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. Excellent takedown of the foundational premises of UB’s “theory.”Facts are fun.

  2. RB,

    Correct. I assert (not suggest) that you do not understand entailment, and due to your failure to grasp entailment you have constructed an argument beset with a fatal logical flaw.

    The flaw in your analogy was demonstrated to you long ago. It was demonstrated with the prediction that you’d ignore the demonstration for the very purpose of repeating the analogy.

    Correct. Entailment may be 100% reliable, yet by itself the presence of that which is entailed does not confirm.

    Again, there is nothing difficult about “entailment”, nor is there anything new here. You haven’t shown that when a thing has a necessary consequence, the presence of that consequence cannot confirm the nature of the process which created it. All you can do is assert (and reassert) that another process can create those same consequences without having that nature. But you steadfastly refuse to engage the material argument in order to support this claim. You’ve preferred to simply insist upon it instead. What do you call someone who insists that something exist, for which they have no material evidence, in the face of evidence to the contrary?

    Sure I have. Some entailment maybe 100% reliable. Being a bachelor entails being male with 100% certainty. A entails B with 100% reliability, by definition in this case. In the present instance I am counting your “listed entailments” among those that are 100% reliable for the sake of argument. Specifically, I grant for the sake of argument that “a semiotic state” entails your “listed impairments” with 100% certainty. A entails B with 100% reliability.

    As has been asked previously, “reliable at what?”  I asked this question in order to see if it was possible to provoke you into abandoning your malformed analogy, and reformulating your objection in a way that actually reflects the issue at hand. The material entailments are reliable at confirming the transfer of recorded information. Representations and protocols are physical requirements of the transfer of recorded information (you, nor anyone else, can even conceive of an alternative). Semiosis is the proper descriptive term for the use of representations and protocols in the transfer of recorded information. When you “specifically grant for the sake of argument” your very own disanalogy, then you’ve done nothing whatsoever about the actual argument.

    Sure I have, as have several others. It does not follow from “A entails B” that “B entails A.” Therefore B cannot confirm A. One cannot confirm bachelorhood solely by determining that a person is male.

    Again, you repeat the disanalogy as if it were manna from Logicville. Your  “A entails B” that “B entails A” has no analogous correspondence to “the transfer of information is necessarily semiotic, and has observable material consequences which demonstrate the use of representations and protocols”. For an analogy to function as an analogy, it must demonstrate the same relationships as the thing to which it is said to be analogous. I said early on that you would continue to disregard this little requirement, and that you would do so for the underlying reason that you do not want to engage the evidence in earnest. In your last post you repeated the disanalogy so many times it appears to be a chant. But it’s still a disanalogy. And as for my prediction, you’ve repeatedly claimed that no evidence to support your position is necessary, given that you also endowed your objection with the additional claim that it’s “logical”.

    As for evidence for my position: recall that my position is that your argument is fatally logically flawed.

    And therein lies the defense of your position. In place of legitimately attacking the argument, you’ve provided your very own false analogy to object to, and you’ve tediously repeated that objection as a means to prolong its use. But claiming a false analogy is “logical” without providing evidence doesn’t last long, does it? 

    Now all you have to do is provide some evidence beyond your claim.

  3. RB,

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

    The relationships of these things have been sufficiently provided.

    “Representations and protocols are physical requirements of the transfer of recorded information (you, nor anyone else, can even conceive of an alternative). Semiosis is the proper descriptive term for the use of representations and protocols in the transfer of recorded information.

  4. Allan,

    That’s all that’s going on here. We can represent this physical interaction symbolically.

    Aminoacyl synthetases were establishing (in isolation) the otherwise non-existent material relationship between codons and amino acids long before we showed up to describe it. Which do you think would be more difficult; predicting amino acids from the material make-up of nucleotides or coding for the production of a ribosome in a mono acid system?

  5. Upright BiPed:  “Representations and protocols are physical requirements of the transfer of recorded information (you, nor anyone else, can even conceive of an alternative).”

    But you haven’t shown that information is even being “transferred”.

    You haven’t shown that the information is “recorded” anywhere.

    You are using an “Information Technology” analogy without any evidence of related components in a living cell.

    Where is the ALU, the address decoder, the data bus, the accumulator, the program counter, the instruction decoder, the memory interface, in short, everything required to support your analogy?

    You have simply asserted “it must be a code” with absolutely no evidence to back it up.

    Show some evidence that those components that are necessary for your model, actually exist.

     

  6. Thorton,

    But you haven’t shown that information is even being “transferred”.

    You’re right. Crick, Watson, Nirenberg, Matthaei, Hogland, and Zamecnik did that.

    “You haven’t shown that the information is “recorded” anywhere.”

    Does the transfer of recorded information have a material basis? If so, can we observe it? If so, what would it look like?

    You are using an “Information Technology” analogy without any evidence of related components in a living cell.

    Where is the ALU, the address decoder, the data bus, the accumulator, the program counter, the instruction decoder, the memory interface, in short, everything required to support your analogy?”

    Incorrect. It is you that is using a computer analogy. I described the material transfer of recorded information through the arrangement of matter – just as it is observed in every transfer of recorded information ever witnessed. If the transfer of recorded information requires a wallplug as you suggest, then there was no transfer of information prior to the last century. Frankly, your position sounds a bit sketchy.

    You have simply asserted “it must be a code” with absolutely no evidence to back it up.

    Show some evidence that those components that are necessary for your model, actually exist.

    You want me to prove the existence of DNA, mRNA, tRNA, amino acids, aminoacyl synthetase, and the ribosome?

  7. UB:
    “Your “A entails B” that “B entails A” has no analogous correspondence to ‘the transfer of information is necessarily semiotic, and has observable material consequences which demonstrate the use of representations and protocols’.”

    Sure it does:

    A : B :: Transfer of semiotic information : observable material consequences

    More specifically:

    A entails B  ::  The transfer of semiotic information entails observable material consequences. (Have you not been calling them “listed entailments?”) 

    Yet it does not follow from A entails B that B entails A. (Cf: numerous examples illustrating same, above.) 

    Similarly, it does not follow from “the transfer of semiotic information entails observable material consequences” that “the observation of those consequences entails (“successfully confirms”) the transfer of semiotic information.”  

    (Unless, of course, you assume the conclusion that only semiotic processes can yield those entailments.) 

    So, an entirely apt analogy.

    “Now all you have to do is provide some evidence beyond your claim.”

    One only need find one hole in a bucket to know it doesn’t hold water. This is a very large hole in your semiotic bucket, logical in nature. Claiming it has good sides and and sturdy handle doesn’t help.

    “Representations and protocols are physical requirements of the transfer of recorded information (you, nor anyone else, can even conceive of an alternative). Semiosis is the proper descriptive term for the use of representations and protocols in the transfer of recorded information.”
     

    But does “semiosis” entail anything that “transfer of recorded information does not?  If not, why invoke it? If so, what are those additional entailments?

    And what does all of this have to do with intelligent design, anyway?

    ——

    Now, as fascinating is this mulberry bush has become, I’m off first thing in the AM to Memphis to watch my daughter graduate. Then she embarks on her biophysics Ph.D. at the Scripts Research Institute in Ca. Therefore I may or may not check in over the next few days.  

     

  8. Upright BiPed: “You want me to prove the existence of DNA, mRNA, tRNA, aminoacyl synthetase, and the ribosome?”

    I want you to prove your “model”, not the “reality” you are attempting to “model”.

    At some point for your “information” transfer, you will have a “transmitter” and a “receiver”, and in between the two, the “information” that is being “transferred”.

    If you can’t show this, you have not shown that “information” is being “transferred”.

    Do you agree that in order for “information” to be “transferred” it must actually be “sent” and then “received”?

    If you can’t show “information” being “transferred” between a “sender” and a “receiver”, do you think you have proven that “information” was actually “sent” and “received”?

    Why is it so difficult for you to show what you claim?

    “Define” the “protocol” under which your semiotic elements are “transferred”.

    Show how it’s done.

     

  9. First, that was Toronto you were responding to, not me.

    Second, you have yet to show the chemistry that takes DNA to protein involves SEMIOTIC information.

    You keep dancing around the problem but it won’t go away UB.

  10. When sodium and chlorine react to form table salt, is that a transfer of SEMIOTIC information?

    Yes or no, and why?

  11. Upright Biped:

    “Representations and protocols are physical requirements of the transfer of recorded information (you, nor anyone else, can even conceive of an alternative). Semiosis is the proper descriptive term for the use of representations and protocols in the transfer of recorded information.”

    I asked before about autocatalysts, and you defined “recorded information” in a way that excluded them. One of the problems of doing that, from your point of view, is that it means that recorded information, by your definition, would not have been necessary for the first self-replicating molecules on this planet. And as such molecules can sometimes reproduce with variation, and the variants can then faithfully self-replicate themselves, then your “recorded information” isn’t actually necessary for Darwinian evolution to commence.

    Of course, you could change this definition, or you could argue that in order for autocatalyctic molecules to self-replicate, the matter that forms into daughter molecules must recognize the information in a template, and that this is a basic protocol. 

    Another thing I’m wondering is what the connection of signalling to intelligent design is. The overwhelming majority of organisms that use signs to communicate within and between species aren’t intelligent at all. Intelligent signalling is relatively rare. 

  12. Aminoacyl synthetases were establishing (in isolation) the otherwise non-existent material relationship between codons and amino acids long before we showed up to describe it.

    Amino acyl synthetases are proteins, synthesised in ribosomes: they evidently did not establish any relationship prior to their own ribosome-coded existence – however they arose. It’s a nice chicken-and-egg problem for the evolutionist – but simply insisting “CHICKEN!” is not conclusive. I think a case can be made for the egg.

    aaRSs charge tRNA with an amino acid. That’s all they do. They are no different from any other enzyme that performs a similar feat of condensation (the linkage is a close cousin of that catalysed by rRNA in forming the peptide bond – ie, this is a reaction that is well within the capability of RNA catalysis). The charged tRNA then buzzes off to be a substrate in a ribosome – the product of one catalyst is a substrate for another, as in any biochemical pathway. By alignment upon an mRNA substrate, two tRNA molecules are physically stabilised by base pairing, and condensed – IF they can base-pair with it.

    This system is a method of making a series of peptide bonds – hold the components together and meld them, with a recycling system to recharge the components for reuse. In my hypothetical poly-U example, no representational relationship exists between UUU and phenylalanine; AAA-anticodon tRNAs are simply the only kind there is. UUU causes attachment of phenylalanine; all other codons cause STOP.

    Such a system is highly susceptible to mutation – anything that changes a U causes the triplet it is in to say STOP. Some STOPs are necessary; a matrix containing little but STOPs a pain. But with small adjustments, a broader tRNA set can cover more of the options, without any necessary increase in acid specificity. The single “pre-aaRS” charges any uncharged tRNA it finds.

    But as well as duplicating tRNA, you can get duplication of a “pre-aaRS”. Changes at its sites of action (DHL recognition and acid binding sites) are not compelled to be in step with each other. Render the DHL-detecting end more specific, and the two aaRS’s would have subdivided a codon group with no change in the peptide result. But change the amino acid attached at the other end, and the tRNAs to which each is tuned would have a different effect on finished peptides.

    This last step would equate to the ‘birth of semiosis’ (if you were susceptible to a non-ID scenario!). The early system simply made a binary distinction between something and nothing – a mRNA codon either bound a tRNA or didn’t. If it did, it was stripped of its acid. The first derivative system increased the frequency of ‘something’ and decreased that of ‘nothing’, without changing the representational result, by expansion of the tRNA codon library. The next stage, duplication of the “pre-aaRS”, subdivides that tRNA set – and now, of a sudden, we have an apparently representational code, because one broad codon group causes attachment of one acid, another causes attachment of a different one (and the rest remain as STOP).

    In this (hypothetical) scenario, the ‘representational’ version arises out of the non-representational one. By further binary subdivision, it becomes more and more ‘code-like’ … but it never really gets there. There is not a one-for-one relationship between ‘symbol’ (codon) and amino acid. It is therefore not bidirectional – one cannot take the amino acid sequence and determine its nucleic acid representation, even today. And it is highly circumstantial. So, what we perceive as a symbolic representation
    CAT -> feline
    SAT -> pp sitting
    MAT -> small carpet

    could give the completely unrelated ‘words’
    xxC
    ATS
    ATM
    ATx

    xCA
    TSA
    TMA
    Txx

    Depending on what goes on ‘upstream’.

    And because of degeneracy, the same ‘message’ could be carried in many ways, eg
    CAT,ARG,WNK, OOB -> feline
    SAT, EEG, JJH, TGS -> pp sitting
    MAT, UNK, FSH -> small carpet

    ie, it looks less and less like a communication system the more it is examined, IMO.

    Which do you think would be more difficult; predicting amino acids from the material make-up of nucleotides or coding for the production of a ribosome in a mono acid system?

    I doubt that the nucleotide triplets have a close relationship to the amino acids they give rise to. I know there are some who think they do. But the essence of ‘coding’ for a ribosome? Well, in a world dominated by RNA catalysis, it would be made in exactly the same way RNA catalysts are made today: template-mediated polymerisation from a prior nucleic acid strand, using the ‘real’ code: the base-pairing rules A-T and C-G. Such a method would yield the rRNA, tRNA, mRNA and the now-extinct ribozymes that preceded aaRSs.

    The first three RNAs retain their broad roles today; the latter has been completely replaced by protein aaRSs. Once you can make protein, you can start to capitalise on its versatility as a catalyst. Initially, since most catalysis is the job of RNA, the code is labile. But the more critical protein becomes, the less leeway there is in further change to the “code”. It crystallises. I KNOW this is a complex setup (and hypothetical; hi Joe G!) – but that is not the issue. The issue is “semiosis”, and whether we are entitled to infer it from its modern state, given the possibility that it had a precursor.

  13. You want me to prove the existence of DNA, mRNA, tRNA, amino acids, aminoacyl synthetase, and the ribosome?

    I, for one, would like some actual evidence that this system was actually designed by an intelligence.  Arguments via definition and metaphor and analogy are not evidence.

  14. Why does the OP page link say “Comments are closed” when they’re not?

  15. Upright BiPed, if you want to refer to some previously made argument or demonstration, please either provide a link or at least a precis.  Not everyone has followed every post in this long conversation, over several threads and two sites.

    The rule at this site is: “assume the other poster is posting in good faith”.  That includes the assumption that if someone queries an argument you have made, it is because they think there is a problem with it, not simply that they have missed, or misunderstood, some previous explication of it.

    Reciprocating Bill has given you some extremely pertinent responses which you have largely ignored, as has Allan Miller.

    I have asked you some extremely pertinent questions which you have either ignored or dismissed.

    This is a problem.

     

     

  16. Your “rule” is total bullshit as it is obvious that evos do NOT post in good faith.

    The problem is that you guys do not have any evidence for your position. If you did you would just post it and that evidence would refute UB.

    THAT is how it goes. The way you are going about it tells the lurkers that you have nothing. Good job.   

  17. Hi Allan,

    Again imagination is not a precursor. As I said the materiastic scenario requires a precursor. But that does not mean there was one on this planet. 

  18. Dr Liddle, a few days ago you came onto this thread and posted a positioning statement. You positioned me as being (let us say) unreliably available to comment, suggesting this as a viable reason to remove the sticky status from this thread, given that I was only “occasionally” contributing. Yet at that time, I had posted 47 responses on this thread, which was far and away the most contributions of anyone. I had responded to roughly 6-8 objectors fairly consistently and had gone through seven rounds of exchanges at that point, each at a fair rate of responding. In its entirety, none of this seemed to inhibit anyone from participating, as aptly demonstrated by the repeated participation.

    You then moved a rather benign comment on my part (two sentences) to guano along with one of the many assertion-fests posted by Thorton, only to allow that same assertion-fest to suddenly re-appear in the thread a little later in the day.

    You then posted a comment positioning any disagreement between myself and the objectors as a “deep gulf” of misunderstanding – which is a political theme you’ve repeatedly returned to for the past months regarding this argument. You keep positioning the argument here as incomprehensible, even though I have provided you with links to comments you made during our initial conversation (when the material basis of the argument was being explained to you) where your responses were things like “Sure” “Great” and “Well said!”. You even complimented me on providing a definition of information which you characterized as “more defensible” than others, e.g. “As we have agreed, your criterion for inferring intelligent design is stricter and more defensible” (8/11/2011). You only began to promote this idea that you couldn’t understand the argument after you were forced to recant your original claim of being able to simulate the rise of information from scratch. Your need to position the argument as incomprehensible has been non-stop since then. This is evidenced even by the OP to this thread, where you once again position the argument as “confusing” (3/29/2012). This has been the consistent theme you’ve promoted, such as “struggling to understand“ (10/31/2011) even though you have clearly understood the argument for months on end (e.g. “But sure, information transfer is going to entail physical arrangements of matter. And let’s allow “representation” to be the thing-that-is-read, like DNA”).  In fact, you are now asking me to respond to a post of yours from a few days ago where you basically describe the entire argument of “recorded information transfer” in modest but accurate detail, only to question if Darwinian evolution could not have created it. And this, after you’ve admitted that Darwinian evolution requires “recorded information transfer” in order to exist in the first place.

    And let us not forget, you and I began our conversation because you made a comment that you had never been given any ID argument of any merit. I then gave you this argument, eventually forcing you to retract you assertion regarding the simulated rise of information. Yet you then steadfastly refused to retract your original claim about being aware of a meritorious ID argument. And as you have done many times before, you want to protect all of this inconsistency within a cocoon of false civility, suggesting that we should all “assume the other poster is posting in good faith” despite what has been demonstrated.  That would require me to ignore my personal experience with you, and it would require me to do so without any demonstration that you intended on dropping these political maneuvers. Sorry, but you’ve shown it is not warranted to grant you such an assumption.  

    You then came back again to babysit Reciprocating Bill, saying Upright BiPed, it seems to me that your impression that we are “avoiding evidence” is founded on a misunderstanding of the points being made to you. Nobody is “avoiding evidence”.” You do this even as the man is stating very plainly in simple words that he does not intend on engaging the material evidence. He has made a claim; then added the amusing additional claim that his position needn’t any evidence, because it stands on its own. Now you’ve come back yet again to sit him a little further – claiming he has given me “extremely pertinent responses” which I have “largely ignored”. 

    RB hasn’t provided a pertinent response, much less an extremely pertinent response; unless the word ‘pertinent’ is taken to mean that he has said anything at all on the topic. Bill’s position is that just because the transfer of information has certain physical entailments, a process that demonstrates those physical entailments does not confirm a semiotic state. What he is not willing to do is enter into a discussion of those physical entailments in order to justify his claim. If he did, he would then have to wrestle with the reality that the listed entailments describe the material process of semiosis (i.e. the observed process of transferring form by means of material representations and protocols) as demonstrated by every example of information transfer that has ever been known to exist. This was covered in my post of May 7th (the one I made immediately prior to you jumping in and removing the sticky status of the thread). What he is willing to do, however, is to first lean heavily on a change of terms to a disanalogy about males and bachelors; then ultimately rely on the unsupported and unfalsifiable claim that an unknown non-semiotic process could produce the entailments observed in genetic information transfer. What he must step around in order to reach this conclusion, among other things, is a) the use of matter as a medium to carry  information in a representational form is an observable phenomenon, b) the use of matter as a means to actualize those representations into their material effect is observable as well, c) neither of these two arrangements of matter ever become the effect, d) it is inconceivable to transfer recorded information by any other means, e) in every instance of the transfer of recorded information, including the genome, these material entailments are observed, and f) he cannot demonstrate a single false statement in the entailments as they are described. Moreover, a primary reason for staying out of a discussion of the evidence is that engaging it in earnest would inevitably lead to a contest as to whether or not these entailments are correct. As you know, that is a non-winner every time.

    As for the comments of Allan, he is entirely tied to the idea that a mono-acid system could evolve into a two-acid system, and so on. Even granting huge assumptions, the fact that a mono-acid system (coding for one acid and stop) is physically incapable of coding for a mono-acid system, does not seem to affect his confidence, and therefore he must simply take the system itself for granted. At the same time he hasn’t provided an argument that the observations being made here are materially incorrect, he hasn’t been overtly disrespectful in his dealings with me, so consequently, there is little more to say.

    As for you Dr Liddle, I am interested to know if you yet have the respect for material observation enough to admit you’ve been presented an ID argument of merit – even if you disagree with it.  I seriously doubt it given your spotty history on the subject, but you could always surprise me.

  19. “And what does all of this have to do with intelligent design, anyway?”

    :)

  20. What he is willing to do, however, is to first lean heavily on a change of terms to a disanalogy about males and bachelors; then ultimately rely on the unsupported and unfalsifiable claim that an unknown non-semiotic process could produce the entailments observed in genetic information transfer

    RB raised a point you seem to be carefully avoiding once again. If A always entails B, and we observe B, this does NOT necessarily mean we can deduce A.

    The bachelor example was simple enough so that any sincere person could understand the logical problem here. Examples of bad logic are not “disanalogies”, they are illustrations of bad logic.

    And sure enough, you go right ahead and dismiss as “unsupported and unfalsifiable” even the thought that B might have other causes. This point is critical, because what you have been doing is ASSUMING that A is causing B, observing B, and CONCLUDING that A did it. And when everyone points out that you are assuming your conclusions, you protest unfair treatment at great length.

    Meanwhile, the repeated question of who is the “sender” and who is the “receiver” of a chemical reaction remains unanswered. As does the question of whether it makes sense to call the chemicals involved encoded and decoded according to a symbolic protocol.

    I seriously doubt that you are posting in bad faith, but as an interested bystander I’m having problems decoding the intended message being sent!

  21. Let me take my best shot at this, since UB has been kind enough to specify his requirements in such detail. Not being a biochemist, I’ll simplify the chemistry without (hopefully) losing the point of the argument. I’ll consider that under certain circumstances, oxygen and hydrogen combine to become water. So…

    What he must step around in order to reach this conclusion, among other things, is a) the use of matter as a medium to carry information in a representational form is an observable phenomenon,

    Focusing just on the oxygen, I suppose we could say that oxygen not only IS oxygen, but that it represents oxygen. And indeed, it would be hard to find a more directly representational form.

    b) the use of matter as a means to actualize those representations into their material effect is observable as well,

    OK so far. The use of oxygen and hydrogen as “representations” of oxygen and hydrogen to actualize their “material effect” of becoming water is perfectly observable.

    c) neither of these two arrangements of matter ever become the effect,

    I don’t know what this means. I guess neither oxygen nor hydrogen is the EFFECT of oxygen and hydrogen. They just are what they are.

    d) it is inconceivable to transfer recorded information by any other means,

    Oops, now oxygen not only “represents” oxygen, but the oxygen-ness of oxygen is “recorded” in the very fact of being oxygen. Same with hydrogen, so these recordings (the atoms themselves, what more faithful recording could there be?) transfer their “information” to the water, and nothing else is conceivable. I guess.

    e) in every instance of the transfer of recorded information, including the genome, these material entailments are observed,

    Indeed. Chemical reactions result in the results of chemical reactions in every instance. And certainly oxygen entails oxygen, etc.

    and f) he cannot demonstrate a single false statement in the entailments as they are described.

     Agreed. Every one of these listed conditions is met in the “entailment” of water. If there is any problem at all here, it lies in using words like “representation” and “recorded information” rather than simply referring to molecules.

  22. Flint, it means that water can’t be made of oxygen and hydrogen.

    Thanks for the illustration.

  23. UB:

    Bill’s position is that just because the transfer of information has certain physical entailments, a process that demonstrates those physical entailments does not confirm a semiotic state.

    That’s the one-way nature of entailment. Your argument works only if you assume your conclusion: that ONLY semiotic processes can yield your entailments of semiosis.

    Absent that assumed conclusion, your argument that DNA transcription is necessarily semiotic collapses due to a fatal error of logic. (A always causes B, therefore B is always caused by A.) At other times you also veer into the circular: After defining semiotic as “demonstrating these material entailments,” you conclude that systems demonstrating those entailments are semiotic. Big whoop.

    What he is willing to do, however, is to first lean heavily on a change of terms to a disanalogy about males and bachelors…

    Several of us have offered analogies for the purpose of illustrating your error. Your argument suffers the same defect, a fact that is evident independent of those analogies.

    …then ultimately rely on the unsupported and unfalsifiable claim that an unknown non-semiotic process could produce the entailments observed in genetic information transfer.

    What I have shown is that non semiotic origins remain possible, your ardent efforts (and purple prose) notwithstanding. What you argue is that, given your characterization of information transfer, DNA transcription is semiotic by logical necessity. Your argument is that information transfer, in every known instance over all time, has entailed certain physical characteristics – your “listed entailments.” You define those “listed entailments” as “semiotic by necessity.” Your claim is that wherever we observe these entailments semiosis is therefore “successfully confirmed.” Your further claim is that the transcription of DNA displays those entailments – which I have repeatedly granted arguendo – and therefore semiosis is “successfully confirmed” in that transcription.

    But that reasoning reproduces a logical error I may have mentioned above (and relies upon an assumed conclusion). By virtue of those errors, your argument fails. That failure persists even when your “material evidence” is interpreted in the light most favorable to your argument. There is therefore little point in hashing over your evidentiary claims.

    My argument does not “rely on” the claim that such natural origins are possible – although it does expose your assumed conclusion that semiotic processes have only semiotic origins. Rather – inasmuch as I have exposed your assumed conclusion and have identified your A -> B therefore B -> A logical error – the fact that non-semiotic origins remain possible follows from my argument – because it shows that semiotic ID has failed to exclude such natural origins.

    BTW, what does “Semiotic” entail that “transfer of recorded information” does not? If nothing, why invoke it? If something, what are those additional entailments?

    And what does any of this have to do with intelligent design?

  24. Upright BiPed on May 11, 2012 at 3:52 amsaid:

    Dr Liddle, a few days ago you came onto this thread and posted a positioning statement. You positioned me as being (let us say) unreliably available to comment, suggesting this as a viable reason to remove the sticky status from this thread, given that I was only “occasionally” contributing. Yet at that time, I had posted 47 responses on this thread, which was far and away the most contributions of anyone. I had responded to roughly 6-8 objectors fairly consistently and had gone through seven rounds of exchanges at that point, each at a fair rate of responding. In its entirety, none of this seemed to inhibit anyone from participating, as aptly demonstrated by the repeated participation.

     

    Upright BiPed, I originally posted this thread quite a while back.  I am aware that you are only intermittently available to comment, and so, when it disappeared off the front page, I stickied it, so that people could find it easily as conversation resumed.

    However, as there are lots of interesting new posts regularly posted here, I then decided that rather than keep it permanently at the top of those, I would post a “breadcrumb” post with a link, which would then slide down the page with other posts.  When it reaches the bottom, I will post a new one. It’s a bit clumsy, but was a reasonably ingenious way of getting the software to do my bidding, namely keep your thread, or at least access to it, on the front page.

    Your words “You positioned me as being (let us say) unreliably available to comment” are a pejorative precis of what I wrote, which was: “As Upright BiPed is only here occasionally…”  I did not suggest you were “unreliable” in any way.  My motivation for my actions has consistently been to keep this conversation readily accessible.  I hope that is now clear. 

     

    You then moved a rather benign comment on my part (two sentences) to guano along with one of the many assertion-fests posted by Thorton, only to allow that same assertion-fest to suddenly re-appear in the thread a little later in the day.

     

    My clean-ups are rather intermittent, and not always consistent.  I do my best and make no apology for not doing more.  I may invite others at some stage to share the moderation task, but right now, I’d like the buck to stop with me.  The price of this is that, given the amount of traffic on the blog, some violations will slip through the net.

     

    You then posted a comment positioning any disagreement between myself and the objectors as a “deep gulf” of misunderstanding – which is a political theme you’ve repeatedly returned to for the past months regarding this argument. You keep positioning the argument here as incomprehensible, even though I have provided you with links to comments you made during our initial conversation (when the material basis of the argument was being explained to you) where your responses were things like “Sure” “Great” and “Well said!”. You even complimented me on providing a definition of information which you characterized as “more defensible” than others, e.g. “As we have agreed, your criterion for inferring intelligent design is stricter and more defensible” (8/11/2011). You only began to promote this idea that you couldn’t understand the argument after you were forced to recant your original claim of being able to simulate the rise of information from scratch. Your need to position the argument as incomprehensible has been non-stop since then. This is evidenced even by the OP to this thread, where you once again position the argument as “confusing” (3/29/2012). This has been the consistent theme you’ve promoted, such as “struggling to understand“ (10/31/2011) even though you have clearly understood the argument for months on end (e.g. “But sure, information transfer is going to entail physical arrangements of matter. And let’s allow “representation” to be the thing-that-is-read, like DNA”).  In fact, you are now asking me to respond to a post of yours from a few days ago where you basically describe the entire argument of “recorded information transfer” in modest but accurate detail, only to question if Darwinian evolution could not have created it. And this, after you’ve admitted that Darwinian evolution requires “recorded information transfer” in order to exist in the first place.

    I dispute your characterisation of these events.  I have tried to explain why.  I don’t think I have the energy to do so again.

     

    And let us not forget, you and I began our conversation because you made a comment that you had never been given any ID argument of any merit. I then gave you this argument, eventually forcing you to retract you assertion regarding the simulated rise of information. Yet you then steadfastly refused to retract your original claim about being aware of a meritorious ID argument.

    That’s because I don’t think this argument has merit either.  But you are correct that my original statement was based on Dembski’s argument (and Behe’s).  I think your argument is circular.  So do others.  Every time I thought we had a clear, non-circular definition, you then produced what I considered a circular paraphrase of it.  So here we are.

    And as you have done many times before, you want to protect all of this inconsistency within a cocoon of false civility, suggesting that we should all “assume the other poster is posting in good faith” despite what has been demonstrated.  That would require me to ignore my personal experience with you, and it would require me to do so without any demonstration that you intended on dropping these political maneuvers. Sorry, but you’ve shown it is not warranted to grant you such an assumption. 

    The rules do not require that you consider the assumption warranted.  Nor do they require you to be civil, actually.  You can be as rude as you like about an argument.  I simply require that people assume that other posters are posting in good faith, i.e. that they are not lying, or being deliberately misleading.  I also require that people “address the post, not the poster” – and so allegations of stupidity are also OT.  But if an argument is nonsensical, be as derogatory about it as you like.

    You then came back again to babysit Reciprocating Bill, saying Upright BiPed, it seems to me that your impression that we are “avoiding evidence” is founded on a misunderstanding of the points being made to you. Nobody is “avoiding evidence”.” You do this even as the man is stating very plainly in simple words that he does not intend on engaging the material evidence. He has made a claim; then added the amusing additional claim that his position needn’t any evidence, because it stands on its own. Now you’ve come back yet again to sit him a little further – claiming he has given me “extremely pertinent responses” which I have “largely ignored”. 

    RB hasn’t provided a pertinent response, much less an extremely pertinent response; unless the word ‘pertinent’ is taken to mean that he has said anything at all on the topic. Bill’s position is that just because the transfer of information has certain physical entailments, a process that demonstrates those physical entailments does not confirm a semiotic state. What he is not willing to do is enter into a discussion of those physical entailments in order to justify his claim. If he did, he would then have to wrestle with the reality that the listed entailments describe the material process of semiosis (i.e. the observed process of transferring form by means of material representations and protocols) as demonstrated by every example of information transfer that has ever been known to exist. This was covered in my post of May 7th (the one I made immediately prior to you jumping in and removing the sticky status of the thread). What he is willing to do, however, is to first lean heavily on a change of terms to a disanalogy about males and bachelors; then ultimately rely on the unsupported and unfalsifiable claim that an unknown non-semiotic process could produce the entailments observed in genetic information transfer. What he must step around in order to reach this conclusion, among other things, is a) the use of matter as a medium to carry  information in a representational form is an observable phenomenon, b) the use of matter as a means to actualize those representations into their material effect is observable as well, c) neither of these two arrangements of matter ever become the effect, d) it is inconceivable to transfer recorded information by any other means, e) in every instance of the transfer of recorded information, including the genome, these material entailments are observed, and f) he cannot demonstrate a single false statement in the entailments as they are described. Moreover, a primary reason for staying out of a discussion of the evidence is that engaging it in earnest would inevitably lead to a contest as to whether or not these entailments are correct. As you know, that is a non-winner every time.

    As for the comments of Allan, he is entirely tied to the idea that a mono-acid system could evolve into a two-acid system, and so on. Even granting huge assumptions, the fact that a mono-acid system (coding for one acid and stop) is physically incapable of coding for a mono-acid system, does not seem to affect his confidence, and therefore he must simply take the system itself for granted. At the same time he hasn’t provided an argument that the observations being made here are materially incorrect, he hasn’t been overtly disrespectful in his dealings with me, so consequently, there is little more to say.

    As for you Dr Liddle, I am interested to know if you yet have the respect for material observation enough to admit you’ve been presented an ID argument of merit – even if you disagree with it.  I seriously doubt it given your spotty history on the subject, but you could always surprise me.

     

    No, I don’t find your argument of merit.  It seems to me to boil down to:

    1. Semiotic systems are systems with property A
    2. Systems B:Z have property A, and are therefore semiotic.
    3. Systems B:Y are intelligently designed
    4. Therefore System Z was intelligently designed.

    I accept 1 as your definition.  I accept evidence for 2:3

    I reject 4 as a valid conclusion, as it excludes a middle.

    To conclude 4, you would have to demonstrate that a system with property A cannot evolve.

    Or we could attempt to demonstrate to you that it could.

     

  25. Can I remind everyone that it is OK to say that a poster has avoided addressing an issue; it is not OK to imply that they have deliberately done so.

    A subtle distinction, but one I’d like to preserve.

    Thanks.

  26. “To conclude 4, you would have to demonstrate that a system with property A cannot evolve.”

    Which remains the thing that ID cannot prove. Hence the who argument remains a god of the gaps argument. It’s not event remotely new.

  27. UB, you still forgot to show that the chemistry which takes DNA to protein involves SEMIOTIC information.

    You have no argument without it.  Why do you keep avoiding the issue?

  28. I think Upright BiPed’s argument is essentially an Irreducibly Complexity argument with respect to the genetic code.

    The problem as I see it, is that he seems to think that the code, by virtue of being “semiotic”, is self-evidently IC.

    I’d still like to have a shot at evolving a code.

  29. Upright Biped,

    As for the comments of Allan, he is entirely tied to the idea that a mono-acid system could evolve into a two-acid system, and so on. Even granting huge assumptions, the fact that a mono-acid system (coding for one acid and stop) is physically incapable of coding for a mono-acid system, does not seem to affect his confidence, and therefore he must simply take the system itself for granted.

    I’m afraid you seem to have missed my point. You are ‘entirely tied’ to the idea that one cannot make protein without protein, but this cannot be taken as a given. It is not necessary that aaRS function be provided by a protein, so the statement I bolded is not correct. That it is a protein function today is undeniable. But attempting to construct theories that take an accessible state (LIfe today) and infer that this is representative of all ‘inaccessible’ states (Life before LUCA) demands care. I could insist that language was invented 20 minutes prior to the creation of our oldest surviving written record, and no-one could ‘prove’ me wrong. But would that be a reasonable position to take? 

     

    What I am attempting to do is subvert YOUR preconceptions about the system – unsuccessfully, I grant! The ‘RNA world’ hypothesis has not been falsified, and has much empirical support, and so must stand as a system that could give rise to the system we have today, in a stepwise progression such as I outlined, without any requirement to invoke or infer “ID semiosis” in the matter of our present multi-acid library.

    Again, in brief:

    1) All of the components of the system were originally RNA catalysts/carriers. Three out of the four still are.

    2) The formation of the peptide bond was a chemical, not an informational, feat. 

    3) The initial function of the peptides produced was not (and cannot have been) catalysis. But that’s fine, because catalysis was provided by catalytic RNA.

    4) The ribosome ‘ratchets’ along its mRNA substrate as a physical activity, constrained by such physical factors as the comparative length of a triplet vs the nitrogen-nitrogen distance in the peptide, the bond energy of a triplet vs (for example) singlet, doublet or quadruplet, the reduction of rotational effects in a triplet vs a singlet or doublet … a triplet is not a triplet ‘in order’ to allow for upto a 63-member library of amino acids + STOP, but is an optimally stable-but-not-too-stable region of base pairing between the two substrates mRNA and tRNA.

    5) tRNAs cannot donate an amino acid if they cannot bind to mRNA. Therefore, all triplets for which a tRNA is lacking will cause STOP, which is a mutational hazard. Increasing the number of different tRNA codons does not demand a concomitant increase in the number of different acids – they are not tightly coupled. Indeed, that remains the case today. There are (about) 20 aaRS’s charging (about) 61 tRNAs between them.

    So a system that has 1 (non-protein) “aaRS” charging 1 tRNA can become a system that has 1 aaRS charging 61 tRNAs with the same acid. This can become a system where 2 aaRRs charge 30-31 each by some binary distinction (most likely, Purine/Pyrimidine in one position). This can become … I’m sure you get the idea. The code is riddled with binary distinctions. And at some threshold (it would appear to be about 8 or 9, based upon empirical investigations), the amino acid library starts to produce folded peptides with catalytic activity. Protein catalysis slowly takes over, including the aaRRs that make proteins, and we end up with a system that appears bafflingly to haul itself up by its own bootstraps. 

    At the same time he hasn’t provided an argument that the observations being made here are materially incorrect

    As far as the observations are concerned, it is true that all life uses a close cousin of the 20-acid system. But if you wish to advance a theory that essentially ‘closes off’ any history to that system – that the code is “semiotic”, and irreducibly so – then the burden of proof is upon you. No-one gets a free ride into the literature. There certainly does not seem to be any ‘sender-receiver’ relationship going on. And if there is a candidate other than protein for catalytic function, and a role for protein other than in catalysis, then that needs to be considered as a potentially serious objection to a theory that depends upon there being no possibility of making protein other than using protein aaRSs (and the other peptides that have become deeply embedded in the overall system).

  30. Liz-

    ID does not say that something cannot evolve. ID says that some things cannot evolve via accumulations of genetic accidents.  

  31. Soup has gone to Guano as it was a bit of a derail and I didn’t know what else to do with it.  Try the Penguin Colony if you want to continue the discussion….

  32. Upright,

    Commenters have repeatedly pointed out that your argument contains a fatal logical error.  Your response has been to complain that they are not ‘engaging the material evidence.’ 

    Apparently you are unaware that a logically invalid argument remains invalid regardless of the evidence.

    Here is an example:

    1. All floogs are sporgaceous.
    2. Gorpins are sporgaceous.
    3. Therefore, gorpins are floogs.

    That argument is logically invalid.  Its conclusion is unwarranted, and no amount of ‘material evidence’ regarding floogs, gorpins and sporgaceousness can change that.  Note that this does not mean that the conclusion is false: gorpins may in fact be floogs.  It’s just that we cannot conclude that gorpins are floogs based on this argument.  It’s logically invalid.

    Likewise for your argument:

    Demonstrating a system that satisfies the entailments (physical consequences) of recorded information, also confirms the existence of a semiotic state.

    Your argument is logically invalid.  “A implies B” does not mean that “B implies A”. No amount of ‘material evidence’ can change this invalid argument into a valid one.  The logical structure of the argument is fatally flawed.

    If (and only if) you’d like to throw out your flawed argument and submit a logically valid one, then the evidence will become relevant again.   

  33. I wonder if we are not misrepresenting UB’s argument. As I read it, he is saying

    1) A is true, because it’s true. Not negotiable.
    2) A entails B, because as I define A, B would result.
    3) We observe B, therefore we have established A beyond reasonable doubt.

    And I think the problem people have here is, IF they in fact DO reasonably doubt A, just observing B isn’t enough to establish A.

    And so in more straightforward terms, we have:
    1) God exists. Not negotiable.
    2) God created life.
    3) Life could not arise in any other way, that’s inconceivable.
    4) We observe life. 
    5) Therefore god is entailed! Knew it all along!

    I suspect that the notion of evidence is being conflated with the notion of unquestionable axioms, so true they are their own evidence, self-contained.     

  34. I’ve been out of the loop, but I see that Upright Biped has engaged, dipping into the trench and firing off a torpedo at the small, vulnerable thermal exhaust port at the center of the Empire. I’ll have to catch up with the postings. 

  35. Well, I don’t think “engaged” is quite the right word. He posts long treatises assuming his conclusions in as many different ways to say it as he can, ignores the nearly unanimous observation that he’s made logical errors, and then he goes away for awhile, then returns to repeat the performance. Almost as though nobody every responded at all.

    My speculation is that his foregone conclusions are so obviously true to him that they drive his argument around in circles. But hopefully you can parse out his verbiage, boil it down to the kernel of the argument, and present that in clear terms.   

  36. In my previous post I suggested that Bill’s defense strategy is to first lean heavily on a change of terms to a disanalogy about males and bachelors; then ultimately rely on the unsupported and unfalsifiable claim that an unknown non-semiotic process could produce the entailments observed in genetic information transfer.”  His response was a perfect example, with the additional benefit of highlighting his back-up strategy.

    Bill’s entire counter-argument is based upon the idea that something else could be causing the material entailments observed in the process of ‘transferring form though the use of an arrangement of matter.’ He is particularly concerned when those entailments are observed in the transfer of genetic information, as they are in any other form of recorded information. Bill suggests that this ‘something else’ could be non-semiotic and thereby cause the argument to be false. For him, this is all a matter of logical necessity. One he has repeatedly described as “fatal” if not followed with the full force of science. 

    Does the institution of science actually live by tenets of Bill objection? Of course not. Among the uncounted (and uncountable) examples; in Bill’s world we could not say that the red shift in distant galaxies is caused by an expanding universe. Similarly, we could not say that the footprints at Laetoli confirmed bipedalism in Pliocene hominids. We can certainly gather together the material evidence that suggests this is the case, but we cannot say it is so without breaking Bill’s Law that something else could be the cause of what we see. No one lives in Bill’s world, of course. In the real world, judgments are based on evidence. His objection is a fabricated stall, not a necessity of logical thought. It is proposed for the sole purpose of avoiding a debate over evidence.

    And is Bill himself prepared to live in Bill’s world? Of course not. There is a vast difference between Bill’s beliefs and the logic he wishes to push off on this argument. Bill’s belief is that it is not the anger of the gods causing lightning bolts to appear on the horizon, it’s the uneven heating of earth’s atmosphere. But let’s set aside his beliefs for the moment. By his logic, something else could be causing the lightning to appear – thus, the gods are still in the game because they themselves are not logically impossible.

    All one has to do to separate Bill from his logic is propose that “only unguided causes are at work in the origin of life and universe”. All of the sudden the evidence, which Bill suggests his objection need not be subjected to, will be front and center.

    Perhaps realizing his argument would certainly fail in the real world, he now wants to press for his back-up claim. He now wants to claim that in order for my argument to make sense, I must be assuming my conclusion. But my conclusion is based solely upon the observation of material evidence. As stated in my post of May 7th :

    Observation demonstrates that the capacity to transfer form about something through a material medium is facilitated by the transfer of a representation of that form instantiated in an arrangement of matter. This is complimented by a mechanism allowing a particular material representation to produce a particular effect within a system. The introduction of a representation into a physical system necessitates the physical establishment of arbitrary relationships between objects within that system. Representations are arbitrary to the form they represent because the medium they are transferred by is not the form they represent to the system. Observation also demonstrates that the arbitrary relationship (between the representation and its effect) is established by a second arrangement of matter within the system. This second arrangement of matter (referred to as a protocol in the argument) provides a mechanism by which the material (but arbitrary) representation can induce an effect based upon its material arrangement.

    The claim of semiosis is tied directly to these observations of material evidence. As the proper descriptive term for the use of representations and protocols in a system, it is the logical output of those observations, not an assumption made prior to them. His back-up claim carries no more empirical capital than the assertion an unknown cause can produce the entailments (so we can ignore what we observe). This, of course, does not mean he will not try to make it stick.

    He has nothing left, except perhaps to ponder what any of this has to do with the design inference.

  37. Likewise for your argument:

    “Demonstrating a system that satisfies the entailments (physical consequences) of recorded information, also confirms the existence of a semiotic state.”

    Your argument is logically invalid.  ”A implies B” does not mean that “B implies A”.

    – – – – – – – – –

    Simply repeating Bill’s disanalogy does not improve upon it. “A implies B does not mean B implies A” is a disanalogy for several reasons, but one of them is because it’s missing the logical possibility that B might imply A. So the correct formulation is that “B does not necessarily imply A” which means the issue is a matter to be mediated by evidence, not by edict. It also means that selling the disanalogy by using partisan examples where we clearly know that B does not imply A is a tactical maneuver which does not exhaust the possibilities, and is therefore not the result of logical necessity.   

    Also:

    1) In my statement there are relationships between three things. They are: the transfer of recorded information, their physical consequences, and semiosis. In Bill’s formulation, there are only two things: A and B. To have any hope at all of demonstrating the relationships involved in my statement, Bill’s formulation would have to be restated to say “A entails B, and B confirms C” (where A is the transfer of recorded information, B is the physical consequences of that transfer, and C is the existence of a semiotic state).

    2) In my statement, the physical consequences are those that demonstrate the use of matter in two specific ways; to transfer form by means of an arbitrary representation, and to establish the material effect of that transfer (a protocol). These are the physical requirements of transferring recorded information. Therefore the relationship between transferring recorded information and these physical consequences is a matter of necessity; recorded information cannot be transferred without the use of matter as a material representation of the information, or without the use of matter to establish the otherwise arbitrary relationships required to produce a material effect from the representation.

    3) Semiosis is the name we use to describe a process that uses representations and protocols. Therefore, the relationship between semiosis and the physical consequences is that semiosis is the appropriate term for what has been materially demonstrated – representations and protocols.

    4) Therefore a statement which says “a system that satisfies the physical consequences of recorded information transfer, i.e. the use of representations and protocols, also confirms the existence of a semiotic state” is not in the least bit prohibited by logic.

    Among the many things Bill has attempted to do with my statement, is to remove semiosis as a descriptive term for the use of representations and protocols, and reattach it to the word information. You can easily see the number of times he has used the term “semiotic information” in his formulations. From that, he can then raise the objection that the statement “semiotic information is semiotic” is circular and therefore invalid. This objection floats alongside his primary claim; that just because recorded information transfer results in the physical consequences of a semiotic state (in all instances outside of genetic information transfer) does not mean that those same physical consequences indicate a semiotic state in the case of genetic information transfer. His claim suggests that because it is possible for an un-known and un-named cause to create those same physical consequences, the argument could be false. From this, he can say the argument is logically invalid, and therefore he needn’t produce any evidence that such a cause even exists, or that it’s even possible.   

    As stated above, the problem with this is that it is not logically impossible for the physical consequences of recorded information to confirm a semiotic state; after all, the consequences coherently describe the material evidence of representations and protocols being used within a system (the very definition of semiosis). I challenged him long ago to provide rationale that demonstrated the physical consequences of recorded information could not confirm a semiotic state, and he provided nothing. And if it is possible that they confirm semiosis, then the statement could be true or false; making the matter subject to evidence.       

    As far as the judgment of evidence; we observe this unique and incredible phenomenon in the cosmos called information, where the form of a thing can be transferred by the material arrangement of something else, and that transfer can cause something to happening that would never happen without it. And we also find that in every instance where this transfer happens, a very particular material state exists. That material state is created by what the transfer itself requires. It requires arbitrary relationships to exist between objects within the system, which is an observation singularly unique in the entire physico-chemical world. And it just so happens that this material state with its arbitrary relationships is at the very center of causing that ‘something to happen’. In fact without those arbitrary relationships, that ‘something to happen’ wouldn’t exist at all.  Now, a lot of people might rationally conclude that this unique material state, with its arbitrary relationships, might even be required for that ‘something to happen’, and they might think that in every case where we find something happening as a result of these unique material relationships, they are required to be there for it all to happen. But that is where Bill could appear on the scene. He could be there to remind them that their thinking is flawed. He won’t be able to attack their observations, though. He won’t be able to tell them any other conceivable way in which information could be transferred without representations and protocols. He won’t be able to tell them what this other unknown cause is, or that it’s even necessary. But he can assure them that their logic is “fatally flawed” all the same.

  38. Dr Liddle, of course you dispute my characterization of the events regarding our conversation. The distinction between us is that those events were captured and dated. My characterization is based on your recorded words and actions.

  39. My characterization is based on your recorded words and actions.

    I know it is.  So is mine.

  40. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 6:21 amsaid:

     

    Simply repeating Bill’s disanalogy does not improve upon it. “A implies B does not mean B implies A” is a disanalogy for several reasons, but one of them is because it’s missing the logical possibility that B might imply A.

    It does not miss that logical possibility at all.  Nobody is claiming that A implies B means that B does not imply A, merely that A implies B does not mean B implies A.  The former would indeed miss “the logical possibility that B might imply A”; the latter, which is all we are saying, does not.  We are merely saying that pointing out that A implies B does not alone allow us to conclude that B implies A.

    You then say:

    To have any hope at all of demonstrating the relationships involved in my statement, Bill’s formulation would have to be restated to say “A entails B, and B confirms C” (where A is the transfer of recorded information, B is the physical consequences of that transfer, and C is the existence of a semiotic state).

    Which is logical trivial.  You are, as you have always been, defining “a semiotic state” in terms of A and B. 

    If we agree to define “a cat” as “a mammal that purrs”, then any mammal that purrs will, by definition, be called, by us, “a cat”.

    Even if it happens to be a rather odd dog.  Which is fine, but totally non-informative.

    We all agree that certain DNA sequences result, under specific conditions, in a specific protein being produced.  We all agree that this process involves a set of “translator” molecules, that match up mRNA triplets with specific amino acids.

    We are prepared, for the purpose of this discussion, to call such a process “semiotic” (because the tRNA molecules “translate” a “code” into a “meaning”, rather as in language).

    Can you drop the other shoe?

  41. Dr Liddle,

    Nobody is claiming that A implies B means that B does not imply A, merely that A implies B does not mean B implies A.”

    I am not sure where you’ve been, but Bill’s entire counter-argument is that “B does not imply A”. He began his counter-argument with this observation:

    “Murder victims invariably entail a dead person who does not walk, talk, respirate, or exhibit a heartbeat. In every instance of a murder the world over, throughout all history, these entailments have invariably obtained. Therefore every time we encounter a dead person, who does not walk, talk, respirate, or exhibit a heartbeat, we can conclude the person has been murdered.”

    And after several rounds of discussion, his counter-argument has come to this:

    BIPED : (talking about Bill’s objection) “Then he suggests that the physical entailments of recorded information cannot confirm the existence of a semiotic state. This is the crux of his objection.”

    BILL: Correct.

    - – – – – – – – –

    We are merely saying that pointing out that A implies B does not alone allow us to conclude that B implies A.

    What allows us to conclude that B implies A is material evidence. As crazy as it sounds, that is how all empirical disputes are resolved. But this has not been Bill’s gameplan. Bill’s entire goal is to build a box around the semiotic argument so that he does not have to argue over the validity of the material evidence. On one side of the box is a “fatal logical flaw” created just by making the claim (after all, ‘wet ground can’t confirm that it rained’ and ‘not all males are bachelors’). And on the other side of the box is the bald assertion that I am assuming my conclusions. His first objection would result in a situation where claims cannot even be made, and his second objection is wholly unsustainable based upon the content of the argument.  

    - – – – – – – – –

    Which is logical trivial.  You are, as you have always been, defining “a semiotic state” in terms of A and B. 

    So what was a “fatal logical flaw” to Bill just moments ago, suddenly becomes trivial to you when the relationships involved in the argument are properly reflected in the objection to that argument. Great. And as far as definitions; I have defined semiosis as the use of representations and protocols within a process or system. Semiosis is a sign process; this is the standard definition of the term. To say that I have defined semiosis in terms of A and B (where A is the transfer of information and B is the use of representations and protocols to facilitate that transfer) is to say that I have used the term exactly as it is understood.

    - – – – – – – – –

    If we agree to define “a cat” as “a mammal that purrs”, then any mammal that purrs will, by definition, be called, by us, “a cat”.

    You are doing the same thing Bill has been doing, using a loaded analogy to sell a point which does not reflect the actual argument. If you want to argue that the definition of semiosis used in the argument is false, then do it straight up without the false analogies. Otherwise, acknowledge it is correct.

    - – – – – – – – – –

    We are prepared, for the purpose of this discussion, to call such a process “semiotic” (because the tRNA molecules “translate” a “code” into a “meaning”, rather as in language).

    Who is this “we” Dr Liddle? Bill’s entire argument is that the process cannot be termed “semiotic”. He has been joined in that by every defender on your side of the argument. But does this “we” include you Dr Liddle? Are these not your words: “I do dispute that there is anything “semiotic” about the genetic code.” Elizabeth Liddle 4/18/2012.

    The only reason you are “prepared” to call the process “semiotic” is because you have no logical or evidentiary means to deny it – just like the entire remainder of the argument. In fact, within the course of our conversations, you have step-by-step conceded virtually every point made in the argument. Yet, you still don’t exhibit the intellectual integrity to concede that the argument has merit, nor can you sustain a viable argument that it doesn’t.

    - – – – – – – – – –   

    Can you drop the other shoe?

    If I do, it will most certainly land on your head. Your defense of your position has been a total failure. The apparent belief that you’ve had such a obvious success with it, is intractably incoherent to the facts.

  42. I would like to also note that after tens of thousands of words and more than a dozen back-and-forth exchanges with a dozen or so objectors, the material evidence underlying the semiotic argument remains unchanged, and unrefuted.

Leave a Reply