Semiotic Silliness …

…- A Sign of Unintelligent Design

In a recent thread here at TSZ William J. Murray brought up the subject of semiosis, to which Allan Miller responded:

Allan Miller: Nice to see WJM has absorbed UB’s ‘semiotic’ nomenclature though. Published nowhere, of course…

It never ceases to amaze me how critics of ID will say anything just be contrary regardless of whether what is said is true or even coherent.

Allen then goes on to describe how he thinks a semiotic system could arise HERE.

So perhaps Allan can be the very first to publish in this new and exciting field of semiosis. More likely though, is that his initial claim was just false. (Probability near 1, IMO.)

How does Allan know what elements need to be present in order to establish the existence of a semiotic system?

There are in fact some interesting comments over in the thread that initiated this OP that I may in time copy over here.

Any claim that Upright BiPed created the terms semiosis, semiotics, biosemiosis or biosemiotics is simply ludicrous.

The claim that WJM has absorbed UB’s ‘semiotic’ nomenclature is likewise ludicrous.

The claim that there’s been no publishing in semiosis, semiotics, biosemiosis or biosemiotics is simply ludicrous.

People who make such claims should not be taken seriously.

[title split by Lizzie]

111 thoughts on “Semiotic Silliness …

  1. Alan Fox,

    No, I have not encountered a paper outside the self-referencing world of biosemiotics that calls protein translation ‘semiotic’. I just found enough to acknowledge that this is not a local peculiarity starting with UB, though remain of the opinion that any UD regular utilising the term is unlikely to have come to this usage independently of UB. If they assured me they did, this would not be the place to openly doubt their word!

    Still, I don’t really know what is really achieved by labelling it so, and I doubt that anyone other than someone trying to gain traction for ‘semiotic theory’ (for whatever purpose) would bother. Its mechanism and evolvability are more important than the class of phenomena to which it may belong.

  2. Allan Miller: I don’t really know what is really achieved by labelling it so, and I doubt that anyone other than someone trying to gain traction for ‘semiotic theory’ (for whatever purpose) would bother. Its mechanism and evolvability are more important than the class of phenomena to which it may belong.

    Indeed. I’m reminded of aiguy’s fairly frequent pointing out that describing a system, process or organism as “intelligent” adds precisely nothing to the totality of human knowledge and understanding. Observing and trying to understand an aspect of a system seems less trivial than deciding whether to label it “semiotic”.

  3. A semiotic analysis of the genetic information system*
    CHARBEL NIN˜O EL-HANI, JOA˜O QUEIROZ,and CLAUS EMMECHE

    http://www.academia.edu/728318/A_semiotic_analysis_of_the_genetic_information_system

    I would think this field would be of particular interest to Kantian Naturalist – one of the recurring themes biosemiotics is that biology is not reducible to chemistry, but also requires a descriptive model based on semiotics. I also notice that most of this work seems to be done outside of the USA and utilizes expertise in several different fields.

  4. Allan Miller:
    Alan Fox,

    No, I have not encountered a paper outside the self-referencing world of biosemiotics that calls protein translation ‘semiotic’. I just found enough to acknowledge that this is not a local peculiarity starting with UB, though remain of the opinion that any UD regular utilising the term is unlikely to have come to this usage independently of UB. If they assured me they did, this would not be the place to openly doubt their word!

    Still, I don’t really know what is really achieved by labelling it so, and I doubt that anyone other than someone trying to gain traction for ‘semiotic theory’ (for whatever purpose) would bother. Its mechanism and evolvability are more important than the class of phenomena to which it may belong.

    I don’t know, it seems that it might yield insights into higher-order organization. I certainly don’t know that, it just seems a plausible goal for biosemiotics.

    What IDists think it will do for ID, though, I don’t know. Languages, signs, evolve, and life evolves. The former evolves with some influence of intelligence, yet it is hardly ruled by intention and purpose overall, and the latter apparently evolves without intelligence. Semiotics works for languages because language evolution has much stricter limits than a superintelligence capable of constructing cells de novo would have, and it seems to work (at least somewhat) for genes because of different, but also rather confining, limits.

    Glen Davidson

  5. Allan Miller said:

    Its mechanism and evolvability are more important than the class of phenomena to which it may belong.

    More important to whom, and for what reasons? If DNA translation is in fact a semiotic system, then it cannot be derived from/accounted for by mere chemistry (energy inclinations). Semiotic systems rely upon energy-neutral substrates (in terms of configurations of symbols). IOW, the ink and the paper do not chemically produce War and Peace as a matter of lawful and stochastic processes; but rather War and Peace relies upon the neutral capacity of ink and paper to carry a semantic message not mechanically dictated by the properties of the ink and paper.

    If it is that class of a system, that means the mechanism is, physically speaking, nothing more than a means of storing, decoding and translating the protein-building message, and the evolvability of the system is a direct result of the semiotic nature of the system, not the mechanistic qualities of that system. Only in an energy-neutral system is there a capacity for wide-ranging changes in the code – otherwise, the system would be limited to producing and maintaining that which is determined by chemical inclinations.

    That’s if I understand UB’s argument correctly. 🙂 Biosemiosis is something I’m still working on understanding.

  6. William J. Murray,

    Semiotic systems rely upon energy-neutral substrates (in terms of configurations of symbols).

    Did you read my breakdown of the manner in which uncoded peptide synthesis may have evolved an RNA docking element? This system is very much not energy-neutral. This idea that protein synthesis is not evolvable because it is (somehow) not ‘lawful’ in the same way a falling body is ‘lawful’ is just poppycock. If peptide synthesis offers any advantage, improvements to it can offer more. It’s not just chemistry, but chemistry + selection.

    RNA docking transfers energy to the peptide bond in part by the physical fact of stable orientation. Because that component involves hydrogen bonding in triplets, only complementary triplets can drive this orientation component of the total energy budget of the peptide bond. Orientation is a factor in the action of many catalysts. There’s is nothing ‘extra’ going on here.

    In an early system, only monotonous peptides could be produced, and any mutation caused truncation. The space of triplets is now almost filled – there are only 2 or 3 STOPs. This does not mean that it was always so. Each additional filling of the space adds one more protection against premature stop mutations, albeit in a constrained manner. As the code extends, so does the functional range of the resultant peptides.

  7. Allan Miller:
    To be fair, such usage can be found.

    Indeed. Where on earth do people here think Upright BiPed gets the basis for his ideas from?

    Allan Miller:
    Nowhere, however (to my knowledge), is a link made with ID, nor is it claimed that the system is unevolvable. That is UB’s pet project.

    What system does Upright BiPed claim is unevolvable?

    He says the system is required for darwinian evolution to occur.

    He says the system is irreducibly complex.

    Both these positions are supported by the literature.

    And as for “no link to ID” is concerned, Marcello Barbieri writes:

    The scientists that were supporting the Peircean approach were often using the arguments employed by the supporters of Intelligent Design. In retrospect this is hardly surprising, because ‘interpretation’ is indeed a form of ‘intelligence’, and Pierce himself promoted the idea that there is an extended mind in the Universe.

  8. Allan Miller:
    No, I have not encountered a paper outside the self-referencing world of biosemiotics that calls protein translation ‘semiotic’.

    And if it did call protein translation semiotic, it would of course be part of the self-referencing world of biosemiotics. So take that Upright BiPed!

    Its mechanism and evolvability are more important than the class of phenomena to which it may belong.

    Yes. What is Life? is such a silly question. Perhaps none of us are really alive.

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