Biological Information

  1. ‘Information’, ‘data’ and ‘media’ are distinct concepts. Media is the mechanical support for data and can be any material including DNA and RNA in biology. Data is the symbols that carry information and are stored and transmitted on the media. ACGT nucleotides forming strands of DNA are biologic data. Information is an entity that answers a question and is represented by data encoded on a particular media. Information is always created by an intelligent agent and used by the same or another intelligent agent. Interpreting the data to extract information requires a deciphering key such as a language. For example, proteins are made of amino acids selected based on a translation table (the deciphering key) from nucleotides.
  2. Information is entirely separate from matter. The same media (matter) may contain data representing information for one or more users, or random noise if the same bits of data have been randomly configured. Furthermore, without a deciphering key, one user’s information is random noise to another (like bird songs to unrelated birds). Information can be encoded in different ways (like distinct languages), resulting in unequal data sets. The size of the data is [in practice] always larger than the information carried due to redundancy which is necessary to maintain the integrity of the carried or stored information.
  3. The biologic cellular system is strikingly similar to human built autonomous information systems and unlike anything else observable in the inert universe. Media can be anything including any collection of atoms and, without a decoding key, the same media can support an infinity of data. For instance, a DNA chain encodes one set of data when read left to right, another when read in reverse, yet another when read pair-by-pair, and so on. But in living organisms, DNA actually encodes specific information that is uniquely decoded with a key. Furthermore, the information in the DNA is also redundantly encoded to ensure its long term integrity. Aside from DNA and RNA, we can observe many other information systems in nature (with decoding keys such as pheromones, antigens, and hormones), but all are limited to the living.
  4. DNA mutations are wrongfully interpreted by some as spontaneous information generation, however the DNA limitations show that DNA is not ‘the code of life’, but only a configurable portion of ‘the code of life’. In addition, the adaptive mutations appear limited in range, reversible when the stimulus is removed, and repeatable, indicating their non-random character (as in “the peppered moth”, “Darwin’s finches”, and antibiotic resistance). This is exactly how advanced human designed computer systems behave – they have been built with adaptability in mind, therefore to the untrained eye these systems seem completely autonomous and infinitely auto-reconfigurable (”Artificial Intelligence” fallacy).
  5. Information cannot just pop into existence in the absence of an intelligent agent. That is why all noise-based information generating attempts including all “infinite monkey” experiments have failed and that is why “Artificial Intelligence” will never “rise”. Separating information from noise has been a very important human activity for thousands of years and success in this endeavor has always been based on two critical elements: deciphering key and redundant encoding.
  6. Information can exist for a long time without an intelligent agent. Information can be stored, transmitted and downloaded into machines that perform certain operations regardless of whether the intelligent agent is still around or not. Based on all our knowledge about information, not observing the intelligent agent at work should never lead to the absurd assumption that the information machine “arose without a designer”. It is no coincidence that teleological terms such as “function” and “design” appear frequently in the biological sciences.
  7. Data is everywhere (including fossil record and marks of past events such as asteroid impacts), but that data becomes information only to intelligent agents like us (organisms) and only when we learn to interpret it and to make predictions (answer questions). When we look at the sedimentation and erosion, we take that data and make information from it based on our knowledge. There is no information in the rocks, just data.

Summary:

  1. ‘Information’, ‘data’ and ‘media’ are distinct concepts
  2. Information is entirely separate from matter
  3. Biologic cellular systems are strikingly similar to human built autonomous information systems and unlike anything else observable in the inert universe
  4. DNA mutations are wrongfully interpreted by some as spontaneous information generation
  5. Information cannot just pop into existence in the absence of an intelligent agent
  6. Information can exist for a long time without an intelligent agent
  7. Data is everywhere (including fossil record), but that data becomes information only to intelligent agents

Links:

https://schneider.ncifcrf.gov/

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-biological/

https://evolutionnews.org/2014/08/biological_info_1/

http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/8818#t=toc

https://discourse.biologos.org/t/information-entropy/35327/21

https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/genetic-novelty-conference-errors-cannot-explain-genetic-novelty-and-complexity/#comment-651105

Notes:

Con: Information is just entropy.

Pro: Shannon never said “Information = Entropy”. Wikipedia quote: “Entropy is a measure of unpredictability of the state, or equivalently, of its average information content. Hence Entropy is just an attribute of Information. In addition, information always requires a deciphering key and some redundancy, both of which reduce entropy. Information is meaningful only to the sender and receiver (and the spy). To all others it’s noise.

Con: Random number generators can open any lock.

Pro: The human opens the lock, not the random generator. The random generator is just a tool to the human.

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351 thoughts on “Biological Information

  1. Information is an entity that answers a question and is represented by data encoded on a particular media.

    I’m trying to work out whether “information” means the same thing as “gremlin” or “fairy” or “ghost.” You haven’t been at all clear here.

    Information is always created by an intelligent agent and used by the same or another intelligent agent.

    On another thread, we have a user insisting that a photon of light entering the eye is carrying information. No intelligent agent is involved in that case.

    It’s this sort of disagreement that leads me to use a stricter definition of information.

    Information cannot just pop into existence in the absence of an intelligent agent.

    This seems like a bare assertion. But since I do not know what you mean by “information”, I guess I don’t know what you are asserting. For that matter, “intelligent” is notoriously hard to define.

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  2. Data is everywhere (including fossil record), but that data becomes information only to intelligent agents

    This is completely insane.

    That means the evolution of life has generated not-information that magically transforms into information when someone looks at it. But then evolution DID make lots of information. You can’t have it both ways.

    If it’s not information when we aren’t looking at it, then evolution isn’t required to be able to make any information at all. Then all the DNA sequences and proteins and chemical interactions of life could have evolved, because it isn’t information. It is only when we came on the scene to look at it that it somehow mysteriously became information. See the problem? The whole things is ridiculous. You have a ridiculous definition of information.

    4. DNA mutations are wrongfully interpreted by some as spontaneous information generation

    5. Information cannot just pop into existence in the absence of an intelligent agent

    So, speaking hypothetically, if there’s some DNA sequence that contains information (it could contain the coding and promoter region for a functional gene), is that a piece of information in your opinion? I’m going to guess your answer is yes.

    And if there’s another protein coding gene, with a wholly different sequence, that also performs another function, is that then more information? Or new information? I’m going to say yes on behalf of you because no other answer would make logical sense.

    So there are two different genes A and B, and they perform two different functions, and they have different DNA sequences encoding them.
    A is different information from B. Thus, if you only have A, and you get B later, you will have gained new, different information. Thus, if you have A, and you gain, B, you will have increased the amount of information you have.

    Here’s the thing, evolution has done this. Many many times. X is duplicated so you have X1 and X2. Now X1 and X2 start to diverge in sequence and function. X1 eventually becomes A, and X2 eventually becomes B. New information has been created incrementally by evolution. Information that was not there before. And it happened by mutations. There are countless examples of duplications that have diverged over the history of life into different genes with different functions, thus demonstrating that evolution (and mutations) can create new functional information.

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  3. Jeffrey Shallit has a nice challenge for this kind of creationist information gibberish: Test Your Knowledge of Information Theory.

    Creationists think information theory poses a serious challenge to modern evolutionary biology — but that only goes to show that creationists are as ignorant of information theory as they are of biology.

    Whenever a creationist brings up this argument, insist that they answer the following five questions. All five questions are based on the Kolmogorov interpretation of information theory. I like this version of information theory because (a) it does not depend on any hypothesized probability distribution (a frequent refuge of scoundrels) (b) the answers about how information can change when a string is changed are unambiguous and agreed upon by all mathematicians, allowing less wiggle room to weasel out of the inevitable conclusions, and (c) it applies to discrete strings of symbols and hence corresponds well with DNA.

    All five questions are completely elementary, and I ask these questions in an introduction to the theory of Kolmogorov information for undergraduates at Waterloo. My undergraduates can nearly always answer these questions correctly, but creationists usually cannot.

    Follow the link for the questions.

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  4. Neil Rickert: For that matter, “intelligent” is notoriously hard to define.

    Indeed. Populations of very “simple” organisms without nervous systems, like bacteria exhibit a kind of “intelligence” based on inter cellular communication. One could postulate that all life forms (in populations, at least) exhibit intelligence.

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  5. Joe Felsenstein,

    Interpreting the data to extract information requires a deciphering key such as a language. For example, proteins are made of amino acids selected based on a translation table (the deciphering key) from nucleotides.

    Where is the tree ring “deciphering key” ?

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  6. colewd:
    Joe Felsenstein,

    Where is the tree ring “deciphering key” ?

    Where is there a requirement for tree rings to be deciphered before they are information?

    If someone gives you a string of characters that is an English sentence encoded with a Triple DES encryption algorithm does the string not contain information until it is decoded?

    Like the OP’s foolishness you seem to be confusing “information” with “meaning”. The two are not synonyms.

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  7. Adapa,

    If someone gives you a string of characters that is an English sentence encoded with a Triple DES encryption algorithm does the string not contain information until it is decoded?

    Is it information or is it data in the non translated state?

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  8. colewd:
    Joe Felsenstein,
    “Interpreting the data to extract information requires a deciphering key such as a language. For example, proteins are made of amino acids selected based on a translation table (the deciphering key) from nucleotides.”

    But DNA sequeces aren’t read by an intelligence in order to translate them into amino acid sequences. The ribosome and tRNA isn’t intelligent, they’re just molecules.

    We humans CAN read the DNA sequences and infer the amino acid sequences from that, but that is not a requirement in order for protein biosynthesis to tale place. SO it is simply not true to say that interpretating data to extract information requires an intelligent agent. That information extraction is accomplished tRNA and aminoacyl-tRNA enzymes.

    I suppose you could now claim that what the translation system does is not a case of information extraction, but if that is so then there’s no reason to think an intelligence had to make the translation system, since it doesn’t inherently deal with information.

    This is what is so nonsensical about nonlin’s definition of information. When he simply declares by fiat that the origin, existence, and extraction of information requires an intelligent agent, then he’s simply begging the question. It becomes one giant blind assertion. There is no argument supporting the conclusion he seeks, he’s just stating the conclusion using lots of words.

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  9. That is why all noise-based information generating attempts including all “infinite monkey” experiments have failed

    What experiments are those? I’ve never heard of these “noise-based information generating” or “infinite money experiments”. Can I have some references please?

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  10. Rumraket,

    But DNA sequeces aren’t read by an intelligence in order to translate them into amino acid sequences. The ribosome and tRNA isn’t intelligent, they’re just molecules.

    Our brains are just molecules but for argument sake I will grant you that a ribosome and tRNA are not intelligent.

    That information extraction is accomplished tRNA and aminoacyl-tRNA enzymes.

    Computers can also extract information and are not intelligent. They are, however, designed by intelligent agents.

    This is what is so nonsensical about nonlin’s definition of information. When he simply declares by fiat that the origin, existence, and extraction of information requires an intelligent agent, then he’s simply begging the question. It becomes one giant blind assertion. There is no argument supporting the conclusion he seeks, he’s just stating the conclusion using lots of words.

    Your right the argument is circular at this point but he may be right. Can you challenge this assertion?

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  11. colewd: Your right the argument is circular at this point but he may be right. Can you challenge this assertion?

    I think I can, but we first have to agree on what constitutes information. Joe Felsenstein asked a very relevant question.

    Are tree rings an example of information? To say a bit more, isn’t the number of rings, and the pattern that they alternate in color, thickness and composition, something that tells us about the history of the tree? I’d say yes, tree rings contain information.

    Would you agree?

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  12. Rumraket,

    Would you agree?

    I think you can make an argument that they are data. I would also like to see what others think.

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  13. colewd: I think you can make an argument that they are data.

    It can be both data and information, those are not mutually exclusive properties.

    I would also like to see what others think.

    Why? Can’t you reason or think for yourself and form your own opinion?

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  14. Rumraket,

    Why? Can’t you reason or think for yourself and form your own opinion?

    Is listening to arguments on both sides before forming an opinion a novel concept for you?

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  15. colewd: Is listening to arguments on both sides before forming an opinion a novel concept for you?

    I’m wondering why this is even something you need to have other people’s input on? It is so simple.

    Are tree rings not information? Is the number of rings not something that inform us about the tree?

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  16. Rumraket,

    Are tree rings not information? Is the number of rings not something that inform us about the tree?

    If I look at tree rings and don’t know anything about trees what do they tell me?

    It is just data (or tree rings) at that point until the explanatory filter of knowledge is added.

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  17. colewd: If I look at tree rings and don’t know anything about trees what do they tell me?

    If you look at DNA sequences and don’t know anything about genetics, what does it tell you?

    If that is your standard for determining whether something is information, then there is no information in DNA either, so evolution isn’t required to have generated any.

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  18. Rumraket,

    If that is your standard for determining whether something is information, then there is no information in DNA either, so evolution isn’t required to have generated any.

    From the op.

    Data is the symbols that carry information and are stored and transmitted on the media. ACGT nucleotides forming strands of DNA are biologic data.

    DNA is inert without transcription. Protein coding genes are inert without translation. Tree rings are just circles without an explanatory filter.

    Can we now wait for others to chime in?

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  19. colewd: From the op.

    Data is the symbols that carry information and are stored and transmitted on the media. ACGT nucleotides forming strands of DNA are biologic data.

    That seems to imply DNA is just data.

    DNA is inert without transcription. Protein coding genes are inert without translation.

    Books are inert without someone opening and reading them. That doesn’t tell us whether it is information or not.

    If it isn’t information if it can’t “do” something by itself, then DNA isn’t information, it’s just data. But then so are the contents of books, cd’s, harddrives etc. etc. Then what is the problem?

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  20. colewd: Can we now wait for others to chime in?

    You can do whatever you want, but I don’t see why it’s necessary. I can make sense of the concepts of information and data without someone holding my hand.

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  21. Rumraket,

    If it isn’t information if it can’t “do” something by itself, then DNA isn’t information, it’s just data. But then so are the contents of books, cd’s, harddrives etc. etc. Then what is the problem?

    Then the answer to Joe is that tree rings are data without an observer that can decode.

    DNA can be decoded without an observer or any human intervention.

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  22. Rumraket: If it isn’t information if it can’t “do” something by itself, then DNA isn’t information, it’s just data. But then so are the contents of books, cd’s, harddrives etc. etc. Then what is the problem?

    I think that is a logical conclusion.

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  23. colewd: DNA can be decoded without an observer or any human intervention.

    Does DNA have an explanatory filter? If so what is it?

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  24. colewd: Then the answer to Joe is that tree rings are data without an observer that can decode.

    There are no observers in DNA, unless you mean tRNA or the ribosome is an observer. But then they’re not intelligent agents, so intelligence isn’t required to extract information from DNA.

    DNA can be decoded without an observer or any human intervention.

    But it can’t do that by itself. DNA can’t decode itself, books can’t read themselves, tree rings can’t count themselves. And in any case, if DNA is information simply because it can be decoded, then intelligent agents are not required for information because the decoding isn’t accomplished by intelligent agents.

    We can keep going all night. The definition of information Nonlin is advancing is nonsensical.

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  25. Rumraket: Jeffrey Shallit has a nice challenge for this kind of creationist information gibberish.

    While the challenge seems to be relevant to the OP, I find the challenge too challenging: I don’t even understand the first question, so I won’t look any further.

    The first question, “More specifically, if x is a string of symbols, is it possible for xx to contain more information than x?” What’s missing here is whether “xx” is a different sentence/word than “x” or not. For example, if one “x” refers to the content of a book and the next “x” refers to the content of another book, then the books are identical copies of each other. Is the “xx” in the question like this, two books side by side? As long as this is not specified, the question does not make sense to me – too little information!

    Both the OP and Shallit’s challenge operate with the kind of concept of information that is not really informative. Despite its name in the so-called information theory, it’s more appropriately called data. True information would be the purely semantic aspect, where symbols and the syntax used to express any given meaning are arbitrary.

    A simple example: English “dog” and French “chien” mean the same, but not a single letter is the same nor the number of letters. True information is like this. As long as genes do not operate the same way (in genes a particular given sequence yields a particular result and any other particular sequence yields a different result), I refuse to acknowledge that there is such a thing as “biological information” in genes or anywhere else. It may at best be called “stored information” but it’s not true information, as in an actively meaningful message.

    Nonlin.org:
    3. The biologic cellular system is strikingly similar to human built autonomous information systems and unlike anything else observable in the inert universe.

    This point in particular is a total mess. How are biologic cellular systems similar to human-built information systems, while still unlike anything else observable in the inert universe? In fact, human-built information systems are part of the observable inert universe, while biologic cellular organisms are decisively not inert, so the two are quite unlike each other.

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  26. Erik: The first question, “More specifically, if x is a string of symbols, is it possible for xx to contain more information than x?” What’s missing here is whether “xx” is a different sentence/word than “x” or not

    Example:

    X = “Hi, my name is Erik.”

    XX = “Hi, my name is Erik.Hi, my name is Erik.”

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  27. dazz,

    I figured that much. This does not help at all.

    Shallit says that the answer to each question is “yes”. How does repetition add information? It definitely adds data, but if it’s said to add information, we must be dealing with some very peculiar definition of information here.

    That’s the problem. When Shallit says “information”, he means something other than information. And when he thinks his definition is obvious or relevant, it compounds the problem further.

    The whole issue seems to be this: The ID-ist project (as in the OP and by Dembski) rests on equivocating on the two aspects of information. On the other hand, Shallit’s information theory reduces it to a single aspect that still gets called information even though it is not.

    An alphabet is not information. It’s an alphabet. In a particular formation, given a vocabulary and a grammar, it may convey information, but that information is more the function of the vocabulary and the grammar, not of the alphabet.

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  28. Erik: How does repetition add information? It definitely adds data, but if it’s said to add information, we must be dealing with some very peculiar definition of information here.

    Seems simple enough to me that repetition can add information. In everyday language it can add emphasis, or increase/decrease amount.

    Imagine spies reporting enemy troops and equipment crossing a bridge. They report “1 tank”. 5 minutes later, “1 tank”. 5 minutes later “1 tank”. I can think of an endless number of ways that repetition can add information.

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  29. Erik,

    He’s asking about Kolmogorov information. So sure, he means something other than what you call information.

    You dismiss other meanings for the term while making a huge deal about information being about meaning. Okay then

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  30. dazz: He’s asking about Kolmogorov information. So sure, he means something other than what you call information.

    There is no Kolmogorov information. There is Kolmogorov complexity, part of algorithmic information theory which is to do with computation and not to do with anything any person normally calls information.

    From linguistic point of view, the so-called information theory is not about information. This is not just my problem. Everybody should understand that it’s a pretty universal definitional clash.

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  31. Rumraket: Seems simple enough to me that repetition can add information. In everyday language it can add emphasis, or increase/decrease amount.

    Yes, sometimes it can add information, but sometimes it means just that you like the sound of your own voice or that the printer went nuts and cannot stop printing the same page. Does Shallit acknowledge this? Nope.

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  32. Erik: There is no Kolmogorov information. There is Kolmogorov complexity, part of algorithmic information theory which is to do with computation and not to do with anything any person normally calls information.

    From linguistic point of view, the so-called information theory is not about information. This is not just my problem. Everybody should understand that it’s a pretty universal definitional clash.

    Not an expert by any means, but the idea is something like, if you can describe something as

    “1048576 white pixels in 1024 rows and 1024 columns”

    that carries less information according to the Kolmogorov interpretation than

    “A red pixel, a white pixel, a yellow pixel, [keep going 1048576 times]”

    The second image is far less compressible. Now, again, if considering other meanings for the term information other than what you want a call it is problematic for you, that’s your problem really

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  33. Erik: This is not just my problem. Everybody should understand that it’s a pretty universal definitional clash.

    Consider dropping your universals and using terms in their proper context maybe?

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  34. dazz: The first image is far less compressible. Now, again, if considering other meanings for the term information other than what you want a call it is problematic for you, that’s your problem really.

    Or, from the other point of view, if you are talking about compression of data and you choose to call it “information” without any reference to the meaning or message, that’s your problem really. ID-ists enjoy their joyride on this naming problem that could easily have been avoided by saying “data” when you actually mean data.

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  35. Erik: ID-ists enjoy their joyride on this naming problem that could easily have been avoided by saying “data” when you actually mean data.

    Yeah, IDists love to equivocate. They use these things out of context to draw unwarranted conclusions and make it look like there’s science or math to support them. Shallit is simply asking about the proper way to apply the concept in it’s proper context. You reject it wholesale, cool. Moving on then?

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  36. dazz: Yeah, IDists love to equivocate. They use these things out of context to draw unwarranted conclusions and make it look like there’s science or math to support them. Shallit is simply asking about the proper way to apply the concept in it’s proper context.

    Well, it’s not so simple. I agree that ID-ists love to equivocate, but who gave them the juicy conceptual tool based on which to equivocate? When information theory is not really about information, but about data compression, then “information” is an improper term here. About high time to begin using the proper term.

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  37. Erik: Well, it’s not so simple. I agree that ID-ists love to equivocate, but who gave them the juicy conceptual tool based on which to equivocate? When information theory is not really about information, but about data compression, then “information” is an improper term here. About high time to begin using the proper term.

    I dunno, I just find it ironic that you would get so worked up on terms.
    If you focused a bit more in what people mean by those terms it shouldn’t create so much conflict for you. Focus on meaning, you know

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  38. Erik: Yes, sometimes it can add information, but sometimes it means just that you like the sound of your own voice or that the printer went nuts and cannot stop printing the same page. Does Shallit acknowledge this? Nope.

    Yes he does, at no point does he claim that it HAS to be always the case that repetition adds information (he merely asks if it is possible). The reason Kolmogorov information is apposite in this case is exactly because is deals with instructions contained in strings of symbols, of which DNA can be considered a good example.

    Shallit is responding to creationists who claim mutations in DNA (and thus a mechanism of evolution) is incapable of increasing the information content of DNA.

    By giving examples of how that exact thing is possible by common mutational mechanisms (duplication = repetition, or by insertion, substitution and so on) he’s showing the creationist claim to be false.

    If you have an issue with whether this corresponds well to a “normal, everyday” definition of information, take it up with creationists.

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  39. Rumraket: Shallit is responding to creationists who claim mutations in DNA (and thus a mechanism of evolution) is incapable of increasing the information content of DNA.

    By giving examples of how that exact thing is possible by common mutational mechanisms (duplication = repetition, or by insertion, substitution and so on) he’s showing the creationist claim to be false.

    Shallit is giving examples based on his own definition of information. If creationists have another definition (the OP obviously does), it’s more like talking past the point, not a response. The relevant thing would be to show that only Shallit’s information theory kind of information is applicable to DNA and no other kind.

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  40. Erik: Shallit is giving examples based on his own definition of information.

    It’s pretty much universally accepted among mathematicians and computer scientists. Creationists seem to reject it for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t fit into their deeply held conviction that evolution can’t increase information. They can’t ever seem to say what is wrong with it.

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  41. Erik:
    Well, it’s not so simple. I agree that ID-ists love to equivocate, but who gave them the juicy conceptual tool based on which to equivocate? When information theory is not really about information, but about data compression, then “information” is an improper term here.

    That you don’t see the relevance of compression as a means to measure something about information, means that you haven’t understood information theory.

    Erik:
    About high time to begin using the proper term.

    What would the “proper” term be? If scientists working on information theory, starting with, gasp, the problems of noice in telecommunication, no less, came to the realization that information and entropy are related stuff, yet you think they’ve got it wrong, then what’s the proper term, and what’s the proper conceptual framework? How can we measure information given your definition, and why should we use it instead of the one(s) that information theorists have so far developed?

    Don’t be shy. Give us those outstanding solutions.

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  42. colewd:
    Where is the tree ring “deciphering key” ?

    Bill,

    You seem to have bought blindly into the OP’s claims. Why would you do that? What makes you think that anybody else should so that too? Do you think that it’s enough to write something with an authoritative tone for it to be the-one-and-olly-truth-and-nothing-but-the-thruth? The last-and-unquestionable-top-notch-word on what information and biological information are? Why? Is Nonlin The Prophet[TM] or something like that?

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  43. Rumraket: (c) it applies to discrete strings of symbols and hence corresponds well with DNA.

    How so, unless DNA consists of discrete strings of symbols?

    And that idea has been soundly rejected here at TSZ.

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  44. Erik: Yes, sometimes it can add information, but sometimes it means just that you like the sound of your own voice

    That would be information about what Rum likes.

    Erik:
    or that the printer went nuts and cannot stop printing the same page.

    Which is also information about the state of the printer.

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  45. Entropy: …scientists working on information theory, starting with, gasp, the problems of noice in telecommunication, no less, came to the realization that information and entropy are related stuff…

    This is not even wrong.

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  46. Mung: How so, unless DNA consists of discrete strings of symbols?

    And that idea has been soundly rejected here at TSZ.

    No, what has been rejected is that DNA is literally a code. DNA is literally a molecule. It can be treated as if it was a string of symbols. That is a useful way of talking about it. The problem is when creationists take it it literally and start blathering that “codes require coders” or similar nonsense.

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