Semiotic theory of ID

Upright BiPed has been proposing what he has called a “semiotic” theory of Intelligent Design, for a while, which I have found confusing, to say the least.  However, he is honing his case, and asks Nick Matzke

…these three pertinent questions regarding the existence of information within a material universe:

  1. 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?)
  2. 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?)
  3. 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?

… which I think clarify things a little.

I think I can answer them, but would anyone else like to have a go? (I’m out all day today).

1,027 thoughts on “Semiotic theory of ID

  1. UB:

    The flaw in Thorton’s counter-example, as stunning as it was, is that there are many ways in which the ground could become wet, none of which has anything to do with rain. I find it amazing that neither of you grasped this before typing.

    What you identify as the “flaw” in this example is the point of it, one that, apparently, escaped you. Of course there are ways in which the ground can become wet other than rainstorms. It is because there are other ways that the ground can become wet that observing this absolutely reliable entailment of rainstorms nevertheless fails to establish that a rainstorm has occurred. Elements of your reasoning are analogous to this defective inference.

    To wit:

    You’ve tied your argument to an example that has nothing to do with reality, or our written and compiled knowledge of reality. We know thousands of ways that the ground could become wet; we can make them up as we go, over and over again. We would never run out of ideas of how the ground could become wet. Yet you don’t know a single way to record and transfer information that doesn’t entail the physical roles and dynamic relationships as given in the argument you wish to refute.

    You seem unable to refrain from thinking backward about this, again suggesting that the above point eluded you. The issue is not whether there is “a single way to record information that doesn’t entail the physical roles and dynamic relationships as given in the argument you wish to refute.” (I’ll grant arguendo “no.”) That is precisely analogous to asking whether there is even a single way a rainstorm can fail to entail wet ground. (We agree: “no”). However, vis wet ground, the real question at play is whether there are other ways the ground may become wet. (Again, we agree “yes, many.”) Given that, an inference from wet ground to rainstorm can be mistaken. In biology, the question at play is whether there have existed processes other than semiotic processes that may also originate systems displaying your “material entailments.” Here, we say “yes,” you say “no.” You obviously disbelieve it (so what?), but the bottom line is that your “listed material entailments” of recorded information, and hence of a semiotic state, fail to exclude that possibility, however fervently you wish that they did, any more than the fact that all rainstorms wet the ground rules out the possibility of other sources of damp earth.

    In short, the issue in contention (the origin of systems such the functioning genome) remains in play, your semiotic argument notwithstanding.

    I appreciate how you’ve sought to put yourself in the enviable position of not needing any evidence to support your position. You’ll no doubt begin to wax institutionally about empiricism next.

    My “position” in this discussion is that your reasoning over the evidence displays fatal logical flaws. The particulars of the evidence have no bearing on a demonstration of your flawed reasoning over that evidence.

    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.

    As I have been saying, this is a claim, only. Adding “of necessity” doesn’t strengthen the claim in the absence of a demonstration of that necessity. You above argue that “recorded information” has certain “material entailments.” Citing references to your “listed material entailments of recorded information” as justification for this leap to a “semiotic state” serves only to circle back to “recorded information,” without justifying the leap. In short, this is another non-sequitur.

    Unless “of necessity” really means, “by definition.” Which prompts me to ask, what is your definition of “semiotic?” And specifically, what does your definition of “semiotic” entail that “recorded information” (and it’s listed entailments) does not? If nothing, then why invoke it? If additional entailments do follow from “semiotic,” then by all means describe them.

    (Oh, and how does one “wax institutionally,” Mr. Harding?)

  2. The current thinking is that the protein system was preceded by an RNA world.

    Nope. That has been superseded by the ribonulceo-protein world. Also you don’t just get to say RNA world, badda-bing, badda-boom, tgranscription and translation.

  3. This sort of reasoning also struck me as peculiar. A always causes B, therefore B is always caused by A, and therefore if we find B, we can conclude A. One need not be a genius to notice a problem here, BUT I think one DOES need to step back and ponder a bit. And after doing so, we can reformulate as follows:

    A is the cause of all possible B, because doctrine requires this.
    B is observed to have many possible causes. of which A is only one.
    This observation is unacceptable, because the whole point is to find A whether it exists or not, and rule out anything else.
    Therefore A is the cause of all possible B, because doctrine requires this.

    And thus reformulated, we notice something very familiar: doctrine trumps observation, conviction trumps evidence, faith trumps reality, emotion trumps intellect. This recurring pattern lies at the heart of every one of these threads.

  4. Nice.

    And your last point is crucial: To demonstrate that a system is not “IC” you don’t have to delineate the actual pathway, merely a plausible pathway. To demonstrate that a mountain is climable you don’t have to identify the route by which it was actually climbed, just that such a route exists.

    This gets back to the assymmetry between evolutionary theory and ID: evolutionary theory mere claims that X is plausible and reasonable, and therefore inferring an ID is not justified, although not of course ruled out.

    ID claims that X is not plausible nor reasonable therefore we can reject X and infer an ID.

  5. Elizabeth:
    Nice.

    And your last point is crucial:To demonstrate that a system is not “IC” you don’t have to delineate the actual pathway, merely a plausible pathway.To demonstrate that a mountain is climable you don’t have to identify the route by which it was actually climbed, just that such a route exists.

    This gets back to the assymmetry between evolutionary theory and ID: evolutionary theory mere claims that X is plausible and reasonable, and therefore inferring an ID is not justified, although not of course ruled out.

    ID claims that X is not plausible nor reasonable therefore we can rejectX and infer an ID.

    How do you know something is even plausible? If it is only “plausible” in one’s imagination, does that count? If yes, why?

  6. Is Upright BiPed simply making the fallacy of the excluded middle?

    All B is caused by A
    C is like B
    Therefore C is caused by A.

  7. Well if C is very B-like and there isn’t any evidence that anything else can produce it, then the only reasonable inference is that A caused C also

  8. Joe G: How do you know something is even plausible? If it is only “plausible” in one’s imagination, does that count? If yes, why?

    Good question. A plausible hypothesis would one that uses well-understood mechanisms, and/or invokes established observations, and ideally generates a prediction: if X is the way the way it was done, then we should see Y. Or even: if X can do Y, then we can do X and see if it produces Y.

  9. Joe G:
    Well if C is very B-like and there isn’t any evidence that anything else can produce it, then the only reasonable inference is that A caused C also

    Well you’ve added the very proviso that is the question at issue! Namely “can anything else produce C?”

    Evolutionary theory says yes, as long as the thing is a self-replicator.

  10. Evidence- no one cares what any “theory” says. People care about the evidence. And to date there isn’t any evidence for a self-replicator and no evidence tat a self-replicator can become a living organism.

  11. ID theory seems to be cast in the form:

    A produces C
    We observe C
    Therefore A produced C

    I think there’s a logical problem with this.

    I also think there’s a problem if A represents humans and C represents life. Nothing has ever been observed to produce life from scratch, so there’s no evidence that intelligence can produce life.

  12. Joe G:
    Evidence- no one cares what any “theory” says. People care about the evidence. And to date there isn’t any evidence for a self-replicator and no evidence tat a self-replicator can become a living organism.

    Joe, living organisms are self-replicators.

  13. petrushka:
    ID theory seems to be cast in the form:

    A produces C
    We observe C
    Therefore A produced C

    I think there’s a logical problem with this.

    I also think there’s a problem if A represents humans and C represents life. Nothing has ever been observed to produce life from scratch, so there’s no evidence that intelligence can produce life.

    Yes, I like this point. My personal hunch is that if we ever succeed in making truly intelligent robots it will be because we have let them evolve.

  14. This is the form pertaining to Intelligent Design from Darwinism, Design and Public Education page 92:

    1. High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

    2. Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

    3. Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    4. Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

  15. Elizabeth: Is Upright BiPed simply making the fallacy of the excluded middle?All B is caused by AC is like BTherefore C is caused by A.

    Rather: therefore C is caused by a D which is like A.

    It goes like this. Make a definition of waterways. Point out that both rivers and canals fit the definition. Then claim that the only known way for waterways to come into existence is when humans intelligently design and construct them. Then we can infer that rivers were intelligently designed.

    That might even have seemed reasonable to some people in early canal building cultures, but if the gaps in our knowledge of river formation are closed, then there’s no longer any need for the Intelligent Designer of the waterways.

    But there’s an added problem with making the argument for life itself. While the rivers could be attributed to our distant ancestors, or similar intelligent animals, the first life would require dead designers, which is why I say: not A, but a D which is like A.

    We make many things that are analogous to other things that we observe in the world, but it does not follow that those things are designed. When a flower sends a sign to a specific species of insect, we can say that there is a transfer of information which involves a protocol. But the system isn’t irreducibly complex.

  16. Translated:

    1. Complex things are the product of a designing agent
    2. Living things are complex things,
    3. ???????
    4. Therefore Living things are the product of a designing agent.

    I’m sure ID proponents recognize the fallacy, so they sneak in statement 3, which is equivalent to saying that all complex things are the product of a designing agent.

    But when that is made explicit, it is assuming the conclusion. Basically you are simply asserting your conclusion. The whole ID argument boils down to denying the efficacy of evolution. That’s it. that’s all there is.

    You have never seen an example of a designing agent making life from scratch. You have never observed a designing agent other than humans, and you have not observed humans creating life from scratch.

    So basically you are asserting that your invisible friend is the designer of life.

  17. You mean mistranslated. So much for your “good faith”.

    1. Complex things are the product of a designing agent

    1- The design inference requires more than mere complexity. Mere complexity can arise without a designer.

    2. Living things are complex things,

    2- Living organsisms are more than just merely complex

    3. ???????

    3- Materialism doesn’t have any explanation for living organsims

    4. Therefore Living things are the product of a designing agent.

    Due to our knowledge of cause and effect relationships that is the inference. And we hold that inference can be falsified if necessity and chance are ever demonstrated capable of producing a living organism from non-living matter.

    It is called extrapolation. If we actually observed the designer in action then we wouldn’t need science as design would be a given.

  18. Allan: The current thinking is that the protein system was preceded by an RNA world.

    Joe: Nope. That has been superseded by the ribonulceo-protein world.

    Nope. There is still some debate on this matter but either way, it does not change one iota of what I wrote. IDists have seized upon this RNP notion as though it confirms the assumed fact that out of the OoL came a ribosomal protein factory, just like modern life – the work of one set of ‘Darwinists’ is accepted without murmur, because it supposedly invalidates the assumptions of another set. Selective, much?

    The key point for the genetic code (and hence the “Semiotic” argument) is that protein synthesis via the code is mediated by a ribosomal mechanism. That is not the only conceivable mechanism of protein synthesis, but it is the only one involving rRNA passing along a strand of mRNA and attaching amino acid subunits passed by tRNA charged by aaRSs – the mechanism that, in the modern version, has the quality of a representational code, because there is (NOW) a tRNA for every non-STOP codon, and a variety of acids in the set of aaRSs (which are all protein).

    The catalytic step in the ribosome is condensation, one of the commonest ‘joining’ methods in biological catalysis, removing an -OH residue from one molecule and an -H from the other to allow two carbons to be joined directly, expelling a molecule of water (yes, one molecule of water! Who’d have thought it?). Condensation is catalysed by the RNA, not the associated protein, and therefore proves RNA capable of one of the most widespread catalytic mechanisms of all. It may indeed be the case that a ribosome is not capable of operating without some kind of stabilising polypeptide – but there are no grounds for insisting that the only way to make a stabilising polypeptide is via a ribosome.

    In the hypothetical pre-ribosomal world, if protein existed, it was condensed, and specified, by some non-ribosomal method. Whether that was ‘semiotic’ or not (or even real) is another matter. But the point, again, is to demonstrate a possible natural means by which the supposedly “semiotic” genetic code may have arisen. And unless you can come up with a sensible objection to the biochemical argument, it stands, as reason to doubt that the genetic code is IC.

    “Sensible” would need a bit more effort than:

    Also you don’t just get to say RNA world, badda-bing, badda-boom, tgranscription and translation.

    What, because that would be too much like “Designer, badda-bing, badda-boom, transcription and translation”, and you have copyrighted that methodology?

  19. Due to our knowledge of cause and effect relationships that is the inference. And we hold that inference can be falsified if necessity and chance are ever demonstrated capable of producing a living organism from non-living matter.

    It is called extrapolation. If we actually observed the designer in action then we wouldn’t need science as design would be a given.

    Of course we do see evolution, so in the absence of any evidence of some other process, evolution is the default for the process by which life changes and diversifies.

    We know less about the origin of life, but we know some things about chemistry.

    Which is a lot more than we know about sky fairies.

    It is simply stupid beyond imagination to assert a non-existent thing to be a cause.

  20. Joe, you said above

    “1- The design inference requires more than mere complexity. Mere complexity can arise without a designer.”

    How do you know which thing exhibiting complexity is designed, and which not?

    And if a non-designed complex thing is found to have a biological function, where does that leave ID?

    Two more questions for you to avoid, Joe!

  21. It is simply stupid beyond imagination to assert a non-existent thing to be a cause.

    Well, maybe not stupid, but certainly deluded. The non-existent thing is asserted to exist, and THEN asserted to perform magic. Consider Kurt Wise, who is clearly intelligent, knowledgeable, willing to concede that his beliefs are incompatible with all observation, and STILL unable to let go of them. This is a matter of neural organization in the brain, not a matter of stupidity.

  22. A person who is not stupid can nevertheless have stupid ideas.

    Ascribing causation to nonexistent entities is a stupid idea.

    There have been times in science when invisible forces have been deduced from regular phenomena. Gravity, electromagnetic radiation, ionizing radiation, dark matter and energy.
    What separates these causative agents from intelligent designers is not their existence vs nonexistence, but their specific properties that are bot regular and testable.

    What Joe and other ID advocates posit is a capricious, historical agent having no attributes.

  23. ID is not anti-evolution. And evolution depends on the origin of life.

    Also you assert a non-existent thing to be a cause.

  24. How do you know which thing exhibiting complexity is designed, and which not?

    It’s call INVESTIGATION. Do you think forensic scientists, archaeologists and SETI researchers flip a coin?

    And if a non-designed complex thing is found to have a biological function, where does that leave ID?

    As Dr Behe said all those years ago- that’s right in writing- it all depends on how complex.

    Finding a three-part configuration produced by natural selection or drift would not mean no design inference for a 3 parts, or fewer, configuration.

    As for avoiding questions- strange that you always avoid mine and never produce any positive evidence for your position…

  25. 1- We have direct onservational evidence of designers transcribing and translating

    2- I cannot make a sensible objection to a nonsensical scenario

  26. 1. Complex things are the product of a designing agent
    2. Living things are complex things,
    3. ???????
    4. Therefore Living things are the product of a designing agent.

    The problem ID proponents have is that #3 infers a mechanism, about which ID theory is supposedly agnostic. What is worse, is that an Intelligent being may have indeed designed the universe to evolve just as Science has described. In which case, the mechanism — “Darwinian Evolution” — would necessarily be evidence of Intelligent Design. So it’s on faulty theological grounds that the ID enterprise has been constructed.

    “You have to ask yourself a question. How can God guide an undirected process? It’s not so much a theological problem, it’s just a basic logical problem. So I think you can be a theistic evolutionist but not a theistic Darwinist and be logically consistent.”
    – Stephen Meyer

    Accordingly, any undirected process – like gravity or entropy – can not be guided by God. Apparently this realization and its implications have yet to occur to ID proponents like Stephen Meyer. I can’t wait to see how Intelligent Design will upend Quantum theory, or, redefine God such that Quantum events are beyond his knowledge and power.

  27. I really don’t have any problem with Deism, fine tuning and the like. I think they are vacuous, but not obviously wrong. If it comforts people to think that a deity is looking after them, so be it.

    The argument that some invisible agency steers mutations toward some end seems to be objectively wrong. Actual experiments seem to rule out any advantage to having a bias in the generator of variation, and none has been detected. Again, it is not obviously wrong, but it contributes nothing.

  28. Actual experiments seem to rule out universal common descent and just about everything evolutionism claims.

  29. Joe G:
    Actual experiments seem to rule out universal common descent and just about everything evolutionism claims.

    Citation?

  30. The argument that some invisible agency steers mutations toward some end seems to be objectively wrong.

    That well may be the theology of some, but that’s not the Catholic theology per se. Of all the possible histories that could exist, God chose the one where in evolution led to the human form, and so on (a.k.a. God’s Plan, Divine Providence, etc.) Such is the power of omnipotence. Thomas Aquinas addressed this is detail, but this is a sufficient summation:


    The Summa Theologica, part I

    14. Of God’s Knowledge
    (9) Whether God has knowledge of things that are not?

    Objection 3: Further, the knowledge of God is the cause of what is known by Him. But it is not the cause of things that are not, because a thing that is not, has no cause. Therefore God has no knowledge of things that are not.

    Reply to Objection 3: The knowledge of God, joined to His will is the cause of things. Hence it is not necessary that what ever God knows, is, or was, or will be; but only is this necessary as regards what He wills to be, or permits to be. Further, it is in the knowledge of God not that they be, but that they be possible.

    (13) Whether the knowledge of God is of future contingent things?

    I answer that, Since as was shown above (Article [9]), God knows all things; not only things actual but also things possible to Him and creature; and since some of these are future contingent to us, it follows that God knows future contingent things.

    In evidence of this, we must consider that a contingent thing can be considered in two ways; first, in itself, in so far as it is now in act: and in this sense it is not considered as future, but as present; neither is it considered as contingent (as having reference) to one of two terms, but as determined to one; and on account of this it can be infallibly the object of certain knowledge, for instance to the sense of sight, as when I see that Socrates is sitting down. In another way a contingent thing can be considered as it is in its cause; and in this way it is considered as future, and as a contingent thing not yet determined to one; forasmuch as a contingent cause has relation to opposite things: and in this sense a contingent thing is not subject to any certain knowledge. Hence, whoever knows a contingent effect in its cause only, has merely a conjectural knowledge of it. Now God knows all contingent things not only as they are in their causes, but also as each one of them is actually in itself. And although contingent things become actual successively, nevertheless God knows contingent things not successively, as they are in their own being, as we do but simultaneously. The reason is because His knowledge is measured by eternity, as is also His being; and eternity being simultaneously whole comprises all time, as said above (Question [10], Article [2]). Hence all things that are in time are present to God from eternity, not only because He has the types of things present within Him, as some say; but because His glance is carried from eternity over all things as they are in their presentiality. Hence it is manifest that contingent things are infallibly known by God, inasmuch as they are subject to the divine sight in their presentiality; yet they are future contingent things in relation to their own causes.

  31. Joe:

    1. We have direct onservational evidence of designers transcribing and translating

    What has that to do with the price of fish? We don’t have observational evidence of designers transcribing and translating through the medium of mRNA and ribosomes, nor of designing such chemical manifestations of assumed symbology ab initio. Whatever stenographers, programmers and Babelfish can do is utterly irrelevant.

    2- I cannot make a sensible objection to a nonsensical scenario

    It may seem nonsensical to someone who knows next to nothing about biochemistry.

    What is funny about this is the way you (via Uncles Casey or Cornelius) point to RNP as the supposed death knell of the RNA World, and with it any possibility that the Genetic Code had a precursor. You can only think of one way to make protein, so that must be the way it has to be made. Better yet, the methodology used to infer a deeper connection in time between the protein and RNA contents of the ribosome is that of common descent and the molecular clock. They did sequence comparisons and inferred relationships and divergence times between the various elements. That is, those methods that elsewhere the Gruesome Twosome will fight tooth and nail to discredit were a central method in this piece of research. Yet they hold it up as worthy science in their desperate attempt to keep the OoL and Genetic Code as contemporary events, despite being based on a methodology that they don’t consider valid. That’s why you shouldn’t go to lawyers for your biochemistry tuition.

    The RNP research is perfectly respectable, though not conclusive – the possibility that what we call “RNA world” had protein in it an entirely likely one. But it does not force us to a conclusion that those proteins were made by a ribosome. Any catalytic RNA with a condensation capacity would do, without a requirement for a linear input specification in the modern manner (ie the Genetic Code).

  32. Allan,

    All you have are promissory notes. You can’t even get the RNA world started. Lincoln and Joyce had that “self-sustained replication of RNAs” that required two strands to make it work- one for teh template and one that catalyzed one bond. That means they seeded the mixture with RNA sequences that only require one bond to make a longer sequence.

    One bond.

    Also it has nothing to do with what anyone can “think of”. As I said imagination is not evidence. And just because your position REQUIRES there be some much more simple genetic code, that odes not mean there was one.

  33. Joe G,

    Joe G: Actual experiments seem to rule out universal common descent and just about everything evolutionism claims.

    Fascinating. Which “actual experiments” do you refer to, which “seem to rule out universal common descent”?

  34. You can’t even get the RNA world started

    I can’t get any world started. I’m not that powerful. We are talking of the genetic code, and hypotheses by which it may have arisen from precursors which did not possess it. Where those precursors came from is irrelevant to the ‘semiotic’ issue. Peel the onion one layer at a time.

    And just because your position REQUIRES there be some much more simple genetic code, that odes not mean there was one.

    My position REQUIRES absolutely nothing. I am interested in what actually is true. If Designer, fabulous. If not Designer, just as fabulous. I really have no preference. But a position that appears to REQUIRE the genetic code to be complex and IC seems curiously dogged in its determination not to consider alternative hypotheses. Ideally, you consider them before your critics do. It is a vital part of doing science – thinking that you may be wrong, and considering – seriously considering – alternative explanations for the patterns your pet theory is designed to explain.

    And, perhaps just occasionally, you may consider why, almost universally, people who are up to speed on the science don’t stick a Designer behind every currently unopened door, while those who do are almost exclusively drawn from the ranks of the non-expert. If it’s Designers all the way down, why even bother trying to push the door open? Why do science at all?

  35. There isn’t any evidence for any precursors. That is a figment of your imagination.

    My position REQUIRES absolutely nothing.

    Not even supporting evidence.

    And what makes you think IDists have not considered alternative sources for the GC? We realize that imagination is not evidence.

    And, perhaps just occasionally, you may consider why, almost universally, people who are up to speed on the science cannot support their position.

    If it’s Designers all the way down, why even bother trying to push the door open? Why do science at all?

    1- No one said it’s designers all the way down

    2- we do science so that we can understand the design

    the same question can be asked of you- if it is sheer dumb luck all the way down, then why do science at all seeing taht sheer dumb luck can’t be tested….

  36. Joe

    There isn’t any evidence for any precursors. That is a figment of your imagination.

    Fuck off, Joe.

  37. Joe is the reason bars have to have bouncers. There is always one asshole.

    But of all the bars in all the towns in all the world … ! Still, I’ve always fancied a trip to Guano. I wonder if I’ll meet anyone interesting there … ?

  38. Allan Miller: But of all the bars in all the towns in all the world … ! Still, I’ve always fancied a trip to Guano. I wonder if I’ll meet anyone interesting there … ?

    I am actually amazed at the repeated attempts of some participants here to have a meaningful discussion with Joe. His comments, since they invariably start out in the sewer (on the intellectual as well as social level), will do nothing but derail the thread into the sewer if enough participants engage with them. Many threads on this blog are testimony to that. My default strategy has therefore been to simply ignore the indiscriminate flinging of feces from his direction, and attempt to stay on topic of the thread / engage with folks that are interested in a meaningful discussion.
    Not that rolling in Guano can’t be fun from time to time (and I expect to also meet you guys there with this comment), but I think it would be more productive to the rest of the blog to engage Joe only on the level of his choice – in Guano.

  39. madbat089: “I am actually amazed at the repeated attempts of some participants here to have a meaningful discussion with Joe. ”

    For me and maybe some others here, the conversation isn’t really with Joe as much as it is with the “audience” that’s listening.

    We just have to keep documenting the fact that they have no real point that they make.

    Every time we’re cool, calm and collected when talking to the “Joe’s”, “UPB’s” and “WJM’s” of the world, they lose, since the best weapon they can muster is never built on any sort of foundation.

  40. Toronto: Every time we’re cool, calm and collected when talking to the “Joe’s”, “UPB’s” and “WJM’s” of the world, they lose, since the best weapon they can muster is never built on any sort of foundation.

    That is very true, of course, and a valid reason to engage. However, the answers to the “Joes” of this world are not always cool, calm and collected. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t blame e.g. Allan for asking Joe to “fuck off” after the flood of intellectual guano and verbal abuse he received from Joe – we are all humans with limited tolerance levels. But that’s when the threads inevitably get dragged down into the collective sewer, because after prolonged exchanges with Joe most people understandably lose their patience and fling the feces back (the more kudos to those who don’t lose their patience).
    Just an observation, really. I’m not making the rules on this blog, and I don’t really want to, either. I would just personally enjoy regular threads to remain above the guano level, and that’s why I choose to not interact with Joe’s comments, because I know I’d likely also lose my patience after a while. This way I am not in danger of contributing to the distribution of guano…
    :)

  41. Toronto,

    It is obvious to all reading that you guys do not have a point to make.

    We are still waiting for testable hypotheses for your position. Why is that?

  42. The reason you don’t interact is because you don’t have anything to support your position. That is the reason Allan lost patience, he kept getting called on his imagination.

  43. Joe G,

    Joe G: “We are still waiting for testable hypotheses for your position. Why is that?”

    Because, unlike you, we actually have a position that can be tested.

  44. that’s why I choose to not interact with Joe’s comments, because I know I’d likely also lose my patience after a while.

    Problem is, we assume we’re talking to a sentient human being, not to an ELIZA-type program. We assume that the sentient human is WILLING to think, to listen, to read what was written, to respond reasonably substantatively. And when we see NONE of these things, we get frustrated. We keep thinking, like tax protesters in court, that if we have been saying it wrong, that if we can only find the right words and construct the context necessary for those words to be meaningful, we can penetrate. And after a while, rather than discard these obviously incorrect assumptions, we get angry at Joe, which is like getting angry at the weather for violating our predictions!

    We all need, sometimes, to sit back for a few moments and reflect on WHY these people have so completely married such an idiotic notion as ID, and what that means in terms of mental orientation. When imaginary gods can satisfy emotional needs for which reality is useless, what good is evidence and logic? It’s a LOT like telling an alcoholic to “just stop drinking”. How obvious!

  45. Joe G,

    Joe G: “That is news to the entire world. Why are you keeping it a secret?”

    If it ever gets out that we have the answers you don’t, you guys will have nothing to do!

  46. Joe. those who have devoted their lives to this are under the impression that the evidence they have is enormous, it fills libraries, it fills doctoral degrees, it fills colleges, it fills the requirements of everyone who actually understands what they’re talking about.

    So why don’t you use a library? Use the internet. Google “evidence for evolution” and start reading. YOUR absolute ignorance of everything doesn’t necessary apply to anyone else. YOU can be cured. Try. Please, just try.

  47. Yes Flint, I know the propaganda. Strange that you can’t post any of it. Strange that you can’t even tell us how to test any of the claims.

    Come on- one testable hypothesis that necessity and chance can construct some multi-protein structure…

  48. Joe G,

    Joe G: “If pigs could fly…”

    There’s a test for your designer.

    Make a pig that can operate from a short runway.

    Do that and I’ll join your side.

  49. Joe G:
    Yes Flint, I know the propaganda. Strange that you can’t post any of it. Strange that you can’t even tell us how to test any of the claims.

    Come on- one testable hypothesis that necessity and chance can construct some multi-protein structure…

    Joe, you might try reading. If you don’t know what that is, you can look it up. If it upsets you, take a painkiller. If that doesn’t work, consult a professional. Strange that you have never done ANY homework. Unless you have all the answers already, in which case why are you here biting the ankles of your superiors? Sheer stupidity is the simplest and most complete explanation.

  50. Joe G,

    Joe G: “We don’t want you on our side. Thanks anyway…”

    Are you speaking on behalf of Behe?

  51. To all,

    Prior to these off-topic excursions, it seems the bulk of objections had loosely congealed around Reciprocating Bill’s argument of ‘not having warrant’ in my rationale; ie is there warrant to connect one thing to another. This is not entirely surprising. The material observations are entirely valid, so attacking the logic becomes the only game in town.

    …but Bill kills his own argument. His position is captured in the first paragraph:

    What you identify as the “flaw” in this example is the point of it, one that, apparently, escaped you. Of course there are ways in which the ground can become wet other than rainstorms. It is because there are other ways that the ground can become wet that observing this absolutely reliable entailment of rainstorms nevertheless fails to establish that a rainstorm has occurred. Elements of your reasoning are analogous to this defective inference.

    His first sentence indicates a belief that any challenges to his objection must stem from a misunderstanding of it. As deep as his objection may be, we shall see if this assumption is warranted. Perhaps ‘the point’ has escaped him instead.

    In his second sentence he acknowledges the obvious flaw in his counter-argument, but apparently only offers it up in the obligatory sense that it’s obvious. But he will soon forget how obvious it is, and he will do so by simply repeating it in his next sentence.

    The third sentence is where the magic occurs. After admitting that there are many ways in which the ground could become wet (while not indicating a rainstorm), his third sentence positions the wetted ground as an “absolutely reliable entailment of rainstorms”. The contradiction is glaring, but it’s the glare itself being sold here. This is what he wishes to imply exist in the semiotic argument – a glaring contradiction – regardless of whether the analogy has any merit whatsoever. From his standpoint, there should be no need to even wonder if the analogy between mud puddles and semiosis is valid, it must be for the simple reason that it’s so obvious there are many ways to get the ground wet.

    To pull off this program, one need only to ignore what has been said. By doing so, Bill’s position can be repeated time and time again, each repetition as if it was new. Here is what Bill ignored on the way to repeating his objection:

    The flaw in Thorton’s counter-example, as stunning as it was, is that there are many ways in which the ground could become wet, none of which has anything to do with rain. I find it amazing that neither of you grasped this before typing. This is elementary stuff. On the other hand, if every single time we found the ground wet, throughout all existence, and in no circumstance did we ever find a single instance of wetted ground that did not occur as the result of rain, and we even understood why that it must be this way – then we would have a completely legitimate inference to suspect it had rained if we found the ground wet.

    You’ve tied your argument to an example that has nothing to do with reality, or our written and compiled knowledge of reality. We know thousands of ways that the ground could become wet; we can make them up as we go, over and over again. We would never run out of ideas of how the ground could become wet. Yet you don’t know a single way to record and transfer information that doesn’t entail the physical roles and dynamic relationships as given in the argument you wish to refute. This fact alone demonstrates the distinction between our two positions.

    The reason I posed the questions listed in the OP of this thread was to establish the logical abutment that it is not possible to record and transfer information without using matter as both a medium to carry that information in a representational form, and as the physical pathway for instantiating that representation back into an effect. I then asked the manifest question “How could it be any other way?”

    It can’t – and I challenge anyone to demonstrate otherwise. But the question Bill raises is about having warrant to tie these things together in an argument regarding the genome. Firstly, the formulation tying the transfer of recorded information to its observed material consequences is as valid as it could possibly be. It’s valid, even for those who may have never recognized those material consequences.

    In the semiotic argument, the material consequences of recorded information transfer have been coherently described from a material perspective. These are the very observations that have remained unrefuted. If the material consequences listed in the argument are indeed required by the transfer of recorded information, then the argument turns to the genome, where the objector is virtually forced to conclude that genetic information isn’t really information at all, but is only somehow analogous to “real” information (based upon some rationale). Otherwise, if the genome represents genuine information transfer; then the physical entailments of that transfer will be faithfully demonstrated there. And indeed, that is exactly what is found.

    If the objector does not argue that genetic information is “only analogous”, then he/she is left to argue that ‘genetic information’ may indeed be information, but the physical entailments observed there are suddenly not valid as an indicator (again, based upon some rationale).

    The end result of this situation is that there are legitimate points where an objector can challenge the semiotic argument. These are the points illustrated in the previous paragraphs; a) show that the material observations are invalid, or b) provide valid rational that genetic information transfer is “only analogous” to genuine information transfer, despite the faithful demonstration of the material entailments as seen in all other forms of information transfer.

    One can either claim the observations are invalid, or one can provide material observations and rationale that demonstrates they’re invalid. Bill’s position is the former, as is everyone else’s thus far. Of course, I do not mean for my comments to be exhaustive; people can argue anything they want. But I think to truly impact the argument will require traveling down at least one of these two roads.

    In his response, Bill suggested that I have missed the point. Bill’s point is that there are many ways to get the ground wet. On the other hand, my point is that Bill doesn’t know of any way to ‘get the ground wet’ that doesn’t also entail the physical roles and dynamic relationships as given in the argument he’s attacking. His point ultimately has to do with the sheer validity of his argument as it relates to a flawed analogy about rainstorms; mine has to do with the material evidence surrounding the transfer of recorded information. Which of these two positions is most relevant to empirical discourse?

    - – - – - – - – - – - –

    As for the remainder of the participants who basically expressed Bill’s argument in their own way, the first example is Dr Liddle, who takes up Thorton’s brand of logic:

    Let’s say that 50% of the time the ground is wet, we know it was sprinklers.
    And the other 50% of the time the ground is wet, we don’t know what it was.

    Are we entitled to conclude that 100% of the time it was sprinklers?

    Flint follows with this:

    A always causes B, therefore B is always caused by A, and therefore if we find B, we can conclude A.

    Dr Liddle then comes back with:

    All B is caused by A
    C is like B
    Therefore C is caused by A.

    Petrushka then chimes in with:

    A produces C
    We observe C
    Therefore A produced C

    And Dr Who offers his version:

    Rather: therefore C is caused by a D which is like A.

    A more useful expression is this:

    All B is entails A.
    X demonstrates B

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    “A” is the requirement to use matter as the medium of recorded information transfer, as defined by its material entailments.

    “B” is the transfer of recorded information.

    “X” is the ordering of amino acids during protein synthesis.

    You can defeat it with this:

    A is false
    Not all B entails A
    X does not demonstrate B
    Demonstrating B does not entail A

  52. Madbat,

    Nice illustration of genetically, developmentally and/or environmentally induced behavioral variation. Not sure what your point is, though.

    Your argument is that the letter “a” (an arrangement of matter which represents an effect within a system, one having the protocol required to establish the relationship between the representation and its effect) is not arbitrary to physical law. I could easily ask which of the physical regularities we call laws, individually or in combination (Einstein’s Relativity, Maxwell’s Electromagnetic Field, or the Weak and Strong nuclear forces) is responsible for the letter “a” representing the “ahh” sound that humans make, and of course, I would want to know how you know this to be true. But, let us be appropriately modest, it would be an endless line of inflated assumptions on your part in order to answer such a question. So what’s the point? One thing I would like to ask you is this: you’ve pointed to a physical organization (in this case a human brain in a human body) as the responsible organization which caused the representation “a” to exist as it does. Are you saying that ‘because of the existence of physical regularities’ (laws), you deny the existence of any arbitrary representation whatsoever? Or, are you saying that arbitrary representations can and do exist, it’s just that they require a suitable organization capable of creating them?

  53. Upright BiPed:

    All B is entails A.
    X demonstrates B

    - – – – – – – – – – -

    “A” is the requirement to use matter as the medium of recorded information transfer, as defined by its material entailments.

    “B” is the transfer of recorded information.

    “X” is the ordering of amino acids during protein synthesis.

    You can defeat it with this:

    A is false
    Not all B entails A
    X does not demonstrate B
    Demonstrating B does not entail A

    Your X does not demonstrate B.

    Implicit in your premise is the unsupported assertion that the information in the genome has been purposely recorded using molecules as semiotic abstract symbols. This has never been demonstrated and indeed is what you’re trying to prove.

    Since your premise is flawed, your whole argument is invalid.

    1. “All intelligently designed (semiotic) communications systems require physical means to pass information.
    2. DNA –> protein requires physical means to pass information.
    3. Therefore DNA –> protein is an intelligently designed semiotic communication system”

    is just as bad as

    1. “All fish use fins for propulsion
    2. Whales use fins for propulsion
    3. Therefore whales are fish”

    How many people have pointed out your beginner’s logic flaw to you? 10? 20? And you still don’t get it.

  54. Flint,

    I have read it. Your position can’t even muster a testable hypothesis.

    IOW just because you are extremely gullible that does not mean your position has any supporting evidence.

  55. Joe G: I have read it.

    Read does not necessarily mean understood. Another round of Nested Hierarchies, Joe? :)

  56. UBP,

    I’m not sure which philosophical basket you would stick it in, but you have somewhat scooted past the biochemical argument I attempted to present.

    Any particular interaction between one molecule and another takes place because it is thermodynamically favourable to do so. The ‘information’ is that there is a slope, a gradient of chemical potential down which the reaction will proceed, releasing energy, and against which the interaction will not proceed unless you put energy in. An enzyme is simply a chemical catalyst that changes the shape of the potential gradient to render it more likely that the reaction will proceed down it – perhaps by orienting the molecules in a manner that maximises the likelihood of interaction.

    It is very closely analogous to a system in which a ball sits in a pocket near a slope. If a process lowers the edge of the pocket, the ball will fall downslope. The only ‘information’ here is gravity.

    Now, a ribosome is simply an RNA enzyme. All it does is progress along a piece of mRNA and link amino acids, by using the mRNA to create a stable ‘docked’ arrangement. The mRNA holds the tRNA in place, by complementary base pairing (another ‘energy gradient’ process), which allows the amino acid to be condensed onto the growing peptide chain. The condensation of the amino acids is a chemical reaction, energised (unusually) by GTP not ATP. Give a ribosome a set of amino-acid-charged tRNA molecules, and any that can base-pair with the particular bases in the mRNA chain will cause alignment of the amino acid with the end of the growing chain, and attachment. If a codon in the mRNA does not have a matching tRNA, elongation will stop.

    Now, I don’t see anything fundamentally ‘semiotic’ about that system. If mRNA is poly-U, and the only tRNA in the world has a codon AAA, then you will synthesise polyphenylalanine, until you hit a triplet in the mRNA that is not UUU. The interactions are all mechanistic – UUU mRNA has a thermodynamically favourable interaction with AAA-bearing tRNA codons, which enhances the ability of the condensation process to condense.

    In that system, you have two basic ‘meanings’ – UUU ‘represents’ phenylalanine, everything else ‘represents’ STOP. You can call it semiotic, but it is not a representational relationship. UUU physically stabilises tRNA binding, and if the only tRNA has phenylalanine on the end of it, that is what gets stuck on the end of the growing peptide chain. Replace phenylalanine by any other acid, and that is what you get stuck on the end instead. But again, UUU/AAA interaction does not become ‘representational’ of that acid, any more than GGG would be ‘representational’ of STOP. UUU/AAA base pairing is simply what happens when UUU/AAA get close to each other. STOP is simply what happens when the ribosome hits a physically unfulfillable gap in the tRNA set, because there is nothing to dock with that codon.

    So your ‘semiotic’ argument seems to depend on a multi-acid tRNA set, rather than the fundamental process of ribosomal protein elongation. And so, what grounds do you have for insisting that ribosome-mediated peptide synthesis MUST be viewed as a multi-acid system, at the OoL or at any subsequent point (prior to LUCA)?

  57. Allan Miller: So your ‘semiotic’ argument seems to depend on a multi-acid tRNA set, rather than the fundamental process of ribosomal protein elongation. And so, what grounds do you have for insisting that ribosome-mediated peptide synthesis MUST be viewed as a multi-acid system, at the OoL or at any subsequent point (prior to LUCA)?

    Exactly. Beautifully put.

    Or alternatively: “what grounds do you have for insisting that the multi-acid system we observe is unevolvable?”

  58. Well all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that a ribosome can evolve via accumulations of genetic accidents.

    Unfortunately that ain’t going to happen. So what do you have?

  59. UB:

    After admitting that there are many ways in which the ground could become wet (while not indicating a rainstorm), his third sentence positions the wetted ground as an “absolutely reliable entailment of rainstorms. The contradiction is glaring, but it’s the glare itself being sold here.”

    Biped, your response, and your belief that this is a contradiction, confirms beyond any doubt my original suspicion that you neither understand the word “entailment,” nor understand the the entailment relationship described in the simple illustrations we have provided. For that reason, you repeatedly travel the wrong way down a one-way street.

    Wetted ground is an absolutely reliable entailment of (consequence of) rainstorms, in that wet ground always results from rainstorms. By modus tollens, if I hypothesize that it rained 15 minutes ago, I may test my hypothesis because rain 100% reliably entails wet ground. If I fail to find this entailment of rain, my hypothesis fails. If I do find wet ground my hypothesis is not disconfirmed, and indeed it is strengthened because a prediction that flowed from it has been confirmed. But it could still be wrong.

    See entailment works? It does not follow from the fact that wet ground is a 100% reliable entailment of rain that upon finding wet ground we can be 100% certain that it rained. Entailment is a one-way street; wet ground is an entailment of (necessarily follows from) rain, but rain is not an entailment of (does not necessarily follow from) wet ground.

    Similarly, your “listed entailments” (although there can now be no doubt that you actually don’t understand “entailment”) may follow from “recorded information” with 100% reliability. I may hypothesize “this phenomenon is an instance of recorded information,” an hypothesis which may be tested because your “listed entailments” follow from the fact of recorded information. If I fail to find one or more of your “entailments,” then the hypothesis is disconfirmed. If I do find your “entailments” then my hypothesis is strengthened – but still may be wrong, because although your listed characteristics are (we grant arguendo) an entailment of the transfer of recorded information, “the transfer of recorded information” is NOT AN ENTAILMENT OF YOUR “LISTED ENTAILMENTS.” Other processes may result in the presence of those features.

    That is why “Yet you don’t know a single way to record and transfer information that doesn’t entail the physical roles and dynamic relationships as given in the argument you wish to refute” doesn’t accomplish what you think it does. Nor does this more elaborated version of the same argument:

    Go find any person on the surface of the planet. Pick anyone you wish. Sit down and explain this entire issue to them. Take your time. Tell them everything I have said and everything you have said. When you’ve finished, ask them these two questions:

    a) can you think of any reason the ground could become wet that doesn’t include a rainstorm?

    b) can you think of any way to record and transfer information that doesn’t include 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?

    Wrong question. The question is, “can a process other than the necessarily semiotic 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. Reasoning such as yours goes no distance whatever to settle the matter, regardless of how fervently you wish it were so.

    I notice you don’t respond at all to my remark regarding your unwarranted leap from “transfer of recorded information” to “semiotic state,” nor my further question vis your definition of “semiotic state” and what that entails that “recorded information does not.”

    Why not?

  60. Joe G:
    oleg-

    You don’t understand nested hierarchies.

    Right, Joe. Tell us again how the tree of life is not a nested hierarchy. :)

  61. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: ”
    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?)”

    There is no requirement for a “protocol” to transfer “information”.

    A protocol implies that a “sender” and “receiver” share a common set of actions that are applied to “information” transfer.

    A “protocol” is not required in the case of pressing a vinyl record for example.

    While the stamping device is an “arrangement of matter”, there is no protocol required between the original and copy and no “arrangement of matter” is required for a “message” either.

    At the point of existence for the copy, it already contains the original’s “information”, and at not time in its existence is it lacking that “information”.

    Cells work this way too as at no time is DNA “information” transferred from an existing cell which has it to an existing cell which doesn’t.

  62. Upright BiPed: ” After admitting that there are many ways in which the ground could become wet (while not indicating a rainstorm), his third sentence positions the wetted ground as an “absolutely reliable entailment of rainstorms. The contradiction is glaring, but it’s the glare itself being sold here.”

    There is no contradiction that I can see.

    If it has rained, I can be 100% certain that if I walk out my front door, the ground will wet.

    If I come home and the ground is wet, my neighbour may have been nice enough to water my lawn for me and there is no requirement for rain.

  63. So UB keeps repeating “All dogs have 4 legs, therefore everything with 4 legs is a dog”, in different words, over and over. And still no materialists are “honest” enough to agree with him, like they all do over at UD.

  64. Flint:
    So UB keeps repeating “All dogs have 4 legs, therefore everything with 4 legs is a dog”, in different words, over and over. And still no materialists are “honest” enough to agree with him, like they all do over at UD.

    It seems to me that all ID arguments are in this form.

  65. Cells work this way too as at no time is DNA “information” transferred from an existing cell which has it to an existing cell which doesn’t.

    Well actually there are times when DNA is inserted into a cell or acquired by a cell, but I don’t think those instances are what UB has in mind.

  66. petrushka: “Well actually there are times when DNA is inserted into a cell or acquired by a cell, but I don’t think those instances are what UB has in mind.”

    Yes, UB and the ID movement is desperately trying to claim a limited computer analogy as a valid model model of biology.

    The cell should not be considered to be equivalent in operation to a human designed computer.

  67. When you have a computer that can model chemistry in real time, we can test hypotheses.

    My own position is that for the purpose of testing evolutionary hypotheses, chemistry is faster than computation.

    Which is why I have been arguing that design is impossible without invoking some kind of evolution. Chemistry is going to be faster than any simulation of chemistry.

  68. Above I said:

    Wetted ground is an absolutely reliable entailment of (consequence of) rainstorms, in that wet ground always results from rainstorms.

    This is intended in this sense: “Wetted ground is an absolutely reliable entailment of (consequence of) rainstorms, in that rainstorms always result in wet ground.”

    It occurred to me that the original is ambiguous, and could be construed as “all wet ground results from rainstorms.” Not my intention (which should be obvious).

  69. I haven’t read through all the comments, but the three questions do not make any sense. All three are questions, not statements, so what does it mean for them to be true? (“If 1 is true …”; “If 1 and 2 are true …”). If an answer of “yes” means they are true, then #3 makes no sense.

    Anyway, the answers to 1 and 2 are both “yes”.

    (1) We can (and do) represent information in EM radiation (e.g., light or radiowaves), AND

    (2) we also transmit it that way.

    (3) Is incomprehensible (to me, anyway).

    Forgive me if others have already said this.

  70. Elizabeth: Perhaps it’s the wrong word.“Fortuitous” maybe?What I mean is that any set would do as long as the set itself has certain properties.

    The properties don’t lie in the molecules themselves, but in the set.

    Like the arbitrary mapping of the symbol “b” to the sound “buh”.

    Any symbol would do.So the mapping is arbitrary.Whereas the mapping of a left hand button to a left hand stimulus and a right hand button to a right hand stimulus isn’t “arbitrary”.

    Thanks. I re-read the post, and withdraw my query, Your use of “arbitrary” was not as arbitrary as I thought.

  71. Thorton,

    Your X does not demonstrate B.

    Implicit in your premise is the unsupported assertion that the information in the genome has been purposely recorded using molecules as semiotic abstract symbols. This has never been demonstrated and indeed is what you’re trying to prove.

    Since your premise is flawed, your whole argument is invalid.

    When you say that my “X does not demonstrate B”, it is required that you actually engage the material evidence in order to support that assertion. This is fundamental to empirical discourse, and the distinction between the two approaches is tremendous. Conclusions are supposed to flow from the evidence, not to it. Yet once again, you have failed this basic approach. In place of engaging the material evidence, you have injected something into the argument that does not exist. It’s most likely that you do this because the potential implications of the argument are displeasing to you. These implications are apparently more important to you than the material observations themselves; consequently your response is based upon the implications; not the evidence.

    It is not an “implicit” “premise” “that the information in the genome has been purposely recorded using molecules as semiotic abstract symbols.” The argument addresses material observations alone. Those observations demonstrate a semiotic state. It is the observations you’ll have to contend with.

  72. Hello again, Allan

    Again, thank you for your thoughtful response. There is no need for a philosophical basket; the issue here represents nothing more than not having more time to participate.

    First off, let me say that I have no issue with those who would like to conduct a search for a purely natural OoL explanation. What I have a problem with is having (truly) massive speculation adopted as the absolute default position among the sciences, all in the face of substantial material evidence to the contrary, then having the institutions of knowledge, the media, and the courts, used as weapons against anyone who disagrees or poses a question.

    So your ‘semiotic’ argument seems to depend on a multi-acid tRNA set, rather than the fundamental process of ribosomal protein elongation. And so, what grounds do you have for insisting that ribosome-mediated peptide synthesis MUST be viewed as a multi-acid system, at the OoL or at any subsequent point (prior to LUCA)?

    You yourself have noted (in your posts) that the argument being made here doesn’t just go away because there might be less than 20 amino acids. And now you raise again an issue we had begun to discuss in terms of the elaborate biosynthesis of the ribosome and its maturation. Then of course there is tRNA and its ATP powered activation process, and regulation, and transport, and energy distribution, and isolation from contamination, etc, etc. But to answer your question above; the obvious answer is because ‘mono-acid ribosome-mediated peptide synthesis’ doesn’t have the information-carrying capacity to encode (and organize) mono-acid ribosome-mediated peptide synthesis. There is therefore absolutely no evidence to suggest it can begin to encode a multi-acid system. To gaze fondly at poly-uracil is, once again, to operate as if there are no limits to abiogenesis – which is the exact opposite of what is actually found.

    When we presume to look back in biological history through the process of observing physical evidence, we never come to a point in the journey where complex, information-based organization isn’t found or isn’t required. That glorious threshold simply does not exist as a material fact, not by any stretch of reason. In fact, the direct opposite is true. So perhaps it is not so much that my argument requires a multi-acid system, but instead, it is biofunction itself that requires it. On the other hand, it is your position that requires a drastically simpler system, as evidenced by it being the focal point of your argument.

  73. RB,

    Certainly you are not suggesting you were unaware that the entailments being discussed were those that confirm semiosis. Surely you remember reading ”Demonstrating a system that satisfies the entailments (physical consequences) of recorded information, also confirms the existence of a semiotic state.” In fact, did you not once ask me specifically about that sentence? Wet ground is not “a 100% reliable entailment” that CONFIRMS that it has rained. I already have to say “recorded information transfer” every time I say “information”, I would hate to think that I must now say “semiosis confirming entailment of recorded information transfer” every time I say “entailment”.

    I notice you don’t respond at all to my remark regarding your unwarranted leap from “transfer of recorded information” to “semiotic state,” nor my further question vis your definition of “semiotic state” and what that entails that “recorded information does not.”

    Why not?

    I have no problem remarking on this. “Semiosis” is our descriptive word for the use of signs, representations, and symbols. All transfer of recorded information must happen in a semiotic state – by representation. You say it’s an “unwarranted leap”, then describe a transfer of recorded information that isn’t accomplished by representation. This was the point of the questions in the OP which began this thread. In fact, this was in my last post to you:

    BIPED: The reason I posed the questions listed in the OP of this thread was to establish the logical abutment that it is not possible to record and transfer information without using matter as both a medium to carry that information in a representational form, and as the physical pathway for instantiating that representation back into an effect. I then asked the manifest question “How could it be any other way?”

    It can’t – and I challenge anyone to demonstrate otherwise.

    When you do so, then you can characterize the linking of information transfer to semiosis as “unwarranted”.

    Wrong question. The question is, “can a process other than the necessarily semiotic 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?).

    Once again, this is a (now repeated) demonstrated example of you excusing yourself from having to provide any support for your position. My question to you is simple; does this exemplify the empiricism you hold as scientific?

  74. Toronto,

    There is no requirement for a “protocol” to transfer “information”.

    A protocol implies that a “sender” and “receiver” share a common set of actions that are applied to “information” transfer.

    A “protocol” is not required in the case of pressing a vinyl record for example.

    You are (perhaps legitimately) confusing transcription with translation. Transcription can be accomplished by direct templating, but alone, it cannot create the effect of the information. To create the effect, translation must occur, which requires a protocol.

    When I use the term “transfer”, I am referring to the transfer of information into its effect – and there is a definite reason for viewing it in those terms. That reason is this: IF we cannot see/determine a functional effect being driven by the input of representations, then we cannot know with any confidence that information actually exists and is being transferred. I will explain through an example. Imagine something like an archeological artifact with some obscure characters appearing on it. Can we say that those characters represent something? No. We can likely imagine that they do, but without a protocol to understand what they mean (ie achieving their functional effect) we can only imagine them to be so. Ultimately, they could be no more than pointless scratches left by a child with a stick in his hand. Now imagine finding something like the Rosetta stone, which had characters that we knew, along with those that we didn’t know. It served as a protocol, allowing us to take those representations to their effect – thereby confirming with confidence that information did indeed exist in those representations, and had indeed been transferred (translated).

    You can think of transcription as a process that makes a copy of representations. Translation is a process of actualizing the effect of those representations. They are materially very different. And by the way, both of these processes are completely exemplified in the processing of DNA.

  75. Toronto,

    There is no contradiction that I can see.

    If it has rained, I can be 100% certain that if I walk out my front door, the ground will [be] wet.

    As explained above, the ground being wet does not confirm that it had rained. On the other hand, the entailments presented in the argument successfully confirm the existence of a semiotic state. That is why the analogy was flawed when it was presented, and has remained flawed thereafter. You can challenge its power to confirm a semiotic state by presenting a method to record and transfer information that does not use “matter as both a medium to carry that information in a representational form, and as the physical pathway for instantiating that representation back into an effect.”

  76. Perhaps UB has been learning to affirm the consequent from his UD co-denizen StephenB, who insists that if x implies y, then y implies x.

    R0b, I had never thought of taking potshots to be your style. In any case, if you’d like to present a manner in which to record and transfer information without representations and protocols, then I will be happy to engage your example.

  77. Dtheobald,

    It is a common as can be in these conversations, that when someone states something requires the “matter in/of the universe”, they are naturally including by shorthand the energy in the cosmos as well (given E=MC2). In other words, they mean ‘the matter and energy that make up the universe’.

    With that simple clarification, I’d be happy to hear of any method you know that can record and transfer information which does not use “matter as both a medium to carry that information in a representational form, and as the physical pathway for instantiating that representation back into an effect.”

  78. To All…

    We have now gone three or four rounds of back and forth. To date, no one has been able to successfully challenge the material observations in the semiotic argument. Also, there have been a series of very normal misunderstandings and clarifications. The remainder of the conversation has been an attempt to show a logical flaw in the rational of the argument by using an analogy to a different argument, whose elements do not equate to those in the argument at hand. A challenge has been made to provide evidence to substantiate the claim that the elements are indeed the same in both arguments, but that evidence has not been presented, and none will be forthcoming.

    So this conversation is now quickly headed for that point where (as is very typical) objectors will either disengage for greener grass or become petty. Some began that way. I have no desire to continue to participate in that event, and indeed my time right now is fairly limited anyway.

  79. Upright BiPed,

    OK, so by “matter” you mean matter and/or energy. So I would say “no” to all three. Before you go, could you point me to a simple statement of your “semiotic” argument?

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