Betting on the Weasel

… with Mung.   In a recent comment Mung asserted that

If Darwinists had to put up their hard earned money they would soon go broke and Darwinism would be long dead. I have a standing $10,000 challenge here at TSZ that no one has ever taken me up on.

Now, I don’t have $10,000 to bet on anything, but it is worth exploring what bet Mung was making. Perhaps a bet of a lower amount could be negotiated, so it is worth trying to figure out what the issue was.

Mung’s original challenge will be found here.  It was in a thread in which I had proposed a bet of $100 that a Weasel program would do much better than random sampling.  When people there started talking about whether enough money could be found to take Mung up on the bet, they assumed that it was a simple raising of the stake for my bet.  But Mung said here:

You want to wager over something that was never in dispute?

Why not offer a meaningful wager?

So apparently Mung was offering a bet on something else.

I think I have a little insight on what was the “meaningful wager”, or at least on what issue.  It would lead us to a rather extraordinary bet.  Let me explain below the fold …

Mung accepted that Weasel programs reach their goal far faster than random sampling.  However Mung also said (here) that

Weasel programs perform better than blind search because they are guided. I didn’t think the performance was in dispute, nor why the performance was better.

and elsewhere characterized Weasels as succeeding because of “intelligence” as opposed to ignorance.

So let’s imagine what might happen if we took Mung up on the $10,000 bet.  We would bet that the Weasel would succeed, because of cumulative selection.  Mung would bet that (because of “intelligence” or being “guided”) the Weasel would succeed.  The stake would be held by a house of some sort, which would not take a commission.

The Weasel would be run.  It would succeed.  So the house would declare that we had all won.  The stake would be given to the bettors, in proportion to their bets.  But alas, no one actually bet against the Weasel.  So the winnings would be zero.  Everyone, Mung and the rest of us, would get their stake back, and that’s all.

To bet against Mung, we have to come up with some event that distinguishes cumulative selection from “intelligence” (or being “guided”).  That seems to be the issue on which Mung was offering a $10,000 bet, and declaring (here) us all to be “pretender[s]” because we would not put up or shut up.

So there it is.  We’re all betting on the same side, and no one will win or lose a penny.  Unless Mung can come up with some test that distinguished “intelligence” or being “guided” from cumulative selection.

Now I am possibly misunderstanding what the bet actually would be.  I hope that Mung will straighten us out on that, so that we can understand what test is proposed, and place our bets.

664 thoughts on “Betting on the Weasel”

  1. newton

    Erik:
    Exactly – “can”, not “will”. This is what “does not follow” means. Basic logic.

    For macroevolution to follow, microevolution is not enough. Macro and micro are not the same thing, contrary to JF.

    Actually it is a rebuttal of the concept that the accepted existence of micro-evolution cannot result in macro- evolution. If it can then that is sufficient to refute.

  2. dazzdazz

    By the way, if GA’s with a target, like the weasel, model ID, then presumably there are target sequences in real life, and the process of following the target is how the designer works his magic, right?

    This seems trivially falsifiable to me, because organisms, populations and species following the same target should converge on the same sequence, even if there’s no gene flow. Does that sound right?

  3. dazzdazz

    dazz:
    By the way, if GA’s with a target, like the weasel, model ID, then presumably there are target sequences in real life, and the process of following the target is how the designer works his magic, right?

    This seems trivially falsifiable to me, because organisms, populations and species following the same target should converge on the same sequence, even if there’s no gene flow. Does that sound right?

    To elaborate on this stupid ID (excuse the redundant qualifier) theory of speciation, the Designer would set a distant target sequence for the fortunate population to follow. Considering that mutation rates are known, how much diversity would there be in the resulting population after the process has reached the target and keeps hovering around the target sequence? Seems pretty obvious that all the members of the population would virtually have the same genotype!

    That’s most certainly not what we observe.

  4. GlenDavidson

    Erik: Tu quoque: When talking about the Designer, you decry the macro-leap.

    Oh I see, you can’t tell the difference between a made-up “Designer” and a process that left evidence of millions of point mutations.

    Do you really have such a problem with analogies? I don’t even agree that there is a “macro-leap” in evolution,* none that has ever been obvious.

    When talking about evolution, no problemo.

    Right, without the considerable evidence of actual gradual evolution.

    As for me personally, macro-leap is a problem in both cases. In every case, really.

    Or anyway, you’ll claim a macro-leap for evolution, and ignore the fact that I mentioned that it’s actually a different sort of category, in fact. Then you’ll equate the made-up “Designer” with the evolutionary processes that left huge amounts of data.

    So, as usual, you pretend equal treatment, but only by sweeping aside the huge differences.

    Glen Davidson

    *Not impossible, especially in earlier evolution, but not certain, at the least.

  5. Joe FelsensteinJoe Felsenstein Post author

    The issues aside from Betting on the Weasel can be discussed further if someone will write a new post about Macro/Micro or about Why Are There Still Monkeys.

    In the meantime, back to Betting on the Weasel.

  6. Joe FelsensteinJoe Felsenstein Post author

    Mung fulminated (to dazz):

    You don’t even know what the bet was. Joe F doesn’t know what the bet was. And the link in his OP isn’t to the bet.

    Joe tried to make a different bet, one which I never took him up on. One which I never agreed to.

    Mung is quite correct. I never could figure out what bet Mung was offering. This whole thread was an attempt to get Mung to clarify the issue. And if Mung wouldn’t, to make the point that Mung was being silly. As far as clarification, that effort was to no avail, it seems.

    Maybe something like this?

    1. Mung and I agree on a Weasel-like program that embodies “guidance” or “intelligence” but not cumulative selection.
    2. Mung and I agree on another Weasel-like program that embodies cumulative selection but not “guidance” or “intelligence”.
    3. We run the two.
    4. If program #1 succeeds but not program #2, then Mung wins.
    5. If program #2 succeeds but not program #1, I win.

    So far we’re nowhere near this situation, because of assertions by Mung that existing Weasel programs embody “guidance” or “intelligence”, and hesitancy on the part of Mung to agree that they embody cumulative selection.

    But I have probably misinterpreted Mung, so we will await a clarification of what Mung meant. It goes without saying that Mung is the one who has to clarify.

  7. Pedant

    Joe Felsenstein:
    But I have probably misinterpreted Mung, so we will await a clarification of what Mung meant. It goes without saying that Mung is the one who has to clarify.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  8. phoodoo

    Alan Fox:
    Apologies to Joe Felsenstein.

    There is no rule against trolling but there is the option of not rising to the bait!

    Please keep moderation discussion in the proper thread. This is not a thread about trolling.

  9. phoodoo

    OMagain: I’m obligated to be hostile to your particular brand of poisonous ignorance. Bullying you and yours is a duty not to be shirked. If you don’t like it then crack a book some time and learn something. Or continue to post a series of ignorant strawman OPs that do your side no favours and continue to spread debunked nonsense. As you prefer.

    But I will never accept or normalise your poison.

    OMagain: That’s not the reason you are an asshole.

    J-Mac: You asked. I answered…I’m planning to do an OP on Noah’s Flood vs Ice Age and that’s not going to be a movie review..

    The reason you are an asshole is that you are an adult yet believe fairy tales and no doubt lie to children also regarding the way of the world.

    GlenDavidson: I gather that it’s from the stupidity that you spew.

    Then the fact that you think your brand of ignorance should be taught in schools as a means of disparaging actual science.

    You at least understand ridicule. You don’t understand evidence and good reasoning.

    Glen Davidson

    More eyesight issues Alan?

  10. petrushka

    Perhaps mung could outline the two programs in pseudocode. Or, since he seems proficient, write them a minimal programs.

  11. Adapa

    It is truly sad a good 50% of the comments at TSZ these days are trolling shitposts by ID-Creationists (Moe), (Larry), and the all-time shitpost leader (Curly).

    I suppose that’s what happens when attention whores are given attention.

  12. GlenDavidson

    Adapa:
    It is truly sad a good 50% of the comments at TSZ these days are trolling shitposts by ID-Creationists (Moe), (Larry), and the all-time shitpost leader (Curly).

    I suppose that’s what happens when attention whores are given attention.

    It’s what the rules of the site cause in effect, whatever the intent.

    Glen Davidson

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