no creation (or design) of any kind by any entity (except humans) has ever taken place.

      This needs to be disambiguated. The scientific evidence of evolution (for all organisms, humans being only one of them) is indeed solid, to the point where no rational evidence-based alternatives can any longer exist. Let’s call this 99.99% certainty about the broad evolutionary history. Of course, as you look into finer details, historical information is incomplete BUT the process of evolution is rationally beyond question at this point. It is understood and established to the point where it allows us to be as certain as science ever permits.

      But whether or not evolution is a design process is another question. Certainly it makes sense to say that evolution is a continuous process of fitting the (constantly changing) adaptive landscape, and in this sense you might legitimately say that the environment “designs” (I would use the word “constrains”) evolutionary development.

      Now, I suppose one could ASSERT that some supernatural agency initiated or guides this process, and nobody could prove this wrong. BUT even if this is true, that agency is using principles to guide the process which can be tested and understood, and that agency does so consistently.

      ogremkv said: “Reality disproves creationism.”

      I’d like to see that proof, even if he meant creation.

      Again, we need a definition of terms. “Creation” or “creationism” is generally presented as, and understood to be, the ASSERTION that all organisms were POOFED into existence, all at once, in pretty much their current forms. Reality DOES disprove this, in exhaustive detail. That proof lies in literally millions of papers and texts in biology, paleontology, zoology, astronomy, geology, and so on. But more accurately, all of these scientific findings aren’t what disproves that particular creation assertion, they are only the results of extensive careful investigation of how reality works and has always worked.

      He also said things about evolution and/or science (Facts, Done, etc.) that are statements of certainty as proof against creation (and ID?).

      Not quite. They are statements of extremely high probability based on centuries of CONSISTENT and detailed research. They are also observations that the assertions made by ID are unsupported by ANY research, and indeed nobody has even proposed a possible method of doing such research.

      He’s wrong on multiple counts. First, Creationism can accurately be described as a theory. He didn’t use the word ‘scientific’.

      Again, no, in scientific terms it cannot be described as a theory. In scientific terms, a theory is a proposed explanation of a very large and self-consistent body of research results. However, in the common vernacular, a “theory” is any assertion, speculation, hunch or guess. In vernacular terms, we can say that the teapot orbiting Jupiter is a “theory”. But in science, the word has a different meaning. When you are reading any science site, the scientific use of the word “theory” is understood.

      Creationism has NOT been refuted by “the evidence”.

      You need to be more clear about what you mean by “creationism”. Once again, the commonly seen assertion of the instant creation of life as it is today has been THOROUGHLY refuted, every which way. If you are instead referring to the possible supernatural activities of some god CONSISTENT with research results, then nobody can prove you wrong. But that god (or gods) are surely constrained to FIT what massive investigation has determined.

      Creationism exists and is common.

      No question about this. I suspect all of us, as part of the normal human condition, believe many things which are not the case. We might believe them for many reasons – out of ignorance, or for peace of mind, or due to our childhood training, etc. But they are STILL not the case!

      Third, Creation, which is what he should have said, also has not been refuted by the evidence.

      I guess we’ll keep going over this until we have a mutual understanding. How and when life evolved, considered broadly, is really no longer subject to any reasonable doubt. Yes, science is still filling in the fine details. But this is like measuring individual leaves on a tree – the fact that the tree is THERE is no longer open to question. If what you mean by “creation” is saying there’s no such tree at all, then yes, this has been refuted.

      Some proposed kinds or stories of Creation or creation (take your pick) have been or could be scientifically refuted, but not all, by a long shot.

      This deserves some discussion, I think. I spoke of the domain of science, which is the study of the physical universe, what it contains and how it works. Anything supernatural lies outside this domain, and science cannot comment it. But conversely, statements within this domain, statements that can be tested, ARE in this domain. To the extent that “creation” makes testable statements, it is making SCIENTIFIC statements. And those statements are subject to refutation if they fail the tests.

      I admit I am not aware of any scientific statements creation makes, which have not been investigated and established to be either false or almost surely true. If you can list some, we can discuss them. I’m also aware of many non-scientific statements creation makes, which are not testable and therefore outside the domain of science.

      Fourth, his statement about evolution is massively overstated when it comes to disproving creation, and according to many (or most?) ‘evolutionists’, evolution has nothing to do with creation anyway, so, according to what many evolutionists say his statement about evolution is completely irrelevant to creation or any discussion of it.

      Again, you must specify more carefully what you mean by “creation”. The creationists we’ve all seen so many hundreds of time make repeated and consistent scientific statements, testable statements. And those claims have all been researched, and resoundingly fall all empirical tests. But again, if you’re talking about non-scientific (non-testable) statements, then science is silent.

      The ToE has a long way to go before it proves (or thoroughly understands or explains) evolution, and especially strictly materialistic ‘macro’-evolution, let alone disproving creation.

      With all due respect, this is largely untrue. The theory of evolution is easily the most thoroughly investigated, best-attested, most solidly-based theory in the history of science. Like any theory, it can be improved at the margin. There are probably evolutionary mechanisms which remain to be identified or thoroughly understood, but by now far more than the broad outlines of evolution have been established. Many of the details have been filled in as well.

      The notion of “materialistic macro-evolution” as commonly presented (you may mean something different) reflects a profound misunderstanding of the evolutionary process. Imagine walking on a journey. After a few steps, you have taken a “micro journey”. After walking all day, you have taken “medium sized journey”. After walking for a month, you have taken a “macro journey”. But notice that the PROCESS never changed – it was just putting one foot in front of the other over and over.

      Evolution works much like this. Species B branches off species A because it’s slightly different. Species C branches off B, and it’s slightly different from B and even more different from A. Then species D branches of C, and it’s slightly different from C, even more different from B, and quite a lot different from A. This process continues for a few hundred million years, and by then we’re all the way to species Z, which is a whole lot like species Y but DRASTICALLY different from species A. This same process, repeated like your footsteps, has resulted in “macro-evolution”. One small step at a time.

      It should be obvious to anyone that Myers, ogremkv, and many others believe that “evolution” (more accurately the theory of evolution) and science in general has solid, ‘empirical’, absolute proof that creation (or design) in any form, throughout the history of the universe, has been absolutely, positively refuted/disproved and is impossible.

      Science NEVER has absolute proof of anything, because the ramifications of reality are effectively endless. What science has is an increasingly high probability of being largely accurate, based on a growing body of consiliant, consistent evidence. Science can only investigate what can be observed. Yes, we keep coming up with new ways of observing, better technology etc., but still science is limited to what can be observed.

      Here’s an example. Let’s say you watch a car going down your street. From the time it came into view until it left, it never stopped. You can tentatively presume it had the same driver the whole time. This is not “absolute, positive proof”, of course, but it’s a good starting point. Now, let’s say you interview other witnesses, and they didn’t see any change in drivers. Now you have more evidence. Let’s say you chase down the car and interview the driver, and he says he drove the whole time. Now you have even MORE evidence. Let’s say you examine the car, and nobody else is in it. This is also supporting evidence. Your presumption is becoming extremely likely.

      Now, do you have “absolute, positive proof” the driver did not change? Well, no, there’s no such thing. But you have a solidly supported hypothesis, on which all the evidence you have agrees, and you have no alternative hypothesis supported by ANY evidence. Just how certain is certain enough? If you were to find a slow-motion video of that driver driving that car, how much MORE certain would that make you? At some point, it makes sense to regard your hypothesis as supported beyond any reasonable doubt. Evolution is just like that, only moreso!

      Myers’ entire train of thought (and his website) is devoted to ridiculing anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with his completely materialistic view of nature. Myers said it, his minions believe it, and that settles it!

      This is a misunderstanding. The scientific view of nature is inherently, unavoidably, 100% materialistic. That, once again, is the domain of science. The scientific method simply cannot recognize or make sense of any claims outside this domain. If you make scientific claims (testable claims), you MUST be open to the possibility that investigation will refute those claims. If you make NON-testable claims, then science cannot comment, though PZ Myers of course can say that non-scientific claims are inappropriate for a science blog. His blog is limited to purely materialistic discussions because science itself is purely materialistic.

      Myers and many others (on either ‘side’) have their minds completely made up, even though the evidence (especially of ultimate causes) is FAR from all in.

      Read my above discussion about the car driver. No, the evidence is not “all” in, there MIGHT have been some indetectible magical driver-switching by some unknown process unknowable to driver or observer. But it is surely reasonable to accept your single-driver hypothesis as sufficiently likely to be established beyond any REASONABLE doubt. It is impossible to establish anything in the material world beyond unreasonable doubt. Would you say your mind is “completely made up” about the single-driver hypothesis? If not, at what point WOULD it be “completely made up”?

      And again, I do not know what you mean by “ultimate causes”. Science doesn’t address such things. Science addresses what can be observed and tested, from which are derived understandings leading to further tests, endlessly. “Ultimate causes” sounds much like counting to infinity, whereas science is concerned with counting what CAN be counted.

      And the ultimate causes (of origins, life and its diversity, speciation, consciousness, intelligence, instincts, etc., and the ultimate causes of the universe itself, are really what the debate is all about.

      Again, this is a misunderstanding. This is most emphatically NOT what science is all about; this “ultimate cause” stuff is a kind of undefined, metaphysical or philosophical notion that lies outside the domain of science. I encourage you to understand the limits of the scientific domain, so that you do not criticize science for not being what it cannot be.

      As for your shopping list here, you need to decode some of your terms. The origin of biological variation IS well understood, and the means by which that variation spreads through populations is also understood. The diversity of life is a clearly demonstrable, inevitable, unavoidable outcome of the evolutionary process, which is THOROUGHLY established. Speciation is well understood in terms of what it IS, but all of the many possible causes leading to breeding isolation may not have been identified. Consciousness, instincts and intelligence, to the extent they are operationally defined, are fairly well understood, though of course there’s a lot to learn about the details of their operation. This IS a scientific question, and is being investigated. Stay tuned.

      • 263 Flint April 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

        Let’s try to improve that format a bit:

        Pachyaena:

        ogremkv, PZ Myers, and many others speak as though they are absolutely certain, and have solid scientific proof, that no creation (or design) of any kind by any entity (except humans) has ever taken place.

        This needs to be disambiguated. The scientific evidence of evolution (for all organisms, humans being only one of them) is indeed solid, to the point where no rational evidence-based alternatives can any longer exist. Let’s call this 99.99% certainty about the broad evolutionary history. Of course, as you look into finer details, historical information is incomplete BUT the process of evolution is rationally beyond question at this point. It is understood and established to the point where it allows us to be as certain as science ever permits.

        But whether or not evolution is a design process is another question. Certainly it makes sense to say that evolution is a continuous process of fitting the (constantly changing) adaptive landscape, and in this sense you might legitimately say that the environment “designs” (I would use the word “constrains”) evolutionary development.

        Now, I suppose one could ASSERT that some supernatural agency initiated or guides this process, and nobody could prove this wrong. BUT even if this is true, that agency is using principles to guide the process which can be tested and understood, and that agency does so consistently.

        ogremkv said: “Reality disproves creationism.”

        I’d like to see that proof, even if he meant creation.

        Again, we need a definition of terms. “Creation” or “creationism” is generally presented as, and understood to be, the ASSERTION that all organisms were POOFED into existence, all at once, in pretty much their current forms. Reality DOES disprove this, in exhaustive detail. That proof lies in literally millions of papers and texts in biology, paleontology, zoology, astronomy, geology, and so on. But more accurately, all of these scientific findings aren’t what disproves that particular creation assertion, they are only the results of extensive careful investigation of how reality works and has always worked.

        He also said things about evolution and/or science (Facts, Done, etc.) that are statements of certainty as proof against creation (and ID?).

        Not quite. They are statements of extremely high probability based on centuries of CONSISTENT and detailed research. They are also observations that the assertions made by ID are unsupported by ANY research, and indeed nobody has even proposed a possible method of doing such research.

        He’s wrong on multiple counts. First, Creationism can accurately be described as a theory. He didn’t use the word ‘scientific’.

        Again, no, in scientific terms it cannot be described as a theory. In scientific terms, a theory is a proposed explanation of a very large and self-consistent body of research results. However, in the common vernacular, a “theory” is any assertion, speculation, hunch or guess. In vernacular terms, we can say that the teapot orbiting Jupiter is a “theory”. But in science, the word has a different meaning. When you are reading any science site, the scientific use of the word “theory” is understood.

        Creationism has NOT been refuted by “the evidence”.

        You need to be more clear about what you mean by “creationism”. Once again, the commonly seen assertion of the instant creation of life as it is today has been THOROUGHLY refuted, every which way. If you are instead referring to the possible supernatural activities of some god CONSISTENT with research results, then nobody can prove you wrong. But that god (or gods) are surely constrained to FIT what massive investigation has determined.

        Creationism exists and is common.

        No question about this. I suspect all of us, as part of the normal human condition, believe many things which are not the case. We might believe them for many reasons – out of ignorance, or for peace of mind, or due to our childhood training, etc. But they are STILL not the case!

        Third, Creation, which is what he should have said, also has not been refuted by the evidence.

        I guess we’ll keep going over this until we have a mutual understanding. How and when life evolved, considered broadly, is really no longer subject to any reasonable doubt. Yes, science is still filling in the fine details. But this is like measuring individual leaves on a tree – the fact that the tree is THERE is no longer open to question. If what you mean by “creation” is saying there’s no such tree at all, then yes, this has been refuted.

        Some proposed kinds or stories of Creation or creation (take your pick) have been or could be scientifically refuted, but not all, by a long shot.

        This deserves some discussion, I think. I spoke of the domain of science, which is the study of the physical universe, what it contains and how it works. Anything supernatural lies outside this domain, and science cannot comment it. But conversely, statements within this domain, statements that can be tested, ARE in this domain. To the extent that “creation” makes testable statements, it is making SCIENTIFIC statements. And those statements are subject to refutation if they fail the tests.

        I admit I am not aware of any scientific statements creation makes, which have not been investigated and established to be either false or almost surely true. If you can list some, we can discuss them. I’m also aware of many non-scientific statements creation makes, which are not testable and therefore outside the domain of science.

        Fourth, his statement about evolution is massively overstated when it comes to disproving creation, and according to many (or most?) ‘evolutionists’, evolution has nothing to do with creation anyway, so, according to what many evolutionists say his statement about evolution is completely irrelevant to creation or any discussion of it.

        Again, you must specify more carefully what you mean by “creation”. The creationists we’ve all seen so many hundreds of time make repeated and consistent scientific statements, testable statements. And those claims have all been researched, and resoundingly fall all empirical tests. But again, if you’re talking about non-scientific (non-testable) statements, then science is silent.

        The ToE has a long way to go before it proves (or thoroughly understands or explains) evolution, and especially strictly materialistic ‘macro’-evolution, let alone disproving creation.

        With all due respect, this is largely untrue. The theory of evolution is easily the most thoroughly investigated, best-attested, most solidly-based theory in the history of science. Like any theory, it can be improved at the margin. There are probably evolutionary mechanisms which remain to be identified or thoroughly understood, but by now far more than the broad outlines of evolution have been established. Many of the details have been filled in as well.

        The notion of “materialistic macro-evolution” as commonly presented (you may mean something different) reflects a profound misunderstanding of the evolutionary process. Imagine walking on a journey. After a few steps, you have taken a “micro journey”. After walking all day, you have taken “medium sized journey”. After walking for a month, you have taken a “macro journey”. But notice that the PROCESS never changed – it was just putting one foot in front of the other over and over.

        Evolution works much like this. Species B branches off species A because it’s slightly different. Species C branches off B, and it’s slightly different from B and even more different from A. Then species D branches of C, and it’s slightly different from C, even more different from B, and quite a lot different from A. This process continues for a few hundred million years, and by then we’re all the way to species Z, which is a whole lot like species Y but DRASTICALLY different from species A. This same process, repeated like your footsteps, has resulted in “macro-evolution”. One small step at a time.

        It should be obvious to anyone that Myers, ogremkv, and many others believe that “evolution” (more accurately the theory of evolution) and science in general has solid, ‘empirical’, absolute proof that creation (or design) in any form, throughout the history of the universe, has been absolutely, positively refuted/disproved and is impossible.

        Science NEVER has absolute proof of anything, because the ramifications of reality are effectively endless. What science has is an increasingly high probability of being largely accurate, based on a growing body of consiliant, consistent evidence. Science can only investigate what can be observed. Yes, we keep coming up with new ways of observing, better technology etc., but still science is limited to what can be observed.

        Here’s an example. Let’s say you watch a car going down your street. From the time it came into view until it left, it never stopped. You can tentatively presume it had the same driver the whole time. This is not “absolute, positive proof”, of course, but it’s a good starting point. Now, let’s say you interview other witnesses, and they didn’t see any change in drivers. Now you have more evidence. Let’s say you chase down the car and interview the driver, and he says he drove the whole time. Now you have even MORE evidence. Let’s say you examine the car, and nobody else is in it. This is also supporting evidence. Your presumption is becoming extremely likely.

        Now, do you have “absolute, positive proof” the driver did not change? Well, no, there’s no such thing. But you have a solidly supported hypothesis, on which all the evidence you have agrees, and you have no alternative hypothesis supported by ANY evidence. Just how certain is certain enough? If you were to find a slow-motion video of that driver driving that car, how much MORE certain would that make you? At some point, it makes sense to regard your hypothesis as supported beyond any reasonable doubt. Evolution is just like that, only moreso!

        Myers’ entire train of thought (and his website) is devoted to ridiculing anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with his completely materialistic view of nature. Myers said it, his minions believe it, and that settles it!

        This is a misunderstanding. The scientific view of nature is inherently, unavoidably, 100% materialistic. That, once again, is the domain of science. The scientific method simply cannot recognize or make sense of any claims outside this domain. If you make scientific claims (testable claims), you MUST be open to the possibility that investigation will refute those claims. If you make NON-testable claims, then science cannot comment, though PZ Myers of course can say that non-scientific claims are inappropriate for a science blog. His blog is limited to purely materialistic discussions because science itself is purely materialistic.

        Myers and many others (on either ‘side’) have their minds completely made up, even though the evidence (especially of ultimate causes) is FAR from all in.

        Read my above discussion about the car driver. No, the evidence is not “all” in, there MIGHT have been some indetectible magical driver-switching by some unknown process unknowable to driver or observer. But it is surely reasonable to accept your single-driver hypothesis as sufficiently likely to be established beyond any REASONABLE doubt. It is impossible to establish anything in the material world beyond unreasonable doubt. Would you say your mind is “completely made up” about the single-driver hypothesis? If not, at what point WOULD it be “completely made up”?

        And again, I do not know what you mean by “ultimate causes”. Science doesn’t address such things. Science addresses what can be observed and tested, from which are derived understandings leading to further tests, endlessly. “Ultimate causes” sounds much like counting to infinity, whereas science is concerned with counting what CAN be counted.

        And the ultimate causes (of origins, life and its diversity, speciation, consciousness, intelligence, instincts, etc., and the ultimate causes of the universe itself, are really what the debate is all about.

        Again, this is a misunderstanding. This is most emphatically NOT what science is all about; this “ultimate cause” stuff is a kind of undefined, metaphysical or philosophical notion that lies outside the domain of science. I encourage you to understand the limits of the scientific domain, so that you do not criticize science for not being what it cannot be.

        As for your shopping list here, you need to decode some of your terms. The origin of biological variation IS well understood, and the means by which that variation spreads through populations is also understood. The diversity of life is a clearly demonstrable, inevitable, unavoidable outcome of the evolutionary process, which is THOROUGHLY established. Speciation is well understood in terms of what it IS, but all of the many possible causes leading to breeding isolation may not have been identified. Consciousness, instincts and intelligence, to the extent they are operationally defined, are fairly well understood, though of course there’s a lot to learn about the details of their operation. This IS a scientific question, and is being investigated. Stay tuned.

  188. 264 Toronto April 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Pachyaena:

    Reality disproves the creation stories in the Old Testament simply from a physics point of view.

    As an experiment, take a piece of paper and calculate how much water has to accumulate over the whole planet to completely cover all the mountain ranges so that no humans or land animals could get to safety.

    You have forty days, and then, you have a year to get rid of the water. Where does it go?

    If you have enough water moving fast enough to cut the Grand Canyon in a very short period of time, then there would be no vegetation anywhere in the world that could have survived.

    If any did, no soil would be left to grow new crops.

    Dembski has been told he has to accept this even though his scientific view was that the flood was not literal.

    As we see even with Dembski, religion wants science to be determined by the Bible, not by physics, and not by reality.

  189. 265 Flint April 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Pachyaena:

    Oh, and you’re still missing MY point about the way people are treated on some websites, which was responsive to the point that was made about how people are treated on UD.

    The question of tolerance for dissenting views is problematic. I try to be polite and responsive to questions, but I find myself banned from ID and creationist-supporting sites after only one or two posts, if not on sight! The Discovery Institute’s blog doesn’t even allow comments.

    Conversely, Panda’s Thumb bans almost nobody (outside of spammers trying to sell viagra!). Dissenting posters are allowed to continue to post so long as they are civil and are saying things that can be addressed scienfically. when that isn’t (or is no longer) the case, then they are not banned or censored, but merely relocated to another list (the bathroom wall) where off-topic discussions can continue. And they often do, for sometimes hundreds of pages.

    In my experience, religious and scientific sites adopt different policies with respect to dissent. Scientific sites welcome and encourage scientific disputes, and focus on correcting misleading or misrepresent statements within the domain of science. They even tolerate extended religious or theological discussions so long as they remain civil.

    Religious sites, on the other hand, tend to feel thier positions are best presented as a solid front, and are quick to eliminate heresy or apostasy.

    I think this general difference reflects something inherent in the religious and scientific methods. The scientific method is to examine and test physical evidence. The religious method is to inculcate right belief into their followers – basically, to preach as is done in churches everywhere.

    In scientific events, the floor is opened to questions and often the questioning is aggressive and pointed. It can go on for quite a while. In religious services, there is no such question session. The sermon is delivered as received wisdom.

    And this makes sense, since the supernatural is intrinsically untestable, and religious disagreement can ONLY take the form of equally untestable conflicting assertions. In science, dispute is always eventually resolved by the growing weight of empirical results. In religion, dispute results in schisms, because the arbiter of correctness is not reality, but rather which authority is to be accepted. Theological disputes have no effective resolution mechanism. So these are different worlds.

  190. 266 Alan Fox April 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    @ Flint

    2 Corinthians 11:19

  191. 267 MathGrrl April 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Someone with the nym skynetx has dramatically widened the Overton Window of anti-science at UD.

    Is this New Chronology stuff for real?

  192. 268 Flint April 21, 2011 at 2:34 am

    MathGrrl:

    Here’s some interesting background material, if you haven’t read it yet.

    http://lawreview.wustl.edu/inprint/83-1/p%201%20Brauer%20Forrest%20Gey%20book%20pages.pdf

  193. 269 Petrushka April 26, 2011 at 9:44 am

    New chronology has found it’s proper home.

  194. 270 MathGrrl May 6, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    It looks like the last two threads I was participating in at UD have been closed to comments (probably automatically due to their age). One has the ominous sounding phrase “Pardon: auto-termination.” at the end.

    If you don’t mind, Mark, I’m going to post here the replies I had prepared before I realized I couldn’t comment on those threads. I’ll point the UD folks to here and hopefully continue the discussion in another thread there.

    Thanks!

  195. 272 MathGrrl May 6, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    From this thread:

    Upright BiPed,

    You are attempting to put words in my mouth.

    The words you need to concern yourself with are those that you typed out.

    You mean these: “Based on the limited hints you’ve provided of the actual argument I am assuming that you have in mind, I noted that you seem to be confusing the map with the territory.”

    Or these: “As I’ve pointed out a couple of times already, you have not clearly stated your argument nor summarized the evidence you believe supports it. If you choose to do so, I will happily discuss it further with you. If you want to simply continue to accuse me of making claims that I have not, this conversation is at an end.”

    Please address the question I asked regarding the specific objection you made:

    The only way you could interpret the presence of an equivocation would be if you knew of a distinction. So please be specific. On what grounds do you make the distinction that one relationship acts as a code, while another relationship is a code?

    Oh, you must mean these: “You are attempting to put words in my mouth. I never made any claims about codes.”

    Those still apply.

    Given the limited amount of time I have to participate here for the next couple of weeks, I’ll refrain from replying further on this thread unless and until you articulate a positive argument for ID based on semiotics.

  196. 273 MathGrrl May 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    The next four are from this UD thread.

  197. 274 MathGrrl May 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Joseph,

    If the paper you are touting claims that ev is a targeted search then it is wrong.

    Unfortunately you have to do more than just say it. Perhaps you can write a letter to the journal informing them of your objections.

    I did do more than just say it. I’ve read Schneider’s papers and, in the part of my comment that you chose to elide, I pointed out how you could learn more by doing the same. Here, for your convenience, is what I said:

    The nice thing about science is that it is objective. People can look at the empirical evidence and determine whether or not it supports a claim.

    If the paper you are touting claims that ev is a targeted search then it is wrong. If you disagree, please refer to the ev paper to identify the target of the search. You may want to read Schneider’s PhD thesis for background information.

    Now, can you show in that paper where ev has an explicit target?

  198. 275 MathGrrl May 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Mung,

    GA’s are by definition targeted searches. If a GA was not a targeted search it would perform no better than a random search, and thus there would be no point in using a GA.

    This is incorrect, but I appreciate the clarity with which you’ve presented your points. I would like to use this response to address similar misconceptions on the part of kairosfocus as well.

    There is a difference between a target and a goal. In the context of GAs, a target implies that there is an oracle that is aware of the explicit solution. Dawkin’s much abused Weasel toy program is in this category.

    GAs such as ev, Tierra, and the various solutions to the Steiner problems do not have targets. ev does have a goal, described explicitly in Schneider’s paper:

    The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that Rsequence can indeed evolve to match Rfrequency. To simulate the biology, suppose we have a population of organisms each with a given length of DNA. This fixes the genome size, as in the biological situation. Then we need to specify a set of locations that a recognizer protein has to bind to. That fixes the number of sites, again as in nature. We need to code the recognizer into the genome so that it can co-evolve with the binding sites. Then we need to apply random mutations and selection for finding the sites and against finding non-sites. Given these conditions, the simulation will match the biology at every point.

    This helps to address your subsequent question of “Why this obsession with ‘mistakes’?” The mistakes that Schneider is referring to are the number of binding sites found. ev has a goal of co-evolving binding sites and their recognizers so that the Shannon information in the binding sites can be measured. The only feedback provided is the number of sites recognized. There is no target for the content of either the binding sites or the recognizers. In fact, the makeup of those parts of the genome will be different in different runs.

    The various GA solutions to the Steiner problems are similarly targetless. The goal of those simulations is to find the shortest connected graph for a set of points, but the target solution is not known to any part of the simulation. In many runs, less than optimal solutions are found with structures that differ significantly from the optimum.

    The only goal of Tierra organisms is to survive and reproduce. As with ev and the Steiner GAs, nowhere in the simulator is there an explicit target solution. In fact, Tierra comes up with a number of viable organisms that change in response to each other over the course of a typical run.

    So, I agree with a modified version of your statement, namely that if a GA has no goal, it would not evolve any organisms of interest. That goal simply represents selection pressure, however, and does not need to be implemented as an explicit target. This is why your later characterization of ev:

    Elsewhere I described ev as a glorified version of Dawkins’ Weasel program.

    is incorrect.

  199. 276 MathGrrl May 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Mung,

    EV Ware Dissection of a Digital Organism

    Answering Critics Who Promote Tom Schneider’s ev Simulation

    Lee Spetner responds to Tom Schneider

    Schneider has responded to the alleged dissection and other criticisms here.

  200. 277 MathGrrl May 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    kairosfocus,

    CSI has been adequately conceptually understood and described from the 1970′s, and it has been adequately mathematically modelled for a decade or more.

    And yet, no ID proponent here has been able to provide a rigorous mathematical definition of CSI as described by Dembski, nor has anyone been able to show, in detail, how to calculate CSI for the four scenarios I described in my guest thread.

    You yourself have written thousands of words but have yet to address either of those requests. Rather than generating yet more thousands, could you please just pick one example and show exactly how you get each of the numbers you use and how your calculations are consistent with Dembski’s published discussions of CSI?

    • 278 Flint May 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      MathGrrl:

      Consider a couple of examples:

      1) As one measure of childrens’ creativity, they have been asked how many different things they can think to do with a brick. Their lists include such things as paperweights, doorstops, weapons, something to grind down and use the powder as artists’ pigments. Indeed, bricks have been used for all of these things.

      The point here is, each of these uses constitutes a distinct, unique specification, We all use things all the time for purposes for which they were not designed. Bottom line: specification is arbitrary and subjective.

      2) Consider an object left on your doorstep during the night by some space alien. You might guess as to its complexity, but what is it FOR? It could be a chunk of alien landscape, or it could be a work of art, a tool, or the alien’s lunch. You have no clue and no way of collecting one.

      Bottom line: a specification is something that is inherently external to the object itself; creating a specification requires contextual knowledge not provided by the object.

      Nor can your examples be considered in a vacuum. WHY would you be performing these things? It seems intuitive that the more utility your purpose, within a larger sensible context, the more “design” it has. And conversely, if you are just stringing purposeless random actions together (and absent external knowledge, this is all we are allowed to assume!), there is no CSI in anything you have presented.

  201. 279 kairosfocus May 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    FOR THE RECORD:

    having chanced on a comment by MG here at UD, I have responded.

    In a nutshell, MG needs to address the issues in this thread on the merits, instead of reiterating talking points that were long since cogently answered; which is what she has unfortunately been doing for some weeks now at UD.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  202. 280 kairosfocus May 6, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    PS: I glanced above and saw that there is much of the same rhetorical drumbeat reiteration of empty talking points going on here. The “no rigorous mathematical definition” talking point is long since cogently answered [cf the just linked, and onward linked as well], and MG in turn needs to answer some fairly serious questions as just linked. Good day.

  203. 281 Flint May 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    The “no rigorous mathematical definition” talking point is long since cogently answered

    Yes, no quetion about it. There is no longer any honest or informed doubt that CSI has no rigorous mathematical definition, and that such a definition is impossible in principle. So can’t we move along now?

  204. 282 kairosfocus May 7, 2011 at 10:13 am

    FOR THE FURTHER RECORD:

    Flint, pardon but the just above is empty reiteration of a dismissive but demonstrably false talking point.

    It is just plain utterly out of contact with reality.

    It is an inadvertent demonstration of why there has been no progress on this topic towards a reasonable consensus over the past several weeks.

    For, you have clearly — indeed, demonstrably — failed to carry out the duty of care to get facts straight, e.g. through looking the already linked thread here, before shooting off dismissive and patently false talking points.

    Not to mention, failing to reflect on relevant and frequently highlighted facts going all the way back to the work of Orgel and Wicken in the 1970’s.

    Let me scoop from the editorial comment on post no 1 in the UD CSI newsflash thread, FOR THE RECORD. As, plainly, your post just above shows how some are unwilling to do as much as follow a click-link before spouting off misleading caricatures (NB: there are links in the source that should be followed up for details).

    I have a reasonable expectation beyond this point that comments by objectors to the CSI concept and its mathematicisation through metrics such as Dembski, Durston et al and even the undersigned have provided, will be responsive to some fairly plain and easily accessible facts.

    On pain of being exposed as repeating strawman tactic talking points in the teeth of the facts.

    To begin with, from comment no 1 of the UD CSI newsflash thread:

    _______________

    >> Let’s highlight the key results from above [i.e. in the original post at UD]:

    I: The Chi metric of CSI, in log-reduced form [the reduction is done in the original post of the thread, by working through Dembski’s Chi equation using the algebraic laws of logarithms and assigning a bit value per VJT’s suggestion; cf. further excerpt below], and on thresholds of complexity:

    Chi_500 = Ip – 500, bits beyond the [solar system resources] threshold . . . eqn n5

    Chi_1000 = Ip – 1000, bits beyond the observable cosmos, 125 byte/ 143 ASCII character threshold . . . eqn n6

    Chi_1024 = Ip – 1024, bits beyond a 2^10, 128 byte/147 ASCII character version of the threshold in n6, with a config space of 1.80*10^308 possibilities, not 1.07*10^301 . . . eqn n6a

    Sample results of applying the Chi_500 version to the Durston et al values of information in 35 protein families:

    RecA: 242 AA, 832 fits, Chi: 332 bits beyond

    SecY: 342 AA, 688 fits, Chi: 188 bits beyond

    Corona S2: 445 AA, 1285 fits, Chi: 785 bits beyond . . . results n7

    That is we see a measure of information beyond the threshold that points to design of the relevant protein families, thus the living cell . . . .

    a: CSI is an observational, descriptive term, whose meaning is in the very words: complex + specified + information. That should have been clear from the outset.

    b: As the just linked UD WAC 26 has pointed out for years, the concept CSI does not trace to Dembski but to Orgel, Wicken and others, and more broadly it describes a common feature of a technological world: complicated functional things that require a lot of careful arrangement or organisation — thus functionally specific and complex information [FSCI] — to work right.

    c: It turns out that cell based life is replete with the same sort of complex specific organisation and information.

    d: this raises the reasonable question as to whether cell based life is a technology that has implemented in effect a self-replicating machine based on high-tech nano-tech machines based on informational polymer molecules, especially proteins, RNA and DNA.

    e: So, we need to identify whether there are signs that can distinguish such design from what blind chance and mechanical forces can do.

    f: Once we see that we are dealing with islands of specific function in large spaces of possible arrangements [cf the excerpt from Axe in the same editorial comment on post no 1 in the comments], by far and away most of which will not function, we can apply the mathematics of searching such large spaces at random — through a random walk — on a trial and error basis vs on an intelligent basis.

    g: The decisive issue is that once spaces are large enough, the material resources — numbers of atoms — of our solar system or the observed cosmos eventually are inadequate. 398 – 500 bits of info specifies more than enough for the first threshold, and 1,000 for the second.

    h: 500 bits corresponds to 10^150 possibilities, the number more or less of Planck time quantum states for 10^80 atoms of our observed cosmos, across its estimated lifespan. (The number of P-time Q-states of the atoms of our solar system since the big bang on the commonly used 13.7 BY timeline amount to some 10^102, i.e. 48 orders of magnitude below the number of configurations for 500 bits.) 1,000 bits is the SQUARE of that number. (A fast, strong force nuclear interaction takes about 10^20 Planck-times, and the fastest chemical reactions about 10^30; with organic reactions being much slower than that. That is why the P-time is regarded as the shortest duration that makes physical sense.)

    i: And yet, to get something fairly complicated functionally organised in less than 125 bytes of information [1,000 bits] is not feasible. Indeed, just the DNA in simplest cell based life is of order 100,000 – 1,000,000 bits of storage. 18 – 20 typical English words takes up 1,000 bits.

    j: That short of a computer program will not do much either, unless it is calling on other software elsewhere to do the real work, offstage so to speak. (That is what the so-called genomes of “evolutionary/genetic algorithms” effectively do.)

    k: So, the reduced Dembski metric is meaningful and allows us to identify a relevant threshold of complexity beyond which the only known, observed source of things that are functionally specific and complex and work, is intelligent design:

    Chi = I – 500, bits beyond a threshold

    l: And straightaway, we can apply this to the Durston results from 2007.

    m: So, we can see that the above objection is swept off the table once we see the above reduction and application of the Dembski CSI metric.

    n: And, the simpler to understand X-metric is just as applicable:

    X = C*S*B >>
    ________________

    Let me clip as well on the actual log reduction from the OP in the UD thread:

    __________________

    >>1 –> 10^120 ~ 2^398

    2 –> Following Hartley, we can define Information on a probability metric:

    I = – log(p) . . . eqn n2

    3 –> So, we can re-present the Chi-metric:

    Chi = – log2(2^398 * D2 * p) . . . eqn n3

    Chi = Ip – (398 + K2) . . . eqn n4

    4 –> That is, the Dembski CSI Chi-metric is a measure of Information for samples from a target zone T on the presumption of a chance-dominated process, beyond a threshold of at least 398 bits, covering 10^120 possibilities.

    5 –> Where also, K2 is a further increment to the threshold that naturally peaks at about 100 further bits. In short VJT’s CSI-lite is an extension and simplification of the Chi-metric . . . .

    6 –> So, the idea of the Dembski metric in the end — debates about peculiarities in derivation notwithstanding — is that if the Hartley-Shannon- derived information measure for items from a hot or target zone in a field of possibilities is beyond 398 – 500 or so bits, it is so deeply isolated that a chance dominated process is maximally unlikely to find it, but of course intelligent agents routinely produce information beyond such a threshold.

    7 –> In addition, the only observed cause of information beyond such a threshold is the now proverbial intelligent semiotic agents.

    8 –> Even at 398 bits that makes sense as the total number of Planck-time quantum states for the atoms of the solar system [most of which are in the Sun] since its formation does not exceed ~ 10^102, as Abel showed in his 2009 Universal Plausibility Metric paper. The search resources in our solar system just are not there.

    9 –> So, we now clearly have a simple but fairly sound context to understand the Dembski result, conceptually and mathematically [cf. more details here]; tracing back to Orgel and onward to Shannon and Hartley. >>
    ____________________

    And finally, since Taub and Schilling have such an apt short summary on the quantitative definition of information [where Dembski’s extension boils down to identifying specificity from configs being found in a zone of interest T, such that the config space has complexity beyond a threshold], let me clip them on the basis for Eqn n2 above:

    ________________

    >>Let us consider a communication system in which the allowable messages [think: e.g. ASCII text alphanumerical symbols] are m1, m2, . . ., with probabilities of occurrence p1, p2, . . . . Of course p1 + p2 + . . . = 1. Let the transmitter select message mk of probability pk; let us further assume that the receiver has correctly identified the message [My nb: i.e. the a posteriori probability in my online discussion is 1]. Then we shall say, by way of definition of the term information, that the system has communicated an amount of information Ik given by

    Ik = (def) log2 1/pk (13.2-1)

    [Princs of Comm Systems, 2nd edn, Taub and Schilling (McGraw Hill, 1986), p. 512, Sect. 13.2.] >>
    _________________

    There is a reason why MG has been caught out confusing a log reduction of an expression with a “simple probability calculation,” and why she has for several weeks been unable to come back on the point.

    Not to mention, why she has evidently been unable to address how she has been shown to be dependent on a man, Schneider, who erroneously thought he was CORRECTING Dembski in NFL when Dembski used the most common definition of information used in the relevant field:

    Ik = – log pk

    (FYI, “surprisal” is a relatively rare SYNONYM for [self-]information as just defined. You may want to look at my own discussion here in the context of what Conor and Robertson have to say, in my always linked from jy comments at UD.)

    Please, do not get stuck in the fallacy of the closed, ideologised mind, endlessly repeating a mantra that is utterly out of contact with reality; one that you should know is out of contact with reality.

    GEM of TKI

    F/N: It will also help to take time out to follow Mung’s excerpts and remarks on ev, in light of key, direct statements from Schneider, that document some facts about ev that cut clean across the image being projected.

  205. 283 Bill May 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    KF:”Please, do not get stuck in the fallacy of the closed, ideologised mind, ”

    Physician – Heal thyself.

  206. 284 kairosfocus May 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Bill:

    FOR THE YET FURTHER RECORD

    You have made a cheap turnabout, manifestly false accusation; in the teeth of having been presented with matters of fact and related mathematics in answer to whatever issues there are on the merits..

    You have matters on the merits to address, which are plainly not a matter of simple ideology.

    FYI: Log (A *B*C) = Log A + log B + Log C is not a matter of ideology. It is the direct result of the laws of indices, in the context where logs are indices to a common base.

    FYFI: It is a matter of demonstrable fact that Hartley suggested the neg log inverse probability based on a frequentist analysis of symbols, above. (Think about why Shannon, very early in his classic paper was analysing the frequency of letters in English text. E.g. that E is about 12% of typical English text is a classic case in point, and one that BTW has been long used in cryptanalysis. So, the a priori probability of an E in English text is about 12%.)

    FYSYFI: It is a matter of common knowledge among those who have studied telecomms, that the definition of information deriving from Hartley and presented in an excerpt from Taub and Schilling is a commonplace:

    Ik = – log pk

    If your response is a mark of the level of comments in this blog [and observe the above on correcting drumbeat repetition of corrected talking points], that is utterly and sadly telling.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

    • 285 Alan Fox May 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      I am no expert and I may have missed it but I haven’t seen any meaningful definition of CSI from KF or anyone else. If it is out there, why on Earth can’t somebody libnk to it or copy and paste? How hard can it be, if a mathematical definition really exists?

      Meanwile let me ask KF a related question. KF makes great play with “islands of functionality” eg from above:

      …we are dealing with islands of specific function in large spaces of possible arrangements…

      Consider the nonapeptide, oxytocin. It is a hormone with very specific functions in mammals. There are 512 billion minus one possible other peptides of the same length. Does KF assert they are all without biological function of any possible sort? Are there some other functional nonapeptides or could there be millions? The answer is we don’t know what the potential incidence of functionality of the overwhelming majority of possible protein sequences might be. Or we didn’t until Jack Szostak took a stab at it. Arguing that evolution is impossible because functional sequences are rare in evolutionary search space is at best unsupported assertion and, as more research builds on Szostak’s work with ATP binding, is likely to be shown to be specious.

  207. 286 bornagain77 May 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Since some of you guys think that you got the math of neo-Darwinism all figured out, perhaps you guys can help find a ‘mathemagician’ to ‘fix’ neo-Darwinism for Oxford university;

    Quote of note from the job description:

    Grand theories in physics are usually expressed in mathematics. Newton’s mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity are essentially equations. Words are needed only to interpret the terms. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has obstinately remained in words since 1859. …
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2011/05/05/oxford-university-seeks-mathemagician/

    • 287 Alan Fox May 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Since some of you guys think that you got the math of neo-Darwinism all figured out, perhaps you guys can help find a ‘mathemagician’ to ‘fix’ neo-Darwinism for Oxford university?

      Who’s left who still can comment at UD, BA77? You and half a dozen die-hards.

    • 288 Mark Frank May 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      BA77 – I don’t think anyone is claiming that they have the math of neo-Darwinism all figured out although a lot of it is expressed in a mathematical form (I am sure you know that many of the leading figures in neodarwinism were also leading figures in the development of statistics – particularly RA Fisher). The claim is that the maths of ID is not at all figured out – a very different thing.

  208. 289 Alan Fox May 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Mark

    If KF and BA want to pursue the reality of CSI here, would it not be worth a new thread? Is Mathgrrl game?

    PS

    I hope KF and BA can stay in the daylight for a while and they deserve credit for having the courage to venture from the confines of UD. At least if it turns out to be more than a drive-by! 😉

    • 290 Mark Frank May 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Alan

      If KF and BA want to pursue the reality of CSI here, would it not be worth a new thread? Is Mathgrrl game?

      I am always happy to create a new thread. On the other hand I don’t want to create unnecessary complications. Is there any problem with this one?

  209. 293 Flint May 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    kairosfocus:

    I raised the fatal flaws in your position very simply and clearly in my post of May 6 at 6:36 above. Unless you can address those flaws, all you are doing is counting angels on pinheads, when the question before you is whether angels exist in the first place.

    And if you cannot (or will not) answer those objections, you have nothing to offer anyeone.

  210. 294 kairosfocus May 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

    FOR THE RECORD:

    Again, the objections amount to reiteration of long since cogently answered talking points.

    I will waste little further time, save to point out that in the real world, the sort of zones of interest in config spaces, T, connected to observed relevant events, E, are quite observable and objectively real.

    Your substitute car part either fits and works, or it does not [there is FYI, a distribution of the various parameters connected to a car part,they do not have exact values where every part spat out of an assembly line or made by a machinist is identical,i.e. we see an island of function]. Contextually responsive text in readable English is quite distinct from gibberish.

    Contrast the above paragraph to: qhiwsg3egbshsvjjs.

    And again, such text in English is distinct from: FFFFFFFFFFF.

    (Onlookers, this simple but powerful and commonly used — but stubbornly dismissed — clarifying example of the difference between functional organisation, randomness and order has been on the record [I deliberately give App 3 of my briefing note, read it and see the link to TMLO ch 8] in Thaxton et al for 25 years in the first technical design theory book, TMLO.

    The sort of — pardon directness, but you need to know why I am simply remarking for the record, as I have been around this loop too many times and am sick and tired of the attitude I am seeing over and over and over — rude demands above by Flint therefore impress me not at all, save to show that he is determined not to see the key point, as it cuts across his worldview preferences.

    Sorry, F, Thaxton et al and Orgel and Wicken are not on trial here, you are. If you refuse to recognise that there is a three-way difference between order, randomness and organisation, I can only shake my head and recognise the basic problem that a man persuaded against his will is of the same opinion still. )

    Yes, a Fortin barometer can be repurposed as a weight used with a pendulum to measure g by the pendulum formula, and it can be again repurposed as a weight that is dropped over a building and timed to measure g again, just once. SMASH!

    (Way back, that was apparently set as an actual practical physics exam challenge in my department, think of other experimental uses of such a barometer. Some lecturer had a weird sense of humour, I think. I do not think that students were actually expected to carry out the exercises, just to design them. The Fortin barometers in the dept were all intact decades later when I came along, thank you.)

    That in no wise contradicts the point that for a Fortin barometer to work as a barometer, several highly co-ordinated parts have to be in proper adjustment. Nor, that it is an irreducibly complex object, never mind that you can use tubes, ivory pointers [what do they use these days?], wood boxes, mercury, and vernier scales for something else — the scale is after all in mm [or in older deices, inches]. Nor, that the resulting functionally specific, complex organisation and associated info can be quantified and used to deduce that this is not a likely artifact of chance and necessity. Just the vernier scale alone of brass, should be enough.

    Specification for function and associated meaningfulness are objective, sufficiently unambiguous in context . . .

    — FYI, ambiguity is an inherent property of language and so the rhetorical trick of taking remarks out of their proper context and substituting a strawman that you can then set on fire, is an exercise in selective hyperskepticism —

    . . . and quite useful.

    Finally, onlookers, observe that above, I have taken time to bring out the log reduction that shows how by moving forward from Dembski’s theoretical Chi expression to the result:

    Chi_500 – Ip – 500 bits beyond a threshold,

    we may see that an observed functionally specific, meaningful configuration E, coming from a zone T in a sufficiently large config space, can by that set of facts, be identified as a credible artifact of design.

    Notice, that in every case where this metric or a similar metric will feed into the explanatory filter and yield design, where we directly know the causal process, there is design as a material input. this holds in particular for the intelligently designed genetic algorithm based programs that all depend on that design and implied pre-loaded information — talk about front loading — to work.

    Notice, there is no ability to show that this reduction is meaningless, and useless mathematically or observationally. Only, red herrings led away to irrelevant strawmen soaked in contempt-filled ad hominems and set alight with an air of disdain. the only result of such an approach is to choke, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    Such (pardon directness again) rude, disrespectful, contempt-laced incivility — as is unfortunately abundantly obvious above from denizens of this site — does nothing to serve the cause of knowledge or scientific progress.

    And, it is why I will only ever make occasional for the record remarks here, sufficient for those who are actually interested in knowing the balance on the merits to know there is more than one serious side to a story.

    And, that one should beware of the sort of red herring and strawman tactics I see above form the objectors to what I have had to say. I particularly note that here has been no ability to overturn the significance of the log reduction of the Chi metric.

    I now see no reason to waste further time in this thread.

    Enough has been said for those who really want to know the balance on the merits. For the rest, I can do but little to help.

    Good bye

    GEM of TKI

  211. 295 kairosfocus May 8, 2011 at 11:01 am

    PS: Fortin barometer manual [note the inches scale and millibar scale; a mmHg scale is also used instead of inches, standard atmosphere being 760 mmHg]. This should help document the issues of FSCI and IC.

  212. 296 Toronto May 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    kairosfocus,

    I have a few questions for you.

    1) Without an external specification, how do you know that functionality exhibited by a software module is a feature or a bug?

    2) If your answer to 1 is no, does that no apply to functionality exhibited by life also?

    3) Which is more complex, life or software designed by humans?

  213. 297 Toronto May 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    That should be;

    2) If your answer to 1 is, “I don’t know”, does that apply to functionality exhibited by life also?

  214. 298 MathGrrl May 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

    kairosfocus,

    I’m glad you followed my link here from UD, thank you.

    I’m continuing the discussion on the new thread kindly provided by Mark. I hope to see you there!

  215. 299 kairosfocus May 10, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    FOR THE RECORD:

    I came by again, on receiving a notification.

    In looking above and in the onward thread, I found little of serious engagement. For instance the notion of amending Einstein’s E = mc^2 equation to at least 500 electrons, misses the material point of the need to get to islands of function in large config spaces and resorts to strawman pummelling tactics.

    I suggest the onlooker who is interested follow the above links, and that he discussion here may be of help as a start. Notice, the immediate and straightforward application of the log reduced Dembski metric to Durston’s measures of FSC in Fits, published in 2007.

    Since there is the presumption above that skeptical objectors do not need to examine their own starting points, I will only excerpt and comment on Toronto’s remarks as a sampler. I have no intention of being embroiled in a many on one debate where even basic facts are being willfully ignored, such as the above direct application of the Dembski metric in reduced form to specific biological cases:

    ____________

    >> 1) Without an external specification, how do you know that functionality exhibited by a software module is a feature or a bug?

    a –> the point of specifications is that they are independent of the specific observed string, E. So, this is a red herring led away to a strawman.

    b –> We routinely observe function based on complex, specific organisation and associated information. You do not ask whether the sentences you just wrote is a feature or a bug, so if you see a metabolic self replicating miniature, molecular nanotech automaton [not merely a simulation], why should you suddenly want to ask whether that capacity is a feature not a bug?

    2) If your answer to 1 is no, does that no apply to functionality exhibited by life also?

    c –> Already answered.

    3) Which is more complex, life or software designed by humans?

    d –> Follow the above linked. Can you tell me of a case where we have as yet developed a kinematic, self replicating automaton capable of drawing in common resources in its environment and using it to maintain itself and self-replicate?>>
    _____________

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: MG, You still have a fair piece of explaining to do, and open threads to do it in over at UD.

  216. 300 Toronto May 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    kairosfocus:

    a –> the point of specifications is that they are independent of the specific observed string, E. So, this is a red herring led away to a strawman.

    That is exactly the problem facing ID, one which ID cannot address.

    Specifications are independent not only of “specific observed strings”, but also observed functionality.

    Without a spec that predates the origin of the object under test, you cannot claim that any observed functionality “meets spec”.

    Simply looking at any computational or biological output and claiming that that particular output meets a specification simply due to it’s existance, does not give Dembski’s CSI merit, it removes it.

    Your islands of functionality got very easy to get to as soon as “specification” is met by the mere existance of function.

    Without a pre-existing spec, any resulting construct is valid since nothing is exluded if you haven’t defined what’s expected before-hand.

    As far as the Einstein example, you haven’t understood what I was trying to ask. It has nothing to do with Einstein, search spaces, islands of functionality, etc.

    It has to do with a well thought out mathematical definition followed by an example.

    ***************************************************************
    The following is an analogy of what MathGrrl is requesting, it is not specifically an ID example.
    ***************************************************************

    The math MathGrrl wants: 6 / 2 = 3

    Worked out real world example: “Buy a six-pack of beer, and give three to your drinking buddy. Count how many you have left. You should have three.”

    The preceeding is not ID-specific, Einstein-specific, beer-specific, etc.

    It is an attempt, at getting you to understand what it is I am asking.

    So was the Einstein equation. It had nothing to do with the UPB, ID, or islands of functionality. You should have been able to understand that if you had taken your time in reading it.

    Please read with the intent of understanding the writer.

    I get the impression that you want to rush to a response before you have understood the point being made.

    I get the feeling from you that we are simply students of yours, who, while we may never achieve your standards, could get close if we simply accept everything you say to us without question.

    You have to understand that there are people in this world and right here on this blog, that are completely beyond either of us in this debate.

  217. 301 kairosfocus May 10, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    F/N: I have responded to T’s onward comment here at UD.

    F/N 2: And, BTW, ever since Orgel it has been noted that specification in the biological context is usually by observed functionality and its sensitivity to perturbation. Observe the deep isolation of protein folds, and what damage can easily be done by a few point mutations. Similarly, look at how precisely a key has to fit a lock, or a part the car engine, or how few typos are needed to reduce an expression to gibberish. Don’t forget the rocket that had to be blown up because someone substituted was it a comma for a semicolon? Specificity based on complex functional organisation is real, objectively observable and something we need to face instead of play strawman games with.

  218. 302 MathGrrl May 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    kairosfocus,

    I have responded to you at the follow up thread provided by Mark. I look forward to continuing the discussion with you there.

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  1. 1 A discussion of CSI « The Heretical Philosopher Trackback on March 23, 2011 at 9:49 pm
  2. 2 The Hard Problem | squareONE explorations Trackback on May 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm

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