Does gpuccio’s argument that 500 bits of Functional Information implies Design work?

On Uncommon Descent, poster gpuccio has been discussing “functional information”. Most of gpuccio’s argument is a conventional “islands of function” argument. Not being very knowledgeable about biochemistry, I’ll happily leave that argument to others.

But I have been intrigued by gpuccio’s use of Functional Information, in particular gpuccio’s assertion that if we observe 500 bits of it, that this is a reliable indicator of Design, as here, about at the 11th sentence of point (a):

… the idea is that if we observe any object that exhibits complex functional information (for example, more than 500 bits of functional information ) for an explicitly defined function (whatever it is) we can safely infer design.

I wonder how this general method works. As far as I can see, it doesn’t work. There would be seem to be three possible ways of arguing for it, and in the end; two don’t work and one is just plain silly. Which of these is the basis for gpuccio’s statement? Let’s investigate …

A quick summary

Let me list the three ways, briefly.

(1) The first is the argument using William Dembski’s (2002) Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information. I have argued (2007) that this is formulated in such a way as to compare apples to oranges, and thus is not able to reject normal evolutionary processes as explanations for the “complex” functional information.  In any case, I see little sign that gpuccio is using the LCCSI.

(2) The second is the argument that the functional information indicates that only an extremely small fraction of genotypes have the desired function, and the rest are all alike in totally lacking any of this function.  This would prevent natural selection from following any path of increasing fitness to the function, and the rareness of the genotypes that have nonzero function would prevent mutational processes from finding them. This is, as far as I can tell, gpuccio’s islands-of-function argument. If such cases can be found, then explaining them by natural evolutionary processes would indeed be difficult. That is gpuccio’s main argument, and I leave it to others to argue with its application in the cases where gpuccio uses it. I am concerned here, not with the islands-of-function argument itself, but with whether the design inference from 500 bits of functional information is generally valid.

We are asking here whether, in general, observation of more than 500 bits of functional information is “a reliable indicator of design”. And gpuccio’s definition of functional information is not confined to cases of islands of function, but also includes cases where there would be a path to along which function increases. In such cases, seeing 500 bits of functional information, we cannot conclude from this that it is extremely unlikely to have arisen by normal evolutionary processes. So the general rule that gpuccio gives fails, as it is not reliable.

(3) The third possibility is an additional condition that is added to the design inference. It simply declares that unless the set of genotypes is effectively unreachable by normal evolutionary processes, we don’t call the pattern “complex functional information”. It does not simply define “complex functional information” as a case where we can define a level of function that makes probability of the set less than 2^{-500}.  That additional condition allows us to safely conclude that normal evolutionary forces can be dismissed — by definition. But it leaves the reader to do the heavy lifting, as the reader has to determine that the set of genotypes has an extremely low probability of being reached. And once they have done that, they will find that the additional step of concluding that the genotypes have “complex functional information” adds nothing to our knowledge. CFI becomes a useless add-on that sounds deep and mysterious but actually tells you nothing except what you already know. So CFI becomes useless. And there seems to be some indication that gpuccio does use this additional condition.

Let us go over these three possibilities in some detail. First, what is the connection of gpuccio’s “functional information” to Jack Szostak’s quantity of the same name?

Is gpuccio’s Functional Information the same as Szostak’s Functional Information?

gpuccio acknowledges that gpuccio’s definition of Functional Information is closely connected to Jack Szostak’s definition of it. gpuccio notes here:

Please, not[e] the definition of functional information as:

“the fraction of all possible configurations of the system that possess a degree of function >=
Ex.”

which is identical to my definition, in particular my definition of functional information as the
upper tail of the observed function, that was so much criticized by DNA_Jock.

(I have corrected gpuccio’s typo of “not” to “note”, JF)

We shall see later that there may be some ways in which gpuccio’s definition
is modified from Szostak’s. Jack Szostak and his co-authors never attempted any use of his definition to infer Design. Nor did Leslie Orgel, whose Specified Information (in his 1973 book The Origins of Life) preceded Szostak’s. So the part about design inference must come from somewhere else.

gpuccio seems to be making one of three possible arguments;

Possibility #1 That there is some mathematical theorem that proves that ordinary evolutionary processes cannot result in an adaptation that has 500 bits of Functional Information.

Use of such a theorem was attempted by William Dembski, his Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information, explained in Dembski’s book No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence (2001). But Dembski’s LCCSI theorem did not do what Dembski needed it to do. I have explained why in my own article on Dembski’s arguments (here). Dembski’s LCCSI changed the specification before and after evolutionary processes, and so he was comparing apples to oranges.

In any case, as far as I can see gpuccio has not attempted to derive gpuccio’s argument from Dembski’s, and gpuccio has not directly invoked the LCCSI, or provided a theorem to replace it.  gpuccio said in a response to a comment of mine at TSZ,

Look, I will not enter the specifics of your criticism to Dembski. I agre with Dembski in most things, but not in all, and my arguments are however more focused on empirical science and in particular biology.

While thus disclaiming that the argument is Dembski’s, on the other hand gpuccio does associate the argument with Dembski here by saying that

Of course, Dembski, Abel, Durston and many others are the absolute references for any discussion about functional information. I think and hope that my ideas are absolutely derived from theirs. My only purpose is to detail some aspects of the problem.

and by saying elsewhere that

No generation of more than 500 bits has ever been observed to arise in a non design system (as you know, this is the fundamental idea in ID).

That figure being Dembski’s, this leaves it unclear whether gpuccio is or is not basing the argument on Dembski’s. But gpuccio does not directly invoke the LCCSI, or try to come up with some mathematical theorem that replaces it.

So possibility #1 can be safely ruled out.

Possibility #2. That the target region in the computation of Functional Information consists of all of the sequences that have nonzero function, while all other sequences have zero function. As there is no function elsewhere, natural selection for this function then cannot favor sequences closer and closer to the target region.

Such cases are possible, and usually gpuccio is talking about cases like this. But gpuccio does not require them in order to have Functional Information. gpuccio does not rule out that the region could be defined by a high level of function, with lower levels of function in sequences outside of the region, so that there could be paths allowing evolution to reach the target region of sequences.

An example in which gpuccio recognizes that lower levels of function can exist outside the target region is found here, where gpuccio is discussing natural and artificial selection:

Then you can ask: why have I spent a lot of time discussing how NS (and AS) can in some cases add some functional information to a sequence (see my posts #284, #285 and #287)

There is a very good reason for that, IMO.

I am arguing that:

1) It is possible for NS to add some functional information to a sequence, in a few very specific cases, but:

2) Those cases are extremely rare exceptions, with very specific features, and:

3) If we understand well what are the feature that allow, in those exceptional cases, those limited “successes” of NS, we can easily demonstrate that:

4) Because of those same features that allow the intervention of NS, those scenarios can never, never be steps to complex functional information.

Jack Szostak defined functional information by having us define a cutoff level of function to define a set of sequences that had function greater than that, without any condition that the other sequences had zero function. Neither did Durston. And as we’ve seen gpuccio associates his argument with theirs.

So this second possibility could not be the source of gpuccio’s general assertion about 500 bits of functional information being a reliable indicator of design, however much gpuccio concentrates on such cases.

Possibility #3. That there is an additional condition in gpuccio’s Functional Information, one that does not allow us to declare it to be present if there is a way for evolutionary processes to achieve that high a level of function. In short, if we see 500 bits of Szostak’s functional information, and if it can be put into the genome by natural evolutionary processes such as natural selection then for that reason we declare that it is not really Functional Information. If gpuccio is doing this, then gpuccio’s Functional Information is really a very different animal than Szostak’s functional information.

Is gpuccio doing that? gpuccio does associate his argument with William Dembski’s, at least in some of his statements.  And William Dembski has defined his Complex Specified Information in this way, adding the condition that it is not really CSI unless it is sufficiently improbable that it be achieved by natural evolutionary forces (see my discussion of this here in the section on “Dembski’s revised CSI argument” that refer to Dembski’s statements here). And Dembski’s added condition renders use of his CSI a useless afterthought to the design inference.

gpuccio does seem to be making a similar condition. Dembski’s added condition comes in via the calculation of the “probability” of each genotype. In Szostak’s definition, the probabilities of sequences are simply their frequencies among all possible sequences, with each being counted equally. In Dembski’s CSI calculation, we are instead supposed to compute the probability of the sequence given all evolutionary processes, including natural selection.

gpuccio has a similar condition in the requirements for concluding that complex
functional information is present:  We can see it at step (6) here:

If our conclusion is yes, we must still do one thing. We observe carefully the object and what we know of the system, and we ask if there is any known and credible algorithmic explanation of the sequence in that system. Usually, that is easily done by excluding regularity, which is easily done for functional specification. However, as in the particular case of functional proteins a special algorithm has been proposed, neo darwininism, which is intended to explain non regular functional sequences by a mix of chance and regularity, for this special case we must show that such an explanation is not credible, and that it is not supported by facts. That is a part which I have not yet discussed in detail here. The necessity part of the algorithm (NS) is not analyzed by dFSCI alone, but by other approaches and considerations. dFSCI is essential to evaluate the random part of the algorithm (RV). However, the short conclusion is that neo darwinism is not a known and credible algorithm which can explain the origin of even one protein superfamily. It is neither known nor credible. And I am not aware of any other algorithm ever proposed to explain (without design) the origin of functional, non regular sequences.

In other words, you, the user of the concept, are on your own. You have to rule out that natural selection (and other evolutionary processes) could reach the target sequences. And once you have ruled it out, you have no real need for the declaration that complex functional information is present.

I have gone on long enough. I conclude that the rule that observation of 500 bits of functional information is present allows us to conclude in favor of Design (or at any rate, to rule out normal evolutionary processes as the source of the adaptation) is simply nonexistent. Or if it does exist, it is as a useless add-on to an argument that draws that conclusion for some other reason, leaving the really hard work to the user.

Let’s end by asking gpuccio some questions:
1. Is your “functional information” the same as Szostak’s?
2. Or does it add the requirement that there be no function in sequences that
are outside of the target set?
3. Does it also require us to compute the probability that the sequence arises as a result of normal evolutionary processes?

1,971 thoughts on “Does gpuccio’s argument that 500 bits of Functional Information implies Design work?

  1. Mung crashes and burns: The degree of function, E, is the number of times NAND is executed by the genome, whereas functional information, I (in bits), is −log2 of the fraction of all sequences that achieves at least that degree of function, F(E).

    So happy that you chose to quote from the legend to Figure 1 of Hazen 2007.
    But you left out the first sentence of the legend:

    Distribution of the not/and (NAND) function in 300-line Avida genomes in a randomly generated sample of 10^7 genomes.

    As I explained to you previously, the authors are showing you the relationship between E and I(E) for 10^7 genomes. They took 10^7 individual sequences, measured their E, and then plotted E against I(E) for every sequence. And I(E) is merely -log2(1-percentrank of E).
    You are claiming that they are assigning an FI value to some “system” (by which you mean the set of all possible 300-line Avida genomes, measured by their ability to perform NAND). But what the authors clearly did was test 10^7 individual sequences/genomes to see how well they did. They measured the level of activity for each individual genome, and then they plotted the log-transformed CDF. Which is a strange CDF, with discontinuities, and such…
    Still really obvious that FI is a function of {level of activity|degree of function} (which in turn is a property of individual {sequences|genomes|elements}), as measured within the context of all possible configurations.

    Mung: No particular sequence either mentioned or required.

    No, just 10^7 of them.

  2. DNA_Jock: They took 10^7 individual sequences, measured their E…

    They measured their E, they didn’t calculate their FI. Do you think the two are the same thing?

    DNA_Jock: No, just 10^7 of them.

    Surely you understand that that they did not calculate the FI for each individual sequence. What they did was estimate by sampling how many sequences belonged at or above the plane (let me know if you are confused about what I mean by that, since you refuse to agree on common terms) and only then could they calculate the FI. First it was necessary to determine the fraction of sequences, only then could FI be determined.

    They measured the level of activity for each individual genome…

    Yep. See above.

    Still really obvious that FI is a function of {level of activity|degree of function} (which in turn is a property of individual {sequences|genomes|elements}), as measured within the context of all possible configurations.

    Nice to see that you finally agree with me.

  3. Mung: ETA: And those “two things” are “attributes, they say. Attributes of what? You’ll figure it out.

    Since Jock gave no answer, and I love to point to point out the obvious to people who are otherwise oblivious.

    The two attributes are attributes of the system.

    The first attribute of the system is: all possible configurations of the system

    The second attribute of the system is: the degree of function x for every configuration [of the system].

    Not the FI for every configuration of the system, the degree of function x for every configuration.

    You don’t measure or calculate the FI for every individual “particular sequence” in order to get the degree of function x of the sequence. That puts the cart before the horse. And you don’t measure or calculate the FI for every individual “particular sequence” in order to get the FI of the system. So why on earth would you measure or calculate the FI of every individual “particular sequence” at all. You woudn’t. Because that’s not how you calculate FI.

    So two attributes, and they are both attributes of the system. And given those two attributes of the system, you can calculate the FI for the system.

    We conclude that rigorous analysis of the functional information of a system with respect to a specified function x requires knowledge of two attributes: (i) all possible configurations of the system (e.g., all possible sequences of a given length in the case of letters or RNA nucleotides) and (ii) the degree of function x for every configuration.

  4. Is it possible that this OP will break all the records of the number of comments at TSZ?
    If it does, there should be some kind of award for an OP about nothing…
    There was a show about nothing once…very successful… 😉

  5. @Mung:

    You forgot something in your description of the calculation of FI: the threshold value.

    And where does this come from? Well it can be any real number between the minimum and the maximum of the functions. In fact, for each level in that range we can calculate an FI. But as we try different levels, the FI only changes when one reaches the function of one (or more) of the sequences. Thus for a given space of sequences and a given assignment of function levels to each one, there are as many possible FI values as there are function values.

    So the FI “of the system” also has an FI that can be calculated for each possible function level, and thus for each possible sequence in the space.

  6. J-Mac: If it does, there should be some kind of award for an OP about nothing…

    This thread represents the purpose of this site. That you don’t see that is your loss. It’s why you are unable to engage with people whose opinions differ from yours. The process of reconciling two or more viewpoints into one by attempting to achieve a shared understanding appears to be alien to you.

    But of course, this is not a surprise.

  7. colewd: Because that is where the smoking gun was found…….FI

    I have asked you for a reference from Jack Szostak where it is noted that FI is a smoking gun of intelligent design.

    You appear to be ignoring the request. Again, this is not a surprise. It just demonstrates your particular level of integrity.

  8. Joe Felsenstein: You forgot something in your description of the calculation of FI: the threshold value.

    Well, I don’t think I forgot about it, I just don’t know what to call it. I was hoping to clear that up with DNA_Jock. Rumraket and I were calling it “minumum threshold,” which captures, I thought, the idea of a threshold to be met or exceeded.

    DNA_Jock decided to make an issue out of it.

    And the “threshold value” is there. If you disagree, which calculation are you referring to, specifically. An example please.

    Joe Felsenstein: So the FI “of the system” also has an FI that can be calculated for each possible function level, and thus for each possible sequence in the space.

    I understand what you are saying, but I would not put it that way. Obviously. 🙂

    Here’s something to think about. Can you have a threshold value which no specific sequence actually meets that exact threshold value, and if not, why not? And if so, can you still calculate FI anyways?

    So the FI “of the system” also has an FI that can be calculated for each possible function level

    I agree with this.

    and thus for each possible sequence in the space

    This is the leap of logic I am calling a non-sequitur.

    Yes, you can calculate the FI “of the system” given each threshold value. Yes, you can pick any specific sequence out of all the possible sequences, measure it’s “level of activity” and use that as your threshold value to calculate the FI “of the system.” It does not logically follow that you are calculating the FI of that sequence.

    You are still measuring/calculating the FI “of the system,” you have merely changed where you placed the threshold value.

    The claim that this is the FI “of the sequence” is a non-sequitur.

  9. OMagain,

    I have asked you for a reference from Jack Szostak where it is noted that FI is a smoking gun of intelligent design.

    You need to reference your own straw man arguments.

  10. I have to point out that there has been no real answer as yet to Professor Felsenstein’s question in the OP from anyone purporting to support gpuccio’s “calculations”.

    Does gpuccio’s argument that 500 bits of Functional Information implies Design work?

  11. Mung: You are still measuring/calculating the FI “of the system,” you have merely changed where you placed the threshold value.

    I’m still puzzled by this system thingie. Does what comes out of an F1 calculation not depend entirely on the level of functionality in sequence space, which is something else that we cannot yet measure?

  12. Alan Fox,

    I have to point out that there has been no real answer as yet to Professor Felsenstein’s question in the OP from anyone purporting to support gpuccio’s “calculations”.

    No one has come up with an argument how another mechanism other then conscious intelligence can create 10 bits of FI from scratch. It does not appear gpuccio’s argument requires 500 bits.

  13. colewd: No one has come up with an argument how another mechanism other then conscious intelligence can create 10 bits of FI from scratch. It does not appear gpuccio’s argument requires 500 bits

    No-one has come up with an argument at all. Let’s for the sake of argument assume that gpuccio’s argument actually has merit. In that case, the best that could be said was that evolutionary theory was disproved.

    Let’s go to the next step. What does an argument from design entail? So far all I’ve seen are assertions that, if evolution is discounted, “Design” wins.

    Tubs must stand on their own bottoms, I think I recall someone insist. Where is “Design’s” bottom?

  14. colewd: You need to reference your own straw man arguments.

    What arguments have I made? I mostly just ask simple questions. Questions you are desperate to ignore or deflect. As you have done here. It is only you that calls it a “smoking gun”. Nobody else. And your attempts to imply otherwise have failed.

  15. colewd: No one has come up with an argument how another mechanism other then conscious intelligence can create 10 bits of FI from scratch.

    It’s funny how wide a category conscious intelligence is. For instance, the type we are familiar must be very different indeed to the type that lives forever, or many many millions of years at least. We have to change the world with our hands or things we make with those hands. Your “conscious intelligence” appears to be able to effect reality at will over time periods we cannot imagine being conscious for.

    And noted how your argument has changed. Now it’s “10 bits from scratch” when not that long ago it was any at all.

  16. colewd: You need to reference your own straw man arguments.

    Link me such an argument and explain why it’s a strawman. Or don’t. Your choice. But given how low cost a quote and a link is, it’ll be obvious what the score is when you don’t do it.

  17. Alan Fox,

    In that case, the best that could be said was that evolutionary theory was disproved.

    I don’t think there is any case where we can disprove anything. Science is always tentative. Here we have a historic argument or inference to the best explanation for FI. From my perspective conscious intelligence can generate almost unlimited amounts. The other issue is I believe that without a deterministic mechanism, like conscious intelligence you cannot create FI from scratch.

    The problem is we cannot identify conscious intelligence prior to humans in nature yet FI is observed. So your point that the design argument is limited is valid but it is the only reasonable conclusion at this point for the observation of FI.

    The real value added of gpuccio’s work is identifying where large amounts of functional information were introduced into life. I think his measurement methodology is quite interesting. I also think J-Mac’s dismissal of this post is not warranted.

  18. So if somehow we can go from nothing to “10 bits” then that will prove to colewd that evolution coulda done it?

    So, everybody, all we need to do is determine the origin of life. That’s merely all colewd seems to be asking for, it’s not much. How do we got from nothing, no pre existing sequence of anything to “10 bits”.

    How did the designer do it colewd? Oh, wait I know this one! It did it via conscious intelligent design

    Sometimes I almost hope there is life after death so it can be explained to you by someone you’d believe. No, I did not leave any evidence it was all in your head.

  19. OMagain,

    Link me such an argument and explain why it’s a strawman.

    Link where I made the claim that Szostak said FI was the smoking gun. This is your straw man.

  20. colewd:
    Alan Fox,

    No one has come up with an argument how another mechanism other then conscious intelligence can create 10 bits of FI from scratch.It does not appear gpuccio’sargument requires 500 bits.

    How many bits of Fi is required for a conscious intelligence?

  21. colewd: So your point that the design argument is limited is valid but it is the only reasonable conclusion at this point for the observation of FI.

    That’s simply not true. We have a mechanism that can create FI, evolution. The only thing apparently in dispute is how much. You have not demonstrated any such thing for the origin of FI in biology.

    So it’s not the only “reasonable conclusion” unless you simply don’t understand the alternative mechanism being proposed.

    colewd: The real value added of gpuccio’s work is identifying where large amounts of functional information were introduced into life.

    Amusing how you now say “large amounts”. Presumably small amounts can be added in other ways then conscious intelligence?

    colewd: The other issue is I believe that without a deterministic mechanism, like conscious intelligence you cannot create FI from scratch.

    Does your designer contain something analogous to FI? If so, where did that FI come from? Or is your designer simpler then ATP?

  22. colewd: Link where I made the claim that Szostak said FI was the smoking gun. This is your straw man.

    I never said you said that!

    Joe Felsenstein: Then why all the talking about biology?

    colewd: Because that is where the smoking gun was found…….FI

    If FI is a “smoking gun” for the presence of conscious intelligence then how very strange that the Szostak never mentioned it. And how misleading for you to claim that it’s mere presence demonstrates conscious action when that was never a claim made by the originator.

  23. OMagain,

    And how misleading for you to claim that it’s mere presence demonstrates conscious action when that was never a claim made by the originator.

    And how mis leading of you to claim that the originator is the only scientist commenting on FI and is the only one with a valid opinion. And how mis leading of your side claiming that natural selection can create abundant mounts of FI. Pot kettle black.

  24. OMagain,

    Does your designer contain something analogous to FI? If so, where did that FI come from? Or is your designer simpler then ATP?

    Why don’t you answer your own arguments?

  25. newton,

    I think that is what OM is asking you to do.

    He is not dealing with my arguments. He is not supporting his claims. He is too busy building straw men.

  26. colewd: He is not dealing with my arguments.

    You have yet to make any. Come on Bill, make some effort to support your claims. Or admit that evidence isn’t what persuades you to a belief.

  27. newton,

    You know how to push my buttons!!!

    Some! A lot! What’s consciousness? Is it linear from zero to some higher “figure”? Is there a threshold? Those who think consciousness is a definable concept are invited to answer!

  28. Alan Fox: In that case, the best that could be said was that evolutionary theory was disproved.

    I’m sorry, but this is simply false.

  29. Alan Fox: I’m still puzzled by this system thingie.

    Then let me suggest that you read the Hazen/Szostak paper. They mention it repeatedly.

  30. Mung: Here’s something to think about. Can you have a threshold value which no specific sequence actually meets that exact threshold value, and if not, why not? And if so, can you still calculate FI anyways?

    Yes, and yes.
    Would you like an example? Do you know what a CDF is?
    What you cannot have is a sequence with an activity level for which you are unable to calculate the FI. Thus your so-called non-sequiturs are no such thing.
    By the way, my complaint with the “minimum threshold” is your elevation (in importance) of one particular threshold over all the other thresholds: there is a threshold (without qualifiers) for every level of activity. This minimum threshold (or more properly in the conversation that Rumraket and I participated in, the “minimum selectable threshold”) is an additional concept, relevant for people who can already calculate FI correctly and want to discuss the role of evolution in increasing FI.

  31. Mung,

    Mung: Then let me suggest that you read the Hazen/Szostak paper. They mention it repeatedly.

    They do, but they use the term to refer to both an overall set-up (sequence space and definition of function) and to an individual instantiation within that set-up. This has confused Mung beyond measure, to the extent that he makes untenable claims such as “mutation cannot increase FI”.

  32. Mung: I’m sorry, but this is simply false.

    Perhaps you might expand to include why it is simply false.

  33. Alan Fox,

    Come on Bill, make some effort to support your claims.

    I know. When I have you to support them for me I do get lazy 🙂

  34. Alan Fox,

    Let’s go to the next step. What does an argument from design entail? So far all I’ve seen are assertions that, if evolution is discounted, “Design” wins.

    The argument is that design (conscious intelligence) is the best explanation for functional information and irreducibly complex structures. It doesn’t require evolution to fail it just has to be a better argument for those specific observations.

    It maybe an argument you disagree with but it is an argument. What you have failed to do is counter it with anything but denial or straw man arguments.

  35. DNA_Jock,

    This has confused Mung beyond measure, to the extent that he makes untenable claims such as “mutation cannot increase FI”

    So far you and Joe have not addressed this claim with any explanation that does not require the pre existence of information.

  36. DNA_Jock: Yes, and yes.
    Would you like an example?

    I already know the answers, DNA_Jock. The idea was to get people to think.

    If you can calculate the FI, which is not the FI for any particular sequence, what is it the FI of/for? You can’t point to one sequence and say it’s the FI for this sequence, or to another sequence and say it’s the FI of that sequence, that doesn’t work.

    Yet you still have the FI. The FI of/for what?

    What you cannot have is a sequence with an activity level for which you are unable to calculate the FI.

    So? Are we calculating the FI for that activity level or are we calculating the FI for that sequence? You’ve just admitted that the two are not logically the same. We can calculate the FI for an activity level where no sequence exists with that activity level. Right? So logically not the same.

    Thus your so-called non-sequiturs are no such thing.

    Quite the contrary. I have just shown why it is a non-sequitur. Your case rested on the premise that there is a 1:1 mapping between FI and sequence, and I have just shown that is not the case.

  37. DNA_Jock: This has confused Mung beyond measure, to the extent that he makes untenable claims such as “mutation cannot increase FI”.

    What does mutation increase the FI of?

  38. Given a set of all possible sequences (say, of length L), and a function level for each of them, we can choose any function level from the minimum level to the maximum level, and calculate an FI for that. And that includes function levels which no sequence has. If a sequence has function level X and the next lowest level actually achieved by a sequence is Y which is less than X, then the FI for all function levels x which satisfy Y < x \leq X will be the same.

    My interest is in expressing, in information terms, how much adaptive information is embodied in a particular sequence. Given a particular sequence, say one we actually see in an organism, we can determine its level of function, and compute FI for that level. To me, that tells me something about how much information there is in that sequence that makes it have a high level of that function.

    If someone else, say Mung, wants to lecture me that this FI is not the FI of the sequence but the FI of the system, then that does not faze me: I care not. It does do a good job of expressing how far out into the high "tail" of the distribution of function levels this sequence is, and it does it in informational terms. Something happened in the past that chose this sequence, and in the process caused it to embody information.

  39. Mung: If you can calculate the FI, which is not the FI for any particular sequence, what is it the FI of/for? You can’t point to one sequence and say it’s the FI for this sequence, or to another sequence and say it’s the FI of that sequence, that doesn’t work.

    Yet you still have the FI. The FI of/for what?

    It is the FI for the next sequence, after you have ranked them by activity: Joe’s sequence X above.

    Quite the contrary. I have just shown why it is a non-sequitur. Your case rested on the premise that there is a 1:1 mapping between FI and sequence, and I have just shown that is not the case.

    Well, you’ve certainly demonstrated a non-sequitur.
    I do hold to the premise that for every sequence, there is a single FI value.
    You claim that my case also rests on the premise that for every FI value, there is a single sequence. That is so obviously wrong as to be deranged; you are going to have to unpack that for me.
    I have a nasty feeling that you don’t understand what a CDF is.
    E4 clarity
    TL;DR version: what Joe wrote.

  40. colewd: He is not dealing with my arguments.

    That’s mostly correct. Others are doing a much better job then I could, as I am only an interested amateur with an interested amateur’s level of knowledge. It’s better that the people who truly understand teach and correct others. I’m currently one of those being taught. As are you. Sort of.

    colewd: He is not supporting his claims.

    Please detail what claims I’ve made and I’d be happy to support them. I hope that I have not made a claim that I cannot support, but sometimes shit happens. Please link and/or quote.

    colewd: He is too busy building straw men.

    It’s not a straw man to note that the originator of the metric in question does not conclude “design” when FI is of a certain level.

    colewd: And how mis leading of you to claim that the originator is the only scientist commenting on FI and is the only one with a valid opinion.

    However that is a strawman. I did not claim that the originator was the only scientist commenting on FI not did I claim that they was the only one with a valid opinion. That’s something you’ve spun up from straw yourself to try and sidetrack things.

    If I were to opine on that I’d correct you somewhat. I have not seen any scientists commenting on FI who claim that it’s level above 500 denotes design. I’ve seen you, a pseudo-anonymous poster making those claims. But your ‘atoms are designed’ (for a start) does not give me much confidence that you are a scientist, per se. Publication record? Please link.

    I’ve seen gpuccio, also not a scientist (publication record?) making claims that FI over 500 denotes design. Have I missed anyone?

    So let me be clear. The originator is not the only scientist commenging on FI. But I am not aware of any scientists commenting on FI in a positive way with regard to Intelligent Design. Perhaps you can help me out?

    And I’m not claiming the originator of a metric can be the only one with a valid opinion. What I’m claiming is that your conflation of FI and a smoking gun with regard to design in biology is inappropriate, given that it seems you don’t even really understand it (see last N pages of this thread for supporting evidence for that claim). And if it were appropriate, how odd that no other actual reputable (i.e with a relevant publication record) scientist agrees. Or do they? Feel free to link.

    I hope that’s clearer now.

  41. Mung: What does mutation increase the FI of?

    When the designer causes a mutation to happen differently to what would have happened without that intervention does that change the calculations of FI at any level?

  42. OMagain,

    That’s mostly correct. Others are doing a much better job then I could, as I am only an interested amateur with an interested amateur’s level of knowledge. It’s better that the people who truly understand teach and correct others. I’m currently one of those being taught. As are you. Sort of.

    Thank you for this admission. I would not assume you understand the depth of knowledge of the posters. All posters here have strengths and weakness regarding various subjects. Argument from authority is a logical fallacy as is a straw man argument.

    Please detail what claims I’ve made and I’d be happy to support them.

    Your claim:

    That’s simply not true. We have a mechanism that can create FI, evolution.

    This remains the unsupported claim and it is the relevant one worth discussing. When you claim create that means that on a blank sheet of paper you can generate FI.

  43. colewd: All posters here have strengths and weakness regarding various subjects.

    Indeed. And I’ve noticed that you fail to engage on many points put to you in response to your arguments. You simply pretend they are not there. You refuse to acknowledge your own weaknesses. You refuse to admit that others may have a better understanding.

    colewd: When you claim create that means that on a blank sheet of paper you can generate FI.

    No. Look at my statement more carefully. Unless something is evolving, evolution cannot create FI.

    Gpuccio agrees that evolution can create new FI. You are conflating that with the origin of it in the first place. I.E. the origin of life.

    However I do have an answer for you, one that you cannot refute or disprove.

    Evolution can create FI on a “blank sheet of paper” by doing the same thing that colewd’s purported designer does to create it.

    As we don’t know what that thing is you cannot claim that evolution could not have reached back into the past and done it itself. That’s the trouble with a position that literally has no entailments colewd.

    But back to the point of the OP. It’s amusing how we’ve moved so far from that eh colewd?

  44. colewd: When you claim create that means that on a blank sheet of paper you can generate FI.

    gpuccio:

    The new functional information generated is simply the variation from Dave to Dale.

    New functional information was created. Evolution can create FI according to gpuccio.

    It’s understandable why you would want to move the goalposts to the origin of life now. That gap just keeps on getting smaller eh?

  45. And you don’t have to say “no, I can’t link to any actual scientists talking favourably about FI with regard to Intelligent Design in biology” because that’s kinda implied by you not doing it.

  46. colewd: And how mis leading of you to claim that the originator is the only scientist commenting on FI

    What scientists are commenting on FI in relation to Intelligent Design? Support your claim, for once. Seems to me the only ones doing that are on this thread. And it ain’t helping ID’s case.

  47. OMagain,

    Indeed. And I’ve noticed that you fail to engage on many points put to you in response to your arguments. You simply pretend they are not there. You refuse to acknowledge your own weaknesses. You refuse to admit that others may have a better understanding.

    I cannot respond to all posters points for example there are only 2 on the design side here and 6 on the natural selection side. If I lack humility on the issues I apologize.

    No. Look at my statement more carefully. Unless something is evolving, evolution cannot create FI.

    You appear to be arguing in a circle here.

    New functional information was created. Evolution can create FI according to gpuccio.

    So how has functional FI increased moving from Dave to Dale? Although gpuccio is cutting your side some slack with his 500 bit rule Mung is not.

    It’s understandable why you would want to move the goalposts to the origin of life now. That gap just keeps on getting smaller eh?

    I don’t need to move the goal post. New unique functions appeared after the origin of life that require FI.
    -alternative splicing
    -chromosome structure
    -the ubiquitin system
    -the central nervous system
    -etc

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