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?

1,853 thoughts on “Does gpuccio’s argument that 500 bits of Functional Information implies Design work?

  1. Mung: LoL. In evolution, the imaginary wins by default. One need only imagine how an eye might evolve. Therefore, eyes can evolve. Many times.

    Isn’t it great to be an IDiot? all you need to do is yell “right back at you!” and convince yourself that you’ve won the argument. Convincing themselves of stupid stuff comes as second nature for them anyway

  2. colewd: Clear your head, re read my claim, understand what it is, and fight the temptation to change it and argue against yourself 🙂

    Clear head.

    Reread claim. OK good.

    Understand what it is. Woohoooo, that is one big mistake Bill made there.

    Fight the temptation to change it and argue against yourself.

    Sounds like sage advice. So will you be retracting that stupid “from scratch” claim soon and admit that mutations can add FI?

  3. Mung: Corneel: …and now every novel protein needs to be completely independent from other existing protein sequences or it can’t be said to have functional information. That rules out evolutionary mechanisms allright, but you sure have painted yourself in a corner that way.

    I don’t see how that rules out all evolutionary mechanisms, assuming that’s what you meant.

    The mechanisms of evolutionary change are selection, drift, mutation and migration. All of them require pre-existing sequences. Are you aware of another evolutionary mechanism that doesn’t?

  4. Corneel,

    Sounds like sage advice. So will you be retracting that stupid “from scratch” claim soon and admit that mutations can add FI?

    Not being able to create information from “scratch” is a real weakness of your claim. Entropy has already pivoted to FI by “natural committee”. Why don’t you join him?

  5. Bill,

    That is just pitiful.

    You’re denying something that is right there, clear as day, in your own words.

    Why lie about it?

  6. Entropy,

    We know what that is: energy flow, physical chemical phenomena, a pinch of randomness still, historical constraints.

  7. Corneel: All of them require pre-existing sequences.

    But your claim was specifically about novel proteins and “protein sequences”. Did you mean DNA sequences?

  8. keiths: Why lie about it?

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19760525

    the spontaneous confabulator simply receives and endorses as genuine the content of an apparent-yet implausible-memory experience.

    I don’t think he’s lying. I think he genuinely believes what he’s saying.

    It’s a less erudite Trump, basically. And that’s already a low bar.

  9. keiths: You’re denying something that is right there, clear as day, in your own words.

    It’s the same as the “C” question.

    colewd: So you’re claiming that the C language created out of bell labs was not FI created from scratch. Show me where the symbols and syntax had been used before.

    I then showed that “B” is very close to “C”. I showed him where the symbols and syntax were used before.

    The image is “B”. And what happens?

    colewd: As you see he pivoted but he did support the claim that humans have never created FI from scratch with “Mozart sometimes copies music from other people” and “there was a pre cursor to the C computer language called B”

    and then

    colewd: Point well taken. At the end of the day my bet would be that the origin of the typed symbols would come after origin of life

    It’s amazing. But guess it’s the only way they can cling on to such a pathetic belief system. Anything that contradicts their beliefs gets twisted into something else.

    I answered a simple question. I showed where the syntax of C had been used before. In B.

    It’s a shame as I’m interested in what creativity actually is. An interesting conversation could have ensued. But you can’t have such a conversation with people who make fun out of you for giving them an answer to a question they asked.

    Pearls before swine.

  10. Also what honest person puts things in quotes that the other person never said?

    “Mozart sometimes copies music from other people”

    See how you like it.

    colewd: I am the product of incest.

  11. OMagain,

    I answered a simple question. I showed where the syntax of C had been used before. In B.

    Yes, you did win this gambit.

    IF you want to have a conversation about the origin of creativity I am totally game and apologize for mis reading you.

  12. colewd:
    A classic chicken and egg scenario.

    Which further shows the problems with ID. Now you know why people ask who designed the designer(s).

  13. colewd:

    IF you want to have a conversation about the origin of creativity I am totally game and apologize for mis reading you.

    You did a hell of a lot worse than merely “misreading” OMagain, Bill.

    What is wrong with you? Take responsibility for your actions.

  14. keiths: What is wrong with you? Take responsibility for your actions.

    And then giggling with Mung about it all like naughty schoolboys in detention. Mung, colewd, Mung! You know how, well, promiscuous he is with his attentions. When he’s appearing to be on your side is when you need to be most cautious.

    However I am genuinely surprised by your admission:

    colewd: Yes, you did win this gambit.

    As it seems that horse is capable of drinking. Much to my surprise. Your evasions on this thread have become pathological, in my opinion. Must we quote every prior interaction on a topic to force clarity and admission of what actually happened?

    Nonetheless I will ponder an OP on creativity in which I will engage you if you post. However on this OP we’re done.

  15. Entropy: Now you know why people ask who designed the designer(s).

    When I ask how decisions are made in that special magical non-materialist place WJM, phoodoo et al claim to make decisions I get exactly the same answer that you get to that question! No answer at all! It’s too unlikely to be co-incidental. It must indicate a deeper pattern…..

  16. OMagain,

    Nonetheless I will ponder an OP on creativity in which I will engage you if you post. However on this OP we’re done.

    Fair enough. I will try to keep the goal posts steadier there 🙂

  17. colewd,

    Fair enough. I will try to keep the goal posts steadier there 🙂

    How about also acknowledging your mistakes, instead of trying to hide them? How about also being honest, instead of lying? How about acknowledging when your opponent’s position is correct instead of trying to deflate it through mockery?

    In other words, how about being an adult rather than a Mung?

  18. keiths,

    How about also acknowledging your mistakes, instead of trying to hide them? How about also being honest, instead of lying? How about acknowledging when your opponent’s position is correct instead of trying to deflate it through mockery?

    Why don’t you demonstrate leadership here through your own posts.

    How about acknowledging when your opponent’s position is correct instead of trying to deflate it through mockery

    Can you cite an example of when you have done this?

  19. colewd: Why don’t you demonstrate leadership here through your own posts.

    He led the way in getting Tom English to put him on Ignore.

  20. colewd,

    Why don’t you demonstrate leadership here through your own posts.

    Stop trying to project your faults onto others. They’re yours.

    keiths:

    How about acknowledging when your opponent’s position is correct instead of trying to deflate it through mockery.

    colewd:

    Can you cite an example of when you have done this?

    Of course. See this comment, for instance.

  21. Mung: He led the way in getting Tom English to put him on Ignore.

    If being on ignore is a bad thing, how many people do you think have you ignored? More or less then keiths?

  22. colewd: Not being able to create information from “scratch” is a real weakness of your claim.

    Most information in living organisms has not been created from scratch. Take for example Rum’s alignment of a large assortment of ATP sythase beta subunits. If it shows us one thing, it is that ATP synthase is old, and that a lot of variation has been introduced since it first arose. Wouldn’t you agree that all that variation warrants an explanation as well? You know, what’s bothering me about your position is the casual dismissal of all that diversity as a nuissance variable, rather than as a interesting feature of life itself. Of course, the explanation for all that variation is descent with modification; the continuous tinkering with and modification of stuff that is already there. That is not a weakness, it is the only possible explanation.

  23. Mung: But your claim was specifically about novel proteins and “protein sequences”. Did you mean DNA sequences?

    It doesn’t really matter: Since all heritable changes in protein sequence must be caused by corresponding changes in the DNA sequence, I have a tendency to use them interchangeably.
    But of course you are right, the mutations and changes in allele frequency occur at the genetic level. Whatever happens to the protein sequences is a result of those changes.

  24. colewd:
    Not being able to create information from “scratch” is a real weakness of your claim.

    There’s no such thing as creating information from scratch Bill. There’s a few natural laws about this, they’re called the laws of thermodynamics.

    colewd:
    Entropy has already pivoted to FI by “natural committee”.

    What does that even mean? Pointing to the philosophical and scientific mistakes in ID, and then showing you that it’s only sensical that nature is before intelligence does not sound like a committee to me. Listing the features of nature that result in information doesn’t sound like a committee to me either. Maybe you don’t understand what those words mean? If so, why label them mockingly?

  25. Corneel,

    Wouldn’t you agree that all that variation warrants an explanation as well? You know, what’s bothering me about your position is the casual dismissal of all that diversity as a nuissance variable, rather than as a interesting feature of life itself

    I agree that the variation in bacteria that Rum found is interesting.

    Of course, the explanation for all that variation is descent with modification; the continuous tinkering with and modification of stuff that is already there. That is not a weakness, it is the only possible explanation.

    I disagree. It is the only explanation you can come up with perhaps.

  26. Entropy,

    There’s no such thing as creating information from scratch Bill. There’s a few natural laws about this, they’re called the laws of thermodynamics.

    I think you are underestimating the challenge of generating FI.

    What does that even mean? Pointing to the philosophical and scientific mistakes in ID, and then showing you that it’s only sensical that nature is before intelligence does not sound like a committee to me.

    By “committee” I mean that you have come up with possible contributors but not a specific cause.

    I think you’re being upfront here as the cause of FI is not well understood except for conscious intelligence. I am granting you for the sake of argument that ID has philosophical problems.

  27. colewd: I think you’re being upfront here as the cause of FI is not well understood except for conscious intelligence.

    Yeah because conscious intelligence is well understood? LOL.

    Of course, let’s not forget that it has been conclusively demonstrated that this FI-bullshit rule Gpuccio has come up with is just blatant question begging nonsense.

  28. colewd: Of course, the explanation for all that variation is descent with modification; the continuous tinkering with and modification of stuff that is already there. That is not a weakness, it is the only possible explanation.

    colewd: I disagree. It is the only explanation you can come up with perhaps.

    Your ability to disagree is neithere here nor there. Particularly given how it is based on nothing but willful denial.

  29. colewd: I agree that the variation in bacteria that Rum found is interesting.

    I’m getting tired of you practicing this kind of pathetic deflection. When something is brought up that contradicts something you’ve said, you have this silly habit of saying something along the lines of “that is interesting”, as if that somehow makes the issue go away, or your even more transparently obvious handwave “let’s leave this aside for now” or “let’s table that discussion for another time”.

    Even worse is your “I’ll see what Gpuccio has to say about that” and then you run to UD and give some braindead caricature of an argument from here and sycophantly swallow any shit Gpuccio has the temerity to fart in your general direction.

    Or how about that “what do you think, Mung?”.

    Do you have even a single original thought in your head, or are you just that much of a sycophant for any crap vented by someone you perceive to be on your side? Are you capable of having original thoughts or were you taught only memorization when you were homeschooled?

    Don’t bother answering that. If you’ve made one thing clear by your tenure here it is that you’re not equipped for any of these discussions as the whole thing is beyond you, and you argue primarily by pure brainless assertion, misremembered and misunderstood quotations of other people’s work, and by handwavy deflections ala those above.

    You apparently feel some sort of need to participate, which is the part I get the least. You must somewhere know that you don’t actually understand the subject matter all that well, yet you persist in trying to argue about it. That only says bad things about you.

  30. colewd:
    I think you are underestimating the challenge of generating FI.

    I think you are missing the point.

    colewd:
    By “committee” I mean that you have come up with possible contributors but not a specific cause.

    Not possible contributions. I said this already: scientists, and some others, do understand how those phenomena result in information in general and FI in particular Bill.

    colewd:
    I think you’re being upfront here as the cause of FI is not well understood except for conscious intelligence.

    False. The causes are well understood. They operate even when conscious intelligences are involved. Take a look, you won’t find a single instance of conscious design that doesn’t depend on energy flow, that pinch of randomness, and the predictable/”deterministic” behaviours that we call the laws of nature. This is why scientists and engineers came up with the laws of thermodynamics Bill. They resulted from the experiences during the industrial revolution, which was all about design (machines, remember?), yet they gave us “laws” of nature. Those people understood the need of nature and for understanding how it works, and how that allowed them to produce any designed stuff. The connection is straightforward. Nature first Bill.

    Given that, of course less informed people, those who grew after the industrial revolution, would see things the other way around. they’d be fooled by their first experiences to think that intelligent design is first and apart from nature. They’d be blind to what was first. They’d be tempted to conclude from that standpoint that nature was intelligently designed as well. Well, nope. Our designs are but instances where we imitate natural phenomena to our own ends. However, that would not be possible if the phenomena could not result in complex stuff when left on their own Bill.

    This might be very hard to understand to you Bill, but you should try and consider what this means. You’re taking clues from something that deeply depends on nature, our conscious intelligences and our designs, to conclude that nature depends on that very something. Don’t you see the problem?

    It’s equivalent and as ridiculous as growing up looking at how people build fires. Then seeing that some lightning produced a fire in the woods and arguing that the lightning fire must have been done by a conscious intelligence. Claiming time and again that we only understand one source of fire: conscious intelligences, therefore the fire in the woods was intelligently produced. Then I tell you, no!, fire is a product of nature. We’ve just learned what combines in nature to produce fire and controlled when and where we built them, but in nature it happens on its own! But you insist that, since we only understand how fire is produced by conscious intelligence, it’s obvious that the fire in the woods is produced by conscious intelligence. I insist that you look, the wood we use, the stones to produce the spark, all of it is first, our fires a far second! Thus fire can be produced naturally. No! You insist, you just declared that fire is produced by natural committee. Non-intelligently produced fire would not be that large! Our fires are small compared to the natural fire! There’s a threshold to the amount of fire that nature can produce! No Bill! Nature is huge! Obviously sooner or later there will be enough friction in the air, and a spark will be produced, of enormous magnitude! look at the lightning! Oh, lightning is obviously the product of conscious intelligence! It cannot happen on its own! Let alone randomly! But randomness is but one element to lightning Bill, friction is not random, the spark results from a bit of randomness, plus friction. So, if there also some dry stuff and … No! The only known source of fire is conscious intelligence! Once we take away your materialism it’s obvious that conscious intelligence produces the fire in the woods!

    Sounds ridiculous? Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Only at a different scale. You have a perspective biased by the environment where you grew up. Thus you think that we’re first. We’re not Bill. We’re tiny. Natural forces will produce information on their own regardless of your biased perspective.

    colewd:
    I am granting you for the sake of argument that ID has philosophical problems.

    No need to be so kind. It’s obvious that ID has foundational philosophical and scientific problems. There’s no way around this. So, you’re just admitting to them. Sort of.

  31. Rumraket,

    I’m getting tired of you practicing this kind of pathetic deflection. When something is brought up that contradicts something you’ve said, you have this silly habit of saying something along the lines of “that is interesting”, as if that somehow makes the issue go away, or your even more transparently obvious handwave “let’s leave this aside for now” or “let’s table that discussion for another time”.

    Do you really think discussing the variation of the beta chain in bacteria is relevant to this op? The chain has been preserved for 400 million years in vertebrates. Thats more then enough to support gpuccios claim.

    Beyond this your adult winning is duly noted.

  32. colewd: The chain has been preserved for 400 million years in vertebrates. Thats more then enough to support gpuccios claim.

    No it isn’t!

  33. Remember, Bill,

    Gpuccio’s claim is that “500 bits of ‘functional information’ imply ‘Design'” without the least suggestion what “Design” entails. And based on the unsupported assertion that “functional” proteins are unique or extremely rare in sequence space.

  34. Alan Fox: And based on the unsupported assertion that “functional” proteins are unique or extremely rare in sequence space.

    It’s common knowledge everywhere but TSZ.

  35. Entropy: There’s no such thing as creating information from scratch Bill.

    Oh good. Another conservation of information advocate!

  36. Alan Fox,

    Gpuccio’s claim is that “500 bits of ‘functional information’ imply ‘Design’” without the least suggestion what “Design” entails. And based on the unsupported assertion that “functional” proteins are unique or extremely rare in sequence space.

    We know conscious intelligence can create FI, lots of FI. Are you claiming that there are less then 500 bits in living organisms?

  37. colewd: Do you really think discussing the variation of the beta chain in bacteria is relevant to this op? The chain has been preserved for 400 million years in vertebrates. Thats more then enough to support gpuccios claim.

    I’ll just quote this for the irony it displays. Actually no, I know you need help with this so let me point it out.

    First you ask a seemingly rhetorical question about the relevance of the level of conservation of ATP synthase*. Then you go on to point out that the level of conservation shown within a certain clade is relevant.

    So which one is it, is the conservation of the protein relevant or not?

    * And what’s with the “in bacteria” comment anyway? Why are organisms more distantly related than vertebrates suddenly excluded from consideration? What happened to basal metazoans, fungi, plants, archaea?

  38. Mung: Is that even a word?

    LOL, are you pathetic or what. Rum is Danish and I would say he’s at least as articulate in english as you are, if not more

  39. colewd:
    Do you really think discussing the variation of the beta chain in bacteria is relevant to this op?

    Of course it is. It shows that local minima might be much wider than just looking at a small clade, like vertebrates, would allow us to see.

    colewd:
    The chain has been preserved for 400 million years in vertebrates.

    What do you mean by preserved? Do you mean more than when compared to bacteria? Well, of course. The time since separation between vertebrates is smaller than among many bacteria, so the sequence must look more conserved.

    colewd:
    Thats more then enough to support gpuccios claim.

    No it isn’t. I tell you again, watching a sequence dancing around a local minimum tells you nothing about the width of the local minimum, or the path towards a local minimum. It just tells you how much the sequence has danced. Your shamelessly hypocritical friend, gpuccio, is mistaking dancing around a minimum with the path towards it.

    P.S. also, it tells you nothing about how many different sequences could perform the work, or about the number of routes towards sequences that could perform the work. Worse. It tells you nothing about whether conscious intelligence was involved in producing any of those sequences.

  40. Mung: It’s common knowledge everywhere but TSZ.

    But it’s chemistry. Almost everything does something to something else!

  41. colewd:
    We know conscious intelligence can create FI,

    No Bill, we know that conscious intelligence can help plan how to gather that amount of FI. We also know that the very conscious intelligence requires lots of FI within itself before it can even begin to plan such gathering, and then lots of physical action is required for the gathering. The physical action also requires FI just to be able to happen Bill. So, sorry, but FI has to occur naturally. Lots of it. Amounts much larger than what we’re able to gather ourselves. Otherwise conscious gathering of FI would not be possible.

  42. Entropy,

    What do you mean by preserved? Do you mean more than when compared to bacteria? Well, of course. The time since separation. between vertebrates is smaller than among many bacteria, so the sequence must look more conserved.

    It tells you that the functional requirements are different. The variation between bacteria is much greater then among vertebrates.

  43. Entropy,

    No it isn’t. I tell you again, watching a sequence dancing around a local minimum tells you nothing about the width of the local minimum, or the path towards a local minimum.

    The data is telling us it is finding local minimums over and over again for complex proteins. It is also showing us a protein with different families finding local minimums with very different sequences over and over again and this is happening in very large sequence space. Random mutation/selection finding one of these local minimums would be astonishing.

  44. Entropy,

    No Bill, we know that conscious intelligence can help plan how to gather that amount of FI.

    The above is about 300 bits of FI that you generated 🙂 Now try to change this to a different 300 bits of FI by mutation, selection and energy.

  45. colewd,

    The above is about 300 bits of FI that you generated 🙂 Now try to change this to a different 300 bits of FI by mutation, selection and energy.

    That’s easy. Stick it into a Weasel program with the desired string as the target and let ‘er rip.

    Damn, Bill. You’re always five steps behind.

  46. keiths,

    That’s easy. Stick it into a Weasel program with the desired string as the target and let ‘er rip.

    Damn, Bill. You’re always five steps behind.

    Exactly, all you need is conscious intelligence to provide a target. It’s the mechanism of choice 🙂

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