# Lines of reasoning as opposed to scientific evidence

In a recent comment, Robert Byers said:

Yes lines of reasoning as opposed to scientific evidence is a criticism I strongly make!!

I’m not quite sure what is going on in Robert’s way of thinking.  I am not sure what he means by “scientific evidence”.  Here I want to explore what Robert appears to be arguing.

Let’s take crossword puzzle solving as an illustration.  The puzzle has a grid where one can enter words.  And then there are the clues.  There is a list of “Across” clues and a list of “Down” clues.

# VJ Torley on Order versus Complexity

VJ has written, by his standards, a short post distinguishing order from complexity (a mere 1400 words). To sum it up – a pattern has order if it can be generated from a few simple principles. It has complexity if it can’t.  There are some well known problems with this – one of which being that it is not possible to prove that a given pattern cannot be generated from a few simple principles.  However, I don’t dispute the distinction. The curious thing is that Dembski defines specification in terms of a pattern that can  generated from a few simple principles. So no pattern can be both complex in VJ’s sense and specified in Dembski’s sense.

At the heart of this the problem is that Dembski has written a paper that most IDers would find unacceptable if they took the trouble to understand it.  But they don’t quite have the courage to say they disagree. That is why this comment from  Eric Anderson made me chuckle:

Second, why is it so hard for some people to get it through their heads that the issue is not “order”? Is this really hard to understand, or just that so many people haven’t been properly educated about the issues?

I wonder which one it is in William Dembski’s case?

# The eleP(T|H)ant in the room

The pattern that signifies Intelligence?

Winston Ewert has a post at Evolution News & Views that directly responds to my post here, A CSI Challenge which is nice. Dialogue is good.  Dialogue in a forum where we can both post would be even better.  He is extremely welcome to join us here

In my Challenge, I presented a grey-scale photograph of an unknown item, and invited people to calculate its CSI.  My intent, contrary to Ewert’s assumption, was not:

…to force an admission that such a calculation is impossible or to produce a false positive, detecting design where none was present.

but to reveal the problems inherent in such a calculation, and, in particular, the problem of computing the probability distribution of the data under the null hypothesis: The eleP(T|H)ant in the room

# The Laws of Thought

aren’t.

They are perfectly valid rules of reasoning, of course.  Wikipedia cites Aristotle: :

• The law of identity: “that every thing is the same with itself and different from another”: A is A and not ~A.
• The Law of Non-contradiction: that “one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time”
• Law of Excluded Middle: “But on the other hand there cannot be an intermediate between contradictories, but of one subject we must either affirm or deny any one predicate.”

And of course they work just fine for binary, true-or-false, statements, which is why Boolean logic is so powerful.

But I suggest they are not Laws of Thought.

# Libertarian Free Will

As The Ghost In The Machine thread is getting rather long, but no less interesting, I thought I’d start another one here, specifically on the issue of Libertarian Free Will.

And I drew some diagrams which seem to me to represent the issues.  Here is a straightforward account of how I-as-organism make a decision as to whether to do, or not do, something (round up or round down when calculating the tip I leave in a restaurant, for instance).

My brain/body decision-making apparatus interrogates both itself, internally, and the external world, iteratively, eventually coming to a Yes or NO decision.  If it outputs Yes, I do it; if it outputs No, I don’t.

Now let’s add a Libertarian Free Will Module (LFW) to the diagram:

# Neuroimaging

I’ve been meaning to write a post in this for a while, but as usual, Barry Arrington has prompted me into action (I’m really very grateful to Barry sometimes )  (Golly, just checked – it’s already half way down the UD page!  Does Barry really want his posts buried quite so rapidly?  We are going to see fossilisation at this rate!)

Anyhoo….  Neuroimaging is one of the things I do.  Here is one of my favorite images (probably the most reproduced fMRI image of all time), by Fox et al, 2005:

Although it may not have the form that some readers might be more familiar with, as it’s plotted on a “flat[ish] map” of the cortical surface.

# Gpuccio on compatibilism and moral responsibility

Gpuccio has written a couple of comments intended for the impressive RDFish.  RDF hasn’t responded – I suspect because he/she is concentrating on responding to StephenB on another thread.  I find it  disconcerting that GP, who is a nice chap, should get so emotional and dismissive of a respectable (and in my view correct) view of free will. So I am going to dive-in in RDF’s absence and hope GP sees this.It is over 1000 words and repeats some rather well known things about compatibilism. I wouldn’t waste your time reading it unless you think compatibilism is self-evident rubbish.

To see the strength of GP’s feelings on this here are a couple of quotes:

# The Ghost in the Machine

Let’s suppose there really is a Ghost in the Machine – a “little man” (“homunculus”) who “looks out” through our eyes, and “listens in” through our ears (interestingly, those are the two senses most usually ascribed to the floating Ghost in NDE accounts).  Or, if you prefer, a Soul.

And let’s further suppose that it is reasonable to posit that the Ghost/Soul is inessential to human day-to day function, merely to conscious experience and/or “free will”; that it is at least possible hypothetically to imagine a soulless simulacrum of a person who behaved exactly as a person would, but was in fact a mere automaton, without conscious experience – without qualia.

Thirdly, let’s suppose that there there are only a handful of these Souls in the world, and the rest of the things that look and behave like human beings are Ghostless automatons – soulless simulacra. But, as in an infernal game of Mafia, none of us know which are the Simulacra, and which are the true Humans – because there is no way of telling from the outside – from an apparent person’s behaviour or social interactions, or cognitive capacities – which is which.

And finally, let’s suppose that souls can migrate at will, from body to body.

# “Darwin’s Delusion” Concise Version

LONG WINDED VERSION AT UD:
Darwin’s Delusion vs. Death of the Fittest

CONCISE VERSION AT TSZ
From Kimura and Mayurama’s paper The Mutational Load (eqn 1.4), Nachman and Crowell’s paper Esitmate of the Mutation Rate per Nucleotide in Humans (last paragraph), Eyre-Walker and Keightley’s paper High Genomic Deleterious Mutation rates in Homonids (2nd paragraph) we see that by using the Poisson distribution, it can be deduced that the probability P(0,U) of a child not getting a novel mutation is reasonably approximated as:

$\large \large P(0,U) = \frac{U^0 e^{-U }}{0!} = e^{-U}$

where 0 corresponds to the “no mutation” outcome, and U is the mutation rate expressed in mutations per individual per generation.

If the rate of slightly dysfunctional or slightly deleterious mutations is 6 per individual per generation (i.e. U=6), the above result suggests each generation is less “fit” than its parents’ generation since there is a 99.75% probability each offspring is slightly defective. Thus, “death of the fittest” could be a better description of how evolution works in the wild for species with relatively low reproductive rates such as humans.