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.

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