The principles on which this site is run are summarised here and here. The key rule is: “assume other posters are posting in good faith”.
That does not mean that you have to believe that they are posting in good faith, simply that you should make that assumption for the purposes of discussion.
I will not “correct” posts – people are responsible for their own posts, and for any errors they contain. I will not delete posts, although I may move posts to a different thread, or to the Sandbox or to Guano. They remain publicly viewable. I will however, delete links to porn or malware, and posting such links or material are the only grounds on which I will ban anyone. Posters are complete free to disagree with me, with each other, and to be mistaken.
UD is run on different lines. Fine. I prefer mine.
Denis Noble has a new review out, in Experimental Physiology called Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology. Unfortunately the article itself is behind a paywall, but here is the abstract:
The ‘Modern Synthesis’ (Neo-Darwinism) is a mid-20th century gene-centric view of evolution, based on random mutations accumulating to produce gradual change through natural selection. Any role of physiological function in influencing genetic inheritance was excluded. The organism became a mere carrier of the real objects of selection, its genes. We now know that genetic change is far from random and often not gradual. Molecular genetics and genome sequencing have deconstructed this unnecessarily restrictive view of evolution in a way that reintroduces physiological function and interactions with the environment as factors influencing the speed and nature of inherited change. Acquired characteristics can be inherited, and in a few but growing number of cases that inheritance has now been shown to be robust for many generations. The 21st century can look forward to a new synthesis that will reintegrate physiology with evolutionary biology.
It’s a nice synthesis of the views he expresses in his book, The Music of Life, which I mentioned a previous post, Reductionism Redux , but he also lays out very clearly the ways in which four assumptions that have underlain much thinking in evolutionary biology since the “modern synthesis” (not so modern now), need to be revisited.
as Per Ahlberg bills it at Talk Rational:
Boisvert, C. A., Joss, J. M. P. & Ahlberg, P. E. 2013: Comparative pelvic development of the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) and the Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri): conservation and innovation across the fish-tetrapod transition. EvoDevo 4: 3.
The paper is open access, available here. Abstract:
I’m lookin’ at you, IDers
Dembski’s paper: Specification: The Pattern That Specifies Complexity gives a clear definition of CSI.
The complexity of pattern (any pattern) is defined in terms of Shannon Complexity. This is pretty easy to calculate, as it is merely the probability of getting this particular pattern if you were to randomly draw each piece of the pattern from a jumbled bag of pieces, where the bag contains pieces in the same proportion as your pattern, and stick them together any old where. Let’s say all our patterns are 2×2 arrangements of black or white pixels. Clearly if the pattern consists of just four black or white pixels, two black and two white* , there are only 16 patterns we can make:
And we can calculate this by saying: for each pixel we have 2 choices, black or white, so the total number of possible patterns is 2*2*2*2, i.e 24 i.e. 16. That means that if we just made patterns at random we’d have a 1/16 chance of getting any one particular pattern, which in decimals is .0625, or 6.25%. We could also be fancy and express that as the negative log 2 of .625, which would be 4 bits. But it all means the same thing. The neat thing about logs is that you can add them, and get the answer you would have got if you’d multipled the unlogged numbers. And as the negative log of .5 is 1, each pixel, for which we have a 50% chance of being black or white, is worth “1 bit”, and four pixels will be worth 4 bits.
‘vjtorley’ has honoured me with my very own OP at Uncommon Descent in response to my piece on Protein Space. I cannot, of course, respond over there (being so darned uncivil and all!), so I will put my response in this here bottle and hope that a favourable wind will drive it to vjt’s shores. It’s a bit long (and I’m sure not any the better for it…but I’m responding to vjt and his several sources … ! ).
“Build me a protein – no guidance allowed!”
The title is an apparent demand for a ‘proof of concept’, but it is beyond intelligence too at the moment, despite a working system we can reverse engineer (a luxury not available to Ye Olde Designer). Of course I haven’t solved the problem, which is why I haven’t dusted off a space on my piano for that Nobel Prize. But endless repetition of Hoyle’s Fallacy from multiple sources does not stop it being a fallacious argument.
Dr Torley bookends his post with a bit of misdirection. We get pictures of, respectively, a modern protein and a modern ribozyme. It has never been disputed that modern proteins and ribozymes are complex, and almost certainly not achievable in a single step. But
1) Is modern complexity relevant to abiogenesis?
2) Is modern complexity relevant to evolution?
Here are three more complex objects:
Panda playing the flute
er … not yet in service!
Phinehas and Kairosfocus share second prize for my CSI challenge: yes, it is indeed “Ash on Ice” – it’s a Google Earth image of Skeiðarárjökull Glacier.
But of course the challenge was not to identify the picture, but to calculate its CSI. Vjtorley deserves, I think, first prize, not for calculating it, but for making so clear why we cannot calculate CSI for a pattern unless we can calculate “p(T|H)” for all possible “chance” (where “chance” means “non-design”) hypotheses.
In other words, unless we know, in advance, how likely we are to observe the candidate pattern, given non-chance, we cannot infer Design using CSI. Which is, by the Rules of Right Reason, the same as saying that in order to infer Design using CSI, we must first calculate how likely our candidate pattern is under all possible non-Design hypotheses.
As Dr Torley rightly says:
Professor Felsenstein is quite correct in claiming that “CSI is not … something you could assess independently of knowing the processes that produced the pattern.”
And also, of course, in observing that Dembski acknowledges this in his paper, , Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence, as many of us have pointed out. Which is why we keep saying that it can’t be calculated – you have to be able to quantify p(T|H), where H is the actual non-design hypothesis, not some random-independent-draw hypothesis.
…an odd, but revelatory, set of questions:
1. How do you know scientifically (and I emphasize “scientifically” here because I want to make it clear that theological, metaphysical or philosophical opinions – while important for other reasons – have no bearing on the question at hand) that the properties of the Cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in natural systems can not be actual design, even in principle?
2. How do you know scientifically that Nature (or the Cosmos) is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect? (Recall Dawkins claim that a universe superintended by a Deity would look much different than ours as he says in The God Delusion several times)
3. How do you know scientifically that the properties of biological systems are such that any apparent design we observe in them can not be actual design, even in principle? (The Blind Watchmaker and Dawkins’s claim that “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance [emphasis mine] of having been designed for a purpose.”)
4. How do you know scientifically that no supernatural being, if such actually existed, could ever take any action within nature itself that would produce observable phenomenon or effect any change in the arrangement of matter or energy anywhere in the Cosmos?
Does anyone here? And does any one make any such claims? I don’t.
Here is a pattern:
It’s a gray-scale image, so it is just one 2D matrix. Here is a text file containing the matrix:
I would like to know whether it has CSI or not. Here is Dembski’s paper, in which he gives the formula:
Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence.
I recently bumped a post by keiths: Things That IDers Don’t Understand, Part 1 — Intelligent Design is not compatible with the evidence for common descent as it had come up in a recent discussion. Vjtorley has responded on UD with a post called Is Darwinism a better explanation of life than Intelligent Design?
I’ve unbumped keiths’ post, as the thread was getting rather long, and in any case, it would be good to respond to vjtorley, who is, of course, very welcome to come over here in purpose. I like Dr Torley, and do hope he will drop by, but in any case, the loudhailer seems to work reasonably well!
Feel free to continue the discussion that had been renewed on keiths’ post in this one (or on the old one if you like, using the link).