Semiotic argument for ID: penguin rules version

I’d like to continue discussion of Upright Biped’s Semiotic Argument for ID here, but under a fairly strict interpretation of the rules of this site. Violating posts will be moved to the old thread [ETA: which will remain open].  Feel free to C&P posts from that thread to this.

I’d like to kick off with what junkdnaforlife wrote here:

Not speaking for Upright, but in my own rogue offering:

 

A1.Chance and Necessity cannot generate a semiotic system, whereas the necessary and sufficient conditions of a semiotic system consist of arrangements of matter that produce specific functional effects by means of inert intermediary patterns.
A2. The necessary and sufficient conditions of a protein synthesis system consists of arrangements of matter that produce specific functional effects by means of inert intermediary patterns.
A3. A protein synthesis system is a semiotic system
A4. Therefore Chance and Necessity cannot generate a protein synthesis system.

B1. Chance, Necessity and intelligent causation can generate a semiotic system, whereas the necessary and sufficeint conditions of a semiotic system consist of arrangements of matter that produce specific functional effects by means of inert intermediary patterns.
B2. Chance and Necessity cannot generate a semiotic system, whereas the necessary and sufficient conditions of a semiotic system consist of arrangements of matter that produce specific functional effects by means of inert intermediary patterns.
B3.Therefore the origin of a semiotic system is best explained by chance, necessity and intelligent causation.

 

The challenge of premise 1 (A1) was made over a year ago:

http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=659&cpage=14#comment-14814

Results not in.

I replied:

Thanks! I think we could condense that:

 

P1.Chance and Necessity alone cannot generate an semiotic information transfer system where “semiotic information transfer” is defined as arrangements of matter that produce specific functional effects by means of inert intermediary patterns.
P2. A protein synthesis system requires semiotic information transfer
C. Therefore Chance and Necessity alone cannot generate a protein synthesis system, and we must infer Intelligence in addition.

 

If you are happy with this, I would readily grant P2, but would dispute P1. P1 was what I was prepared to refute with my proposed simulation.

So, best sherry-in-the-senior-common-room manners, guys.  See you later.

205 thoughts on “Semiotic argument for ID: penguin rules version

  1. [EL: I have moved Upright Biped's reply to RB's post here to this thread]:

    Note that you state “there are material consequences” of the transfer of recorded information (your “entailments”). There is no reading of your characterization of “the entailments” as “material consequences” above that supports your current claim that what you intended to assert, all along, was that “the entailments” are necessary and sufficient conditions

    Did you resist the explicit language?

    The original argument:

    There is a list of physical entailments of recorded information that can therefore be generalized and compiled without regard to the source of the information. In other words, the list is only about the physical entailments of the information, not its source. I am using the word “entailment” in the standard sense – to impose as a necessary result (Merriam-Webster). These physical entailments are a necessary result of the existence of recorded information transfer. And they are observable.

    That list includes the four material observations as discussed in the previous paragraphs: a) the existence of an arrangement of matter acting as a physical representation, b) the existence of an arrangement of matter to establish the relationship between a representation and the effect it represents within a system (the protocol), c) the existence of physical effects being driven by the input of the representations, and d) the dynamic property that they each remain discrete. Observations of systems that satisfy these four requirements confirm the existence of actual (not analogous) information transfer.

    My response in April, after your comments:

    By my suggestion that a ‘demonstration of recorded information is also a demonstration of a semiotic state’, I make the claim that recorded information is – by necessity – semiotic. I make that claim squarely upon material observation, and I challenge you or anyone else to demonstrate otherwise.

    Continuing response from April:

    I have established a correspondence between “heat dissipation” and the Second Law by virtue of the material observations. It is very much my intent to establish the same correspondence between semiosis and recorded information by virtue of the material observations. Recorded information must be semiotic in the same way that heat dissipation must travel from hot to cold.

    What you’ve failed to recognize in your objection is that I have materially demonstrated that recorded information transfer is necessarily semiotic.

    Your response on April 28th:

    Adding “of necessity” doesn’t strengthen the claim in the absence of a demonstration of that necessity.

    Having heard it, and rejected it, did you not then scoff at it? May 3rd:

    Wrong question. The question is, “can a process other than the necessarily semiotic [your emphasis] transfer of recorded information result in an arrangement of matter to represent an effect within a system, as well as an arrangement of matter to establish the relationship between the representation and the effect within that system?”

    We say yes. You don’t believe it (so what?). That’s the question at issue.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    You see Bill, what you (as a human being) add to the observation of evidence (by your treatment of it) is not my problem. It never has been. In any case, you’ve established that the question at hand is whether or not your non-semiotic process is a reality or not. You plainly say “can a process other than” and then answered “yes” to your own question.

    So my question is “What is it Bill?” You asked the question two months and nine days ago.

     You’ve also stated that you think the claim of necessity needs some strengthening – something to fill the absence, as you call it. This is an incredible statement, like you’ve just landed on this planet for the first time, and haven’t the foggiest idea; as if you have no concept of the issues whatsoever. You apparently think there’s an absence of evidence that the transfer of information requires representations and protocols. Perhaps you think that this absence is both logical and evidentiary. Since you’re new around here, allow me to ask you a couple of questions. Because we live in a material universe, do you think the transfer of information (about something) must be accomplished through some material medium? In other words, would the ‘transfer of information’ actually be the transfer of form by a material means, where the medium is one thing and the form is another? If the answer to that is yes, then wouldn’t it then be necessary for that form to be somehow recorded or instantiated into the material medium in order to be transferred? In other words, would this transfer require some system of constraint in order to evoke ‘that form’ from ‘that medium’?

    Now if you answered in the affirmative to each those questions, then the next thing you need to ask yourself is if the way we find it is a sufficient demonstration. And if not, then what should we rely on?

    Of course, as an alternative to that question, you can always ponder whether or not observing the “necessary condition” of a thing is a “material consequence” of that thing existing.

    That’s where the really tough research goes on.

  2. Upright, what do you make of junkdnaforlife’s argument?

    Does it differ from your own?

  3. Of course, as an alternative to that question, you can always ponder whether or not observing the “necessary condition” of a thing is a “material consequence” of that thing existing.

    How does attempting to observe necessary and sufficient conditions differ fro attempting to prove a negative?

    You are arguing that because you haven’t observed an alternative, it does not and cannot exist.

  4. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “By my suggestion that a ‘demonstration of recorded information is also a demonstration of a semiotic state’, I make the claim that recorded information is – by necessity – semiotic. I make that claim squarely upon material observation, and I challenge you or anyone else to demonstrate otherwise.”

    What about the growth rings in a tree trunk?

    That information is recorded, but it’s not semiotic.

     

  5. Upright BiPed once linked to a nice article that argued for extending the concept of semiosis to non-linguistic systems.  I can’t find it – if UB or anyone else has the link, could they provide it?

    And UB, if you could provide, or link to, a concise definition of “semiotic” as you are using the term, that would be cool.

     

  6. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “What you’ve failed to recognize in your objection is that I have materially demonstrated that recorded information transfer is necessarily semiotic.”

    That is false.

    A song in MP3 format is semiotic when compared with the original analogue but a vinyl record has a one to one correspondence to the original sound that was recorded.

    If I put a scope probe on a microphone and one at the recording head of a tape recorder, the waveforms will increase in amplitude and frequency on both waveforms of the scope in step.

    Any observer would have to be told which was the original and which was the recorded trace.

    Where is the intermediate code?


  7. This is an important point, I think.

    If we define a semiotic information transfer system as one that involves an inert and arbitrary intermediate representation, then, as you say, a vinyl record is not semiotic, but is still information transfer.

    So by that definition of semiotic, all semiotic systems involve information transfer, but not all information transfer systems are semiotic.

    Which actually helps UB’s case, if his argument is that it is the semiotic nature of the information transfer system in the cell that marks it as of intelligent origin.

    But I’m still not clear that that is what he is arguing! 

    If so, we are back with the operational definition I think we ended up with, in which case, it would be good if UB would sign off on it.

     

  8. But I’m still not clear that that is what he is arguing! 

    Until he says otherwise I’m clear on what he is arguing.   He is asserting that the genetic code and translation could not have evolved.  The semiotic part of his argument is just window dressing for this decades old assertion.

    But this is a problem for chemists to settle, not philosophers.

    UPB, and most ID advocates have not studied the history of science, or have learned nothing from it. There was a time when it was impossible for complex organic molecules to arise except as the products of living things.

    The argument from ignorance is no way to go through life. 

  9. Perhaps UPB is arguing that because the templating process involved in translation is so complicated, it isn’t templating.

    Perhaps there’s a threshold in chemistry where a template ceases to be a template and becomes a code. We could call it the Vital threshold. The magic threshold between life and non-life. 

    Sort of like the threshold between organic and inorganic molecules. 

  10. Speaking of intermediate code, we could mirror a discussion currently going on at UD concerning the absence of intermediate fossils. We could ask where are the intermediate fossils of the genetic code and transcription apparatus?

    That’s an original argument. I bet no one ever thought of that. 

  11. Well, argument-from-ignorance leaves one vulnerable to the One Black Swan problem, hence the whole Popperian falsification concept.

    We cannot infer a Designer from lack of an alternative.  But equally we cannot rule out a Designer from lack of evidence for one.

    We can only rule in, we can’t rule out. 

  12. Petrushka,

    “We could ask where are the intermediate fossils of the genetic code and transcription apparatus?”

    That’s a good question because I think it touches on their “designer”.

     

  13. petrushka speculates: Perhaps there’s a threshold in chemistry where a template ceases to be a template and becomes a code. We could call it the Vital threshold. The magic threshold between life and non-life.

    I suspect this is pretty close to what UB is attempting to do; establish a language from which ID follows as a logical conclusion. He appears to be doing it by ignoring all of science and substituting a new language that has all the built-in characteristics of teleology, vitalism, and implications of intelligent direction.

    Now there is nothing wrong with finding descriptive language that captures the essence of what one observes in nature. As condensed matter systems become increasingly complex, the features that emerge become the focus of attention when describing such systems and studying their behaviors.

    As a simple example, we don’t normally talk about a chunk of copper in terms of the atoms that make up the copper (unless one is studying copper at that level); we instead talk about density, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, color, hardness, ductility, and a number of other properties and behaviors that are the emergent properties of large condensations of atoms.

    However, these properties are all temperature dependent; and that reminds us that emergent properties are highly dependent on the relative magnitudes of the binding energies of condensed matter and the kinetic energies among its constituent atoms and molecules.

    In the case of living organisms, we don’t normally talk in terms of the chemical compounds that make up the organism unless we are studying the organism at that level. We instead talk about the behaviors and physical features of that organism in relationship to the environment in which the organism is immersed. Hence the language of random variation and selection as replicated surrogates of the organism are selected to fit in a changing environment.

    The problem that UB is generating is not so much in searching for a suitable language that captures important features and behaviors of complex organisms; it is that the language that he appears to be trying to develop completely ignores everything we already know from science and is aimed at preserving preconceived sectarian beliefs about living organisms as unassailable and not subject to adjustment in the light of scientific evidence.

    If a language that describes complex systems is to be successful in the long haul, it must eventually find it roots in already firmly established laws of physics and chemistry. That is the reason for the question about where along the spectrum of condensed matter complexity do “representations and protocols” take over from chemistry and physics.

    And that is the question that UB doesn’t understand. In all cases of condensed matter so far, one finds that the language that describes complex condensations of matter can be eventually related to the underlying chemistry and physics. There is no evidence or reason to believe that we will not be able to do this with living systems. We already know that the properties and behaviors of living systems are temperature dependent. That is a HUGE hint that the language that UB is attempting to attribute to proteins, for example, is not going to work.

    His language has another purpose, namely, to establish a sectarian version of the universe. It will never fit because it doesn’t connect at lower levels of complexity. It just hangs in the air as an assertion buried in a smoke screen of obfuscation designed to make intelligent design appear as a “logical consequence.”

    Science doesn’t have that immovable preconceived notion as a constraint.  And the accusation of “materialism” is simply a demonizing projection being used to justify a sectarian rejection of all of science while making its own pseudoscience appear as science.

  14. Yes the idea that “materialists” “reduce” all systems to their constituent components is false.  It’s why I think the term “reductionist” is misleading.  Much of the “reducing” involved is in finding higher-order rules that can account economically for systems of lower-order phenomena, not “reducing” higher-order systems to those lower-order phenomena.

    That’s why I don’t necessarily mind describing protein synthesis as a “semiotic” system, if, by “semiotic” we denote a kind of information transfer that involves an arbitrary and inert (in some sense) intermediate carrier.

    The danger is thinking that these higher-level descriptions imply some mysterious non-material woo.  There’s nothing especially mysterious about systems, IMO – they just represent a level of analysis at which we consider entities with properties not possessed by their parts.

  15. So, best sherry-in-the-senior-common-room manners, guys.

    That would make the whiskey-swilling, hootin’ and hollerin’, wild west saloon thataway?
     

  16. Well, boiled down to its constituent parts, UPB’s argument relies on the following premises:

    1. If you haven’t observed it, it doesn’t exist.

    2. If you don’t have a complete history of an event, it didn’t happen.

    3. If You don’t have and atom by atom naturalistic explanation for a phenomenon, there is no naturalistic explanation.

    Taken to the obvious conclusion, this means that science is impossible, because it relies on constructing and testing hypothetical scenarios. Perhaps we should all submit to this inexorable logic.

    Perhaps we should all adopt a worldview that doesn’t require this pathetic level of detail.

  17. We already know that the properties and behaviors of living systems are temperature dependent.

    Are you saying the interpretation of the code is affected by temperature? I assume you mean that the “semiotic” part only works in a narrow band of temperature.

    Other physical media can be affected by temperature. Disk drives can become unreliable at temperatures compatible with life.

  18. petrushka asks: Are you saying the interpretation of the code is affected by temperature? I assume you mean that the “semiotic” part only works in a narrow band of temperature.

    A classic example is the fact that the sex of some species is determined by the temperature at which its eggs are incubated.

    All sorts of process in a plant or animal organism depend on temperature. Germination, digestion, metabolism, and growth (we usually don’t notice those examples that take place outside of “normal” temperature ranges). Hibernation and dormancy usually take place at lower temperatures.

    Temperatures that are too high have different effects depending on the plant or animal, but such temperatures usually put severe stresses on the organism causing some plants to produce more seeds or some animals to change their reproductive cycles.

    Just because a plant or animal is a living organism does not exempt it from the laws of chemistry and physics. Chemical processes in soft matter systems are extremely temperature dependent. Animal organisms that survive have developed feedback systems that tend to regulate the internal temperature of the animal within limited ranges. But once those ranges are exceeded, we see the effects of temperature very readily.

    Plants are shielded from the immediate effects of ambient temperature as long as the water that flows internally from their roots remains within a narrow temperature range.

    The tighter bonded molecules within an organism will be less susceptible to ambient temperature changes. Such bonds apply to the genetic material, making them fairly robust to temperature changes. Nevertheless, higher temperatures can disrupt the patterns within those bound structures; and certainly higher energy inputs from ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma radiation can lead to changes in gene expression.

    Extremophiles tend to be more tightly bonded on average than “normal” organisms. Nervous systems are extremely temperature dependent. Anyone who has experienced hypothermia or severe frostbite knows that it is no longer possible to “will” one’s muscles to move. Hyperthermia leads to chaos in the nervous system, as anyone who has had a severe fever or has experienced heat stroke knows.

    It is very difficult to reconcile the temperature dependency of processes in living organisms with some kind of “vitalism” or internal “program.” It is well known that processes taking place within the hardware of a computer are temperature dependent; even the workings of mechanical systems such as engines are temperature dependent.

    One can recast the description of crystal formation in a teleological language; but it still remains temperature dependent, and the temperature dependency reminds us that teleological language is not necessary.

    So where along the spectrum of complexity of condensed matter systems does teleological language become obligatory, thereby compelling us to infer intelligence in the behaviors of the systems? I suspect this is what UB is trying to do; and he is trying to do it with total disregard of all of physics and chemistry.

  19. I guess my point would be that susceptibility to extreme temperatures is irrelevant to whether a system is semiotic. 
    All systems are susceptible to errors caused by extreme physical conditions. 

    I think emergence is a much greater problem for design.

    ID proponents are happy to point to humans as designers, but they neglect the actual process of design. In real life, invention and engineering are incremental and iterative, and involve nibbling at the bleeding edges of existing technology, Followed by testing and feedback.

    There is no way to anticipate the properties of genuinely new arrangements of matter. Engineers have tables of established properties of materials, but no one can anticipate the exact properties of a completely novel protein. Same goes for coding sequences.

     There is no syntax for DNA. There is no way to evaluate a completely new sequence other than by doing the chemistry. There is no way to be fluent in sequence construction the way people are fluent in language.

    That is one of the things that distinguishes language from genomes. One can utter completely novel sentences and be certain of their meaning. Or at least certain of their denotation.

  20. It’s one of the favorite arguments used by ID advocates that You can’t write computer programs by randomly modifying the bits in functional code.

    But of course the designer of life has the problem of knowing the effects of sequences. In a language, the dictionary plus the rules of syntax guarantee that properly constructed sequences will have a meaning that can be anticipated.

    But in chemistry, this ability to anticipate does not exist. So what advantage does a designer have? 

  21. UB:

    Did you resist the explicit language?

    It is your explicit language that justifies my statement, as demonstrated in my post immediately above. The “consequences” of a phenomenon cannot also be the cause of that phenomenon.

    The original argument:

    There is a list of physical entailments of recorded information…Observations of systems that satisfy these four requirements confirm the existence of actual (not analogous) information transfer.

    Indeed, that is the original argument. Recorded information entails (the four entailments). From the entailments we infer the transfer of recorded information. (A -> B. B, therefore A).

    I make the claim that recorded information is – by necessity – semiotic. I make that claim squarely upon material observation, and I challenge you or anyone else to demonstrate otherwise.

    Help me to understand this. What does “semiotic” entail that “the transfer of recorded information” does not? Absent a response, you cannot claim to discern, even in principle, in what way an instance of “the transfer of recorded information” that is not also a semiotic state would differ from one that is. To justify your claim that this is an “material observation,” you need to specify that difference.

    You apparently think there’s an absence of evidence that the transfer of information requires representations and protocols. Perhaps you think that this absence is both logical and evidentiary.

    I’ve several times explicitly allowed, for the sake of argument, that the transfer of recorded information invariably results in “the entailments” (A -> B, without exception).

    What doesn’t follow is “B, therefore A” – “systems that satisfy these four requirements confirm the existence of actual (not analogous) information transfer.”

  22. UB:

    Of course, as an alternative to that question, you can always ponder whether or not observing the “necessary condition” of a thing is a “material consequence” of that thing existing.

    I forgot to ponder this.

    (Ponders…)

    No.

    Observing sufficient conditions of a thing is a “material consequence” of that thing existing.

    Observing necessary conditions is not (there may be other sufficient conditions that also result in that thing.)

  23. Ponders…

    My mind dwells in the concrete. If fuel is a necessary condition for fire, then observing fire implies the existence of fuel. 

    Exactly what this has to do with ID or the semiotic argument is beyond me.

    The problem with UPB’s logic is that he has used his conclusion as a premise.

    His conclusion is that semiotic processes require a designer. So if we observe a semiotic process, we can infer a designer.

    Now if he would get on with it and demonstrate that semiotic processes require a designer.

     So far the only evidence he has offered is the (disputed) claim that all observed semiotic processes are designed.

    He asks for an example of an undesigned semiotic process and several have been proposed. I offer the genetic code and translation as an example.

    If you want to refute this you will have to do the chemistry. You cannot use your conclusion as a premise. 

  24. Perhaps I can be more clear.

    You cannot prove that a specific semiotic process (translation) requires a designer by asserting that all observed instances of semiotic processes have a designer. 

  25. I will shut up for a while after this, but I can’t help but conclude that the whole ID enterprise consist of asserting that you shouldn’t look for black swans because no one has ever seen one.

    Over on UD one of the regulars is arguing that you shouldn’t look for transitional  fossils because no one has ever seen one.

    Here we are told not to look for self-assembling replicators  because no one has ever seen one.

    Don’t look for intermediate steps between simple self-replicators and genetic codes because no one has ever seen one. 

  26. Try this on for size. I’m interested in any thoughts. 

    Lizzie said:

    Yes the idea that “materialists” “reduce” all systems to their constituent components is false. It’s why I think the term “reductionist” is misleading. Much of the “reducing” involved is in finding higher-order rules that can account economically for systems of lower-order phenomena, not “reducing” higher-order systems to those lower-order phenomena.

    An irony here is that UB’s logical woes stem from a decision to describe semiotic theory at an inappropriate level of abstraction, one that is too reductive to accommodate the concepts he wishes to advance and “successfully confirm.”

    “Semiosis” is a concept that emerges at a very high level of abstraction and cannot easily be reduced to low-level “material observations.” The abstract nature of the concept is evident in the widely differing phenomena from which he abstracts “semiosis”: human language and symbol use, certain instances of animal signaling and communication (although there are far fewer that even potentially meet his definition of semiosis than he supposes), the operation of human artifacts as diverse as music boxes, Victrolas, looms and computers, and now the transcription of DNA into proteins. Each differ in material substrate, physical mechanism and causal provenance, with little shared at those levels of description. The proposed commonality “semiosis” is described at a much higher level of abstraction, and is evident only in a survey across these otherwise very diverse phenomena that looks past the physical particulars. 

    The upshot is that phenomena described at such high levels of conceptual abstraction cannot be the objects of direct “material observation.” Upon placing any one of his proposed instances under a microscope (or other means of collecting “material observations”) one may observe physical events and interactions that may be said to be instances of the highly abstracted concept, but we never directly “materially observe” a conceptual notion as abstracted as is semiosis because it is, in fact, an abstraction.

    That abstraction may also serve as a model that captures proposed commonalities across instances. If that model also has necessary entailments that predict further, as yet unmade observations, it may begin to assume scientific value. But this is a conceptual process, ultimately theory-laden and assembled cognitively by human beings. The notion that one can directly “materially observe” a conceptual abstraction as far removed from physical particulars as is “semiosis” is nonsense.

    So why does UB insist that “material observations” directly dictate his impoverished abstractions, “the transfer of recorded information” and “a semiotic state?” My conjecture is that he has made a rhetorical decision to apply his (mis)apprehension that one can directly, objectively observe “semiosis” uncoupled from any theoretical framework with the hope that he can engage a “materialist” strictly at the level of raw observations (in this instance of the transcription of DNA into proteins), extract concessions regarding of the “semiotic” character of those observations as defined in those terms, and then unveil heretofore unspoken further entailments of semiosis – those that that lead to his conclusion “therefore ID.” This is why he refuses to disclose where he thinks semiosis leads to those who grant his argument arguendo: first he must ensnare a materialist, and to do this he must play his cards close the vest. No wonder his writing is so characterized by obfuscation and twisty little passages, all alike, that lead nowhere but to themselves. (But is there anyone here who didn’t see his loop hidden in the path?) 

    But it doesn’t work. UB’s efforts to specify objective “entailments” that are theory-free “material observations” founder repeatedly, because to claim a “semiotic state” as something materially observed – impossible because it is a conceptual abstraction – he has no choice but to inject that abstraction into his purported “material observations,” one way or another. That is why every one of his claimed “successful confirmations of a semiotic state” and every attempt to deploy his claimed “entailments” is in one way or another propped up by an assumed conclusion.

    Like others, I’d be perfectly fine with his stating, “I propose that across these diverse phenomena there is a highly abstract commonality I call ‘semiosis.’ I further propose that a semiotic state is characterized by ‘the transfer of recorded information’ as defined by these four characteristics…” Bingo, he has a model (albeit not one that accomplishes much), while eschewing the claim that he has described “entailments” that go any distance to empirically confirm first his model (they don’t) and ultimately his a priori claim to have exluded natural, unguided causes as explanations. It then falls to him to draw from the moving parts of his model genuine entailments that do follow as necessary consequences of his model, generating predictions such that failure to make the predicted observations put his model at risk of disconfirmation. It falls to him to demonstrate that his model has scientific value. 

    That is how entailment is employed in a scientific context – something UB just does not get.

    Or so go my recent musings.

  27. The Semiotic Theory of Intelligent Scattering:

     

    This theory becomes most evident in the center-of-mass reference frame of two electrons that are approaching each other at exactly the same speed.  In fact, it was the discovery of the center-of-mass frame that led to the uncovering of this set of patterns.

    The fact that the electrons are exchanging information and following protocols is clearly evident in a continuous set of remarkable, simultaneous, precision events.

    (1) As the electrons approach each other, they each slow down such that their velocities are exactly equal in magnitude and opposite in direction; one heading left, the other heading right.

    (2) Furthermore, they do this in such a way that their momentums are always equal and opposite.

    (3) Even further, their kinetic energies, though continuously changing, are always exactly equal at all times; as are their potential energies.  And the sum of kinetic and potential energies is always constant.

    (4) Most remarkable of all, the electrons come to rest at exactly the same time that their momentums become zero and their potential energies become exactly equal to what their kinetic energies were when the electrons were separated by an infinite distance.

    (5) It is at this point and time in (4) above that the electrons simultaneously reverse their velocities, with each now proceeding away from each other with exactly matching but opposite velocities and momentums at every instant in time, even though these are continuously changing. 

    (6) And throughout the entire process, forward as well as reverse,  the potential energies are always exactly equal as are the kinetic energies of the two electrons.

    (7) When the electrons have separated by an infinite distance, they each will have attained exactly the same kinetic energy they had when the process started; they each remembered their original kinetic energies and matched them exactly every step of the way.

    It has been discovered that the means of exchanging information is by way of electromagnetic photons that proceed back and forth from one electron to the other.  The fact that so many parts of this process are identical at all times for both electrons is strong evidence of a highly coordinated and highly precise protocol carried in that exchange of those photons.

    Therefore we conclude that these detailed, exact, and highly coordinated events that take place at every instant in time when electrons are scattering from each other can only be evidence of Intelligent Scattering.

     

     

  28. Abstractions, like semiotic systems, teleological systems, or any kinds of description that involve projections of human objectives and aspirations are efficient precisely because they are easily understood simply by self-reflection.

    Human communication and projections onto nature have been intricately embedded in the attempts by humans to understand and “placate” the world around them.

    But this ease of communication and explanation – that relies on humans looking to their innermost feelings, aspirations, and fears – has been gradually abandoned in science even though such language is still used as metaphor, and understood to be used as such.

    As is evident in all of UB’s communication, he has never freed himself from projection; whether it is in projecting human emotions and aspirations onto nature or, apparently,  his own inner demons onto others.

    Nearly all of physics – and by extension, chemistry and biology – can be cast in teleological language or in the language of exchanges of information; and it is often a shorthanded way of saying things that can be said more precisely with, say, mathematics.

    But scientists, and most interested laypersons, don’t reify such language; they understand its metaphorical use.

     

  29. Mike,

    You might have given some credit to the 2005 publication,

    Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory

     

  30. Indeed; that parody in The Onion came out, as I recall, during the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt hearings by the ID/creationist State Board of Education.

    The parody aptly avoided naming the designer in addition to avoiding putting forth any coherent details of Intelligent Falling; it was just as vague as ID.

    It is curious that ID/creationists don’t jump on things like the mathematical relationships that fall out of teleological descriptions of physical phenomena.  For example, a flexible rope or chain that is suspended between two points in a uniform gravitational field minimizes its potential energy and falls into the shape of a catenary curve that has the mathematical form of a hyperbolic cosine function (cosh(x)).  How does the rope know to do that and produce a well-defined mathematical function in the process?

    A light ray traveling from Point A in medium 1 to Point B in medium 2 travels along a path of least time, not least distance.  Snell’s Law falls out.  How does the ray leaving Point A know what path to take in order to get to Point B in the minimum amount of time?

    A bead sliding along a frictionless path of least time in a uniform gravitational field follows a cycloid. How did it know to produce such an interesting curve?

    So on and on it goes.  The perspective of finding a stationary solution to problems in the calculus of variations is almost entirely couched in the language of teleology.  Yet it is only in biology and evolution that ID/creationists think that such language applies; not recognizing that biological systems exist in the real world of physics and chemistry and are therefore subject to the same processes.  And they pounce and scowl at our stupidity for not noticing “the obvious.” 

  31. Reciprocating Bill said:

    “The upshot is that phenomena described at such high levels of conceptual abstraction cannot be the objects of direct “material observation.” Upon placing any one of his proposed instances under a microscope (or other means of collecting “material observations”) one may observe physical events and interactions that may be said to be instances of the highly abstracted concept, but we never directly “materially observe” a conceptual notion as abstracted as is semiosis because it is, in fact, an abstraction.”

     

    That’s true not only in nature but in our own intelligently designed systems as well.  You can’t derive the meaning or purpose of a system simply by examining parts of it under a microscope.

    Some years ago I wrote a javascript application that contains the following code:

    var da = new Array(vluNumDims);
                var dj = new Array(vluNumDims);
                for (k = 0; k < vluNumDims; k++)
                {
                    da[k] = rji[k] / r3;
                    dj[k] = (vji[k] – (3 * rv_r2 * rji[k])) / r3;
                }

     

    There’s not much hope of anyone figuring out what the program does just by looking at that code.  They’d have to start looking outward, and learning how the behavior of all the code snippets interact to produce some meaningful output.

    Intelligent design or not, complex systems are emergent.

  32. Does obfuscated code require an intelligent designer?

     

    In which case, we can (according to ID) detect design simply because it’s ordered, functional, and efficient, or alternatively, we can detect design because it’s not.

  33. Reciprocating Bill,

    The “consequences” of a phenomenon cannot also be the cause of that phenomenon.

    Good grief. The argument doesn’t claim the entailments cause information transfer; it says they are the necessary material conditions of information transfer. It claims that the listed entailments will be found as the necessary consequence of the transfer taking place. That is why the definition of “entailment” was given, followed by the unambiguous statement “These physical entailments are a necessary result of the existence of recorded information transfer.”

    It was you (and yours) who threw this mischaracterization of the argument into the mix. It emerged during your attempt to limit the use of the word “entailment” as only the “product” of a thing, purposefully excluding its use regarding the “existence” of a thing (and this is a claim which you eventually rejected). You used the example of rain causing the ground to become wet, which was immediately picked up by Flint: A always causes B”, and by Elizabeth All B is caused by A”, and then repeated by you over and over again.

    Again, this is not my problem. Nor is it my problem that even after rejecting your own claim, you’ve returned to repeat the entire mess all over again. Not my problem.

    From the entailments we infer the transfer of recorded information. (A -> B. B, therefore A).

    You continue to repeat this incomplete formulation, long after the relationships involved in the process have been  established. Those relationships render the argument subject to evidence, which is exactly the way it was presented and argued for. You have steadfastly presented it as “fatally flawed”, yet once again, you were eventually forced to reject your own argument. (“Of course if the necessary and sufficient conditions of a phenomenon are present, then [the] phenomenon is present”). The only plausible reason to repeat an argument after you’ve rejected it, is because the alternative (i.e. dealing with the evidence) is even less satisfying, and acknowledging the validity of the argument is out of the question.  

    Help me to understand this. What does “semiotic” entail that “the transfer of recorded information” does not?

    Once again. a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols. b) The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium. Neither of these two sentences is new to this argument, yet you keep asking this question as if it has anything but rhetorical value. The argument being made here is that the ‘transfer of form by material means’ requires ‘the use of physical representations and physical protocols’. That is the argument. It is being presented to a group who denies it, of which you are one. In order to present the argument, the material consequences of substantially different forms of recorded information were observed, and a list of common objects and dynamic relationships were compiled as the necessary material conditions. The list includes these objects involved in a specific physical process: the production of unambiguous function. This was made evident in the argument, and its significance was explained using the example of the relationship between (the process of) combustion and the material objects within the fire tetrahedron. The listed entailments have the ability to confirm the transfer of recorded information by the inclusion of a specific process (just as the fire tetrahedron confirms the existence of fire by the inclusion of a specific process).      

    What doesn’t follow is “B, therefore A” – “systems that satisfy these four requirements confirm the existence of actual (not analogous) information transfer.”

    And this is the crux of the matter; the very evidence you wished to avoid by insisting the argument was fatally flawed. Remove your formulation and state your argument as it really is: ‘the observation of physical representations and physical protocols, actively involved in the production of unambiguous function, cannot confirm the transfer of recorded information’. Your argument stands on the proposition that a process producing the unique and defining characteristic of recorded information transfer (i.e. function) cannot confirm the transfer of recorded information by producing that unique and defining characteristic. This proposition is stupendously disconnected from all material experience. Not only does it ignore the coherent observation of physical representations and protocols in action, but it completely disregards the material necessities that logically flow from the transfer of form through a material medium. So you ask, “Why invoke semiosis?” The answer is rather well demonstrated isn’t it? Semiosis is a process using representations and protocols. We observe these as necessarily material objects. They are individually identifiable. They are the fundamental requirements for a physical system which operates from an arbitrary relationship established within the system. And we know the relationship is arbitrary because it is not a thing being transferred; it is the form of a thing transferred in a material medium. When a rabbit sees a mountain lion, it is not a mountain lion traveling through its optic system; it is a representation that must be translated into action. It is the material demonstration of this arbitrary relationship which distinguishes the phenomena in question. We claim it is semiotic because the evidence demonstrates it. Or you can provide evidence otherwise.

    In my previous post I listed the four objections you’ve made here, you have a) applied logical operators to the language which did not encompass the particulars of the argument, b) attacked the use of the word entailment as invalid, c) objected to an assumed conclusion stemming from definitions, and d) made a material counter-claim without providing an example to substantiate its validity.”

    The faults with both a) and b) have already been conceded. But in your response you didn’t demonstrate ‘an assumed conclusion stemming from definitions’, nor did you ‘provide an example’ of such a material system. You repeated a) and b) instead.

    - – - – - – - – - – - -

    Mike your responses on this extended thread are the predicted (and amusing) aftermath of my last post to you.  

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=659&cpage=14#comment-14734

    You couldn’t have been more transparent if you’d tried.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    Toronto, growth rings are nothing but growth rings, but how is it that you know a tree has them? If you see them, is it then ‘growth rings’ traveling to your visual cortex, or is it a representation that has to be translated?

    - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    Elizabeth, you’ve managed to kill the longest running thread in the history of your website – with 46% more comments than the next largest thread, and probably 8 to 10 times the median.

  34. Precisely where along the spectrum of complexity in condensed matter do “representations and protocols” take over from physics and chemistry?  It’s not a trick question.  Are you ever going to get around to answering it?

  35. Two more question for you, Upright Biped.  You say:

    a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols.

    b) The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium.

    In your view:

    1. It possible for a process to be semiotic, but not involve the transfer of recorded information?

    2. Is it possible for recorded information to be transferred by a non-semiotic process?

    I realise that the answers to these questions may seem obvious to you, and you may even have answered them previously, but they are not obvious to me, and I am unclear as to what your answer would be.

    Could you clarify? 

     

  36. Upright BiPed,

    semiotic, semeiotic[ˌsɛmɪˈɒtɪk ˌsiːmɪ-]

    adj
    1. (Linguistics) relating to signs and symbols, esp spoken or written signs
    2. (Linguistics) relating to semiotics
    3.(Medicine) of, relating to, or resembling the symptoms of disease; symptomatic
    [from Greek sēmeiōtikos taking note of signs, from sēmeion a sign]

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    The term “protocol” is not found in the definition of “semiotic”.

    Only you insist that it does.

    Growth rings are not “encoded” in a visual format that has to be “decoded” by my optic nerves.

    A photon bounces off the tree trunk and hits my eye with no “semiotic” intermediate step at all.

    If you think so, show me the encoder and matching decoder.

    If your claim is that “physics” are the ultimate encoder/decoder, then everything that exists due to the laws of physics are by definition semiotic.

    Then, since nothing could happen in physics that is not supported by a semiotic encoder/decoder, where is the semiotic intermediate that allows electrons to flow?

     

     

     

  37. UBP: And we know the relationship is arbitrary because it is not a thing being transferred; it is the form of a thing transferred in a material medium. When a rabbit sees a mountain lion, it is not a mountain lion traveling through its optic system; it is a representation that must be translated into action. It is the material demonstration of this arbitrary relationship which distinguishes the phenomena in question.

    It is amazing, but fairly typical of your style of argumentation, how you keep insisting that the relationship between a representation and the thing it represents is arbitrary, after it has been demonstrated to you repeatedly that that this is not only not so, it cannot be so (I note the conspicuous absence of a response from you to my latest clarifications of this point).

    Just to repeat: The relationship between the mountain lion and the specific ongoings in the rabbit’s sensory system cannot be arbitrary in the context of a system where the latter is supposed to function as a representation of the former. On the contrary, the relationship between the two is contingent upon both, forming a systematic relationship between them, as opposed to an arbitrary one. The words arbitrary and systematic are antonyms, according to common dictionaries.

  38. Upright,

    a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols.

    b) The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium.

    …The argument being made here is that the ‘transfer of form by material means’ requires ‘the use of physical representations and physical protocols’. That is the argument.

    First of all, this argument, as it stands, is not an argument for ID. Fill in the gaps. If you think that all semiotic systems are designed, then say so.

    Second, what about the example Elizabeth gave you in October of last year?

    When we lived in Canada we had a deck with a table that had an umbrella hole in the middle. One day it snowed heavily, and soon there was an inch of snow on the table, with a hole in the middle. Half an hour later, there was a foot of snow, with a depression in the middle. Someone came in and said – “what’s that dimple in the middle of the snow?” and then said – “hey, it’s the umbrella hole”. In other words, the table – an object with pattern – was being replicated with each layer of snow, with sufficient fidelity that an observer could extract from the layer of snow the information that the table had an umbrella hole. By evening there was about 4 feet of snow on the table, but there was still a dimple in the middle, indicating that the information that beneath the snow was a table with an umbrella hole had been faithfully recorded and transferred from snow-layer to snow-layer all afternoon.

    Elizabeth’s example perfectly fits your definition: “The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium.” You claim:

    The argument being made here is that the ‘transfer of form by material means’ requires ‘the use of physical representations and physical protocols’. That is the argument.

    Tell us, Upright, what is the protocol in Elizabeth’s example?

  39. I believe Upright’s two statements are argued as symmetric:

    a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols.

    b) The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through
    the use of a material medium.

    form = representations

    Protocol = medium* = inert intermediary pattern

    *an intervening substance through which something
    else is transmitted or carried on.

    (However, I personally would prefer statement (a) over (b)
    as the term medium is less precise.) 

    Therefore as Liz had stated:

    “If we define a semiotic information transfer system as one that involves an inert and arbitrary intermediate representation, then, as you say, a vinyl record is not semiotic, but is still information transfer.

    So by that definition of semiotic, all semiotic systems involve information transfer, but not all information transfer systems are semiotic.

    Which actually helps UB’s case, if his argument is that it is the semiotic
    nature of the information transfer system in the cell that marks it as of
    intelligent origin.”

    So in toronto’s case:

    “A photon bounces off the tree trunk and hits my eye with no
     “semiotic” intermediate step at all.”

    In this case, he has not identified an inert intermediary pattern. Therefore he correctly concludes he has observed information transfer, but not semiotic information transfer.

    And in the snow case:

    “By evening there was about 4 feet of snow on the table, but
    there was still a dimple in the middle, indicating that the information
    that beneath the snow was a table with an umbrella hole had been faithfully recorded and transferred from snow-layer to snow-layer all afternoon.”

    So again, information was transferred, however not by
    means of an inert intermediary pattern, therefore not an example of semiotic information transfer.

  40. So what is the ‘inert intermediary pattern’ in the case of protein translation? RNA is templated directly off an unwound strand of DNA – yet (for some reason) we do not see the argument here that this is ‘semiotic’. That is reserved for the next stage, I guess because templating is direct, not representational.

    The same base pairing constraint that allowed the ‘recorded information’ in DNA to be copied to RNA (it is just as readily copied to replicant DNA) then allows alignment of successive tRNA molecules, each charged with an amino acid, to an elongating chain. This alignment assists the peptidyl transferase activity that glues the amino acid to the chain.

    But this is simply a biochemical pathway:

    1) aa + tRNA -> aa-tRNA

    2) aa-tRNA + peptide chain -> peptide-chain-aa + tRNA (cycle to 1)

    The first step is catalysed by amino-acyl tRNA synthetase, the second by the peptidyl transferase activity of the ribosome.

    What is semiotic about THIS system that is not true of – say – two randomly chosen sequential steps of the Krebs cycle? The relationship is physical – the tRNA/mRNA/ribosome complex holds the acid and peptide together to allow them to be soldered using the energy of the bond holding the acid to the tRNA acceptior stem. Where is the ‘inert intermediate’ here?

    In the modern system, of course, there are 20 different pathways for the first step – 20 aa synthetases act upon a total of approx 50-60 tRNAs. But what differs between the ‘MK I’ version – one aa synthetase acting upon one or a few tRNAs – and the ‘semiotic’ one, with a library of synthetases and multiple tRNAs?

    Unless semiosis/symbolic representation is present in the simple version, it cannot really be said to be present in any more complex one, where duplication of tRNAs has simply increased the range of substrates to reaction 1 and reduced the incidence of premature STOPS, duplication of synthetases increased the number of catalysts of that step, and increased specificity tightened up the reproducibility of a particular peptide product.  

    In other words, at what point during its evolution does this hypothetical system become unevolvable?

  41. junkdnaforlife,

    “a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols.”

    I’m not accepting that at all and neither is the dictionary.

    “semiotic, semeiotic[ˌsɛmɪˈɒtɪk ˌsiːmɪ-]

    adj
    1. (Linguistics) relating to signs and symbols, esp spoken or written signs
    2. (Linguistics) relating to semiotics
    3.(Medicine) of, relating to, or resembling the symptoms of disease; symptomatic
    [from Greek sēmeiōtikos taking note of signs, from sēmeion a sign]

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003″

    Nothing is mentioned about “protocol”.

    If we’re going to debate, let’s not redefine commonly accepted terms.

     

     

  42. You have to admit it was damn clever of the original Designer to build a semiotic system with built in propensity to error, and the ability to evolve.

    As they said in Ghostbusters, humans would never stack books that way.

  43. This is why the word “arbitrary” is so crucial to UPB. He desperately needs to define a template as a symbol.

  44. Thank you for your clarity, junkdnaforlife.  I asked Upright Biped above:


    Elizabeth on July 17, 2012 at 8:19 amsaid:

    Two more question for you, Upright Biped.  You say:

    a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols.

    b) The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium.

    In your view:

    1. It possible for a process to be semiotic, but not involve the transfer of recorded information?

    2. Is it possible for recorded information to be transferred by a non-semiotic process?

    I realise that the answers to these questions may seem obvious to you, and you may even have answered them previously, but they are not obvious to me, and I am unclear as to what your answer would be.

    Could you clarify? 

     

    So, junkdnaforlife, I take it that your answer to 2) above would be “yes”?  How about 1)?

    Upright, how about you?

     

     

  45. I believe the philosophical portion of the show is probably over. As petrushka has said:

    “But this is a problem for chemists to settle, not philosophers.”

    Chance and necessity is up to bat now.

  46. jdnafl:
    I believe the philosophical portion of the show is probably over.[...] chemists [...]
    Frustratingly, this (lapsed) chemist has chimed in a few times but it appears that chemistry is not regarded as all that important in the great scheme of things.
    To me, this is something of a classic ‘locked-room’ mystery. There is NO WAY (muses the detective) to get a 20-acid system, subdividing the 64-bit matrix of all possible triplets in a consistent manner, from a simpler precursor, because
    1) You can’t make protein without protein
    2) All consistent subdivisions of the triplet matrix introduce a ‘symbolic’ relationship between the acids that take each subdivision and the codon set that that subdivision consists of. And you can’t have a symbolic relationship without someone choosing the representation, intending the meaning or interpreting the result.

    But there’s a ruddy great door!

    1) Is not logically justified. It is not a defining characteristic of protein that protein must be involved in its manufacture. All modern computers are designed using computers – does that mean that computers cannot be made without computers? A strong pointer is the fact that peptidyl transferase in the ribosome is performed by RNA, NOT protein. In fact if a peptide tried to make a peptide, you’d get an unholy mess, since it could not distingsuish itself from its product.
    2) The relationship is not symbolic, any more than a red dot in a printer’s plate is symbolic of the role that the dot plays in the image being transferred. You draw ink across the plate it sticks to the raised surfaces, to be splattered on the paper when the two are pressed together. No symbolism involved. And this is all that happens in translation. You hurl various shades of ‘ink’ (different amino acids) at the tRNA set, and each colour sticks to a different subset. Then you lob the charged tRNAs at a ribosome, and only those with the complementary shape get to dock. Start with a single colour, and just the one complementary shape, and you can produce some very basic daubs. Work your way up, and lo and behold, before you know it you have a palette and a vast array of exquisite painting-by-numbers canvases, with all the shit ones quetly disposed of. NS doesn’t know much about art, but it knows what it likes. But at no point does a codon come to symbolise an acid. Throughout, what sticks sticks, according to the current repertoire of aa-tRNA synthetases and tRNAs.

  47. junkdnaforlife:

    Chance and necessity is up to bat now.

    And:

    A1.Chance and Necessity cannot generate a semiotic system, whereas the necessary and sufficient conditions of a semiotic system consist of arrangements of matter that produce specific functional effects by means of inert intermediary patterns.

    You seem to think that the claim above requires falsification rather than support. I haven’t noticed any support for it in posts from you, UB, or anyone else.

    The most common sources of signalling systems are unintelligent organisms. If you’re describing these systems as “semiotic”, why do you want to particularly associate semiotic systems with intelligence? Our own intelligently designed systems are a tiny percentage of the total.

    So, why shouldn’t chance and necessity generate a semiotic system of your definition? 

  48. It’s not clear to me that “chance and necessity” is a coherent description of anything, let alone a coherent description of how life-on-Earth got started or how life-on-Earth managed to diversify itself into various species. ‘Chance’ isn’t a cause; at absolute best, being as generous as I decently can be in my interpretation, ‘chance’ can be a shorthand reference to a rather large class of possible causes. Similarly, ‘necessity’ is a shorthand reference to a rather large class of possible causes. This being the case, neither ‘chance’ nor ‘necessity’, either by themselves or in concert, are even capable of providing an explanation for anything.
    Creationists (a group which includes ID-pushers) explicitly reject the bare phrase “evolution did it” as an explanation, on the asserted grounds that that bare phrase “evolution did it” is vacuously empty. Why, then, do Creationists think the bare phrase “chance and necessity” is anything but vacuously empty verbiage? At least they’re being consistent; in both cases, the bare phrase in question is nothing which anybody on the side of real science has put forth as an explanation, so in criticizing each bare phrase, Creationists are attacking an undefended patch of uninhabited wilderness and pretending that their ‘success’ in ‘triumphing over’ said ‘target’ is somehow meaningful and significant.

  49. Making a caricature of science and then shooting it down with great fanfare has been the socio/political tactic of creationists from the time in about 1970 that Henry Morris and Duane Gish formed the Institute for Creation “Research.”

    Gish’s debating tactics always included his folders full of overheads of ridiculous creatures – things like cat-dogs, crockaducks, and other spoofs – that he used to ridicule his opponents with.  His audiences loved it.  I think it was Morris and Gish who essentially honed those tactics and taught them in their program at ICR.  They then became part of the arsenal of ID after Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987.

    Now every ID/creationist does it, and their rube followers – such as UB here – apparently believe that this is the way to criticize evolution.  Just make up stuff and simply assert that anyone who knows anything about science is stupid.

    The tactic plays to basically two audiences that have considerable overlap; namely the fundamentalists who are against everything secular and the educational dropouts who harbor intense hatreds for those who actually try to learn.

    I don’t think anyone is going to get UB to clarify anything he has asserted.  When he got nailed on his lack of understanding of the concept of implication as well as on his total lack of understanding of chemistry, physics, and biology, his rants pretty much revealed that he is engaged in a game of revenge taunting.  This isn’t an intellectual discussion for him; it’s a personal vendetta against all smart people.  He wants to run up the page count and keep attention focused on him.  The rest of us have lives.

  50. Your general approach seems backwards. You are asking how chance and necessity (undefined, of course) can result in anything. This is the wrong question. Frustratingly, questions like this are ALWAYS the wrong questions.

    The goal is NOT to understand how something came to be as it is. THAT is known  a priori from the theology. The goal, instead, is to discover, create, or fabricate some remotely plausible rationalization for what is already known. And they can’t use actual evidence, which refutes them both soundly and immediately. So what can they do?

    I think their proposals are often interestingly creative. FIRST, assume goddidit as the default. THEN construct some “alternatives” to goddidit that are basically undefined, not capable of being operationalized, and hence meaningless. Compare life with these meaningless terms, reject them as unreasonable, and POOF using our conclusions as our assumptions once again “proves” our conclusions.

    So we should remember the words of William Benetta: “In all of these efforts, the creationists make abundant use of a simple tactic: They lie. They lie continually, they lie prodigiously, and they lie because they must.” What do you do to support a lie? You lie! The goal here isn’t AT ALL to find a “scientific” justification for lies. The goal is to paint a layer of “scientistical doubletalk” over the lies, just in case the target audience starts to wonder why science hasn’t “discovered” Creationist Truth in all these years. And the answer to that concern is, Yes They Have! See, we proved it with “scientific logic” rigorous enough to satisfy any fence sitter.   

  51. Although I love Monod’s book, I don’t actually think that Chance and Necessity is a terribly useful division.  Maybe hazard has slightly more relevant connotations in French than the English chance.  Even Dembski has abandoned the distinction, I think.

    Chance, after all, is not a cause of anything.  It’s just the word we use when we cannot predict a specific outcome with confidence, even if we can predict the proportions of different outcomes very well statistically.

     

     

     

  52. I know of one I.D. advocate who uses the words “telic” and “non-telic” to distinguish between processes that do or don’t involve intelligent design. Junkdnaforlife might agree that his claim above could be clearly stated as “Non-telic processes cannot generate a semiotic system”. We all know that that’s what he means, and it would save us an unnecessary chance discussion on the meaning of “chance and necessity” in this context.

    At a bit of a tangent, but very relevant, I think that one of the central problems that I.D.ists have is that they tend to equate function with intended purpose. It seems to be a common human mistake. Children do this when they say things like “it rains to make the flowers grow.” 

  53. UB:

    Not my problem.

    Your problem is that your writing is tangled and hopelessly confusing. You state,

    The argument doesn’t claim the entailments cause information transfer; it says they are the necessary material conditions of information transfer.

    So, then, the entailments do not cause the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state. They are the necessary and sufficient material conditions of (for?) the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state, yet they are not the cause of the TRI/a semiotic state.

    (Therefore unanswered is, “what is the cause of “the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state?” The answer cannot be “the entailments,” as you have just stated that the entailments are not the cause the TRI/a semiotic state.)

    You continue:

    The argument…claims that the listed entailments will be found as the necessary consequence of the transfer taking place.

    This is your maladroit way of stating, “because the entailments are the necessary and sufficient material conditions for information transfer/a semiotic state, wherever we observe information transfer/semiosis, we will observe the four entailments.” Maladroit in that your italicized use of “necessary consequence” strongly suggests that the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state is the cause of the entailments (because they are found as a “necessary consequence” of the TRI/a semiotic state). But what you are instead claiming is that they will be necessarily found because they are the necessary and sufficient conditions of the TRI/a semiotic state (yet, as above, are not the cause of the TRI/a semiotic state.)

    (Therefore also unanswered is, “what are the causes of the four entailments?” The answer cannot be “the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state,” as your italicized use of “consequence” is not to be construed as a claim that the entailments arise as a consequence of TRI/a semiotic state. Moreover, events that are necessary and sufficient conditions of a phenomenon cannot arise as a result of that same phenomenon.)

    Essentially, then, it is your argument that the four entailments always co-occur with the TRI/a semiotic state, because they are the necessary and sufficient material conditions of the TRI/a semiotic state. Your further claim is that it follows that “the entailments” are a reliable diagnostic marker of TRI/a semiotic state, because they always co-occur.

    Taking the parenthetical unanswered questions above, we see that questions semiotic theory does not purport to answer are:

    - “What is the cause of events (or states) that may be characterized as ‘the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state?’”

    And,

    - “What are the causes of the four entailments?”

    It follows that, given the claim that “the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state” always and exclusively co-occurs with “the entailments,” semiotic theory is silent on the cause of the entire, co-occuring (but not co-caused) phenomenon of the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state, as marked by the four entailments.

    Semiotic theory is therefore silent on the causes of the phenomenon it purports to explain – the events observed in the transcription of DNA into proteins. Nothing in the claimed relationship between the entailments and the TRI/a semiotic state speaks to causation.

    Because silent on the causes of the phenomenon it labors so mightily to frame, it is perforce also silent on competing causal claims such as “the events observed in the transcription of DNA into proteins arose through (because of) natural unguided processes” (replication and selection, for example).

    Therefore, when I claim that natural, unguided events may also account for phenomena that display “the entailments,” semiotic theory is compelled to remain silent, because it makes no claims regarding the cause of the entailments. Absent such causal claims, nothing in semiotic theory, nor the relationship of “the entailments” to the transfer of recorded information, excludes the natural (unguided, etc.) origin of the entailments (it is silent on causation). And, because in semiotic theory the entailments are the necessary and sufficient conditions for the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state, it follows that nothing in semiotic theory excludes the possibility that the necessary and sufficient conditions of (for?) TRI/a semiotic state may have arisen through natural (unguided, etc.) events.

    UB:

    I make the claim that recorded information is – by necessity – semiotic. I make that claim squarely upon material observation, and I challenge you or anyone else to demonstrate otherwise.

    RB:

    Help me to understand this. What does “semiotic” entail that “the transfer of recorded information” does not?

    UB:

    a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols. b) The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium.

    Which, once again, does not answer the question.

    Absent a response, you cannot claim to discern, even in principle, in what way an instance of “the transfer of recorded information” that is not also a semiotic state would differ from one that is.

    To justify your claim that this is a “material observation,” you need to specify that difference. What would you observe, in these two instances, and how would those observations differ?

    What you repeat in your response are your claims and definitions, not observations.

  54. We go to a great deal of trouble to teach this to children.

    “Population thinking” seems to be a difficult concept, as is feedback and learning. 

    I have no aversion to terms like Darwinism and Chance.  Like any other terms they are hooks on which you can hang concepts. I prefer to use my own metaphors — such as learning — because they carry less baggage.

    f I say learning rather than variation and selection, I invite some thought about the feedback system. If I allow the other side to choose the terms — as we have done with UPB, we allow them to tie us in knots over the definitions.

    It’s more productive to skip the drama of defining terms and either cut directly to the data or spread out a variety of analogies and metaphors trying to build a cloud of meaning. 

  55. For me, Upright Biped’s argument is stillborn because he treats a codon as a symbol.

    Which it is not. 

  56. I think “causation” is a flawed concept. A better way of thinking about processes is to think of causes as correlations between antecedents and consequents. At most levels the correlation is statistical.

    At the quantum level, causation becomes like divide by zero, undefined.  We simply don’t know the antecedents of quantum level events, and we have no reason to think we ever will know.

    When we say chance and necessity, we are affirming the unknown antecedent of variation.  We don’t know what “causes” specific mutations.

    Necessity is another term for selection. It is probably a bad term, because it hides the statistical nature of selection. 

  57. Reciprocating Bill’s analysis makes me wonder if one of the impressions I sometimes get from UB’s turgid writing might have some basis in fact.

    That impression, when I have tried to parse UB’s sentences, is one of someone who starts out by writing an initially coherent sentence but then goes back over the sentence and changes various articles, tenses, and references to subject in order to make the sentence appear to have meaning yet have none whatsoever.  This could in fact be quite funny for a while as he strings people along (a sort of Monty Python shtick), but unfortunately it becomes quite boring as it continues this long. 

    However I tend to suspect that this is not the case because UB doesn’t appear to have any sense of humor whatsoever.  He appears more like one of those earnest pseudo-intellectuals we see in that censorship-protected echo chamber over at UD.

     

  58. In the world of physics and chemistry, the rule seems to be, “If it isn’t forbidden, it will happen with some probability.”

    Given the right range of kinetic energies (temperatures), matter will condense in any way allowable; and that process changes direction as emergent phenomena begin to influence that process.  So perhaps “Necessity with Contingency” would be a little better than “Chance and Necessity.”

  59. BTW, speaking of semiotic systems, and mentioning one that we can all agree fits all definitions, who actually intelligently designed the English language?

  60. for me, Upright Biped’s argument is stillborn because he treats a codon as a symbol.

    Which it is not.

    I have been busy building an amino acid typewriter. It has 64 keys. Depress some of the keys and nothing happens. But most are connected via levers to an endpiece which raises and strikes a piece of paper when the key is pressed. A cunning system raises an appropriate ribbon between block and paper. There are 20 ribbons, each soaked in a different amino acid. 

    To start with, the keys were all blank. There was no symbology in the system, which got a bit confusing. So to help me, I added a code to each key to tell me which ribbon would rise – Phe for the phenylalanine, Val for valine etc. Of course, if I replaced the phenylalanine ribbon with one soaked in whisky, that’s what I got when I pressed the “Phe” keys. 

    I also decided to uniquely identify each key. For reasons of my own, I chose a mnemonic system drawn from triplet combinations of the letters A/T/C and G. This gave a rough symbolic linkage between key ID and ribbon raised – one ribbon is raised by several different key IDs, so there are synonyms.

    So, key TTT/Phe causes a particular ribbon to raise and whatever it is soaked in gets dabbed on the page. Therefore to me, TTT ‘means’ phenylalanine (provided the Phe ribbon is actually soaked in it). But nothing changed when I decided to label the keys. Striking the key I now know as “TTT/Phe” produced exactly the same effect as when every key was blank. My cat, who cannot read, gets the same result. Hmmmm.

    I’m working on an amino acid piano now. All the keys are unlabelled, so I’ll need to …

  61. Reciprocating Bill,

    Your problem is that Your language is tangled and hopelessly confusing.

    Let us get this straight. You took a word (“entailment”) and you immediately ignored the standard dictionary definition of that word (which was given at the time of its use), then proceeded to argue for 110+ days that the word could only legitimately refer to the product of an event/thing, but not to the existence of an event/thing. The purpose behind applying such a limitation was entirely self-serving, having nothing whatsoever to do with the actual definition and use of the word. You steadfastly resisted all attempts to disabuse you of your flawed reasoning – only to be brought to the point of clearly conceding that your argument was indeed invalid. Your concession:  “that would be a valid use…I take your point”.

    And now you want to comment as fair and balanced arbiter of communication? Fine. Be my guest.

    This is your maladroit way…  

    Maldroit? Well, I have never claimed to be a great communicator. However, you just used 537 words, 20 sentences, and two bullet points in order to capture what I said in two short sentences:

    “There is a list of physical entailments of recorded information that can therefore be generalized and compiled without regard to the source of the information.”

    …and

    “Therefore, the search for an answer to the rise of the recorded information in the genome needs to focus on mechanisms that can give rise to a semiotic state, since that is the way we find it.”

    So on the front side, the source of the information is not taken into consideration because it doesn’t alter the material observations in any way (and besides, it’s the thing in question). And on the back side, the conclusion is only that some mechanism is required that can create a semiotic state. I hope you’ll share this astute observation with your cohorts here. It sort of makes it hard to assert that I have “assumed my conclusions”, doesn’t it? Oh wait, it’s still easy to assert the claim (as has been done repeatedly by you and others on this thread), it just makes it difficult to demonstrate it.  

    Absent a response…

    There is no absence of a response. To the contrary, there is a repetition of the valid descriptions of both terms. Your comment is an expedition.

     in what way an instance of “the transfer of recorded information” that is not also a semiotic state would differ from one that is.

    In what way an instance of fire, that is not also the rapid oxidation of fuel, would differ from one that is?

    To justify your claim that this is a “material observation,” you need to specify that difference. What would you observe, in these two instances, and how would those observations differ?

    My claim is that there are no instances of X without Y. Behind this claim is my own search for an X without Y, plus the logical necessities that arise from transferring information through a substance (see Crick, von Neumann, Pattee, etc), plus the reading of primary research from people involved in the issue (Sebeok, Gabius, Hoffmeyer, etc), and finally the growing list of highly-motivated opponents who can’t present an example. On the other hand, your claim is that they exist. I am waiting for you to substantiate your claim. What are you waiting for?

    What you repeat in your response are your claims and definitions, not observations

    Your question asks for a contrast between a descriptive term given to a process, and a phrase that denotes a specific physical event. Both of those are based on the observations of many. Nirenberg et al made the observations regarding the translation of the sequence within the genome, and countless others have studied the process of semiosis throughout the living kingdom. This includes observations of TRI at the level of the organism, and well as at the molecular level. My response to you has been that a semiotic state is a process which employs representations and protocols, and that the transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through a material medium. Despite repeated prompting by me, you have yet to say what (or which) of these two “claims and definitions” you disagree with? I suspect there is a reason for that. 

  62. Toronto,

    The term “protocol” is not found in the definition of “semiotic”.

    In its untold number of different iterations (banking protocols, ambassador protocols, emergency services termination of resuscitation protocols, real estate transactional protocols, data communication protocols, waste detoxification protocols, grid distribution protocols, departmental reporting protocols, case ascertainment protocols, hierarchical routing protocols, and so on, and on and on) the term protocol denotes a rule or set of rules that facilitate the proper function of a system. Since the argument in front of you is based solely on the material basis of a protocol, the term “protocol” denotes the material objects which establish the proper function of a system. If I had to go to the extent of intellectual pettiness as you have over the word “protocol”, I believe I’d just shut up. Really, I would. But if I had already been told (more than once) that I could use any word I wished because it doesn’t matter what we call it anyway, then I’d just really shut up. There would not be another peep out of me on that topic. Really.

    Only you insist that it does.

    Well… me and Francis Crick. :)

    (p.s. And by the way, they all get charged in material isolation from both the input and the output).

    Growth rings are not “encoded” in a visual format that has to be “decoded” by my optic nerves.

    A photon bounces off the tree trunk and hits my eye with no “semiotic” intermediate step at all.

    If you think so, show me the encoder and matching decoder.

    Toronto, I have been abundantly clear that when I say “transfer of recorded information” I am referring to the transfer of a representation to a functional effect. The word “abundantly” in this case, can be extended to mean ‘beyond the requirements of virtually any reasonable English-speaking person’. The reasons for this formulation have been explained to you. The transfer from representation to effect requires both transcription and translation. These are two very different material events. One does not require a protocol, but is necessary to the process. The other does require a protocol, or no information can be transferred. That is why the two are posed together in order to model the transfer of recorded information. They are both required. You equivocate on these terms so that you may split off the first and ignore the second. That is why you refuse to answer questions like the ones I asked in my last response. I’ve told you that a photon needs no protocol in order to bounce off your eye, but that your visual system needs a protocol in order for you to “see it”. You then immediately return to ask again what protocol is needed for a photon to bounce off your eye.

    I think I have now corrected you on this six times. That’s enough for me.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    Madbat,

    So my argument is that the letter “a” is physically arbitrary to the “ahh” sound that people make, and that the system of communication therefore requires a physical protocol in the human brain in order to establish the relationship between the two. You vehemently disagreed. Now you’re telling me that the reason that the letter “a” is not arbitrary to the “ahhh” sound people make, is because there is a protocol in the system establishing the relationship between the two. You’ve disagreed with me by making my point.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - - 

    Keith’s,

    You posted a link to a question Elizabeth asked me last year, and you implied that I had not answered it. Since you posted a link to her question, why didn’t you simply post a link to the answer I gave her last year when she asked it? Also, see Toronto about equivocating on the terms of the argument.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    Allan,

    What is semiotic about THIS system that is not true of – say – two randomly chosen sequential steps of the Krebs cycle? The relationship is physical – the tRNA/mRNA/ribosome complex holds the acid and peptide together to allow them to be soldered using the energy of the bond holding the acid to the tRNA acceptior stem. Where is the ‘inert intermediate’ here?

    aaRS sets the rules of translation, not tRNA. The tRNA is charged by the aaRS prior to entering the ribosome. Physically mapping together two separate chain of events requires an act of double recognition. “A code is defined as a correspondence between two independent worlds, and this definition immediately suggests a useful operative criterion. It means that the existence of a real organic code is based on (and can be inferred from) the existence of organic molecules – called adaptors – that perform two independent recognition processes.”  (Barbieri, 2002).

    Barbieri goes on to suggest that tRNA performs this process. However, tRNAs are only passive carriers of the “link” between the two worlds, and only performs a single act of recognition. It is aaRS that performs the act of double-recognition. aaRS physically establish the protocols which allows the system to function.

    In the modern system, of course, there are 20 different pathways for the first step – 20 aa synthetases act upon a total of approx 50-60 tRNAs. But what differs between the ‘MK I’ version – one aa synthetase acting upon one or a few tRNAs – and the ‘semiotic’ one, with a library of synthetases and multiple tRNAs?

    The supposed MK1 “system” consisting of one amino acid, does not have the information carrying capacity to encode a “system”. The question is a non-starter.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    Elizabeth,

    Your questions are simply an echo of Bill’s. My answers to both questions are made glaringly evident in the answers already given to you over the course of the past year, as well as the answers given to RB on this very thread.

  63. In the previous thread, RB was forced to concede the underpinnings of both of his main arguments. RB and I reached that point without too much overt mud-slinging, at least not beyond what is generally seen in such exchanges. At (and around) the point of his concessions, the condescension and mockery from the gallery became a runaway train. Elizabeth then took action. In perfect form, she very graciously put the entire thrust of the issue squarely on my shoulders, naming no one else whatsoever, and envisioned an extended conversation where people could communicate without the hyperbole. She stated:

    I think what I might do is to start a new thread, in which the rules of this site are more strictly enforcedUpright BiPed, please read the forum rules here.  They are not onerous, and I have no wish to censor ideas.  I do want to ensure that emotional baggage and assumptions about other posters’ motivations are rigorously excluded.  Let’s conduct this in an academically rigorous way … Violating posts will be moved

    Mike Elzinga’s contribution to the conversation prior to Elizabeth taking action:

    your effort seem like a naive and pretentious attempt to replace well-understood phenomena with something woo-woo … I find both UBP and WJM excruciatingly boring; and I suspect that the reason is that there is a remarkable similarity to other crackpots … one begins to wonder if there is any thought process there at all.  I would suggest not … they hone their marketing shtick for their presentations to the gullible … There is another frequent correlation one sees among crackpotists; they often quote scripture from the Christian bible … has an instinctive hatred and distrust of science and any other perceived “competing authority” … don’t even appear to understand the question … a familiar characteristic of pseudo-science … you have no idea what you are talking about or what it is that you are attempting … Your obvious distain for age, experience, knowledge, and the female gender … YOU – I repeat – YOU were the one … you don’t have the slightest clue … You have no idea … you really have no clue … You have made no “material observations” … You have never taken a chemistry or physics class … comes from the socio/political culture of ID/creationism … The words don’t matter … bury his reification of ID/creationist misconceptions … an increasingly complex labyrinth of obfuscation and condescension … simply gussies it all up … an air-tight bundle of circular reasoning … Another would be ID “theorist” bites the dust … it too dissolves into nothingness … such lengthy, turgid prose … a quagmire of words … Crackpots never let go voluntarily; they will ride you to death”.

    …and Elzinga’s contributions after Elizabeth’s action:

    His language has another purpose, namely, to establish a sectarian version of the universe …this is what UB is trying to do … As is evident in all of UB’s communication, he has never freed himself from projection …  his own inner demons onto others … The Semiotic Theory of Intelligent Scattering … It is curious that ID/creationists don’t jump on things … Making a caricature of science and then shooting it down with great fanfare has been the socio/political tactic of creationists … every ID/creationist does it, and their rube followers – such as UB here … Just make up stuff and simply assert that anyone who knows anything about science is stupid … the fundamentalists who are against everything secular and the educational dropouts who harbor intense hatreds for those who actually try to learn … his rants pretty much revealed that he is engaged in a game of revenge … impressions I sometimes get from UB’s turgid writing … UB doesn’t appear to have any sense of humor whatsoever …This isn’t an intellectual discussion for him … it’s a personal vendetta against all smart people.

    And the enlightened contributions of others, like petrushka, pendant, flint, and others…

    The argument from ignorance is no way to go through life … UPB, and most ID advocates have not studied the history of science, or have learned nothing from it …UPB is arguing that because the templating process involved in translation is so complicated, it isn’t templating … Creationists (a group which includes ID-pushers) explicitly reject … The magic threshold … Why, then, do Creationists thinkI think it touches on their “designer” … UPB’s argument relies on the following premises: If you haven’t observed it, it doesn’t exist … Perhaps we should all adopt a worldview that doesn’t require this pathetic level of detail … Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory … The goal is NOT to understand how something came to be … FIRST, assume goddidit as the default … and POOF using our conclusions as our assumptions once again “proves” our conclusions …  In all of these efforts, the creationists make abundant use of a simple tactic: They lie. They lie continually, they lie prodigiously, and they lie because they must …  What do you do to support a lie? You lie!

    So what is Elizabeth’s response to this “academically rigorous” critique which “ensures that emotional baggage and assumptions about other posters’ motivations are rigorously excluded?”

    Well, again in perfect form, she joins in and chats right along. That is all fine. No problem, it’s hardly important, and certainly nothing else was expected from her. I simply wanted to point out the hypocrisy.

  64. By the way Mike, I don’t think your question is a “trick” question. I think it’s a leading question, entirely disconnected from the conversation. At no time do I suggest that codes take over from chemistry and physics”. I said the exact opposite.

    Later TSZ…

  65. Can you make it any clearer that you are keeping score on all the assessments of your game-playing?  You carefully listed all the names of the people who have arrived at the same conclusions about your responses. And you lovingly savored, nursed, and replayed all the “hurt” they heaped upon you.  You have it all copied down and stored in files on your computer.  How can so many people be so mean and so wrong? You apparently think you are the most persecuted person in the universe; and you now have “proof.”  What a momentous accomplishment for you!

    But nobody here is interested in any of that.

    Are you going to answer any of the questions you were asked; or are you just going to continue pouting about how badly you are being treated?

  66. Upright BiPed,

    “…the term protocol denotes a rule or set of rules that facilitate the proper function of a system. Since the argument in front of you is based solely on the material basis of a protocol, the term “protocol” denotes the material objects which establish the proper function of a system. If I had to go to the extent of intellectual pettiness as you have over the word “protocol”, I believe I’d just shut up.”

    That is not what the term “protocol” means.

    If I told you over and over, that the term “length” means how much something “weighs”, you could be just as annoyed at me as I am at you.

    The term “protocol” refers to a “set of pre-defined functions” that must be invoked both at the receiving and transmitting ends depending on the state of the communications link.

    In order to be knighted, I must first get down on one knee and bow.

    The monarch will then take a sword and tap me on both shoulders followed by the phrase, “I dub thee Sir Toronto”.

    There are actions, (functions), followed in order by other pre-defined actions, (functions).

    The term “protocol” does not denote any material objects at all.

    You are trying to redefine a term.

    What you are defining is a “process”.

    A “process” does not require intelligence while a “protocol” does.

    Upright BiPed: “I’ve told you that a photon needs no protocol in order to bounce off your eye, but that your visual system needs a protocol in order for you to “see it”.”

    No it doesn’t.

    My “visual system” requires only an excitation of the rods in my eyes by photons in order to “see it”, not a “protocol”.

    The problem is that you require the term “protocol” to be redefined in order for you to claim an intelligence is involved for your “Semiotic Theory Of ID”.

    You are applying the term “protocol” to what is actually accepted as a “process”.

    Show me what I can do to “NAK” a “semiotic message” to my eyes.

    The reason I can’t NAK the message, is because there is no “protocol” involved.

    You don’t have to shut up, just answer the question with a relevant response.

    For instance, what is the “intermediate code” for the colour “blue”?

    Where does the encoder/decoder exist, in the brain or the eye?

     

     

     

     

  67. Once again Elzinga, you seem unable to connect the dots. I am not the slightest bit “hurt” by you, and it certainly wasn’t my idea to try and manage what was going on here. 

    I have been debating RB, and have left you to stand in your stool. You might want to read up on Roseman’s Appraisal Theory of emotional response.

  68. Upright BiPed,

    “Toronto, I have been abundantly clear that when I say “transfer of recorded information” I am referring to the transfer of a representation to a functional effect.”

    That makes “information” arbitrary which is not something I think you want.

    If I show a picture, of Justin Bieber to a pre-teen girl, the “effect” is one of adulation, but if I show that same picture to her father, the “effect” is a sick feeling in the stomach.

    Has the “information” changed?

    No, the pixels are identical and the effect on the eyes is identical.

    The photons striking the eye result in the exact same transfer of the “bits” in the picture for both father and daughter.

    The bits get built up in the brain of the father and daughter in the same way, building an image of the human being known as Justin Bieber with no “protocol” and no “semiotic” codes involved.

    The “effect” may be completely different, but the “information that was transferred”, was identical.

    Again, you are trying to redefine terms.

    Why?

    Why can’t you put together an argument with commonly accepted terms?

     

     

     

     

  69. UB asserts: By the way Mike, I don’t think your question is a “trick” question. I think it’s a leading question, entirely disconnected from the conversation.

    All that means is that you don’t understand the question. You forgot that you took umbrage at the notion that stars are semiotic systems; so you did in fact rule out a system in which physics applies. Yet you claim that protein synthesis is a semiotic system. Why protein synthesis and not nucleosynthesis?

    You were the one who set the wide brackets on what you claim are semiotic systems and what are not. But you have refused to clarify where you draw the line and why.

    At no time do I suggest that codes “take over from chemistry and physics”. I said the exact opposite.

    So you claim now; but then you apparently agree that two electrons scattering off each other can be described as a semiotic theory of intelligent scattering. Perhaps you missed that point.

    Thus the question still remains; where do you draw the line and why?

  70. Upright,

    You posted a link to a question Elizabeth asked me last year, and you implied that I had not answered it.

    No, I quoted an example Elizabeth presented last year and asked you a question about it. Why won’t you answer my question?

    To repeat:

    Second, what about the example Elizabeth gave you in October of last year?

    When we lived in Canada we had a deck with a table that had an umbrella hole in the middle. One day it snowed heavily, and soon there was an inch of snow on the table, with a hole in the middle. Half an hour later, there was a foot of snow, with a depression in the middle. Someone came in and said – “what’s that dimple in the middle of the snow?” and then said – “hey, it’s the umbrella hole”. In other words, the table – an object with pattern – was being replicated with each layer of snow, with sufficient fidelity that an observer could extract from the layer of snow the information that the table had an umbrella hole. By evening there was about 4 feet of snow on the table, but there was still a dimple in the middle, indicating that the information that beneath the snow was a table with an umbrella hole had been faithfully recorded and transferred from snow-layer to snow-layer all afternoon.

    Elizabeth’s example perfectly fits your definition: “The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium.” You claim:

    The argument being made here is that the ‘transfer of form by material means’ requires ‘the use of physical representations and physical protocols’. That is the argument.

    Tell us, Upright, what is the protocol in Elizabeth’s example?

  71. UB:

    You just used 537 words, 20 sentences, and two bullet points in order to capture what I said in two short sentences…

    Unfortunately, your two short sentences don’t summarize the thrust of my post.

    That was:

    - Semiotic theory as you describe it is silent on the causation of the entailments.

    And,

    - Semiotic theory as you describe it is silent on the causation of the transfer of recorded information (itself not caused by the entailments – even though the entailments are the necessary and sufficient conditions for the TRI.)

    Therefore,

    - Semiotic theory is silent on the origins/cause of the entire complex (“the entailments,” “the transfer of recorded information,” and “a semiotic state.”)

    Further,

    - Semiotic theory must be silent on competing theories of the causation of the relevant theories, as it is silent on causation generally. 

    UB: 

    In what way an instance of fire, that is not also the rapid oxidation of fuel, would differ from one that is?

    My point exactly. It would be nonsensical to maintain that the distinction between “the rapid oxidation of fuel” and “fire” is an empirical one when “the oxidation of fuel” is the definition of fire.

    Yet you claim exactly the reverse vis the relationship of “the transfer of recorded information” and “a semiotic state.”

    “I make the claim that recorded information is – by necessity – semiotic. I make that claim squarely upon material observation.”

    So, either this claim is not really founded squarely upon “material observation” and is instead a system of definitions, only (if it is empirical, then what distinction is observed?), or the relationship between the elements of semiotic theory are not analogous to the relationship of fire to the elements of the fire tetrahedron, after all.

    the conclusion is only that some mechanism is required that can create a semiotic state.

    Upright Biped, please tell us what class of mechanisms you, or semiotic theory, assert is required to create (result in, cause) the entailments/the TRI/a semiotic state. 

    Also, please tell us what class of mechanisms you, or semiotic theory, claim cannot create the entailments/the TRI/a semiotic state?

    Why? And why not?

  72. Upright Biped,

    Since there are several of us who admit to finding your writing style difficult to understand, please address the questions raised by keiths in the previous thread:

    keiths on May 21, 2012 at 2:28 am said:

    Upright, Your summary is still very murky, so let me attempt to distill it to its essence:

    A1. A system involving representation(s) and protocol(s) is a semiotic system.
    A2. Protein synthesis involves a representation and a protocol.
    A3. Therefore, protein synthesis is a semiotic system.

    B1. All semiotic systems are designed.
    B2. Protein synthesis is a semiotic system (by A3).
    B3. Therefore, the protein synthesis system is designed.

    Having stated it clearly, I can see why you might prefer to keep your argument murky. The problem is with premise B1. Without premise B1, the argument collapses. How do you know that premise B1 is true? What evidence is there that all semiotic systems — that is, all systems involving representations and protocols — are designed?

    If you believe my summary is accurate, then tell us. If you believe that my summary is inaccurate, then modify it while maintaining its clarity and explicitness.

    If you could either confirm that keiths has summarized your argument correctly or modify his summary to be correct while maintaining the clarity and concision he demonstrates, we might be able to make some progress in this discussion.

  73. Above, 

    “- Semiotic theory must be silent on competing theories of the causation of the relevant theories, as it is silent on causation generally” 

    Should read:

    “- Semiotic theory must be silent on competing theories of the causation of phenomena UB classifies as semiotic, such as the transcription of DNA into protein, as it is silent on causation generally.”  

  74. Upright BiPed,

    “Toronto, I have been abundantly clear that when I say “transfer of recorded information” I am referring to the transfer of a representation to a functional effect.”

    And again you attempt to define terms so they fit into your theory.

    If I lend you a book, I have successfully “transferred information” to you.

    The fact that you don’t read it is not relevant.

    Again, X can be transferred and X can be used, and they are separate issues.

    If what you claim were true, then the “transfer of information” would result in the same “effect” on receiver A as it would to receiver B.

    This is not the case.

     

     

  75. UBP: aaRS sets the rules of translation, not tRNA. The tRNA is charged by the aaRS prior to entering the ribosome. Physically mapping together two separate chain of events requires an act of double recognition.

    An aaRS needs to recognise its substrates. This is just like any enzyme. Substrate recognition does not create a code between the parts recognised. Charged tRNA is the substrate in the ribosome – a downstream reaction, just like any pathway. The charging of tRNAs is not coupled to the insertion of tRNAs in the ribosome, other than by the one forming a substrate for the other. The recipient will insert any tRNA charged with any acid, provided it has the right codon.

    The ribosome will do the same job in a system with only one aaRS as it does in one with 20. If a tRNA exists matching the current mRNA codon, stick it in; if it does not, stop synthesis. Changing the upstream source does not require a change downstream.

    Duplicating aaRSs and modifying their specificity creates a second source of charged tRNA, without any coupled change at the ribosome. The aaRS, incidentally, does not recognise the codon, but the DHL loop, which serves as a (physical) proxy for the codon grouping in the modern, tuned system. Multiple tRNAs can have the same DHL loop.  

    Allan: In the modern system, of course, there are 20 different pathways for the first step – 20 aa synthetases act upon a total of approx 50-60 tRNAs. But what differs between the ‘MK I’ version – one aa synthetase acting upon one or a few tRNAs – and the ‘semiotic’ one, with a library of synthetases and multiple tRNAs?

    UBP: The supposed MK1 “system” consisting of one amino acid, does not have the information carrying capacity to encode a “system”. The question is a non-starter.

    You are hung up on the notion that the only worthwhile protein is a catalytic one, and the only conceivable system a protein-based one. If you have a single aaRS (rather, a functional equivalent to the modern protein) that can recognise an amino acid and glue it to one or more tRNAs, you have a tRNA-charging “system”. If you duplicate an aaRS, you have a possibility of modification at both amino acid recognition sites and tRNA recogition sites. These do not have to happen simultaneously, but could readily generate a two-entry “system” from that which you seem to suggest is not a “system”. It is clearly not yet a system for generating catalytic proteins, but it is a system that can allow subdivision of the matrix of all possible triplets in a manner that you think is a code. Once you have a ribosome, a tRNA and something performing aaRS function, you have a system for making polypeptides that is capable of progressive subdivision by duplication of aaRS.

    I am not clear why you think the second “system” (two acids) cannot evolve from the first (one), regardless of anyone’s definition of what a ‘code’ is.

  76. Upright BiPed on July 20, 2012 at 10:40 pmsaid:

    Your questions are simply an echo of Bill’s. My answers to both questions are made glaringly evident in the answers already given to you over the course of the past year, as well as the answers given to RB on this very thread.

    Your answers to my questions are not “glaringly evident” to me, otherwise I would not have repeated them.  

    Here is my post again:

    Elizabeth on July 17, 2012 at 8:19 am said: 

    Two more question for you, Upright Biped.  You say:

    a) Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols.

    b) The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form through the use of a material medium.

    In your view:

    1. It possible for a process to be semiotic, but not involve the transfer of recorded information?

    2. Is it possible for recorded information to be transferred by a non-semiotic process?

    I realise that the answers to these questions may seem obvious to you, and you may even have answered them previously, but they are not obvious to me, and I am unclear as to what your answer would be.

    Could you clarify? 

    Given the clear nature of my request to you, it is difficult not to conclude that your refusal to clarify, despite my candid admission that despite the fact I understand that you may have answered them previously, I am still unclear as to your answer, is a deliberate evasion.

    You have also failed to answer this question, despite my having asked it now several times:

    Elizabeth on July 17, 2012 at 8:08 am said:

    Elizabeth on July 12, 2012 at 10:48 am said:

    Upright, what do you make of junkdnaforlife’s argument?

    Does it differ from your own?

    Upright Biped, could you answer this question, please?

    You have frequently, in the past, accused me of running away from our discussion.  Please do not run away from these questions, however tedious it may be for you to rearticulate what you think you have already made clear.  If it were clear to me, I would not be asking for clarification.

    Thank you.

     

     

  77. I would like to celebrate the divergence of the thread into something worth discussing. I have thought from the first time I saw a discussion of the semiotic argument that it boiled down to an assertion that chemical evolution is not capable of creating a genetic code.

    400 posts later we have arrived at what should have been the beginning. 

  78. Show of hands now, how many here have grown tired of the “I already answsered that, I won’t repeat my answer, and I won’t link to the answer I already gave” schtick?

  79. I got tired of it back on UD when my first question to UPB was whether his argument is about the origin of life, and he declined to answer.

    An occasional failure to answer a particular post is understandable considering the volume of posts, but this appears to be a strategy.

    If this comment breaks the rules, feel free to move it. 

  80. Agreed; I find it excruciatingly boring.  This character is just collecting self-pity points to hang on his maudlin monument to himself.

    Petrushka is right; the “discussion” is back to where it started.  There is no “theory of ID,” semiotic or otherwise. Everyone already figured out UB’s game right at the beginning; and UB knows it.

  81. *raises hand tiredly*

    If only there were a way to get Upright Biped to answer the questions we’ve asked.  Some strategy, similar to holding something in a rhetorical vise….

    Does anyone have a Vise Strategy they’re not using?
     

  82. Sometimes I feel generous, and I’m willing to consider that they think a *response* to a question is the same thing as an answer. And if the response is (as is common) to quote the question directly, and then produce a long-winded rumination on something irrelevant, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to repeat all that. They seem convinced that if they quote the question before ignoring it, that MAKES the subject-change an “answer”.

    However, I also notice that over time the question gets honed down to something easy to understand and straightforward, making evasions so obvious that “I already answered but I won’t tell you how or where” is the easiest evason left. 

  83. It could be that he is playing some kind of psychological game and that the subject of a “semiotic theory of ID” is some kind of setup to bait people into a blizzard of “bogosity” in order to watch how they respond. Since this is the internet, who knows?  Who cares?

    I don’t mind good discussions on abstract topics if the people involved are making an effort to clarify in response to questions; but UB’s obnoxious behavior is too over-the-top to be taken seriously.  He is not going to clarify anything; and his shtick has become too hackneyed and boring.

  84. I haven’t been following too closely but I just wonder if “Upright Biped”‘s “argument” were at all persuasive, it might have been taken up by, I dunno, somebody like the Discovery Institute. If even the propagandists nec plus ultra for the creationist movement ignore it, why not let UB have the last word?

  85. Of course, participation (as with all such debates) is entirely voluntary. No-one has the rhetorical skills to change UBP’s mind, but we debate out of interest in the topic.

    The shark was jumped with a comment way back containing the phrase “let me give you a clue”. A clue? If you have a serious desire to persuade an audience, you work with them to clarify, consider criticisms and counter-arguments. Creationists who do that are very rare indeed, and most play the “told you once” Pythonesque card (hi, WJM!), or adopt a jarring tone of intellectual superiority (Hi nullasullus, kairosfocus, axel et al!). I too had a life on UD, and it became very frustrating. 

    “Mr Darwin, I am a little unclear on the matter of … “. “Told you once. It’s in the book. You need to learn to read for comprehension. I said it on 15th October and again on 8 separate occasions since …”. 

    Nonetheless, kudos to him for pursuing an argument, in whatever style he chooses, in an open forum.

  86. It seems that a number of commentators have been thinking along these lines: O.K. UB, never mind whether or not we decide to use the phrase “semiotic systems” for the systems under discussion, what has this got to do with intelligent design? What actually is “the semiotic theory of I.D.?”

    The way it usually works is something like this:

    Whenever we know the explanation of semiotic systems (or codes, CSI etc), that explanation is intelligent design. Therefore, if we encounter a semiotic system of unknown origin, it is reasonable to infer that intelligent design is the best explanation.

    So, what’s wrong with that as an inductive scientific hypothesis/theory?

    The main thing is that, if we are observing two things that are actually the same, the induction is usually very reasonable. But does it work with two different things when we draw analogies between the two based based on observed similarities, then use a word or phrase (like “semiotic systems”) to include both? Let’s try.

    Nuclear power stations and the sun can both be described as nuclear power sources, and function as such.

    Both houses and caves have floors, roofs, walls and entrances, and can be described as homes and can function as such for ourselves and other creatures.

    Both rivers and canals can be described as waterways, and both can function as transport routes.

    I could go on and on about wings, hills, electrical systems and many other things that can be intelligently designed, but certainly aren’t necessarily so.

    All houses are intelligently designed doesn’t mean that all homes are, all canals being intelligently designed doesn’t mean that all waterways are, and all written languages being (at least partially) intelligently designed doesn’t mean that all semiotic systems are.

    So, the discussion of whether or not it is useful or appropriate to use the phrase “semiotic systems” on the molecular level is very interesting, but it isn’t actually important in relation to I.D. It doesn’t lead to an inductive theory of the I.D. of any signalling systems that don’t have known designers, and the describing of things as semiotic wouldn’t be necessary if an “irreducibly complex” argument is UB’s intent.

    If the kind of induction that I’ve described isn’t what U.B. intends, then he’ll have to excuse me for guessing, because surely he could easily clarify for us what he thinks the relationship of “semiotic systems” to an I.D. theory actually is.

  87. …the describing of things as semiotic wouldn’t be necessary if an “irreducibly complex” argument is UB’s intent.

    Except that he isn’t arguing directly for the irreducible complexity of the protein synthesis system. Look at these two quotes:

    Semiotic is the accepted descriptive term for a process that uses representations and protocols.

    And:

    …is it even conceivably possible to functionally transfer information without the irreducibly complex system of these two arrangements of matter (representations and protocols) in operation?

    He’s arguing instead that 1) all semiotic systems are irreducibly complex (and therefore designed), 2) that the protein synthesis system is a semiotic system, and 3) that the protein synthesis system is therefore designed.
    Expanding my earlier synopsis:

    X1. All irreducibly complex systems are designed.
    X2. All semiotic systems are irreducibly complex.
    X3. Therefore, all semiotic systems are designed.

    Y1. A system involving representation(s) and protocol(s) is a semiotic system.
    Y2. Protein synthesis involves a representation and a protocol.
    Y3. Therefore, protein synthesis is a semiotic system.

    Z1. All semiotic systems are designed (by X3).
    Z2. Protein synthesis is a semiotic system (by Y3).
    Z3. Therefore, the protein synthesis system is designed.

    Because it hinges on the discredited premise X1, Upright’s argument is in big trouble. Evidently he understands this — hence his obstinate refusal to clarify things.

  88. He has mentioned chemistry, which opens the door to an interesting discussion. I doubt if he wants to go up against anyone who actually knows the stuff and isn’t just repeating talking points.

    I’d like to see him in a cage match with Szostak. 

    I have appreciated the comments dealing with OOL and would like to see a thread on the topic. If anyone is able and willing to provide a dumbed down overview and some links. 

  89. I agree that X1 is discredited. But I can’t imagine how I would build a case for X2. Languages are semiotic (they are the poster child), but pidgins are used in many places, which omit nearly ALL “working parts” of the language and still work.

    Y2 is dubious, since it rests on UBP’s notion of “arbitrary”, which is quite opposite of the normal meaning.

    Y1 seems to rest on UBP’s rather, uh, broad concept of semiosis. That is, Y1 is only true if it is DEFINED as true.

    So, all in all, UBP’s strategic obfuscation becomes more understandable. He is obliged to NEBULATE, to speak in fuzzy generalities using poorly defined words, nonstandard meanings, careful ambiguities etc. and to assiduously avoid answering anything that smacks of a direct and important question.     

  90. UB’s making things difficult for himself, then. The reasoning behind that comment of mine that you quoted was that it would be far easier to attempt to defend the irreducibility of protein synthesis than it is to attempt the same defense for all “semiotic systems”. Life’s full of signalling systems that fit UB’s definition of semiotic and are easier to explain in evolutionary terms.

    I can think of one lab experiment that showed the arrival of a new signal - “protocol” arrangement in a group of organisms with no I.D. required.

    Anyway, let’s see if UB agrees with your clarification of his argument. I can understand why some commentators are speculating as to why he doesn’t set it out in such straightforward terms himself. It’s easily done. 

  91. UBP: So my argument is that the letter “a” is physically arbitrary to the “ahh” sound that people make, and that the system of communication therefore requires a physical protocol in the human brain in order to establish the relationship between the two.

    No. Your argument is that the letter “a” is arbitrary to the “ahh” sound within the representational system. You have repeated this version of your argument many, many times. You have said that the relationship between the representation and the thing to be represented is arbitrary. And that is clearly false, and clearly not equivalent to: the reason that the letter “a” is not arbitrary to the “ahhh” sound people make, is because there is a protocol in the system establishing the relationship between the two.

    But, if that is now your argument, I obviously don’t disagree at all. So, what is your point in all this?

  92. In the original ‘semiotic ID’ thread, our hostess Doc Lizzie quoted Upright BiPed:

    In this material universe, is it even conceivably possible to record transferable information without utilizing an arrangement of matter in order to represent that information? (by what other means could it be done?)
    If 1 is true, then is it even conceivably possible to transfer that information without a second arrangement of matter (a protocol) to establish the relationship between representation and what it represents? (how could such a relationship be established in any other way?)
    If 1 and 2 are true, then is it even conceivably possible to functionally transfer information without the irreducibly complex system of these two arrangements of matter (representations and protocols) in operation?

    The good Doctor posted the first comment in that thread, and her answer to the functionally-transfer-info-w/o-IC-system-of-reps-&-protocols question was  this:

    I don’t see why such an arrangement should be “irreducibly complex”. it could be quite simple. For instance, lake varves record information about the passing years, and can become sedimentary rock. A crack in that rock could later receive an igneous intrusion.
    Later still, that igneous intrusion becomes exposed and detached. A geologist finds it, and notes that reveals a moulding of the layering of the sediment that represents the passing years in the lake.
    It’s not symbolic, but there information has been recorded (in the varves), transferred to the igneous rock, and thence to the geologist.

    UPB responded to this as follows:

    I have maintained throughout my conversations with you that the “state of an object is no more than the state of an object. If it is to become information, it requires something to bring it into being”. When your geologist observes the varves, he is doing just that. There is no information in the rock itself.

    Now, it seemed to me that given the context of the discussion, UPB’s state-of-an-object response incorporated the unspoken assumption that matter which does contain ‘information’ is distinguishable from matter which only contains ‘state’, not ‘information’. Which is all fine and dandy — but how, exactly, does one distinguish matter-with-’information’ from matter-with-’state’? What objective, empirically observable characteristics does ‘information’-containing matter possess, which are different from the objective, empirically-observable characteristics of matter which contains ‘state’ but not ‘information’? Accordingly, I posted this response to UPB’s ‘state’-not-’information’ verbiage:

    So varves don’t contain ‘information’. A varve is nothing more than a collection of brute matter which has a ‘state’. There is no ‘information’ in/around/about the varve until a sentient mind (that of a human geologist, in UPB’s example) observes the varve; before that act of observation occurs, the varve contains no ‘information’, merely ‘state’.
    Fine.
    In that case, there’s no ‘information’ in the molecules of a living cell. Those molecules are nothing more than a collection of brute matter which has a ‘state’. It may well be possible for ‘information’ in/around/about the molecules of the living cell to be created when a sentient mind (a biologist of some stripe, perhaps?) observes those molecules; before that act of observation occurs, those molecules contain no ‘information’, merely ‘state’.
    Since the overwhelming majority of physical processes (reproduction, etc) that occur in living cells are not, in fact, observed by sentient minds, it follows that the overwhelming majority of physical processes that occur in living cells cannot involve any ‘information’ whatsoever.

    UPB being a Creationist (of the ID flavor), I had no particular expectation that he’d address my comment in any way, shape, or form. But he did. He could have provided an overall explanation of how, in the general case, one goes about distinguishing matter-with-’state’ from matter-with-’information’; but he didn’t do that. Alternately, UPB could have addressed the specific case at and, and explained what it is that a varve has or lacks, by comparison with a living cell, which makes it inappropriate to apply the ‘state’-not-’information’ rationalization to a living cell; but again, he didn’t do that. Here’s what UPB did instead of clarifying his position:

    Thorton, Neil Rickert, and Cubist,

    All rainstorms make the ground wet. Therefore demonstrating that the ground is wet confirms the existence of a rainstorm.

    - – – – -

    The ID proponents are, in effect, saying: “Wow! That looks like magic.

    - – – – -

    So varves don’t contain ‘information’.

    You must not be the “Thorton” or the “Neil Rickert” or the “Cubist” I have occasionally seen elsewhere on the web arguing from your position. As I recall it, those persons could at least form a coherent response, even if it was wrong. It is more than apparent from your responses here that neither of you fundamentally understand the argument enough to be making a response to it – much less being condescending.

    How about it this time, UPB? You want to explain why your ‘state’-not-’information’ schtick applies to the matter of which varves are composed, but not to the matter of which living cells are composed? Or, if you’ve made that explanation elsewhere, how about providing a link to that explanation so you don’t have to re-type it all here?

  93. When a creationist “answers” by accusing his questioner of being condescending, incoherent, and stupid you KNOW he’s been asked a good, clear, incisive question. It’s a dead giveaway.

  94. sez flint: “When a creationist “answers” by accusing his questioner of being condescending, incoherent, and stupid you KNOW he’s been asked a good, clear, incisive question. It’s a dead giveaway.”
    Quibble: I didn’t actually ask a question. That said, your observation is spot-on regardless, because it encapsulates the Creationist response to pretty much anything, question or no, which is a “good, clear, incisive” response to Creationist doofusry.

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