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. Toronto,

    You are once again getting hung up on the distinction between transcription and translation, which are two very different material things. And when I say that information transfer requires a protocol, it is abundantly clear from the argument that I am talking about being transferred from representation to effect (which includes both transcription and translation).

    This issue has been dealt with at least twice already on this thread. If you cannot be bothered to concern yourself with the data, or will not take the time to understand it, then I cannot help you.

    Try reading here:

     http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=659&cpage=9#comment-14001

  2. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “And when I say that information transfer requires a protocol, it is abundantly clear from the argument that I am talking about being transferred from representation to effect (which includes both transcription and translation).”

    And yet again, as has been explained to you, what you are describing is NOT a protocol.

    A protocol is a set of “agreed upon functions” as applied to communications.

    If you want to use different definitions, make up your own terms.

    Don’t use commonly understood terms and try to redefine them.

     

     

  3. Toronto, you mean its NOT a human “protocol” in the narrowest anthropocentric definition you can possibly come up with in order to obfuscate the actual material observations being made.

    Please refer back to the passage you are objecting to. Here it is:

    “There may be various words within the English lexicon which could appropriately describe the systematic role this material object serves, but it is that material role that is of importance. This is the material definition of a systematic formality; a transfer protocol.”

    In other words Toronto, please feel free to call it anything you wish. For the substantial bulk of the remainder of humanity, the term “protocol” describes it with a clear understanding.

    cheers…

  4. Upright BiPed,

    Merriam-Webster: b : a set of conventions governing the treatment and especially the formatting of data in an electronic communications system <network protocols>”

    This is the context of protocol that we are discussing, the transfer of information.

    I can use the TCP/IP protocol over a wireless link or over an Ethernet link and the actual protocol is identical.

    The “matter”, or medium however, is different.

    Humans use the term “protocol”, in my sense, i.e., a set of functions agreed upon by two parties in a communication.

    By co-opting the term “protocol”, you are implying an intelligence at work and then claiming that as proof of, …wait for it,  ID!

    That won’t work.

    You actually have to prove your case.

    Re-defining existing terms to smuggle in implicit conclusions will never work.

    Why your side keeps trying to do this, I don’t know.

    It’s almost like you don’t really have a case that can’t stand without obfuscation.

     

     

  5. OK, I’ll admit I’m just too dense to understand, without a simple direct explanation, just what this “semiotic theory” has to do with Intelligent Design. The thing is, I’m certain that the vast majority of those who would call themselves Intelligent Design proponents couldn’t explain it either. Where’s the “intelligence”; whence the “design”?

    In fact, there’s a challenge. 

    Can any Intelligent Design adherent explain UB’s Semiotic Theory Of ID, (with particular emphasis on the link between the Theory and Intelligent Design) in terms likely to be understood by most of, say, a class of first-years at a reputable University? For the sake of clarity in discussion, UB’s meanings of the words “information”, “protocol”, “transfer”, “material”, and “semiotic” are accepted, whether or not they agree with dictionary definitions.

    Anyone? 

  6. Toronto,

    Here is what you say:

    “By co-opting the term “protocol”, you are implying an intelligence at work and then claiming that as proof of, …wait for it,  ID!”

    And here is what the argument says:

    Yet, the descriptions of these entailments makes no reference to a mind. Certainly a living being with a mind can be tied to the observations of information transfer, but so can other living things and non-living machinery. It must be acknowledged, human beings did not invent iterative representative systems, or recorded information. We came along later and discovered they already existed. Therefore, the search for an answer to the rise of the recorded information in the genome needs to focus on mechanisms that can give rise to a semiotic state, since that is the way we find it.

    So like a perfect automoton, entirely unable to stop yourself, you have imported a strawman into the argument, then turned to attack it.

    Good for you.

  7. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “It must be acknowledged, human beings did not invent iterative representative systems, or recorded information.”

    Of course we did!!

    They are “representative” of our understanding of them.

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

    No, it is simply your assertion that the genome contains “recorded information” that is “semiotic“.

    That is what your are supposed to make a case for!

    You have failed to do it when your only evidence are assertions, in this case, only yours.

    You can convince me of a “protocol” if you can identify both sides of the “protocol”, but you haven’t done that.

    At least define this protocol.

    In what cases can I NAK a packet of data?

    Where is the CRC if any?

    What states does the protocol have to go through for us to accept the transfer as being completed successfully?

    You don’t have answers to any of these questions but insist we accept your assertions at face value.

    Show me the transfer “protocol” and what happens when an error is detected.

     

  8. When we think on many abstract matters, we do so via the medium of language. Language is useful not just for communicating ‘semiotically’ with others, but for communicating with oneself. We integrate an experiential whole – sensory inputs, memories and more abstract thoughts articulated via an internal monologue/dialogue-with-oneself.  It is hard, indeed, to think on many matters without articulating it in language. So the materialist would be with you on that one – notions of Thought, Mind, Intent etc are demonstrably based upon material substrates processing semiotic ‘information’. Peptide bond formation – not so much.

    If we accept that a material substrate is essential for the transfer of information – such as, from one part of a mind to another – are you not in danger of throwing the ID baby out with the bathwater? The Designer cannot process the vast amounts of information necessary to [do whatever we decide the Designer did] without a material set of ‘entailments’, ‘protocols’ etc. The Designer, to be an information-processing-entity, must on your argument be material – which leads to the same cul-de-sac that all ‘necessary being’ arguments do.

    And further, are not most ID-sympathisers dualists? How do you persuade them that information can only pass via ‘material’ exchanges (I think it true, but they don’t!)?

  9. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “Yet, the descriptions of these entailments makes no reference to a mind.”

    Then what is the point of calling this post “The Semiotic Theory Of ID”?


  10. Upright,

    For those on this thread who think I have not answered Dr Liddle’s utterly laughable question as to why I think this is an argument for ID – here’s a clue. Dr Liddle and I started this conversation more than a year ago. At the time we began, she basically denied every observation I was making regarding the material consequences of information transfer. Over the course of that year, she has now come to concede basically every one of those material observations. In that entire time she never once questioned why I think that the argument is one for ID. She did not question it (not even once) because she knew all along. Bottom line: She has conceded the material observations (not for the sake of argument, but because of it) yet she is ideologically prohibited from acknowledging the possible implications of those observations. Simply put, she would now like to talk about something else.

    You still haven’t answered her question, Upright. Why is that?

    For those who think that I have not answered Reciprocating Bill’s question: I have given him coherent descriptions of both terms, which are not even controversial. The transfer of recorded information is the transfer of form (about something) via a material medium. Semiosis is the descriptive term for the use of representations and protocols. Moreover, the material issues regarding these terms have been explained in appropriate detail over and over again. If Bill is unable to articulate an objection, it is not because he needs additional information, it’s because his objection would be immediately contradicted by examples of normative language use which are too numerous to mention. We call a fire a “fire”; we call a fire tetrahedron a “fire tetrahedron”. One describes the other. But because a fire tetrahedron describes a fire does not mean that they are the same thing, nor does it introduce a logical error into the dialogue about fire.

    You still haven’t answered his question, Upright. Why is that?

  11. This leads to what might be an interesting statistical study. On average, how many times does a creationist evade a simple but uncomfortable question, before he resorts to “I already answered it, but I won’t repeat the answer or even link to it”?

  12. Upright BiPed on June 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm said: Edit

    For those on this thread who think I have not answered Dr Liddle’s Elizabeth’s utterly laughable question as to why I think this is an argument for ID – here’s a clue.

     

    It is not an “utterly laughable” question, Upright BiPed. It is an absolutely fundamental question.  If you offer a “semiotic argument for ID” it is important that you include the part of the argument that is, um, the argument for ID.

     

    Dr Liddle Elizabeth and I started this conversation more than a year ago. At the time we began, she basically denied every observation I was making regarding the material consequences of information transfer.

    No, I did not.  What I denied was that those “material consequences” had anything to do with semiotics.  But I am willing, as I’ve said several times, to grant, for the sake of argument, that they can be described as “semiotic”.  I’m still waiting to hear why this is an argument for ID.

    Over the course of that year, she has now come to concede basically every one of those material observations.

    I never didn’t “concede” them.  What I did not, and have not, conceded, is that they are “semiotic” by what I consider normal usage of the term.  But I am willing to grant your extension of the term, for the sake of argument – which is why I want to hear the argument.

    In that entire time she never once questioned why I think that the argument is one for ID.

    True, but that is because I assumed that your argument was that semiotics are things created by minds, and therefore if we observe semiotics in nature, we must infer creation by a mind.  I considered the argument circular.  However, you have since made it clear that this is not your argument.

    So I am at a loss to know what your argument for ID actually is.

    She did not question it (not even once) because she knew all along. Bottom line: She has conceded the material observations (not for the sake of argument, but because of it) yet she is ideologically prohibited from acknowledging the possible implications of those observations. Simply put, she would now like to talk about something else.

    Utter bullshit.  The only charitable conclusion I can draw is that you have not read my posts.

     

  13. That’s quite helpful, actually. 

    So I was right that it’s essentially Meyer’s argument, a form of IC argument.

    So where is Upright BiPed’s response to the counter-arguments to that one that have been presented here, by Allan Miller and others?

    Upright BiPed?

    And, for that matter, does that mean that if we could generate a code from no-code by means of evolutionary processes, he would concede?

  14. Concede? One former world chess champion said “to defeat me, an opponent must beat me three times – in the opening, in the midgame, and in the endgame” The same seems to apply here. FIRST, you’d have to get him to agree that you were using evolutionary processes. THEN you’d have to get him to agree that the result could be considered a “code”. THEN you’d have to get him to agree that your simulation correctly reflects nature.

    You and Bill can’t even get him to respond directly to simple questions. And you want him to agree that his faith is unwarranted? Seriously? 

  15. UB:

    You concede that the three necessary elements of fire (involved in combustion) i.e. the fire tetrahedron, confirms the existence of a fire. But if there is ANY condition in which you will accept A -> B, B -> A as valid (which you have shown to be the case) then your argument that it’s a “fatal logical fallacy” (needing no evidence) evaporates in front of your very eyes.

    Demonstrating once again that you don’t understand entailment.

    While entailments necessarily follow from propositions, “entailments” =/= “necessary and sufficient conditions.”

    The proposition “It rained” entails “the lawn is wet” because rainstorms necessarily cause wet lawns. Yet wet lawns are not among the necessary and sufficient conditions for rainstorms.

    You describe your “material observations” as observations of “entailments of a semiotic state.” You’ve repeatedly claimed that observations of your entailments “successfully confirm a semiotic state.”

    But having claimed an entailment relationship, your argument has the form A entails B, B, therefore A. That is logically invalid.

    You now instead claim an analogy between your “listed entailments” and the “necessary and sufficient conditions of fire.” In so doing you conflate “entailment” and “necessary and sufficient condition.” 

    But “entailment” =/= “necessary and sufficient condition,” and your characterization of my acknowledgment of the fire tetrahedron as an instance of my accepting an instance of “A -> B, therefore B -> A” is wholly invalid, as my ” -> ” shorthand denotes “entails,” while your “->” in the quote above denotes “is a necessary and sufficient condition for…”

    If you would like to retract your characterization of your “material observations” as observations of the “entailments” of semiotic states, you should do so explicitly, rather than perpetuating your muddle vis “entailment.”

    Otherwise, your reasoning remains defective and your argument fails.

    UB:

    The use of representations and protocols is a necessary condition for the transfer of recorded information.

    The use of representations and protocols is a sufficient condition for the transfer of recorded information.

    The transfer of recorded information is a necessary condition for the use of representations and protocols.

    The transfer of recorded information is a sufficient condition for the use of representations and protocols.

    It follows that X is a necessary and sufficient condition for Y, which is a necessary and sufficient condition for X, which is a necessary and sufficient condition for Y, which is a necessary and sufficient condition for X…

    A causal perpetual motion machine that does nothing but define X in terms of Y, and Y in terms of X. Yet another exercise in perfect circularity.
     

  16. The IC argument seems to require (or be improved by) several laws, like:

    1) Evolution only proceeds by addition, and never subtracts features.

    2) The components of biological systems do not change after the system is in place.

    3) All biological features must be useful at their inception (neutral variation and drift doesn’t happen).

    4) The basic function (usefulness) of features can’t change.

    All of which are demonstrably false.

    Earlier in the discussion, I suggested auto-catalytic molecules as an example of the transfer of “recorded information”. UB rejects these as follows:

    An auto-catalytic structure does not transfer recorded information as described in #1. This again is conflating recorded information with physical information, where the state of an object is deemed as “information” in order that it can be calculable to human observers. To say that information has been transferred in an auto-catalytic structure is to step in as an observer and simply assert that it has.

    There is also a physical distinction between a) a representational arrangement of matter being transferred, and b) the state of an object (serving as a template) being deemed “information” by an observer. That distinction can be elucidated in the physical properties of the systems and their products. One of them can be reduced to those properties, while the other cannot (without the actions of the second arrangement of matter).

    Both structures exist in nature, but one does not explain the other.

    That means that, by UB’s definitions, “recorded information” isn’t necessary for self-replicators, and it isn’t necessary for Darwinian chemical evolution to take place (as autocatalytic molecules that produce variations have been discovered). It’s interesting that the matter that becomes a daughter molecule isn’t seen as obeying a “protocol”. But the terminology doesn’t matter as, however UB wants to define things like recorded information, we can understand that what he wants to discuss is what he sees as the apparent irreducibility of the system at the base of all modern life forms.

    To forestall the argument from analogy with our own intelligently designed codes, it’s worth mentioning that the overwhelming majority of organisms that produce signals that can be said to require “UB protocols” are not intelligent designers. The biosphere is rife with “semiotic systems” by UB’s definition, and I’m sure he’d agree (as he’s mentioned dancing bees, and could have chosen bacteria or plants as examples). So, why associate their production particularly with intelligence? I.D.ists often reply to this by saying that the unintelligent organisms are pre-programmed to produce their signals unintelligently, but so are we “pre-programmed” with the ability and tendency to design some of ours intelligently.

    Which leads me to make the observation that I.D.ists don’t like to make.

    UB “semiotic systems” are prerequisites for all known intelligent designers. Does it really make sense to try to explain the origin of x with y when y appears to require an x in order to exist?

    As UB might say: NEGATION: Example of one or more intelligent designers for whom “semiotic systems” are not a prerequisite.

  17. Since UB never wants to answer directly, we are left with guessing what he means.  However, his intent appears to be fairly transparent; to prove, by definition, that living organisms are intelligently designed.

    ID/creationists are constantly nailed for asserting that design is obvious from just looking at a living organism.  So Dembski tries a mathematical approach based on probabilities.  However, his probabilities are simply pulled out of the air with a uniform random sampling distribution.

    If I had to make a guess about what UB is attempting, it would be that he is trying to hide that assertion of design in a quagmire of words and definitions that would make that assertion appear to be a logical consequence of his definition of a “semiotic systems.”

    But, as near as I can tell from his turgid “explanations,” all he has done is transfer the typical ID/creationist assertion of living systems being obviously designed to an assertion that living systems are semiotic.  But to be semiotic, systems have to have “representations and protocols,” so he simply declares that the production of proteins, for example, is an example of a semiotic system because there are “representations and protocols (by assertion).

    So it appears that UB has simply hid the assertion that living systems are “obviously designed” within another couple of layers of assertions from which that first assertion follows as a consequence.  Unfortunately, he still has the same problem with asserting that some physics and chemistry systems have “representations and protocols” and others of his choosing do not.  Where along the chain of increasing complexity in condensed matter do “representations and protocols” take over from chemistry and physics?

    And we still don’t have an answer to how “representations and protocols” push atoms and molecules around.

    How is it that, by some reports, this “conversation” has been going on for over a year?

  18. Upright Biped,

    For those who cannot understand the text, or those who are left only to complain about my prose – please allow me to express my most sincere condolences.

    I’m following Lizzie’s blog rule of assuming all other posters are posting in good faith.  In this case, that means I am assuming that you are interested in effectively communicating your ideas.  Unfortunately, I don’t find that your presentation is achieving that goal.

    In the interest of better understanding what you are saying, I’d like to further discuss two recent comments where I found your response failed to decrease my confusion.  I hope you’ll choose to help clarify your position.

    The first is Reciprocating Bill’s summary of your argument:

    1) All transfers of information entail your “listed entailments.” (We cannot even imagine otherwise). 

    2) All transfers of information are by necessity also semiotic. 

    3) Therefore observation of the listed entailments “successfully confirms” the presence of a semiotic state.

    Could you please respond to each of these with either a “yes” or “no”, confirming or denying that you agree with the statement?  That should indicate where the misunderstanding is occurring.

    The second is your response to Lizzie’s question about how your argument supports ID.  Let’s assume, for the purposes of this question, that you have addressed the logic errors others have raised, that your definitions are accepted as sufficiently rigorous, and that your observations have been replicated.  How, exactly, do you go from that happy state to “Therefore ID”?
     

  19. Unfortunately, he still has the same problem with asserting that some physics and chemistry systems have “representations and protocols” and others of his choosing do not.

    One example I’ve used in the past is energy exchange among atoms.  A hydrogen atom transitions from energy level 2 to level 1, emitting a 10.2 eV photon, which is absorbed by another hydrogen atom that transitions from level 1 to level 2.  We could argue that the first atom’s initial energy level (n=2) is “recorded information” that, according to the “protocol” of the laws of physics, is “represented” as a photon and transferred to the second atom.

    I haven’t followed UB’s comments closely, so I don’t know if he has narrowed his definitions in a way that would preclude this application of his terms.  But it seems like we could come up with examples like this until the cows come home, and UB could likewise come up with reasons to shoot each one down.  This is the kind of semantic game played by armchair scientists who aren’t being funded to do actual productive work.

  20. P.S. And since energy exchange among atoms involves discrete values, it’s digital information transfer.

  21. UB’s citation of the necessary and sufficient conditions of fire is an interesting one, and bears more scrutiny.

    The elements of the fire tetrahedron are both necessary and sufficient conditions for fire. IFF all of those elements are present, then fire is present. We can therefore conclude from observation of those elements that fire is present.

    UB argues that this exemplifies an instance of A -> B. B, therefore A:

    A = Fire.
    B = The necessary and sufficient conditions of Fire.

    * A -> B. The presence of fire “entails” the presence of the necessary and sufficient conditions for fire.
    * B. Therefore A. We observe the necessary and sufficient conditions of fire, and thereby confirm that fire is present.

    UB further argues that because I acknowledge that it follows from an observation of the presence of the elements of the fire tetrahedron that fire is present, I’ve accepted an instance of “A -> B. B, therefore A.” As a consequence, he argues, my repeated assertion that he has committed a fatal logical error when he claims similar reasoning from his “listed entailments” is itself in error.

    UB also argues that his semiotic argument has the same form:

    A = The transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state.
    B = The necessary and sufficient conditions for the transfer of recorded information – AKA the “listed entailments” of the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state.

    * A -> B. The presence of a semiotic state “entails” the necessary and sufficient conditions of a semiotic state.
    * B. Therefore A. We observe the necessary and sufficient conditions/listed entailments of semiosis and therefore “successfully confirm” semiosis by empirical, “material” observations.  

    Why doesn’t this work? Don’t both exhibit the successful confirmation of the presence of something (Fire, a semiotic state) by means of observation of entailments (necessary and sufficient conditions) of that something? Do we not have an instance of A -> B. B, therefore A?

    Here’s why: Neither the elements of fire tetrahedron nor UB’s “listed entailments” (now the necessary and sufficient conditions) of a semiotic state are in fact entailments at all. 

    Recall that entailments necessarily follow from definitions and theoretical utterances. An entailment of the definition of a bachelor is that the next bachelor I encounter is necessarily male. An entailment of my theory of wet lawns is that my lawn will be wet following a rainstorm. Useful theories have entailments that make predictions which, in turn, test the theory. A -> B. If B is absent, then the assertion that A -> B has a problem. But, as before, it does not follow in any event from A -> B that B, therefore A.

    The problem with UB’s claim is that the fire tetrahedron is a theory of combustion, and the individual elements of the tetrahedron are components of that theory. They are not entailments of that theory that may be used to test and “successfully confirm” the theory or its implications. As I identified in my previous post, UB has conflated “necessary and sufficient conditions” with “entailment,” apparently because he believes the “necessary” in “necessary and sufficient condition” denotes the same relationship as the “necessary” in “necessarily follows from.” It doesn’t. 

    That is not to say that the theory of combustion captured by the fire tetrahedron does not have entailments. It certainly does: as an example, it entails that combustion will yield combustion products in exactly the proportions predicted by the chemical theory of the particular combustion process hypothesized to have occurred. 

    In our humble little A -> B notation, relationship of the observations of the elements of the fire tetrahedron to the presence of fire are actually expressed as: 

    A = Fire. 
    B = The necessary and sufficient conditions of Fire. 

    * B. Therefore A. 

    The fact that UB thinks this describes a relationship of entailment again “successfully confirms” that he does not understand “entailment.” 

     

  22. Bill, on June 8th,

    I want to respond to your post, but first there is an issue I would like to bring to your attention. I took note of this sentence in your last post: “You describe your “material observations” as observations of “entailments of a semiotic state.””

    But I can’t remember ever describing the entailments given as the “entailments of a semiotic state”. I’m not saying I haven’t, but wondered where I said it, so I would know where to fall on my sword if necessary.

    So I went back through the conversation and did a search for “entailments of”. There were 43 instances of that phrase, with 36 of those being made by me (or someone quoting me). None of those were examples of me saying “entailments of a semiotic state”. On the other hand, each of the remaining 7 instances included the phrase “entailments of a semiotic state”, but those were posted by you and Dr Liddle, her quoting you.

    Anyway, since in my last two posts I fully clarified the relationship between the entailments and semiosis to the maximum extent possible, there shouldn’t be any further need of misplacing the terms of the claim.

    - – - – - – - – - – - –

    Demonstrating once again that you don’t understand entailment.

    Bill I want to ask you a question. What do you think the following means?

    “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”.

    It seems to me that several points could be taken away from that quote. One of them is that the use of the word “entailment” could vary. Another is that one of those usages reflects a “standard sense” as validated by a standard dictionary. Yet another is that this valid definition apparently conveys the specific intent of the author. And finally, that the specific intent of the author was demonstrated.

    But it means more as well. It also means that to ask for a clarification regarding other meanings is a valid action to take. With that, it also means that to impose requirements which go beyond what was specifically demonstrated is an invalid action. And lastly, to build an entire counter-argument around an imposed invalid action is an intractably flawed strategy.

    However…

    A web search reminded me of an old book I own, so I stopped by my storage unit on the way home. The book was written by a former lecturer at University College in London, who spent twenty years at Oxford and was knighted for his contributions (Sir Peter Frederick Strawson). He certainly has more authority over the subject matter than I. Maybe even as much as you. 

    Through my previous two posts, I’ve dealt with the issue of A->B,B->A. You’ve accepted equivalent operators in examples involving fundamentally similar dynamics, such as the fire tetrahedron (which for the confirmation of a fire, describes three material requirements actively involved in a specific process). The equivocation is evident in your posts, and your argument is invalidated by it, so there’s no need to spend time with it. Actually, I had a different question for the book.

    In order to justify your equivocation, you have repeatedly stated the conditions you wish to impose on the usage of the term “entailment”, but I wanted to consider the implications of the more formal usage of the term as viewed from an independent yet authoritative source, i.e. what is it to say that ‘one thing entails another’, specifically to say that the “Transfer of Recorded Information entails Representations and Protocols”. Luckily for me, the text had a chapter devoted to Entailment and Inconsistency.      

    “to say that one statement entails another is to say that it would be inconsistent to make the first and deny the second. This explanation, which refers not to particular statements, but to statements in general, we shall express as follows: to say that S 1 entails S 2 is to say that it would be inconsistent to make S 1 and deny S 2.”

    Inconsistent = make TRI / deny R&P

    “to say that S 1 entails S 2 is to say that it would be inconsistent both to assert S1 and to assert the contradictory of S 2

    Inconsistent = TRI and not-R&P

    “to say that S 1 entails S 2 is to say that not-(S 1 and not-S 2 ) is logically necessary”

    Not-(TRI and not-R&P) is logically necessary

    “to say that one statement entails another is to say that the contradictory of the conjunction of the first statement with the contradictory of the second is a necessary statement.” *

    The book then goes on to provide several instances of using the word “entail” in the statement  S 1 entails S 2  in which the usage the term is  valid from a logical perspective. Some of those I have already covered in the above, but three others should be mentioned. S 1 entails S 2  if and only if S 1 is a sufficient condition of S 2, or where S 2 is a necessary condition for S 1 , or in an valid argument whose premise is S 1  and conclusion is S 2.

    This text of course provides me some level of confidence that I have used the term “entailment” in a manner which not only reflects the original intent in the statement in which I used it, but also satisfies the usage of the word from the perspective of making logical statements.

    The text goes on to add:  

    *To say that a statement is necessary, then, is to say that it is the contradictory of an inconsistent statement. We should notice that there is an oddity in using the word ‘statement’ at all in this connexion, and that we only do so by a kind of analogy. When a man makes an ordinary statement (ordinary statements, i.e., statements which are neither inconsistent nor logically necessary, are sometimes called ‘contingent’ or ‘synthetic’), there is, or may be, a question as to whether what he says is true or false; and to determine the answer to it, we must turn our attention from the words he uses to the world, towards whatever it is that he is talking about.

    Bill, your counter-argument has fallen apart, exactly for all the reasons which have been provided in the course of this conversation. Your personal recognition of this condition is no longer necessary; it is evident to any fair reader.

  23. Bill, on June 9th,

    Bill the more you speak the more evident the faults in your position become. One of the things that becomes more evident is the now glowing disparity which exists between the facts on the ground regarding my argument, and the examples you use in order to maintain your equivocation. To wit:

    After acknowledging the necessary and sufficient relationship being claimed between the entailments and the transfer of recorded information, you say this:

    Recall that entailments necessarily follow from definitions and theoretical utterances. An entailment of the definition of a bachelor is that the next bachelor I encounter is necessarily male.

    Being male is ONE of the entailments of being a bachelor. Others include being alive, being single and marriage-able, for instance.

    The entailments of recorded information transfer leaves none of these logical ambiguities which you have repeatedly projected upon it by your reasoning. It describes specific material necessities actively involved in a specific material process, and by that it confirms the existence of the transfer of recorded information. This is exactly what the fire tetrahedron does in regards to the confirmation of fire, yet, this unambiguous condition is entirely lacking from your repeated examples of bachelors and wet ground – fully illuminating your equivocation yet again.

    Your objections have failed.

  24. Upright BiPed,

    Just to make sure I and everyone else understands, do you agree that a “TRUE assertion of A resulting in B being TRUE”, does NOT lead to the conclusion that a “TRUE assertion of B must result in A being TRUE”?

     

     

  25. UB,

    I read through all of your post and your detailed logic, and I must confess I still don’t get it. I fully understand the philosophical meaning of entailment you quoted from your book – that if S1 entails S2, then if S1 obtains S2 must follow. But nowhere in all your verbiage did you address what can be logically concluded about S1, knowing ONLY S2.

    And this is what Bill has been pointing out all along. If S1 entails S2, we all agree that if S1 is the case S2 must also be the case. But if S2 is the case, we can say NOTHING about S1. Entailment only goes in one direction in EVERYTHING you quoted, without exception. Can’t you see that? Just because S1 is a necessary condition for S2, does NOT mean that S2 is a necessary or sufficient condition for S1.

    To put it as bluntly as your philosophy book has done, S2 does NOT entail S1. Yes, yes, yes it would be inconsistent to assert S1 and deny S2. But it would NOT be inconsistent to observe S2 and deny S1. Rain entails a wet lawn. A wet lawn does not entail rain. A bachelor entails being a male. Being a male does NOT entail being a bachelor.

    Your own source tried so very hard to penetrate, and you quote it at loving length, and you STILL don’t see the problem!     

  26. Upright,

    What’s “evident to any fair reader” is that you are desperately avoiding Bill’s and Lizzie’s simple, pertinent questions.

    Bill’s question:

    What does “a semiotic state” entail that “the transfer of recorded information” does not? If nothing, why invoke it? If something, then what?

    Lizzie’s question (she even put it in bold and ALL CAPS to get your attention):

    UPRIGHT BIPED: WHY IS YOUR “SEMIOTIC ARGUMENT” AN ARGUMENT FOR INTELLIGENT DESIGN?

    Is your “semiotic theory of ID” so weak that you cannot answer these questions for fear of undermining it?

    What do you say to ID supporters reading this thread who wonder why you run away from such simple and relevant questions instead of addressing them clearly and directly?

  27. Bill the more you speak the more evident the faults in your position become. One of the things that becomes more evident is the now glowing disparity which exists between the facts on the ground regarding my argument, and the examples you use in order to maintain your equivocation. To wit:

    No, no, no. Bill is entirely correct, there is no disparity, and no equivocation. Your argument is NOT LOGICAL. Produce a logical argument, and we can examine the evidence.

    After acknowledging the necessary and sufficient relationship being claimed between the entailments and the transfer of recorded information, you say this:

    Recall that entailments necessarily follow from definitions and theoretical utterances. An entailment of the definition of a bachelor is that the next bachelor I encounter is necessarily male.

    Being male is ONE of the entailments of being a bachelor. Others include being alive, being single and marriage-able, for instance.

    Amazing density! You are right, being a bachelor DOES entail being alive, being single, and being marriagable. But being alive does NOT entail being a bachelor, and being single does NOT entail being a bachelor, and being marriagable does NOT entail being a bachelor. Your very examples illustrate your repeated logical fallacy. Over and over. 

    The entailments of recorded information transfer leaves none of these logical ambiguities which you have repeatedly projected upon it by your reasoning. It describes specific material necessities actively involved in a specific material process, and by that it confirms the existence of the transfer of recorded information.

    NO IT DOES NOT! EVEN IF “recorded information transfer” is ONE OF THE MANY WAYS THE MATERIAL OBSERVATIONS COULD RESULT, this does NOT mean that the particular way you WISH to find happens to BE how those material results came about. Nobody is claiming the lawn is dry. We’re only trying to get through to you that observing a wet lawn is NOT sufficient to deduce rain.

    Bill is doing no equivocating. He’s pointing out that if many possible processes can bring about the observed conditions, you CAN NOT conclude that your selected process must have been responsible, no matter how well you can document the observed conditions.

    By now, everyone but you is fully in agreement that every dog has four legs, this does NOT mean that everything with four legs is a dog. And you can count the legs over and over, and everyone can agree the number is four. But that does NOT make the object necessarily a dog. It means others are willing to agree it has four legs (even if you have redefined “legs” to include heads and tails), just to see where your argument goes from there.   

  28. I have no confidence in UB’s possible reply to Bill’s question, because by now it’s obvious that UB has no clue what an entailment actually is. He seems to think it’s some sort of association, kind of like peanut butter entails jelly and jelly entails peanut butter IF you observe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    As for Lizzie’s question, when she asked it she got a load of such utter bullshit she had no choice but to call it utter bullshit. Basically, it was an accusation that Lizzie’s ideology is so dishonest that she refuses to admit “implications” which have NEVER been specified, argued for, derived from anything, or otherwise articulated. 

  29. I haven’t followed UB’s comments closely, so I don’t know if he has narrowed his definitions in a way that would preclude this application of his terms. But it seems like we could come up with examples like this until the cows come home, and UB could likewise come up with reasons to shoot each one down. This is the kind of semantic game played by armchair scientists who aren’t being funded to do actual productive work.

    I don’t know the history of this argument, and I haven’t followed it very closely either; but from what I have seen so far, I looks like an endless quagmire of arguing over the meanings of the meanings of the meanings of words and phrases. All of it appears to be an attempt to hide the fallacy of affirming the consequent in a blizzard of obfuscation. Apparently we aren’t supposed to know about that fallacy.

    On the other hand, maybe he is trying to prove that no such fallacy exists. That would be a major breakthrough for ID/creationists; proof by assertion then gets by all the courts and into all the science textbooks. I suspect the shtick will never work and will have to be enforced by changing the laws and stacking the courts.

  30. UB:

    But I can’t remember ever describing the entailments given as the “entailments of a semiotic state”.

    I lapsed into using quotes when I was paraphrasing your argument. I apologize. 

    UB:

    Luckily for me, the text had a chapter devoted to Entailment and Inconsistency.

    I’m not so sure this was so fortunate for you.

    Strawson: “to say that one statement entails another is to say that it would be inconsistent to make the first and deny the second. This explanation, which refers not to particular statements, but to statements in general, we shall express as follows: to say that S 1 entails S 2 is to say that it would be inconsistent to make S 1 and deny S 2.” 

    Inconsistent = make TRI / deny R&P 

    “to say that S 1 entails S 2 is to say that it would be inconsistent both to assert S1 and to assert the contradictory of S 2”  Inconsistent = TRI and not-R&P 

    “to say that S 1 entails S 2 is to say that not-(S 1 and not-S 2 ) is logically necessary” 

    Not-(TRI and not-R&P) is logically necessary 

    “to say that one statement entails another is to say that the contradictory of the conjunction of the first statement with the contradictory of the second is a necessary statement.”

    Unfortunately, none of this rescues your misuse of “entailment,” as it does not follow – even given strict logical entailment – from any of the above that if S2 is true, then S1 must be true. (Stated another way, it does not follow from the fact that A entails B that B therefore entails A.) 



    To the extent that your argument is that the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state must result in your listed entailments (and that every known instance has), and that upon observing those entailments you have therefore “successfully confirmed” the presence of the transfer of recorded information/semiotic state, you commit that error. 

    But, as I indicate above, what you call entailments turn out not to be entailments at all. Your claim is now not that the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state results in the listed entailments; rather, it is now that they result from those entailments, which are necessary and sufficient conditons for the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state. 

    S1 entails S2 if and only if S1 is a sufficient condition of S2, or where S2 is a necessary condition for S1, or in an valid argument whose premise is S1 and conclusion is S2.

    This is no help either, particularly vis the fire tetrahedron and the form of your argument you analogize to the relationship of the fire tetrahedron to fire, because you’ve become confused over just what entails, and what is the entailment - that is, what maps onto S1 and what maps onto S2. 



    In the instance of the fire tetrahedron, the necessary and sufficient conditions of combustion are not entailments of fire; rather, fire is an entailment of those necessary and sufficient conditions – which conditions are essentially a (well established) theory of combustion. Vis strawson’s quote immediately above, S1 maps onto those necessary and sufficient conditions while S2 maps onto fire. 



    Of course if the necessary and sufficient conditions of a phenomenon are present, then phenomenon is present – as I stated above (B is the necessary and sufficient conditions for A. Therefore B -> A.) 

    

Mapping this on to your argument vis the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state, what you identified repeatedly as the “listed entailments” of the transfer of recorded information/semiotic state you now claim are the “necessary and sufficient conditions” of the transfer of recorded information/semiotic state. Therefore, just as with the fire tetrahedron, it is the “listed entailments” that are that which entail, and the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state that is (are?) the entailment(s). Vis strawson’s quote immediately above, S1 maps onto your mis-named “listed entailments” and S2 maps onto the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state. 



    In short, given your recent invocation of “necessary and sufficient conditions,” what you’ve been calling “listed entailments” are not entailments at all, demonstrating once again that, even with Strawson’s help, you remain muddled about entailment. 



    What you are left with is a bare claim regarding what just what the necessary and sufficient conditions of a the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state are. This isn’t an empirical observation; it is theoretical claim, your impoverished theory of semiosis. Many of us, however, argue that a necessary condition of the transfer of information by means of signs and symbols (semiotics) is the presence of producers and consumers of those symbols who have a shared history by means of which they understand both one another’s communicative intentions and the specific referents of the signs and symbols. Such actors are absent (on both ends) in the translation of DNA into proteins. Therefore characterizing that process as “semiotic” is inappropriate. 



    More important, whether or not that is the case, your characterization of those processes as semiotic is scientifically barren, as you don’t seem willing or able (not sure which) to state what your theory asserts that a semiotic state entails beyond the the necessary and sufficient causes of the transfer of recorded information (AKA your “listed entailments”). 



    UB:

    But it means more as well. It also means that to ask for a clarification regarding other meanings is a valid action to take.

    I agree. For example, one might ask, “what does a semiotic state entail that the transfer of recorded information does not? If nothing, then why invoke it? If something, then what?”

    

Hoping for a straight answer isn’t such a good idea, however.  

  31. UB, quoting Strawson:

    S1 entails S2 if and only if S1 is a sufficient condition of S2, or where S2 is a necessary condition for S1, or in an valid argument whose premise is S1 and conclusion is S2.

    There is an instance of the Strawson quote in which S2 maps onto an entailment that is a necessary condition. So let’s parse this passage carefully.

    What you are attempting to rescue is the formulation that A -> B. B, therefore A, and therefore that observing B “successfully confirms” A. That claim may also be expressed as S1 -> S2. S2, therefore S1.

    The three elements of Strawson’s passage quoted above, slightly restated:

    S1 is a sufficient condition of S2. Therefore S1 entails S2

    It does not follow that S2 entails (“successfully confirms”) S1. There may be other sufficient conditions for S2.

    S2 is a necessary condition for S1. Therefore S1 entails S2.

    Here S2 maps onto a “necessary condition” entailed by S1 – so my mapping comments in the previous post do not apply in this instance.

    Nevertheless, it does not follow that S2 entails S1. There may be other necessary conditions for S1.

    There is a valid argument whose premise is S1 and conclusion is S2. Therefore S1 entails S2.

    It does not follow that S2 entails S1. There may other valid arguments with premises other than S1 whose conclusions are S2.

    None of Strawson’s examples support the notion that A -> B. B, therefore A.

  32. So, if I’m understanding this correctly, Bill:

    1. S1 entails S2 if S1 is sufficient for S2.
    2. S1 also entails S2 if S2 is necessary for S1.

    So, in both cases, if we observe S1, we can infer S2.

    An example of the first might be:

    • Fire generates heat, therefore if we observe a fire, we can infer heat.

    An example of the second might be:

    • Fuel is necessary for fire, so if we observe fire, we can infer fuel.

    However heat is generated by some events other than fire, so although if we can infer heat from observing a fire, we cannot infer a fire if we observe heat.

    Also, while we can infer fuel from the observation of fire, we cannot infer fire from the observation of fuel.

    So Upright BiPed’s point would seem to be that if we never observe the transfer of recorded information without representations and protocols, then we can conclude that representations and protocols are necessary for transferring recorded information, and that therefore if we observe the use of representations and protocols, we can infer that information has been transferred.

    He also says that if we never observe representations and protocols without the transfer of recorded information, then, if we observe the transfer of recorded information, we can infer the use of representations and protocols.

    The problem, of course, is that if we never observe the two separately, then we don’t need to do any inferring at all.

    If cats are only observed with grins and grins are only observed with cats, then we don’t have to infer the cat from the grin, or the grin from the cat.  We can just observe the cat (or the grin) directly.

    And if grins are observed in the absence of cats, and cats in the absence of grins, then the basis for our confidence that we can infer one from the observation of the other is undermined.

    So I still don’t know a) what his semiotic argument actually is and b) why it’s an argument for ID.

  33. Bill, you’ve posited two lines of objection since the very start of this conversation. One of those objections is that my use of the term “entailment” is invalid. The other is that A->B, B->A is not logical. Both of these objections have been individually refuted. The first has been refuted by the observation of valid logical statements specifically using the term “entailment”. Your imposition, in which an “entailment” can only refer to the product of the thing creating the entailment (but not its existence), is not logically valid. As an example, the existence of footprints at Laetoli logically entails the existence of a bipedal hominid. That is a logically valid statement, despite your idiosyncratic imposition otherwise. Your second objection has been refuted in several ways. One of those is your demonstrated equivocation on the use of operators in your counter-examples. When attacking the statements made in the argument, you apply only implicative operators, yet you accept equivalent operators otherwise. Your acceptance of the very thing you refer to as a “fatal” flaw, is illogical.     

    Having been refuted on both counts, you now want to conflate them in an attempt to camouflage that refutation. This is made evident in your opening sentence:

    Unfortunately, none of this rescues your misuse of “entailment”…

    On the contrary, it suggests in the strongest terms that my use of the word “entailment” is logically valid. Your objection has no logical grounding.

    …as it does not follow – even given strict logical entailment – from any of the above that if S2 is true, then S1 must be true.

    And here you switch from one refuted objection to the other refuted objection in the space of a single sentence. The remainder of your post is merely a continuation of this strategy, yet you cannot disguise the issue:

    if the necessary and sufficient conditions of a phenomenon are present, then phenomenon is present”

    You continue to make my point, even as you deny it.

  34. In your second post you continue to conflate your two objections. The Strawson text was provided by me as a demonstration that I have used the term “entailment” in a logically valid manner. That issue is now dead. But you have taken these quotes and are trying to apply them to the issue of whether or not “B->A” is a “fatal logical flaw” (meaning invalid in any instance in which it appears). This was not Strawson’s intent in his observations of the use of “entailment”, nor was it mine in providing them. However, since you accept that “B->A” is valid in statements where B is necessary and sufficient for A, then your repeated characterization of it as a “fatal logical flaw” is not sustainable. Consequently, that issue is dead as well.

    You are now left to simply ignore the direct refutations of your objections. This would indicate that you do not intend for your objections to be subjected to reason, logic, or demonstration. These two latest posts of yours are a perfect example. For instance, in your previous post you had returned to the example of males and bachelors in order to demonstrate your objection regarding B->A. You stated:   

    An entailment of the definition of a bachelor is that the next bachelor I encounter is necessarily male.

    To which I responded:

    Being male is ONE of the entailments of being a bachelor. Others include being alive, being single and marriage-able, for instance.

    The entailments of recorded information transfer leave no such logical ambiguities [which] you have repeatedly projected upon it by your reasoning. It describes specific material necessities actively involved in a specific material process, and by that it confirms the existence of the transfer of recorded information. This is exactly what the fire tetrahedron does in regards to the confirmation of fire, yet, this unambiguous condition is entirely lacking from your repeated examples of bachelors and wet ground – fully illuminating your equivocation yet again.

    Yet you provided no response whatsoever to this (now repeatedly demonstrated) equivocation.

    It has been demonstrated that your counter-arguments fail. That demonstration has been thorough, and is now recorded in detail within this conversation. It is also evident that your personal recognition of this fact is no longer even necessary.

  35. Upright BiPed’s point would seem to be that if we never observe the transfer of recorded information without representations and protocols, then we can conclude that representations and protocols are necessary for transferring recorded information

    Correct.

    …and that therefore if we observe the use of representations and protocols, we can infer that information has been transferred.

    Correct also, but not because we never observe the transfer of recorded information without representations and protocols, but because we never observe representations and protocols without the transfer of recorded information.

    He also says that if we never observe representations and protocols without the transfer of recorded information, then, if we observe the transfer of recorded information, we can infer the use of representations and protocols.

    Correct

    The problem, of course, is that if we never observe the two separately, then we don’t need to do any inferring at all.

    It’s only a problem for those who ignore, discount, and obfuscate what is materially demonstrated in front of their very eyes. That would include this person:

    QUESTION ONE: 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?)

    ANSWER ONE: “No”

    QUESTION TWO: 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?)

    ANSWER TWO: “No”

    QUESTION THREE: 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?

    ANSWER THREE: “I don’t see why such an arrangement should be “irreducibly complex”.”

  36. UB:

    Bill, you’ve posited two lines of objection since the very start of this conversation. One of those objections is that my use of the term “entailment” is invalid. The other is that A->B, B->A is not logical…Having been refuted on both counts, you now want to conflate them in an attempt to camouflage that refutation.

    They are the same objection. Your failure to grasp that “A entails B, B, therefore A” is invalid reasoning IS your problem with entailment. I can hardly conflate that observation with itself. 

  37. I see no equivocation with Bill’s argument, I see a clear fallacy with UB’s argument. UB’s argument fails, Bill has shown how and why in exhaustive detail. So in boxing terms, UB lies bleeding on the canvas, having been counted out, saying “I win, I have demonstrated victory, no opponent is even necessary for my victory.” This is, uh, transparently hollow.

    Now, If I made a poor argument and every commenter without exception agreed that it was a poor argument and explained why, what sort of person would I be if I simply ignored them, repeated my argument, failed to answer their direct questions (repeatedly, even when others echoed those questions) and then pounded my chest and declared myself obviously right after all?

    And if, on top of this, I completely misrepresented the foregoing conversations, despite every word being available for all to see, and did so in an insulting, condescending and self-serving manner, would this serve to reinforce the sort of person I am?   

  38. Flint:

    And if, on top of this, I completely misrepresented the foregoing conversations, despite every word being available for all to see, and did so in an insulting, condescending and self-serving manner, would this serve to reinforce the sort of person I am?

    I don’t pay his meta-comments no nevermind. 
      

  39. Upright BiPed on June 10, 2012 at 8:06 pmsaid:

    Bill, you’ve posited two lines of objection since the very start of this conversation. One of those objections is that my use of the term “entailment” is invalid. The other is that A->B, B->A is not logical. Both of these objections have been individually refuted. The first has been refuted by the observation of valid logical statements specifically using the term “entailment”.

    You are confusing logic with empirical observation again!

    If it is your case that we never observe A without also observing B, and that we never observe B without also observing A (in other words that A does entail B and B does entail A) then we don’t need to infer anything from the observation of one, because we will necessarily be able to observe the other directly.

    Your imposition, in which an “entailment” can only refer to the product of the thing creating the entailment (but not its existence), is not logically valid. As an example, the existence of footprints at Laetoli logically entails the existence of a bipedal hominid. That is a logically valid statement, despite your idiosyncratic imposition otherwise.

    No, it’s not a “logically valid” statement.  It’s just rather pointless claim.  What would be of far more use would be to cast it as a testable hypothesis: the footprints at Laetoli were made by a bipedal hominid.  Similarly, you could test the hypothesis that “all recorded information transfer is achieved by means of representations and protocols”.  But to do that you’d need an operational definiton of “recorded information”.  Which you still don’t have.

    Your second objection has been refuted by in several ways. One of those is your demonstrated equivocation on the use of operators in your counter-examples. When attacking the statements made in the argument, you apply only implicative operators, yet you accept equivalent operators otherwise. Your acceptance of the very thing you refer to as a “fatal” flaw, is illogical.   

     

    The problem, Upright BiPed, is that on the one hand you claim that TRI implies R&P – that all instances of recorded information transfer involve Representations and Protocols (i.e. that TRI entails R&P)

    And as you also also claim that “Semiosis” is implied by the use of Representations as Protocols (i.e. that R&P entails semiosis) – if you are correct, then all recorded information transfer is semiotic.

    Then, on the other hand, instead of attempting to demonstrate that TRI entails R&P or that R&P entails semiosis, you point to the observation that, in the cell, TRI is achieved by means of R&P, and simply define “semiosis” as recorded information transfer that is achieved by means of R&P.

    But in that case your arguments about “entailments” is irrelevant.  TRI need not entail R&P for your case to be supported.  You can just define semiosis as you do, and say that, under that definition, translation is semiotic, because it involves TRI by means of R&P.  Which many of us are willing to concede (albeit not terribly happy about the definition).  We just don’t see why this is an argument for ID.

    However, you insist that your argument depends on the observations of entailments.

    And that is where the logical incoherence comes in.

    If you are trying to make the case that TRI entails R&P, then you need to tackle every instance proffered of TRI putatively achieved without R&P, and either show that it is either not True TRI, or that in fact R&P is involved.

    And yet all you do is point to the observation that in the cell, TRI is achieved by means of R&P. That does not demonstrate that TRI entails R&P at all.

    Not that it matters, because to demonstrate that semiosis (by your definition) occurs in the cell, you don’t need to demonstrate that TRI entails R&P, you just need to demonstrate that in the case of the cell, TRI is achieved by means of R&P.

  40. Bill, the argument as it is actually presented does not indicate the formulation A->B, B, therefore A. That is a failed amalgamation you attempted to impose from “Demonstrating a system that satisfies the entailments (physical consequences) of recorded information, also confirms the existence of a semiotic state” which you took from the 13th paragraph of the argument. The correct formulation stems from the necessary and sufficient relationship between A and B, which is made clear in the 7th and 8th paragraphs. This is yet another refutation which you have simply chosen to ignore.  

    But yes Bill, you have made your line of logic perfectly clear regarding entailments:

    If a thing exists, its existence cannot entail the cause or condition required of its existence.  (Unless it’s a fire tetrahedron).

    Thanks for pointing that out.

  41. Bill, if a specific thing only exist under specific conditions, then does it existence entail the existence of those specific conditions?

    Or is that illogical?

  42. If you are trying to make the case that TRI entails R&P, then you need to tackle every instance proffered of TRI putatively achieved without R&P, and either show that it is either not True TRI, or that in fact R&P is involved.

    QUESTION ONE: 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?)

    ANSWER ONE: “No”

    QUESTION TWO: 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?)

    ANSWER TWO: “No”

  43. Upright BiPed on June 10, 2012 at 10:00 pmsaid:Edit

    Upright BiPed’s point would seem to be that if we never observe the transfer of recorded information without representations and protocols, then we can conclude that representations and protocols are necessary for transferring recorded information

    Correct.

    Except that many examples of the transfer of information without the use of representations and protocols (as per your definitions in this thread) have been offered to you in this thread, including my own little example of the information that my deck table had an umbrella hole in it that was recorded by the snow, and transferred, layer by layer, to the top layer of snow, where the resulting central dimple was decoded by my mother.

    So I submit that your premise is wrong.  R&P are not necessary for transferring recorded information.  Non-arbitrary physical impressions will do the job just fine.  Therefore TRI does not entail R&P.  Unless my snow-table does count, in which case, it doesn’t appear that information transfer is a phenonemon beyond the reach of entities with the intelligence of snowflakes.

    …and that therefore if we observe the use of representations and protocols, we can infer that information has been transferred.

    Correct also, but not because we never observe the transfer of recorded information without representations and protocols, but because we never observe representations and protocols without the transfer of recorded information. 

    This may be true, I’m not sure (I’d have to squint harder at your definitions).  But even if is true that R&P entails TRI, we cannot of course infer that TRI entails R&P, and I have, I think, demonstrated above, that it does not.

    He also says that if we never observe representations and protocols without the transfer of recorded information, then, if we observe the transfer of recorded information, we can infer the use of representations and protocols.

    Correct

    The problem, of course, is that if we never observe the two separately, then we don’t need to do any inferring at all.

    It’s only a problem for those who ignore, discount, and obfuscate what is materially demonstrated in front of their very eyes.

    It’s not a problem for me at all, but it is a serious problem for you, because it renders your argument circular.  If the basis for your premise that TRI implies R&P is that you never observe TRI without R&P, then if you only observe TRI then you can’t infer R&P, because you’d be assuming your conclusion.  The entailments business is therefore irrelevant to your own argument.  You’d be better off just saying that TRI by means of R&P is by definition semiotic, and it occurs in the cell, therefore cells are semiotic.

    At which point, we ask you (yet again) why this is an argument for ID.

    That would include this person:

    QUESTION ONE: 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?)

    ANSWER ONE: “No”

    QUESTION TWO: 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?)

    ANSWER TWO: “No”

    As long as your definitions of “representation” and “protocol” cover my snow-covered table, my answers remain “no”.  I entirely agree (and have never disagreed) that information transfer requires some kind of rearrangement of matter.  In the case of my snow-covered table, the arrangement of each layer of snowflakes “represents” the shape of the table beneath, and the falling of the snowflakes is another “arrangement of matter” that ensures that arrangement of snow on the layer already fallen is repeated in the new layer. If they do not, then I would have to revise my answer.

    QUESTION THREE: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?

    ANSWER THREE: “I don’t see why such an arrangement should be “irreducibly complex”.”

    Still don’t.  And you have not explained why you think it should be.

  44. Upright BiPed on June 10, 2012 at 11:09 pmsaid:

    If you are trying to make the case that TRI entails R&P, then you need to tackle every instance proffered of TRI putatively achieved without R&P, and either show that it is either not True TRI, or that in fact R&P is involved.

    QUESTION ONE: 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?)

    ANSWER ONE: “No”

    QUESTION TWO: 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?)

    ANSWER TWO: “No”

    Please see my response above, but let me elaborate:

    You have since, in your definitions of R&P introduced the word “arbitrary”.  It does not appear above.  If “representations” include non-arbitrary arrangements of matter such as templating molecules or layers with specific shapes, then clearly, the answer to Q1 is “no”.  You can’t have a transfer of information without some material change in something.  Similarly for Q2 – not only does there have to be some kind of material change, that change has to be part of a cascade of events that brings about change in the receiving system.  So if a rock falls off a cliff, and lands on a beach, making a dent in the sand, it leaves “information” to someone coming along about that the event that caused the rock to fall.  So there is the dent (a readable “represention” of the event) and a “protocol” (an arrangement of matter – the process by which the rock made the dent) that relates the “representation” to the event.

    But it is not arbitrary.  If you are insisting that R&P must be arbitrary (as a linguistic community arbitrarily represents small domestic felines by the sound cat), then there are many instances of information transfer that do not involve R&P.

    But it seems you have Hobson’s choice here, UPD:

    Either you include the examples given here as examples of information transfer and concede that TRI does not entail R&P, or you exclude them on the grounds that the “R&P” I have described isn’t arbitrary, in which case you have simply made TRI entail R&P by definition, not by observation.

    The way out it to concede that entailments are irrelevant to your argument, and that the case you are really making is that TRI by means of arbitrary systems of R&P are unevolvable.

    But you haven’t actually made that case.

    But

  45. Upright BiPed,

    Just to make sure I and everyone else understands, do you agree that a “TRUE assertion of A resulting in B being TRUE”, does NOT lead to the conclusion that a “TRUE assertion of B must result in A being TRUE”?

     

  46. Yes, it does. So that would be a valid use of “entailment.”

    Not a very useful entailment, however, as you must already know that a phenomenon has both necessary and sufficient conditions, and what they are, before reaching your conclusion that those conditions obtained.

    But, I take your point.

  47. So UB is making the claim that A implies a set B which contains all the entailments that are used in defining A.

    Then he is saying that B implies A which is essentially the same as saying that we observe everything that is used to define A, therefore A.

    I see all the entailments of a cello, therefore a cello exists. I see all the entailments of design, therefore design exists.

    In the first case, one could be hallucinating.  In the second case, one could be seeing what one wants to see by definition.  In neither case do the set of defining entailments guarantee the existence of that which the entailments define.

  48. UB:

    Bill, the argument as it is actually presented does not indicate the formulation A->B, B, therefore A.

    Many of your statements have exactly that form. For example:

    Satisfying each of the four physical entailments confirms the existence of recorded information transfer, as it is demonstrated in every form of information transfer known to exist.

    Restated:

    As the four physical entailments are demonstrated in every form of information transfer known to exist (A -> B, in every known instance), satisfying each of the four physical entailments confirms the existence of recorded information transfer. (B, therefore A).

    You repeat similar assertions throughout the discussion.

  49. Bill, if a specific thing only exist under specific conditions, then does it existence entail the existence of those specific conditions?

    The problem with this is, it’s not something one can establish empirically. If every time we observe B, we also observe A, AND if A and B are actually different things, then we have observed a pattern but not established that it is mandatory.

    If we observe thousands of white swans giving birth to white swans without exception, then if we should see a white swan, can we KNOW it had white parents? Is this an entailment, or simply a pattern being observed? Even if we did know that every swan has always been white, we cannot conclude that nonwhite swans are impossible. 

     

  50. At any rate, UB, you are now talking out of both sides of your mouth. 

    From your left vermillion borders comes the argument that because (you mistakenly claim) I have accepted an instance of “A->B. B, therefore A” in acknowledging the fire tetrahedron, you are justified in employing of an argument in that form.

    You go on to defend this invalid mode of reasoning:

    After the liberal shuffling of words to suit yourself, you state that the argument “A -> B, therefore B-> A” is fatally flawed. You make this claim without engaging any evidence whatsoever, and in fact, have repeatedly stated that no observation of evidence is even necessary.

    From the right, you deny that your argument has this form at all. 

    Which is it? 

  51. Dr.Liddle’s position seems to have evolved from accepting this argument as one for ID that she was to refute via simulation (around april 2011), to halting the simulation due to the lack of an operational definition, to finally accepting the semiotic argument regardless of any simulation, but not accepting it as an argument for ID anymore. I was just looking over some of the original posts, it’s been a wild ride going back over a year at UD:

     

    <b>30 Upright BiPed July 8, 2011 at 11:49 am</b>

    Dr Liddle,

    Allow me to be frank. The entirety of your last post was one long line of moribund cow squeeze. You have now accomplished the ideologically-necessary turn that all ID critics are forced to take when the discussion is allowed to become too honest, and too real.

    In your response above you mention: Complexity? Probability? Compressibility?

    Let me ask you a question. You mention (and I agree) that at one point in the discussion we were making progress on the issues. So, take a guess as to how many times the concepts of “complexity”, “probability”, and “compressibility” came up in that conversation?

    Exactly, none. Not even once.

    Why?

    Because the previous conversation had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with those topics. You had stated that you could demonstrate the rise of information processing by nothing more than chance and law. And I was describing the particulars of that phenomenon in order that –if– your simulation were successful, then it might be regarded as a true falsification of one of ID’s central tenets. That conversation was centered on the actual physical observations of information instantiated in matter – that of symbolic representations, the protocols necessary to decode those representations, and so on.

    But clearly that conversation came to a point that no longer suited you. After initially making some headway, you began to go off into delirium about how the chemicals involved would change states, and what not. I then reminded you that the ribosome does not change states as an observed effect of information processing. Neither does the discrete sequence. When Yockey said that there is nothing in the physico-chemical world that even looks like reactions being governed by sequences, he was correct. We were not talking about changing states, Liz, we were talking about something entirely different in nature – the processing of sequenced representations and their protocols.

    And that is precisely were the train left the track. The stipulations involved in actually showing the rise of information were just simply too much to overcome, and you reacted to it in order to defend yourself from being shown incapable of defeating the very ID tenet you sought to demonstrate. Anyone who cares to read the dialogue can easily see that. Your responses became more off base, and then simply slowed to nothing more than a drip. You even mentioned to other people that you would ‘soon’ have a response. You’ve been stalling ever since. And please save me the dung about losing track of ‘this’ and not enough time for ‘that’. I have seen you make literally dozens upon dozens of posts on this forum in the past three weeks.

    The reason you stopped the previous conversation is because you had nothing to say in front of the evidence as we find it. I even went to the trouble to post our last substantive exchange in order to get the conversation back on track. But now, unfortunately, you want to double down with topics irrelevant to the issues at hand. The grass is certainly greener over there (away from the evidence), but you discredit yourself as a price to pay. You cannot show the rise of information processing by means of chance and law, and despite your protest, you haven’t the gut to admit it. (Such an admission can not be integrated with your position, so guess what that means?)

    All your considerate politeness aside, to stand there and say you won’t hear of any charges of ‘intellectual dishonesty’ is no less expected than was the necessary change in topics of conversation.

    ———————–
    <b>Upright Biped:</b>

    Offended? Yeah, I know the feeling.

    I am more than happy to call off the dogs Dr Liddle.

    Just don’t try to abandon the previous conversation so that we can spend the next eternity arguing over Dembski and Meyers. And, do you think I care in the least that you think an material intelligence of some disembodied sort exist in the whatever whatever.

    I don’t.

    I want you to show the unguided rise of a discrete representation and the protocol to decode it within a system.

    <b>52 Upright BiPed July 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm </b>

    BIPED: ID views these symbols and their discrete protocols as formal, abstract, and with their origins associated only with the living kingdom (never with the remaining inanimate world). Their very presence reflects a break in the causal chain, where on one side is pure physicality (chance contingency + physical law) and on the other side is formalism (choice contingency + physical law). Your simulation should be an attempt to cause the rise of symbols and their discrete protocols (two of the fundamental requirements of recorded information between a
    sender and a receiver) from a source of nothing more than chance contingency and physical law.

    LIDDLE: Cool. I like that.

    BIPED: And therefore, to be an actual falsification of ID, your simulation would be required to demonstrate that indeed symbols and their discrete protocols came into physical existence by nothing more than chance and physical law.

    LIDDLE: Right.

    BIPED: The question immediately becomes “how would we know?” How is the presence of symbols and their discrete protocols observed in order to be able to demonstrate they exist? For this, I suggest we can use life itself as a model, since that is the subject on the table. We could also easily consider any number of human inventions where information (symbols and protocols) are used in an “autonomous” (non-conscious) system.

    LIDDLE: OK.

    BIPED: For instance, in a computer (where information is processed) we physically instantiate into the system the protocols that are to be used in decoding the symbols. The same can be said of any number of similar systems. Within these systems (highlighting the very nature of information) we can change the protocols and symbols and the information can (and will) continue to flow. Within the cell, the discrete protocols for decoding the symbols in DNA are physically instantiated in the tRNA and its coworkers. (This of course makes complete sense in a self-replicating system, and leads us to the observed paradox where you need to decode the information in DNA to in order to build the system capable of decoding the information in DNA).

    LIDDLE: Nicely put. And my intention is to show that it is not a paradox – that a beginning consisting of a unfeasibly improbable assemblage of molecules, brought together by no more than Chance (stochastic processes) and Necessity (physical and chemical properties)
    can bootstrap itself into a cycle of coding:building:coding:building: etc.

    BIPED: Given this is the way in which we find symbols and protocols physically instantiated in living systems (allowing for the exchange of information), it would be reasonable to expect to see these same dynamics at work in your simulation.

    LIDDLE: Yes, I agree. Cool!

    BIPED: I hope that helps you “get to the heart of what [I] think evolutionary processes can’t do”.

    LIDDLE: Yes, I think so. That is enormously helpful and just what I was looking for.

  52. I guess one person sees an argument evolving, and another sees someone chasing a moving target. Every time there seems to be an agreement on terms and meanings and Elizabeth starts to dig into the ramifications, she’s told “no, that’s not what I meant” and around we go again.

    Where we stand now, as far as I can tell, is that if semoisis involves ARBITRARY symbols, representations and protocols, then biology doesn’t qualify. Nothing in biology is arbitrary or symbolic. And if it does NOT require these things and simply refers to change of any sort, then everything is semiotic and all this discussion of representations and protocols is superfluous and irrelevant.

    And we STILL haven’t been told where ID comes into any of this. Maybe you can help things along a bit?   

  53. Lizzie:

    The problem, of course, is that if we never observe the two separately, then we don’t need to do any inferring at all.

    It’s worse than that. We have this:

    The use of representations and protocols is a necessary condition for the transfer of recorded information…

    The use of representations and protocols is a sufficient condition for the transfer of recorded information…

    The transfer of recorded information is a necessary condition for the use of representations and protocols…

    The transfer of recorded information is a sufficient condition for the use of representations and protocols.

    This is a bizarre conceptual ouroboros. Check me on this: If the use of representations and protocols provides both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the transfer of recorded information, then there can be no other causes of the transfer of recorded information. If the transfer of recorded information is both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the use of representations and protocols, there can be no other causes for for the use of representations and protocols.

    That leaves these two concepts hanging in causal space, referring solely to one another no other possible causal or conditional underpinnings. Moreover, they must always co-occur – one never appears without the other. Therefore they’re really two terms that, unbeknownst to their creator, share a single referent, and are really different manifestations of the a single, uncaused, compound phenomenon.

    It therefore can’t be an empirical claim that one causes the other or comfirms facts about the other in any meaningful sense. Its as if UB has been discussing the ways in which the morning star and evening star interact with one another, and justify empirical conclusions about one another, only to discover that both are Venus. 
     

  54. And what is even more bizarre, it’s completely irrelevant to any argument for ID.

    He could simply argue that the specific kind of information transfer observed in the cell (“the semiotic kind”) could only be designed, or could not evolve, or whatever.

    But by saying that information transfer=semiosis all he has the claim that information transfer requires a designer.

    With no evidence to support it at all.

  55. junkdnaforlife: could you please provide a link?

    I’d like to know what I said that Upright BiPed referred to as “cow squeeze”.

     

  56. Flint on June 12, 2012 at 12:43 amsaid:

    I guess one person sees an argument evolving, and another sees someone chasing a moving target. Every time there seems to be an agreement on terms and meanings and Elizabeth starts to dig into the ramifications, she’s told “no, that’s not what I meant” and around we go again.

    Exactly.  So I operationalised that proposal, and then (from my PoV), Upright moved the goalposts again.  I’d need to find the link though.  It would help if Upright and Junkdnaforlife would provide links!

    Unreferenced quotations are a pita, even with google.

  57. Junkdnaforlife,

    Since you seem to have been following the discussion for as long as many of us here and since you further seem to agree with Upright Biped’s argument, would you be willing to suggest answers to some of the open questions that Upright Biped has yet to address?

    The two that come immediately to mind are Lizzie’s “How is this an argument for ID?” and Reciprocating Bill’s “What, if anything, distinguishes ‘semiotic state’ from ‘transfer of recorded information’”.

    Naturally I wouldn’t hold Upright Biped to your answers, but it would be interesting to learn how an ID proponent interprets Upright Biped’s prose.
     

  58. Thanks!

     

    What is sort of intriguing is that UBP (without providing any links) frequently “reminds” me that my words are “on record” as though I should be worried by that.

    Interesting that I re-read those words, and find nothing to retract or be ashamed of at all.

    And yet, had I written what UBP wrote, I think I would be.

    Not that I doubt that UBP thinks that it is self-evident to the disinterested reader that I am the one dancing.  I’m just fascinated, as always, by the apparent symmetry.

  59. Those links!

    UUrrrggh…

    Must… not… repeat… AtBC… cognomen… 

  60. Although I haven’t followed the complete history with UB or WJM or Joe G, there does appear to be a common pattern with them.  They vehemently object to what they claim are unjustified or unsupported comments by the folks here; but the second that any of the folks here back up their assertions with solid evidence, UB and WJM ignore the evidence and veer off into complex pseudo-philosophical rationalizations to avoid weighing any evidence whatsoever.  Joe G just acted like a mean child.

    Part of those agonizing pseudo-philosophical constructions includes some rather nasty, condescending dismissals of pointed questions that seek clarification.

    Much of what we find over on UD seems to me to be a kvetch fest nested inside a pity party; and the ones that followed Elizabeth over here to her blog appear to want to slap her down for some obscure reason.  I don’t see anything that Elizabeth has done to deserve such rudeness.

  61. About OOL Upright says:
     

    Yes, lots of people say the same – particularly given that the material evidence is almost intractibly against a purely material origin. On the basis of “who knows” they allow themselves to ignore what is already known, and consequently they feel free to assume their conclusion about the rest.

     

    What is it that lots of people are ignoring and what is it that is already known and why does it support ID? 

    And Upright, in what way are you not assuming your own conclusion in exactly the same way that you claim others are? What’s your evidence? How come only you have access to it?

     http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/scientific-frustration/#comment-426376

  62. While we know these people can’t say what they’re thinking, they make it obvious enough. The “intractible evidence” is that life hasn’t started from scratch while we watch. What is “already known” is that goddidit. And this supports ID because it IS ID.

    Doubting any of this is the same as assuming false conclusions. Since we ALREADY HAVE the answer, looking for another implicitly assumes we don’t have the right answer, and that is an assumed conclusion.

    But don’t expect any of them to come out and SAY any of this, because that’s not part of the ID protocol, which is to imply, accuse, misrepresent, and nebulate using phrases well-understood by everyone.   

  63. Without wishing to be sycophantic, I strongly believe that they find intelligent, lucid females scary/annoying, and react very badly to them.

  64. That reaction extends to even virtual females less lucid than our gracious hostess, I assure you.

    The temptation to use your observation to draw conclusions about the lone known female ID proponent on UD is extreme, but I try to be on my best behavior here.

  65. Patrick may be alluding to the ungenerous speculations about Denyse O’Leary’s alleged transsexualism, but there is a much simpler, less fanciful conclusion to be drawn which is much more strongly supported by the evidence: If the ID-pushers of UD find “intelligent, lucid” women to be “scary/annoying”, it follows that they would react better to women who are not intelligent or not lucid — and that they should react best of all to women who are neither intelligent nor lucid.

  66. Your latter was my point, Cubist.  I thought only the disgruntled Dave Springer made the ungenerous speculation you mentioned.
     

  67. Arrington puts up a scenario over at UD that pits “atheists” against “Christians” in which testimony one would prefer if one is accused of murder.

    I am curious about how he would respond to a woman who brought up the Salem Witch Trials. How did “Christian testimony” work out in that case? It seems that it required secular authority to eventually to step in and finally end the trials.

    UD is one bizarre site. I don’t know how Elizabeth lasted as long as she did over there.

  68. As the Salem witch trials illustrate, the UD orientation isn’t bizarre at all, it is ancient and ubiquitous. SCIENCE is actually bizarre, very much a taste acquired by a peculiar and tiny minority.

  69. Yeah; perhaps that’s the point. Elizabeth was ultimately cast out; it was inevitable from the beginning.  If the scientific mind – especially a woman’s scientific mind – is considered a bizarre outlier on the spectrum of human intelligence, our understanding of evolution would suggest that such minds might well be eliminated eventually.  Then it’s back to tooth and claw and domination by alpha male priesthoods.  That’s kinda depressing; Homo scientificus becomes a dead-end branch on the tree of human evolution.

  70. I don’t think that gender had much to do with Lizzie’s bannination, as Barry banned just about everything that crawled, swam or breathed* that particular day, regardless of gender. 

    *Who either expressed opposition to or requested a rationale for the ongoing bloodbath.

  71. I agree.  I don’t think the female thing had much to do with it, and may even have had something to do with why I (and Mathgrrl) were tolerated for as long as we were.

    Or perhaps our impeccable manners :)

  72. It certainly is … er … “interesting” when creationists insist that their critics are not really reading their powerful arguments, and are neither willing nor able to answer them.    But then, when anyone tries to politely and cogently answer them, they get banned.

  73. This appears to be the source of much of UPB’s rhetoric.

    http://informatics.indiana.edu/rocha/pattee/pattee.html

    I can understand why he wouldn’t link to it because it anticipates and responds to every ID argument in the current repertoire. So my question to UPB is, how honest can it be to bring up the issues discussed in this paper without mentioning it.

    One of the characteristics of Darwin’s writing is that he started every discussion by making the best possible case for the opposition. That is why he is so easy to quote mine. But that’s the way to argue with honesty.

  74. I’ve always thought about it as cargo cult science, in a way. 

    Just look at how KF says the same thing over and over and over, simply ignoring counter points.

    It’s as if they believe that because in the past the underdog explanation can become the dominant explanation it can happen with ID as long as they keep believing. And repeating. 

    According to this google search KF has said “well warranted”  on at least 229 separate occasions. 

    http://tinyurl.com/d4ax2ju 

    Try “islands of functionality” also. 

    If it’s that “well warranted” KF then why are we still waiting for your paper?

    So why does Upright not bring things up he knows will undermine his argument? Well, perhaps repeating the “good” parts over and over will make the bad parts vanish. Lalalalalalalalalaalalalal
     

  75. petrushka on June 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm said: 

    This appears to be the source of much of UPB’s rhetoric.

    http://informatics.indiana.edu/rocha/pattee/pattee.html

    I can understand why he wouldn’t link to it because it anticipates and responds to every ID argument in the current repertoire. So my question to UPB is, how honest can it be to bring up the issues discussed in this paper without mentioning it.

    One of the characteristics of Darwin’s writing is that he started every discussion by making the best possible case for the opposition. That is why he is so easy to quote mine. But that’s the way to argue with honesty.

    Interesting.  I have a few problems with Pattee’s argument, but he seems to have written a few other papers which I am currently checking out.

  76. RB,

    Yes, it does. So that would be a valid use of “entailment.”

    Thank you, Bill.

    So a fair and modest recap would be that the term “entailment” was used in a valid manner, and the objection regarding its use is no longer on the table.

    I am under no illusions that you would accept a compliment from me, but the simple fact remains, if you had not been on this forum arguing for your perspective (as well as perhaps Allan and madbat) there would have been no reason for this conversation to even have taken place. So, thank you.

  77. Dr Liddle,

    So if a rock falls off a cliff, and lands on a beach, making a dent in the sand, it leaves “information” to someone coming along about that the event that caused the rock to fall. 

    We’ve been through this before. A dent in the sand is no more than a dent in the sand. Like the snowflakes collecting on your patio table, to become “information”, that “information” requires a mechanism in order to be brought into existence. And why do we not simply say that a dent in the sand contains information? Because it’s a willful conflation of two very different material events. If we say that the state of a thing “contains information” merely by its existence, then everything contains information, which does not account for the real material phenomena of those things which are actually arranged in order to contain information -  in order to evoke an effect within a system. We take the singularly unique material phenomenon of information transfer (the transfer of form about something) and force it to become ubiquitous among all matter, thereby forcing ourselves to create a new word to describe what the old term can no longer explain. It’s an anthropocentric reification of our human experience, imposed so that our cosmos is calculable to us (a uniquely human goal). To reify information to mean that all things “contain information” is to project our experience of information onto all things, as you yourself demonstrate by your examples. Where does the protocol reside for creating information in your stories of snow and sand? It is in the human observer. Through his/her sensory organs, the human observer transcribes the state of his surroundings into neurochemical patterns which represent the state of that environment. Those patterns, then, are a material thing which has a relationship to those surroundings. But the relationship it has to its resulting cognitive effect is necessarily arbitrary, (unless you believe that touching something warm sends warmth to your brain) and therefore that relationship must be established by a material protocol. It is then a wholly anthropocentric projection for the human observer to project that transactional relationship onto the interaction of carbon and hydrogen (for instance), knowing that the interaction of carbon and hydrogen does not involve the “transfer of information” in anything even approaching the same dynamic circumstance. These represent two entirely distinct (independently identifiable) material events. And of the observer who happens upon the dent in the sand and creates information from it; that observer needn’t be human. A foraging animal or insect may smell the revealed earth from the indention and create its own information. The point remains; this is a qualitatively different material event than the physical interactions of carbon and hydrogen. Certainly, it may be the case that mankind, by viewing all material interactions as the exchange of “information”, has extended his knowledge greatly (and there is nothing invalid with that reward). But it is an intra-disciplinary fallacy to project that human heuristic onto a fallen rock, particularly when one knows that the material circumstances involved are radically different.   

    When you remove this anthropocentric flaw from the observations, and recognize that these are two distinctly different material phenomena, then your objections just fall apart. They simply do not reflect the material reality of life or cosmos.

  78. Dr Liddle,

    As long as your definitions of “representation” and “protocol” cover my snow-covered table, my answers remain “no”  …  If they do not, then I would have to revise my answer.

    You mean IF you and I simply ignore the entire previous year of conversation, including the universally-applicable demonstration of the material roles that representations and protocols play in the transfer of recorded information? And further, are you expecting anyone to actually believe that I asked these questions while ignoring the entire previous year of conversation, including the universally-applicable demonstration of the material roles that representations and protocols play in the transfer of recorded information? Unless you actually believe that stupendously ludicrous assumption, then you knew the conditions reflected in questions you were answering, and you knew it when you answered them.

  79. RB

    This is a bizarre conceptual ouroboros. Check me on this: If the use of representations and protocols provides both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the transfer of recorded information, then there can be no other causes of the transfer of recorded information. If the transfer of recorded information is both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the use of representations and protocols, there can be no other causes for the use of representations and protocols.

    The ultimate source of the system is surely in question, but that is not the question being addressed in the semiotic argument. The question being addressed in the semiotic argument is the material operation of the system. The operation of the system results in the transfer of recorded information. The use of representations and protocols are the sufficient and necessary material conditions in order to achieve that result, and are the only means demonstrated to do so. Likewise, the transfer of recorded information is the sufficient and necessary phenomena to indicate the use of representation and protocols, and there are no other processes which demonstrate their use.

    This relationship can be observed in the example of the music box. The operation of the music box results in the playing of a specified song. The use of a representation (in the form of the pins on a rotating cylinder) as well as a protocol (in the form of spatially and tonally arranged tines) are the sufficient and necessary conditions to create the specified effect. However, having a coherent understanding of the operation of the music box does not indicate that there are no additional factors which played a role in its existence. With this fair and supported distinction, between the material operation of the system and the obvious existence of that system, no conceptual problem is introduced.

  80. To the gallery…

    It’s been interesting to read the comments that have come in after the objection of “entailment” was resolved.  I take it for granted that there aren’t any behavioral anthropologists among you.

    Most of the responses have contained the same refusal of observation which has been apparent throughout the thread. Then there others who have nothing of substance to say about the evidence, so they display their contempt by suggesting ID supporters have issues with strong (“lucid”) women. This was the crap Elzinga first threw on the table when he couldn’t think of anything relevant to say about the evidence. His comments are loaded on a spring. Ultimately, this is an insult to the women around ID’s male supporters; it implies a meekness and lack of intelligence on their part, as demonstrated above. What a snapshot; grown men who lost an argument, standing around insulting the women among their opponents. Truly Hilarious.

    Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I’m certainly willing to be the guinea pig to test your insults. I was raised around nothing but strong, intelligent women. My father (a working architect) was killed when I was two, so my brother and I were raised by a mother, grandmother, and two older sisters. My grandmother operated a vegetable farm of several hundred acres, by herself, as well as a small business in a nearby town. After my father’s death, my mother provided for the family by entering the business community with a small operation of three retail shops. She floated around in various business domains for a while, finally landing in Broadcast Media where she was extremely successful for decades – universally recognized as a woman knocking down walls in a man’s world. As for my sisters, one of them expressed her meekness by permanently painting “Question Authority” across the back window of her car in her twenties, and the other thumbed to Florida and took a puddle-hopper to the Caribbean where she lived for years. She now moderates a forum dedicated to political topics, where she sometimes schools the neophytes and loudmouths on the finer historical details of international affairs. These women are hardly wallflowers. As for my wife, she holds two professional licenses from our state, owns a professional agency, and is an acknowledged and sought-after commissioned artist. And when our city council holds its meetings for codes and restrictions on land development, she’s easy to pick out of the crowd because she’s the cute one in the center, the one with the gavel in her hand running the show.

    So I think these insults miss the mark when compared to reality. Basically, they reek of what they are. The issue between Elizabeth Liddle and I has nothing to do with her gender (for crying out loud). As an actively participating critic of ID, she claimed that she had never heard of an ID argument of any merit, while simultaneously committing herself to months/weeks/years of work in order to falsify one of them. It was brought to her attention that if the argument being given to her needed to be falsified, then she was in touch with an ID argument of merit. Her response can hardly be seen as an act of intellectual fairness – neither to her opponents, nor more importantly, to the material evidence. Conceding to me has no particular value, but conceding to the evidence is a disciplinary requirement of science.   

    If you think I should ignore this because Dr Liddle is a woman, then you are asking for something that the women around me would never expect. I can assure you they’d never swap fairness and honesty for having a polite conversation.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    By the way, isn’t it “er…interesting” the number of critics who followed this argument, making themselves known by their one-liners, but never getting in the ring with the evidence.

  81. Petrushka, lol 

    Firstly, I can assure you that your paper is not the source of the semiotic argument. I hadn’t read this particular paper, but Pattee has been referenced in several other papers I’ve read over the years.

    More importantly… Did you even read the paper?!?! Methinks you need to read it again, this time without the blinders.

    Try starting at the first sentence in the Abstract: “Evolution requires the genotype-phenotype distinction, a primeval epistemic cut that separates energy-degenerate, rate-independent genetic symbols from the rate-dependent dynamics of construction that they control.”

    Keep reading until you get to the point where Pattee states that the apparent isolation of symbolic control from physics is an observational necessity – but is still an illusion. I am assuming this is what you’ve bet the farm on, given that it fits your typical assertion that symbolic control is just an illusion to confound the illiterate masses. The problem here is that Pattee is hardly denying the existence of symbolic control. He’s not denying that “rate-independent genetic symbols” control “rate-dependent dynamics of construction”, or “quiescent molecular structures form the genome and the coding constraints that have been controlling protein synthesis for billions of years”, or that “novel structures have no possibility of reliable replication without a symbolic memory”, or that “an adequate description requires the two irreducibly complementary concepts of dynamical laws and non-integrable constraints that are not derivable from the laws”, or that “memory-stored controls transform symbols to physical states”, or that “the essential problem of life” is “how symbolic structures control dynamics”. In fact, he has gone out of his way throughout the paper describing the reality of those very things. When Pattee states that the apparent isolation of symbolic control from physical law is an illusion, he is stating his position that symbolic control cannot be entirely separated from physical law. He is stating that the symbol (which he does not deny) cannot be entirely “autonomous” from physical law, or to put it in the form of a question: can a symbol exist separated from matter and law? This is not an issue even raised by the semiotic argument, except to the extent that it is taken for granted that the symbol requires a material medium and is therefore subject to material law. At the very minimum, the symbol requires a relation to material law in order to have an effect. This is an obvious agreement, not a contradiction. But please note here; Pattee is talking about a distinction between symbolic control that has some relations to physical law, and symbolic control that has no relation at all to physical law.  He says in the very next sentence:  “In other words, making a clear distinction is not the same as isolation from all relations”. The “distinction” he is referring to is the distinction we make in the observation of symbols as having a referent – of the symbol being on one side of the cut and the referent being on the other. Or, as he states in his opening sentence, the distinction between rate-independent genetic symbols and their rate-dependent effects. Also note that the semiotic argument very specifically treats all symbolic matter solely by its physical existence. Not only is the semiotic argument in general harmony with Pattee’s observations, it’s virtually a manifestation of it to the extent that it is an accounting of the material objects and roles required for symbolic control.

    Now keep reading until you get to the last point of the conclusion: “if you abstract away the details of how subject and object interact, the “very peculiar range” of sizes and behaviors of the allosteric polymers that connect subject and object, the memory controlled construction of polypeptides, the folding into highly specific enzymes and other functional macromolecules, the many-to-many map of sequences to structures, the self-assembly, and the many conformation dependent controls – in other words, if you ignore the actual physics involved in these molecules that bridge the epistemic cut, then it seems unlikely that you will ever be able to distinguish living organisms by the dynamic laws of “inorganic corpuscles” or from any number of coarse-grained artificial simulations and simulacra of life. Is it not plausible that life was first distinguished from non-living matter, not by some modification of physics, some intricate nonlinear dynamics, or some universal laws of complexity, but by local and unique heteropolymer constraints that exhibit detailed behavior unlike the behavior of any other known forms of matter in the universe?”

    OMTWO should read along with you. And I urge you both to read for context.

    Cheers…

  82. in other words, if you ignore the actual physics involved in these molecules that bridge the epistemic cut, then it seems unlikely that you will ever be able to distinguish living organisms by the dynamic laws of “inorganic corpuscles” or from any number of coarse-grained artificial simulations and simulacra of life. Is it not plausible that life was first distinguished from non-living matter, not by some modification of physics, some intricate nonlinear dynamics, or some universal laws of complexity, but by local and unique heteropolymer constraints that exhibit detailed behavior unlike the behavior of any other known forms of matter in the universe?”

    I read the first part of this to mean that simulations of life are not likely to be “complete” because physics and chemistry exhibit emergence — that is, combinations of elements exhibit properties that cannot be predicted from the properties of the constituents.

    “detailed behavior unlike the behavior of any other known forms of matter.”

     
    That’s really the heart of my argument against design.  Design requires abstraction and simulation, and it does not appear that this is or ever will be possible.

    This may be the part that Elizabeth objects to. Most of us think there is some value in abstracting the principle of evolution in GAs and such. And I agree that it is necessary to demonstrate mathematically the concepts of population genetics and selection.

    My point is that such demonstrations do not have the power to simulate life.  Not because the mathematics is is wrong, but because the computational power is unavailable and will not be available until and unless we build quantum computers. Chemistry is simply faster than simulations of chemistry.
     
    This is why design of life is impossible without evolution. Evolution is simply faster than any conceivable simulation of evolution. 

    But perhaps you can elucidate your concept of design by demonstrating how a designer would know, for example, the properties of a 500 element DNA sequence without building it and testing it. What Harry Potter magic is involved in poofing  such things into existence?

    How do you get these long molecules without evolving them? Show your math. 

  83. UBP:
    While we are on the subject of reading for context, I’d appreciate your take on the context. Would you say that overall, the author is arguing for or against evolution?

    What do you make of the following?

    We know that protein sequences are functionally highly redundant and that many amino acid replacements do not significantly alter the function. We also know that many base sequence aliases can construct proteins with essentially the same shape. Also, simplified models of RNA secondary folding suggest that the search is not like looking for a specific needle in an infinite haystack, but looking for any needle in a haystack full of needles that are uniformly distributed (e.g., Schuster, 1994).  

     

  84. What horrible special pleading. But I must ask, given the above, do you believe information can exist without an observer / interpreter?

    I’d also like your opperational definition of ‘infomation’ – at est that anyone can use for demarcation.

  85. Most of the responses have contained the same refusal of observation which has been apparent throughout the thread.

    And this statement shows immediately why you’re not communicating. You are saying “all dogs bark, I hear a bark, therefore I KNOW it’s a dog!”

    And when others continually point out that many things bark besides dogs, you fall back on “dogs bark. LOOK at the observations. We observe dogs barking! How can you sit there and say dogs don’t bark? OF COURSE dogs bark. The evidence of barking dogs is incontrovertible. Doesn’t evidence MATTER to you people? What’s WRONG with you?”

    And when we repeat that many things bark besides dogs, so when you hear a bark the best you can say is that dogs are not ruled either in or out, back you come with “Everyone here simply refuses to admit that dogs bark!”

    After a while, this gets old.     

     

  86. Replying to her question would have been easier, and would have clarified your position enormously. But instead of explaining, answering, or clarifying you choose insults, hand-waving, requests that we “look over there”, and implications of dishonesty – complete with addressing Elizabeth in a way that she explicitly, repeatedly, asked you not to!

    As a suggestion, ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION! 

  87. UB asserts: It is then a wholly anthropocentric projection for the human observer to project that transactional relationship onto the interaction of carbon and hydrogen (for instance), knowing that the interaction of carbon and hydrogen does not involve the “transfer of information” in anything even approaching the same dynamic circumstance.

    So are you claiming that the structure and properties of benzene are an anthropomorphic projection onto carbon and hydrogen? What about more complex structures?

    You claim that star formation does not involve “representations and protocols” and therefore, by your apparent definition, is not an example of semiotics. And now you seem to be suggesting that molecular structures are anthropomorphic projections onto atoms and molecules. Do these structures exist outside the human mind? Are their properties dependent on the human mind? Are their properties different for different species of animal or plant – or extraterrestrial?

    You still haven’t answered where along the chain of increasing complexity in atoms and molecules “representations and protocols” take over from physics and chemistry; and now you seem to be suggesting that we engage in anthropomorphic projections onto things like carbon and hydrogen.

    What about Keplers’ laws; are these anthropomorphic projections? What about Newton’s law of gravitation? How about general relativity? What about quantum mechanics? Are physics and chemistry anthropomorphic projections?

    Aren’t you simply projecting “representations and protocols” onto atoms and molecules like proteins. Where along the spectrum of increasing complexity in atoms and molecules does it become legitimate to project “representations and protocols” onto atoms and molecules? How do you justify this for proteins and not other molecules?

    You apparently think there is something different about proteins; yet you can’t tell us what it is. Is there some point along the spectrum of molecular complexity where “representations and protocols” replace chemistry and physics? If physics and chemistry are anthropomorphic projections, why isn’t semiotics?

    This is a simple question about a continuum of complexity; yet you can’t seem to grasp it.

    Go way back to Flint’s suggestion. Start with proteins – for which you claim “representations and protocols” apply – and start stepping down in complexity from there. Where do “representations and protocols” stop and physics and chemistry take over.

  88. UB says:OMTWO should read along with you. And I urge you both to read for context.

    What’s with the condescension?

    Have you ever heard of emergent properties? You have never acknowledged that such things are a regular feature of the universe at all levels of complexity.

    Can you explain why the compound called water has properties that are completely different from the properties of hydrogen and oxygen?

    Why do large collections of copper atoms in the form of a solid have hundreds of properties that are entirely different from and not evident in individual copper atoms?

    Do you understand how the properties of molecules and large collections of atoms and molecules depend on the temperature of the environment in which they are immersed?

  89. It’s been interesting to read the comments that have come in after the objection of “entailment” was resolved

    You have declared that the objection of entailment has been resolved, but that declaration does not resolve the objection. It’s pretty obvious that you have no logical foundation and are trying to obfuscate that fact.

  90. The problem remains the same – UBP has repeatedly and continuously refused to provide the overall outline of his argument. How is semiotics an argument for ID? The answer to this basic question doesn’t seem hidden anywhere in the haze of verbiage we get instead of a single answer to even the simplest question.

    So, once again, I think it would make most sense to us if UBP’s points were presented in a standard format: Present the abstract, which starts with the conclusion, gives an overview of the data supporting that conclusion, and a brief explanation of how it does so.

    THEN, and only then, does it make sense to start digging down into individual observations. Observations are meaningless except insofar as they support or refute some hypothesis. So they hypotheses need to be presented from the top down, something like:
    1) Since only a Designer can produce a semiotic process, if we can establish beyond doubt that there IS such a process going on, we’ve found evidence of the Designer at work.
    2) Chemistry and physics become semiotic, and not merely mechanical, at THIS level of complexity (make it clear BOTH where that level is, and WHY that’s the necessary level).
    3) Show exactly how semiosis is at work at that level, and why equally complex processes like star formation don’t count.

    So far, sifting through the haze of verbiage, all I can get is “biological processes are semiotic because I DEFINE them to be semiotic, even though this definition does considerable insult to the meaning of the term as everyone else understands it.”  

    And others have been saying “Doesn’t look semiotic according to any common understanding, but we’ll grant you your ideosyncratic definition if it will inspire you to GET TO THE POINT, namely how this relates to ID.”

    (Although Bill has been pointing out repeatedly that UPB is either affirming the consequent or engaging in circular reasoning depending on his shifting definitions of words, and this complaint has been met basically with “that’s not true because I SAY it’s not true”, over and over)

    I personally think UBP is accustomed to “amen” as a response to his sermons, rather than “this argument is incomplete, illogical and unsatisfactory”. That’s not how it’s DONE at his church.           

  91. Silly boy. “Representations and protocols” only applies to living things, and living things can be be distinguished from nonliving by the presence of representations and protocols. Now go away.

  92. Petrushka says:Silly boy. “Representations and protocols” only applies to living things, and living things can be be distinguished from nonliving by the presence of representations and protocols. Now go away.

    That appears to be about the most concise summary of UB’s “argument” we have so far.

    He certainly knows how to keep focusing attention on himself while never saying anything. Wonder where he learned that.

    Oh my; I suspect we have become enablers!

  93. I personally think UBP is accustomed to “amen” as a response to his sermons, rather than “this argument is incomplete, illogical and unsatisfactory”. That’s not how it’s DONE at his church.   

    I haven’t seen any of the regulars at the ID table using or adopting UPB’s argument. Not Dembski, nor Behe, nor Axe, nor Wells, nor any of the published regulars. The article I linked mentions the chicken and egg problem, which I think is at the core of UPB’s argument. Which came first, the code or the reader.

    If UPB would just make this explicit we could begin a discussion. If it isn’t the core of his argument, then it would be helpful to know what the core is.

    For me, the problem for ID is that evolution is both observable and amenable to experimental manipulation. Not only doe ID not have any candidates for the designer, it also lacks any credibility based on observed instances or demonstrations of concept.  There is nothing in the design pantheon equivalent to the GA. There is no demonstration that it is even possible to anticipate the utility of a coding sequence without building it and subjecting it to selection.

  94. Somebody at UD says ” If someone left a Stonehenge on Mars I’d bet they left some other traces and evidence. ” and upright responds:

     

    Traces and evidence, you mean like the functional control of protein synthesis from symbols-based memory?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/engineer-says-the-atom-has-a-designer-trolls-disagree/#comment-426608

    Cargo cult science. Instead of Stonehenge, insert X and Upright’s response will remain the same. Why should it change? 

    And I urge you both to read for context.

    Upright Biped, who or what created the representations and protocols?
     

    And why? And when? And *how do you know*? And why is this an argument for ID? What sort of ID? Alien ID? Can’t be, can it? Must be “God” ID then? Any particular flavour of god? Where does this “symbols-based memory” come from, if you don’t know then can you rule anything out? We can rule out Aliens, right? Or ghosts? What about invisible pink unicorns? 

    And it’s funny how you never get into conversations about what your revelation means. Not very productive is it? 

    The use of representations and protocols are the sufficient and necessary material conditions in order to achieve that result, and are the only means demonstrated to do so. Likewise, the transfer of recorded information is the sufficient and necessary phenomena to indicate the use of representation and protocols, and there are no other processes which demonstrate their use.

    And therefore, what?

    Go on, it’s still your go. Do something.

    So what is it that you think you have proven with this chain of logic? 

     

    But please note here; Pattee is talking about a distinction between symbolic control that has some relations to physical law, and symbolic control that has no relation at all to physical law.

    It’s interesting how you feel you can interpret what somebody else is really saying.

    When Pattee states that the apparent isolation of symbolic control from physical law is an illusion, he is stating his position that symbolic control cannot be entirely separated from physical law. He is stating that the symbol (which he does not deny) cannot be entirely “autonomous” from physical law, or to put it in the form of a question: can a symbol exist separated from matter and law?

    Tell you what. Why don’t you simply write a paper! Publish it and then you’ll be expanding the canon of human knowledge a little. Then you won’t have to interpret somebody else’s words to make your argument. Your argument is all over the place and seems to cover many bases. So why not condense it into it’s essence and publish it? You’ve probably spent more time and words on defending it to random internet people then it would have take to write it once and get it out there in the journals. You see, unlike you I’m not making any grand claims. So it’s not me that has to “read for comprehension”. It’s you. And by all means, continue to argue on the internet. It’s great fun. Especially the condescension, it’s not a put down, just vastly amusing.

    So if traces and evidence like the functional control of protein synthesis from symbols-based memory is available, what is it evidence of? ID? Why? What sort of ID? Aliens? etc etc. 

  95. UB:

    So a fair and modest recap would be that the term “entailment” was used in a valid manner, and the objection regarding its use is no longer on the table.

    Unfortunately, all you’ve done in reserving for yourself this use of “entailment” (using the fire triangle/tetrahedron as an illustration) is express more explicitly the fact that your conclusions are assumed.

    The notion of entailment is useful in a scientific/empirical context because it permits the generation and test of theoretical claims by empirical means using the logic of modus tollens. I stated this clearly earlier in the discussion:

    Science often proceeds by invoking exactly the reasoning I describe. As I stated earlier, “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.”

    You will recognize this as the logic of hypothesis testing. Theoretical utterances, to be useful, must have operationalizable entailments, by means of which the theory may be tested. Those entailments must predict the outcome of observations, such that failure make the predicted observation places the theory at risk of disconfirmation (a form of entailment that is entirely absent from UB’s semiotic theory, as well as ID theory generally). You will also recognize the provisional nature of the support a scientific theory receives from observational success. It could still be wrong. It is by means of this logic of entailment that, in the real world, “judgments are made based on the evidence.”

    Although you use the word “entailment” and claim to be deriving conclusions from observations, your usage of that term does not denote a entailment in the sense that is useful in generating testable predictions. 

    Rather, you use “entailment” in the sense that, if A denotes the necessary and sufficient conditions for B, then B “entails” A. That’s a big if, however, because from B it only follows that sufficient conditions for B have obtained, not that that these sufficient conditions are also necessary (and therefore exclusive) conditions. Whether they are also necessary conditions must be established independently.

    In the instance of the fire tetrahedron it is the fact that we already know by other means that the fire tetrahedron represents sufficient and necessary conditions for combustion, justifying your B – > A inference. Therefore all you learn from B -> A regarding necessary conditions is something you already know. Not a very powerful inference.

    But you don’t have even that luxury vis your argument.

    When you say, “If a specific thing only exist under specific conditions…,” that too is a big “if,” because you haven’t established that your specific thing exists only given those specific conditions. Unlike the fire tetrahedron, you have no independent support for the thesis that yours are both sufficient and necessary conditions for the phenomenon in question – other than your mutually referenced definitions.

    But that is the claim at issue, and that claim calls for an evidentiary basis you have yet to supply. It can’t be settled by uttering definitions. It can’t be settled by pointing out that B -> A if A denotes the necessary and sufficient conditions of B, because that requires you to assume that A denotes the necessary and sufficient condition for B. Indeed, the only move you’ve made that supports your claim that your “listed entailments” are both sufficient and necessary for the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state are your definitions of these terms as as such, relative to one another (cf, “ouroboros,” above).

    So the semiotic theory continues to hang from a logical skyhook.

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