Sandbox

Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

1,772 thoughts on “Sandbox

  1. I don’t usually look at UD. Did Joe ever name a Nobel laureate who is currently actively researching OOL?

    And has anyone in the ID movement actually addressed current OOL research?

  2. JoeG,

    HOW are the numbers presented?

    When I got them, they are presented on an A4 sheet in point 9 Arial. On that basis alone I have already determined design as typed sheets of numbers are not something that I’ve seen nature unaided produce before, but it seems that there were in fact two similar sheets and I’ve already gotten them mixed up!

    My sheet of random numbers has now somehow got mixed up with the sheet of paper with the numbers on that SETI asked me to look at.

    If only there was some way to determine which sheet’s numbers, if any, were in fact intelligently designed.

  3. Joe,

    You couldn’t find your butt if you had a map.

    And another days’ “intelligent designin” comes to an end.

    I do hope KF does not have a conniption over your use of “butt” young man!

  4. OMagain,

    OMagain:
    Joe,

    And another days’ “intelligent designin” comes to an end.

    I do hope KF does not have a conniption over your use of “butt” young man!

    I’m sure that kairosfocus is calling for Joe to be banned, just as he would if any IDC opponent wrote the same thing. No double standards at UD, nosiree!

  5. OMagain: “My sheet of random numbers has now somehow got mixed up with the sheet of paper with the numbers on that SETI asked me to look at. ”

    This is a problem the ID side has never managed to explain.

    How do you know any existing configuration was actually intended?

  6. petrushka:
    I don’t usually look at UD. Did Joe ever name a Nobel laureate who is currently actively researching OOL?

    And has anyone in the ID movement actually addressed current OOL research?

    Joe snarks

    petrushka wants to know:

    And has anyone in the ID movement actually addressed current OOL research?

    Yes, it doesn’t look good for you guys. If you want a more specified answer then please ask a specific question- which research, all of it? Is there any particular research that you think looks promising for blind and undirected processes?

    Gordon Eliot Mullings responds helpfully

    Joe, doesn’t Signature in the Cell do just that, c. 2009 — there being AFAIK little substantial change in t4eh situation since then?

    Then, A Miracle Occurs: Joe’s neurons both fire in sync :

    kairosfocus-

    There appears to be something more recent- or perhaps something Meyer didn’t cover. I don’t know. All petrushka is good for are bald assertions, false accusations and equivocations. For example, just today pet sed:

    When we want to solve high-dimensional problems we turn to evolutionary algorithms.

    And those are examples of Intelligent Design Evolution, not blind watchmaker evolution.

    That said, by way of DNA Jock’s hints, it could be something related to Jack Szostak’s work- something we are allegedly dismissing out-of-hand.

    Took him a while, and five wrong guesses.

    So, are the denizens of UD dismissing Jack’s work out-of-hand?

    Well, KF admits dismissing the post-2009 work out of hand.

    19 papers in pubmed – 13 of them freely available.

    Nothing to see here. Move along, move along, now.

  7. So has anyone in the ID movement addressed Szostak’s work? Other than to say he hasn’t made a squirrel from scratch.

    The simple thesis of my personal argument is that designing biology by any process other than evolution is “impossible.” That means I do not expect Szostak or anyone else to succeed easily or quickly. Of course Szostak is studying chemical evolution, which is simpler.

    What goes on in the minds of ID advocates when they assert the designer doesn’t have to be omniscient?

  8. In case you weren’t sure how Gordon Mullings feels about us here at TSZ:

    FOR RECORD: I object — a “tour of shame” concerning well-poisoning strawman tactics joined to denial of abuse of design theory proponents at TSZ

    Simplier Gordon: “Those Meanies at TSZ!”

    ETA: Sentence completion

  9. I wonder if Gordon is aware that we have discussed Sewell’s paper in considerable depth on this blog. With a master’s degree in physics, he ought to be able to follow the discussion and to ask questions if something is unclear.

    There are multiple threads under the category 2nd law of thermodynamics. And for the impatient, here is my comment with links to the technical points and a non-technical summary.

    I predict that he will dodge this opportunity.

  10. BTW, I’ve been meaning to ask: Gordon (along with a few others) starts his comments with “F/N”. What does that stand for?

  11. Things are certainly more active here since UD started calling attention to the site.

    Well poisoning=Denying that Darwin=Hitler.

  12. Robin:
    In case you weren’t sure how Gordon Mullings feels about us here at TSZ:

    Simplier Gordon: “Those Meanies at TSZ!”

    ETA: Sentence completion

    Has TSZ been called a “fever swamp” yet? – for that seems to be the ultimate in KF’s paranoia about the sites of Unbelievers.

  13. No offense Petrushka, but I’m betting Lizzie’s on to something… :)

    Thanks Lizzie!

  14. Yes:

    That speaks volumes, and what it tells us is that too often, we are dealing with agit-prop not honest and serious civil discourse. The kind of ruthless amoral “might and manipulation make ‘right’ . . . ” nihilism that Plato warned against 2350 years ago, and which is the reason behind the sort of fever swamp behaviour that creates hate sites that target UD’s contributors.

    That speaks volumes, and none of it good.

    Dr Liddle, as owner of TSZ, I call on you to clean up what is going on there; enabling of nihilism and associated ruthless faction tactics. END

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/for-record-petrushkas-irresponsible-deceit-at-tsz-in-regards-to-an-alleged-threat-of-banning-made-by-me/

    It’s also inferred up thread on this post as well.

    And then there’s:

    As to the situation with TSZ, I have not called this a hate site. It is a site that is harbouring denizens of such sites, which I will not link. The denmizens in question indulge themselves in outing behaviour, threats to family — notice how someone just received pictures and addresses etc on wife that led him to contact the FBI — the abuse of online photographs to deface them with hateful messages projected unto targets. That counts as targetting behaviour for the sort of unhinged fringe that always hangs around such fever swamps.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/update-toronto-earns-a-bar-to-poster-child-status-as-does-petrushka-in-a-tsz-thread-with-several-others-joining-in-and-showing-the-habitual-incivility-and-strawman-tactics-of-too-many-design-objec/

    Must have a more serious negative connotation to those who live in the tropics.

  15. I’m drafting a response, that I’ll probably publish here. I’ll point out KF’s strawman (It’s IDiots, not Christians I call ‘the American taliban’) and will happily point them back to their own Christian reconstructionist history. Any thoughts on this are welcome.

  16. I would personally ignore the taunts and invite KF to debate islands of function. As far as I can tell, it’s the only ID argument worthy of discussion.

    UD seems willing these days to engage us. My only stipulation is that KF needs to read the comments here directly and not depend on Joe’s edited versions.

  17. petrushka:
    I would personally ignore the taunts and invite KF to debate islands of function. As far as I can tell, it’s the only ID argument worthy of discussion.

    UD seems willing these days to engage us. My only stipulation is that KF needs to read the comments here directly and not depend on Joe’s edited versions.

    That presents too great a risk of reading something offensive, from kairosfocus’ perspective. Joe’s calm, honest, informed, and, above all, always civil summaries are all he needs.

  18. Whatever.
    I’ve spent nearly 15 years on forums where I was in the minority and subject to all kinds of taunts. I survived because I paid attention to the content of the argument and not to the taunts.
    I had a fairly good run at UD and might still be there except for the purge.
    I am not interested in people’s real life names unless they disappear and might be ill. there have been three unexpected deaths among members of forums I attend, and that doesn’t include friends and relatives of members.

    The simple fact is that KF doesn’t have anything to say regarding the validity of evolutionary theory except for his assertion of isolated islands. And he refuses to debate it.

    By which I mean he refuses to engage in an open ended discussion of the details of his claim or to respond to evidence presented that is not compatible with isolated islands.

  19. Sigh.
    KF,

    And, any such distorter of the truth who imagines that “both the Nazis and KF think that homosexuals are immoral and/or deviants” should know that, post 1 Cor 6:9 – 11 — “9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[b] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”

    OK, so the Nazis, KF and the people who wrote the bible think homosexuality is immoral.

    And so?

    compounded by invidious association with Nazism on the notion that only a Nazi — how ignorant of history this is! — or fellow traveller could object to the notion that homosexual behaviour is a right rooted in unchangeable and essentially benign characteristics:

    No, I never said that only Nazis think that way. You do too and I don’t think you are a Nazi.

    In any case, I was responding to this

    Don’t put yourself in the place of the Germans who had to be marched through the camps in their neighbourhood after the defeat.

    Seems you don’t like your allusions reflected back at you.

    The point is that both you and the Nazi’s have something in common. They believe that some people have a lifestyle that means they are inferior to others. Simple as that.

    In that general context, I have drawn attention to a key historical case, where ordinary German people from towns near death camps at the end of the 2nd World War, were made to take forced tours of what had been going on next door, so that they could not ever after deny what they had been enabling.

    Yes, yes yes. And?

    What tour is it that you think you’ll be making Alan do when you win? That’s what I’m asking!

    That itself speaks volumes on the demonisation of principled objection to homosexual behaviour as patently disordered and damaging to self and community.

    And what do communities typically do to people who exhibit behavior that is patently disordered and damaging to self and community?

    9 –> Which, is exactly what I was complaining about on how design theory is being treated.

    Yes, design theorists are being lined up and gassed in the millions.

    KF, you are a real piece of work. You disgust me.

    Tell me one thing – what is it that you think should be done to homosexuals then?

    Cast them out of the village? Brand them? Gas them?

    What is it that you think should be done to those who are patently disordered and damaging to self and community?

  20. OMagain:
    Sigh.
    KF,

    And, any such distorter of the truth who imagines that “both the Nazis and KF think that homosexuals are immoral and/or deviants” should know that, post 1 Cor 6:9 – 11 — “9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[b] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”

    I’ve emphasized one word in the above. kairosfocus, dude, you are in so much trouble!

  21. Here’s a fun quotation. I have trouble telling whether it’s serious or whether it’s a parody.

    Almost all modern philosophy and science is by definition atheist-materialist-darwinist. Because they are attempts to explain things. And we already have an explanation of things. It’s called God.

    Once you realize this, you’ll see that the different scientific and philosophical theories are just atheist-materialist-darwinists grasping at straws so they don’t have to think about the true explanation of things. Then you’ll start asking the right questions, like why would supposedly smart people, such as philosophers and scientists want to do this? And who put them up to it? And how do we defend our children from their evil intent?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/rosenhouse-concedes-without-realizing-it/#comment-451458

  22. Joe Felsensenstein, Richard Hoppe, Wesley Elsberry, PZ Myers, Ian Musgrave, and Mark Perakh have all hosted threads about thermodynamics and evolution – including Sewell’s paper – over on Panda’s Thumb.

    Mark Perakh’s thread.

    PZ Myers.

    Joe Felsenstein.

    Wesley Elsberry.

    Richard Hoppe.

    Joe Felsenstein again.

    Nick Matzke on the origins of life, in which the thermodynamics issues came up.

    Between this TSZ site and Panda’s Thumb, Sewell has been so thoroughly debunked that there is nothing left for the UD people to argue. Dan Styer showed up on some of the threads, as did a number of others who actually know something about thermodynamics.

    If the people over at UD want to continue to argue, they will have to read all these threads for understanding rather than for quote mining; and I suspect that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

  23. Just something I wanted to put out there, but it occurs to me what one of the differences is between TSZ, ATBC and UD.

    Sure I usually read UD for the lols, like anybody else, but not so much lately.

    But the difference is that at sites like this I obtain a tangible benefit from reading. I’ve learnt a hell of alot! And as people have been talking about (for example) different mutation modes I’ve been adding that into code for some personal projects.

    More then that however, loads of things to think about and research and damm, if I have a question then people might even have a go at answering it!

    At one point a sock of mine at UD was mistaken for a fairly prominent (in their country) scientist by some of the regulars. Which was immensely gratifying (don’t worry, your present is still cooking atbc’ers) so thanks you lot.

    But when I read UD I don’t get any of that. Sure, I get an education in their arguments but you only need to get that once. Then you are set.

    Then it’s just the same thing over and over again. If they had a category I could filter to, say “developments in intelligent design by intelligent design proponents” then that would be that. I’d never need to look.

    So no to little learning going on at UD apart from the little they allow through from the reality based community.

    And KF, a whole blog post where you godwin yourself from a few comments of mine? Really? That mega-post must have taken you at least 10-15 minutes to regurgitate from your copy+paste archive, don’t you have actual down to earth “intelligent design’n” to be getting on with?

    And KF, would you allow me to respond at UD were I to create an account? Consider that a rhetorical question. I won’t be reading UD for your answer, if you would like to deliever it here yourself them nobody at all is stopping you. Which is odd, because if I read that post of yours it seems to be saying that people are doing to ID what the Nazis did to, well, whoever they disagreed with. And yet there you are, able to write all that despite the order of oppression level “Nazi” that is (according to you KF!) in effect against ID proponents and yet it’s me that cannot respond to your screed. How very odd, don’t you think Gordo?

    Come over here, register an account. The water is lovely! You get a little icon and everything.

  24. I think urbanity is the best approach. I don’t always achieve it, but I admire it in others. KF will be KF; Joe will be Joe.

  25. Robin:

    I have been around the entire time of these “Culture Wars.”

    My biggest frustration with the post-modernists is that, despite all their apparent “erudition,” I always had feeling that not one of them knew how to interrogate nature.

    They were critiquing scientists who had a far better understanding of ontological and epistemological issues than did most philosophers in that post-modernist camp. Scientists don’t happen to display their knowledge with the paragraph-long sentences that many philosophers do; so apparently scientists are seen to be not as erudite as philosophers. There was more than a hint of condescension in post-modernist critiques of scientists.

    And when the cultural anthropologists attempted to study scientists “in the wild,” most of what we could see coming from their analyses of scientific activity were projections of their own inner interpretations of what they thought was going on. They never tried to understand what the scientists were actually thinking. These cultural anthropologists were doing cargo cult science in their own minds.

    In fact, I have the suspicion that if we in the science community were to ever try to give them concept tests in key areas of science, few of them could pass. Even earlier, when C.P Snow asked his liberal arts and philosophical colleagues if any of them could describe the second law of thermodynamics, he reported that he got a pretty cold response.

    ID/creationism copied many of its criticisms of science from the post-modernists. Pile that on top of all the misconceptions and misrepresentations they inherited from Henry Morris, Duane Gish, and the DI crowd after Edwards, v. Aguillard, and you end up with the messes we see over at UD, the ICR, the DI and AiG.

  26. Nightlight is a new phenomenon at UD; an ID advocate who challenges the others on technical grounds. He seems to accept Dembski’s argument, but is literate in defending it. He seems more worthy of a thread here than most of the UD regulars.

  27. I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Nightlight hasn’t posted at UD since a few hours after I called attention to him and shortly after Lizzie invited him here.

  28. It’s my late night opinion that ID wishes to lay claim to science without doing any.

  29. Richardthughes:
    It’s my late night opinion that ID wishes to lay claim to science without doing any.

    It is my early-morning opinion that I.D. proponents do plenty of science, and that they’re also perfectly justified in their own interpretations of the findings of other scientists’ research. I know I, myself, have used the findings of many ardently anti-I.D. scientists to strengthen my support for I.D. For example, every time a new design element or function is discovered in the living world, I smile a little.

  30. Patrick,

    Given the level of serious institutionalized discrimination and despicable expulsion present in the design vs. magic (abiogenesis + Darwinian evolution) debate, you’ll have to forgive me for finding your whining over blog moderation double-standards to be a bit melodramatic.

  31. Kairosfocus posted this is UD:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/id-foundations-17a-footnotes-on-conservation-of-information-search-across-a-space-of-possibilities-active-information-universal-plausibility-probability-bounds-guided-search-drifting-growing/#comments

    Addressing comment 4.

    I posted a response, but my comments at UD typically disappear into “in moderation”. Sometimes they appear, sometimes they don’t. For what it is worth, here is what I posted:

    This is a bit difficult to follow, so bear in mind that the parts beginning “>>” come from Joe Felsenstein’s post here and the parts beginning “numeral->” come from kairosfocus. The bits with no header come from me.

    And may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits.

    timothya

    . . . . . .

    KF:

    >> Critics of ID commonly argue that it is not science.>>

    1 –> by begging the question by imposing a logically, epistemologically and historically unwarranted, question-begging unworkable a priori redefinition that boils down to science is applied materialist philosophy. Cf. critique here on, that gives details, without hurling an elephant.

    Critics of ID commonly point out that the only difference between an evolutionary explanation of how biology works and how ID explains the same observations is that ID requires that an intelligent designer must be present. Occam’s Razor applies: if two hypotheses explain the same observations with the same accuracy, but the second explanation requires an additional cause, then ditch the second one.

    KF:

    >> For its positive predictions of the behavior of a designer they have a good point. But not for its negative criticisms of the effectiveness of natural selection, which are scientific arguments that must be taken seriously and evaluated. >>

    Valid predictions are a feature of scientific theories that are likely to be correct.

    It would assist ID if it were to make predictions about how biology works from its (ID’s) premises about the requirement for design. For example, are there any predictions from ID about the nature of the designer? When and where the designer undertook its actions? How did it do its work? By what means? What are the characteristics of the designer?

    KF:

    2 –> Only an allusion is presented, in a context that then tries to present a tee shirt/editorial cartoon as substantially representing the design theory case. Cf just below.

    3 –> As was already shown, when two scientific theoretical claims conflict, one will need to show the limitations of the other. And in the case of NS, it is neither the source of innovations in bio-function and associated information, nor has it been observed to be able to account for origin of body plans. It does not even address the origin of cell based life.

    Nonsense. The whole of evolutionary biology aims to explain the origins of “body plans” and “innovations in bio-function”. In the context of the debate at the UD site, the point is that evolutionary biologists think that your version of “information” is incoherent.

    KF:

    4 –> To point that out, in extensive technical arguments, as has been done for many years is to take NS seriously, so the pretence that a cartoon is an adequate summary of the case for design is a caricature of the worst sort.

    A case for design, without a case for a designer, is (how can I say this politely), trivial.

    KF:

    5 –> And literally, that is exhibit 1 used by JoeF

    >>Look at Figure 1, which shows a cartoon design from T-shirts sold by an ID website, Access Research Network, which also sells ID paraphernalia (I am grateful to them for kind permission to reproduce it).

    (click here for image)>>6 –> this is as classic an example of a strawman argument as I have ever seen.

    I agree with you. The cartoon is a strawman en gros.

    KF:

    >>Figure 1. A summary of the major arguments of “intelligent design”, as they appear to its advocates, from Access Research Network’s website http://www.arn.org. Merchandise with the cartoon is available from http://www.cafepress.com/accessresearch. Copyright Chuck Assay, 2006; all rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.>>

    7 –> As the PS to the OP will show, this is not a scientific presentation, or a summary of it, but a retort to a declaration in the anti-ID literature, that the Visigoths (the ignorant barbarians bent on destruction and rapine) are coming.

    I don’t understand what you are saying here. The cartoon is a product of the creationist Access Resource Network. Do you agree with its meaning, or do you not?

    KF:

    8 –> The design theorists took it up and laid out an OUTLINE at label level of the challenge to the Darwinian establishment, and the only thing that can be properly gleaned is that the establishment feels threatened and is challenged across a wide range of topics. Substance is not addressed in any detail in a cartoon.

    >>As the bulwark of Darwinism defending the hapless establishment is overcome, note the main lines of attack. In addition to recycled creationist themes such as the Cambrian Explosion and cosmological arguments about the fine-tuning of the universe, the ladder is Michael Behe’s argument about molecular machines (Behe 1996).>>

    “and the only thing that can be properly gleaned is that the establishment feels threatened and is challenged across a wide range of topics.”

    Until you supply evidence (concerning the nature of your designer, its mode of operation, and the times and places that it did its work) you should not be surprised that the “establishment” thinks you are blowing smoke.

    KF:

    9 –> Recycled CREATIONIST themes tries to make an invidious association, and to duck the responsibility of accounting, per observations and adequate empirical evidence, for the origin of body plans by inheritable chance variation and differential reproductive success across varieties. From Darwin’s admissions on the subject to this day, that has remained unanswered. So to label and dismiss by invidious association — we know the subtext of insinuations about right wing theocratic religious agendas with racks and thumbscrews hiding up sleeves etc — is irresponsible.

    There is nothing invidious in associating you with creationism. You do it yourself. You are the one who requires that biology can only work if a supernatural entity intervenes in its processes at some point (who knows when: maybe 10,000 years ago, maybe all the time, maybe only once).

    KF:

    10 –> The shift in terminology from COSMOLOGICAL FINE TUNING (a scientific discussion since Hoyle et al, where Hoyle was a lifelong agnostic) to “cosmological arguments” is also loaded as this directly implies that the arguments in question are those of natural theology. There is a serious scientific cosmological fine tuning issue to be addressed on the scientific merits, not dodged by making snide insinuations that this is natural theology in disguise.

    Hint: science and theology are two incompatible modes of thought. Science works, theology doesn’t.

    KF:

    11 –> the issue about the observed origin of irreducible complexity, similarly, is not to be dismissed by saying that’s Behe’s argument. Have you had an empirically warranted answer to Menuge’s C1 – 5 criteria for exaptation . . . the usual attempted counter? If not, then the issue of irreducible complexity is very definitely still on the table. The criteria:

    For a working [bacterial] flagellum to be built by exaptation, the five following conditions would all have to be met:

    C1: Availability. Among the parts available for recruitment to form the flagellum, there would need to be ones capable of performing the highly specialized tasks of paddle, rotor, and motor, even though all of these items serve some other function or no function.

    C2: Synchronization. The availability of these parts would have to be synchronized so that at some point, either individually or in combination, they are all available at the same time.

    C3: Localization. The selected parts must all be made available at the same ‘construction site,’ perhaps not simultaneously but certainly at the time they are needed.

    C4: Coordination. The parts must be coordinated in just the right way: even if all of the parts of a flagellum are available at the right time, it is clear that the majority of ways of assembling them will be non-functional or irrelevant.

    C5: Interface compatibility. The parts must be mutually compatible, that is, ‘well-matched’ and capable of properly ‘interacting’: even if a paddle, rotor, and motor are put together in the right order, they also need to interface correctly.

    ( Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science, pgs. 104-105 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). HT: ENV.)

    >>The other main attack, the battering ram, is the “information content of DNA” which is destroying the barrier of “random mutation”.>>

    And biology has demonstrated that each of these putative criteria have been met by actual biological organisms. So your point would be?

    KF:

    12 –> And your evidence that per observation, FSCO/I is reasonably a product of blind chance and mechanical necessity is? ________________

    13 –> Absent such, the evidence stands, that the only known causally adequate source of FSCO/I is design. So, we have every epistemic right to infer that FSCO/I is an empirically reliable sign of design as cause.

    FIASCO is your claim. Produce evidence that it exists, that it can be measured without prior knowledge of the system under observation (no smuggling allowed).

    KF:

    >>The “irreducible complexity of molecular machines” arguments of Michael Behe have received most of the publicity; William Dembski’s more theoretical arguments involving information theory have been harder for people to understand.>>

    14 –> Not so as I have noticed. Both have been discussed.

    >>There have been a number of extensive critiques of Dembski’s arguments published or posted on the web (Wilkins and Elsberry 2001; Godfrey-Smith 2001; Rosenhouse 2002; Schneider 2001, 2002; Shallit 2002; Tellgren 2002; Wein 2002; Elsberry and Shallit 2003; Edis 2004; Shallit and Elsberry 2004; Perakh 2004a, 2004b; Tellgren 2005; Häggström 2007). They have pointed out many problems. These range from the most serious to nit-picking quibbles . . .>

    This depends on what someone has read. Whether Behe’s ideas or Dembski’s ideas are difficult to understand depends on how clearly they are expressed and how much attention they receive from people who understand the arguments they are making. In the case of Behe and Dembski, the counter-arguments have been comprehensive. It would help if you were to lay out what critiques you think are “most serious”.

    KF:

    15 –> Hurling the elephant. That the ideologically committed have tried rebuttals is no news. What is not being pointed out is how such have metthe criterion of warrant that is decisive: show FSCO/I as present in life forms and other relevant contexts, produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    More FIASCO. First show that FIASCO exists, and then show how to measure it without any “background knowledge” (no smuggling allowed).

    KF:

    >>Digital codes

    Stephen Meyer, who heads the Discovery Institute’s program on ID, describes Dembski’s work in this way:

    We know that information — whether, say, in hieroglyphics or radio signals — always arises from an intelligent source. …. So the discovery of digital information in DNA provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a causal role in its origin. (Meyer 2006)

    What is this mysterious “digital information”?>>

    16 –> Joe F pretends here that there is no genetic code dependent on the discrete state of elements in the DNA strings for its meaning.

    I am sorry, but your statement is incoherent. What do you mean?

    KF:

    >> Has a message from a Designer been discovered? When DNA sequences are read, can they be converted into English sentences such as: “Copyright 4004 bce by the intelligent designer; all rights reserved”? Or can they be converted into numbers, with one stretch of DNA turning out to contain the first 10 000 digits of ?? Of course not.>>

    17 –> red herring and strawmen caricatures. DNA has been known to have digitally coded, specifically functional complex information since 1953 – 1957. That is what needs to be accounted for. That this is being diverted, speaks volumes.

    I assume that means your answer is: No, I have no evidence that DNA contains any pre-determined messages. Thanks for confirming.

    KF:

    >> If anything like this had happened, it would have been big news indeed. You would have heard by now.>>

    18 –> Strawman.

    Or a missed opportunity.

    KF:

    >> No, the mysterious digital information turns out to be nothing more than the usual genetic information that codes for the features of life, information that makes the organism well-adapted. The “digital information” is just the presence of sequences that code for RNA and proteins — sequences that lead to high fitness. >>

    19 –> So, JoeF actually knows what is to be addressed, but by suitably setting up a strawman, he can pretend that the issue to be addressed on the merits needs not be so addressed. it is familiar so we don’t need to account for it. FAIL.

    What needs to be addressed is the answer to the question: how does genetic material capture changes in the environment in which organisms live? Biology tries to do that, ID just asserts that somethingdidit (but not nature).

    KF:

    >> Now we already knew that they were there. Most biologists would be surprised to hear that their presence is, in itself, a strong argument for ID — biologists would regard them as the outcome of natural selection. To see them as evidence of ID, one would need an argument that showed that they could only have arisen by purposeful action (ID), and not by selection. Dembski’s argument claims to establish this. >>

    20 –> What is the known, observed source of complex functional digital codes backed up by organised implementing machinery, again?

    1. What humans do. 2. What all biological organisms do.

    KF:

    21 –> Has there been a surprise discovery and observation of such systems spontaneously appearing in simulations of warm little ponds or the like, so that we can show per observational warrant that FSCO/I and particularly digital codes and implementing machinery can and have been produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity. Absence of a Nobel prize for that says a loud NO.

    The answer is we don’t yet know. The research is continuing. Leaping to the assumption that it is impossible for life to emerge from non-life is premature. Your call.

    KF:

    22 –> Similarly, has there been a demonstration per empirical observation to warrant he calim that the origin of novel body plans involving ~ 10 – 100+ Mn bits of additional FSCO/I dozens of times over has been accounted for? Again, NO. (And the context for this present exchange is that Meyer is about to release further documentation on the point.)

    Since FIASO has not been empirically demonstrated to be measurable, your question is incoherent.

    KF:

    23 –> In short, JoeF is trying to sit on the collective authority of Biologists without the necessary back up of warrant on the empirically grounded merits. This is a bluff, not a serious argument.

    Hang on a sec, are you saying that the “collective authority of Biologists” has no reason to be taken seriously? I believe they do, and you are doing the bluffing.

    KF:

    ____________

    So far Joe F’s essay is — as shown in outline — long on rhetorical stunts, short on warrant.

    Not good enough, not by a long shot.

    KF

    Of course.

  32. Are you the same Jared of “TSZ and Jared fame”? Your stance seems to have hardened somewhat.

    [eta: the penny dropped while I was taking my son to the station ... Jared, Jerad ... transposon]

  33. I’m not sure which of my comments you’re referring to, but my issue with the hypocritical and dishonest moderation at UD is based on a respect for free speech and the skeptical values of questioning even one’s most deeply held beliefs and supporting one’s claims with evidence. Barry has every right to run UD however he wishes. How he does so, though, is a reflection of his character and the characters of those who support his approach.

    And the only “institutionalized discrimination” is against people who either don’t produce (e.g. Gonzalez) or who try to sneak their unsupported sectarian beliefs into science classes. See http://www.expelledexposed.com for what Stein’s execrable movie failed to mention.

  34. Richardthughes:
    What would a pro ID, positive case experiment look like?

    Perhaps predicting, searching for and finding function in what was once considered “junk” DNA by Darwinists?

  35. Start with the onion! They’re Genomically oversized and would be a good target IMHO. But aren’t we presupposing optimal design?

  36. Richardthughes,

    The ID movement is self-contradictory over optimal design. They scornfully reject the notion that they presume optimal design, whenever anyone uses “bad design” against them. Then when junk DNA shows up, they are insistent that it can’t really be there. Why? Optimal design.

  37. Joe Felsenstein,

    They don’t insist it can’t be there. They theorize that if it is intelligent design, it might not be “junk” at all, but a part of the design.

  38. Precisely. They make a “good design” argument. Otherwise they might just say, “well, maybe the Designer just got frivolous and irritated and tossed in a bunch of junk”. But they don’t say that because to them, as to you, Design must mean good design.

  39. This silly shorthand term ‘Darwinist’ – it would specifically mean someone who considers it true that

    (a) Organisms are commonly descended.
    (b) The prime mechanism of change in descent is Natural Selection.

    In the latter regard, junk DNA was actually resisted by ‘Darwinists’ when first proposed c1972. But the mathematical argument proved compelling, so now it is broadly accepted. But still, many ‘Darwinists’ harbour a suspicion that this stuff is costly, and hence would be eliminated by NS but for its other benefits. A ‘Darwinist’ research program in support of this would be indistinguishable from your ‘ID’ one.

  40. William J. Murray: Perhaps predicting, searching for and finding function in what was once considered “junk” DNA by Darwinists?

    Not really, William. Lack of junk is a positive prediction of ID, apparently, but junk is not a positive prediction of evolution.

    Evolution doesn’t fail if there is no junk. ID has a hard job explaining it if there is.

    But in any case, it is notoriously difficult to prove a negative, and the whole “junk DNA” story is largely ID hype – evolutionists knew that much non-coding DNA was not “junk” long before anyone used the word “junk”.

    Much more to the point is that we know that pseudogenes exist, and those pseudogenes, map beautifully onto phylogenies showing just when and in whom they lost the function they still perform in other species (the broken GULO gene is some primates is an example). Now sometimes a pseudogene may acquire a new function – and perhaps even back-mutate into its old function. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t “junk” during the time when it was doing nothing (although IDists might think it evidence of front-loading, which would be a reasonable approach for IDists to take to explain apparently non-functional DNA).

    But in any case we know there are vast swathes of genomes that do nothing, because if you remove them, it makes little or no difference to the phenotype. That’s why we keep raising the issue of ONIONS.

  41. WJM

    BTW, the reason I don’t post here much is because I have a limited capacity to endure your ilk – this very kind of endless rabbit-holing and obfuscation of terms.But, out of a sense of fair play, I’ll spend some time here.

    For as long as I can stomach it.

    Splutter! Now I must retrieve my monocle from my G & T.

  42. I appreciate those of my betters who can hold their noses and do a bit of slumming. Perhaps they will drop a dime in the cup while they are here.

    I will only say that I have been posting at sites run by creationists and ID supporters for 15 years. I have been called dishonest, retarded, ignorant, and many other disparaging things, and I have never once flounced off.

    Nor have I returned the invective.

  43. My monocle is back in place. But the irony of a poster from the ID constituency complaining about ‘obfuscation of terms’ when people seek clarity is rich. Half my UD life was spent debating definitions, and I didn’t think it was me being picky. Perhaps we need a set of definitions: cintelligence, cinformation, cnatural, cevolution, cinference, centropy etc to avoid anyone thinking that terms are being adopted in the ‘standard’ way. Or maybe it is me.

  44. UD is like a country club you’ve got no chance of getting into, Allan!

  45. William J Murray said previously (at UD) on FSCO/I

    “No. It is rigorously defined, and it can be calculated handily. You can find the definition and reference in the FAQ and Glossary on this site, or by googling “kairosfocus FSCO/I” and finding many exhaustive epxlanations and examples on this site and others.”

    Would be mind working through some examples here? I couldn’t find anything satisfactory at UD.

  46. If you cannot find anything “satisfactory” at UD, I’ll not be able to satisfy you here.

  47. I must say, the argument that says “all Information (pick your acronym) whose provenance we know comes from Intelligence, and organisms have Information, therefore, organisms come from Intelligence” would seem to violate one of Barry’s Basic Laws of Thought.

  48. Why? If nothing there satisfies you, I certainly cannot do a better job than than the explanations available there.

  49. I mean .. really?

    All information of X type that we know the origins thereof are produced by intelligence; therefore, when we find information of X type where we do not know the origin thereof, it is reasonable to infer that intelligence may be the cause.

  50. William J. Murray:
    Why? If nothing there satisfies you, I certainly cannot do a better job than than the explanations available there.

    I’m just asking for a link to the place where you think it is most cogently explained. I’m not saying, a priori, that it doesn’t satisfy me. I won’t know it does until I’ve seen one!

  51. Lizzie: Could you then link to what you think is the most clear and succinct account?

    The solar system can’t do a random search and come up with life, because there are more possible arrangements of 500 bits than there have been Planck times.

  52. William J. Murray:
    I mean .. really?

    All information of X type that we know the origins thereof are produced by intelligence; therefore, when we find information of X type where we do not know the origin thereof, it is reasonable to infer that intelligence may be the cause.

    Lizzie has made it clear that she is using Dembski’s definition of information, so speaking of “information of X type” makes no sense. Further, it has been demonstrated in a thread on this very site that CSI, as defined by Dembski, can be generated by known evolutionary mechanisms. Thus, your statement that all instances of information are produced by intelligence is incorrect, unless you accept Dembski’s definition of intelligence that, as Lizzie points out, includes evolutionary mechanisms.

  53. William J. Murray:
    I mean .. really?

    All information of X type that we know the origins thereof are produced by intelligence; therefore, when we find information of X type where we do not know the origin thereof, it is reasonable to infer that intelligence may be the cause.

    It would be a perfectly good working hypothesis. Compare

    All swans I have seen are white.
    I can hear a swan
    It is probably white.

    How would you test it?

    Now, apply the same test to your hypothesis about Intelligence and organisms.

  54. No, it’s not like that, Lizzie. If you want to have that kind of example:

    1. White swans exist (ID, at least in humans).
    2. This other thing (biological features) looks like a white swan (as per near universal agreement on the apparent design exhibited by biological features).
    3. It is reasonable to infer that this other thing might be a white swan.
    4. How would you test it?
    5. Develop a metric for at least a provisional conclusion that this other thing is also a white swan (genetic comparison, FSCO/I of 500+ bits).

  55. The 500 bits thing is irrelevant unless you know the process by which the bits were ordered.

    ID has no candidate for a designer, so it is in the position of trying to prove a negative — that evolution can’t do it.

    There isn’t any kind of science that can prove a negative.

    So why don’t we skip the irrelevant part. Biologists accept the fact that genomes must be the result of an ordering process. Darwin suggested a process, and for a hundred and fifty years, biologists have been studying the details.

  56. William J. Murray:
    No, it’s not like that, Lizzie. If you want to have that kind of example:

    1. White swans exist (ID, at least in humans).
    2. This other thing (biological features) looks like a white swan (as per near universal agreement on the apparent design exhibited by biological features).
    3. It is reasonable to infer that this other thing might be a white swan.
    4. How would you test it?
    5. Develop a metric for at least a provisional conclusion that this other thing is also a white swan (genetic comparison, FSCO/I of 500+ bits).

    OK, let’s try without metaphors:

    We observe that many human artefacts have more than 500 bits of FSCO/I
    We observe that all biological organisms have more than 500 bits of FSCO/I

    We hypothesise that biological organisms are artefacts.
    So far so good. Now:

    How do we test our hypothesis?

    Clearly not by measuring the FSCO/I of the organisms.

    So, how?

  57. Clearly not by measuring the FSCO/I of the organisms.

    There reason it should be clear is there is a known process that changes and orders sequences in populations.

    The number of bits is completely irrelevant. The only scientific question is the sufficiency of they known process.

  58. William J. Murray:
    All information of X type that we know the origins thereof are produced by intelligence; therefore, when we find information of X type where we do not know the origin thereof, it is reasonable to infer that intelligence may be the cause.

    All information of X type biological species that we know the origins thereof are produced by intelligence human beings; therefore, when we find information of X type biological species where we do not know the origin thereof, it is reasonable to infer that intelligence human beings may be the cause.
    Right, WJM?

  59. This entire argument with WJM is based on nothing more than different definitions of the word “intelligence”. You guys define intelligence such that it is a natural phenomenon; that it is a property of certain systems, including biological organisms.

    WJM defines “intelligence” as an aspect of God. He’s already said so. So when he says something like “it is reasonable to infer that intelligence may be the cause.”, he means it’s reasonable to infer that God may be the cause. And indeed, God may be the cause of anything, whether or not it evolved.

  60. Of course there is no way to demonstrate that an invisible omniscient, omnipotent entity isn’t causing everything.

    What science tries to do is demonstrate that regular processes can account for some given phenomenon. Sometimes this isn’t easy and takes a lot of time.

  61. You may well be right, but if William means “god” he should say “god” and not “intelligence”. This is why we can’t have nice discussionsdefinitions matter and aren’t just quibbles over semantics.

  62. sholom:
    This entire argument with WJM is based on nothing more than different definitions of the word “intelligence”.You guys define intelligence such that it is a natural phenomenon; that it is a property of certain systems, including biological organisms.

    WJM defines “intelligence” as an aspect of God.He’s already said so.So when he says something like“it is reasonable to infer that intelligence may be the cause.”, he means it’s reasonable to infer that God may be the cause.And indeed, God may be the cause of anything, whether or not it evolved.

    Incorrect.

  63. Lizzie: OK, let’s try without metaphors:

    We observe that many human artefacts have more than 500 bits of FSCO/I
    We observe that all biological organisms have more than 500 bits of FSCO/I

    We hypothesise that biological organisms are artefacts.
    So far so good. Now:

    How do we test our hypothesis?

    Clearly not by measuring the FSCO/I of the organisms.

    So, how?

    But that’s not what actually happened. Dr. Liddle. What actually happened is the way I ordered the sequence, but since what actually happened doesn’t fit your desired goal, you’ve put the developed testing method (FSCO/I) in for the initial observation of apparent similarity.

    IOW, okay they look similar, so how do you test?

    Grade its FSCO/I.

    Okay, the FSCO/I indicates intelligent design. Now, how do you test?

    Etc.

  64. William J Murray

    [...] nothing but rhetorical – juvenile, even – avoidance of admitting even the most obvious, trivial matter in service of ideology.

    [...]

    It is trivially apparent to anyone not confounded by ideology [...]

    [...]

    Another possibility is that you are – for whatever reason, but I consider it to be ideological blindness – failing to grasp [...]

    [...]

    [... ] otherwise they are engaged in ideologically-driven denial and dismissal tactics.

    [...]

    Not if one or both of us is suffering from ideological blindness.

    Argumentum ad ideologicalblinkersum has to be one of the most feeble, and ultimately self-defeating, weapons in the ID-er’s arsenal. Honest people can simply come to different conclusions. Could I respectfully ask that you give it a rest, already?

  65. test

    eta: Hmmm. I can post to Sandbox, but am ‘Forbidden’ in other threads. Try again later.

  66. Over at UD Dennisjones has put forth gene knockout experiments as a killer argiment against evolution. I have a few questions.

    How long before a UD regular points out that knockout doesn’t simulate an evolutionary scenario?

    How long before a UD regular can understand and explain. why?

    Would this make a good TSZ topic?

    This used to be one of Behe’s killer arguments.

  67. William J. Murray:
    . . . okay they look similar, so how do you test?

    Grade its FSCO/I.

    Okay, the FSCO/I indicates intelligent design. Now, how do you test?

    Etc.

    This approach assumes that FSCO/I is a coherent concept with a mathematically rigorous definition that can be reliably and consistently calculated for an artifact by any objective observer. It further assumes that this metric is an indicator of the involvement of an intelligent agent. None of those assumptions have yet been supported, either by yourself or any other IDC proponent.

    If you disagree, please provide links to specific instances of such support.

  68. I endorse this request.

    The anti-ID equivalent is the argumentum ad religousblinkersum, but I don’t see as much of it here, frankly, as the other one.

    None of each would be nice.

  69. William J. Murray: But that’s not what actually happened. Dr. Liddle. What actually happened is the way I ordered the sequence, but since what actually happened doesn’t fit your desired goal,you’ve put the developed testing method (FSCO/I) in for the initial observation of apparent similarity.

    I put them in that order, because you had omitted to provide an operational definition of the feature they share – the features that “look similar”.

    You wrote:

    1. White swans exist (ID, at least in humans).
    2. This other thing (biological features) looks like a white swan (as per near universal agreement on the apparent design exhibited by biological features).
    3. It is reasonable to infer that this other thing might be a white swan.
    4. How would you test it?
    5. Develop a metric for at least a provisional conclusion that this other thing is also a white swan (genetic comparison, FSCO/I of 500+ bits).

    And, as I said, I was trying to get rid of the metaphors, the swans and stuff, and drill down to the nitty gritty.

    As what is commonly, in ID circles, taken to be the point of similarity between organisms and (some) human artefacts, is their degree of specified complexity, I substituted what is commonly taken to be a measure of this for the whiteness of your swans.

    In other words, I revealed what looks like hidden circularity in your logic.

    To avoid this charge, please explain in what way you think [some] human artefacts resemble biological organism, and why, specifically, this common feature is the feature that indicates their artefactual origins. If it is their “specified complexity”, you are guilty as charged :) If it is something else – please say what it is.

    However, even if is the colour of their feathers, you are still up a gum tree, because:

    IOW, okay they look similar, so how do you test?

    Grade its FSCO/I.

    Okay, the FSCO/I indicates intelligent design.

    Because the reason FSCO/I (were it to be calculable, and I have seen no evidence that it is) is supposed to be a “test” for “intelligent Design” is that it is based on the assumption that the only way of producing a thing with FSCO/I is intelligence, and even Dembski concedes that at least for his metric, CSI, an evolutionary algorithm with the right kind of landscape parameters, can produce it. And anyway, I’ve demonstrated it

    That leaves open the question of whether such an algorithm can be produced by a non-Intelligent agent, but that’s a different story.

  70. Lizzie:
    . . .
    Because the reason FSCO/I (were it to be calculable, and I have seen no evidence that it is) . . . .

    Since I’m not the only person to note this issue today, I would like to take this opportunity to ask William to create a new topic (assuming that Lizzie has been as generous in offering such privileges as she usually is) on FSCO/I.

    Richard Hughes has quoted William as claiming, on UD:

    No. It is rigorously defined, and it can be calculated handily. You can find the definition and reference in the FAQ and Glossary on this site, or by googling “kairosfocus FSCO/I” and finding many exhaustive epxlanations and examples on this site and others.

    That suggests that the material is readily available. Having a clear exposition, with example calculations, all in one place would be a valuable resource and basis for more constructive discussion.

    What are your thoughts, William?

  71. P0ker! I’d said sodding p¬ker! I’ve been intermittently trying to post This all bleedin’ day! Then the penny dropped.

    P~ker. P~bloody~oker. :? What is WP’s beef with that word?

    eta: Link no worky!

  72. I didn’t apply my intelligence to locate the ‘anti-target’ in the space of all 5-letter words!

  73. Please. I don’t want to attack a strawman, I’d like to see what an ID proponent regards as a “rigorously defined” and “calculated handily” example, an “exhaustive explanation”, if you will.

  74. Regarding this, William:

    Lizzie…even Dembski concedes that at least for his metric, CSI, an evolutionary algorithm with the right kind of landscape parameters, can produce it.And anyway, I’ve demonstrated it

    I see you wrote, at UD:

    William J Murray April 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    This line right here, Joe:

    However, starting with a randomly generated population of, say 100 series, I propose to subject them to random point mutations and natural selection, whereby I will cull the 50 series with the lowest products, and produce “offspring”, with random point mutations from each of the survivors, and repeat this over many generations.

    She smuggled information about the search goal (high products) into the landscape (natural selection) by deliberately choosing a selective process (what she should cull) in order to aid her particular search.

    I do find it extraordinary that those who think they’ve found a flaw in evolutionary theory so regularly demonstrate just how little they understand the theory they are attempting to critique. In fact, I assume that the realise they think it’s a flaw is because they’ve missed the point.

    And here is a case in point.

    No, William, I have not “smuggled in” anything. It is right there, hiding in plain site, for you to take note of, as indeed you did.

    What and what “it” is, this thing that I blatantly stuck in there, with no attempt to “hide” it at all, was the fitness function.

    Of course I “deliberately chose it”. What else did you think I was going to do? Get gang of monkeys to type my script?

    An evolutionary algorithm is one that requires a fitness function – a criterion, or set of criteria by which the algorithm decides what to keep and what to cull.

    They are called “evolutionary algorithms” because they are work exactly like evolution, except that instead of the environment providing the fitness function (eagles will eat the least well camouflaged chicks), we write in one ourselves (the computer will eat the virtual organisms with the lowest products).

    If I didn’t “smuggle” such a fitness function into my evolutionary algorithm, it wouldn’t be an evolutionary algorithm!!!!! The Fitness Function is the Natural Selection part! Not much point in trying to model evolution if you leave out NS!

    It’s like you guys (not to mention your elks) are saying: hey, evolution doesn’t work unless you have Natural Selection! Well, duh, sorry guys, but Darwin got there first :)

    Note that my his fitness function, unlike Dawkins Weasel, is not identical to the most fit solution. In fact, it doesn’t resemble it at all – in fact, it took me a while to work out (separately) what the most fit solution would be, although I expect most of the mathematicians could see the solution fairly easily.

    Morever, as in nature, the link between genotype (the sequence of heads and tails) and phenotype (the virtual organism product of runs-of-heads) is not one-to-one. Different genotypes similar phenotypes, and similar genotypes have rather different phenotypes.

    So it’s really a rather nice little algorithm – it works exactly as evolution does, it starts with a randomly generated string with a small amount of Specified Complex Information, and evolves one that is specified and low probability, and therefore High Information, and from its rarity as a specified Target, we can work out how many Bits it has, and demonstrate that it exceeds the threshold for CSI.

    In other words, evolutionary assisted search can, as Dembski fully agrees, increase the amount of Complex Information in the Genome, and produce CSI.

    That is, of course, because of the information contained in the Fitness function, both in nature and in silicon. That’s why Dembski asks: but where did the Fitness function come from? Well, it comes from the environment. So then he asks: well where did the algorithm come from? And we say, well, we don’t know yet, but Szostak has some good ideas. And then he says, in effect, but Szostak’s scenarios wouldn’t work without organic chemistry, so where did that come from? You need fine tuning yadda yadda.

    In other words, there’s nothing wrong with the fitness function – it works, it increases Complex Information in the genome, produces CSI, and is found in nature. That means, that, given self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success, Information will increase, and CSI will emerge – it doesn’t take Intelligence, it just takes self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success.

    So let’s have less anti-Darwin. Take pot-shots at OOL if you like, but poor old Darwin, who made it perfectly clear that he didn’t know how the first life forms originated, was absolutely right, and my little exercise shows perfectly clearly that evolutionary search can increase the Complex, Information In The Genome. It starts with a little, ends with a lot, and I smuggle in nothing that does not have a direct counterpart in natural evolutionary processes – namely, a “Fitness Function” aka your old nemesis, “natural selection”.

    *raises a glass to Charles*

  75. Eric chimes in:

    Eric Anderson April 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Joe @46:

    Re: Lizzie’s generation of CSI:

    Not only is she not generating anything that even approaches what we are talking about in terms of complex specified information

    I generate exactly what Dembski specifies. I don’t pretend to generate anything else. But his definition, given in Specification, is perfectly clear – a string of minimum Shannon Complexity, which is one of specified subset of strings from a much larger set of strings, such that the probability of finding it by chance is less than the UPB.

    I start with high probability strings, generated randomly by coin-tosses, then subject them to random mutation and natural selection according to an environmental fitness function. The fitness function, unlike WEASEL is not the same as the fittest string, in fact it doesn’t resemble any solution, it isn’t even a string, and doesn’t tell us what the fittest strings are like. It is thus the precise equivalent to some environment challenge, such as camouflage from predators.

    — things like code, language, semiotics, etc. —

    Sure. But that’s not how Dembski defined CSI – he defined it in terms of probabilities.

    she is also making the same mistake Dawkins made with his Weasel nonsense.

    Dawkins didn’t make a mistake, he just made an algorithm that was trivial, in which the fitness function WAS the solution. Mine isn’t even the same sort of beast, and certainly doesn’t tell us what the fittest solutin is.

    To be sure, she isn’t targeting a specific phrase, but she is rewarding in a way to move the sequences toward her “House Jackpot” target.

    Of course I’m rewarding sequences that score highest on the Fitness function (or rather penalising sequences that score low. That’s how Fitness functions, as in nature, work. You are the most conspicuous chick, you are the mostly likely to get eaten. Your less conspicuous siblings are the ones that will go on to spread their less-conspicuous-making genes. But I am not “moving” anything “forward”. In any generation, the offspring are as likely to be less succesful than their parents as more. In fact, as in nature, the fitter the population becomes, the more likely it becomes that any offspring will be less fit than the parents, because there are then far more ways of being less fit than your parent than more. So nothing is being “moved” – all that is happening is exactly what happens in nature – the kids that score lowest on the fitness function are culled, leaving the fitter survivors to breed.

    Everyone knows that if you have a target (and, please folks, it does not matter one whit whether that target is a specific sequence or a stochastic distribution) and run iterations, selecting those that converge toward the target, then — surprise surprise — you start to converge on the target.

    Of course you do. That’s why evolution works – except you don’t have to specify a single target (I didn’t) and you can have a vast number of fitness functions (camouflage, speed, size, beak depth, eggshell hardness, you name it), each with their own “Target” region). The “target” in nature is intrinsic – it’s whatever best ensures survival. And, as in my sim, the population will converge upon it. The reason our in silico models work is because the system works.

    It is an exercise in irrelevance. The “solution” is not found by natural selection; it is smuggled into the initial programming.

    Nothing is smuggled, and what you think is “smuggled” IS natural selection. Natural selection is the fitness function – its the criterion by which an individual is selected, and it’s “natural” in nature because it’s whatever best ensures survival in the natural environment. With artifical selection (breeding) the fitness function is the breed standard. If you, Eric, really don’t know that natural selection and the fitness function are the same thing, then perhaps you should stop telling people what natural selection isn’t until you do!

    To use more technical terminology, the information that bounds and confines the search space came from some prior knowledge. There has been a conservation of information backstream to the ultimate source (the programmer in this case).

    Of course. And not only the fitness function came from me, so did the landscape architecture – the various mechanisms of mutation, for instance, the method of reproduction, the starting population. All that came from me, the programmer. And all, apart from the starting population, is exactly analogous to what happens in nature. Sure, there’s information, but that information is easy to track – the fitness function is right there in the environment, killing conspicuous chicks, rewarding well-camouflaged ones.

    Furthermore, whatever she has generated has no substance. The generated sequence doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t convey any information.

    Tough. Sure it’s no use to anyone, but then what use is a e-coli bacterium to anyone except itself? And Dembski’s definition of CSI doesn’t include a condition that the pattern has to “mean anything”.

    It is just a bunch of random numbers,

    It’s a bunch of highly non-random numbers. It’s so non-random that I can predict it with quite a high degree of confidence.

    that by happenstance multiply up to some arbitrary target threshold.

    Not by “happenstance” but by systematic measurement against a fitness function in exactly the same way as organisms are measured against environmental challenges and found adequate, or wanting.

    It bears no resemblance to what we find in biology.

    Let me summarise just how well it resembles biology:

    1. The virtual organisms have a genotype – the sequence of heads and tails.
      The genotype is subject to mutation, using point mutations, insertions, deletions, and duplications.
    2. The phenotype is quite separate from the genotype – what the virtual organism does is different to what it is.
    3. The phenotype does not have a one-to-one relationship with the genotype – although organisms with similar genotypes tend to have similar phenotypes, this is not always the case
    4. The fitness function is a criteron that determines whether the phenotype will breed or die, just as a feature like degree of camouflage, in nature, will determine whether the phenotype will live or die.
    5. As the population gets fitter, offspring are more likely to be less fit than their parents than more fit
    6. The starting population has very low fitness when measured against the fitness function, and is randomly generated, and thus has low Specified Complexity.
    7. The final population has extremely high fitness when measured against the fitness function, and has high Specified Complexity – the strings are long enough to be Complex, and specified enough to be extremely Improbable under the null of random generation.

    Thus the whole attempt is an exercise in irrelevancy. Both in approach and in substance.

    On the contrary, the whole attempt demonstrated very nicely what Dembski has in any case conceded, that evolutionary algorithms are perfectly good at finding Targets. And this has been a very good opportunity to explain yet again, why this accusation that in silicon evolutionary models “smuggle” in anything is so ridiculous – all they “smuggle” in is the very thing that Darwin discovered – the fitness function aka natural selection, in other words, a naturally occuring criterion that affects whether an organism breeds successfully or not. Obviously in silicon models we write them. Nature is perfectly capable of providing them.

    As your friendly neighbouring eagle.

    PS: I notice that CentralScrutinizer objects that:

    Exactly. She calls it “natural” selection, but it’s artificial selection.

    Well, of course it is, yes. That’s because I wrote it. But it is the exact counter-part to natural selection, just as Darwin pointed out that artificial selection of farm animals by farmers led to certain traits emerging, and that there was a natural counterpart to this in nature. But obviously nobody’s going to write an evolutionary model that they didn’t, um, artifically write.

    And lastyearon provides this (is lastyearon a spoof? I’m never quite sure)

    I couldn’t agree more [with William]. The search landscape of the natural selection goal had information smuggled into it, using CSI. Or was it the natural selection landscape that was smuggled in by CSI using the search goal.

    Whatever. Either way, CSI was involved, which means there was an intelligent designer, which means her demonstration only proves that you need an intelligent designer to insert CSI into a search landscape goal.

    Which is sort of funny.

Comments are closed.