Good UD post

Good guest post at Uncommon Descent by Aurelio Smith,

SIGNAL TO NOISE: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF ACTIVE INFORMATION

For those who prefer to comment here, this is your thread!

For me, the argument by Ewert Dembski and Marks reminds me of poor old Zeno and his paradox.  They’ve over-thought the problem and come to a conclusion that appears mathematically valid, but actually makes no sense.  Trying to figure out just the manner in which it makes no sense isn’t that easy, though I don’t think we need to invent the equivalent of differential calculus to solve it in this case.  I think it’s a simple case of picking the wrong model.  Evolution is not a search for anything, and information is not the same as [im]probability, whether you take log2 of it or not.  Which means that you don’t need to add Active Information to an Evolutionary Search in order to find a Target, because there’s no Target, no search, and the Active Information is simply the increased probability of solving a problem if you have some sort of feedback for each attempt, and partial solutions are moderately similar to better ones.

Enjoy!

94 thoughts on “Good UD post

  1. Steve,

    We’re working on a reply to the Ewert ENV post. Not clear whether it will appear here or at PT or at both. But owing to other distractions it will take about a week, I would guess.

    Enjoy your popcorn.

  2. For anyone who is interested, Joe Gallien also has a post up on his blog. So far he has elucidated:


    If it does something it is active, duh. If it is actively involved in the change, then it is active information.

    Thank you for admitting tat you are ignorant of the concept”

    He could be the Claude Shannon of active information.

  3. ID Gopher Joe G has “alerted” KF to this thread. Let’s hope he can hold off sinister forces and constitutional crises and pop in for a chat. A free and frank exchange outside of closed comments and moderation. How liberating!

  4. Elizabeth:

    ” information is not the same as [im]probability, whether you take log2 of it or not”

    Relevance?

  5. Over at UD I accused Joe F of misrepresentation. Was I wrong?

    Joe F:
    “DEM call every process a “search”, even crazy ones.”

  6. Elizabeth:

    So nobody seems to want to defend Active Information as an ID argument.

    You fled from UD.

  7. Mung:
    Over at UD I accused Joe F of misrepresentation. Was I wrong?

    Joe F:
    “DEM call every process a “search”, even crazy ones.”

    I explained in the thread that you started here that, yes, you were wrong. You will see my answer here.

    I see that Mung posted this question before I gave the answer, so we are probably in agreement. All that remains is for Mung to do the honorable thing and comment, admitting that Mung was wrong about me misrepresenting the argument about searches.

  8. Joe Felsenstein: All that remains is for Mung to do the honorable thing and comment, admitting that Mung was wrong about me misrepresenting the argument about searches.

    It’s always good to see folks adhere to the standards they demand from others.

  9. I haven’t had a chance yet to read Joe’s response, but I will say the following. I can admit when I am wrong. So if I can understand why I was wrong I will admit it.

    If Joe thinks that everything can be modeled as a probability distribution, that would of course include evolution. So what will be of interest to me will be to see how people disagree with Joe on that point.

  10. Well Elizabeth, perhaps things would have fared better for you at UD if you had managed to stay on topic. 🙂

    Instead you got sidetracked with discussions about emergence and consciousness and all sorts of other things that had nothing to do with active information.

  11. petrushka:

    Does Joe have a point that you disagree with or agree with?

    That would require Joe to actually make a point. Does Joe make the point that evolution is not a search? If so, where does he actually say so?

    Anyone? Joe?

  12. Mung:
    petrushka:

    That would require Joe to actually make a point. Does Joe make the point that evolution is not a search? If so, where does he actually say so?

    Anyone? Joe?

    We’re waiting for you to actually read what I wrote. Then admit that you were wrong when you said that I was wrong.

    And that was not about whether evolution can or cannot be modeled as a search. It was about what Dembski, Ewert and Marks included in their definition of a “search”.

    You wouldn’t want people to think that you deliberately divert discussions away from the central point, would you?

  13. Joe Felsenstein:

    We’re waiting for you to actually read what I wrote. Then admit that you were wrong when you said that I was wrong.

    I’ve already read and responded. Catch up.

  14. Richardthughes:
    Mung is still fishing for ‘death by cop’. No dice, Mung.

    Looks like he’s decided to adopt the position of UD’s traveling attention whore.

  15. Mung:
    Joe Felsenstein:

    I’ve already read and responded. Catch up.

    I looked upthread, got as far as where you said you hadn’t had a chance yet to read my response.

    So your response must be after that.

    But I see no response that discusses the “unless” statement of yours and admits that DEM’s searches do fall under that condition. And thus that I was not wrong.

    So sure, you responded, but without answering.

    This is not the first time you have blatantly failed to answer questions.

  16. Joe Felsenstein:

    And that was not about whether evolution can or cannot be modeled as a search.

    Hilarious, Joe. And not believable. All you need to do is read your own posts.

    Here’s a taste:

    Does Mung think that if we don’t consider evolution to be a search, that this means we can’t model evolution?

    And:

    Of course I am imagining what Mung’s position on that would be. So let’s hear from Mung: do you think that only models that have a “search” are really models of evolution?

    And of course, from the OP of the thread of interest:

    If evolution is not a search, why is the term “evolutionary search” not an oxymoron?

    Joe Felsenstein:

    And that was not about whether evolution can or cannot be modeled as a search.

    What planet are you on?

  17. Joe Felsenstein:

    This is not the first time you have blatantly failed to answer questions.

    No doubt. But it in no way follows that I did not answer your questions.

    So which of your questions did I fail to answer?

  18. Mung: Well Elizabeth, perhaps things would have fared better for you at UD if you had managed to stay on topic. 🙂

    Instead you got sidetracked with discussions about emergence and consciousness and all sorts of other things that had nothing to do with active information.

    That is sort of funny, Mung. But, yes, I would have stuck with the thread if it had stayed on topic. I saw no point in continuing to participate in a thread in which nobody seemed to want to discuss active information, and Barry insisted on talking about “emergence and consciousness”, and, moreover, accusing me of lying and posting “sewage”.

    I have better things to do with my time, thanks. If Barry wants to discuss emergence and consciousness with me, he can do it here, but in a new thread.

  19. Mung: If Joe thinks that everything can be modeled as a probability distribution, that would of course include evolution.

    Obviously not “everything can be modeled as a probability distribution”. However, if you (generic “you”) are going to assert that X has a tiny probability, as Ewert does about birds, in his ENV article, then he needs to specify the probability distribution that generated that probability.

    This is where ID (or at least the Ewert, Dembski and Marks version) always falls down. They claim that the probability of X is vanishingly small under the null of non-design, but they never say how they derived that probability distribution. Normally, probability distributions are derived from frequency distributions, and clearly, birds are quite frequently observed. Sometimes they are derived from theory, but they do not give the theory. In other words, they do not state the hypothesis under which birds (or whatever) would have a vanishingly small probability, or justifiy its derivation.

    And that is crucial.

  20. This is good.

    Aurelio Smith:

    Is FSCO/I something you’ve heard of?

    If you have, do you (and as spokesman for DEM) endorse it?

    Winston Ewert:

    I’ve seen posts about it. I’m not inclined to take it seriously until I see it published some place more serious then a blog.

    kairosfocus:

    I have pointed to the antecedents for the descriptivce summary in Orgel, Wicken, Dembski and Meyer from 85 on above: http://www.uncommondescent.com…..ent-562213 These will handily meet the more serious than a blog criterion.

    Winston:

    You really think a comment on a blog that quotes other people and calls them idea-roots for FSCO/I qualifies as a serious presentation of the idea of FSCO/I?

    KF:

    WE, I think I need to note that my point has always been that all I have provided by using the abbreviation FSCO/I is an acronym for a descriptive summary of the functionally specific subset of complex specified information.

    Winston:

    My apologies. That’s what I get for commenting on something I know nothing about. I was under the impression that you were trying to do something more novel then applying an acronym to the ideas of other people.

    Oh, snap!

  21. keiths: KF:

    WE, I think I need to note that my point has always been that all I have provided by using the abbreviation FSCO/I is an acronym for a descriptive summary of the functionally specific subset of complex specified information.

    Winston:

    My apologies. That’s what I get for commenting on something I know nothing about. I was under the impression that you were trying to do something more novel then applying an acronym to the ideas of other people.

    Oh, snap!

    Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving character.

  22. Elizabeth Liddle:

    He’d have to either post porn, or Barry’s real name. Oh, wait….

    I’m guessing you’re one of those folks who can’t define porn but you know it when you see it.

  23. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Obviously not “everything can be modeled as a probability distribution”.

    So you and Joe Felsenstein disagree. Fine. Did it take an outsider to come in and make that evident?

    Joe F:

    “DEM call every process a “search”, even crazy ones.”

    Even processes that cannot be modeled as a probability distribution?

  24. Mung:
    Elizabeth Liddle:

    I’m guessing you’re one of those folks who can’t define porn but you know it when you see it.

    You think that was some kinda smart remark.

    Yeah, sure, you’re awesome, dude.

  25. If you insist on banning people for posting porn, don’t you think you should define what porn is? Else you’re no different than BA over at UD.

  26. Mung:
    If you insist on banning people for posting porn, don’t you think you should define what porn is? Else you’re no different than BA over at UD.

    Bullshit, Mung.

  27. Mung:
    Well, that’s convincing!

    Yep. Glad you think so!

    Certainly a lot more convincing than your bizarre implication that Elizabeth is “no different than BA over at UD” when she doesn’t explicitly define porn just because you (repeatedly) say that she ought to.

    News flash, Mung: Every reasonable person can see the difference between Elizabeth’s rules / conduct at TSZ and BA’s rules / conduct at UD.

    Nice try on conflating the two, though. Good to know that YOU think they’re both equally bad.

  28. Mung demands definitions when he can’t think of anything intelligent to say (which is often).

    As in his idiotic “rape isn’t evil” comment:

    If I were to make some sort of assertion, it would be that God allows rape because there’s nothing evil about it. So now what?

    You need to define rape, and make an argument as to why rape is evil. You’ve done neither. You have no argument.

  29. keiths, desperate as always. Born a liar and will die a liar. Not that it matters right keiths? You were hard-wired!

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