Probabilities And Skepticism

I thought about including this in my previous thread, but it has grown so large that I suspect it would be lost in the abyss. If Skeptical Zone readers are interested I’ll write a series of these posts, in which I’ll develop a number of themes concerning why I abandoned evolutionary orthodoxy and became convinced that an inference to design is most reasonable.

As most of you know, I am a classical musician. All great musical compositions have a theme, and the theme of this site is “think it possible that you may be mistaken.” With that theme in mind, might I suggest some skepticism concerning probabilities?

One doesn’t need precise numbers to recognize when proposed probabilities are way of whack. When I was growing up and learning mathematics my dad (a professor of chemical physics) admonished me to always check my calculations to see if they made sense on the surface (in my engineering department we call this “using the beverage out the nose” test). If I punch 87 x 53 into my calculator and get 46,481 I immediately know something is wrong (in this case I hit the 7 key twice by accident) even if I don’t know exactly what is wrong, because the result should be somewhere in the hundreds, not thousands. I don’t need to know exactly what the problem is in order to recognize that the result makes no sense.

I apply this logic to probabilities concerning evolutionary theory. We have some good empirical evidence that it took about 10^20 reproductive events for malaria to evolve chloroquine resistance. It could be that Lucy turned into Lizzie in 3.2 million years by stochastic Darwinian mechanisms filtered by natural selection, but I apply the beverage-out-the-nose test concerning the probabilities. Even given the most generous assumptions (a few hundred thousand generations with a few million individuals in each generation) the probabilistic Lucy–to-Lizzie resources don’t pass the smell test, in my view.

So, I ask Skeptical Zone readers: Is my skepticism unwarranted, and if so, why?

256 thoughts on “Probabilities And Skepticism

  1. Elizabeth: No, I quite agree that that does not mean it cannot be done.And I have agreed with you that several claims that you mention should not be made.For instance, the claim that science disproves ID (or even demonstrates that ID is false) is not a scientific claim.

    Nor is the claim that current evolutionary theory satisfactorily accounts for every aspect of the origin of living things.Living things are very complicated!

    ETA: and nor, of course, is the claim that an ID must have been involved.And I don’t just mean that in a woolly, “well we can’t be sure of anything” way.The big difference between ID and evolutionary theory is that ID claims that evolutionary theory is inadequate, therefore ID.At least in most of the papers I have read.Evolutionary theory does not claim that ID is inadequate or false (because, as I said, it’s unfalsifiable).It merely says that that we have a powerful theory that could explain the complexity and variety of life, but that there are some problems, not least the problem of how the first Darwinian-capable self-replicators arose.

    ‘evolution’, if demonstrated would falsify ID, and conversely ID is the falsification of ‘evolution’, not in some vague ‘god could have used this or done that’ but specifically. We have countless systems that ID postulates could not have arisen evolutionarily and evolution says can- either one is the falsification of the other. ID is the implication of a purely scientific, naturalistic study of living systems. The implication is not amenable to certain world vies so is rejected a-priory on religious grounds.

    “but that there are some problems, not least the problem of how the first Darwinian-capable self-replicators arose.”
    There’s the understatement of the millennium!

  2. ‘evolution’, if demonstrated would falsify ID

    How so? Couldn’t evolution simply be the Designer’s mechanism? If so, my estimate of the Designer’s intelligence goes up. It’s a really neat mechanism.

    conversely ID is the falsification of ‘evolution’, not in some vague ‘god could have used this or done that’ but specifically.

    Again, how so? Evolution as understood by science and ID as understood by many, are not at all incompatible. Just because the mechanisms of evolution can be demonstrated and the assertion of ID cannot, means ID is compatible with ANYTHING.

    We have countless systems that ID postulates could not have arisen evolutionarily and evolution says can- either one is the falsification of the other.

    And again, how so? ID seems to mean different things to different people. To some, it means an intelligent agent was involved in the design of life. This is certainly compatible with evolution. For others, ID means nothing more than “I don’t find evolution plausible.” But if a set of mechanisms which can produce a system is demonstrated, postulating that that set of mechanisms did not do so isn’t any sort of theory or explanation or even a hypothesis. It’s just an expression of personal incredulity. Religious rejection, however deeply it may satisfy the psyche, “explains” nothing.

    There’s the understatement of the millennium!

    Even worse, EVEN IF some particular pathway from organic molecules to proto-life were demonstrated in the lab, all that provides is a proof-of-concept. The number of possible pathways is probably enormous.

  3. Butifnot, you said:

    ‘evolution’, if demonstrated would falsify ID, and conversely ID is the falsification of ‘evolution’

    William Dembski disagrees with this — from Is Intelligent Design Testable?:

    First off, let’s be clear that design can accommodate all the results of Darwinism. Intelligent design does not repudiate the Darwinian mechanism.

    Who is right on this? Butifnot, or Dembski?

  4. Who is right on this? Butifnot, or Dembski?

    How can an all-powerful Intelligent Designer, who lives outside of time and space and controls reality at the quantum level, possibly be incompatible with anything?

  5. Elizabeth: I would like to request that you start another thread describing the ID arguments that you found most persuasive and why. I hope you are so inclined and have the time.

    Dear Patrick,

    I would be happy to do so. This is Liz’s site and it is her prerogative concerning who can post.

    Yes, indeed, Gill. That would be great, especially if you could spare the time to respond to comments.

    Dear Liz,
    Thanks for the invite, and I’ll take you up on it. By the way, you might be interested to know that I came to your defense at UD, where I was admonished not to waste my time entering a lion’s den. I’ve never found any of your comments about me or my comments to be out of order or insulting. Obviously, we disagree in many ways, but I’ve always considered you to be a person of good character.

    As far as responding to comments goes, I can spend some time doing so. However, if I were to respond to every challenge presented in just this thread alone, I would have no life outside of The Skeptical Zone, my wife would divorce me and my children would abandon me. Surely you wouldn’t want to have that on your conscience!

    Finally Liz, I think you owe me one. I’ve spiced this place up, and have inspired the lions to roar. Preaching to the choir on either side gets old after a while.

    P.S.: A gill is what a fish breathes with. Gil is short for Gilbert. But you’re forgiven. This is a curse I’ve lived with all my life. 🙁

  6. P.S.: A gill is what a fish breathes with. Gil is short for Gilbert. But you’re forgiven. This is a curse I’ve lived with all my life.

    Especially considering during one period of your life, you literally HAD gills.

  7. Flint: Especially considering during one period of your life, you literally HAD gills.

    During that period of my life I didn’t exist. So much for rational argumentation. Perhaps the suggestions that I’m wasting my time here were correct.

  8. Gil,

    However, if I were to respond to every challenge presented in just this thread alone, I would have no life outside of The Skeptical Zone, my wife would divorce me and my children would abandon me.

    I hope you won’t be using that as an excuse to run away from the question that Oleg and I have been posing. In your inaugural post here at The Skeptical Zone, you wrote:

    The reason I get exercised about the proposed creative power of the Darwinian mechanism of random errors filtered by natural selection is that I do think, in simple scientific terms, that it is fallacious. Not because this mechanism couldn’t possibly have produced all that it is credited with, but because evidence, logic, and simple probability calculations demonstrate that this proposition is fallacious. [emphasis mine]

    This is your claim, Gil. You’ve told us the calculations are simple, so you can present them quickly and easily without endangering your marriage or neglecting your children. Will you do so, or will you run away yet again?

    Can you back up the claim that you’ve been making for years, or will you reveal that you are, as the Texans say, all hat and no cattle?

  9. During that period of my life I didn’t exist. So much for rational argumentation. Perhaps the suggestions that I’m wasting my time here were correct.

    Uh, that was a joke, intended to make you feel relaxed and more at home.

  10. William J. Murray
    How do you know we “are” the product of naturally occurring processes?

    Oh, just a hunch… combined with every item of scientific evidence ever collected in history.

    Why do you think we’re not?

  11. Joe wrote:

    Of course we have a testable hypothesis for ID. OTOH your position doesn’t have one.

    My position is that there is the reality that we can observe directly and indirectly. My hypothesis is that the scientific method adapts well to examining real phenomena. The imaginary is not subject to observation, by definition, but for those who claim that discontinuities exist in the real world caused by imaginary phenomena, there is a grand opportunity to look for those discontinuities.

  12. GilDodgen: During that period of my life I didn’t exist. So much for rational argumentation. Perhaps the suggestions that I’m wasting my time here were correct.

    No, you certainly aren’t wasting your time, Gil, but I think you misunderstood this comment. We do have gills at a certain point in development – so you did, at one point, have gills, Gil 🙂

  13. GilDodgen: Dear Liz,
    Thanks for the invite, and I’ll take you up on it. By the way, you might be interested to know that I came to your defense at UD, where I was admonished not to waste my time entering a lion’s den. I’ve never found any of your comments about me or my comments to be out of order or insulting. Obviously, we disagree in many ways, but I’ve always considered you to be a person of good character.

    As far as responding to comments goes, I can spend some time doing so. However, if I were to respond to every challenge presented in just this thread alone, I would have no life outside of The Skeptical Zone, my wife would divorce me and my children would abandon me. Surely you wouldn’t want to have that on your conscience!

    Finally Liz, I think you owe me one. I’ve spiced this place up, and have inspired the lions to roar. Preaching to the choir on either side gets old after a while.

    P.S.: A gill is what a fish breathes with. Gil is short for Gilbert. But you’re forgiven. This is a curse I’ve lived with all my life. :-(

    And I appreciate your contributions, Gil. Thank you.

    And I understand that you cannot respond to every comment. I’ve been there myself!

    However, I know it would be very much appreciated here if at some point you could find time to provide a more detailed account of how you arrived at the conclusion that the probability of life without an ID is too small to be effectively possible, and, indeed, what you find most persuasive about the ID case.

  14. Joe G,

    Unfortunately no one knows if any amount of genetic change can produce a human from an ape-like organism. There isn’t any way to test the premise as we can’t even take a bunch of fish embryos, perform some targeted mutagenesis and get a fishapod to develop.

    We do have other experimental systems. Take corn, it looks incredibly different from its ancestor teosinet, more so than the difference in appearance between chimps and apse. But those differences are controlled by a mere 5 major genes
    read more here< and make sure to watch the videos.
    http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/variation/corn/

  15. There has been little time to provide a follow-up in the MN thread. Just a short note here, to highlight once again why I’ve made a few small and precise points here at TSZone about MN and ‘science,’ from a PoS perspective.

    Natural scientists seem to need constant correction in their language, witness the following. Alan Fox *knows* there is not a single, monolithic ‘scientific method,’ but that there are *multiple scientific methods* (as others here at TSZone have openly acknowledged). Why then does his language betray him, when he singularizes a plural topic?

    “My hypothesis is that the scientific method adapts well to examining real phenomena.” – Alan Fox

    Here’s the point: elevation vs. reduction. Speaking of *many scientific methods* actually ‘reduces’ the scope of sciences to more recognizable limits. Speaking of one single, monolithic thing called ‘THE scientific method’ elevates the power of Science, oftentimes beyond its legitimate boundaries, into a kind of ‘worldview’.

    Otoh, Gil is proposing a type of ‘theological’ science; at least his (natural-ID) ‘science’ is openly informed by his theology – the two are intertwined. Several others here otoh are putting forward a kind of ‘scientific worldview,’ wherein ‘science’ can study anything and everything, and wherein ‘everything is natural,’ simply because there couldn’t be anything ‘supernatural,’ due to personal preconceptions. It is not a surprise that those who promote ‘scientism’ (that clear & present danger in highly scientificated societies) wish to singularize plural (and disunited) ‘scientific methodologies’ into a single method, in order to project centralized power via pseudo-unity of knowledge.

    The reality brings one to a stark situation: if one doesn’t (already) believe in a designer/Designer, then it seems highly improbable one may come to believe in or accept ‘design/Design.’ This is called ideological (dis-)confirmation bias.

  16. Hi Gregory

    A few points:

    1. I am not any kind of scientist, natural or otherwise.

    2. I don’t *know* much in comparison to others here but that there are many approaches in attempting to elucidate real phenomena I do not dispute.

    3. My “worldview” is that the growth in scientific knowledge is undeniable, whatever one might regret about its application in (for example) warfare.

    4. Human imagination is a wonderful thing. It has brought us great art, great building, great music. But human invention has brought us the Harley Davidson and the hang-glider. You can fly or you can imagine you can fly!

  17. Gregory,

    Several others here otoh are putting forward a kind of ‘scientific worldview,’ wherein ‘science’ can study anything and everything, and wherein ‘everything is natural,’ simply because there couldn’t be anything ‘supernatural,’ due to personal preconceptions.

    No, you misunderstand their point. Which is about how science studies things. The famous milk drinking statue of Ganesh in India could be studies, even though it was claimed to be supernatural. The milk “drinking” turned out to be absorption into the porous rock of the statue.

    Similarly, elves are often thought to be supernatural, but if real elves intruded into our world regularly enough we could study them systematically.

    Random, unconnected miracles where the laws of physics are temporarily and capriciously suspended, nup.

  18. llanitedave,

    llanitedave: Oh, just a hunch… combined with every item of scientific evidence ever collected in history.

    Why say something like this? Obviously, you can’t support such a universal assertion; do you say it just to add significance and weight to what is obviously an a priori ideological position?

    Why do you think we’re not?

    I prefer to believe we are not.

    That belief, as far as I can tell, doesn’t (1) directly contradict any experiential facts or (2) create any internal logical contradictions or other unresolvable problems.

    I’m free to believe whatever I wish as long as I follow those two guidelines.

  19. Alan Fox:
    Joe wrote:

    My position is that there is the reality that we can observe directly and indirectly. My hypothesis is that the scientific method adapts well to examining real phenomena. The imaginary is not subject to observation, by definition, but for those who claim that discontinuities exist in the real world caused by imaginary phenomena, there is a grand opportunity to look for those discontinuities.

    Your position relies on imagination as there isn’t any evidence that a prokaryote can “evolve” into something other than a prokaryote. And you can’t even test the claim that a prokaryote can evolve into something other than a prokaryote.

  20. Alan Fox:
    Joe wrote:

    My position is that there is the reality that we can observe directly and indirectly. My hypothesis is that the scientific method adapts well to examining real phenomena. The imaginary is not subject to observation, by definition, but for those who claim that discontinuities exist in the real world caused by imaginary phenomena, there is a grand opportunity to look for those discontinuities.

    Alan,

    Your position relies heavily on imagination – geez there isn’ any evidence that a prokaryote can evolve into something other than a prokaryote.

    So perhaps that was never a real phenomena…

  21. Flint: Especially considering during one period of your life, you literally HAD gills.

    Flint- no humans had gills Flint. Only a fool would say that..

  22. Elizabeth: No, you certainly aren’t wasting your time, Gil, but I think you misunderstood this comment.We do have gills at a certain point in development – so you did, at one point, have gills, Gil

    Elizabeth,

    Humans do not have gills at any point in development- what is your degree in?

  23. Patrick: You seem to have left out the actual testable hypothesis in your response, Joe.Please do provide it.

    It is the same as for archaeology and forensics- namely that when agencies act they tend to leave traces of their involvement behind. Traces that we can then detect. CSI and IC are examples of such traces.

    And to refute the design inferece given CSI and/ or IC all one has to do is demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can account for it.

    That said your position doesn’t have anything- how can we test the premise taht blind and undirected processes constructed the bacterial flagellum?

  24. Elizabeth:
    Hi, butifnot!Welcome to TSZ!It’s good to see people from UD here.

    Well, variance generation is certainly crucial.Without heritable variance generation there can be no heritable variance reproductive success.So I’m more than happy to focus on that.

    But not necessarily a finite number of variations The genome is not of finite length.Plus, of course, even the number of permutations is extraordinarily large.

    I’m not sure if I’m quite understanding your question.Let’s imagine we start with a population with 100 individuals, with 10 different genotypes (10 of each).And let’s say all are transmitted to the next generation perfectly, but that some of these genotypes tend to result in more successfully reproduction than others.Very soon, instead of the population consisting of equal numbers of each genotype, there will be more of the most successful genotypes than of the least successful.Eventually, as you say, only bearers of he most successful genotype will exist, so the amount of variation in the population has been exhausted.However, if reproduction is not quite faithful – if new variants creep in, then the pool of variation will be constantly replenished.And if these variants also now, or in the future, tend to promote reproductive success, then they will become more prevalence.So the adaptation of a population to a changing environment depends on a constant drip-feed of near-neutral variants into the population.And there are a number of molecular mechanisms that result in this supply of variants.

    I think it’s misleading to think of the variants as “mistakes” – they are only “mistakes” in the sense that they are not faithful copies of the parent.They may not be “mistakes” in any other sense.And with sexual reproduction, when a child has two parents, who are not themselves identical, clearly the idea of a “perfect” copy of the parents is meaningless.Each child has contributions from each parent, and so their genome is unique.

    Does that answer your question?If not, could you rephrase?

    Something new needs to be created, not a recombination of pre-existing ‘information’ (trying not to introduce that word). The genome is a large deck and there can be many hands, but new suits are needed. Were Evolution a result of mere rearrangement, that would be total front loading. By mistakes I mean copying errors.

    All evolutionary processes are headed the exact opposite way than promoted – each generation is a loss headed toward error catastrophe. Each ‘more successful’ genotype is a specialist – has been specialized by the environment that ‘selected’ it. They have only a subset of the genome which was richer and could vary in more ways. Wolves had all that was necessary to generate dogs but not the other way. Something in the past was the common ancestor of the cats but a cheetah could not go back it’s headed into a dead end. Again, the explanations about populations, variation, diff reproduction, selection … unnecessary – it’s a trivial observation.

  25. Joe wrote:

    Alan,

    Your position relies heavily on imagination – geez there isn’ any evidence that a prokaryote can evolve into something other than a prokaryote.

    So perhaps that was never a real phenomena…

    What would Lynn Margulis say were she still around?

    It’s phenomenon in the singular BTW */pedant*

  26. Alan Fox:
    Joe wrote:

    What would Lynn Margulis say were she still around?

    It’s phenomenon in the singular BTW */pedant*

    Well Lynn didn’t demonstrate anything. All she did was say “Hey these organelles look like bacteria” and she did not account for the nucleus.

    BTW there would have been more than one phenomenon- *dumbass*

  27. Joe G:
    Elizabeth,

    Humans do not have gills at any point in development- what is your degree in?

    Turnabout and all that, I’d have to say Joe is right. Talk Origins about halfway down under the heading “What’s wrong with ‘gill slits’?” gives an overview of humans, gills and Haeckel.

  28. Joe G: It is the same as for archaeology and forensics- namely that when agencies act they tend to leave traces of their involvement behind. Traces that we can then detect.

    Archaeology and forensics deal with humans, not abstract “agencies”. Those disciplines lead to conclusions because the capabilities and limitations of humans are known. What are the capabilities and limitations of the intelligent designer you propose?

    CSI and IC are examples of such traces.

    Irreducible complexity, as used by ID proponents, has been solidly refuted by many people. Muller predicted such systems as a consequence of known evolutionary mechanisms back in 1939.

    CSI fares no better. No one, including Dembski, has ever calculated it for any real world biological system. If you want to use CSI as support for your position, you need to:
    1. Provide a mathematically rigorous definition, with examples to show how to calculate it.
    2. Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be designed.
    3. Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be undesigned.
    4. Apply CSI to a variety of objects in a double blind study to validate that it uniquely identifies intelligent design.

    After that, you can calculate CSI for biological systems and artifacts.

    Let’s see the math.

  29. Fair enough to both of you 🙂 I was really just trying to explain the joke.

    But of course it is true that the pharyngeal arches in humans do not function as gills even though in fish, that’s what they eventually function as.

    Point taken.

  30. Butifnot:
    All evolutionary processes are headed the exact opposite way than promoted – each generation is a loss headed toward error catastrophe. Each ‘more successful’ genotype is a specialist – has been specialized by the environment that ‘selected’ it. They have only a subset of the genome which was richer and could vary in more ways.

    I think you need a lot more evidence to support this assertion. Wolves and dogs are not a good example anyway as dogs have arisen via artificial selection. As an example of a new species that is not more specialist than it’s immediate precursor, take Spartina anglica a saltmarsh grass that arose in the late 19th century by hybridisation followed by polyploidy. S. anglica is now invasive in European saltmarshes and outcompeting its native parent S. maritima.

    Given the right opportunities for niche expansion, I suspect that many so-called specialist species would show remarkable abilities to evolve into new varieties and eventually subspecies and species. In fact that’s what we see in colonists of new islands, like Darwin’s finches.

  31. Elizabeth:
    Fair enough toboth of you I was really just trying to explain the joke.

    But of course it is true that the pharyngeal arches in humans do not function as gills even though in fish, that’s what they eventually function as.

    Point taken.

    Absolutely, I understand where you’re coming from. I’d expect Gil would appreciate “Pharyngeal Arch” as a nickname even less.

  32. Butifnot: Something new needs to be created, not a recombination of pre-existing ‘information’ (trying not to introduce that word). The genome is a large deck and there can be many hands, but new suits are needed. Were Evolution a result of mere rearrangement, that would be total front loading. By mistakes I mean copying errors.

    As an analogy: if we combine parts of “HOUSE” with parts of “EXCLAIM” we can produce “EXCUSE” which is a new word. By recombining pre-existing sequences I produce a brand new sequence that means something quite difference. Now that’s only an analogy, but it surely demonstrates that, in principle, recombining existing sequences produces new sequences. In genetics, recombination of protein-coding sequences may result in a slightly different protein that has a slightly different effect on the phenotype. Other kinds of recombination may result in the same protein expressed in response to slightly different signals, either during development, affecting adult morphology, or during adult life as well, resulting in different capacities of the organism to respond to its environment.

    At what point do you say that something is “new”? Is an opposable thumb new? Is the panda’s thumb new? By how much does a thumb need to oppose before we call it an opposable thumb?

    All evolutionary processes are headed the exact opposite way than promoted – each generation is a loss headed toward error catastrophe.

    In what way? Are you referring to John Sanford’s idea?

    Each ‘more successful’ genotype is a specialist – has been specialized by the environment that ‘selected’ it.

    Not always. Some successful genotypes are more generalised, which may sometimes reflect population-level selection. Sub-populations that are most adaptable may tend to resist extinction during environmental change.

    They have only a subset of the genome which was richer and could vary in more ways. Wolves had all that was necessary to generate dogs but not the other way.

    Could you say what evidence you are using to support this? You seem to discount the generation of near-neutral variants, which happens in every generation. I don’t know of any evidence to suggest that wolf populations have more genetic variety than the domestic dog population. Why would you think that? After all, the phenotypic variance in domestic dogs is far greater than that of wolves.

    Something in the past was the common ancestor of the cats but a cheetah could not go back it’s headed into a dead end.

    You are right that evolution is one-way, just as you can’t stuff a genie back in a bottle (or perhaps a better analogy: you can easily produce a shuffled deck from an original deck, simply by shuffling it, but you can’t then shuffle it again to get back to the original deck). One way doesn’t necessarily mean dead-end.

    Again, the explanations about populations, variation, diff reproduction, selection … unnecessary – it’s a trivial observation.

    In a sense it is, but I think your conclusion is erroneous. I’m curious to know whether you are referencing Sanford though.

  33. Patrick: Archaeology and forensics deal with humans, not abstract “agencies”.Those disciplines lead to conclusions because the capabilities and limitations of humans are known.What are the capabilities and limitations of the intelligent designer you propose?

    Irreducible complexity, as used by ID proponents, has been solidly refuted by many people.Muller predicted such systems as a consequence of known evolutionary mechanisms back in 1939.

    CSI fares no better.No one, including Dembski, has ever calculated it for any real world biological system.If you want to use CSI as support for your position, you need to:
    1.Provide a mathematically rigorous definition, with examples to show how to calculate it.
    2.Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be designed.
    3.Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be undesigned.
    4.Apply CSI to a variety of objects in a double blind study to validate that it uniquely identifies intelligent design.

    After that, you can calculate CSI for biological systems and artifacts.

    Let’s see the math.

    Archaeology and forensics deal with the EVIDENCE and then go for the agency.

    And talk origins hasn’t refuted anything- heck you can’t even produce a testable hypothesis pertaining to IC arising via blind and undirected processes.

    Again if you don’t like the design inferejnce than all YOU have to do is actually step up and demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can account for it. But you can’t even produce a testable hypothesis for that.

  34. Patrick: Archaeology and forensics deal with humans, not abstract “agencies”.Those disciplines lead to conclusions because the capabilities and limitations of humans are known.What are the capabilities and limitations of the intelligent designer you propose?

    Irreducible complexity, as used by ID proponents, has been solidly refuted by many people.Muller predicted such systems as a consequence of known evolutionary mechanisms back in 1939.

    CSI fares no better.No one, including Dembski, has ever calculated it for any real world biological system.If you want to use CSI as support for your position, you need to:
    1.Provide a mathematically rigorous definition, with examples to show how to calculate it.
    2.Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be designed.
    3.Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be undesigned.
    4.Apply CSI to a variety of objects in a double blind study to validate that it uniquely identifies intelligent design.

    After that, you can calculate CSI for biological systems and artifacts.

    Let’s see the math.

    talk origins is a joke and does NOT even provide a testable hypothesis for how any IC structure can arise via blind and undirected processes.

    CSI has more rigor behind it than anything your position has to offer.

  35. Patrick: Archaeology and forensics deal with humans, not abstract “agencies”.Those disciplines lead to conclusions because the capabilities and limitations of humans are known.What are the capabilities and limitations of the intelligent designer you propose?

    Irreducible complexity, as used by ID proponents, has been solidly refuted by many people.Muller predicted such systems as a consequence of known evolutionary mechanisms back in 1939.

    CSI fares no better.No one, including Dembski, has ever calculated it for any real world biological system.If you want to use CSI as support for your position, you need to:
    1.Provide a mathematically rigorous definition, with examples to show how to calculate it.
    2.Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be designed.
    3.Calculate CSI for one or more objects known to be undesigned.
    4.Apply CSI to a variety of objects in a double blind study to validate that it uniquely identifies intelligent design.

    After that, you can calculate CSI for biological systems and artifacts.

    Let’s see the math.

    How can IC be refuted when there isn’t any evidence that blind and undirected processes can produce it?

    What would the testable hypothesis be?

    BTW CSI has more rigor than anything your position has to offer.

  36. Patrick,

    Archaeology and forensics know the capabilities by what is left behind. We know people could build Stonehenge because they left it behind.

    That said there isn’t a testable hypothesis for blind and undirected processes producing IC so how can talk origins have evidence that refutes it?

    And there is more rigor behind CSI than anything your position has to offer.

  37. This post makes about as much sense as Gil’s assertion that to simulate chaotic environments on a computer we should throw the computer out the window.

  38. Joe G,

    Someone said that the reply options on comments were not working consistently.

    “Leave a Reply”, down at the bottom, hasn’t failed me yet.

  39. Joe G:
    And there is more rigor behind CSI than anything your position has to offer.

    It should therefore be no problem for you to demonstrate that rigor by providing some calculations. Let’s see your math.

  40. Once again, I don’t know why this is so difficult, but here it is:

    CSI- Complex Specified Information.

    Information- see Shannon, Claude

    (When Shannon developed his information theory he was not concerned about “specific effects”:

    The word information in this theory is used in a special mathematical sense that must not be confused with its ordinary usage. In particular, information must not be confused with meaning.- Warren Weaver, one of Shannon’s collaborators

    And that is what separates mere complexity (Shannon) from specified complexity.)

    Specified Information is Shannon Information with meaning/ function

    Complex Specified Information is 500 bits or more of specified information

    Complex specified information is a specified subset of Shannon information. That means that complex specified information is Shannon information of a specified nature, ie with meaning and/ or function, and with a specified complexity.

    Shannon’s tells us that since there are 4 possible nucleotides, 4 = 2^2 = 2 bits of information per nucleotide. Also there are 64 different coding codons (including STOP), 64 = 2^6 = 6 bits of information per amino acid, which, is the same as the three nucleotides it was translated from.

    Take that and for example a 100 amino acid long functioning protein- a protein that cannot tolerate any variation, which means it is tightly specified and just do the math 100 x 6 + 6 (stop) = 606 bits of specified information- minimum, to get that protein. That means CSI is present and design is strongly supported.

    Now if any sequence of those 100 amino acids can produce that protein then it isn’t specified. IOW if every possible combo produced the same resulting protein, I would say that would put a hurt on the design inference.

    The variational tolerance has to be figured in with the number of bits.

    from Kirk K. Durston, David K. Y. Chiu, David L. Abel, Jack T. Trevors, “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins,” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 4:47 (2007):

    [N]either RSC [Random Sequence Complexity] nor OSC [Ordered Sequence Complexity], or any combination of the two, is sufficient to describe the functional complexity observed in living organisms, for neither includes the additional dimension of functionality, which is essential for life. FSC [Functional Sequence Complexity] includes the dimension of functionality. Szostak argued that neither Shannon’s original measure of uncertainty nor the measure of algorithmic complexity are sufficient. Shannon’s classical information theory does not consider the meaning, or function, of a message. Algorithmic complexity fails to account for the observation that “different molecular structures may be functionally equivalent.” For this reason, Szostak suggested that a new measure of information—functional information—is required.

    Here is a formal way of measuring functional information:

    Robert M. Hazen, Patrick L. Griffin, James M. Carothers, and Jack W. Szostak, “Functional information and the emergence of biocomplexity,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, Vol. 104:8574–8581 (May 15, 2007).

    See also:

    Jack W. Szostak, “Molecular messages,” Nature, Vol. 423:689 (June 12, 2003).

  41. Joe,

    Do you have some simple examples on which you can demonstrate the application of CSI? You can open a separate thread in which we could discuss that. For example, how much specified information is contained in a cake recipe?

  42. olegt- You don’t have any idea what you are even talking about.

    CSI is just an indicator of intentional design- that is all. And to refute that claim all you have to do is step up and demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can produce it. However you will never even attempt any such thing because you have intellectual issues.

  43. Joe G: olegt- You don’t have any idea what you are even talking about.

    Of course, Joe. That’s why I am asking you, as an expert on all things CSI, to lead the discussion. We might all learn something from it.

    Take a cue from the discussion of Abel’s paper. It was quite useful.

  44. Ian Musgrave:
    Joe G,

    Hmm, maybe we could sequence the entire genome of humans and chimpanzees, compare them, then look for sign of natural selection in the genes that are different. I wonder if anyone has done that?
    http://www.lcg.unam.mx/frontiers/files/frontiers/BustamanteMKPRF2005.pdf

    Umm no one can tell NS apart from genetic drift. BTW no one has done a complete side-by-side comparison of the two genomes (chimps v humans). And no one knows if changes to the genome can account for the anatomical and physiological differences between the two.

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